I don't own it. Seriously.
Casing the Joint
So I tell Alice that she's going to have to give it up to Bella about her fortune-telling abilities so I can look like less of a circus freak. She reluctantly agrees only after I give her all the info I gleaned from Bella at the obstetrician's as well as anything that I may potentially learn at future obstetric appointments.
It's a complex negotiation which takes two days and requires each of us to consult our legal counsel, so it's a good thing that Rosalie and Emmett went to law school.
I mean, they can't practice in the state of Washington and it was the 1960's but both are able to review contracts and stuff. I am lucky that I am able to secure Rosalie's services as she is clearly the better lawyer than Emmett because she's a) a total hard-ass and b) able to manipulate the bejeezus out of Emmett.
Of course, to secure Rosalie's services I have to promise her that I will facilitate access to the progeny of the above-mentioned subject of inquiry.
We four have set up negotiations in the dining room. Jasper got so disgusted after the first day that he refuses to be in the same room as us. He's sitting in the living room watching that Ken Burns "Civil War" documentary that he quotes all the damn time when Esme comes in from grocery shopping. She's been so pleased to have a human to cook for that it's been almost unbearable in the house with all the "food" smells. I'm sorry but most vegetables just smell nastier cooked than they do raw. And brussel sprouts are just pointless.
"They're not playing Monopoly again, are they?" Esme asks. She had to throw the Monopoly set out about 15 years ago when an all-night game turned ugly. Emmett is a competitive bitch, that's all I'm gonna say. And I didn't actually intend to pull his arm off; he just wouldn't let me put any more hotels on Park Place.
"No, they are negotiating human access," Jasper says to Esme. She sighs and sticks her head in the dining room.
"You guys are just sick," she says. "She's a human, not a toy. This is highly disrespectful to Bella."
We all hang our heads in shame for a minute, except Rose, who knows no shame. Then we get back to negotiations.
We are finally able to come to an agreement on the whole thing in less time than it took to settle the Great Station Wagon Debate of 1973, the argument by which all arguments are measured. At least this one stayed civil as measured by appendages removed and furniture damage. This one is more comparable to the "Last Space inthe Carport" treaty of 1961, the catalyst for Rose and Emmett going to law school. At least we didn't have to call in outsiders to mediate this one. That would have been awkward.
So we are working in the office, and by "working" I mean Alice is reading a magazine, Bella is learning the billing software and I am skulking around trying to think of things to send Alice out of the office for.
"That won't work," Alice says. I think she's talking to me but then I realize that she's looking at Bella. When Bella realizes that Alice is addressing her she frowns.
"What do you mean? I did the online tutorial." Alice shakes her head.
"No, I mean that moving in with Lauren and Jessica won't work. You won't like it."
"How did you…Wait, can you read minds, too? Can you read my mind?" Bella looks noticeably uncomfortable.
"No. I can see the future." Alice says, looking back down to her magazine.
"The future. Like all of it?" Bella is staring at Alice nervously.
"Well, not all of it, just bits and pieces. When people make decisions I can see the outcome of those decisions. When you decided to move in with Lauren and Jessica after graduation I saw what would happen. Lauren is going to want to throw parties all the time and Jessica…" Alice shudders. "You just don't want to live with Jessica. Trust me."
"Why are you thinking of moving out of the Chief's?" I ask.
Bella looks uncomfortable. "I, uh, I don't really want to tell you guys. It doesn't really make me look very good." Who is she kidding? She thinks that I masturbate in my office and she's worried about how she looks?
"You couldn't possibly look worse than Edward," Alice says. Fuck you, Alice.
"Yeah, and Alice here paid off a bunch of students to get herself elected as Treasurer of the French Club at our last school." I stick my tongue out at Alice so fast that only she will see it.
"It wasn't fair that that guy was from France and so everyone thought he was better!" Alice flips me off at lightning speed.
"Yeah, this is still worse," Bella says although she is smiling slightly at our accusations.
"Yeah, well Edward…" I see that Alice is about to tell her about my nocturnal "observation sessions" and I cut her off.
"Thinks that that French guy had a totally unfair advantage," I add, giving Alice a pleading look. "Anyway, I think he was really from Belgium. What a poseur."
"Yeah, anyway," Bella looks between us curiously. "I wasn't really honest with Charlie about something and things have just been kind of tense."
"Well, can you talk it over with him?" Alice says. Like she's some undead Dr. Phil and shit.
"It's not really that easily resolved," Bella is clearly debating talking with us, which is a first. She's more closed-mouthed than a mime. "I kind of inferred that I was willing to put the baby up for adoption when I first moved here and I…wasn't really ever interested in doing that. It wasn't really very honest of me but I was trying to keep things civil. I read that fetuses could be affected by stress that the mother is feeling and I am really trying to minimize the drama in my life so I can stay calm."
"Well, you could…" Alice cuts me off.
"You don't want to move out until after graduation, right?" Alice gives me a slight shake of the head as she talks to Bella.
"I don't know," Bella smirks. "You're the one who can see the future. You tell me."
"You should wait," Alice says, looking back to her magazine.
"Anyhow, we can't judge you for not being honest to the Chief, we lie all the time." I grin at Bella. She laughs at me.
"All the time, huh?" I nod.
"Yeah, you know, 'My skin is cold because I have cold circulation,' 'I ate a big breakfast,' 'Yeah, Emmett, I'm sure Rose respects you.' Stuff like that."
"So, you could be lying to me, like, all the time?" Bella looks at me, amused.
"Yeah, I probably am. By the way, you don't even look pregnant in that sweater." Bella looks down at the bowling ball in her lap and then back at me and laughs.
"So we should have a graduation party," Alice interjects.
"Is that a trick question? I mean, have you already seen it happening?" Bella teases Alice. Alice sticks her tongue out at Bella.
"No, that's why I'm suggesting it. Bella, unlike us, you're only going to graduate from high school once. You should have a graduation party." Bella shakes her head.
"I don't have any friends in Forks besides you guys. Who am I going to invite? My obstetrician? The guy at the drugstore where I buy my prenatal vitamins?"
"Well, I was thinking we could plan a really nice party at our place and only invite people we like and then everyone who had been trolls to you would be jealous," Alice looks at Bella earnestly. Bella smiles at her indulgently.
"Alice, that is really sweet but I don't really enjoy parties and I'm not really that upset about being the leper of Forks. I mean, if my parents are being jerks about this whole thing, why should I expect an bunch of high school students to respond any more maturely?"
I feel so bad for her; I wish I could go slap her parents around. I also keep thinking about that "moving out of the Chief's house" thing. I'm sure you can guess where I think she should move. I'm nothing if not predictably obsessive.
But I'm guessing that from the way Alice cut me off that it was a bad idea for me to make the offer. I can imagine it would come off a little aggressive. "Hey, Bella, since we've talked you into working here and I go to all your doctor's appointments with you, why not move in so I don't have to cross town to watch you sleep?"
"Well, we'll just invite people we like, like, uh, each other, I guess, and have a good time," Alice smiles and starts to make a list of things to do for the party. Bella groans and I give her a sympathetic look. Maybe I can offer to let her hang out in my room the whole time. Purely for the purpose of her comfort, of course.
"Well, I'm going to get going. I've got a party to plan!" Alice grabs her list and her purse and goes spinning out of the room with a glance back at me as she thinks: "Don't talk to her about moving in! But you can ask her about her mom!" I give her a nod and sit down in Alice's chair next to Bella's desk.
"So, do you think your mom is going to come for your graduation?" Bella sighs.
"I don't know. She's pretty pissed off about the baby. I mean, she kicked me out."
"Yeah, but she's your mom. She'll get over it, right?" I cannot believe that anyone could stay mad at Bella, especially her own mom.
"My mom is still mad about Fleetwood Mac breaking up. She can hold a grudge." Bella smiles. "It's cool, Edward. I know you feel sorry for me but I'm ok. I have you guys and I'm not really as dependent on my parents as a lot of kids. I mean, Charlie has always been pretty distant and Renee is kind of…self-absorbed." I get such warm fuzzies when she talks about having us as a support network. Using the term "warm" figuratively. I am roughly 58 degrees as we speak, of course.
"So, can we drop this little therapy session? Unless you want to interpret my dreams or something this is a pretty lame conversation. I guess I could lie down on the couch and talk about what I remember about being potty trained." She smiles at me and reaches out to touch my hand but stops herself about 6 inches before making contact. Her hand changes course and grabs her bottle of water instead and she takes a drink.
"If you're going to lie down on my couch we don't even have to have a conversation," slips out of my traitorous mouth before I can stop myself and Bella chokes on her water.
As soon as she's done sputtering and choking I can tell she's embarrassed and I'm pretty ashamed of myself for talking to her like that so I make myself scarce in my office for the rest of the day. Way to kill the mood, Slick. I'm so pathetic that what might have been some pretty successful flirtation if applied to someone actually interested in me nearly ended up requiring the Heimlich maneuver.
My fucktastic mood is only improved by the sight of the boxes of party supplies already arriving at the house when I get home. Which are being stored conveniently in my room. Of course. Because, as Rose explains it, "It's not like you have a bed." Thanks for the reminder, Sis.
But Alice cheers me up by showing me that Bella is going to move in after all, it's just going to have to be her decision. And it's not going to happen until after she graduates.
Which means that my bedroom will get a bed after all. Because Esme is going to give Bella my room and move me into the fricking broom closet down the hall. Which I'm pretty much ok with.
a/n: So I really need to get WriteOnTime and anniej13 some gold teeth and velvet trenchcoats because they have been pimping the socks off of this story. Also, a big gold chain to EverlastingMuse for beta'ing all of the nonsense I send her and a pinkie ring for Liz3615 for being my one woman cheering squad. Thank you to all the awesome readers who reviewed every last chapter of this nonsense and even those who just read it and shake their heads in disgust. Thanks! JuJu