Chapter Six – Bar and Motel
I closed my cell phone for the final time and securely placed it inside my purse. The lights inside the bar were dimmed and the air was smoky so I waved a hand in front of my face and coughed once.
I caught the attention of a man with long gray hair and an equally long beard sitting at a table, a cigar between his fingers. His beady eyes rose up to mine, and we stared at each for a moment, and then he raised his hand towards me, offering me a puff.
I pressed my lips together in a tight line and shook my head.
He shrugged and placed the cigar between his thin lips, looking away from me.
"Bella!" Alice waved me over from the bar, standing next to the blonde cowboy.
I hurried towards her. "We should leave before I convince myself I have emphysema and your uncle officially dubs me as a hypochondriac."
She ignored me, slightly twisting her upper body towards her new friend. "Bella Swan, this is Jasper." She snapped her fingers. "Jasper, um, Jasper White…head?" She looked at him questioningly.
"Whitlock," he corrected, and then turned to me. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Bella." He stretched his hand out.
I tried to be sneaky as I ran my eyes over his hand, searching for a sign it might be unsanitary. I accepted the hand anyway. "Yeah, you too." My eyes darted to Alice. "Edward's coming."
Alice looked at Jasper. "Edward is my uncle."
"And brother," I supplied.
She gave me a quick sideway glance before shifting her eyes back to him. "No incest."
"So," I continued, "Edward is on his way and he wanted to know where to find us, so I gave him the address to the bar, but he said we should probably find out if there's a nearby hotel because he won't be able to meet us for at least two hours. Probably closer to three hours."
"There's a motel," Jasper said, "a couple miles West. I could drop ya'll off, if you'd like."
Alice smiled at him, and I could envision her heart going gushy and melting. "Aw, that's very-"
"No, I watch the news," I interrupted. "Serial killers look like normal people, and the smart ones are usually charming."
Alice gaped at me.
"I didn't mean that as an insult," I hurried to explain, not wanting to upset a potential axe murderer. "I have…trust issues. Big, messy, ugly trust issues." I pointed at Alice. "That's why I'm seeing her Edward." I shook my head. "Her uncle. Brother. Not both. They're the same person." Alice gave me a weird look. "Oh, I'm not seeing him, like that. He's a psychologist. I'm his patient."
There was a moment of awkward silence before Alice finally spoke, "So, what's good to drink here?"
"Bella," Alice spoke loudly beside me, followed by an obnoxious giggle. "I had five!" She pointed at the empty glass on the bar. "Your turn!"
I shook my head. "Not a chance, chica. Someone has to remain sober and look after your ass. The moment you put the poison into your body, I became the chosen one."
Alice pouted at me. "You snooze, you lose."
"Dude," I laughed, "That's not…nevermind. You're trashed. Your uncle…brother…whatever…is going to be so pleased when he sees your current state."
She leaned close to me, her warm breath blew on the side of my face. "We'll be a secret," she hissed into my ear.
"Yeah, that made sense." My eyes drifted towards the bartender. "Don't give her anything else except water. I'm already going to get slaughtered when Edward arrives."
Alice stared at me with big, wide eyes and squeezed her legs together.
"Something wrong?" I asked, staring back.
She slowly nodded and covered the side of her mouth with her hand. "I have to pee," she whispered.
I rolled my eyes and pushed myself up, grabbing her arm and dragging her behind me.
She clutched onto my arm and pressed her forehead against my cheek. "You're really pretty."
"Not going to work. I only put out when dinner is involved."
She giggled. "I don't wanna sex you up! You're a girl!"
I looked down, at my small breasts. "Since when?"
She poked the tip of my nose and giggled. "Honk."
"Ah. One of those drunks." I pushed the restroom door open and led Alice toward a stall. "This is as far as I go, milady. You do your business on your own."
Alice saluted and ventured to her final destination all by herself. I turned towards the mirror above the sink and fixed my hair. I swept my bangs to the side and twisted the rest into a messy knot the top of my head. I wasn't concerned about looking attractive, and besides, I was still wary of the men in the bar, and the more unattractive I appeared, the less likely they'd want to abduct us.
A sing-song voice came from the stall, "Tinkle, tinkle, itsy bitsy spider. How I wonder…up the spout." She switched to humming.
"Very creative." I turned toward the stalls. "Almost done?"
Thirty minutes later, we were seated at a table. Alice slouched in the chair and laid her head down on the table, half a glass of water lay near her elbow.
"Tired?" I asked.
She nodded. "Mmhmm."
I pulled out my phone and checked the time. "Edward will probably be here soon. He said he'd call the moment his plane lands but I think it should've landed awhile ago."
"Where's Jasper?" Alice mumbled.
I glanced over at him. "Sitting at the bar, drinking. Still."
"I got his number." She smiled.
"Where is he from?" I took a sip of my water, my phone still clutched in one hand.
"Texas, but he lives here now." She lifted her head up and peered over at him. "How big do you think he is?"
What a strange question. "I don't know. Probably 170 pounds." I shrugged.
Alice giggled uncontrollably. "No, how big?"
"What?" I was suddenly hit with the true meaning behind her question. "Oh! Oh, ew, no, Alice. Just…no."
"Don't you like guys?" She turned her drunken stare on me.
"Yeah," I answered quietly, becoming uncomfortable. "But I don't feel right discussing a…you know."
She laughed and laid her head back down. "It's not illegal to enjoy that aspect of a man."
"I know, but it's just…weird. I mean, I don't even know him."
"Would it be better to inquire about a man's equipment if you knew him?" She lifted her head back up. "Do you wonder about Edward?"
I cringed. "Ew, Alice, that's your uncle!"
She rolled her eyes. "I don't think about him, but you might. I heard about a study conducted to determine how common attraction between psychologists and patients to each other are, and like ninety-five percent of the male psychologists admitted to being sexually attracted to a client or clients at one time or another. But the female percentage was less. The males were more attracted than the females, so actually, maybe he wonders what's hidden beneath your layers."
I tensed up. "Dr. Cullen doesn't see me that way. It's strictly professional, as he constantly reminds me."
"Yeah." She slammed her head back on the table. "He just jumped on a plane in the middle of the night for a woman he doesn't want to plunge into."
"Yes, actually, seeing as how he left for you."
"He could have paid for me to return by plane, or waited till morning," she argued.
"How would you have gotten to the airport? What would happen to your car? And something could easily happen to you if you were alone."
She raised her arm and gave me the 'you-talk-to-much' or the 'blah-blah-blah' hand gesture.
Alice snored lightly as I continuously flipped my phone open and slammed it shut, over and over again. It was getting late, and Dr. Cullen still hadn't called. I wondered if I should call him instead, but then I worried that he simply forgot to call and he was in a car right now, and his phone ringing would distract him, and he'd lose control of the vehicle and crash. I didn't want that to happen, so I flipped the phone open, flipped it shut, and repeated.
I heard footsteps and lifted my eyes up to see Jasper approach. He pulled out a chair, the legs scrapped against the wooden floor, and he sat down. "You sure I can't offer you ladies a ride?"
"He'll be here soon." I snapped the phone shut and placed it beside me on the table.
"The thing is," Jasper said, rubbing his hand along the back of his neck, "Riley closes the bar in an hour, and if your friend isn't here, you'll be waiting outside in the cold."
"He'll be here soon," I repeated firmly.
He appeared skeptical.
Behind Jasper, the door opened and a familiar man stepped inside. I let out a sigh of relief. "He's here." The surprise was evident in my voice.
Jasper turned and glanced at Edward.
Edward's eyes darted frantically around the room, until finally, they landed on me. The tension in his shoulders lessened and he walked over, though he slowed a bit when he noticed Jasper.
I stood up, and I had an odd urge to hug him, but I restrained myself. "Dr. Cullen," I breathed. "I was so worried, you never called."
His copper hair was disheveled, more so than usual, and his eyes were slightly bloodshot. He looked exhausted. He stood in front of me within an arms length. "Sorry I didn't call, my battery died." His eyes drifted to Alice. "Is she sleeping?"
I nodded. "It's been a…long night."
"Same here." He moved to Alice's side and gently placed a hand on her shoulder. "Alice?"
She continued snoring. If I were him, I would've shook her harder, but he did the sweetest thing ever, something Charlie used to do when I'd fall asleep in the car. He carefully lifted her in his arms, and she automatically snuggled against his chest, her head pressed underneath his chin. She looked just like a little girl.
Strange images appeared in my head, pictures of Edward holding his future child. He looked like he'd be a good dad. I didn't know why I was thinking about that, maybe because I had just compared him to Charlie.
"Bella," Edward whispered, trying not to wake Alice. "Do you have everything?"
I reached for my purse, cell phone and Alice's purse. "Everything that we brought inside the bar, but we still have our luggage in the car."
"I'm parked right out front." Alice stirred a little in his arms, but remained asleep. "Do you remember where you crashed?"
I nodded. "Yeah, it's not too far from here."
Edward followed me outside, and I held open the backseat door to his rented car as he gently placed Alice inside and buckled her in. Her eyes opened and she mumbled something in a groggy voice.
Edward sniffed in her direction before turning his gaze on me. "Has she been drinking?"
"Well, she is 24 and capable of making her own decisions," I started to defend.
Edward chuckled. "I'm not reprimanding you." He moved back and shut the door. "She's never been good at holding her alcohol."
"I've noticed," I replied dryly. "She's a lightweight."
He looked down at me with curious eyes. "How about you?"
I shook my head. "Oh, I'm not a much of a drinker. I've never been drunk before, but I sure have been surrounded by them." I shrugged a shoulder. "Living in a shelter, you see tend to see a lot of that."
He looked worried now. "I know it's only been a few days since we last spoke, but have chosen an apartment yet?"
We walked to the front of the car, he opened the door for me and I slid in. "I did, but your niece said no."
He shut the door and slid into the driver's side. "Why did she disapprove?"
"Why didn't she disapprove?" Edward started the car and glanced back, toward the direction Alice's car should be in. I pointed a finger back there. "The car is some ways back there."
Edward followed my instructions, Alice was awake but mostly remained silent.
"After this experience," I said, "I doubt I'll ever want a GPS."
Alice kicked the back of my seat.
"Why's that?" Edward asked.
"Because they're creepy. Lola reminds me of that GPS in some commercial. The one where the guy buys a necklace, and the GPS asks what's in the bag, and it locks the car doors so he can't escape and her voice goes all scary."
Edward pulled up to the hill where the car was smashed into the tree. He muttered something underneath his breath as he stared at it.
"I'll get the bags," I said, opening the door and stepped outside. The moment I shut the door, Edward's door opened and he followed me down the hill. He crouched down and tried to examine the damage. "I'll find a mechanic in the morning. From what I can tell, it doesn't look too bad, and we can probably head up to New York in the afternoon."
I reached inside the car for our luggage. "We? Are you coming with us?"
He nodded. "It was a bad idea to let Alice do this alone."
"She wasn't alone," I murmured. "But maybe it would've been better if she were. Maybe Lola only wanted to get at me."
"Bella," Edward said, voice serious. "Do you genuinely believe 'Lola' is alive?"
I rolled my eyes. "No, doc. I'm not that insane."
He nodded once. "Okay."
I clapped my hands together. "Now what?"
"I spotted a motel on my way over here," he said, heading back towards the car.
I followed him. Spending a night in a motel with my psychologist. I was certain that would definitely be breaking some rules.
"Oh, this is creepy, Craven."
Edward shut off the ignition after pulling into the nearly vacant parking lot outside of a motel taken straight out of a horror film. Not only was it pitch black out, but there was fog. Lots of it. And it was in a secluded area, perfect for chopping up bodies without the rest of the town hearing anything.
Alice leaned forward, between the driver and passenger seats. "We're going to die."
Edward, the only one acting like a grown up, gave us each a look before pulling on his car door handle and lowering a foot onto the asphalt.
"Careful," I said, "someone or something might grab your leg and pull you under."
Alice clapped her hand on my shoulder. "What's that story with the couple parking out in the woods, and the boyfriend leaves, and the girlfriend hears scratching on the car roof?"
"This so does not relate to that," I replied, twisting my body to face her, pressing my back against the dashboard. "This is more like the stories where teenagers, or sometimes a couple, stay the night in a motel or bed & breakfast, and a deranged serial killer slaughters them."
"Girls," Edward shook his head, tisking at us. "I'm going to check in. Doesn't look like it's crowded, I could probably get three rooms."
Alice and I shouted at the same time. "No!"
His eyes darted back and forth between us. "No?"
"We are not splitting up, that's what they want!" Alice whined, clutching her hand on the back of Edward's seat.
"But if we're all gathered together," I said, pointing a finger at nothing in particular, "they could close in on us and take the whole team out."
"Oh, my God," Alice whispered. "What should we do?"
"The best option would be not to stay here," I answered logically. "But Edward's clearly exhausted, and you're still a bit tipsy, and I, well, I don't drive. So we're stuck. That option is crossed off the list."
"You don't drive?" She tilted her head to the side curiously.
"Nuh-uh." I shrugged. "Don't even know how. Never owned a car in my life."
"Then how do you have a license?"
Her lips formed an 'o' shape. "So why don't you want to drive?"
Edward stepped out of the car, shutting the door behind him.
Both Alice and I watched him walk towards the building.
"I bet the people outside of the motels usually die first," I stated in a matter-of-fact way.
Immediately, we both reached for our doors and jumped out of the car, running to catch up with Edward. Our feet pounded against the ground, causing Edward to glance back. Alice walked along one side of Edward, and I stayed on the opposite side.
I hugged my arms to my chest, my eyes carefully sweeping over every inch of the motel. "Rule number one, stick together. If someone breaks apart from the group, the other two remain by each others side."
Edward raised an eyebrow at me.
"I think we should have checked to make sure we had cell reception first," Alice whispered.
Edward raised an eyebrow at Alice.
Quickly, I pulled out my cell phone. Two bars. "We're good."
Edward pulled open the glass door to the office/check-in area, holding it open for us lovely ladies. Alice stepped inside first, followed by me and then Edward. It looked normal. No screams in the background, no ominous music, no visible blood stains, and there certainly wasn't a suspicious motel manager standing behind the counter. It was a woman in her mid-twenties with platinum blonde hair and honey brown eyes.
Edward smiled politely as she greeted us.
"How many rooms?" She seemed sweet, no hidden murderous intentions lurking beneath the deep souls of her eyes.
Edward looked down at us in question.
"One," we replied.
The blonde looked a bit taken back by our answer. She probably suspected a late night threesome to occur between us. That would never happen, because first of all, Edward and Alice were related, and Edward was my psychologist, and Alice lacked a certain organ I preferred on my mates.
"You don't happen to have a room with three beds, do you?" Edward joked.
The blonde laughed. "No, sir, sorry, we don't. We do have two queen sized beds, or one king sized."
"Two queen sized beds should be fine," Edward said, pulling out his wallet.
I wondered how that'd work. Would Edward and Alice share a bed because they already shared DNA? Would the girls sleep together? Would two of us each get our own bed and the other gets the floor? Would Edward and I share a bed? Normally, that thought probably would've made me giggle, but instead, my body did something weird. I felt the blood course down there.
"Would you like two keys or one?" The blonde asked.
"One should be fine," Edward answered. "We're not going anywhere tonight."
She handed him a white key card, a sly smile on her face. "Enjoy."
I laughed on the inside. She totally thought we were all going to do it. I didn't want to correct her, she'd probably have a more interesting night with that imagination of hers running wild.
The three of us turned, stepped outside and walked towards our room. It was at the very end, a corner room.
Alice hooked her arm through mine as I came up with a conspiracy theory. "You know what's strange? This is probably the area we were in when Lola tried to drown us, and when we doubled back and reached this point again, she crashed us into a tree."
Alice gasped. "Do you think…?"
I nodded. "The town's in on it. They have some sort of weird magnetic thingy that screws up the navigators, or they just found a way to control them, and they trap foreigners because they have some small town secret."
"They want our firstborns!"
"Or," I said, taking a long pause for dramatic purposes, "they're nursing a murderous townie, and instead of setting the wild beast free or waiting around for him to kill his own people, they gather up strangers and use them as sacrifices."
Edward stepped up to our motel door, talking to me as he removed the key card from its little white envelope and stuck it inside the slot. "Do you write, Bella?" It beeped, the circular light lit green, and he opened the door.
"No." Alice and I stepped inside the room. "Why?"
Edward followed, shut the door and switched on the light. It was like every other motel or hotel room I'd ever seen. There were two beds side by side with a nightstand between them, a phone on top. The lamps were on the wall, one beside each bed, and a dresser was pressed up against the opposite wall with an old television on top. There was also a round table with four chairs; a mirror, counter and sink beside the door leading to the bathroom.
"You seem to enjoy telling stories," Edward answered, placing the key-card on the table.
I shrugged a shoulder and sat down on the edge of the closest bed. "Maybe something did cause Lola to go all spazzy. And anyway, weird stuff pops inside my head all the time. The reason for it is simple, I'm just a strange gal."
"Or an imaginative one." He turned back towards the door. "I'm going to get our bags, I'll be back, and in the meantime, why don't you two figure this arrangement out?" He opened the door and stepped outside.
Alice literally threw herself on top of the bed, her body lay across the side and her head was beside my thighs as she peeked up at me. "He likes you."
"He has to pretend to," I corrected. "He's my psychologist. Psychologists are supposed to make you feel safe and comfortable."
"Name one non-sleazy psychologist that has rescued his patient and booked them a room?"
"You're purposefully leaving out a lot of necessary facts." I stood up, walking towards the mirror above the sink. "And aren't you supposed to be drunk?"
She flopped over onto her back and watched me wash my hands and face. "I'm not drunk."
"Well, you were a couple hours ago, your brain probably still all fuzzy."
"Nope, and I wasn't drunk then, either. Just buzzed."
I turned and looked at her with my head lowered and my eyebrows raised high on my forehead. "You were totally drunk. Buzzed people don't sing mixed match nursery rhymes."
A knock came on the door. Alice and I stared at each other, not sure what to do.
"Did you check the vents for hidden cameras?" I whispered.
The knock came again. "Alice, it's me," came Dr. Cullen's muffled voice.
Alice rolled off the bed and opened the door for her uncle. He entered the room, carrying all of our bags, and placed them on the floor beside the table. Alice hurriedly unzipped her bag, pulled out a few things and clutched them to her chest.
"I'm taking a shower," she said. "I feel gross and stinky." She headed towards the bathroom, passing me along the way.
Now that Dr. Cullen and I were alone in the room, the true awkwardness of the situation crept up on us. This wasn't normal. We shouldn't be in a room together, especially not in a motel room.
I nervously wrung my hands together. Dr. Cullen sat down in a chair, leaned forehead and ran his fingers through his hair, looking distressed. "Sit down, please," he said, not looking at me. "We need to talk."
With my heart beating faster than normal, I moved to the bed and sat down, facing him.
"My career is in jeopardy," he started. He cringed and shook his head. "I shouldn't have said it like that. It isn't your fault or because of anything you did, but if I continue down this road I'm not going to be licensed psychologist much longer."
"What's going on?" I asked, concerned.
He lifted his head up, looking into my eyes. "I'm honest with my patients, all of them. You and I, we can't continue our current way of handling your treatment. It's blurring the lines between professional and personal, and that's not the way I work. I've already consulted a colleague about transferring you to another psychologist, so-"
"What?" I jumped up. "Transfer me? What the hell does that mean? You don't want to see me anymore?"
He stood up as well. "Bella, we're-"
"Nothing has happened!" I moved way from him, beginning to pace around the room. "Okay, so I'm becoming friends with your niece and we're sleeping in the same room tonight, but you're the one who promised me twenty sessions to properly evaluate me. You can't just take that all back."
"Bella, I haven't officially decided which route to take, which is why I am trying to have this conversation with you, so we can appropriately discuss our options."
I took a deep breath and moved back to the bed, sitting once again. He followed my lead and sat down in the chair.
I folded my hands in my lap. "Fine. Let's talk, then. To save you some time and energy, I'm going to say this, if you do decide to get rid of me, I'm not going to another psychologist. I'll be done. This was a one time deal. If you walk away now, I'm staying away from all other shrinks."
He clenched his jaw and sighed. "Bella, you need-"
"No," I interrupted. "I don't need anything. Maybe I am mentally ill, okay? Maybe I'm a hypochondriac. Or maybe I'm a very sick girl with a brain tumor who is disoriented and weird because of its position. If my mental diagnosis were serious, you'd probably have an idea by now, 'cause let me tell you, while I do occasionally pretend to be tougher than I am, I can't mask everything about myself. I'm not an actress, or at least not a very good one.
"The one thing I want out of this whole situation with you is to have just one more brain scan. It is so easy to miss a brain tumor, especially if it's small or they needed different equipment to spot it. Just one more scan, and I promise, if everything comes back clean and normal, I will stop saying I'm sick. I will accept it and live my life, but you made me a promise, and you have to honor that because I want your offer."
Dr. Cullen considered what I said in silence. He leaned back in the chair and looked off in to space, clearly thinking hard. "I am a man of my word, Miss Swan. You're correct, I did offer you a deal, and I'm willing to keep my promise, but things would have to change."
"I can keep my distance," I said firmly. "I won't ask you about your personal life anymore, and I'll do whatever you ask, whatever you want to talk about. And this weekend, it'll be a one time thing, okay? Come Monday, we can start our new rules, but I just want to be normal for once. Please? I never get to go on trips with friends and have fun, and I know this was never supposed to be a social event, but I like feeling this way. Normal. So can we just be…friends this weekend, and then go back to the whole professional thing?"
He opened his mouth to speak, but I cut him off.
"I really won't ask you anything about your life. We'll just go on this journey together, and maybe we won't even talk. We can use Alice as the messenger. No one here knows us, they don't know I'm your patient. They're not going to report you, and you're not doing anything inappropriate. I assure you."
"Bella," he said with a regretful sigh. "This isn't about anyone catching us, it's about morals and your state of mind when we're together. You can't rely on me to help you if you feel betrayed in any way."
I shook my head. "I don't feel betrayed. Well, I would if you walk away now. But talking to you during our outside sessions, and how you came all the way over here to help us out, it doesn't make me feel I'm being taken advantage of, like you seem to think. It actually opened me up to you. I trust you more, I'm more reliant on you. It proves you're a good man and you love your job and genuinely care about your patients. Maybe certain doctors shouldn't have an outside relationship with their patients, but this isn't harmful to me. It's helping. It really is."
"That's another issue," he began, "if you become attached-"
"I'm not," I assured. "Yes, I like talking to you. But I won't go suicidal when our sessions end. I'm not misreading anything, I promise." I stuck my hand out towards him. "Stay with me? Be my psychologist?"
He was hesitant, but eventually shook my hand. "I'm not guaranteeing anything, but if this weekend goes well and we both agree it'll have no effect on our remaining weeks together as doctor and patient, I'll grant you my official word."
We could do this. We could have a normal weekend together. It wouldn't disrupt our professional relationship. Everything would be fine.