Disclaimer:Stephenie Meyer owns her characters of her Twilight series, I'm just giving them a night out.
a/n: Maybe re-read the last chapter in case you're lost. Let's admit, it's been a while…haha.
Chapter 28: NO TURNING BACK
I was driving around with nowhere to go when I pulled up behind a van. It was lingering at a four-way intersection, just idling because it could. I waited for the driver to do something—anything—but he remained a Sunday driver with nowhere to go.
Bella was in my mind while I waited for the driver to check all his mirrors and look both ways. I still hated leaving her alone at the school, but it was ridiculous to wait around for her, just lurking in the shadows—especially on a day like today when the shadows were slowly disappearing as the fog rolled away.
I sighed a little in relief when the van moved about an inch forward, but the relief was short lived when he slammed on his brakes and I was forced to slam on mine. "Oh come on!" I yelled, honking my horn in the process. "You have got to be kidding me!"
His hesitation was for a good reason. Just as I was about to plough around him I saw what was coming his way at full speed, preventing him from taking action and moving into the intersection—
A motorcycle going top speed blazed through the intersection and failed to yield to the stop signs. The sight made me laugh—it was funny to see two wild humans disregarding the numbers over their heads. They were just concerned with living in the moment, and it didn't matter that the driver of the bike would die wearing plaid and the shrimp holding onto him would be scarped off the pavement, the tight leather jacket failing as a buffer.
The car in front of me finally entered the intersection and turned right. I should have waved or given him the finger, but I had to get back home since the sun was slowly coming out of the clouds. I moved through the intersection and looked and drummed my fingers on the steering wheel—
A shrimp holding onto plaid.
I froze in my seat when the thoughts finally registered.
I looked in my back mirror, but the bike was already long gone, not even a puff of dirt showing it had been anywhere.
As soon as I got into the school after my little rendezvous with Maksim I started to panic. Tonight was the night—Friday night, the night with the full moon and the night to end all nights.
Remember our deal, Cinderella.
How could I forget the deal?—it meant everything. My life depended on it—there were no options tonight. I either won or won—that was it. And if I didn't…Cinderella would have a whole new meaning. I wouldn't lose—couldn't. Ever. No. That would be…woah.
The idea of losing was making me go insane. Even my legs were jittery and I didn't know what to do with myself. I just stood in front of the trophy case and stared at 1989 girl's volleyball team for way to long—eyebrows were probably raising. And then when I looked over my shoulder, skinny-pony-tail-girl had her eyebrows on the top of her head, her gaze slowly traveling through the student body and slowly trailing my way—
I ran away—hey, I didn't want another cafeteria episode to play out again. That would be the cherry on top of a miserable day. I already had too many plans as it were: First I needed to get to La Push, then I needed to tell Jake I couldn't stay long for his party, and then I needed to ask him "Oh by the way, I need my bike back" like a jerk—oh, and the grand finale would be my ditching him for Maksim. Yeah, maybe I did have room somewhere in there for another episode of glaring girls and cat-fights. Yeah—no. That's why I ducked into the oh-so-popular bathroom and jumped into the last stall on he left, pulling the freshman trick of "Yeah I just have to use the bathroom and I'm never coming out ever again."
It was one of those high school moments, except I wasn't bringing a tray of food in to eat while I sat on top of the toilet seat. I just needed to hide, and hiding is what I did when I heard ponytail girl's voice come into the bathroom. I cringed and threw the toilet seat cover down and used it as a stepping stool to sit on the tank of the toilet. I wasn't a cool moment, but I was never the cool kid anyway—and I knew the trick had worked when I heard her voice and several other ones start to get animated.
"I don't know who the new girl thinks she is prancing around with him—it's absolutely revolting. I hope she gives him genital herpes." Ponytail girl's tone was harsh and upset. I could practically hear the spit flying from her mouth and see the slits of her eyes.
I wasn't shocked that gossip was going around. I saw the looks people gave me when I walked next to Maksim. I just didn't expect I'd ever be lucky enough to eavesdrop on my own party. That's why I put up my hood and leaned back on the cement wall—I might as well enjoy the show while I waited, trapped as it were.
"You don't think he's sleeping with her?" The new girl's entrance into the conversation came in without trying to mask the shock in her voice.
I rolled my eyes at her accusation. Girls were so stupid, and that's why all of them were sleeping with Maksim, I'm sure. I would never be one of them. I wasn't friends with him nor was I attracted to his dark gums and holes for eyes.
"Sleeping? Hell no. She's doing a lot more than that. That's probably why her jeans have so many holes in the knees."
All the girls burst out laughing.
I scraped the back of my teeth with my tongue—fuck I hated girls! They're so fucking annoying and I don't know how I ever let teenage whores make me feel uncomfortable. But how else were they supposed to make us losers feel—good? Hell no. They knew how to curl their eyelashes and steel from MAC counters—how daring of them! I should bow down now. They're incredible.
I swallowed and covered my knees with my hands, the skin on skin contact only adding wood to the fire. I wanted to burst through the stall and start some shit, but mostly, I just wanted to wait it out and pretend I hadn't heard a thing.
The girls continued doing their girly things, talking about how hot Maksim was without even trying to be and how I apparently looked like a meth-addict who used to be pretty. At least I had the pretty part, in a way.
"Her leather jacket isn't too bad—it's kind of nice in a vintage, classic way."
A hushed silence went over the group.
I smirked, adjusting my back on the wall before the lunch bell rang, signalling for students to return to their classes.
"I was just kidding," the voice said, trying to again her composure as the footsteps ran away from her. "It was a joke!" she screamed after them. Ponytail girl's voice couldn't be heard in the hustle and bustle of the crowds coming and going again, and after a few more visits from other girls entering and exiting the bathroom, all was silent.
I dropped my feet back onto the floor and opened the stall ever so slowly. I wasn't quick with my motions, just in case a stray girl had lost her pack and wanted to regroup with me. And actually, that's exactly what happened.
Just as I as about to step out into the open, a movement in the mirrors sent my gaze to the right, where a girl with a tight red bun and pink eyes stared franticly back at me
My chest dropped in relief. "Kathleen."
"Bella—I thought you were dead!" she gasped, grabbing onto her chest and moving towards me like she was going to hug me. "Where did you go! What did he do!—he's horrible!"
I backed away and quickly turned to the sinks and started washing my hands to avoid her. "Nowhere—it's all fine. I just had some unfinished business to take care of."
Kathleen shook her head. "I'm scared for you Bella—you shouldn't be hanging around with scum like Maksim Smirnov. He's…scary…and you heard what Victoria and those girls said."
I smirked. Victoria. So ponytail girl had a name. Lovely. "What? That he's hot without trying? I don't think so."
"No! That he eats girls like you for breakfast!"
I turned the tap water off and stared at her face through the mirror. I hadn't heard that exact wording from the girls, but I knew what she meant. "You're right Kathleen—and that's why I won't be hanging out with him."
She sighed in relief. "You promise?"
I furrowed my brows in response. I didn't understand her concern. No one ever took concern over my life. It was a nice change but also didn't sit well in my stomach. "Kathleen," I turned and looked at her, "what's the big deal? He's all talk and I'm going to prove that."
Kathleen's eyes found the grime of the floor. Mine did too for a moment before they found her face again. She looked up at me finally. "My mum…she's very…picky…when it comes to what's best for me—she's my mum, so it's her right." Kathleen's eyes looked over my shoulder, no doubt at her own reflection. "Bella I want to be friends with you—do I ever—but it will be difficult if I can't prove to my mum why I should be."
I took a step back. "What?" Nothing she was saying was making sense. Her mum had nothing to do with my reputation or us being friends. "Oh does your mum make your schedule and tell you who to hang out with?" I started to laugh
Kathleen's eyes glared at me. "So? She's just looking out for me."
I laughed even harder. "Does she have tracking devices on you too? Should I expect her to swoop in any time now?"
Kathleen stuck her nose up at me.
"I'm kidding Kathleen."
She continued to glare at me.
"Kathleen." I wiped the smirk off my face. It took a lot, but I did it. "I'm sorry—but you have to see my side of it. It's kind of…weird. You should be able to be friends with who ever you want—it's only high school." Only high school. As if that was supposed to mean something to insecure people like us.
Surprisingly though, Kathleen swallowed every word. "You're right. It's just…difficult…you know…"
I didn't know. In fact, I knew nothing about motherly love and how to keep your head above the water without drowning in high school. But I didn't let her know that. "I do know," I lied. "But you need to be your own person. Your parents can't tie the bow on your life forever."
She nodded at my stupidness. "Yes…you're right. I don't know what I was saying—of course we can be friends."
I smiled. "Of course. I'm completely harmless. I'm through with Maksim and every other scumbag in this place. It's just you and me till the end," I half lied. It made me feel sick that I talked as if I didn't have plans for plans, when of course, there was still midnight doom coming my way. But after my date with Maksim later tonight, everything would be back to normal…whatever normal was for me these days, I'm not sure.
"Bella, you should meet my parents then."
And if the moment couldn't get more frustratingly awkward, there was Kathleen's awful attempt at fixing things. Leave it to her.
She saw my eyes caught in the headlights and tried to explain herself. "Come on—I would feel like I was lying to them if they didn't know who I was hanging out with at school."
I shook my head and covered my face with her hands. I wished I was in class staring at a chalk board. "Kathleen, we've been over this already—can't you just pretend you have no friends?"
She sighed. "I guess…but then that would be lying…and honestly, it would be nice to being someone home for once to show them that I'm not a complete waste of space."
And there it was. I had gone too far and forced her to throw herself into traffic and allow two buses to hit her in the process—I was driving one of them, apparently, and that's why I had to do the last thing I wanted to…I gave in. "Fine."
Her eyes lit up like Bambi's mum had come back to life. "Fine what?"
"I'll meet your damn parents."
"Really?" The enthusiasm in her voice made my ears cringe, but it made it all worth it, even though I knew I would regret this day.
"Yeah. I'll come over sometime—but don't go marking your calendar just yet."
"Well can I meet your parents too?"
I cocked my eyebrow and smiled before she caught her mistake.
Her hand flew up to her mouth after gasping. "Oh my God—Bella, I didn't mean it. I forgot—"
I cut her off with laughter. "Kathleen, it's fine."
"I'm so sorry." Her voice fell into the pit of my stomach.
"Stop it. You should be glad you don't have to meet any of my relatives. I imagine they'd be people your parents wouldn't want you meeting, and then we couldn't be friends."
She nodded. "Right." Her face still showed the regret for the misstep.
I decided to ease her mind away from the moment by changing the topic to school. "Well, are you going to classes today or what?"
She shook her head. "I don't think I possibly could. I know I've been missing a lot of school lately it seems, but I've got a lot on my mind and I'd rather just spend the day catching up on old work instead of getting new stuff piled on. I'm already ahead in all my classes anyway."
I nodded. "Yeah." I was going to say I was too, but Kathleen wasn't that stupid. She knew I wasn't strong in academics just by looking at me. And she was right.
"Well…what should we do then?"
Her eyes stared around the room while her mind searched for the answer. When her eyes suddenly lit up, I knew she was on to something. God only knows what she was thinking.
I gave in. "What is it now…" This girl was going to kill me one day.
Her eyes were still sparkling. "I know this certain place…it's really something…I could show you it, if you like."
I shrugged. I had to cover my sincere interest—yeah, Kathleen was suddenly interesting. "What kind of place is it?"
She smiled like a kid with a secret. But she didn't hold back for long. "It's the kind of place you have to get a little lost to find."
I watched the excitement in her eyes burn into my face. She really thought she had something good to show me—and honestly, I had nothing else to do but let my own interest spark. I stepped out of her way and pointed to the door. "Lead the way," I said, hiding a smile on my face. "I'm right behind you.
And that's exactly what she did.
Of all the days for it to be sunny, of course it had to be the day Bella was on the back of a motorcycle—Maksim's motorcycle, of all people too. I was beginning to think she was trying to do the exact opposite of what I was telling her—you couldn't be that naïve or dumb. But even though I couldn't go back to her school and force her to get into my car, there was one thing I could do.
I called Charlie.
"What is it?" he asked, not even bothering to try and hide his irritated tone.
I sighed in irritation as well. "I don't know why I even bother with you, but I'd thought you'd like to know something that's concerned with Bella."
Charlie chuckled. "And what would that be?"
"That she's friends with Maksim Smirnov."
The line seemed to go dead.
"Are we talking about the same Smirnov boy from the other night?"
"Yeah—but I wouldn't really call him a boy, but he's not much of a man—"
"Shut up and tell what's going on."
"Bella just passed me on the road and she was on the back of Maksim's motorcycle."
"Okay, well, doesn't that concern you?" I wanted him to explode. I wanted him to run out of the house and call for back up. I wanted him to do something. But I knew he couldn't. He was stuck like me in the shadows of the day while the rest of the world went on with its business.
"Edward why the hell do you do this to me?"
"What? I thought we're working together—to keep her clear of trouble." I tried to have an innocent tone, but it wasn't working.
"And what am I supposed to do with this? Run up to the school and rip her away from him?"
"Call someone up here—call the school, tell them she needs to come home."
He laughed so hard that I had to hold the phone away from my ear. "Yeah, that sounds like a great idea. Thank you, Edward." The sarcasm wasn't lost on me. "And since we're swapping useless stories about Bella's life, I might as well tell you a little something too." He was trying to hold himself together, but I knew he was mocking me now, torturing me for torturing him. "I've heard some whisperings of a party later on tonight."
"Are you asking me out, Charlie?" I could practically see the glare on his face.
"No, but I know Bella might be asked out."
There was silence on the phone. My end of the line this time.
"You still there?" His voice had a hint of laughter to it.
"Yeah—well where's this party at? I'll crash it and keep an eye on her."
"That's the thing…" His voice trailed into nothing, draining me of patience.
"It's in La Push."
He laughed before hanging up.
The sky had drastically cleared since we had left at noon. I followed Kathleen out of the school parking lot and straight down the long Fork's back roads, letting her hum and drum along while I pondered about the night events headed my way. I was so lost in my own thoughts that I had barely even noticed that Kathleen had led us to a park with swings and picnic tables. We didn't even stop to enjoy the sights of the drying leaves that no longer held the Forks famous dew, and instead, walked even further through until a path led to another one and then I was depending on Kathleen for directions and footing.
Kathleen was in a good mood, thankfully. She was completely lost in her own head too, perfectly content in showing me the new sights and sounds of Fork's forest instead of fearing if I would get picked up by Maksim again.
She wasn't the only one with that thought. Even with the distance between the school and us, Maksim seemed to know his way around even the most dense areas of Forks, and that meant there was no telling when he could just pop up and surprise me again. Maybe I was irrational, but it still made me look over my shoulder every few minutes.
After the long walk, I noticed the forest actually starting to get a bit clearer, the trees actually separating and giving us room to breathe.
"Oh my God—we must be getting close now," I groaned. My legs were killing me and my body felt like I was carrying someone else on my back. I didn't know how Kathleen was still carrying her own green backpack. I still had no idea where the hell mine ended up.
"Now stop that," she said with a smile. "There's nothing better than a good hike. If it can't clear your mind, than you're a lunatic."
"Well, I'm beginning to feel like one for agreeing to come here—" I cut myself off when the trees finally threw us out into the open. I gasped, actually speechless at the sight before me.
A cove. Kathleen Wilkerson of Wilkerson Port had brought us to water. I should have seen it coming from a mile away, but I hadn't. Of course the kid would have sea legs—she didn't belong on land.
"Isn't it something?" Kathleen asked before leaping away from the solid ground beneath her feet and finding new footing on a large boulder popping out from the water. It was like a small island, and once Kathleen dropped her backpack on top of it, she was king of the rock.
I was the loser of the land…because there was no way I was going out there with her. If I did, before I could find my footing, she'd do something stupid and I'd be at the bottom of the lake, dead.
"It's something all right." I didn't know what to tell her. My fear for water was still as strong as ever—maybe even stronger. I didn't have the guts to hang over it like other nights before—no, I had lost that adrenaline rush, and now I was just as lame as ever.
"It's so pretty—I wish I lived on a lake. I've been coming here since I was a little girl." She sat down on the rock and gazed at the open space around her.
It was a private area, the water quite calm and exceptionally clear for being a dark, uninviting lake. But Kathleen seemed to ignore the lonely feel of the cove and looked past the sharp edges of the boulders surrounding the shore, and only pictured the soft edges of the water lapping up against the ridges of the rocks. It had to be deep water to be that dark—maybe a drop off of thirty feet. Kathleen seemed to pretend she was sitting beside of puddle.
I watched with wide eyes as she gazed all around her before she acknowledged me and pointed behind me. "See that tree?" she asked.
I looked up. "I see many trees, but yeah."
"See what's attached to it."
My eyes went in circles until they stopped on the so-called attachment. My stomach dropped when I saw the knotted and tattered rope swing attached to the thickest branch of a tree hanging over the water, gazing at its own reflection. This place was too much of a cliché. Any moment now and we'd be setting up camp and telling ghost stories before roasting marshmallows.
"I put that up there."
I stared up at the thick branch where the rope wrapped twice around the branch before falling through a noose, where the rest of the rope plummeted to the ground, fraying from years of use. I didn't know how Kathleen—the girl with the pink cardigan and matching eye shadow—had climbed up the tree and done it. So I asked her. "How'd you get up there?"
"I climbed." Her tone was a matter of fact. She was proud of herself. I couldn't see a resemblance between the Kathleen she knew and the Kathleen I saw in front of me. "I was nine and I was brave and that's all there was to it. I have a theory that all nine year olds are brave—reckless, but still brave. If I could be any age, I'd be nine forever." She was lost in her own thoughts after, her eyes scanning up the tree and up the rope that was tied off to the side now, just waiting for someone to release it and go for another joy ride, just like back in the day.
I wouldn't be that person.
"Are you just going to stand there?"
Damn it. "I'm pretty tired from the walk." I quickly sat down on the water's edge, preferring the ground over where she seemed to float on her stupid rock.
She shook her head. "Well at least tell me some of your secrets. This is a place of thoughts—of thoughtless thoughts, that is. You must speak your mind—let yourself free!" She held out her hands in a dramatic way, flapping them—like wings. Yes, Kathleen seemed to have wings. She was fleeting before my eyes, completely free of the constraints that usually kept her grounded. Here, in the wilderness, on her stupid rock, she was herself. Even my own little ignorant self could see the two different Kathleens—the shy, introverted, thoughtful Kathleen from school, and the complete opposite, the fearless, brave, thoughtless Kathleen in front of me. Sometimes that was the biggest difference in people, and Kathleen was the best of both worlds. I didn't know where I stood on those grounds. I was too thoughtless to be thoughtful, but sometimes too thoughtful to be thoughtless. "Come on!" Kathleen screamed before throwing her head back. "What do you know for sure in life, right now, right in this moment? What do you have hidden away, what is eating at your soul, this very second?" The cove threw her voice back at me in an echo, the shivers on my spine feeling like the ants crawling over my arms, even though there were none. I was just hot under the layers of leather and fleece.
God, I have such a headache. I knew that for sure—must be the concussions. And I also knew that Kathleen Wilkerson was one scary kid. I wasn't going to tell her that though. I played dumb instead. "I don't know what you're saying." I picked up a twig and threw it in the water, the ripples disappearing too quickly and leaving me no choice but to look up at Kathleen.
Her eyes were wide in shock.
"Kathleen, I'm not much of a talker. You should know that by now. I like listening."
She shook her head. "That's not good enough."
I shrugged. "It's got to be. I don't know what to tell you."
As soon as the words left my mouth, her face told me I said something foolish. Then she was shaking her head and chuckling at me. I didn't care. It was interesting to see this side of her, one I didn't think even existed. I had judged her so hard—now she was the one shocking me. It felt good. "You don't know what to tell me…" She stood up and pulled her hair out of the tight bun. Red hair fell around her face before she tied it back into a much looser pony tail. She didn't look like herself. I didn't know what 'herself' even was anymore. "But not knowing what to say doesn't mean you'll say the wrong thing—there's no such thing as saying the wrong thing when you are speaking your mind in the cove."
I could have covered my face with my hands, but I chose to play along anyway. "Is that so?" The girl was killing me. If I had the guts, I'd jump across the water and push her off her damn rock. "Well, what do you want me to say then?"
Then she was the one covering her face with her hands.
I laughed. "What is it now? I should be laughing at you! You've gone too long without listeners it seems—and now you're mad with power!" I picked up another rock and threw it into the water.
She dropped her hands away from her face to reveal a genuine smile. "That's probably true." The smile fell off her face and her eyes went to that place that put dread in my stomach. She was becoming thoughtful, and I was losing the Kathleen that tied the noose around the tree branch.
Her eyes looked up at mine. "I don't think you realize what a good person you are, Bella."
I rolled my eyes. She was back to her old self. "Don't go there Kathleen. Let's get back on page—what was it you wanted me to say, something about what I knew for sure?"
She shook her head. "Forget that—you need to know how special you are, how different you are."
Oh God, here we go…I had to stop her. "Okay Kathleen, thank you, but I think I'd almost rather tell secrets now."
She shook her head. "How can I expect you to tell yours if I haven't told you one of mine?"
I didn't know the answer to that. I answered with silence instead, the crickets in the background—seriously—playing along.
Kathleen inhaled the largest gulp of oxygen before opening up her mouth and saying: "I'm seventeen years old and I've never been kissed."
Of all the secrets to have…of all the deepest and darkest tunnels in a person…that couldn't be the itchiest one begging to come out. I didn't believe it. That couldn't be a secret that made her uncomfortable—there had to be something else. "That's it?" I asked. "That's your secret?"
She looked down at her feet. "If you're going to make fun of me, do it now—it's allowed, as long as it's your true thoughts."
I laughed but not for the reasons she thought. "Kathleen, if you think your secret is lame, I've got you beat."
She started breathing that light air again, and I knew I could bring her back to being thoughtlessly carefree when I saw her bright eyes. "You're going to tell me one of your secrets, Bella Crossbones?"
One of my secrets. Which one? Hell, there seemed to be too many. From my weird body issues, to my crazy stalkers, to how depressed I was—what wasn't I keeping a secret? I decided to keep it simple and obvious—hell, how couldn't she already know why a body of water was separating us? I cleared my throat and chuckled humourlessly to myself before tugging nervously at the roots of my hair. The silence was so loud that I could hear the stickiness of the heat trapped in the leather of my jacket—why was I wearing it! It was too hot out for layers of clothes!
"Well?" she asked. "What's you're big secret."
And since I had no other choice, I took a leap of faith and told her my demise. "I can't swim."
Even though I didn't scream my secret the cove decided to pick up my voice and carry it back again in an echo, the silence after still rattling with one of my biggest fears in life. Kathleen did nothing to break that silence either. She just stared at me with a look that said she didn't understand what I was saying—like I was stupid or something. Hell, I hadn't laughed at her secret, now I wished I had of poked fun at her.
"Would you stop looking at me like that, you're making me uncomfortable. So much for thoughtless thoughts—more like judgmental thoughts." I stood up quickly, not sure what my intentions were.
"Wait, Bella—no, I just don't understand." She quickly jumped across the water and back onto the shore with me, moving around me to trap me with my back to the water. I became intimidated and scared in an instant.
I held up my hands. "Kathleen, I don't want to have to punch you, but if I feel threatened I might just do it."
She immediately backed up. "Sorry, I just don't know how you don't know how to swim—it's easy."
"Okay, I could say the same thing about you, Miss Kissy, but I took the high road, which you seem to know nothing about." I looked over my shoulder, nervous about the water, and then back at her. "Besides, I never said I didn't know how to swim—of course I know how, I just can't."
I expected a sympathetic nod or maybe an apology. But no. Instead of extending an arm out to comfort me, Kathleen started jumping up and down in excitement.
"I'm going to go now," I said before stepping around her.
She was in front of me before I had made it five steps. "I can teach you."
I raised my eyebrows to keep from laughing in her face. "Teach me to what?"
She saw the mocking tone in my question but chose to answer anyway. "To swim. I can teach you. The cove is the perfect place. It's meant to be. Why else did this day happen? Think about!" She began to clap her hands and grin from ear to ear. "Bella! Listen to me! I can teach you!"
I shoved past her and tried to find the path that had led us to this ridiculous misfortune. Then I remembered that there was no path and that it had been Kathleen's lunatic brain that had gotten us to the stupid cove with the stupid rock full of stupid secrets, and by the time I figured out that I had nowhere to go, Kathleen was back next to me with her book bag in her hand and a smile on her face. "Stop looking at me like that," I told her. "I'm not getting in that water."
Kathleen disagreed. "Yeah you will. You just don't know it yet."
I stopped walking. "What does that mean?"
She pulled the bag onto her back. "Unfortunately, you're going to regret turning down my offer, because there's going to come a day where you wish you knew how to swim, and that day will be when the water is well over your head."
"Jesus Kathleen, how subtle of you."
"It's true—don't laugh it off, Bella. Knowing how to swim should be a life skill that everyone should know."
"I know how to swim—"
"Then prove it." Her eyes stayed on mine. "Turn back around, jump on that rope swing, and get in the water."
I laughed. "You're crazy."
"Maybe, but I know how to swim."
"Yeah, well I've kissed a boy before." God I felt stupid.
Then the light bulb went off. Her eyes peered at something over my shoulder, and then they were blazing into my own eyes. "Exactly Bella! You've kissed guys and I know how to swim!"
I stared blankly at her. "You're scaring me."
"Bella, we can help each other out. You need to teach me how to—"
"Kiss! No way! I'm not kissing you—"
"Of course not! Let me finish!" The excitement in her face was still scaring the shit out of me. "Teach me how to act around guys—teach me how to talk to them—and I'll teach you how to swim."
I laughed. "Hell no."
"Come on…" She held up her hands and began to beg. "Please!"
"Because I don't want to learn how to swim—I don't have the desire to."
She didn't believe me. "That's a lie. You're just scared."
The hairs on the back of my neck rose. "Scared? Me? As if."
She saw my discomfort, and therefore the truth. "You are scared!" She had the stupid smirk on her face and I wanted to shake it off her face. "Fine—I got a new proposition for you."
I shrugged. "Let's hear it."
"The day I kiss a boy is the day you learn to swim."
I waited for the rest but it didn't come. "That's it?"
She nodded. "That's it."
I pulled my hands into the pockets of my jacket, my mind searching for something to grasp. It was too easy—I never saw that day coming for her.
"What do you say? Is it a deal worth shaking on?" the voice of the thoughtless Kathleen asked me.
And since I liked the odds and since I was through with looking like a scardy cat, I reached out and shook her hand. "Deal."
There was no hiding from the sun. It was out and bright and accusing guys like me of being a vampire. I knew I had to stay indoors, and since Bella was back in school and I knew I couldn't stick around in the daylight, that's what I did. I went home and bounced around the house, anxious, until I bumped into Alice on the second floor, sparkling near the windows.
"What do you want Edward?"
"You tell me—what's Bella up to?"
Alice rolled her eyes. "Edward, you've got to leave the poor girl alone—she wants nothing to do with you."
"That's not true." I didn't believe that for a second. She liked me. More than liked me. She just had something else distracting her at the moment, and that was the same condition that distracted me all those years ago.
"Are you still stalking her? Please tell me you've stopped that."
I didn't answer her. I let her stare at me like I was an idiot, her eyes waiting and waiting for me to admit my strange behaviour. I didn't find it strange—I loved her.
"Edward! You're so creepy!"
"Alice…" I covered my face with my hands. "I don't know how else to act around her. She drives me insane." I dropped my hands away from my face. "I almost wish she didn't even have the gene—maybe then she'd be different and actually notice me."
Alice's eyes dropped down a little. She felt sad for me. Great. Now I had a sympathetic sister on my hands. What good was that? "Well think about what would happen if she didn't have the gene…"
I raised my eyebrows. "Where are you going with this?"
"Come on…say you both fall in love…deeply and passionately in love…and you want to be together forever…but you're a vampire…"
"And she's human." My spirits weren't exactly lifted. Both scenarios were not ideal for falling in love. It wasn't fair. I wanted her so bad, yet there was the wall in front of us that prevented her from wanting me just as bad. "I already know this stuff—I've thought about it before, trust me."
"So what's your plan? How are you going to steal her heart away—because I see it happening. I just don't know why she would ever want to be around you—"
"—you're just so boring and dull—"
"—and sure you've got the looks but it's all about the personality—"
"Jesus Christ, Alice shut up."
She shrugged innocently before crossing her right leg over her left. "It's true. What happened to the old Edward?"
"The old Edward would be in jail right now."
"Alice, I want her to fall for me, not be afraid of me. I'd have her running away from me if I started being the reckless again."
She raised an eyebrow. "Don't be so sure. It's relatable to her—show her a side she knows, and she might just grab on and enjoy the ride."
Grab on? Enjoy the ride? God Alice didn't get it. I didn't come here for this kind of advice. I needed her insight into what exactly was going down in Forks tonight, and where Bella tied in. "Just let it rest and tell me what's headed Bella's way tonight."
Surprisingly, Alice finally gave in. She looked at me funny before closing her eyes and searching into her mind for the answer to my question. Her eyes quickly flashed opened when a big blank hole of nothing came into view.
"Not again," I groaned. "What does that even mean?"
Alice shook her head. "It's a mental block—I can't see a thing, just like last time."
"This is not good." I was panicking. I, Edward Cullen, was panicking—over a girl.
Alice laughed. "Calm down, she was fine last time this happened and she'll be fine this time."
I didn't agree. "There's a party in La Push tonight—you think it has anything to do with that?"
Alice looked at me wearily. "No…it doesn't make sense…I'd see that. There's something preventing me from seeing her—"
I saw the click in her mind just as she did. It was so obvious now and I felt stupid for not even realizing our mistake. "Why didn't we figure that out before?" I stared into space as I saw the answer—it was the werewolves. We had always known their mental block—I should have put it together.
"She's going to be around werewolves…" Alice raised her eyebrows. "You got some competition there, lover boy?" She smiled at me when I turned a glare at her. "Come on, you know the visions I've seen. Spoiler alert—you get the girl in the end."
That wasn't necessarily true. "Umm spoiler alert—your visions are never that accurate."
She turned a nasty glare onto me. "You're a dick."
"Tell me something I don't know."
She looked at me wickedly. "Maybe you should use it to your advantage…" Her eyes raised when she saw my understanding. "Quit acting like her father—start with being a friend. Be a friend who wants to do the things she does instead of preventing her from doing them."
"Yeah? And then what? I'm her friend—that's not good enough."
"Got to start somewhere," she said. "Now get out of my room before I call Emmett up here and remind him you still haven't returned his bike."
"I could find that thing with my eyes closed."
Alice raised her eyebrows. "Really?" She was smirking from ear to ear. "Good luck with that."
"What do you know?" I could tell by the way she wouldn't look me in the eye anymore and how she started counting backwards that she knew where it was. "Why won't you tell me?"
"Because you're Edward Cullen—you don't need anything."
I glared at her before walking away from her.
I didn't care about that damn bike anyway. I had other things to worry about—
Like becoming best buds with Bella Crossbones.
After getting back to the park, Kathleen and I parted ways. It was easy enough—she said she couldn't be late for supper, and I said the same thing. Mine was more of a lie though. I didn't even know what time supper was anymore.
I didn't even make it a meter into the driveway before Charlie stepped off the porch and yelled my name into the darkening evening. "Bella Crossbones, where the hell have you been?"
I dragged my feet and pulled my hood up to cover my guilty expression. "No where," I lied. "Just hanging out with a friend."
My legs seized up and I stopped dead in my tracks.
The look on his face was smug. He was proud of himself.
Apparently the man had eyes in the back of his head. How he had found out this stuff was beyond me. Small towns really did know how to talk. Plus, it didn't help that he was an officer of the law and Maks was no doubt someone he came across often. "Actually," I began, "I was with a girl named Kathleen."
He shook his head. "So you weren't on the back of a motorcycle today skipping class."
I chuckled. Couldn't he dig into me when I wasn't outside for the world to see? It was almost embarrassing—key word, almost. "I don't know who or where you get your facts from, but the only classes I skipped today were with Kathleen—and they were just gym and some other stupid one." I tried to move past him on the driveway but his arm quickly shot out and grabbed my upper arm, keeping me in front of him.
"Again—so you weren't on the back of a motorcycle today?"
"Well I didn't say that—"
"Bella you're going to kill yourself—"
"Then you'd be a free man." I tucked my hands into the leather jacket pockets. My right hand wrapped around thin, crinkled paper. I smiled, but Charlie took it the wrong way.
His eyes rolled in irritation. "I wouldn't foster you if I didn't want you here, Bella. I want to help you. That's why I got my license to do this—to help kids like you."
"What kind of kid am I?"
"The kind that needs help—I already said that."
He reached up and pulled my hood down. "Then quit hiding and start acting your age."
I would have stayed in the driveway, staring after him, but he stopped on the porch and looked over his shoulder at me. The look on his face told me he had almost given up with everything.
"I worry about a lot of things, you know, but I worry about you the most. I want you to be safe—I don't know how many times I have to tell you that. It's fine if you don't want to be at home locked away, but I need to know where you are so that if anything happens…I can get to you."
I stared at him for the longest time before actually feeling that weight in my stomach that told me I was an awful human being. That's why what I did next was totally not me—I was honest with him. "I'm going to Jacob's tonight."
He chuckled lowly. "Of course you are."
"Why don't you just drive me?" I asked Charlie, putting my hands in my pocket. The money was still in there from the night Jake had won it at the forestry lot.
"I've got to get to work—I can't drive you."
Something was off. "You sure work a lot."
He shrugged. "I don't have a family—" He cut himself off. "Well—"
"I get it. I'd live to work too if I had no life."
He glared. "You know, I shouldn't even be letting you go tonight."
"Well then I shouldn't have asked you in the first place."
He shook his head but smiled. "I'm glad you did. This honesty thing…it's working."
"Not gonna lie—it's probably not going to last."
"Hey, just being honest with you Charlie." I smiled after.
He left he kitchen and since I had nothing better to do, I followed him towards the front door. It was only eight o'clock but it was already dark out. "So how are you getting there tonight?"
I shrugged. "I don't know. I might call Edward…" I waited for his reaction.
"I don't think he likes La Push."
I looked at him funny. "What's wrong with La Push that he doesn't like it?"
"Nothing—just some people don't like it. I bet he's one of them." Charlie turned his back to me. He was being weird.
"Well I wasn't planning on calling him anyway—just wanted to see your reaction."
He looked over his shoulder at me after tying one of his boots. "You're not funny."
I shrugged and zipped up my jacket. "I like to think I am."
"But seriously," he said, pulling on his coat. "How are you getting there tonight?"
"Jacob is on his way."
Charlie's eyes got thin. "And what time are you going to be home?"
"Bella I need an answer."
"I don't know…like late...2am late." I coughed to hide some of the damage, but it didn't work.
"That's a little late."
"You won't even miss me—I'll be home way before you. It's Friday night. Let me live a little."
He shook his head but I could tell me had given in.
"It's just a bonfire and you're the one who said I could go so get over it." I smiled when he looked at me nervously. "Jeez Charlie, you're turning into a dad."
His eyebrows raised before he shifted away from me. "Just be careful tonight," he said looking over his shoulder at me. His eyes trailed up my worn out jeans, leather jacket, and then stopped on my face.
I didn't even have a chance to say a word before he left. I just sat on the edge of the stairs and kept swallowing the nerves scratching the back of my throat. For twenty minutes I stared into space, thinking of everything from Jacob to Maksim…and Edward—
A shadow moved across the window threw my heart into my ribcage. I jumped up and peered through the side glass of the door, but only the front yard lit with tiny lamps came into view. I opened the door a foot and then slid through the crack. The night air swept over the skin on my face, and when I craned my neck towards the starry sky, the moon jumped out behind the roaming purple clouds—
My head snapped over to the familiar voice at the top of the driveway, where a dark figure stood with his hands in his jacket. He moved through the shadows with a laidback ease, and then stopped at the end of the walkway, the moonlight pouring over the zippers on his leather jacket, almost making them shine. He kept his head low.
"Edward—you scared me." I stepped off the porch and walked up to him, my hands in my own pocket, one hand wrapped around my gloves, the other around the money. I tried not to look guilty.
"Where's Charlie?" He looked at me for only a second before throwing his eyes up at the dark windows of the second floor.
"He's got gone to work—what are you doing here?"
He smiled and trailed his eyes onto my face. He looked at me like his presence was the most obvious thing. "I want to take you somewhere tonight."
I shook my head. "Edward—"
"Just hear me out first." He reached out and held the edge of my elbow. "I want to just have some fun tonight, get to know each other—"
"I'm going to have to stop you there because I can't."
He dropped his hand and his eyes looked nowhere near green. They were black and angry. "Come on, don't be stupid."
I cocked an eyebrow at him. "What's the matter with you—you're being weird."
He laughed at that, but it wasn't funny. Edward had his shoulder squared and he looked like Maksim with his overconfident stance on things. "Don't tell me you're actually going to that party?"
"How do you know about that?"
He didn't get an answer. The sound of Jacobs truck pulling up to the end of the driveway cut him off. Jacob honked the horn, and then Edward took a step closer to me, his leather jacket touching my own. "Come on Bella," he whispered, "stay with me."
My eyes widened when he leaned forward and roughly lifted me up into his lips. It was almost painful the way he gripped my ribs and held me to his face, but for some reason, my eyes closed and I embraced him just as much as he embraced me.
The horn honked again, and he dropped me. "What do you say then?" he eyed me deviously, the corners of his mouth lifting into a smirk.
I couldn't focus—my mind had fogged over and I couldn't remember why I didn't want to be around him. I wanted him more than anything…except when I looked at the full moon…it was pulling me somewhere else. "Come with me," I told him irrationally. "It's going to be nuts in La Push tonight and—"
"I'm not going to La Push," he spat back. "It's not for me." The space became thick and heavy as he backed away from me. "Last chance, Crossbones...it's either me…" He looked over his shoulder at the truck idling at the top of the driveway, the headlights blaring into the scene. "Or him."
"You choose me then?" He closed the distance and encased my waist with his arms.
I shook my head. "It's his birthday…"
He dropped his arms and backed away, his eyes on a spot over my shoulder, like he could see something I was missing out on. His eyes fell onto mine as he moved farther and farther away from me. "You have no idea what you're missing out on, Bella Crossbones." He stopped at the end of the path. "And the night you realize that is the night I'm no longer waiting in the shadows."
I moved towards him but he turned away and disappeared around the house and into the night. Jacob's headlights stayed on my form, and I had no other option but to walk towards them and into my evening plans.
The moon remained over my head, ticking away the night.
A/N: Sorry for the extremely late update. I've been sick for a couple months now. Not sure what's exactly wrong with me, but I'm feeling okay enough now. I have also had a lot of school work (just like the rest of you, I'm sure). I've had this chapter on my computer for a long time now because I had plans of adding the bike race to it like I promised, but it got to the point where this chapter was too long. I'm sorry for that—really, I am.
I want to say thank you for the reviews and messages reminding me about this story. It feels great seeing people are thinking about my story. I love those kinds of messages. It means a lot. This chapter wasn't anything special, but I wanted you guys to have at least something to read while you waited for the chapter everyone's been hoping for.
Next chapter I will try and get up quicker. It will be shorter than this one hopefully, and will have the bike race. (not that my word means anything anymore I guess).
-THAT girl who