AN: i would like to incorporate the readers...let me know what you see in Bella's future
One week later...
"….and after that was discussed, Emmett suggested that we reconvene in two weeks to see if you all are still in agreement with the arrangement. Jasper suggested, that while it was not his desire, we could shuffle up living arrangements and 'charges'." Edward shared as he minced cloves of garlic over a large steaming pot. I knew when he said, charges, he meant us.
Yesterday Edward had spent a good hour on the phone with his brother. Apparently Emmett had confided that Rosalie was having a challenging transition and he was seriously doubting that he was going to be able to get through to her. This wasn't a breaking news alert to me; queen bee was not used to being told what to do. Out of the three of us Rose could be the most exasperating, Gwyneth Paltrow meets Nicki Minaj meets Attila the Hun- sort of bitch. Because of this Emmett felt that is was best to keep her separated from us for the time being.
Blinking back tears and biting my lip, I continued to focus prudently on the half chopped onion resting on the marble cutting board before me. I was about as useful in the kitchen as I would be on the defensive line of an NFL team.
"BELLA!" Edward exclaimed, pulling my attention. I guess I had been so focused on cutting that I had blocked him out. "You need to keep your knife tip down and lever your cuts- it is safer and more efficient."
"Uhh, yes chef!" I mimed in a sardonic tone. "What is this, Hell's Kitchen?!"
Edward scoffed then shook his head at me. Reluctantly, I tried his safer and more efficient method and decided while it was better, I was not going to give him the benefit of me saying so. He didn't look away until he was content that I was cutting just as he had specified.
"I thought you were a shrink, not some culinary Julia Child wanna-be," I smugly stated under my breath.
"Very funny, Isabella, but I consider myself neither of those things. I'm a doctor of behavioral health and therapy." He was rather modest when he said it. "Before resigning from my last post, I worked at a camp for adolescents, usually, with self-destructive behaviors."
Seemed legit. But it made me curious and I just had to know…
"Did you spank them?"
After just taking a sip from his glass, he now looked as though he was going to choke or spew it out.
"Ha, no, no I didn't!" He seemed amused with the question, but regained his composure to give me an honest answer.
"Then, when it came to us, what Neanderthal bug crawled up your ass and into your head?"
I could tell he disapproved of my attitude by the way he clamped his jaw, but it must have just passed the Edward test, because he did not respond with the question of the week, 'was that showing respect to others'.
"Emmett had complained, well bitched for lack of a better word, about you three for the last year. When he called me the day he bailed your sweet asses out, it was not the first time he had said and I quote 'never have there been three women in more dire need of an ass whoopin'. And from how he described you- all three of you, your maturity seemed stunted-like girls who never grew up."
I thought back to all the times we had screwed with Emmett and Jasper. From taking their parking spaces, to stealing the coupons from their New York Times then putting it back on their welcome mat- I guess they had cause to bitch. And it was true we had never grown up, truthfully how were we suppose to? Alice even whined like a child.
"And because we act like children, I can assume you believe children should be spanked?"
"No I try to avoid blanket statements like that. Every child and guardian are different. I could find you studies saying that spanking will negatively impact a child into and past young adulthood. But those studies are not really objective, they can't be-other factors always exist."
I rolled my eyes as I washed my hands in Edward's lavish bronze sink. Great, here goes a doctor Edward ramble! I had grown accustom to these.
"In a loving, attentive home, with nurturing parents, and used infrequently, spanking can be a useful tool. But in a neglectful or non-nurturing environment it can be rather destructive. So for the vast majority of my aversion therapy consults, spanking is discouraged to parents. Now with my own hypothetical kids, assuming I will have kids, I would not hesitate to warm a few bottoms."
"Christ on a Bike, who knew such a kinky thing like spanking was so complex," I wondered aloud, drying my hands on my jeans.
A week ago such a conversation would have had me blushing, now it just seemed normal. And I don't know why, but the fact that it wasn't just me- Alice and Rosalie were in the same boat- it made it feel even more normal.
Ignoring my last statement, Edward cheerfully wiped down the counters, humming as he did so. Alice and Jasper were joining us for supper; which was cool as I hadn't seen her in a week, since her incident with the stolen jeans. I was a little nervous she might be pissed at me for ratting her out, but with Alice one could never predict.
Edward had given me a warning about being truthful, a dozen smacks to the seat of my jeans…but after seeing what Alice got; I knew it was nothing to holler about.
The doorbell chimed out and I darted to the door, sliding on the waxed floor.
"No running," Edward yelled over his shoulder, still finishing up in the kitchen.
I threw open the door unceremoniously and smiled at Alice, who was jittery herself with excitement. She wrapped her arms around me in a warm hug. Jasper rolled his eyes at the two of us and showed himself in.
"One would think they just spent a year apart," Jasper remarked to Edward.
"Yeah, I know, tell me about it." Edward offered Jasper a glass and Alice ushered me up the stairs.
In my room, she tossed herself on my bed merrily and giggled. "So tell me everything. What have you been doing?"
I smiled and flopped down beside her.
"Well mostly helping Edward organize the house and he's been working on a grant application. He let me read it-well a part of it," I admitted- it sounded so grown up. "You?"
"Jasper lectures at night, so I go with him and sit in. I've got to go for a half an hour of window shopping once; if I go two days without a punishment, I get 30 minutes of supervised shopping time."
So Jasper had found what made her tick, that sorry bastard. And Alice had managed to only get 30 minutes out of him.
"You mean to tell me, you've gotten your ass beat again?"
She seemed unalarmed at the question; like it was no big thing. Alice had always been a baby when it came to anything scary, painful or the least bit tedious. I was sure she'd avoid any sort of threat to her own ass.
"Yes I got spanked a few more times, but Jasper is always fair about it."
Fair? I'm sure I looked confused because Alice felt the need to put me at ease.
"Bells, you don't have to worry about me anymore. I'm learning to take care of my own damn self for a change," she shared, putting her little hand on mine. "It's not that bad and I promise-I'm ok."
"Hell, it's not that bad? It looked damn-frickin-awful," I griped, rolling my eyes. Alice eyed me curiously, then tilt her head to the side as if there was something on my face.
"Wait a F-ing second," she piped, her face lighting up as she thought of it. "Your bony ass has NOT been spanked on yet?! What have you been doing over here pretending to be saint-holy-fucking Mother Mary!"
I jumped at Jasper's stern voice; he stood in the doorway eyeing Alice disapprovingly. He must have just come up the stairs and we had not heard him. "While I'm not a religious man, others are and that, Miss. Mary Alice is very offensive to those who might hold such beliefs."
"Bella's no saint, Jasper, she doesn't mind. Do you Bells," Alice explained in a voice that was so innocently sweet. Foreign as it was to acknowledge it, she seemed almost angelic like, her honeyed tone and her doe eyes. I struggled for an answer, but Jasper beat me to it.
"That does not matter one bit, Alice. What you are in private, will end up comin out in public. You need to get in the habit of curbin that tongue; respect for others-last and final warnin."
I was speechless; Edward had not been so strict with me. Jasper just seemed at ease with the whole, 'I'm in charge' charade. He went on.
"That bein said, I came up to fetch you; dinner is ready and you two need to get yourselves mindin your manners before ya come down."
We both got up and followed him down the stairs like church mice, we were too freaked to rock the boat. Yet we shared a nervous glance or two. But Jasper no longer seemed ticked, in fact when we got to the bottom of the stairs he turned to me and asked about my studies.
"Well right now, I'm on academic probation," I admitted, slightly embarrassed. "But I'm thinking of changing my major to communications when I come back."
Jasper smiled kindly and nodded, "That would suit you well I think."
At the dinner table any remaining tension dissipated instantly. Edward and Jasper talked of work and even included us in the conversation. And then Jasper had asked about his mom, dropping non-to-subtle hints that he wanted Edward to get him an invitation to one of his mom's home-cooked meals. Edward had whipped up his mother's famous cacciatore and I was somewhat expecting to hate it; but it was good. Jasper went on to share with us the wonder that was, Esme Cullen. Apparently she was the world's best cook, at least Jasper claimed her to be.
Half way into the meal, I concluded that Jasper was a genuinely nice dude; I'm sure there were a lot of shitty things he could spill about Alice, but instead he bragged about her. He commented on her taste and how she had helped in pick out a new office chair and curtains. He even bragged about how thoughtful she was making him coffee in the morning. I could not help but almost feel jealous of Alice, this dude truly thought she was special. Edward was much less of a talker, a good listener perhaps, but not really a talker. He did not say anything about me, or how good I was. Mostly I tried to not let it bother me.
We laughed and chatted about last night's late night tv talk shows, then our conversation went stale in regards to some big-ass dope I had never heard of and an NFL suspension. Alice and I had nothing to add as it all sounded pretty lame, so instead we snuck away to dish up dessert. Edward had picked up frozen yogurt at one of those uber fancy gourmet parlors too pricey for my blood. Not the sort of place you can dine and ditch, so it was not our kinda place.
"Mmmm, Bell this is so good. Why the hell did we never eat ice cream in our own place?"
I laughed, but had no answer for her. We never bought groceries- Starbucks, delivery pizzas, and take-out, yes. But never had we never cooked, so our refrigerator was empty of all but water, energy drinks and booze. After living with Edward I was beginning to see what a discomforting life the three of us had led.
I placed a bowl before Edward and one in front of Jasper. Edward smiled at me and I felt happy to have his approval, but I hated it in a way.
"I see our second course is being served. Oh, and you put a pretzel on top," Edward remarked as if it were unexpected.
"Was I not supposed to?" I asked honestly. "That's how the picture showed it on the carton."
Edward laughed softly, "…it's perfect Bella; you did fine."
Grabbing a spoon, I passed up the table and went to the adjoining living room with my bowl. Alice followed my lead and we curled up on the sofa.
"Bella, you know the rules. No eating food in that room-I'll make an exception for ice cream, but you really should ask next time," Edward half yelled from the table. Peering over the back of the sofa, I could see the guys at the table. Edward tilted his head, as if to say I should know better. Jasper shook his head at Alice, who laughed awkwardly then got up to tip-toe back to the table, hanging her head a little.
"Yeah, my bad. I'll be really careful," I called to Edward, flashing a non-too-assuring half-smile. He could be such a hard-ass; what the big deal was, I'd never understand. He sighed and then looked to Alice with a light smile.
"Alice you are welcome to join Bella in the living room-"
"-Technically, it's a God-damn great room, so it's all one room," I cut in, sinking down in the couch with a sly smile and a self-rewarding bite of ice cream. Edward was quick to respond.
"Technically, I should spank your ass…but that's just if I'm being technical; are we being technical, Isabella?"
"No sir," I managed- stopping all sarcasm for the moment. As Alice retook her seat next to me, we shared a nearly silent giggle fit. Mouthfuls of salted-cocoa-craze ice cream punctuating each giggle with a moment of silence, a ploy to stifle our laughs. Who knew why we found, getting on their last nerves amusing, but we did. By myself it was no fun, but I felt bolder with her by my side.
After finishing off our bowls, we stowed them on the side table and pulled the blankets out of the leather ottoman. Alice surfed the cable guide, but overwhelmed with so many mindless choices…we resorted to TV land. Both of us must have dozed off to reruns of I love Lucy, because I woke up to Ricki Ricardo yelling. I blinked twice and realized that heated voices were also coming from the kitchen.
Next to me, Alice was sitting up hugging her little knees to her chest. It was clear she had been listening in for some time and she looked worried.
"It's Rose, Bell," she whispered, her eyes dazing into dark. It was not hard to hear, their voices were slightly raised.
"Ya KNEW I had MY reasons to be hesitant about this!" The southern draw, gave it away to be Jasper.
"And I TOLD you I understood and didn't require your help, the opportunity to say no was there. You agreed to it, and by no coercion of my own." Edward was clearly pacing, because I could hear his voice grew distant, then slightly stronger.
"I understand that Edward."
"We knew this wouldn't be a walk in the park. But thanks to you, Alice is doing just fine- I can tell," Edward acknowledged more lightly. Then came the scratching drag of a chair; they must have sat at the bar stools. Edward gave a deep sigh.
"I knew she wouldn't be too much trouble. The reason for my hesitation, my ONLY concern was that Emmett was NOT ready for this," he admitted. "It's not been enough time since, well ya-know…" Jasper seemed saddened.
I had no idea what shit was going down; but it must have been bad. "And, now," Jasper went on. "We've got Emmett and Rose down at the God-damn police station."
There was a moment of brief silence.
"I was hoping you would call, Peter," Edward pressed in a brooding tone.
"OF COURSE, I'll call my chief-of police step-brother. What other option are we left with? Leave my best friend in the locker?"
SHIT. Rose got herself in trouble with the law again…And Emmett?!
"Of course I'll call him, but Edward he is goin to want to know what the hell is goin on."
"So we will, explain- it's not as if he is a stranger to all this."
"I'm tellin you right now. And you will listen to me this time. Alice goes with Emmett, Rose goes with me. And so help me Edward, I might be an atheist. But I will put the fear of God into that girl!"
At that Alice sprung to her feet standing up on the sofa and pointed her little finger right at them. It was dark now, and the lights were turned down, but I am sure they could see her from the kitchen.
"Buddha's butt crack! Priest's balls! No one is putting the fear of God into anyone. Take a fucking chill pill, Jazz," Alice screeched defensively, in a saucy pitch that made even me want to slap her. I knew she was taking offence to Rose being talked about in such a way, but was she on something? We knew these guys only so well… what was she doing?
Quietly, I stood up and tugged on Alice's dress sleeve- beckoning her crazy ass down off the sofa. I dared to glance past the dimly lit dining area into Edward's grand kitchen. They both were just standing there. I don't know what I was expecting. Maybe I thought fireworks would spew off from Jasper's ears. Or Edward would zap her off his couch with laser vision. But mostly they both remained calm.
"Well, Edward," concluded Jasper. "I'm afraid somethin's come up and we have to finish our conversation at a later time. We'll need to be goin. "
Edward smiled politely; it was a twilight zone sort of ill fitted response. Both Jasper and Edward appeared cool cucumber. At least I thought so. But as Jasper, collected Alice's jacket from the front closet, I could tell he was pissed. He held up her coat, as if to help her into it. But Alice backed up and shook her head.
"I'm sorry about Buddah. I didn't mean it," she cried pitifully, darting behind me for cover.
Jasper tried to hide a smile and his face softened, the stern look that came after seemed forced.
"Come'on, Alice. Let's get on home," he demanded softly.
"But you're mad at me. I can tell…and I don't want to go with you!" She pouted.
"Alice I've said nothin about bein mad at you. Now it would be best to mind me, cause the discussion you and I are goin have is better had in private."
Poor Alice, started crying, so I went to her, flashing Jasper an angry glare. I rubbed her shoulders protectively, and Jasper just shook his head and rolled his eyes. Edward was pointing crossly in front of him, demanding I come to him, but I shook my head and hugged Alice.
"But what about the conversation 'bout you ditching me for Rose?!" she blubbered, wiping her nose on her sleeve. Jasper sighed and his whole demeanor changed.
"Alice, forgive me. I'd never ditch you and I shouldn't talk like I can dictate such things. Your voice will be heard and the final say will be yours, you have my word. Now, com'ere and get your jacket on."
Three little contented sniffles escaped her, and Alice seemed to perk up; she tentatively came to him.
"Night, man. Thanks for coming over Alice," Edward said, tactfully not-mentioning Alice's meltdown and recent recovery.
And Jasper nodded to his friend and paused for a moment.
"I'll be callin Peter on my way home," Jasper promised. "It's nothing he can't handle."
Alice was so clingy that Jasper cradled her to him and carried her to the door.
"Thanks' Jasper and go easy on that sniveling little pixie of a girl," Edward whispered as he saw them out and flicked on the porch lights. "She means well."
Jasper smiled and nodded in agreement, tucking Alice's head under her chin; yep maybe he was still a cool dude, I thought to myself.
Locking up, Edward leaned against the closed door and ran his fingers through his bronzed hair. He looked to me, his eyes full of many things, clearly he was overwhelmed. For some reason he faked a smile for me.
"I think, I might take you to see your friend Rose. She might need another person to confide in, besides my bear of a brother. Would tomorrow suit your schedule?"
I wanted to laugh- he knew I had not a thing planned. My new life was a blank slate, so I was certain I could pencil it in.
"I'd like that; sorry she's such a bitch," I chimed, not knowing what else to say.
"Bella, she's not a bitch. She's just bitter and out of control," he corrected. "Anyhow, don't worry about her now. Just get yourself to bed and we can talk in the morning."
I shuffled to the stairs, only after taking our desert bowls to the sink. Edward had cleaned the dishes and now was merciless typing away at his scratched-up old laptop, most likely working on that grant.
I yawed and trudged slowly, wanting to say goodnight to him, but feeling uncomfortable. Half-way up the stairs, I peered over and called to him.
"Yes, sleep well, Isabella," he said politely. "...and Bella, next time we have guests, you'll need to do better minding your P's and Q's. Reminders and final warnings have their place, but you should know the rules by now. Next time-"
"Yeah I get it, next time you'll beat my butt!"
"Spank it, yes. And you should know, I'm not as considerate as Jasper. If you are willing to misbehave in front of an audience, be sure you're willing to be spanked in front of them. Depending on the circumstance, I might let you keep your pants up. But don't count on it."
I rolled my eyes; I did not know if I should believe him or not.
After all, two weeks into this game, I was still holding out and all I was ever promised was next time.