Surprised? Yeah, you should be. I've been neglecting this story for so long, and when I recently checked my email and read all the reviews you guys've put, I was touched. Touched enough that I've decided to finish this story.
You can all thank yourselves (or the reviewers, if you never reviewed), but most of all, I'd like to thank 'Mia Arabella' – because her words (though wrote in annoyance) were moving, and a main factor of why I've written this chapter.
PS. I made if extra long, just for you, Mia Arabella.
"Do you really think empowerment-movie night is going to help?" Bella asked, sifting through the pile of DVD's Rosalie had rented.
"It's just a preliminary plan. Until I come up with the real one," Rosalie said, setting a huge bowl of popcorn on the table in her basement.
The basement door opened. "Hi honey, I'm home!" Rosalie's mother trilled jokingly as she tromped down the stairs.
She was wearing one of her more colourful head scarves, with her wavy blonde hair sticking out in two perfect triangles on either side of her head from her ears to her shoulders. Wooden monstrosities dangled from her earlobes, and her makeup was even more elaborate than usual. As always, Rosalie's mom had gone all-out for her work party that evening. It was one of the hazards of working at the regional theatre. There was, apparently, allot of pressure to look as kooky as possible.
"I just thought you might want some snacks!" She lifted a grease stained brown bag. "Leftovers from the cast party!"
"Ooh! I knew I loved you for a reason." Rosalie grabbed the bag from her mother. Inside was a stack of white takeout plates with clear covers. Mini hotdogs, mini quiches and mini spring rolls. She tore off the lids and started laying the food out on the table.
"Hi, Mrs. Hale," Bella said, standing up. She walked over and hugged Rosalie's mom.
"Hello, dear!" Rosalie's mother exclaimed, high on life. "What are you girls doing? Movie night? Got anything good?" She inspected the array of films. "Oh! Kate Winslet? I just love her. The actress who starred in my production of Twelfth Night last month reminded me so much of her."
"Cool, mom. And we'd love to hear all about it. Really. But Alice's gonna be here any second so ..." Rosalie advanced on her mother, steering her back towards the stairs.
"Oh. Okay. Well if you girls need anything – "
"We won't," Rosalie said, patting her mother on the back. "But thanks for the snacks."
Her mother's shoulders drooped and the hundreds of plastic bracelets clinked together. "Okay, well, I'll be upstairs."
"Bye!" Rosalie smiled until her mother was gone, then turned and rolled her eyes. She shoved her hands into the pockets of her figure hugging black sweater and slumped onto the couch.
"I don't know why you're so mean to her," Bella said with a sigh, munching on a mini hotdog.
"Bella, you know that she'd stay down here all night if I didn't kick her out," Rosalie replied, grabbing a spring roll. "She thinks she's one of us."
"Well, she's cooler than my mom," Bella said, pulling her long hair into a ponytail.
Rosalie laughed. "I'd give anything to have your mom."
Bella's mother worked as an image consultant at a huge media building in Phoenix. She was stylish, sophisticated and un-meddling. In other words, the exact opposite of Helena Hale.
"Yeah, well, if I ever see her, I'll tell her you said that," Bella deadpanned – her parents had divorced before Bella had a full mouth of teeth, and she'd lived with her father in Forks ever since she was four years old.
The doorbell rang, and Bella and Rosalie both jumped up. "Finally!"
"I got it!" Rosalie shouted.
She barrelled up the stairs with Bella on her heels and slid across the hallway in her socks. But when she got there, her younger brother, Seth, was already talking to Alice, who was eying him from the front step, as most people eyed Rosalie's book-loving, baby-faced brother. His brown hair was, as always, slicked back from his face with some thick gel, and he was wearing a T-shirt that read TALK NERDY TO ME. Rosalie wanted to groan just looking at him. The kid could have been somewhat cute and maybe halfway cool if he wasn't so intent on being a dork.
"I got it, loser," Rosalie told him, hip checking him out of the way.
"Shut up," Seth grumbled, blushing slightly. "See you later, I'll be in the living room," he told them.
"Don't care," Rosalie shot back. Seth narrowed his brown eyes and pouted his lips– exactly the same shape as Rosalie's – and went.
"Bye, Seth," Alice said, polite as ever.
She stepped inside, and Rosalie closed the door. "Okay, what do you want to watch first? The Holiday? She's the Man? Erin Brockovich?"
"Alice?" Bella said uncertainly. "Are you alright?"
Rosalie's heart clenched and she turned around. Tears were streaming down Alice's face. She dropped her Kate Spade overnight bag on the floor and wailed. "He's going to prom with her!"
"Omigod, Ali!" Bella said, "How did you ... Who told you?"
"She did! I ran into her at the mall, and she was showing off about it!" Alice cried. "He's taking her to the prom in the tux I picked out. The one I paid for!"
"What an asshole," Rosalie said through her teeth. The prom meant everything to Alice. They all knew this, especially Mike. It wasn't like Bella wanted Alice to go with him, but for him to ask someone else, and for her to find out this way, was devastating. "Am I allowed to kill him yet?" Rosalie asked.
"I hate him," Alice said as she gasped for air. "I hate him so much!"
As Bella hugged Alice, Rosalie saw something move from the corner of her eye. Her brother was standing just o the other side of the open doorway to the living room, listening to every word that she said. She shot him a look that could have melted steel and put an arm around Alice's shoulder.
"Come on. Let's go downstairs," Rosalie said.
"'Kay," Alice replied, her voice all watery.
After about ten minutes of incoherence and sobbing, Alice finally calmed down. She looked around the neat basement with heavy lidded eyes and sniffled.
"What movies did you get?" she asked, pulling her hands into the sleeves of her cardigan.
"We don't have to watch anything you if you don't want to," Bella said.
"Yes, we do! She needs a distraction," Rosalie put in, reaching for the DVDs.
"True," Alice said, weakly.
Rosalie got up and popped She's the Man into the DVD player. Just as the previews were starting up, the door to the basement opened and Rosalie saw her brother tan feet on the stairs.
"Did we invite you down here?" Rosalie shouted.
"I'm just bringing you guys some soda," Seth replied. He stopped at the bottom of the stairs with a bottle of Pepsi and three plastic cups. "Seemed like you could maybe use something to drink."
"Thanks, Seth," Bella said, cutting off the insult Rosalie was about to spew.
"I love Pepsi," Alice said blankly.
"Well there you go," Seth placed everything on the table and backed up. "I'll be upstairs."
"Again, don't care," Rosalie replied.
Seth shot her an irritated look, but turned around and retreated.
"Rosalie, he was just trying to be nice," Alice said.
"N. He just has no friends to hang out with on a Friday night," Rosalie said.
She got up, took the stairs two at a time, and latched the lock on the door. On her way back down, she turned off the lights, and then settled back on the huge leather sectional between her friends. It was time to put Operation Distract and Empower Alice into motion, no mare distractions.
Rosalie tossed a few kernels of popcorn into her mouth as Amanda Bynes slapped her idiot ex-boyfriend across the cheek. She smiled slyly; it was the perfect scene for Alice. Amanda is fed up with her boyfriend's treatment and refuses to talk to him anymore. It was an inspiring choice, if she did think so herself. She glanced over at Alice, half-expecting to see her grinning with romantic inspiration. Alice, however, was staring at the floor, chewing on her thumbnail.
"What's the matter?" Rosalie asked, grabbing the remote to pause the movie. "You're not even watching!"
"I know," Alice said. She pulled her knees up and sat back. "I can't stop thinking about Mike. What do you think he's doing tonight?"
Uh, getting dirty with a certain whore? Rosalie thought.
"I don't know, Alice," Bella said.
Alice bit her lip. "Do you think we could still get back together?"
Rosalie sat up so fast; she dumped half the bowl of popcorn on the cold wood floor. "What?"
"Rosalie," Bella said in a warning tone.
"You just told us he asked Lauren to the prom. What are you thinking?" Rosalie asked.
"I know," Alice said. She ran her hands through her spiky hair. "I know. It's just ... I love him so much. Lauren's not going to make him happy. And the prom is still a few weeks away ..."
"Omigod, do you even hear yourself?" Rosalie blurted, gripping the couch cushions at her side. "You're worried that he's not gonna be happy? You're the one who's miserable!"
"You don't have to attack her," Bella said, zipping her track hoodie all the way up as if for protection.
"I was just ... talking," Alice added, averting her gaze.
"You're talking about getting back together with him after he cheated on you. After he asked someone else to the prom," Rosalie pointed out. She shoved herself off the couch and started pacing in front of the TV, where Amanda Bynes was in mid run. "I mean, come on. When does it end? Forget all the little breakups," She raised her hand to tick off the big ones. "You took him back after he skipped the play last year. You took him back after the sweet sixteen debacle. You took him back after he dumped you the day of your Stanford interview. Remember how freaked you were? You might've not gotten in because of him! And now he cheats on you and rubs it in your face and still want him? When are you going to see that you deserve more than Mike the Dyke?"
"Oh, that's very mature," Alice sniffed, crossing her arms over her chest.
"Calm down, Rose," Bella said, scooting forward to grab her glass of Pepsi.
"Why should I?" Rosalie said. "Seriously. It's time for an intervention."
"Don't say something you'll regret," Bella said in her condescending tone. "I mean, if you rip him to shreds and then they get back together—''
"They are not getting back together!" Rosalie protested with her hands on her hips.
"Uh, I'm right here." Alice raised her hand, sounding frustrated. "And you can't tell me what to do, Rose."
"Well, I should be able to," Rosalie replied, her blood boiling. "Clearly you're incapable of making your own decisions. I want you to be happy, and all Mike does is make you miserable. You relationship with him is totally one-sided."
Alice's face screwed up into a scowl and she stood, facing off with Rosalie over the coffee table. "Oh, please. What do you know about relationships Rosalie? You haven't had one that's lasted more than a month since Todd! And, people you've slept with one every month don't count!" Rosalie's fists clenched. "Mike and I have been together for four years!"
"Actually, if you factor in all the times you guys have broken up, it's probably only been two years," Rosalie shot back.
"You guys -''
"Well, at least I'm not always reeling guys in, then torturing and screwing them until they finally dump me!" Alice replied.
Rosalie felt as though she'd been slapped. "What?"
"Oh God, Rose. I'm sorry," Alice said. She briefly covered her mouth with her hands. "I didn't mean that."
Rosalie had to sit down again. Was that what her friends thought she did? Systematically fooled around with boys?
"I'm sorry, Rosalie," Alice repeated. "Really."
Bella looked at Rosalie hopefully. Rosalie took a deep breath and combed her fingers through her thick hair. She was a champion at the uncalled-for-word-bomb. There was no way she could hold it against Alice without being a hypocrite. Especially in Alice's current state of mind.
"It's okay," Rosalie said, blindly reaching for Alice's hand, and squeezing whatever part of her she grabbed.
Alice took a deep breath and began to fold up the afghan she'd been huddled under all night long. "I should just go."
"What? We haven't had any ice cream yet," Bella protested.
"I'm not really in the mood for ice cream," Alice said apologetically.
Rosalie suddenly felt desperate. This whole night had been intended to distract Alice and help her get over Mike and it hadn't worked in the slightest.
"Do go, Alice," Rosalie said. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to attack you. I just ... I don't want you to go backward. I mean, you be at Stanford next year. It's gonna be a whole new world, you know? New people, new guys ... Why would you want to go backwards?"
Alice's eyes watered as she shrugged. "I love him. I'm sorry I can't just turn that off."
She took a step past Rosalie and grabbed her coat and overnight bag off the floor. "Thanks for trying guys. I do appreciate it. I just kind of want my own bed right now, you know?"
Bella and Rosalie exchanged a defeated look. "We know."
They walked Alice upstairs, and Rosalie gave her a hug before sending her off to her car. When Rosalie closed the door, her shoulders sagged.
"How are we ever going to get her over him if she doesn't want to?" she asked.
Bella shook her head. "I don't know."
Rosalie stared at the expensive tile in the foyer. "You know, sometimes I don't even sleep with my boyfriends. It's just stupid rumours."
Bella put her arm around Rosalie's back and Rosalie rested the side of her head on top of Bella's. Together they shuffled towards the kitchen – redone in all chrome with massive appliances. Her parents had redone it last winter. Rosalie yanked open the giant freezer and took out a few pints of ice cream while Bella went for spoons and bowls and toppings. Within two minutes they had put together a pair of towering sundaes. Rosalie took a huge bite, dripping chocolate sauce all over her hand. She grabbed a napkin from the table and sighed.
"Alright. That's it," she said, sitting up straight.
"What's it?" Bella asked warily, almost losing some of the strawberry ice cream out the corner of her mouth.
"We are going to come up with a plan to keep Alice away from Mike," Rosalie said, determined.
"Like what? Kidnapping?" Bella asked.
Rosalie narrowed her blue eyes, imagining Mike tied up in a rat-infested basement somewhere, wearing nothing but dirty rags and begging for mercy. "Nothing that drastic," she said. She grabbed her bowl, a spoon and a few more napkins. "Come on. Let's go up to my room and brain storm."
"But what about the movie?" Bella asked, stalling.
"Screw the movie," Rosalie said, shoving another spoonful of chocolate ice cream into her mouth. "This is so much more important. We have to save Alice."
"Maybe we could find her a therapist, you know?" Rosalie babbled, pacing back and forth behind Bella, who was sitting on Rosalie's bed with her laptop. She had to step over piles of clothes, books and random crap all over the floor, and she kept kicking stuff out of her way. "Or a hypnotist! Someone who could deprogram her. Google that!"
"Yeah, sure. I'm on it," Bella said, typing her password into the MySpace login page.
"Not that she'd go, because she doesn't see the point of trying to get over him," Rosalie said, looking at the ceiling.
Bella smirked. "You sound like Jasper."
"Oh, crap! I do," Rosalie said, holding her head. "Your little love bug has totally infiltrated my brain," she teased.
"He is not my love bug," Bella blushed, pulling her ponytail over her shoulder to toy with it.
"Whatever you say," Rosalie said, sitting on her desk chair. She crossed her legs and bounced the top one with the ticking of the hallway clock. "I don't know why you don't just ask him to prom already. I mean, you're as bad as Alice, except she can't get the guts up to lose the guy and you can't get up the guts to get the guy. Why don't you just ask him to prom? What's the worst that could happen?"
"Umm... he could run screaming in the other direction and never speak to me again, which would break up our group and change our lives forever," Bella recited automatically.
"Oh. Yeah. That would suck," Rosalie replied, looking irritated that Bella actually made some sense. "Whatever- back to Alice. What are we going to do?"
"I don't know," Bella said lightly. She knew better than to encourage Rosalie. If she did, this rant might sooner or later become an actual plan, and Bella knew from experience that Rosalie's plans rarely worked out for the best. But, sometimes, if she was lucky, Rosalie could just babble with no direction until she tired herself out and the whole thing would come to nothing.
Bella had already navigated to her inbox and was physced to see a message from Soccer_Boy214 at the top of the list. He was supposed to be critiquing her latest short story. She met Soccer_Boy214 on an art site and learned he was a Californian who loved writing just as much as she – and they were both in need of an unbiased opinion from someone outside of classes. They'd started sending their work back and forth and Bella felt that her writing had much improved, thanks to his comments. She crossed her fingers and read his latest message.
"Oh! Maybe we could find a way to make Mike unappealing to her," Rosalie continued, pushing herself off the chair and resuming her pacing. "I mean the guy is hot – I'll give him that. Maybe that's how Alice sees past all the other crap, right? Maybe we could break into his house and shave his head!"
"I draw the line at breaking and entering," Bella said, as she began to read through Soccer_Boy214's message. "Plus, my dad's a policeman, remember?"
This one's amazing, and your character, Carver, definitely has personality. The story line is your best yet, and your setting has improved dramatically. Would it be lame to admit I'm jealous?
Bella's heart expanded and she could barely contain her grin. This was exactly the message she'd been hoping for.
"Whoa. Who's that?" Rosalie stopped and stared over Bella`s shoulder. Bella glanced at Soccer_Boy214's picture. With his sun kissed waves and friendly smile, he was rather scrumcious. Though she was glad she didn't know him personally – if she did, he'd be Rosalie's in a heartbeat.
"He's just a MySpace friend of mine," Bella said, trying to contain her glee so that Rosalie wouldn`t grill her about it. "He's a writer too. We chat sometimes."
"Omigod. There's no way that's his real picture," Rosalie said. She reached around Bella and scrolled down his page. "He totally stole that off the Abercrombie and Fitch website or something."
"No, he didn't. I asked about the picture. That's totally him," Bella protested.
"No way." Rosalie stood up straight. "No real guy is that hot."
"Do you have any idea how insane you sound? Somebody obviously is that hot because that picture is of somebody," Bella told her.
"Well, it's not Soccer_Boy214. No one that gorgeous has time to be on MySpace," Rosalie said. "Sorry to tell you this, Bella, but he has to be a fake."
Rosalie scoffed, like Bella was ridiculous and paced away. Bella's heart hurt. Why did Rosalie have to tear her down like that? Couldn't Bella ever be right about anything?
"Wait a minute, that's it!" Rosalie announced suddenly.
All the tiny hairs on the back of Bella's neck stood up. "What? What's it?"
"A fake!" Rosalie whirled around, her eyes bright. She grabbed Bella`s shoulder and turned her towards her. "We'll make a guy up for Alice on MySpace! Someone who will totally take her mind off that sleazebag Mike."
Bella's skin tightened as her whole body filled with dread. Crap. Crappity crap crap. "What?"
"Come on! Who knows Alice better than we do? We can create her perfect guy," Rosalie clasped her hands together. We can make him a little bit dangerous, you know, because we know she likes that. But we can also give him a life! Make him interesting! Mike's only interests are smoking, playing three chords on the guitar and being a jackass. We can do so much better than that. And MySpace is the perfect place to do it. We can make him as incredible as we want him to be!"
Bella squirmed in her chair. "Please tell me you're kidding."
"Do I look like I'm kidding?" Rosalie asked, slapping her arms to her side.
Bella stared into her friends excited blue eyes. "Unfortunately, no."
"Good," Rosalie said with a grin. "Now, scoot over. We've got work to do."
A special thanks to: Edrose, ksbballgirl1,StuckOnBTR13,Kelly-konrad2316,Cindyrella0016,lovewarorwhatever,envyme13 and Mia Arabella for reviewing!