Disclaimer: All characters, plots, and settings related to Twilight are the property of Stephenie Meyer. No copyright infringement is intended by the author.

Chapter Fourteen

Like a Lost Puppy

"Hey, you're awake. Aren't you going to drive Bella to work?"

I shrugged as I opened the refrigerator and took a carton of milk. I was already awake for an hour, but couldn't bring myself to get out of bed. I was still contemplating whether to show up at Bella's house today.

Not only was I scared of what Bella might do to me following the event that happened the night before, I was also clueless what to do. Should I apologize? I didn't want to, especially when she was the one who insisted on that kiss at the first place. Should I pretend nothing happened? I could do that, but only if she wouldn't mind pretending, either. Maybe it'll be better if we just forget the whole thing. I snorted. Like I could forget that kiss anytime soon.

"She'll be late if you don't hurry," my mom said as she watched me empty the carton.

"I might stay at home today," I replied.

"Oh? Are you not feeling well?" she asked. A worried frown instantly formed on her face.

I nodded, feeling a little guilty making her think so. I immediately went back to my room, afraid my mom would start fussing over me and feeling my non-existent high temperature.

I looked at my phone, waiting to see if Bella would call or send me a message. I wondered if she was still waiting for me, or if she decided to just drive to Newtons' herself. I felt bad imagining her being late while wondering where I was. I held my phone, my thumb ready to press the call button. I should definitely call her, I thought, even if it was to say I couldn't drive her to work.

Then again, she didn't call me, either. Did she even wait at all?

Fuck this shit. I'm going back to bed.

I woke up even before the alarm. This time I didn't linger in bed. I immediately got up to shower to shake off the grogginess. Bella will see me on her doorstep bright and early this morning.

All day yesterday I haven't heard a peep from her, though admittedly I haven't call or sent her a message either. It seemed like my whole day was all messed up doing nothing but checking my phone. I stayed in bed longer than the usual which gave me a headache, and I spent the afternoon watching mindless TV shows and waiting for my phone to ring. It made my headache worse.

Mom was clearly giddy I was up early today, and I knew she'll be on the phone the second I leave the house.

However, all was fucking moot when I arrived at the Swans' and found Bella's truck gone. Renee must have seen me because she hurriedly came out and told me Bella already drove herself to Newton's early this morning.

I could go back home and just forget about all this, I thought, but I knew that another day like yesterday will cost me my sanity.

It won't be on her doorstep, but Bella will surely see me this morning.

I just stepped inside Newton's when Jacob suddenly appeared right in front of my face out of nowhere, "Hey, Edward, Mike's not here yet. He let me work the whole day today. He might be coming in a few minutes, though, to check on a few things..."


"Mike. He's not here right now."

"I'm here for Bella…" I pointed out, as if it wasn't obvious enough for him. Why would I want to see fucking Newton?

"Oh. I know, but aren't you going to talk to Mike?"

"Why would…" I was interrupted when the back room opened and Bella came out – with what looked like an ugly bruise on her forehead! Her eyes grew wide the second she saw me, and mine did too as I eyed her evident injury. She hurried off to hide behind the counter while I narrowed my eyes at her, following her every step. Before I could get to her, however, Jacob spoke again. "Don't worry about Mike, Edward. I'll look out for her. You can count on me."

I still had no clue what he was talking about, but I had to get to Bella. "Sure, Jake. I'll talk to Bella now."

Bella was looking down pathetically trying to look busy as I walked towards her.

"What happened to your head?" I asked.

She gave me a glance, then shrugged, and in a very cordial voice, said, "Hey, Edward. How can I help you today?"

I swallowed a curse and hissed at her, "Tell me what happened to your head."

She eyed me for a long second, and when I thought she would finally talk, she suddenly waved to someone behind me. "Good morning, Mr. Yorkie!" Annoyed and a lot frustrated, I didn't bother turning around to see who just came in. I heard Jacob entertain some old man who was looking for an outdoor grill.

"Bella, I'm waiting. Tell me what happened." I gritted my teeth.

That was when she finally looked me in the eye. "It's frustrating, isn't it? I was waiting yesterday, too."

For a second I could only look at her, my mind indecisive whether to defend myself or not. Not that I could, really. "Look, we'll talk about that later. What happened?" I asked again, pointing at her head. It was distracting me, and I'd rather talk about it than what has caused my absence yesterday.

She shrugged. "Clumsy moment."

"Clumsy moment? That's it?"

She turned away then and started rummaging through a pile of inventory papers. "Yes, that's it."

I thought of what Jacob has told me just minutes ago. "Jake knows what happened, doesn't he?"

I could tell I was grating on her nerves at the moment, but she just have to deal with it. "What, you're gonna gang up with him now and talk about me? Go home, Edward. I'm sure you have better things to do than be here."

I opened my mouth to say something, but was caught off-guard by what she just said.

That wasn't true at all. All day yesterday I was bored and miserable, and yes, guilty as hell just because I didn't see her and drive her to work. I knew I had to apologize. I needed to. I took a deep breath. "About yesterday, that was me being a chicken shit. It had nothing to do with you."

She shook her head. "This isn't about yesterday."

I wondered if this was about the kiss, but I was hesitant to ask. It seemed like she was going for the pretend-it-didn't-happen route, and I for one didn't want to open that can of worms.

"I'm just saying that you don't need to drive me to work every day anymore," she went on, her voice muffled enough so only I could hear. "We already had our parents convinced. Heck the whole town has probably made up a cheesy love story starring the both of us!" She gave me a patronizing smile, as if she was talking to a small child. "We don't need to try so hard to pretend. It's okay."


"We'll be fine. Plus, driving me around all the time is kind of ridiculous, especially when we live in a town as small as Forks and there's the fact that I have my own truck," she added as she rolled her eyes.

"Bella, you know it's not like that. I was the one who insisted in driving you to work, and it had nothing to do with our deal," I insisted, because really, I didn't do that shit just because I needed to. "Don't pull away from me just because I didn't show up yesterday."

"I told you this isn't about yesterday!"

"Then tell me what this is all about! Don't act like you know how I feel and make me go away!"

We both realized a little too late that there were other people in the store, gawking at us like we were in a freaking reality show.

"Okay." Bella took a deep breath. "Come back during my lunch break and we'll talk?"

I wanted to know what happened to her head right this minute but was resigned to the fact that we couldn't talk right now.

"And just my luck, which you know is almost always bad, a couple of tube lanterns fell on me."

I frowned as I watched Bella took a sip of her hot apple cider after she told me what happened yesterday. We were sitting on the bed of her truck, sharing a grilled steak sandwich for lunch. It wasn't raining, so we decided to enjoy the sparse sunlight that managed to shine through the thick clouds.

"So, Mike cornered you?" I asked.

She shook her head. "No, I said I felt cornered."

"Because he did corner you," I insisted. Bella was being stubborn. She was taking a firm stand that what has happened to her head was all her clumsiness' fault. It was that shit Newton's, who assumed, yet again, that Bella was willing to go out with him. "Did he fucking touch you?" I had to ask, although just the thought of it was making me want to get my hands on the fucker to pulverize his.

"No, he was just crossing my personal boundaries a bit that I had to step back and collided with the shelf. Shit fell and hell broke loose."

"What do you mean?"

"Nothing. I just embarrassed myself, as usual. The store was a mess and Mike wouldn't stop apologizing while still invading my personal radius."

I could only shake my head at Newton's incredible ability to pester people, especially me. Even before knowing Bella, he annoyed the living hell out of me. "Jake helped you?" I asked.

She scoffed, but I knew that was a yes. I wasn't sure how I feel about that. She chewed the last bit of sandwich before turning to me, "Do you want a doughnut? I'm craving for one right now."

I could only glare at her. After making me wait until lunch to tell me all this shit, and now she just wanted a fucking doughnut? Though I was quite glad she wasn't moody anymore, and that she seemed to forget about waiting for me yesterday. All is well, I thought with relief.

"I can get you a doughnut. Just sugar-glazed, right? We can get some hot chocolate." I volunteered, perhaps too quickly.

Her eyes narrowed at me with what I could only guess as suspicion, her earlier nonchalance gone. "Why are you suddenly like this?"

"Like what?" I hoped innocence was radiating through me, even though that was unlikely because yeah, I wasn't usually this nice.

"Like you want to spend your day with me and buy me things. Go home, Edward."

I ignored her quick dismissal of me, again, even though it made me feel like a dog. Plus, I was only offering her pastries and a hot drink, not flowers and jewelry. "Look, I came to apologize, or whatever." I didn't want to admit I was waiting to hear from her yesterday, but I wanted her to know I wouldn't leave her waiting again. "I'm sorry. You know I can be a dick sometimes..."

"Oh." She ducked her head, so I couldn't see her face and figure out what she's thinking. "Edward, let's just…"

"I swear it wasn't like I enjoyed the thought of making you wait. I was just… I'm sorry," I interrupted before I lose the nerve to get it all out there.

She sighed, and I could see her mumble something under her breath. "Apology accepted, Cullen."

I smiled, relieved. "So how about that doughnut?"

She shrugged as she climbed down the truck. "Nah, the craving's gone now. You really should head home. I have to get back to work."

"I can stay," I offered.

"Stay and do what?"

I shrugged. "Just hang out, maybe?"

She spun around fast, almost colliding into me. "Really? While I'm at work?"

I rolled my eyes. Work at Newton's is like child's play. "Well, you work and I'll hang around," I amended.

Bella stared at me for a few seconds, and I was about to tell her she was making me feel uncomfortable when she tilted her head and narrowed her eyes. "Cullen, you're acting very strange." She crossed her arms across her chest as smirked at me. "For a guy who admittedly avoids being in a committed relationship, you sure are becoming clingy."

I could hear the teasing tone in her words, but it wasn't the least bit funny to me. The last thing I want to be is fucking clingy. The thought of someone following me around like a lost puppy was never appealing to me, so for her to say that about me was horrifying.

"I... I wasn't..."

She raised a brow at me, waiting as my mouth opened and closed like a fish. A second later and all I could manage to say was a mumble, "Shut, up, Swan."

She laughed as she waved me away. "See yah, Cullen. Busy day today. We're giving a 10% discount to any loyal customer who buys an outdoor grill," she announced.

I snickered, though I was still reeling over the fact that she called me clingy. Clingy, my ass.

The bar where Emmett worked was filled with the college crowd enjoying the summer break. The atmosphere was relaxed and good music streamed through the speakers. Emmett was busy handing out drinks so I sat alone on a bar stool, just watching people mingle.

I could see Rosalie smirking at me from the corner of my eye. "You fucked up, lover boy?"

I raised a brow at her. "What?" Rosalie and I barely tolerate each other. I could never figure out what Emmett sees in her, though knowing Emmett it's probably something very shallow, like her ass.

"Where's your small town girl?"

I rolled my eyes. "You're from that same small town, Rosalie Lillian."

"Not anymore, Edward Anthony," she said.

I didn't have anything to say to that, so I took another pull of my beer and ignored her persisting inquisitive glance.

"So she's still your girl, that Swan chick?"

And there it is – the need to confirm if I already messed up my supposed last chance of being a decent man who can commit. I snorted, since it was just a few hours ago that "my girl" told me I was getting clingy. I could never figure this out, I thought. Women are just different species from men.

I drained my bottle of beer before heading to the rest room, completely ignoring Rosalie as she sighed behind me.

I returned to the bar and was glad Rosalie has found something better to do than annoying the shit out of me. I was drinking my second bottle of beer when a blonde suddenly appeared beside me, ordered some girly drink, and flirted with me while I mostly ignored her. She talked about how all the other guys around here look the same.

"What, I look different?" I asked.

"Uh-huh. You definitely look more mature and grown-up compared to these little boys."

I raised a brow, completely not convinced. Not that I disagree with what she just said, but judging by the glittery long fingernails crawling along my chest, I knew this girl has an agenda, and it's not a hidden one, that's for sure.

Bella doesn't have long fingernails, I thought. She always keeps it clean and short.

She interrupted my musings. "Your girlfriend's claws are coming out."

"And yours are digging through my skin," I pointed out as I frown down at her wandering hand. Then it sank in – my girlfriend? I immediately looked around for Bella, wondering how she ended up here – why she ended up here, but I spotted Rosalie glowering at me instead.

"Oh, that's not my girlfriend, thank the heavens," I muttered.

The girl then made an exaggerated sigh of relief and giggled – the annoying kind of giggle which sounded like a hyena's – and was about to raise her hand to probably touch my hair when I took a step back because Rosalie might not be my girlfriend, but that didn't mean I want to be friendly with this chick.

"I thought she's not your girlfriend," she complained.

"She's not. I don't like blondes, and my girl definitely does not glue harmful bits of plastic on her fingers," I said, smiling.

She huffed, ordered another drink before turning away.

Emmett took a break and we played a few games of darts for a while. I was about to have my third bottle of beer when I saw that Bella has left me a couple of messages. She was asking for Renee, if her mother has been with my mom. I frowned as I checked the time I received the messages. It's been more than a couple of hours since then. Knowing Renee has most probably arrived home by now, I didn't bother sending a reply.

I was driving back to Forks before midnight, refusing Emmett's offer for me to stay the night. Knowing he'll be with Rosalie, that wasn't a good idea. I decided to go straight home and into bed when I remembered Bella's messages. A few minutes later and I found myself parked a few houses away from the Swans'. Appearing on their doorstep at this hour was obviously a bad idea, but I had this strange urge to see Bella to make sure she's alright.

Apparently, that was not something I should have worried about judging by the usual way she wanted me away. My mental health, however, was questionable as I wondered how the hell I came up with the brilliant idea to climb a tree and knock on her window.

"Edward, what are you doing?"

"Come on, give me a hand."

"What? No! We do have a door, you know. It's downstairs, in case you missed it."

I knew that! "Will you open the door if I knocked on it instead?" I didn't wait for her reply as I balanced myself on a branch, ready to jump inside her room. "Move!" I hissed. She was still blocking her window, and I didn't know how long I could stay on the tree without hurting myself or waking Bella's father up.

"No!" And though I could tell she was thinking I was being nuts, I could hear the amusement in her voice as she told me not to go in. She did, however, move out of the way as I leaped inside. "You're crazy, you know that? My dad's sleeping downstairs!"

I rolled my eyes at her because how could I forget? Chief Swan would have normally scare the shit out of me, but tomorrow seemed too far away and I was feeling restless. "Let's talk," I told her as I got up from her floor where I landed with a muted thud. I was stealthy, and I was proud of that.

I was making myself comfortable on Bella's bed while she was still murmuring I was a wacko when I suddenly realized I was in Bella's room in the middle of the night, the door locked, and none of our parents aware. I looked at Bella, and saw for the first time that she was only wearing a thin old ratty shirt and a pair of shorts so small it was like underwear. I gulped.

AN. If you're still reading this, you have the patience of a saint. Seriously. Share your thoughts? :)