Stephenie Meyer's Twilight, where I'm confused how Alice was able to see Bella's future, and Jasper was able to read / affect her moods. If Edward or the Volturi couldn't affect her any other way, how did their abilities work?
Brief summary of the prior chapter: Alice joins the Cullen family as Esme's 5 year old niece and Esme asks Bella to babysit afterschool. Rose inadvertently finds out about Bella and Carlisle after an accident on the highway.
Please check out the author note at the end of the story. All errors are me.
"Did you hear?" Rose stops me in the hall.
"About that guy?" Rose nods her head in confirmation.
"Yeah, I did," I say with the solemnity the situation provided. "Charlie left in the middle of the night to go to the accident. He didn't get home until I was leaving for school this morning."
"What're you two talking about?" Emmett asks, walking up behind Rose and resting his arm across her shoulder.
"That accident Bella and I came up to on Saturday. The same guy skidded out on some ice, drunk, and his car went across the road and into the ravine." I paused a moment trying not to picture the gruesome scene in my mind. "He wasn't wearing a seatbelt and went through the windshield and died."
"Fuck," Emmett says quietly.
"Yeah, he got out of the hospital Saturday after our run in with him, was taken to jail and spent the night there, got his bail posted and apparently went out drinking and," I trail off shaking my head.
It's not the first time someone has died on that part of the highway. There's usually a fatality every couple of years. Between the slick roads, hunting season, and cheap beer, it becomes the perfect combination of dangerous. The fact that Rose and I saw the predecessor accident on Saturday adds a sobering air to this particular fatality.
"My dad is really freaked out," I tell them. "He's all like, 'Bells, I don't want you driving after dark.'" I don't know why I shared this, but seeing Charlie walk in this morning looking grey and worn and older than his 40 years frightened me. Despite the fact that we live in a small town with a relatively low crime rate, my father and the five other officers shoulder the fulltime burden as first responders. Maybe the fact that we're such a small community and events like this are somewhat rare takes away the opportunity for desensitization.
"Not being allowed to go out after dark may limit your activities, huh?" Rose says to me, her eyes bright with challenge and her mouth twisting in dare.
"Yeah, like I have to worry about limiting my after dark activities," I try to jokingly deflect Rose's suspicions. She so knows about Carlisle, I might as well send an announcement card to the fact. But still, I play the clueless shut-in.
We walk Rose to her class before Emmett and I make it to History.
"Hey," Emmett says, flicking the back of my head like he does. It shakes me from the melancholy and tension of moments ago.
"What?" I snap and turn around but then Emmett winks at me, I go all soft and squishy at seeing his dimples. Emmett has a way of charming the piss and vinegar out of anyone.
"What're you doing after school? I need help picking out some stuff for Rose for Christmas."
"I thought you two weren't doing gifts."
"We aren't, we're making stuff." He makes a face like he's annoyed, but I know it was probably his idea. "I'm trying to put stuff into a," he lowers his voice, looking around us to see is anyone's listening, "photo album. You know, things we've done together so we have something for when we're not together." He looks down at his desk and fiddles with a scrap of paper.
Rose must have been an untouchable or a martyr or something of the like in a past life because she's totally been rewarded with Emmett in this life.
"Sorry, tiger, no can do, I start my babysitting job today."
"Oh yeah, for lispy girl, how's that gonna go?"
"Don't make fun," I chide. "I don't know how it's gonna go, it should be alright, I guess. She has an imaginary friend, I'm hoping he joins us today and takes the pressure off of me. I'm not really sure what to do with her."
Our teacher comes in to begin our lecture so I turn around and open my notebook. I feel Emmett's meaty finger poking me in the neck and put my hand there to swat him away when he shoves a note between my fingers. I grasp it in my palm and bring it forward and unfold it.
-Read her Eloise, girls love that shit, she'll want to live at the Plaza in New York. Rose said it was her favorite book when she was little.
I wonder if Esme would have any qualms if I brought Emmett with me for backup. If for nothing else, he could help Jathsper secure the Texas / Mexico border.
Pulling down the drive to the Cullen house I see a pair of pink rain boots sitting on the porch along with a pink umbrella. Walking up I notice the boots are covered with sloppy mud and I try very hard to imagine pearl-clad Esme Cullen walking anywhere where there would be mud. But then again, it's only Alice's boots out here, not Esme's.
I knock on the door and it swings open just seconds later.
"Bella," Esme greets, moving back for me to enter.
I had emailed her my three requested references the day after her request. She checked each of them as Mrs. Newton was all up in my business for me to tell her about Esme Cullen.
Yeah, like I was going to fuel the mill with the grist of Esme Cullen's private life.
"Hi Esme, how's it going?"
"Well, Alice had her first day of school, today. When she left here this morning she had on pretty pink tights, her pink rain boots and a pink slicker. She looked like a wad of bubble gum. When she got home she had mud on nearly anything that was pink and told me she didn't like the color. Apparently, too many girls in her class already wear pink." Esme's amusement is obvious and I can't help but to turn the corners of my mouth and smile along with her.
"I wonder what color she would like better?"
"After I told her confederate blue might be difficult to match and difficult to rationalize, being that we're Yankees, she went with her second choice of purple, lilac to be more specific."
"I guess she's put a lot of thought into this?" I ask, smiling.
"It would seem. Gives me hope the 25 minute bus ride is good for something."
Esme is different today. She seems purposeful and I feel less on edge around her. If I were to really stretch it, I might go so far as to say she was being friendly.
"Alice is changing. I have a schedule outlined for you in the breakfast room."
I follow Esme and sit down across from her. She moves a typed piece of paper over to me and I read what she has written.
1.) Change into play clothes when she arrives home from school
2.) Ask her what she did during her time at school while making her a small snack of fruit or vegetables along with a glass of water with a lemon in it. She may have some cheese if she's extra hungry.
3.) Ask about her friends. Please monitor how often she speaks of Jasper.
4.) Count with her and notice her progress. Sixes and sevens can be particularly difficult for her. Be patient.
*We will eat dinner by 6:30, whether Carlisle is home or not. The latest you will be here will be 6:30. But expect most days you should be able leave by 6PM.
After I finish reading Esme's outline of activities, I set it down and look at her expectant face.
"Is there a journal or diary or something you want me to keep about Alice's progress?"
Esme looks thoughtful for a moment and considers my question.
"No, I don't think that will be necessary. I'll be here most of the time; if I step out we can discuss things when I return. Which reminds me," she gets up and goes to a drawer in the kitchen. She returns and hands me a key.
"This is a key to the front door. I don't imagine you will need it, but if something comes up, we'll be prepared." She places the key on the table and pushes it towards me.
"It only is the key to the front door," she adds looking at me pointedly.
I ignore the implication that I would start letting myself into Carlisle's cottage. "I agree, I think this is a safe bet." I get up and go to the closet and reach into my coat pocket, take my key ring and add the Cullen's front door key to it.
Alice greets me while I shut the closet door.
"Hi, Alice, how are you? How was school?"
I put my hand on her upper back and lead her to the kitchen.
"Would you like a snack?"
"Bella, there're pears in the refrigerator," Esme says as she makes her way out of the breakfast room.
Alice drags a newly added stool to the counter next to the sink and watches as I wash her pear.
"Do you want skins, or no?" I ask her.
"The thskins are where all the vitaminths are," she informs me.
"Good, I like them that way too." I sliced a pear for her and one for me and pull another stool next to her. Between bites I ask her about her day.
"Is Mrs. Posey your teacher?" I knew Mrs. Posey and her husband from Newton's. They brew their own beer during the winter and buy their supplies from the store. I don't share this with Alice.
"Yesth, she told me my braids were pretty."
"She's right, your braids are pretty. Do you like them?"
She shrugs her shoulder, intent on the piece of fruit. "I'm going with Aunt Esthme on Thaturday to Theattle and we're going to the beauty thalon."
"The beauty salon?" I say in mock-startle. "Alice, you're already beautiful enough, what in the world could a beauty salon do for you?" I dramatically put a hand to my chest at the horror of it all.
"Well," her eyes move up to the list of activities in her brain. "We're going to have our fingernails and our toenails painted and Aunt Esthme is going to get her hair cut and I might too." She was totally excited at the prospect. "Maybe you can ask my aunt if you can come, too."
"She could if she would like, but I believe she has Uncle Carlisle's office holiday party this weekend, don't you Bella?" Esme asks as she walks in and turns to me.
I had been trying to think of an excuse not to go to that thing. Last year I got out of it saying I had Christmas plans with Jake. I couldn't back out of it again.
"Yeah, I guess I'm going." I could think of little else that would be as unpleasant as this office party. It must have been apparent on my face, Esme laughs.
"I'm afraid, lovely Bella, you'll have to be a designated driver, they all drink like fish at that little event."
"Did you go last year?"
"Yes, yes I did. The bowling alley was quite decorated for the holidays." She choked a little at that statement. I wanted to remind her that no one in Forks ordered from the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog and went ice skating at Rockefeller Center. A decorated bowling alley was the way we lived.
"Karaoke was its own special kind of," she stops herself and looks at Alice before looking back at me and mouthing, "hell."
The mental image alone of Esme sticking her fingers in an off-the-rack bowling ball and wearing community-bowling shoes made me sorry I missed it last year.
"Do you bowl, Bella?"
I picked up on Esme's derision to the sport, but the fact of the matter was I didn't suck at bowling. Charlie had belonged to a league when he was a deputy and every Friday night I would go with him to Port Angeles and do my homework or play video games while he played. When his game ended we would rent the lane for another game and bowl together. He tried teaching me the finer points about arm swing and angle but I didn't really care about any of the stuff, I just liked spending the time with my dad and not having to share him with the community.
"Um, I've bowled, not as a regular thing, but my dad and I used to go together."
"Mmm, that's nice," she said for lack of anything else to say. "My father and I golf together," Esme tells me. The pride is more than apparent. "He's a scratch golfer, an utter dream to be with on a course." Clearly, Esme is a daddy's little girl.
"My daddy's a thsipping magnet in Greece," Alice chimes in.
"Shipping magnate, lovey." Esme looks at me and tightly shakes her head indicating that is not what her father is.
The three of us spend the afternoon together. We had decided to paint Alice's boots and her slicker with lilacs. Esme took out a fishing tackle box that held an array of acrylic paint tubes and after cleaning the mud from the boots, we each took a turn painting and decorating.
Tuesday when I get to the Cullen house, Alice is outside playing, when she comes in, she carefully pulls her boots off and sets them on the tray.
"Alice, your boots look great," I tell her.
Her face warms at my compliment and she takes a moment to look over my appearance. Her nose wrinkles up like she smells something foul.
"Jathsper wants to know why you're wearing those shoes."
And here I thought Jasper and I could be imaginary friends, imaginary cohorts even. Yet, while he pages through his imaginary Women's Wear Daily he gets his corporal friend to insult me. I feel betrayed.
"Um, I like them." I stop myself from saying it as a question and reminding myself she's five and isn't Esme Cullen.
"Oh," is her entire response. "Can we have apples and cheesthe today?" She asks as she walks to the kitchen leaving me standing in a puddle of shoe insecurity. Or pissed off at Jathsper, I'm not certain which.
Walking into work at Dr. Cullen's office on Thursday I'm cornered by Siobhan.
"Bella, I'm going to put you down as a designated driver for the party Saturday night."
Dr. Cullen walks up behind Siobhan and looks at me with the kind of smile that causes the secrets of nations to fall into the wrong hands. It's pure danger and it makes me forget there's an Esme.
"Um," I say distractedly, looking away from Carlisle and back to Siobhan. "What?" So fucking slick.
"Since you're 18 and don't drink," Siobhan looks up at me in confirmation, I nod, "I thought you wouldn't mind pitching in being a driver."
"Oh," I respond, eyes darting from Dr. Cullen to our office manager.
"Bella, why don't you pick me up then you can drive my sedan that way we'll be able to pick up three other people. Siobhan, we could pick you up along the way, and then stop for Fred and Sasha."
"Oh, that'll work perfectly; it'll be almost a straight shot for Bella."
"Good," he says then turns back to Siobhan. "So we have three designated drivers, we should be good."
"Wonderful Doctor, oh Bella, you'll have so much fun, bring your jingle bells," she trills as she takes her clipboard back to the front of the office. Dr. Cullen turns and walks to an exam room.
"Uh, yeah I could drive," I say to no one since I'm standing here alone. That was a classic case of being bamboozled.
"Um, I have to go to this work thing on Saturday night. I've been asked to be the designated driver, so, uh, I might be home late."
Charlie sets his fork down and takes the napkin from his lap to wipe his mouth.
"How late is late?"
"I don't know. Dr. Cullen rented the bar at the bowling alley in Port Angeles for the night. I don't know if I'll be home at 11:00 or at 2:00 in the morning."
"And you'll be driving people home so they don't get behind the wheel," Charlie said to himself. "Whose car will you be driving? Your truck?"
I sigh. "No. Dr. Cullen said I could drive his car."
"You're going to drive something you've never driven before?" Charlie was displeased.
I could see the rock and the hard place Charlie was stuck between. Just a few days before he had been at the accident site of a death on the same highway I would be traveling on. An accident and a death that was caused by alcohol. He didn't want several people on the road with questionable sobriety, nor did he want me driving after dark beyond what was absolutely necessary.
"I don't like this Bella. It's at least an hour to PA, it's dark and you'll be driving a car you're unfamiliar with, which will be filled with people who'll be compromised. I don't like it at all."
"I know Dad, I kind of didn't have a choice, it just sort of happened at work today. But," I pause briefly, "you know I'm a safe driver."
"I know you're a safe drive, it's the other yahoos I worry about."
I stay silent letting Charlie work through it.
"I'll be working, but you call me if there're any problems, if you're too tired to drive, if someone's too drunk to handle, you call me."
"I will, Dad."
Charlie went back to finishing his meal.
"Hey, Emmett and I are going skating on Sunday night at the rec center; you want to come with us?" Rose asks as we walk from the parking lot to the school entrance.
"Yeah, maybe, I have this work thing to go to on Friday and work the rest of the weekend, I don't know if I'll be up for it."
"What party?" Rose asks. I don't meet her eyes, just keep walking and looking forward. I had been somewhat successful this week avoiding any inquiry from Rose regarding Carlisle. I didn't like avoiding my best friend, in fact, I felt like a total heel because of it.
"It's this stupid office thing. I have to be the designated driver and drive all over picking up people like a hockey mom. I don't even want to go to this party. My dad's freaking out because of that accident and it's just a hassle more than anything else." I continued to look forward and hope the lack of excitement for this event is enough to stop Rose from any questions.
"What are people going to do, sit in the bed of your truck? That makes no sense."
"No, I have to drive someone else's car. This was all decided without any input by me."
"Whose car?" Rose continues to pick away at me.
"Doctor Cullen's," I reply, trying not to hesitate.
Rose takes my forearm and pulls me over to the picnic tables, which are too wet to sit on so instead, she pulls me to the woods. We're going to miss the first bell seeing as though it's in five minutes and it takes that long to get to the forest edging the outer field. I keep my mouth shut knowing this is unavoidable.
We get under the cover of the branches and I wait. I can't even look Rose in the eyes.
"That Saturday morning the other month when you came home after you broke up with Jake, you were with Dr. Cullen?" it's barely a question the way she asks it.
I swallow thickly and wish the earth would also swallow me up. "Rose, don't do this."
"Don't do what, talk to my best friend about the biggest secret ever? What the fuck?" Her anger is present in the fact that her words are emphasized and staccato.
"Please, don't do this," I say again and finally look her in the eyes.
She remains silent while she keeps her gaze on me. I try to still my twitchy movements.
"He's married, Bella," she quietly says.
I don't say anything. This is the inherent problem with secrets, it's never just one. If I were to be upfront with Rose about Carlisle and say anything about Carlisle and Esme's marriage, I would be telling the secrets of others, and what's worse is I would just be doing it to cover my own ass. While I hold no particular affinity towards Esme, I still wouldn't betray her private life in a thinly veiled attempt to rationalize my actions.
I lick my lips nervously.
"You're not going to say anything?"
"What should I say, Rose?" I'm getting tired of this conversation.
"What if his wife finds out? This is a small town, Bella, nothing stays secret." Then she adds, "Your dad would be completely devastated."
"Sometimes there are things that are just my business," I say flatly even though my statement is not really applicable to Rose's.
"Really? I saw the way he looked at you at the crash; his finger under your chin," she pauses, raising her eyebrows, "looking into your eyes. That wasn't some casual way a boss asks an employee about her wellbeing."
Again, I keep silent. Thoughts of my father finding out and the devastation that would incur keep me even further from wanting this conversation to continue.
"Jesus, Bella, you're just going to stand there and not say a word and think I won't care about this. Getting laid by some hot, older guy isn't worth all this. There are more than just you involved."
Everything she's saying is of course, correct. I can rationalize that all of this was at Esme's cunning; some way to have her husband's needs filled without the threat of him falling in love with the other woman and leaving her.
"Rose, can you just be my friend here, trust that the only person that's going to get hurt is me?" That was as close an admission as I would come; I stop myself from saying anything else.
"There are so many things wrong with that statement and you don't even get it." Her words are filled with as much insult as I've ever heard her direct towards me.
"I get it, Rose," I tamp my defensive anger down at her condescension. "We don't all get the perfect boyfriends like Emmett."
"Don't give me a bullshit line like that," her reply shoots immediately back at me. "You're not a victim, you're just feeling sorry for yourself in order to have a reason to be fucking a married man. If you're going to do it, at least have the balls to own up to it."
"If I own up to it, will you let it be? Make certain that this conversation never leave these woods? Not tell Emmett, or Jessica or Angela or anyone? Can you promise me this?" I look at her with blatant challenge knowing she can't answer in the affirmative. "Do you get why people keep things to themselves? Whatever's said right here, between us is only between us. Forever. Do you get that? Can you try to see something from my point of view other than just from a common objection?" My words are solid and direct.
Gentle rain falls on the forest canopy covering us.
"Sometimes it's just nice to know that someone would want someone else without the entanglement of emotions." The moment that statement leaves my mouth, I feel empty and cheap. Do I value myself that little? Or is it possible to have only a physical relationship without truly developing any feelings beyond desire?
The rain continues to fall and weight the leaves. Rose bends over to her bag and takes about a minute looking for a stick of gum. She offers me a piece but I shake my head.
"You know I want to ask you a million questions."
"We're missing first period," I say. Avoidance, I am thee.
"Speaking of missing periods, you haven't, have you?"
"I have a quiz in French I need to study for."
"Yeah and how is the frenching? Do older guys still kiss, or is it all wham, bam, thank you ma'am?"
"Come on, I can't blow off any more classes." I blithely continue on.
"Have you blown him? Tell me, he's so confident, he must pack a piece in his pants."
"Can we put this behind us?" I ask, knowing she won't because it lightens the gravity of the past ten minutes.
"He takes you from behind? Damn, he's all sorts of a dirty boy," she emphasizes each word and winks at me.
This continues all the way back to school.
After my second period I send Rose a text.
-Rose, I love you bunches
I laugh and send her one more text.
-Bitch, say it properly.
We close the office at 5:00 on Friday afternoon in preparation for the party. Siobhan lets me out at 4:30 so I have enough time to go home, change and start all of my driving. Charlie left me a note reminding me to call him if I need help.
I'm told the party is casual, which makes sense; it is in a bowling alley after all. Knowing it's casual doesn't make it any easier to pick out something to wear. Finally I decide on a pair of slim black velvet jeans my mom sent me for Christmas last year, they still have the tags on them. I take a silky tank top and a little cardigan Rose found for me at a garage sale, it's kelly green with dark, chunky sequins along the placket and set the clothes on my bed.
Taking a quick shower and hoping my hair dries in a non-hideous way is the best I'm going for. A swipe of lip gloss and mascara is the extent of my makeup. I get dressed and look in the mirror. I look festive. I feel less so.
I want to call Rose and ask her if she'll meet up with me at the party, but I know I can't. I have obligations to drive and didn't RSVP with a plus one. Navigating a social situation without my best friend makes this night all the less inviting.
"Dad," my father answers on the first ring; he's at the station. "I'm leaving to go pick every one up, I'll call you if I run into any trouble," I assure him.
"Alright Bells. Listen to me," he pauses with his serious tone. "I don't want any funny business. If any one offers you alcohol, you say no, you understand me?"
"Dad, I don't drink," I tell him, closing my eyes almost wishing I hadn't called him.
"I checked with the county, rain's supposed to come but not until later, there's no freezing weather predicted. Before you get on the road, you make certain you're comfortable with Dr. Cullen's car, I want you to have your wits about you."
"I know, Dad." I tell myself he does this out of love, not ass busting.
"I trust you to be careful."
"You know I will, Dad."
"Have a good time," he tells me and we hang up.
I pull down the Cullen drive and see as the porch light flips on. I shut off my truck's engine and slide out the driver's side door.
Carlisle opens the door when I reach the top step. He looks like the private school boy caught smoking in the boys' room. The worn and faded jeans, slightly scruffy black loafers and black v-neck sweater over a white t-shirt. It's completely mundane and I've seen him look this way before, and yet it still makes my mouth go dry.
"Hi," I say shyly. I can't stop the images of running my hands up underneath his snug black sweater and what my fingers would feel running along his chest. It's a little game I play in my mind where I try to imagine the physical point that would break his detached demeanor.
"Isabella," he says slowly while he looks me in the eyes then down to my lips before returning to my eyes again. He pays my outfit no mind.
I feel like a fawn in the woods, gangly and trepidatious. I don't know why I feel this way. I want to ask him why the brief and seemingly genuine concern for me at the accident site but I stop myself. This has never been about love, it's about desire and a need for physical satisfaction in an otherwise unfulfilled environment. And yet I cannot stop staring at him with more than carnal longing.
I quietly clear my throat and break the contact by moving my gaze to the side of the porch.
"Um," I try to marshal my thoughts to my responsibility of the evening. "Would you familiarize me with your car?" I ask, looking back at him.
A beat later, he responds. "Of course," he says, returning to indifferent decorum. He steps into the house and takes his coat, slipping his arms through the sleeves of a leather jacket. Normally I would have been embarrassed for him sporting anything leather, but this? This was dangerous beauty. Steve McQueen meets Sid Vicious with a big man hug from Ralph Lauren. I want to hand him a silver flask to go with his silver spoon and take him to Griffith Observatory. I swallow again.
He walks to me and puts his hand on the small of my back and leads me to the garage where he opens the door and hands me the key fob to a car that probably costs more than my father makes in two and a half years.
He couldn't just drive like a minivan or a station wagon.
He covers my hand holding the fob with his. His fingers are much longer than mine, and his skin has the slightest texture of roughness, though, not dry. It's the indication of both a professional and a tinkerer.
"…Unlock, remote start, trunk, panic button," his thumb moves over mine indicating each button's function. I take a breath through my nose and act unaffected.
"Would you like me to drive on the way there?" He asks as he steps away from me. He looks completely unaffected, in actuality, entirely pragmatic.
I need to get my shit together. It's just a car, it's just a party, and it's just Dr. Cullen. Carlisle.
No, tonight it's Dr. Cullen.
I take the key, give it a little toss in the air and move to the driver's side door.
"No, I'll drive. Tell me, Carlisle, is it a stick?" I punctuate, looking at him across the roof of the car where he's standing on the other side.
I see Carlisle's mouth twitch in blasé amusement before drawing his lips into a slight purse of a pucker.
"No, it's an automatic," he responds in equal punctuation, fixing the standup collar of his jacket.
I let out a breathy chuckle and we get in the car.
He gives me the rundown of the dashboard, where the headlight control is for when I need to switch over to the high beams, the emergency brake; I feel like I was driving it off the showroom floor.
"Now, Bella," he moves his hand to the top of leg. It's high enough on my thigh that I slightly tremble, feeling my shoulder blades move back and my breasts jut slightly forward. Suddenly the game I instigated has been taken from my control. "Bear in mind that the brake," he moves his hand upward just slightly, "is probably more sensitive than your truck. Same goes for the accelerator." This time he moves his hand to almost my inner thigh and I grip the steering wheel.
"Of course," I answer with false composure. I hear him click the seatbelt and I do the same before starting the car.
We're at the top of the drive before he speaks again.
"Would you like to use the navigation system to guide your way?"
I am now turning everything he's saying into subtext and double-speak.
"No, Siobhan printed a map for me; I know my way around," I add.
We travel in silence for most of the way, Carlisle putting the radio on NPR and I spend the next 30 minutes fretting over the discussion of hydro-fracking.
"Can we turn this off?" I ask, tersely. I don't wait for an answer and silence the station from the steering wheel's controls.
He distractedly hums an mmm hmm, and looks out the window. The silence is loud and I'm unsettled.
"What were you like in high school?" I ask, apropos of nothing.
He continues to look out the window.
"I smoked a lot of weed, read Jim Carroll and was a general prick," he says, completely disinterested in my line of questioning. I hear him shift to look at me.
"How will you describe your high school experience?" He asks, this time there is a definite edge of amusement.
"Dull and stifling," I say and he chuckles.
We drive the rest of the way in relative silence and pick up the other three in our carpool group. It's odd the glimpses of Carlisle around other people outside of myself and Esme and Alice. He discusses patients' antics outside of an exam room, office software and changes to insurance billing for the coming year. It's mundane and adult and I feel out of place not having yet truly lived a life of responsibility and consequence.
We're the last ones to arrive and most everyone has a drink in their hand already. We have four lanes for our party, each in groups of four. I reach into my bag and pull out a pair of my own bowling shoes. Gift from Charlie. As I'm putting them on Carlisle moves into the seat across from me.
"Isabella," he says my name like a web site one visits late at night. I distract myself from wanting to straddle him and pull his sweater off by tying my shoe. "Am I going to have some competition this year?" His eyes gesture down to my feet.
"You're pretty confident, Dr. Cullen, a little challenge might be fun."
He lets out another chuckle, this time low, inviting and dangerous. It makes me want to throw strikes and pay him no mind.
We divide into teams, Dr. Cullen's team shares the chair bay with my team, they made me captain just because I brought my own shoes.
Since the alley is old, you have to keep score by hand, another responsibility of captain, and the fact no one knows how to score spares and strikes makes me the keeper of our score. Dr. Cullen is also keeping score as his team's captain.
My team sucks with the exception of me. I feel Carlisle looking at my ass every time I release the ball down the lane. He's fun to watch, letting loose and making smart-alecky comments from behind the neck of his beer bottle. Everybody is enjoying the convivial atmosphere, seeing Dr. Cullen making bawdy jokes and laughing at the frivolity of our office.
But the thing I enjoy most is when Carlisle is ultracompetitive with me. He looks up at the screen to see my score, he leans over to see what I've bowled and he gives me sly smiles and raised eyebrows when I do well. I'm not a competitive person, but not only did I not want to lose, I never wanted to win as badly as I did tonight.
Our team did lose. My 183 points wasn't enough to carry it off. Dr. Cullen scored 206 points, also beating me personally.
"Where'd you learn to bowl like that, Dr. Cullen?" I ask as we lag behind making our way to the bar beyond the lanes.
"While Esme's family will say they made their money in timber, transportation, and dabbled in real estate, they made the bulk of it bootlegging during the Prohibition. They built a three-lane bowling alley in their basement and hid barrels of whiskey underneath. All very Joe Kennedy-esque. We spent our youth tenpin and duckpin bowling every time it rained or snowed."
I try to picture an 11 year old Carlisle, teasing and athletic, with hair bleached blond by the summer sun and days spent raising and lowering a spinnaker, at ease in the world of pedigrees and trust funds. I feel transitory in the most defeating of ways.
"Oh," is all I say.
I spend my evening hanging back and having the same questions asked of my future. Where I want to go to college, what I want to study, how my father will be without me. I wish Rose were here with me, telling me raunchy stories of Emmett under her breath and filling me with the ease of her pleasant small talk with strangers and acquaintances.
I go up to the bar to get another soda when someone says my name behind me.
"Bella! Hey, what's going on?"
I turn to see James.
"Hi, James, how are you? What're you doing here?" I look at him, and see the blandly handsome student athlete I remember from the party a few weeks ago. I stop my eyes from traveling over to Carlisle who's standing against the opposite wall, a beer in his hand, talking with one of the husbands. He looks at me, glances at James then back to me. No one else notices the slight glare or the brief set of his jaw. It rages inside of me and I'm on fire. I should be sick at the way it excites me and the way I want to feed off of it.
"My uncle owns the concession here, I help out sometimes. You know, bar back and bus tables and stuff. I just got here; he called and said he needed some help," he shrugs.
"Oh, that's cool," I say, thinking it's the most boring thing in the world. I chance another look at Carlisle and I see him, dark boredom and irritation simmering just beneath the surface.
"So, um, sorry I haven't called you in a while, things are so, you know, crazy and stuff." I tell him, leaning back against the bar.
James moves closer and I don't move away from him.
"Yeah, I get it, work and family and holidays and all that bullshit." He tries to give me a slow smile that probably makes other girls go warm in their naughty places. The seething from across the room is warming my naughty places.
I turn towards James and bend my head down and move a lock of my hair behind my ear. I look up and realize how affected my action just was. James is eating it up like pabulum.
"But, yeah, we should get together soon. Maybe with your friends, we could all go out and do something?" He asks all expectant and trying hard to be slick and nonchalant. Without knowing it, James wants to be everything Carlisle is and I can see his desperation trying to be so.
Turning back to the bar I look for Carlisle to see he's moved from his conversation and is making his way towards me. I turn again to face James.
"Yeah, James, I think we should hang out. You know, Emmett and Rosalie and I are going ice skating on Sunday, at our rec center, you should come with us."
Carlisle is next to me. I keep myself still enough so as not to expose the ragged pace my blood travels through my veins.
"Bella," Carlisle says my name with dangerous intimacy, "is this your boyfriend? Someone new?"
"Dr. Cullen, this is my friend, James," I introduce. I stare at Carlisle with challenge and exhilaration at this unexpected bit of jealousy.
"Ah, Jim," Carlisle reaches his hand out to shake James' hand, effectively trying to embarrass James and myself. "Lil' Bella here seems like a real firecracker, you two should have some fun." He winks and claps James on the arm.
This is ridiculous and I feel sorry for James since he looks like he missed part of the story. Which of course, he has and that only makes me feel worse for him.
"You're funny Dr. Cullen." While my response is dry, my eyes twinkle and my mouth twists into a pucker at Carlisle's attempted mischief. "James and I met at a party. We're making plans to meet up again."
"Oh, then don't let me interrupt you kids," Carlisle holds his hands in surrender; he looks like a fucking parody.
I look back at James to stop myself from laughing at this entire exchange. The poor guy, he looks like chum and Carlisle has snapping teeth.
"Hey, um, I'm gonna get back to work, but you know, I'll call you or text you or you call me. Yeah, tomorrow or whatever," he turns to go or, most likely, flee. I need to fix this situation. I leave Carlisle's self-satisfied smile at the bar and move over to James.
"Hey, I'm sorry, that was weird, right?" Fuck, I sound like Jessica. "Dr. Cullen likes to tease me," he doesn't really; for the most part he likes to just thrust inside of me. For obvious reasons, I keep this to myself.
James lets out an uncomfortable chuckle. "Whatever, the dude's probably drunk."
"Something like that," I say dismissively. "So, you want me to call you tomorrow to make plans?" I hate that I sound like I'm trying to win James' attention back.
"Yeah, that sounds good," he smiles at me and I know there's a specific place in the bowels of Hell for me to spend eternity toying with someone the way I am with James.
"Alright, cool, I'll talk to you later." I turn to leave but he grabs my arm before I can get away.
"Looking forward to it," he smiles and my returning smile is forced.
I go back to the bar to get my drink and Carlisle is still there standing and talking with Sasha.
Sasha, in her youth, had surgery to correct a cleft lip palette. The result was a full upper lip with scarring that you'd have to look really hard for, but it wouldn't matter. While not classically beautiful, she has a certain quality that makes me jealous of the fact that she has Carlisle's attention. I hate turnabout and fair play.
I'm trying to get my drink without drawing any attention to myself but Carlisle turns and sees me out of the corner of his eye.
"Bella," he says, widening the distance to include me in the conversation. "Sasha went to nursing school in Chicago; didn't you say you had applied to schools there?"
I nod my head.
"Is that so, how do you like Chicago?" She asks me.
"Oh, I don't know, I've never been there. I kind of applied all over, but I want to stay in the middle region of the country so I can be in-between my parents."
"Where's your mom live?" She asks and she's really nice.
Carlisle moves away and orders a whiskey with a beer back and an amoretto sour. He hands the drink to Sasha and keeps the other drinks for himself. The whiskey is filled more than halfway up.
"She's in Florida, I'd like to be able to see her more than every couple of years, and I kinda miss her."
She nods, understanding, I suppose. Just then, Telephone comes on karaoke machine and she practically squeals.
"Oh, girl, this is my jam, I sing Beyoncé." I wondered if there would be some f/f undertones to the performance as Sasha hops away to join Irina on the little stage. I turn to look at Carlisle.
"Come on," Carlisle says, taking his drinks.
His eyes, looking irritated at my questioning, leans over as he passes and whispers hotly in my ear. "With me." He continues to walk to the lanes.
I look around the bar to see people talking and laughing. Two different groups singing two different songs and all completely involved in their activities. I turn and meet Carlisle knowing no one is paying me any attention.
"You want to bowl?" I wonder aloud, hoping we could go make out in dark corner or in the backseat of his car.
"Well, given our location, I think it would be the most logical activity in which to engage." He swallows some more of his whiskey and with urbane polish unknown to this geography, he licks his lips.
I can hear my respiration through the hollow of my chest and mouth as I watch the deep red of his lips and small bit of the flat of his tongue. All thoughts of James are forgotten, my fear of Rose knowing about Carlisle has dissolved, Esme is an evil I can tolerate, it's just Carlisle. And me. The bowling alley is nearly empty, most patrons having moved to the bar or left for other destinations. The fluorescent lighting is every other lane, Carlisle and I shadowed and surrounded by strips of greenish bluish tones.
"You know, this lighting is totally going to affect my game," I level at him with a dry, sarcastic tone; I can't help the smirk that follows.
"Oh, so you're concerned how you'll score?" His eyes travel from my feet, over my legs, across my hips, stomach and breasts before reaching my lips and settling on my eyes. "Is that what you're concerned about? Scoring?"
"Where you're concerned, yes," I reply picking up on the play on words.
He gives a low chuckle while bringing his drink back up to his lips. I want to lick the taste from his mouth and get drunk off the proof. But that can't happen here, as it is, we're in a public and together. But I won't deny, despite the danger and brevity of our time, I like being singled out by him.
"Ladies first," Carlisle gestures with his beer bottle and I wonder how much he's had to drink.
"So you think I'm a lady?" I ask him over my shoulder as I approach the lane. All he does is raise his eyebrows before his eyes crinkle into a smile.
Our game progresses, each matching the other's play, keeping within close distance of one another's score all while exchanging innuendo and libidinous looks.
I win. I hope I can capitalize of my victory.
"What time do you have to be home this evening?" He asks.
"Whenever I get home. Charlie just wants me to be safe."
"Good man, your father."
"I know," I reply but feel uncomfortable at this turn of conversation.
Carlisle looks at me once again, his eyes not as sharp as before. I look to see both his drinks have been finished.
"Let's head back," he gestures for me to go before him, his hand on the small of my back, just where I like it.
"Dr. Cullen!" Sasha and Irina bubble when we walk back into the bar. "We haven't sung together yet!"
"Oh, ladies, I don't know if I'm up for it at this point." His voice is gravely and rough. I want to drip honey all over my body and have him lick it off of me.
"Come on, Carlisle, you always sing with us!"
He laughs and has a comfortably resigned expression on his face.
"What did you pick out for us this year?" He asks as the two women pull him up to the stage. Siobhan moves next to me and orders one more Long Island iced tea. Even I know enough about drinks to know those are all kinds of liquor.
"What's with Dr. Cullen singing?" I ask once she's wobbles back around to view the stage.
She chuckles. "Every year Dr. Cullen let's those two pick out a song for them to sing together. It's always inappropriate on many le-," she belches and covers her mouth, giggling, "levels." She tries to wink at me but it just looks like she's having a petit mal.
I hear the karaoke machine start with the distinctive whine of the guitar and drag on the drum. I'm surprised by the deep tone of Carlisle's voice singing, of all things, a Prince song. A filthy Prince song. Although, I think all of his songs are on the other side of filthy.
"Erotic City…" Carlisle sings twice. The two women join him in backup.
He continues through the song. I am equal parts mortified and enthralled but most likely because I'm completely sober. Most will probably only remember the thought of Carlisle on stage, not the rendition of this song. Besides the complete wrongness of this song, it still makes me ache.
"…Ure a sinner, I don't care…"
"…I just want your creamy thighs…"
I take a slow, deep inhale and imagine Carlisle between my creamy thighs.
The song finally ends and the two women are hugging each other and stumbling around. Carlisle sort of misses the step of the stage but recovers and finds me watching him and winks. I snort a laugh.
We all gather our coats, the bill for the party having been prearranged, and exit to the parking lot. It's pouring outside. I look at my phone to see it's almost 1:00 AM.
Everyone in my group piles into the car, loud and boisterous and Carlisle gets into the front with me.
"You're okay to drive in this weather," he asks me quietly and with surprising clarity and concern.
"Yeah," I whisper back. "Alright everyone, buckle up, I'm not moving this car until everyone is in safe," I say, looking in the back seat to see my three passengers fumble with the belts.
"Okay, we're," belch, "all good," Siobhan laughs. Fred and Sasha laugh too, Carlisle smiles with heavy eyelids. I want to reach over and stroke his cheek.
It's scary and takes me over and hour and a half before I make it down the Cullen's drive.
"You should stay," Carlisle says as he grips the car door to steady himself. "You're tired, the roads are terrible and I'm in no condition to help you arrive home safely," he says resolutely. "I can call your father if you like," he offers.
"Um, no, here, let's get you inside." I move to the main house when Carlisle takes my hand and moves towards his cottage. Halfway down the path he stops and backs me up to a tree, his hands hold either side of my face. I'm cold and wet and I want to curl on the hearth with a glowing fire burning.
His breath is alcohol laced and the small glints of the walkway lighting are the only illumination.
"I won't be sloppy seconds," he tells me and my face moves into confusion before I understand he's speaking of James. "You're staying with me tonight."
He wraps his arm around my waist and pulls me away from the tree. It's me, not drunken Carlisle who stumbles. I don't know if it's the cold or the statement he just laid out there that has me shaking.
We enter into the cottage and he makes his way toward the bedroom.
"Call your father," he says authoritatively before walking into his bedroom towards the bathroom.
I dial and Charlie picks up after the first ring.
"Bells," he says. The worry is evident.
"Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm just wiped out. It took a long time to get back. This rain is brutal. I'm just at the Cullen's place now."
"Do you want me to come and pick you up?" I can hear him moving things around on his desk.
"No, unless you mind if I stay at the Cullen's'. I'm tired, I don't have to be to work until 10 tomorrow, and I just want to go to sleep."
"Where're you going to sleep?"
"In one of their guest rooms, or on the couch, I don't know yet."
Charlie is silent while he thinks this over and I dig my fingernails into the palm of my hand. I don't deserve such a good father being such a liar.
"You won't be any trouble to them?"
"I don't think so, it was offered to me. Dr. Cullen said he was in no condition to follow me home and felt safer if I stayed off the roads."
"Let me speak to Dr. Cullen," he says and I shit a brick.
"Um, okay, he's uh, in the bathroom, I think." Just as I say this, Carlisle walks out in his short, black boxer briefs. My mouth becomes a desert.
He twitches his finger impatiently for me to hand over my phone.
"Chief, Carlisle Cullen," gone are the traces of thick words and hoarse voice. This is the voice of office Carlisle.
"Charlie, no, it's been a long day, I imagine Isabella is not being very forthcoming about her exhaustion," he nods his head while my father speaks.
"No, it's no trouble at all. I'd prefer if she stayed here, quite frankly, it would give me peace of mind that she not be out in this weather."
He's good. Then I dig my nails in on my other palm because I'm a horrible person for using my father's concern as an excuse to spend the night at Carlisle's.
"Alright then, it's settled. You too, goodnight, Chief." Carlisle ends the call and hands the phone back to me.
"There's a toothbrush on the sink," he says as he moves to the bed.
I wash my face and brush my teeth and look at myself in the mirror. I don't like what I see. I'm conflicts warring with one another. I shouldn't take advantage of the situation that's been presented here tonight. Charlie is trusting me with Dr. Cullen. And Charlie is completely unaware of the fact that Esme and Alice are out of town.
Yet, the other part of me doesn't want this opportunity to pass by. I'm greedy and selfish like that. I want to crawl into Carlisle's bed and have him tell me he's the only one I get to sleep with.
In then end though, it's a non-issue. Carlisle's passed out and breathing heavily from his mouth when I open the door. Standing here in my bra and panties, I don't want to get into his bed. I walk out to the living room and onto the couch, pulling a heavy Pendleton blanket over me and take one of the small pillows to cushion my head. It's uncomfortable, the heavy wood of the Mission style couch not offering any softness. I slump down so my head is flat on the leather cushions and close my eyes. I remain in the twilight of sleep until I hear feet moving towards me.
"This isn't where you should be," the rough voice whispers as he bends to scoop me up. I wrap my arms around his neck and feel the warmth of his chest along my curved body.
I cannot believe I just cockblocked. I'll make up for it next chap, although that's what I promised some reviewers about this chap.
I'm participating in Fandom Against Juvenile Diabetes, here's a mess of a link, I've also posted the link on my profile page, http: / fandomajuvdiabetes(dot)blogspot(dot)com / (remove the spaces and add ".".) If you go under the Stories tab I've written a personal account of being diagnosed with this chronic disease. I won't lie, it's a bitch. For a mere $5 contribution, seriously, $5, (although more = muy bueno,) you will receive a compilation of stories from some amazing authors, and me. Don't forget, contributions made this year are tax deductible (US), not a bad thing since we are coming to the end of the tax year. Compilations will go out mid-March. If you want something in particular written, let me know, I may go with it, I'm easy like that. Or drop me a tweet, wrong13.
Innumerable thanks to Ms Cuppy for her unflagging support of Dirty Carlisle, she made a FB page, I post some teasers and questions where the responses make me laugh, link's on my profile. And a thank you away from DC to Zoya Zalan for reminding me of the Rainbow Bridge, she's good people like that, plus, she's writing again too, hoping for a Playing With Fire update!
Another long a/n, until next time, let me know what you think.