It was late. And Jasper still hadn't come home.
I sat up in bed, biting my nails and glancing nervously at the door. I tried multiple times to fall asleep, but I was too riled up. Where was he? Was he mad? Is that why he hasn't come home? Don't get me wrong. There had been plenty of times where Jasper hasn't come home at night and I have been. Technically, he didn't think of this place as his home. He thought of it as my home. So in his eyes, it was perfectly normal to stay out all night, sleeping on park benches and roaming the streets. But there's been a routine forming. He's been here every single morning when I wake up and lately, I've heard him come in at night. It was because I fought with him today. It was because I was angry with him and now he feels like he can't come home. But he can. I thought about taking the last two sleeping pills I had on my nightstand, but I didn't for two reasons. One, I didn't know if it was good for the baby. I had started to feel more and more aware of it as the days went on. There were things I had been kicking myself for missing. I really was getting a little bit bigger. There was no way to deny that. And I had been really queasy last month. I thought it was just a stomach bug, because it was on again, off again. The other reason was because I was a bit paranoid about medication. I know plenty of people with addictions and if there's one thing I've learned in all my years, it's that you can get addicted to anything. Sleeping pills, included.
My head fell back against the pillow and I whimpered to myself. I touched my stomach, enjoying the feel of the tiny bump forming. It was almost comforting to know someone else was here with me. It was also frightening to know that I was responsible for it. I had only ever been responsible for myself. Well, that's not true. Ever since we were little, Jasper and I had been responsible for each other. We took the blame together, no matter what the punishment may be. If Jasper came to the door right now and told me he'd killed someone, I would grab a shovel and help him bury the body. And I know he'd do the same for me. My eyes started to droop. Thinking about Jasper was soothing, but also disconcerting, considering he hated my guts right about now. I hugged my self, and the baby, as I drifted off into an uneasy sleep. I opened one eye to look at the clock. It was midnight and Jasper still hadn't come home. Where was he? I knew I would wake up every hour on the hour until he was next to me, but it didn't matter, I thought as everything got darker and darker. I wanted my brother.
It was raining.
It was five o'clock and it was raining. Men were coming home from work, kissing their wives on the cheek and ruffling the hair of their children. Not in my house, though. I didn't have a house. Just a big,, dirty, contaminated studio full of hopelessness and broken dreams. I didn't have a Father either. Well, I did. But he never kissed Renee on the cheek, or tousled our hair when he got home. When he got home, he opened a beer and turned on the television. Without us. If Jasper were here, he would tell me to shut my trap and finish my homework. Where was Jasper? He was supposed to be home by now. I met him in the library, like we did everyday. He told me he had some things to take care of at four o'clock. Four o'clock had passed, an hour ago at least, and Jasper was usually quick to take care of things. I shifted, nervously in my seat and tapped the pencil against the table top. I was in the "kitchen", as Renee called it. She was lying to herself if she thought this was a kitchen. It was a break room, a place for employees to drink from the water cooler and eat poptarts when they weren't in the middle of deep throat. Whatever that is. This was not a kitchen. It was a placeholder. Math is hard, I thought, sadly. Jasper is so good at math. I wish he was here. That's how we did things. Jasper did our math homework and I did our Language Arts. This was the first year we weren't in the same class. I hate third grade. I hate everything about it. Especially the fact that I was all alone.
There was the all too familiar clicking of heels behind me. I rolled my eyes as the refrigerator door opened and shut, just like it did everyday right around this time. She was looking for the chocolate bar she bought last night. But just like everyday, Jasper and I split it when we got home from school. Everyday she looked for it and everyday she couldn't find it. She never brought it up. But she knew it was us. I huffed, quietly from my seat at the table and she turned around with a hand on her hip. Her eyes were tired. She had bags under them and her cleavage threatened to spill out of her shirt. I could see the lacey underwear she wore under the tiny, tattered skirt. It was plaid. Her hair was in pigtails, kind of like mine. I wish I could wear lacey underwear. Everyone around here wore lacey underwear. Everyone except me. I was too little, I pouted silently as I erased the last problem, angrily. Renee raised an eyebrow and pulled out the chair across from me, Jasper's chair. She cracked open a soda and took a long swig, like it was something much tougher than Coke. Like it was whiskey. Renee sure liked her whiskey. I slammed my hands down on my paper as she tried to pull it away with her acrylic nails. I scowled at her, wishing more than anything that she would just die. Die, die, die.
"Let. Go." I said, through clenched teeth. Renee was stronger and yanked the paper away, successfully ripping it right down the middle. "Hey! Look what you did!"
She scoffed. "I wouldn't have done it if you had just given me the fucking paper when I asked for it."
I crossed my arms and slumped down in my chair. The teacher never believed my real stories. Only my excuses. I would have to tell her my dog ate it. Instead of the honest truth: My Mother was a spiteful, bitter old bat and she ripped it right down the middle when I wouldn't let her have it. "You never asked for it. You never ask for anything. You just took it."
Renee narrowed her eyes at me. "I'm your Mother; I don't have to ask you for jack shit."
"Probably because you wouldn't get it." I snapped. "I ask God every day for a new Mom and I never get JACK SHIT!"
Her mouth flew open. She gaped at me for a moment, before standing up and grabbing my arm, pulling me from the chair. "You mouthy little bitch. I ought to slap that smart mouth right off your face."
"Go ahead." I growled, struggling to get away from her. "Go ahead and hit me. Whore! That's what everyone calls you when you leave the room. A whore!"
I didn't know what compelled me to tell her that. Maybe because I was tired of keeping it to myself. Maybe to get her to let go of me. Maybe just because I wanted to see that flash of pain rip through her eyes. She let me go. I fell to the floor. I stared at the ground as she walked away. I didn't need her tears. She is a whore, I thought, menacingly as my eyes bore down at the tile. A filthy, disgusting whore. Everyone said it, so it must be true. It must be. I heard squeaky shoes on the linoleum and I glanced up when the worn down tennis shoes appeared under my nose. Jasper looked down at me with sad eyes. He held his hand out and I took it, pulling myself up from the dirty ground. Dirty like Renee. Dirty like it should me. The ground should be dirty. My Mother should not. When I was standing, I saw the real pain in his face. The busted lip. The black eye. I opened my mouth to speak, but the look on his face told me he would rather not say. That was the way things were. I knew him and he knew me. There was a long silence before he glanced at the table. One deep breath and then he said it.
"I'll restart your math if you do my word study."
And that was why I wanted Jasper next to me. Because when we didn't stay together, we both got hurt.
I awoke to the shrill sound of my telephone ringing. My first thought was Jasper. My second was Edward. I was disappointed when I picked up the receiver, to find that it wasn't either. It was Charlie. Charlie, my Dad, someone I should be ecstatic to speak with. But I wasn't. I just wasn't.
"Bella?" He asked, clearing his throat. "Glad I caught you."
"Hey, Charlie." I said, wrapping one arm around my waist. I wanted to cover the ears. I never wanted my baby to hear the voice of the man that has caused me so much pain over the years. "What's going on?"
Charlie was shifting. I knew. He thought I didn't, but I did. "Oh, nothing, nothing. We're just having a little family barbeque tonight and Bree suggested we invite you and Jasper. It completely slipped my mind."
Ouch. "Of course, I mean, why wouldn't you think to invite your kids to this fun filled family barbeque." I snapped. "Golly. I get to see you twice in the same week? Lady luck must have finally caught up with me."
He sighed. "It's an invitation, Bella. Take it or leave it."
"Leave it." I whispered. "Listen, Charlie, I have a lot going on right now. I don't have time to play your games. We both know that you don't give a damn about us, you just feel guilty. And I don't want to come to your little pity party."
There was a pause. "Now, you know that isn't true."
I closed my eyes. "Do I? Because right now, it really feels that way. That's how it feels, Charlie and it hurts. It hurts, it bites, it sucks and you made it that way. I have to get going. Call me when you fall off your high horse and take responsibility for your actions."
I pressed the end button with ease. It felt good to be mad at someone other than myself. I was kicking myself for not thinking of this sooner. I had no one to be angry with, so why not dig up all those old, bitter feelings I have towards Charlie? Because it would blow up in my face, I thought. I slipped off my pajama pants and pulled on some jeans. They were snug. I was fat. I pulled on an oversized sweatshirt, probably Jasper's and walked out the door, flip flops on my feet. It was almost May. My feet were getting hot and bloated. Not a good combination. I walked around the back of my building and found my truck, cool from the morning chill and from being untouched the past few days. Kind of like me.
I didn't want to go to work, but I wanted to get out of that frickin' apartment. It was suffocating me. I got my pay check yesterday morning, so I sadly decided to take Jasper's advice and go to the bookstore. I picked up the ever popular, What to Expect When You're Expecting. And two baby name books. I felt like a stupid bitch for dropping so much money on books, but I told myself they were for the baby. Technically, they were. But they were really to make me feel better about this whole pot of shit I was cooking. I had called the doctor's office the other night and I was surprised to find a message on my cell phone from the attending nurse. She told me I could come in today for a check up if I wanted, just to make sure the baby was doing alright and to see just exactly how far along I was. I wanted Jasper for this, I thought. Too bad I had no fucking clue where he was. I par oozed the streets a bit, looking for his familiar face, when I saw the second best thing. I rolled down my window and parked behind him, sticking my head out.
"Alec!" I called, honking my horn, quickly and anxiously. He spun around, coat whipping out behind him, He looked so damn good in the trench coat, I just wanted to lick him all over. But, unfortunately, those were the kinds of thoughts that got me into this mess. He walked over to my passenger window and I rolled it down. I gave me an aloof smirk and leaned against the door, crossing his heels behind him.
"Why, hello, there. What can I do for you, pretty lady?" He asked. Then he squinted in, before his face deflated. "Oh. It's you, Bella."
"Oh, it's you, Bella." I mumbled, mocking him. "Shut the fuck up. Who'd you expect?"
He shrugged and tucked his hands in his pockets. "What can I do you for?"
I looked around the street, pointedly. "You seen Jasper around lately?"
Alec was a wheeler and dealer, but he knew the streets well. Jasper and I were apart of these streets. He knew us well. We'd known Alec since we were small kids. Alec was a scared kid, always had been, but he had his reasons. Jane, his Mother, was raped when she was fourteen. His Father is also his Grandfather. Nuff said.
"Yeah, yeah," He said, nodding, his curls bouncing with each movement. I wanted to run my fingers through them. "I saw him on set last night."
"Set?" I asked, eyes widening. "You mean…the studio?"
He ducked his head, sheepishly. "I have a feeling I wasn't supposed to tell you that."
I huffed. "You were most definitely supposed to tell me that. What's he doing there?"
Alec shook his head. "I don't know…"
"Alec!" I snapped. "What is he doing at that fucking studio?"
He looked at me, intensely. "Don't yell at me."
I slammed my head against the steering wheel. "Alec. Fucking. Tell. Now."
There was a pause. "He's working."
I sat in my living room, hours later, wishing more than anything that I could have a cigarette. My phone vibrated in my pocket. I slipped it out and stared at the number on the screen, wishing this wasn't such a bad time. I was doing a lot of wishing these days. I flipped my phone open and blew the bangs out of my face, scrunching my eyebrows and staring at the front door. My voice was thick and heavy from the tears.
"Hello?" I croaked. He paused.
"Bella?" Edward asked, concerned. "Are you alright? You sound like you've been crying."
"Bingo." I whispered, before raising my voice. "No, no, I'm fine. What's up?"
"What's up?" He repeated. "My dick was up your vagina, and it made a fucking baby. This fucking baby is what's up. Did you get my message?"
I sighed. "Yeah, I got it. You said you'd call me later. I'm assuming it's later?"
He let out a laugh, but it sounded a little bit exhausted. "You know what they say about people who assume."
"You're an ass for calling me an ass." I said, smiling slightly. "This is probably something we should talk about in person."
He cleared his throat. "That's actually why I was calling. I was wondering if you would meet me for dinner."
I glanced at the timer on my broken, grimy old oven. 7:45. "It's kind of late, Edward, I don't know. I'm tired and…"
"What happened to Miss Spontaneous?" He demanded. I huffed.
"She died." I hissed. "And I'm tired."
He let it go. "Alright. How about breakfast then? Tomorrow at, say, nine?"
I closed my eyes. "Whatever."
He was quiet for a long time. "You don't sound okay."
"I'm fucking fine." I snapped. "Just…family issues. I'm waiting up for my brother. He didn't come home last night."
He cleared his throat. "Do you want company?"
This made me smile. "Nice try, Edward."
He chuckled. "Goodnight, peach. See you in the morning."
"See you in the morning, Edward." I said, pressing the end button.
The question was, would I see Jasper?