I know, it's been ages since I've updated this story. You probably thought I flounced it, but there's still story to tell here, and I'm not abandoning it! Big, huge thanks to my beta NCChris. *smooches*
I was waiting when Rosalie walked in the door.
"What?" she asked defensively, taking off her shoes and breezing past me.
I turned and followed her to the kitchen, and waited until she pulled a Diet Coke from the fridge and popped the top before I started speaking.
"What's going on with Bella?"
She quirked an eyebrow at me and took a sip from her soda. "I don't know what you mean," she said.
I snorted and rolled my eyes.
"You're being a fucking bitch to her, that's what I mean."
Rosalie shook her head and tried to move past me.
"Rose," I said, blocking her, "what's your damage?"
"Fuck you, Jasper! You have no idea what's been going on." She stepped around me and stomped to the living room.
"That's why I'm asking!" I followed her and manually shut the TV off after she flipped it on with the remote. She glared at me and turned it back on, but I turned it off again. "I'm not gonna leave you alone until you tell me."
She threw the remote down on the couch and crossed her arms, trying to kill me with a withering look. I sat down in the armchair beside the couch, leaning forward with my forearms on my thighs.
"I don't know why you care so much, Jas. If you're interested in her, just... don't. Trust me. I know she seems all sweet, and innocent, and nice, but things aren't always what they seem."
"What?" I asked, perplexed. "How is Bella not what she seems? And I just care because we're her friends, Rose, or at least you used to be. You even told me you'd become really good friends this year."
"Yeah," Rose said, shaking her head and looking away from me, "and I paid for that."
"What do you mean?"
"When Tanya found out I was hanging around with Bella, she got really pissed at me. I didn't get it, because, she broke up with Edward, right? But she said she had her reasons, and she said that if I kept hanging around with Bella, our friendship was over."
"What the fuck? Bitch!" I shook my head. I had never liked Tanya much, and never understood what Edward saw in her, besides the obvious. "So what, Rose, you just followed along like her little lapdog?"
"No, Jasper, fuck you! I stood up for her, and Tanya cut me out," she yelled.
I was shocked. I had no idea. Rose and Tanya had been best friends since we moved to Forks; they had bonded immediately, though I never understood what Rose saw in her either.
"When did this happen? Why didn't you tell me?" I asked, quietly.
Without looking at me, Rosalie shrugged and didn't answer. I was pretty sure I knew, anyway. Rose and her fucking pride.
"Then she called me again a few weeks ago," she continued, "and she apologized. She explained everything to me. Things that you obviously don't know or you wouldn't be so 'Team Bella' either. Apparently your best friend doesn't tell you and Emmett everything."
"Like what?" What the hell was she talking about?
"Tanya always knew about Bella's crush on Edward, but he always just laughed it off, saying he thought of her like a sister. When she heard they were going out, she was hurt that he got over her so quickly..."
I interrupted with a snort. What bullshit; Tanya was probably fucking everything that moved at college. Rosalie glared at me before continuing.
"... and shocked that he was with Bella. And that's when she found out that Edward's feelings for Bella had never been very 'brotherly'. Bella was fucking Edward while he was still with Tanya."
My mouth dropped open and I couldn't speak. I just shook my head and looked at her before I got my wits about me and practically yelled "Bullshit!"
"Believe what you want, but it's true," Rosalie said archly.
"No it's not. Jesus, Rose, how can you believe that?"
"Tanya has never lied to me, Jas."
"Ha! I don't believe that, either. Okay, let's say she's not lying. Did she tell you how she 'found out'?" I asked, sarcastically making air quotes.
"Edward broke down and confessed," she said, and responding to the disbelieving look on my face, continued. "He asked her not to tell anyone, that he was ashamed, and that he hadn't even told you or Emmett. She didn't tell me for a long time, but she needed to explain why she was so upset when Edward started dating the girl he'd been cheating on her with. And I shouldn't be telling you, but I'm really sick of all the 'poor Bella' shit around here. I'm pissed at Edward too, but he and Tanya are working it out, and he's doing his best to make it up to her. But Bella, she's going around playing the victim, and I'm sick of it. And now you're back, and she thinks she can sink her hooks into you! Uh unh, not gonna happen."
"Rose," I said calmly, "I don't believe any of this, and I can't believe you've fallen for it. Did you ask Emmett about it? Have you talked to Edward?"
"Of course not. I told you, Tanya asked me not to say anything."
"She's lying to you, Rosalie, and when they get back, this is all going to blow up in her face. I know you won't believe a word Bella says, but all we have to do is ask Edward. "
"Fine," Rosalie said, "But we do it together with both of them there so he can't weasel out of it."
"That's just fine," I responded with a grin. I was looking forward to seeing Tanya squirm. "Rosie, in the meantime, do me a favor and don't be such a bitch to Bella. Please. You're gonna feel like shit about that when the truth comes out."
Rosalie didn't look convinced, but she rolled her eyes and nodded her agreement.
"But Jas, do me a favor, and don't go falling for her. Even if you're right, that would just be a fucking mess. And what about Maria? Are you seriously telling me it's over for good this time?"
My jaw tensed as I looked down at the ground in front of me. "I'm sure."
"You guys have broken up before, and..."
I looked up at her and took a deep breath. "She cheated on me."
"What?" Rosalie's eyes blazed as she reached for her phone on the coffee table. I grabbed it before she could. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"This is why, Mama Bear," I answered, waving her iPhone at her, knowing she was about to call Maria. "I don't need you fightin' my battles for me."
"I can't believe her! How could she do that to you? Who was he?"
"A guy from the Young Conservatives," I said with a shrug. "I pulled back, spending less and less time with the organization, while she got more and more fanatical about it. She started spending a lot of time with him, and I got suspicious. One day when I was supposed to be in class, I showed up at her dorm room and used the key she gave me. He was fucking her on her desk."
"Jas," Rosalie said softly, reaching over and running her hand over my hair. "I'm so sorry."
I let her comfort me for a minute before I grabbed her hand, squeezing it before letting it go.
"So yeah," I said, "it's over for good this time."
Rosalie nodded. "It'd better be. You'd better not take her back after that."
We sat in silence for a moment, but I could tell that she wanted to say something else.
"Spit it out, Rosie."
"I just... after going through that, Jas, how can you so easily believe that Edward and Bella weren't screwing around behind Tanya's back?"
"Because," I sighed, running a hand through my hair, "Bella's just not like that. And Edward... Edward is so ass-over-teakettle in love with Tanya, he's blind to anything or anyone else. He never looked at another girl when he was with her. I hate to say it, but he was just on the rebound with Bella. If anything, Bella and I aren't so different in our situations. I'm not saying Edward cheated on her with Tanya, he at least had the decency of breaking up with Bella first. And that's the thing, Edward's a decent guy..."
I trailed off as I thought of Bella's revelation today, of what Edward had done the night before they broke up, and questioned just how decent he was. But I still didn't believe he ever would have cheated on Tanya.
"Let's not say anything to Emm yet, okay?" Rose asked. "However this turns out, he's going to be pissed at me for not talking to him about it and it'll be easier for me to deal with once the truth is out."
I nodded in agreement. I was sure Emmett would feel the same way I did, and I didn't want to cause any problems between him and my sister.
Rosalie stretched as she got up off the couch, and muttered something about going to her room. I suspected she needed time to think shit through. I was worn the fuck out. I felt like I had everyone else's emotional baggage wearing on me as well as my own. I leaned back in the recliner and popped the lever to put my feet up. I realized I still had Rosalie's iPhone in my hand and itched to call Edward again. But Rose and I had a deal to sort it out when they got back, and doing it all in person would be better anyway.
I scrolled through Rose's contacts, and was surprised to see that she hadn't removed Bella. I guess she hadn't gotten around to it. Thinking, I tapped the phone against my chin a couple of times before I muttered "fuck it" and called her.
It rang a few times before I realized how stupid I was being, calling her from Rose's phone. Would she actually pick up? I sure as hell wouldn't if I were her. But after another couple rings, I heard her voice.
"Hey," Bella said tentatively, her confusion evident.
"Hey Bella, it's Jasper."
"Oh, hey Jas," she said with palpable relief. "What's up?"
"I'm um... I'm just calling to see how you're doing."
"I'm ok," she said, though her voice was a little rough, and I knew she'd been crying some more. "Thanks, Jas. For calling, and for... everything, before at the beach."
"Yeah, sure," I said, feeling a little bashful. "So, um... Emmett mentioned maybe having the cookout tomorrow. You gonna go?"
"Uh, I don't know," she responded. "I don't really feel like being around everyone right now."
Fuck. She was going to revert right back into herself. Well fine, if she didn't want to be in a crowd, she didn't have to be in a crowd.
"Yeah, I get that. But hey, how about driving down to Lake Quinault with me instead?"
Bella hesitated, so I kept talking.
"It's one of my favorite places, and I haven't been there in awhile. C'mon, what do you say?"
"I don't know, Jasper, I have a lot of homework..."
"Bring it with you. It's really peaceful there, great place to do homework." I don't know why I was trying so hard to get her to come with me, but it just felt like something I needed to do.
"Alright," she agreed after a moment, and I grinned.
We arranged for me to pick her up the next day at the Cullens', and I hung up with a smile. I was feeling pretty good about it until I heard Rosalie clear her throat behind me. When I turned to look at her, she was scowling at me and holding out her hand. I passed her the phone.
"Don't go there, Jas."
"Just being a friend, Rose."
She walked away, throwing a "whatever" at me over her shoulder. I understood her concern, I really did. But I wasn't looking for anything with Bella besides friendship, not with both of us fucked up over other people. Then I thought of the way she looked at me at the beach today, when I came out of the water and started taking off my wetsuit, and her subsequent blush when I caught her looking. And then I thought about how cute she looked as she laughed and enjoyed herself last night and today, before all the shit went down. Nah, just friends. Maybe if I kept telling myself that, I'd believe it.