Edward tried to assure me several times that he was not in any trouble, but I could tell he was nervous. We talked about it a little more, both hoping it was simply a mistake in the ordering, and not the major shit-storm that would certainly occur if, indeed, narcotics had gone missing from our shelves.
Unwilling to see the shadow of doom and gloom cross over Edward's face yet again that day, I stuffed him full of tacos and together we snuggled on the couch and watched bad television for the rest of the night. We made out like horny teenagers for awhile, which helped me to accomplish my goal of distracting him.
I did talk to Alice, who apologized forwards and backwards for drunkenly spilling Edward's big bad secret to me. I told her she had no way of knowing that he had yet to tell me the whole story, so no apology necessary. She was grateful Edward and I worked things out, and squealed like some inhuman animal when I told her I loved him and made sure he knew it. Edward blushed and nuzzled my neck when he overheard that part of the conversation.
Alice was spending the night in Port Angeles with Jasper since the two of them slept at our place the night before, and I told her to let Jasper know I'd get right to work on his book. After saying our goodnights, I glanced over at Edward and noticed his drooping eyes as he stared blankly at the television.
"Are you tired, baby?" I asked him quietly, running my fingers through his hair. "You look beat."
He blinked a few times and rubbed his hand over his face, pushing his glasses up into his hair. Sitting up beside me, he replaced his glasses on his nose and sighed heavily.
"Yeah, been a long day," he replied.
"You wanna sleep here?"
He smiled at me. "Of course I do. I always want to sleep with you, wherever you may be."
I snorted and pushed his shoulder. "You are a major cheeseball."
Edward laughed and tackled me on the couch. We kissed for a few minutes before he pulled away and just stared at me, love and adoration showing through his bright green eyes.
"Unfortunately, I think I should go home," he said sadly. "I want to go through a few things just to make sure I'm prepared to meet with Eleazar tomorrow, especially if I have to go right from work."
"What time will you be home from PA?" I asked with a pout.
He chuckled and kissed my nose. "Hopefully after dinner time. Want me to come over after?"
"Duh," I replied, tickling his side. He squawked and rolled off of me, landing on the floor with an "oof."
"Hey, falling on the floor is my schtick. Get your own."
"Har, har," he deadpanned, sitting up.
Edward left after a few more minutes—okay twenty-five—of kissing. I hated to watch him leave, knowing I'd be sleeping alone tonight. Funny how in just a short time together, I was already used to sleeping next to him and somehow sleeping without him just seemed…not right.
Needing to keep my mind off missing my boyfriend, I cracked open the large white envelope on the kitchen table and found my favorite red pen in the junk drawer.
"A non-fiction book about the Civil War ought to put me right to sleep. No offense, Jasper," I mumbled to myself as I began to read.
Two hours later I was well into the text, my red pen marking up the margins here and circling grammatical errors there. The book was actually quite interesting. History had never been my favorite subject, but I suddenly found myself wanting to learn more. Jasper really knew his stuff. Unfortunately, he knew next to nothing about the proper use of a comma.
However, at half past midnight, the exhaustion took over and I capped my red pen and made my way up to bed. I slept rather well, but had some strange dream about Edward and Jasper in Confederate uniforms riding horses through some grassy field. Weird.
Work the next day dragged. We had some busy spurts, but overall the store seemed empty. Edward was more quiet than usual, and I knew he was nervous about his meeting with Eleazar. He had the inventory pulled up on the computer and print outs in his hand, checking and rechecking. I offered to help, but he just smiled and kissed me before disappearing back into the shelves.
Surprisingly, Tanya arrived on time, just as James came through the front door and worked his slimy charm on Jess and Lauren. Edward and I got our things and headed out to the lot. I stopped at his car with him and watched him throw his stuff in the back. He was trembling again, and running his fingers through his hair. I reached up and grabbed his hands in mine, placing them against my chest.
"You're okay," I assured him. "Everything will be fine. You feel this?" I placed his palm flat against my chest, against my beating heart. "Concentrate on that. It's beating for you."
He smiled, the anxiety fading from his eyes. "Now who's the cheeseball?" he whispered.
I grinned and winked at him. "We can make a competition of it, who can be the cheesiest?"
Making sure to give him one last kiss, during which I was sure I at least sucked the tension from his tongue if I couldn't suck it from the rest of him, I watched him drive away, praying it wasn't to meet Eleazar's wrath.
Some noise from the other side of the parking lot caught my attention. Curious, I walked the length of the lot past the back of the pharmacy. Caddy corner to our store stood a building that had been for sale for as long as I could remember. It used to be construction offices, but the owner went out of business long ago. Now, judging by the number of bulldozers and work trucks pulling onto the property, it looked like someone finally bought the place.
"Ah, there it is, the end of days for Forks Pharmacy," I heard James say. Turning, I found him leaning against the back door smoking a cigarette.
Normally I would turn and walk away from the sleazeball, but his words piqued my interest.
"What do you mean?" I asked, stepping closer and away from the noise of the trucks across the street.
He smiled menacingly at me before taking another drag from his smoke.
"Forks Pharm barely has customers as it is," he explained. "Most people just go to PA to get their prescriptions filled, or the grocery store pharm. And now that that will be opening in a month or two, there's no way Eleazar will keep this dive open."
I guessed he read the confusion in my face because he pointed across the street. Turning, I noticed some guys in hard hats erecting a large sign in front of the empty building.
Future site of Walgreen's Pharmacy
"Holy shit, they're opening a chain pharmacy in Forks?" I asked, trying to make sense of what I was seeing.
James snickered. "Yep," he said, emphasizing the 'p' at the end of the word.
I knew the jackass spoke the truth. Our store was dead as it was, and now with a large chain opening across the street, we were doomed.
"And Eleazar knows about this?"
"Oh sure, he's known for a while. All of the business owners in the area were sent a press release."
A wash of emotions went through me—panic, fear, anxiety, anger. How could Eleazar keep this from his employees? Obviously James knew. I wondered if Edward knew. He would've told me, though…wouldn't he?
The sound of a cell phone ringing pulled me from my thoughts. I looked back and watched James take his phone from his pocket and smirk at the screen.
"Well, back to work," he said as he put the phone to his ear. "Wouldn't want to keep the throngs of customers waiting…oh wait…" He trailed off, smirking at me again before he disappeared into the store.
Sighing, I walked to my truck and got in.
This just sucks.
I was tempted to call Edward, but he had enough to worry about at the moment. I wouldn't add to that. Instead I just drove home and attempted to distract myself by working on Jasper's book.
By ten o'clock I had finished the manuscript with a sense of victory, brushing my hand gently over the title page. Jasper had done well, and this book was actually really good. I had a feeling it would make him pretty successful in his field. I had a small feeling of pride knowing I had a little part in that.
My phone rang, startling me. Glancing at the screen, I saw it was Edward. Blinking, I looked at the clock and was actually shocked I never realized the time, and I was only now just hearing from him.
"Hey…" he replied, his voice wary. "I'm sorry I'm calling so late."
"No, it's okay," I said, shaking the cobwebs out of my head. "I was just working on Jasper's book and didn't realize the time."
"Oh, how's that going?" he asked.
"Really well. I finished!" I exclaimed.
"You finished? You read the entire thing in one sitting?"
"No, I started it last night, actually. It's a good book, though. I know more about the Civil War now than I ever did, and it held my interest, so…"
"Well, I'm sure Jasper appreciates it."
I snorted. "He's paying me a lot of money. It's me doing the appreciating."
He chuckled, but I could tell it was forced.
"What happened today?" I asked.
He was quiet for a moment.
"Not much…uh…Eleazar just wanted to discuss some things…"
Hmmmm, he's hiding something.
"Did he want to talk about the missing narcotics?" I asked.
"Uh…more or less…"
"Why are you being so vague?"
I heard him sigh. "I…I can't really discuss it."
I huffed in frustration. "Really? Why?"
"It's just…there are some things that are going to be taking place and Eleazar kind of demanded my silence on the matter until these things come to light."
Hello, awkward silence, thank you for joining us.
I had to respect Edward's loyalty to his boss and family friend. So I decided to let it go for now.
"Hey, did you know they were building a Walgreen's across the street from us?" I blurted out as my voice raised a few octaves.
"Actually, I just heard about that today," he replied.
"What's going to happen? Will the store close?"
"Um…that's part of what Eleazar talked to me about…that I can't discuss yet…"
"Can you at least tell me if I'm going to be out of a job again? I mean, I haven't even received my first paycheck for fuck's sake." I was getting angry and frustrated at the lack of information he was able to give me about my future.
It's not his fault, he's just doing what he was told.
"Bella…I…um…I don't…can't…" he babbled. I could almost see him trembling from here.
Sighing again, I squeezed my eyes shut and willed myself to calm down. "It's okay, I'm sorry for snapping at you, baby," I said, shaking my head. "I'm just a little frustrated."
"No, I understand. I'm sorry I can't tell you everything. I always want to tell you everything," he said sadly.
"Well, are you still coming over tonight?"
"Actually, I'm still in Port Angeles."
I looked at the clock again. "You are?'
"Yes, Eleazar asked me to work with him at the PA store tomorrow so I'm sleeping at Emmett's."
Some kind of noise came out of my throat, and I'm not entirely sure it was human.
"James is working a double tomorrow," he mumbled.
Fuckity fuck fuck.
"I have to work with James tomorrow?"
"I'm so sorry, Bella, but there are some things…Eleazar needs me to help him with…fuck, it is so frustrating not being able to tell you everything!"
Usually when Edward said fuck it turned me on because hearing my quiet shy boy curse was hot. This time was different.
"There's something major happening, isn't there?" I said. His silence was all the response I needed. "I should start looking for another job, shouldn't I?"