Author Note: Hey guys, it's been ages since I've written anything, so if I'm a bit rusty, I apologise. Also, this is my first attempt at a Twilight Saga fic, so whilst I've tried to keep as much in the style of the Twilight series as possible, there may still be 'out of character' moments, particularly concerning Rosalie, who I feel like I know the least out of all the Cullens. After reading all the books, I feel like I've come to know the others, particularly Alice, Edward and Bella...but Rosalie still seems a bit...elusive. Hard to define.
Anyway, I haven't decided yet whether to make this a little one shot, or turn it into a proper story. What do you think?
"Alice!" I groaned, staggering slightly under the weight of all the clothes she had piled into my arms – though not because they were heavy, for me, of course, (being a newborn and all that, I was easily the strongest of the Cullens. Hefting a pile of clothes was like hefting a pile of feathers. Easy.) But no normal human would ever have been able to keep up with all this, and that was what I was trying to act like now.
A normal human.
Of course, my old, human life wasn't so long ago that I'd completely forgotten what it was like, but I still had to keep reminding myself now and again that I no longer 'acted' human. All the little quirks that came naturally to a human, I had to think about, and force myself to do. Like fidget, blink...even breath. So, staggering under a mountain of clothes that was piled up way over my head seemed like a natural thing to do.
"Alice!" I growled under my breath when I heard no response. Peering round the side of the mound, I saw her dancing off down the rack of clothes, completely in her element.
"Oh, quit your moaning, Bella. Have some fun!" She called back brightly, pausing as something caught her eye. "Ooh, I like this one! How about you?"
"I still don't understand why you dragged me clothes shopping. You know that fashion and I don't mix."
"That's because you've never seriously tried," she chided, pulling a little leather waistcoat from the rack, holding it up to give it a quick once over, then tossing it onto the pile in my arms. We were standing a good hundred feet away from each other, but it landed neatly on the top with no effort at all from either of us.
And then she was skipping back to join me. "Come on, lighten up. Surely there must be something here that catches your eye? Tell you what, my treat. Anything you like."
"Anything?" I asked sweetly, peering at her round the mountain.
"Anything," she confirmed with her pixie grin.
"Ok then." I dumped the pile on the floor between us. Then I smiled sweetly, noticing her pout.
"Bella, when I said 'anything'..."
"Oh come on, don't tell me you didn't see that coming?" I laughed.
This time, it was her turn to grin, as her eyes took on a slightly glassy sheen, for just the briefest of seconds. No human would have noticed anything different. Only me. And what I saw was enough to unnerve me slightly.
"Oh no," I mumbled, as her smile grew even wider. "What? What do I end up doing?"
"If I told you, you'd go out of your way to stop yourself from doing it," she grinned impishly, before skipping off down the aisle once more.
"Alice? Alice! What did you see?" I snapped, racing after her, trying to keep my pace as 'human' as possible.
"You'll have to wait and see," she trilled back happily. "Don't forget the clothes."
I paused, then looked back at the huge mountain I'd just dumped in the middle of the store. People were beginning to look at the pair of us, and the store manager was glaring from the counter. Knowing I'd never hear the end of it if I just left the clothes for someone to trip over, and not really wanting Alice to be banned from her favourite store, I let out a long, frustrated sigh and stormed back over to the pile, hefting it into my arms once more. Every time something slipped from the pile, I'd flick my foot out, catch it and kick it back up on top again.
Continuing this weird juggling act all the way back down the aisle to rejoin Alice again, I didn't care if people were staring. I'd had enough now, and just wanted out.
"Alice, please can we go now?"
"I'm not finished yet."
"At least leave some stuff for the other customers," I grumbled. "Where's the sense in buying everything now, anyway? You'll only end up with nothing to buy tomorrow, when you inevitably come back."
"So now who's the psychic?" Alice smirked, her head appearing round the pile to grin at me again.
"I don't need to see the future to know that you're coming back again. When it comes to clothes, Alice Cullen, you are too predictable."
"And when it comes to shopping, Bella Cullen, so are you!" Her head vanished again and she continued to skip up and down the aisle, tossing things in my direction every now and then, when something caught her fancy. "I swear you were never this whiny when you were human."
This last part was muttered under her breath, inaudible to anyone but me. I scowled and decided to change the subject.
"Is this why the others refuse to come with you?"
A pair of silver stilettos thudded lightly on top of the ever increasing mountain, in answer to my query.
As soon as Alice had announced that she was going shopping in Seattle and wondered who else would like to join her, everyone else had all of a sudden found out that they were 'extremely' busy. Edward and Jacob needed to take Renesmee hunting, Jasper said he'd join them, Esme and Carlisle had to go and see the friend of a friend and Rosalie and Emmett were going to the movies, apparently. Alice had pouted and been very close to throwing a temper tantrum when I'd stepped in, offering to join her, if only to avoid hurting her feelings. Besides, I didn't actually have a feasible excuse not to go, and I was still a terrible liar.
Alice had beamed at me like I'd just given her the best birthday present in the world. Somehow I had the feeling she'd known all along that I would be the one to join her. She'd just been putting on an act to guilt me into joining her. I made a mental note to watch out for this 'guilt tripping' trick of hers, in future, then stared back round the ever increasing mountain when she didn't answer.
"What's that?" I asked, noticing she was holding something blue and shiny in her hand.
"Oh, nothing," she said casually, sliding it back into the rack and moving further down the line. As I passed the place where she'd just been standing, I couldn't help but glance sideways.
The clothes once again fell from my hands as my attention was completely captivated. "Oh," I muttered to myself, reaching into the rack and pulling out the most gorgeous silk dress I'd ever seen. It was only ever once in a blue moon when I actually found something that appealed to me, like this dress did now, and I knew straight away that I MUST have it.
It was a very sleek design; the silk shimmered in the most gorgeous blues and turquoises, almost like it was made of water. The light danced off its surface like the ripples on a pool, and it was so soft to the touch that I could have stood there forever, running the smooth silk between my ice cold fingers.
The thin shoulder straps were studded with what looked like pearls, and there were even more pearls running across the hem of the neckline, and down the bodice in seemingly random patterns, that added to the 'water' theme in subtle yet distinguishing ways.
"Wow," I breathed, holding it up against myself and looking in the nearby mirror. Yes, fashion and I were not the best of friends...but this dress! I'd never seen anything like it in my entire life!
"Try it on," Alice breathed into my ear. I hadn't even heard her approach, though that was not unusual.
"I don't know," I stuttered quickly, snapping back to reality and suddenly feeling all my fashion worries coming back to haunt me.
"Go on," she urged, pushing me gently towards the changing cubicles in the corner of the store. "I dare you."
She was such a brat, sometimes . A loveable brat of course – the obvious favourite of the other Cullens, and my best friend in the world, aside from Jacob. But still. Sometimes she knew exactly how to mould me to her will. I could never refuse a dare, of any kind, and she knew it.
"No fair," I grumbled, holding the dress reverently in both hands as I started for the nearest cubicle. Alice stayed to tend her mound of shopping, smiling sweetly to the store manager as he continued to watch us suspiciously. Obviously he was new, and had never had the pleasure of one of Alice's shopping expeditions before. Apparently he didn't seem convinced that she'd actually be BUYING any of the stuff she'd pulled from the shelves.
Sliding the curtain shut, I paused for a moment, staring at the dress in my hands. Then I hung it on the little hook on the wall and, after pulling off my tattered jeans and long sleeved shirt, I slid the dress carefully over my head, allowing the silk to drop lightly to the floor with a soft rustle. Then I reached behind and did up the zip with trembling fingers, before adjusting various parts so that it settled into just the right places.
I had to admit, it felt amazing.
I made another mental note that from now on, I would not give silk such a wide berth, after all, then took a deep – and rather pointless – breath, before turning to look in the mirror. I gasped, and Alice's laugh rang out lightly from half way across the store.
"I told you," she said, sounding rather smug.
The dark haired beauty in the mirror stared back at me, looking just as shocked as I felt. Deep amber eyes – still not completely gold, but not blood red either – ran up and down the sight in front of them, whilst pale, cold fingers stroked the smooth silk in a few places to make the material flutter and shimmer.
As I stared at myself for a moment, I was suddenly reminded of a time, a few weeks back, when Edward and I had been in Port Angeles together.
As we'd been walking down the street, my attention had been caught by a woman walking in the opposite direction. Vivid pink hair cut in a bob, garish fluorescent leggings and tank top, with bright leg warmers and a choker necklace – the kind with the spikes studded all the way round it . She stared back as she walked past, and no matter how outrageous her outfit, that wasn't what had caught my attention. In fact, I barely noticed what she was wearing, because I'd been so captivated by her eyes.
They were pink!
Even when I did a double take – vampire speed making my actions unnoticeable to the human eye – they didn't change back to a normal colour, as I half expected them to, thinking that I was letting my imagination get the best of me.
Edward laughed as we continued on down the street, and at first I assumed he was laughing at my surprise.
"What?" I asked, trying to act casual, like nothing had happened.
"That woman," he shook his head, chuckling again.
"What about her?" I replied, glad for once that I had no blood to colour my cheeks and give away my embarrassment.
"Did you not see her eyes?"
So he'd noticed them to? Well that was good then. Made me feel less foolish.
"They were a bit outrageous," I agreed, laughing with him now. "What was she? Some albino vamp, or something?"
"She was human," he replied, still grinning that crooked grin of his – the one I loved so much. "I've never heard of an albino vampire before. Where would you get an idea like that?"
"It could happen!" I insisted.
"Well anyway, they were only contacts she was wearing."
"Oh." Well, that made much more sense, now that I thought about it. An albino vampire? Had that seriously been the first conclusion I'd jumped to?
"And do you know what she was thinking?" he asked, almost in an offhanded tone as we'd carried on, hand in hand.
I shrugged. "Enlighten me."
"She was wondering where you'd got your contacts from. She was jealous that you had cooler eyes than she did."
I frowned. "But I'm not wearing any contacts."
"I know. That's the funny part."
"Oh." And suddenly I DID see the funny side. We'd laughed about it, all the way home.
"Ahem. May I help you ladies?" a stern male voice asked, from somewhere outside the cubicle, drawing me back to the present. I frowned, listening.
"Oh, no thanks. We're just browsing," Alice commented lightly. "My friend's just trying something on. She won't be long."
"I see. And are you planning on buying all of this? Because if not, I'm going to have to ask you to return it all exactly where you found it."
"I know the score, sir. It's not my first time here...I'm a regular, actually. But don't worry, we're almost finished. I promise."
Thank heavens for that! I was worried that Alice would have me trailing up and down the store forever more!
"A regular?" the man said, and I could practically hear him frowning as he spoke. "You must be one of the Cullens, then?"
"My reputation precedes me," Alice grinned, and I could imagine her giving a theatrical little bow.
Rolling my eyes, I pulled back the curtain and stepped out.
"Well, what do you think?" I asked, keeping my voice light and casual, as I twirled for them both. The bottom of the sleek dress kicked out slightly, and I could feel a rush of cold air across my ankles.
"Oh Bella, it's so you!" Alice swooned, clapping in delight.
The store manager didn't say anything, but had it been possible, his eyes might have popped right out of their sockets. As it was, his jaw dropped and although his mouth opened and closed repeatedly, no sound came out.
I had to suppress a sudden giggle as I realised that he reminded me of a goldfish. I still hadn't gotten used to people acting this way around me, just yet. I figured it would take some time, but time was something I had plenty of, these days.
"You like it?" I asked, glancing down at myself once more, then looking to Alice for advice.
"Absolutely," she beamed. Then darting forwards, she glanced at the price tag, dangling from one of the shoulder straps. "And only $1000! Bargain!"
I almost blanched at the price. There was no way I'd ever have paid such a ridiculous amount, even for something as gorgeous as this dress. Even if it was made of the rarest silk in the world, and the pearls were real, genuine and extremely precious pearls from the depths of the deepest ocean. But then I remembered that money was no object for the Cullen family, and Alice had promised me she'd treat me to anything I wanted. Why shouldn't I be allowed to enjoy myself every now and then? Edward's gifts were fast cars, Alice's gifts were amazing clothes. Who was I to look a gift horse – or rather, a pair of gift vampires – in the mouth?
So I mirrored her smile and nodded.
"Alright then, Ms, Cullen. Time for you to keep up your end of the bargain."
"Only if I get to see Edward's face when you show him," she replied, and I had to laugh, nodding to the request.
"Surely you've already seen it? But I guess it can't hurt...On the condition that you keep your thoughts to yourself. No spoiling the surprise!" I retorted playfully, knowing full well that the store manager, who was still gaping at me in awe, would not understand.
"Deal," she agreed. "I'll recite the Korean alphabet backwards, if I have to." Before I could say anything further, she'd dug her elbow lightly into the manager's ribs, breaking him from his trance.
"Make yourself useful and carry all this for us?" she asked sweetly, batting her eyelashes at him.
"Certainly madam," he agreed quickly, scooping the pile into his arms and staggering towards the counter with it. Looks like I'm not the only one who can't refuse Alice when she wants something, apparently.
I quickly ducked back into the changing room to get changed, then joined Alice as we watched him struggle.
We could easily have helped him, of course, but if a human man who was apparently twice our age and physical stature, couldn't manage such a load, then what hope did two 'human' girls like us have? So instead I tossed the dress to the top of the pile and shot a sideways glance at Alice.
"You knew I'd pick it, didn't you," I hissed, in such a low voice that only she would be able to hear. "That's what you saw, earlier."
"Admit it Bella," she replied in an equally low voice. "Would you still have chosen it, had I told you about it beforehand?"
"Probably not," I agreed. "I'd have gone out of my way NOT to look at it, just to annoy you."
"Exactly," she grinned. And then she gasped.
"What?" I asked, alarmed – afraid that something had happened.
"Shoes! You need some shoes to go with it!"
I breathed a huge sigh of relief at that, and then shrugged. "I'm sure you've already stocked my closet with enough shoes to open my own shoe store, if I really wanted to."
"Yes, but none of those shoes will match that dress," she persisted. "Besides, I saw the perfect little set earlier. Wait here, I won't be long."
Before I could even think of an appropriate response, she'd darted off back towards the shoes once more.
I stood at the counter whilst the manager scanned everything through, eyeing me every now and then with a suspicious gaze as he filled bag after bag with all of Alice's clothes. If I'd still been able to, I would have blushed.
"It's not all mine," I commented after he'd glanced at me for a third time. "Actually, only that dress is mine."
"Would you like it in a separate bag?" he asked sarcastically as he carelessly folded the silk in a way that made me cringe. Why was I getting so protective over a dress, for crying out loud? As it was, I suppressed a growl of annoyance and nodded politely.
"Yes please. If you wouldn't mind."
"Of course not, ma'am." His tone suggested that he did actually mind, but then I didn't actually care.
We stood in silence for a few minutes after, the manager filling up the tenth bag with clothes, whilst I did my best to act human, shuffling and fidgeting, shifting my weight from one foot to the other and glancing around the store, trying to see where Alice had gone.
"Boo," she hissed into my ear, and I swallowed a scream of surprise.
"Don't do that," I frowned as she plonked a pair of heels and a bag at the end of the line of clothes that still had to be put through the till. They were red sandals with gold straps and what looked like diamonds studded across them. Definitely not designed to go with my dress. Must be more of Alice's stuff then. "And how are we going to manage all of this? Your car's not THAT big!"
I estimated there'd be about twenty bags of shopping by the time we were finished, just from this one shop alone, and there were still about five other stores that Alice had expressed a desire to go in before we even contemplated returning from our trip. And her little yellow Porsche really wasn't that big at all.
"Don't worry," she told me, matter-of-factly as she glanced outside the store, towards the street. "I've got it all sorted."
I followed her gaze in time to see a familiar monster jeep pulling up outside, metal guards over the headlights and taillights, and four sturdy spotlights attached to the crash bar above the shiny red hardtop. Emmett waved from the driver's seat, whilst Rosalie just looked unimpressed.
"Their movie was boring, so they left early," Alice explained.
"They told you that?"
"I saw it," she shrugged. "Besides, I knew they hadn't wanted to watch it anyway. But Emmett, Rosalie and shopping are a big no. Unless it's for technology or car parts. In which case, Emmett's worse than I am, which is saying something, really."
"I thought I was a big no, when it came to shopping?" I sulked, wondering once again why I'd been the unlucky one to end up on a shopping spree with Alice.
"No sweetie. You and fashion are a no. You and shopping are actually quite good friends. Just like you and I."
"Uh-huh." I couldn't be bothered with anything more complex than that, knowing that she was right, sort of. Well about her and me being friends, anyway. I liked to fancy that shopping and I were actually more like mortal enemies.
Emmett beeped the horn, causing a few pedestrians on the sidewalk to jump in alarm.
"Why don't you start taking the bags out?" Alice suggested. "I'll join you once I've paid."
"Ok." I jumped at the chance to get out of there, and quickly began looping the handles of the bags onto my arms, forgetting for the moment to behave like a human.
Physically forcing myself not to run from the store, I hefted the twelve bags I'd managed to grab towards the jeep. Emmett climbed out and opened one of the rear doors for me, then together we stacked and squashed the bags inside. It was only just able to close by the time we'd finished, and Alice still had another eight bags to go.
"Don't tell me she's bought the whole store again," Rosalie groaned as I leaned against the front wing, waiting for her to join us.
"Seems that way," I nodded. "I couldn't stop her, though believe me, I tried."
"Yeah we know," Emmett grinned as he hopped back into the driver's seat. "Once Alice gets going, nothing can stop her."
"But the big question is," Rosalie added as an afterthought. "Did YOU get anything?"
"Actually, yeah," I nodded. I contemplated telling her about the dress, but then grinned wryly. "You'll just have to wait and see."
"Please don't tell me Alice is putting on another fashion parade," Emmett groaned as Alice finally left the shop, eight more bags of shopping looped along her slender arms. She was beaming in delight.
"Well, what's the damage this time?" Rosalie asked as Alice dumped the bags into the tiny gap left in the backseat, and on Rosalie's lap when no more would fit – all except one, which remained looped on her arm.
"Five," she shrugged.
"Five hundred?" I asked stupidly, knowing full well that my dress alone had been twice that amount.
Alice frowned at me as if I was stupid, and my eyes widened in horror. "Five THOUSAND? Alice!"
"It's nothing," she assured me, waving it off with a breezy hand. Then she gave me another of her impish grins, and winked. "I've only just begun."
"Quick Bella, get in, we'll save you!" Emmett laughed, revving the engine. Alice looked hurt by his mocking, and I sighed.
"Go, save yourselves. It's too late for me," I teased, stepping back away from the curb to join Alice. She gave me a grateful smile, and Emmett shrugged. "Besides, I've still got to 'accessorize', I think?"
I looked at Alice to see if I'd said it right, and she beamed proudly, like a mother hearing her child's first words. Of course, I knew all about that feeling, having gone through it myself with Renesmee, so I knew how much this meant to Alice that I was finally attempting to speak her lingo.
"Well, it's your funeral Bells. I'll be back for round two once we've dropped this lot off," Emmett shrugged again, apparently not understanding the quiet moment me and Alice had just shared. Rosalie looked like she might have understood, but remained silent as Emmett pulled away.
I waited until he was out of sight, before turning to Alice. "Alright, just how much do you plan to spend, exactly? Because I know money's no object, and all that, but surely there's a limit?"
And least I was praying that there was. Otherwise we could be here forever more.
"Oh not much, I promise," Alice smiled, noting my reluctance. "Just a few more bits for you, maybe something for Nessie, a couple of shirts for Edward and a couple of bits for Rose and Esme. That's all."
I groaned, my feet already feeling like lead weights as she started off for the next shop, knowing that this would not be all, despite how much she promised and assured me.
And then I noticed the one bag still swinging freely from her arm. "Erm Alice? You forgot one."
"No I didn't," she replied, slowing her pace so that she could loop her arm through mine – the bag swinging lightly against out thighs as we walked. "This is yours. You don't want Edward having a sneak peek before you get back, do you?"
I thought about this for a moment, then grinned. "You really do think of everything, don't you?"
She smiled smugly and dragged me into the next shop on her list – this one dedicated solely to shoes.
"You ready for this?" she asked as we hovered in the doorway.
Suddenly, for some unknown reason, my spirits had lifted and I felt almost excited by the prospect of treating myself, for a change – especially if Edward's happiness was involved. And I didn't need to be a psychic like Alice to know that he would love my new dress. If I loved it, then so would he, without a shadow of a doubt. So why couldn't I show it off with some sparkles, too? Go the whole stretch and make it perfect, just for him?
"Come on, we need to accessorize," I grinned, and this time it was my turn to drag Alice into the shop. To say she looked delighted would have been an understatement.