A/N: Even I don't remember what happened before this so you may want to refresh yourselves. Mabarbella is the best beta and responsible for anything good in this.
4 - Showtime
Oh for the love of all that is holy! I grab my blackberry off the nightstand to confirm that the hour is, indeed, ungodly.
Seven a.m. Confirmed.
Now the question: why on earth is my annoying sister blasting eighties pop music and accompanying it with a drum solo on our entire collection of pots and pans?
I know it's my sister because Jasper hasn't seen this side of noon since he was 12 years old. I stumble down the stairs, drag myself down the hallway and lean against the doorway to the kitchen.
There Rosie is in all her glory, with her make-shift pot and pan drum kit. It's actually pretty impressive: different levels, pot lids strung up as symbols, graters, spatulas and an assortment of utensils all arranged for her to create this cacophonous symphony.
In the far corner, sitting on a stool, is Emmett, rocking out to his fiancée's drum solo, head banging and all. I strategically tip toe around the rock star and her gear, making my way to Emmett.
"Em, what the heck is all this?" I wave my arms dramatically around the kitchen.
"Just livin' the dream baby!"
This is Emmett's answer to almost everything. "Em, how is your day? Em, where are you off to? Em, don't eat that. It's past its expiry date!" That one is usually preceded by a shoulder shrug before the standard "Just living the dream, baby!" That kid gives laid back a new meaning.
I throw out some stellar double-O-seven moves to get myself a cup of coffee before making my way back upstairs. I nearly drop my coffee in shock as an unkempt street person comes down the stairs…but then I realize it's only Jasper. He mumbles something incoherent. I make out the words "kitchen skank," "pantry" and "lard," his words effectively causing me to shudder at the images they conjure.
I walk down the hall to my bedroom, a huge part of me dying to just sleep the day away and pretend that this nightmare of a town doesn't exist. The prospect of getting into the mechanic's shop today, and for the first time since moving here actually working on my baby, though, gets my blood pumping.
Rose and Jasper have strewn boxes of their crap across the hall and in every nook and cranny. Slobs. We moved in over a week ago, but I know that this state of disarray is destined to remain unchanged until we leave, as they naively hold onto the hope that our mother reneges on her life lesson.
I look down at my watch and figure I have a few hours before I make my way to the shop, just enough time for a catnap. Lying back in my unmade bed, I grab my iPod and search until smooth streams of Sade soothe my weary head. As my eyes close, my mind wanders back to the day we drove into town.
I nervously check my phone again, waiting for the confirmation email that my baby, my pride and joy, my perfect little piece of machinery for which I would so easily trade my sister or my girlfriend, had been delivered to the mechanic's shop in a nearby town.
After spending countless hours on the phone to the owner of the shop in an attempt to reassure myself that he could be trusted with my Shelby, I feel better about handing her over, but I don't harbour that same trust in the delivery service. I swear the clerk who filled out the bill of lading laughed when I suggested packing the crate with some sort of bubble wrap and down feather combination.
"Rosalie, I swear if you don't turn that down…" The nonstop karaoke warbling of my sister screeching out the lyrics of 'All By Myself' at impromptu intervals threatens my sanity. She just gets louder and louder as if attempting to out-sing Celine Dion in the hope that Emmett will somehow magically appear. Even Jasper is wincing, but with a hit of compassion, as he mutters that he feels her pain.
"My ears are bleeding Rosalie! You are engaged. Engaged! You didn't break up, and a temporary separation will not kill you. In fact, why don't you just focus on the reunion…silently?" That earns me a one fingered salute from Rosalie.
I don't have time to respond, however, as I'm suddenly thrust against the window of the passenger side door, due to my darling brother once again not paying attention to the road while driving. I don't know why I agreed to letting that prat drive, outside of his constant moaning about driving being the only way to cheer him up while being away from Alice for a few months.
It is ridiculous the way these two are acting. I won't see Tori for a few weeks – maybe months - but I'm not crying over it, and we've been together longer than both Em and Rose or Jazz and Ali put together.
PING! Ah, the sweet sound of a new text message.
Finally! My beautiful chariot has arrived at her destination. I quickly call the mechanic to make sure it was a smooth delivery and to tell him I will stop by later just to check on things, if I make it through this roller coaster ride disguised as a road trip to our new home, that is.
"Edward, I don't understand why you didn't just drive your car. That would've saved you the headache of worrying about it and us the headache of having to put up with you."
Once again, Jasper swerves into the oncoming lane of traffic, as he's talking rather than paying attention to the road.
An annoyed scoff escapes me as I try to explain to my dear brother how it would have gone if, after the overly dramatic goodbye with our parents, Jasper and Rose pulled away in a Volvo and I got behind the wheel of my fully-restored 1967 Shelby GT500 concourse. Somehow I don't think my mother intended a $500,000 car to be part of this "real life experience."
35 minutes later, we pull up in front of a large but rather dilapidated mansion. Not that it's a mansion by Cullen standards, more like an extremely large dwelling that hasn't been kept up in what looks like decades.
"Oh hell no! Hell no, no, no, no, no!" Rosalie follows this with a string of expletives before grabbing her cell phone and speed dialling our mother. The cursing is a welcome change from the so-called singing.
Suddenly, the front door of our decrepit palace swings open and Emmett bounds across the porch and down the stairs, scooping up Rosalie as she launches herself into his arms.
"Well, I'm glad mother at least had the decency to staff the house…too bad she couldn't get some capable help." I holler in his direction before making my way over to give a very manly handshake-hug-cop-out. . I am still in a bit of shock after the string of Rosalie's douche-bag boyfriends that she ended up with someone as awesome as Emmett. I may or may not have a bit of a bromance crush on him.
Jasper waits by the car with an expectant look on his face. "Dude," I shake my head. "You know that Ali is in Paris until next week." He nods and wipes away the hint of a tear.
A loud guffaw, the volume of which could only be produced by Emmett, is heard by all of us, and the neighbours ,no doubt. "She made you drive a Volvo with a UHaul attached?" The laughter continues. "Man, I adore your mom to no end. Esme rocks!" He punctuates this with a massive fist pump.
Emmett throws Rosie over his shoulder, slapping her on the rear before making his way over to the Uhaul to grab two boxes with his free arm.
He passes Jasper and I on his way into the house. "Wait 'till you see the room I claimed for us. A fireplace, balcony and huge king bed! We're livin' the dream baby!"
Balancing my own set of three boxes, I set off to find my very own 'dream' room in this house of horrors. We leave Jasper alone at the end of the driveway, and as I walk through the front door I faintly hear "Allllllll Byyyyyy Myyyyyyself!"
This will be the longest six months of my life.
I must have dozed off, because when I wake up my iPod is now playing Santana after having gone through my collection of Sade.
Quickly, I change into a t-shirt and jeans that I don't mind getting covered in grease. This will be the best day since we moved in; it will also take my mind off the new love of my life: one Bella Swan. Being at the shop working on my car will get me feeling like myself again. The me that dates women out of convenience; the me who only remembers the birthdays of my mother and sister; the me who would have blown off this preposterous challenge of 'real living' off the second I realized that I cared about deciphering that dark haired beauty's expressions. I don't need this kind of disruption to my carefree style of living and I refuse acknowledge the warm fuzzies accompanying all thoughts of her.
All the doors upstairs are closed, which means that I will run down the hall with plugged ears humming loudly to myself. I've heard way too many disturbing, brain-bleach-requiring noises coming from behind the closed doors of Jasper, Rosalie, and even, shudder, my parent's doors. I simply will never understand why they don't just book rooms at the Ritz like I do. When you own the chain, you can have a whole floor to yourself.
Post-it, post-it, post-it, where can I find a post-it. I know we have stacks of them because every day this week we have come home to a new living room mural made entirely out of post-its. This is Emmett's way of being productive while Rosalie is at work. I settle for sticking a piece of yesterday's "Topless Women of Rock" montage mural, the artistic merit of which Jasper and I tried to convince Rose, on the kitchen table, alerting them to my whereabouts and that I have taken the Volvo.
Not like they would think someone stole it. As I'm driving I realize I actually don't mind this town. It's a sleepy little place. Who knows, maybe I'll buy this house and fix it up - and by that I mean pay someone else to fix it up - and use it as a vacation home. Also, Em is from here; I make a mental note to remember to ask him about Bella. Another plus about this place is that Jake and I are on the fast track to being great friends. Honestly, it's the most genuine relationship I've had outside of family in what seems like ages. Most mechanics would be annoyed that I have stopped by everyday just to make sure the shop hasn't burnt down or my car hasn't been stolen or damaged, but he's cool about it.
I push the Volvo's limits so I make the trip to Port Angeles in about forty five minutes. The parking spot that I have used every day is available. I'm thinking about getting a sign saying "Cullen Parking" or I guess "Masen Parking" just to make sure it's always vacant.
With a pile of magazines, catalogues, and notes I want to discuss with Jake in hand, I stroll through the entrance of the garage. Once I can tell Jake my real last name is Cullen, I think I will talk to him about investing. This is the best garage I've ever been to. I love the staff, the equipment, the set-up, the music…wait, the music?
A whole new world. A new fantastic point of view. No one to tell us no, or where to go, or say we're only dreaming...
The twilight zone. I've walked into the freaking twilight zone or some kind of hidden camera show because there is no way this music would be playing or that the head mechanic, Quil, would be doing some sort of interpretive dance. Maybe I am really living a version of Punk'd for CEO's. Maybe my mother is the next Sharon Osbourne and has contracted our family out to have a reality show. Maybe this entire thing is a joke, and even Bella is an actress. Then we would be free to have some huge Hollywood romance that would be the talk of all those trashy magazines she likes to read. I'll play along.
I put a big smile on my face, making sure I glance at each possible hiding place for a camera. I need to stage a big blow-up; that's what will bring the viewers in. I'll even throw in something they will have to bleep out, just for ratings sake.
"What is with this fucking music?" I place an irate yet confused look on my face.
"It's the little fuckin' mermaid; what's it to ya?" Well, that's weird. That actor's voice sounds like one of a small child. Looking down, I see that it is, in fact, the voice of a small child: a boy with dark hair and dark eyes.
Wracking my brain for an answer to this child, I hear and aggravated rumbling scream from the back of the shop. In a flash, Jake stomps up to the front of the shop with great speed and boisterous yelling.
"Who said it? Which one of you jer…er….not nice guys said it? You know the rules…and it's just gone up to five dollars. Whoever you are give the kid five dollars!"
Ooookay. This must be part of the gig. I open my wallet and only have fifties, so I hand one over, making sure I smile at all the hidden cameras. I may have made the child pose with me and the fifty dollar bill displayed for all the hidden cameras.
"Masen, what the hel….heck? I figured it would have been one of these goons for the umpteenth time," he glowers towards his staff.
"So sorry man, I just didn't expect there to be a Disney musical production equipped with a toddler audience when I walked into a body shop. No worries though," I point to the fifty dollar bill that the little merman is holding, "I'm prepaid in case it happens again."
I try to play the cool trust fund kid with no worries. Don't want to mess up that major motion picture deal I could get when the executive of Summitt sees this tape and lose the acting career I never wanted but am suddenly fantasizing about.
"No worries dude." He slaps me on the back, not surprisingly in front of hidden camera number three, which inconspicuously is disguised as a toolbox. "It was an impromptu take your kids to work day and if they come home with the mouth of a sailor, I'm the one that's gonna be put on a time out if you know what I mean. Here let me introduce you to my kids."
The kid with the potty mouth and the mermaid shirt is grabbed first. "This here is Seth, he's four." Seth sticks his arm out straight in front of him in some claw like Lady Gaga little monster pledge of allegiance and screams "Roma Ro Ma Ma Ga Ga Oh La La!"
"And somewhere in here is Leah. Oh little Ms. Leah, where are you?" Jake begins to search as his eyes rest upon the corner of the front desk. Standing there, half hidden by the desk, is a small girl with delicate features. Everything she is wearing is pink, the dress, shoes, hair thingy, etc.
If she were about fifteen years older, I would swear she was flirting with me. Now I'm used to 'enthusiastic attention'rom the opposite sex, and to be honest, from the same sex as well, so I recognize all the signs. Her chin is tucked into her left shoulder, her fingers play with her right pigtail, and she is batting her eyelashes furiously. I swear I even see her pucker her lips a bit.
Jake notices too; I'm sure of it because he's giving me a stink eye now. I would freak out but I know this is all part of 'their' script. Amazing how they got a four year old to follow direction that well. I can totally do this; I just need to make a quick game plan. Jake is introducing us, so I don't have much time to strategize.
I decide to lay it on thick and placate the small child, "Why hello there Princess Leah! My, you look pretty today."
"Why thank you Mr. Eddie, I can call you Mr. Eddie?" She's back to the excessive lash batting that really looks more like double-eyed blinking. Furthermore, what is with the women of this town and their obsession with shortening my name?
"Well, actually Leah, I pref…" she cuts me off, grabbing my hand and dragging me over to the table
"Great cause I like Eddie. Do most of the peoples call you Eddie? I hope not 'cause I like being 'ridginol. My auntie says always be 'ridginol and carry rubber suits. I don't have one of those…do you Mr. Eddie?"
How does one answer that? This reality hidden camera stuff has gone too far.
Jake is watching us with an amused look on his face. I motion to the magazines that I have left on the front counter. They have colour-coded tabs with cross references so he will understand exactly what I'm thinking about. He nods, picks up the pile and heads to the back bay where my Shelby is already up on a lift.
Leah, more than slightly perturbed that she is not currently my sole focus, demands my attention back by clearing her throat, which is more of an exaggerated cough. "Here you go Mr. Eddie. You colour fairies…and don't makes any of them blue, ok? Blue is icky." A colouring book filled with mystical creatures is placed in front of me. Noticing that the toolbox hidden camera is on the shelf above me, I use this time to stealthily get a better look.
I must distract the little one first. "What about yellow? Is yellow an icky colour?"
"Oh noez, Mr. Eddie, yellow is like gold…I really like and 'preesiate anything gold…pacifically presents that are gold," and we are back to the over-zealous blinking. Yeah, this one has been taught well.
"Alright then Ms. Leah, let me see if I can find you a gold present that you will be able to appreciate." With that I stand and reach up on the shelf to pull down the red tin 'fake' toolbox.
"Oh Mr. Eddie, you are sooooo silly," she shakes her head and giggles before returning to her own magical colouring book.
The latch on the box seems to be stuck. Searching around for a screwdriver, I pause for a moment to colour the skirt on the head fairy yellow. It earns me a sideways glance, a smirk, and a nod of approval from my newest admirer.
This will take a major covert operation, armed with a screwdriver in one hand and crayon in the other. One crayon stroke for every screwdriver slam.
"Erm, Mr. Eddie?"
I stop both stroking and slamming. "Yes sweetheart?"
"Why are you beating the tool box?"
"Well, …um…erm…you see I was adding some percussion to the music and…" I have no idea how to cover this up.
"You are still being silly." Giggling, she reaches over and presses both sides of the latch and the box pops open.
Avoiding being obvious, I continue to colour for a few minutes. Leah then breaks out the glue and sparkles and before I know it we are covered in both. I figure it will look good on camera, caring for the kid and all. Leah runs over to Jake to show him her masterpiece, and I get my chance to find the camera.
Lifting the top tray out, I find…another tray? Followed by another tray and then a fourth tray. There is no camera in here. Examining it closer, the pin hole that I thought was for the lens is actually just a puncture spot in the tin. Huh, they must have been really meticulous about camera placement.
Unassumingly I get up and start to make my way around the room, checking every nook and cranny for possible camera placement. I'm not as sly as I think I am because I've drawn the attention of Quil.
"You do know that your car is at the back being worked on right?" his words come out, purposely reserved.
"Uh, yeah…yeah, I do."
Is it in the cash register? That would make sense; you would get a full view of all the customers. Quil is looking at me like I'm covered in sparkles or something. Wait, I am covered in sparkles. Nonetheless, he looks astonished.
"Dude, you stop in every day and have told Jake not to let any of us even breathe near it if you aren't present, and now you aren't even paying attention to what Jake is doing to it." He points to the back bay.
Before pressing my lips in a thin line, I look around to see if there are any hidden camera men. I whisper, "I know about the hidden cameras and the reality TV. I just want to know where the main ones are hidden so that I can give them my best angles." I give him a pleading look.
"What are you talking about? The only cameras that are in the shop are the security ones." He says back in a normal volume, jeez this kid has no idea how this stuff works.
I decide to call my mother and let her know the jig is up. When she answers, I explain to her how I've figured everything out. She quickly points out several reasons as to why I am an idiot and clearly not on a television show, the most compelling of which being that she would never expose the business this way and that at the prior family meeting, she adamantly refused to let our family become any part of the expose reality media craze. I still wasn't on board with her flat out denial until she broke into to an outraged rant asking why I was in a mechanics shop when she knows that the Volvo is in perfect condition and that – as described in our briefing files – all Volvo maintenance was to be first approved through her. I mumble a bunch of half-hearted apologies and promises and hang up the phone.
Realizing that I was most probably off a little bit on the whole reality show angle, I mosey on back to the bay where I have haphazardly abandoned my precious Shelby.
Jake and I work together for a few hours on her before I decide to call it a day. Informing Jake that I will probably stop by just to check in tomorrow, I go look to say goodbye to the kids. I find Seth over at the colouring table, pasting sparkles on all the fairies.
Lifting my hand to give him a high five, he responds with something he calls a jazz hand and yells out "See ya laters, sparkle stick." The gesture with which he accompanies the nick name is not appropriate for polite company, let alone a four year old.
Standing by the door, Leah has struck the same head-tucked, ponytail-playing, eye-blinking pose. "Goodbye . I'll makes sure that next time you come play I have sequins and sparkles and lots of pink things to craft with."
"It's a date, Princess Leah." I wink at her and she blushes. I've always had a way with kids, and they are cool to hang out with - much more honest than most adults that have crossed my path.
I open the door to find my trusty chariot right where I left it, waiting for me in the parking lot. Pulling out of the parking lot to head back toward Forks, I'm practically run off the road by a giant heap of antique red truck. I'm tempted to turn around and chase after the delinquent driver, but decide I've had enough interaction with crazy at the call center this last week, I don't need the over-exposure.
Tomorrow it's back to work and back to my Bella.
A/N: Currently I've been on a broken Bella theme with my fic reading. My most favourites so far have been:
Wisp by Cris - Edward wins more than he bargained for at what was supposed to be a friendly poker game.
Nobody's Little Girl by HelloElla - A billionaire couple searches for their long lost daughter. A lonely, troubled young man finds and gives refuge to a homeless girl with no name. Paths are crossed and hearts are given, but you can't keep what was never yours.
Fuggiasco by kdc2239 - Edward, homeless since age twelve is used to the gritty, hard life. Now twenty, his main goal is to make it in the world, and off the streets. What happens when a girl who seems to be broken beyond repair becomes his new shadow?
**links on profile**
Do you have any broken Bella or Edward recs?