A/N: Hello, lovelies! So here is the seventh instalment of ARR! It is only ten chapters long—I'm thinking of doing a sequel, but I don't know if I've gained enough readers for that to happen. I don't think I have the motivation. Anyway, on that… not so great note, here's the seventh chapter!
- - -
"Bella, are you finished yet?!" Rosalie called through the washroom door. The shower was running, the hot water splashing against the tile walls and porcelain floor, and a towel was set on the closed seat of the toilet, but I wasn't in the shower. I was sitting on the floor, fully clothed in sweat pants and a tank top, knees huddled to my chest. I didn't want to go clubbing, and my friends weren't going to make me, no matter how hard they tried.
"Bella, hurry up in the shower already! We're gonna be late!" This time, another voice called through the door. Alice's tone was demanding, and a little short.
I didn't answer her, focusing on the lit Glade Apple Cinnamon candle by the sink.
The door knob jiggled, and then the door clicked as it opened. The force of the door opening sent the flame out and smoke swirled up through the air. I didn't move my head to acknowledge their entrance.
"Why aren't you--?"
"Y'know, I could have been naked," I mumbled.
Even though I wasn't looking at my friends, I could imagine Alice rolling her eyes in annoyance.
"If you're not going to get ready, then you can forget about coming with us."
"I don't care," I replied, "I don't even want to go."
"Bella!" Both Rose and Alice whined in unison.
I turned my head toward them, taking in both of their faces. Neither of them wore the slightest trace of makeup. Alice was dressed in a pair of ratty old boxer shorts and a lacy cami, while Rosalie wore one of Emmett's grey sweatshirts over a pair of dark purple leggings. The sleeves covered most of her hands, and it reached her mid-thigh.
Angela appeared in the bathroom doorway then, looking glum. She wore the usual pair of jeans, but one—or all—of the girls had forced her into a low-cut, ice blue shirt. Her hair was curled and grazed her shoulders. Her blue eyes were accented by a trace of black liner and two coats of Lash Blast mascara. She folded her arms across her chest, and appraised my slobbish appearance.
"Why are you allowed to sit on the bathroom floor in sweats?" she demanded.
"She's not," Alice interjected before I could answer, moving closer to me. She grabbed my arm and forcefully tugged me to my feet. "She was just getting in the shower." She continued, shoving me toward the steaming water.
I groaned, turning toward them. "I really don't want to go," I moped.
"We gotta go!" Alice exclaimed. "There's this really cool theme tonight!"
I sighed. "Whatever!" I finally snapped. "Get out. I'll shower."
The girls obediently left the washroom, pulling the door shut behind them.
I peeled off my clothes and stepped beneath the spray, my stubbornness melting away when the hot water hit my skin. It smoothed away all of the kinks and tenseness I had been experiencing the last week. The moisture seeped into my pores, the water soaked into my hair. I rubbed shampoo and conditioner through my locks and then just stood under the spray awhile longer, closing my eyes.
Half an hour later, when the water began to run cold, I shut the taps off and stepped out of the shower, wrapped a towel around myself.
After drying my hair and brushing my teeth, I stepped out of the washroom and into the spare bedroom. The girls were posted in various places of the room. Alice and Rosalie attempted to share the mirror, Lauren was leisurely brushing out her hair, slumped against the far wall, and Angela was sprawled across my bed, flipping lazily through a fashion magazine. Beside her, atop the sheets was the outfit I was destined to wear. It consisted of a pair of too-short denim shorts, and a peasant style spiceberry colored tunic. Knee-high boots completed the look and I groaned.
"Guys," I said, crossing my arms across the house coat I wore, "there is no way I'm wearing that."
"Yes you are. Even if we have to dress you ourselves," Alice said, shoving me toward the bed.
I huffed, but picked up the clothes. "I hate you guys so much, you know that, right?" I said before disappearing back out into the hall to change in the bathroom.
"We love you too!" They called after me.
- - -
It was Saturday night, so as always; the Sassy Apple had a theme. Tonight's was a masquerade. At the door they handed out generic black masks, and at a table inside you could decorate it however you wanted. Once the girls and I got past there, we made our way toward the bar to pick up drinks.
Five minutes later, we had all squeezed ourselves into a booth.
I sipped the lemon-water on the table in front of me, and shifted in the leather seat. It was sticking to the backs of my thighs.
"I feel exposed," I complained.
"That's what clubbing is all about," Rose contradicted after setting down her apple martini, "dressing up as slutty as you like, and people can't say a thing!"
I sighed, slamming back more water. It froze the roof of my mouth and I shuddered as it slithered down my throat.
"And put your mask on!" Alice demanded from beside Rosalie. Both wore theirs over their eyes, and I reluctantly slapped mine on too, grumbling miserably under my breath.
- - -
The blast of the music was uncomfortable in my ears, and my head pounded in time with the beat. I examined the three empty martini glasses on the table in front of me, immediately regretting my drinking binge. I was, had been and always would be, an easy drunk—but maybe that was why I'd done it. I just wanted to be out of my stressful life for a couple of hours. Then I would go back. Was it so bad to think like that? Besides, this way, I didn't feel so miserable.
Angela plunked down in her seat across from mine, dark hair swaying in the inexistent breeze in the club. She stared at me with sad blue eyes, ringed with the small amount of black eyeliner Rose had forced upon her.
"How are you holding up?" she wanted to know, running her fair finger up the stem of one of the empty martini glasses.
I reached into the same glass, and plucked the olive from it. As I popped it in my mouth I raised my eyebrows at her. "I could ask you the same question," I replied and then hiccupped, giggling.
She surreptitiously eyed the martini glasses glinting in the overhead lights of the club.
"I'm going to get another martini," I said and slid out from the booth before Angela had time to protest. I stumbled over my own two feet as I made my way through the crowd, squinting against the glare of the lights piercing my too-sensitive eyes. I reached the bar, searching for the familiar balding bar tender who had served me the last three martinis. But I couldn't find the familiar white shirt he'd been wearing.
I squeezed through the group of people crowded around the bar and flattened my palms against the granite countertop, leaning forward to better search for him.
"Can I help you?" a voice said in my ear. I jumped, whipping my head to come face-to-face to the man who had just spoken. He winced when my hair whipped his cheek.
He wore a mask, just like the rest of us, and a hat, so I couldn't really make out what he looked like. But there was something so familiar about him… I couldn't put my finger on it.
I nodded. "Yeah. Can—"
Before I could continue what I was saying, I caught site of the blender in front of him. A bright pink swirl spun around and around in its confines until he flicked it off, grabbed a tumbler, poured some of it in, stuck a straw in it and handed it to me.
I tentatively retrieved it from his hands, peering into the smoothie-like substance. "What's it called?" I wanted to know.
"Kiss me," he replied—and so I did.
When I pulled away, he stared at me blankly. "Um… I meant that was what the drink was called, but…" he offered an awkward tight lipped smile as he trailed off.
I felt my cheeks burn, but it felt good. I giggled, but it was drowned out by the booming music of the club. Nervously, I took a huge gulp of Kiss Me. It gave me brain freeze, but I shook it off.
When I looked back up into the guy's face, he was staring intently at me.
"Uh…" he said, glancing over his shoulder at the Coca Cola clock on the wall, "my break starts in a minute. Wanna hang outside or something?"
"Sure," I replied without thinking. I took another gulp of the drink. I could taste a generous amount of tequila.
Five minutes later, we were standing on the curb. I finished off the second glass of Kiss Me, ignoring the dizzying spin of my mind. A car whizzed by, stirring up the dampness of the street.
I glanced at the guy next to me. He was bathed in the light of street lamp, and he stood awkwardly with his hands in his pockets. The light illuminated the chiselled features of his face.
"So…" I faltered awkwardly.
He cleared his throat.
I lowered myself onto the curb of the sidewalk, attempting to swallow back the guilty lump in my throat. A moment later I heard the shift of denim against cement as he sat down beside me.
I adjusted the mask on my face, confirming that there was no way I would take it off. Maybe if he didn't know who I was, if I knew that he didn't, maybe my conscience wouldn't be so bad.
I tugged the shorts lower on my thighs, uncomfortable.
"Yeah," he said, "I'm not actually on it full time. I'm just filling in for one of my friends tonight."
I nodded, closing my eyes to shut out the spinning of the world around me.
"Will you do me a favour?" I asked him after a moment of silence.
"What?" he questioned.
"Kiss me again?" I opened my eyes when I said this.
He was staring at me, and I only knew this because his body was turned toward me. His face was shadowed by the shroud of the night. But his warm hands made contact with my face and pulled it toward his. Just as our lips touched, I heard the back door of the Sassy Apple burst open, and the song Angel by Shaggy spilled out onto the pavement. He started to pull away, but I restrained him by clamping down on his shoulders firmly with my hands.
"Ahem!" a voice sounded from the shadows, and I recognized it to be Alice.
I gasped, pulling away from the guy as if he were on fire.
"Oh my god," I gasped, clambering to my feet so quickly that I nearly fell flat on my face. "I… Oh my god!" I said, stumbling back toward the shadows.
"What are you doing?" she shrieked under her breath, digging her nails into my skin so hard that I had to suppress the yelp of pain.
I glanced furtively toward the guy, suddenly realizing for the first time that I hadn't caught his name. He was peering into the shadows, probably searching for us. But the awning threw a cloak of darkness over Alice and me, making it impossible for him to see us.
I guided Alice back into the club, the pounding of the music suddenly too much in my ears. My stomach flopped over in my stomach, and I nearly tossed my cookies.
"Not again," I moaned to myself.
"What?" Alice demanded.
"Too much to drink," I replied, tugging her toward the washroom.
When I slammed the door behind us, we were lucky to find that the washroom was empty. I rested my palms on the counter by the sink, peering into my own reflection. The light fixtures cast a greenish glow over my skin, and I found it sort of ironic—judging by how I felt at the moment.
"What the hell was that, Bella?" Lila demanded, leaning against the piece of metal between two of the stalls.
I glanced at her in the mirror, frowning. "I don't know. I'm too drunk to find out too."
Alice sighed disapprovingly and crossed her arms over the neon yellow, one shouldered top she wore.
I twisted the cool tap on, flooding the cup I made with my hands with water. I washed it over my cheeks, closing my eyes and revelling in the chill of the water.
"You sound like my mother," I murmured into my hands.
"Well, excuse me for caring about your life!" she protested. "Must you forget, you're still a married woman!"
I groaned, letting my eyelids flutter open again. I flattened my hands against my collarbone, hoping that maybe it would suppress the urge to throw up.
Alice stomped toward the door in her platform Mary Janes. "I hope you puke," she told me angrily, "you deserve it."
I didn't open my eyes, but I knew she left when the door slammed. I sighed, sending the air upwards so it would wash a few pieces of hair from my forehead. I agreed with Alice. I did deserve to feel like crap. I was married, and I'd just cheated on Edward.
The realization of what I'd just done sent me into hiccupping sobs. It was so unexpected and so unreasonable, that I cried harder.
- - -
The weeks that followed were tense, nerve-wracking and tough to get through. I avoided seeing people as much as possible, and stayed inside as much as humanly possible without causing my skin to yellow. When I got outside the remaining rays of sun felt like they were burning my skin. I didn't deserve the cheeriness of the sun. I deserved to be cooped up in the darkness of a cell with nothing to keep me company but my dismal thoughts.
My friends, of course, tried to cheer me up, but none of it helped. Not even when Alice and I talked about our confrontation in the Sassy Apple's washroom. We decided that we would keep what had happened a secret—for now. She made it very clear that I would have to tell Edward sooner or later. But the way things were going made it sound that a conversation with Edward was less likely than Paris Hilton sticking with one BFF.
The longest we'd ever gone without ever talking to each other was a couple of days. We would always find a way to contact each other. Whether it be through text messages, e-mails or five minute phone calls. But my Voyager stayed silent on the dresser of Rose's spare bedroom, the notification of any new e-mails—other than late congratulations or thank yous for the invites to the wedding—wasn't there, and I was beginning to miss the sound of Edward's voice.
It felt like my heart was hollow—give or take the few spaces my friends and family made up. I didn't find going out exciting anymore, and most of my dinners consisted of TV trays or a measly sandwich.
Despite the drama of the whole thing, no one but the girls were notified of the fight and only Alice knew of the "situation" as we liked to call it.
There were many downs to the separation. The depression—yes, the sickness that seemed to be constantly hovering over me—yes, the absence of Edward's voice—yes, but that wasn't the worst part.
The worst part was that my worst fears had come true. When I'd been, oh, fourteen, I'd developed a rational fear of separation. When my mother had been young, it was so uncommon for parents to be divorced, and when I came to the age of understanding the whole concept of it, it just… wasn't. So, I thought to myself, what would happen when I was old enough to marry? Would it be even worse by then?
Maybe that was one of the reasons I had been so stuck on Edward. He was the one boy I could actually see a future with. I could see us working through troubles together, and laughing, and arguing, and resolving. He was the one person I wasn't scared to be in love with.
And that was the worst part. Because I knew, that if Edward and I did end up getting divorced after only a month and a half of marriage, then I wouldn't find anyone else. Because I was too afraid.
I knew, that if Edward and I were no longer able to be together, I would be alone forever.
- - -
END A/N: Reviews are better than tears.