Chapter 7: Day Walkers and Polly Pockets

a/n: important details from last chapter:

-Edward received douche charm training from Emmett, including how to smirk and squint his eyes

-Edward promised Aro that he would not let on to Bella that he was Mr. Lady Hips, or else Bella will get in trouble for eating at craftservices. So he vows to keep enough distance so that she won't find out.

Xxxxx

Definitions of gingers as sourced from "South Park's" awesomely legendary ginger episode:

Daywalkers: "Some people have red hair but not light skin and freckles. These people are called daywalkers. Like vampires, the ginger gene is a curse."

Ginger Kids: Red haired children with light skin and freckles….and no souls.

xxxxxxx

Bella

This was how I planned it, I repeated to myself. This was what I wanted.

I looked around, nursing my cheap glass of wine – did Aro and Co. pour this shit from a box?- and took in the view before me.

Small gangs consisting of dolled-up bachelorettes loitered around the outdoor patio area of the bachelor mansion. The faux-Morroccan theme continued out here, with throw pillows and rugs everywhere. Lots of stringed lights, extras dressed up like butlers holding trays of delicious Hors d'oeuvres that we were commanded not to touch.

"Don't even inhale near the tray, it will go straight to your thighs," were Aro's exact words.

Bitter queen.

And in the middle of this circus? Was Hot Ginge, currently holding court with a flock of lovelies.

You've come a long way, Big Boy.

We watched a mini-biographical introduction earlier that had revealed his identity. The bachelor was none other than Edward Cullen, that cherubic franchise face that we all grew up with. But gone was the childhood pudge and now Esme's Big Boy was all grown-up and corporate and eligible. We found out that he had just finished his first marathon. That he was interested in changing the eating habits of children across the nation, fueled in part from his own youthful challenges with weight. And unsurprisingly, was high up in his family mom-and-pop business that was now a major franchise game player.

He also liked pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and making love at midnight.

Well, maybe that last part came from the lyrics of a cheesy 70's song, but the rest of the introduction had that smarmy-personals-ad feel to it.

The only thing the introduction didn't reveal was his face. That was being saved for the actual in-person meet and greet.

And what a face it was.

He was a big boy still, just in different ways. Towering around 6'3", he was built like a brick house. That boy could fill out a designer suit like nobody's business.

The crown jewel on the person of Edward Cullen however was his face. Chiseled was the best way to describe it. A jawline that could launch a thousand smut scenes, cheekbones I could sharpen a butcher knife on.

But those eyes -wide, open, almost child-like - were the same as that little boy I grew up with. It made me forget for a moment as I rushed towards him and treated the introduction more like a reunion.

He seemed taken aback by my enthusiasm. I tried to recalibrate my enthusiasm, falling back on humor. That turned his recoiling into second-hand embarrassment. I wasn't sure what to fall back on from there.

But then he spoke with that distinctive voice, and everything came into focus:

This was Mr. Lady Hips. The boy who let me feel up his hip junk and flirted with my fruity pebbles and was a little bit shy and silly.

A little like me.

HE was the house pimp for the season.

I called him out quietly right there on the spot, whispering my revelation. I even gave him a conspiratorial wink. All that garnered from him was a blank stare – not a hint of recognition.

I walked away from our introduction wondering if he remembered. Wondering if I had imagined that whole run-in even. Or maybe he was waiting for a more discreet time to reconnect.

But it was over an hour later, the welcoming party was in full swing, and he hadn't even looked in my direction.

Mr. Cullen had other distractions around him now though. Distractions that even I understood, wrapped up in long legs and pleasant smiles all glossed in shades of red and pink.

This was how I planned it, I reminded myself. This was what I wanted.

One night's work as the mousey girl for a summer's admission to the happiest place on earth. A lengthy stay at a beach resort of a house in the city of angels, complete with a pool and spa …

….and a foodless kitchen.

….and a friendless house.

With the exception of Miko of course. She was currently fluttering around the various girl gangs socializing.

Or as she described it, "commanding intel-gathering missions."

She saddled up to me casually, swaying her hips to the music playing in the background.

Smooth jazz of course, the music of choice for cheesedicks everywhere.

"So what did your surveillance mission come up with, Ms. Jones?"

Miko grimaced - not a good sign. "Well, word on the whorehouse street is that you made yet another scene with the bachelor introduction. Something about you telling him he was an ugly kid?"

"I did not say that!"

In so many words.

"I said he started out not hot but ended up hot. And what if I had said he started out hot? That would turn into a whole different reality show entirely, with Chris Hanson asking me to take a seat by the pitcher of lemonade."

I leaned in closer: "Maybe he did get offended though, who knows. Confession time."

Miko's eager eyes betrayed how much she liked confessions.

"Hot Gingey over there? And Mr. Big (Hips)? Are one and the same."

Miko gasped. I'd previously told her about my run-in with a sweet stranger, who said a couple not-so-sweet and mildly racy things in my direction. She looked over at him now, sitting on his rattan throne.

"But ever since we were formally introduced, he's treated me like the plague. He won't even look in my direction."

She thought for a moment.

"But he sounded so enchanted by your nipples earlier…and you too of course."

That last part sounded like an afterthought.

"Well, apparently every girl in this room has an enchanting pair too. He's currently neck deep in nipples, that happen to be attached to bigger breasts."

"Oh shush. Maybe he didn't recognize you?"

I arched my eyebrow at her own obliviousness.

"He's not the one who was blindfolded, Miko. "

She paused for a moment.

Then she grabbed me by the arms, making me face her while keeping my back towards the bachelor. "Well, it's our turn to entertain Gingey. The girls who were socializing with him are leaving him now. Ho switch-up time."

She glanced over my shoulder before looking back at me.

"Okay, no more moping. "

"I'm not mo-"

"Of course you are, " she interrupted." You were still giggling an hour after meeting his hips. I'm betting he simply needs a memory joggle. Now turn on that blush of yours and I'll take care of the rest."

Her busy bee fingers fluttered out of nowhere and proceeded to give me a quick, dual titty twister.

"What the hell, Miko?" I shielded my breasts with my hands.

She shrugged. "Every girl has a signature feature. Mine are my lips. And you? You have those resilient nipples of yours that could poke through burlap if they needed to."

xxx

"Boxers or briefs?"

I glared at Kendra, the gal responsible for that inquiry in our getting-to-know-the-bachelor game. Because that question wasn't already lame the first time it was posed to Bill Clinton twenty years back.

There were four bachelorettes including myself currently orbiting Edward Cullen on the patio couches, but another six or so girls lingered nearby.

And somewhere out there, Gloria Steinhem was flipping us the bird for having waited in line to do such orbiting.

Edward raised an index finger dramatically.

"Boxer-briefs."

Everyone laughed, as if Cullen had actually said something witty. As if boxer-briefs weren't the male undergarment equivalent of jeggings.

Noncomittal bastard. Pick a side.

And you'd have thought he'd be embarrassed by the obvious fawning. Lady Hips sounded downright shy just hours earlier. But no… Hot Gingey just sat back and took it all in with a self-satisfied smirk. Who knew those big, pretty eyes could squint so arrogantly?

"Football or baseball," Miko asked. She tapped a finger on her chin. "Or maybe soccer?"

"Baseball, of course." I was sitting next to Edward, with Miko on the other side of me. He leaned forward slightly, treating me like an obstructing houseplant he had to look past to get to Miko's lovely view. "It's America's favorite pastime, right?"

Another round of polite laughter.

"Yeah, " I chimed in. "I mean all those pinko-loving commies have really ruined football for me too."

That got his attention.

Bingo - I had just found my niche in this conversation: Bella Swan, shit-stirring, socially obstructing houseplant.

"Britney Spears or Katy Perry," Jackie inquired.

My eyes narrowed in anticipation to his answer.

"Katy Perry."

"Katy Perry? Really?" I shook my head at him, like he'd just betrayed me once more this evening.

"What," he chuckled, a hint of hesitation in his voice.

"Are you kidding? Katy Perry took us white girls fifty years back with our dancing bragging rights. All the progress Britney made in the 90's and 00's? Flew out the window when Katy Perry started knock-kneeing her way through videos. "

Miko shook her head slighty at my outburst.

But there were some things you needed to stand up for. Like God, country, and Britney Spears. Because when I was a spastic little white girl who could impale herself on things when just trying to walk in a straight line? Britney Spears had a dream. A dream for me and every other uncoordinated white girl who watched too many John Hughes movies and had concluded that it was our destiny to be spastic. Britney dreamed of a day when little white girls and little black girls could hold hands in rhythmic solidarity, dancing side by side, the way she did with Beyonce in that Pepsi commercial years back.

And it might have taken me four years of hip hop dance classes and endless rounds of humiliation, but I realized my part in that dream too.

"It's a post-Britney world, there's no excuse for that sort of uncoordination. The dancing Katy does on stage in her performances? Straight up Pretty-in- Pink-Ducky shit."

His eyebrows furrowed, but that smirk - that blasted cocky smirk he had been wearing all night - was still present.

"You're getting a little worked up over this," he commented, looking amused. As if I was I was something to laugh at.

"No, I just hate when someone prefers flash over function."

And nipples attached to lower IQs while wearing a douche smirk.

"Are we even talking about Britney anymore," Miko whispered in my ear before clearing her throat.

"Your turn, Bella," she said, changing the subject swiftly. She nudged me in the direction of the camera filming me.

Oh right. My disillusionment tantrum was being broadcasted for a national audience.

"Pick a subject you love most," she prompted.

Two things came to mind at once:

Food

Gingers

And my mouth formed the only words that seemed to fuse both loves simultaneously.

"Bobby Flay."

Edward looked at me. "Bobby Flay what?"

"Um….Bobby Flay or Mario Batali."

"Which one cooks better?" Edward inquired, looking a bit confused.

That would be too easy, Big Boy.

"No, who's hotter?"

Edward's eyebrows knitted in confusion. "I'm not…really qualified to judge that."

"Of course you are," I insisted. "Gingers are always qualified to judge other gingers."

"No, " he said while shaking his head. "Because I'm a guy, and…"

He stopped for a moment. "Did you just call me a ginger?"

I heard muffled laughter to the side of me – some big moose of a guy with cute dimples and a douche smirk was cracking up in the far corner of the patio.

I went back to focusing on Edward's hair: "Yeah, why wouldn't I?"

"Because my hair's not red, it's auburn," he responded a tad too stiffly.

"Your hair isn't red – it's gingey," I corrected. "And nothing's wrong with being a Ginger. You're not even 100 proof. You're more day-walker status with the freckle-free complexion and darker tint."

I patted his knee reassuringly. "Don't worry, your soul's intact still."

I thought I was being funny. If anyone could take a little gentle ribbing about his looks, it should've been Mr. Superabs-Sexy Pants 2011. But the other girls stared at me like I was Satan himself. Miko's finger went back to her lips, trying to rein me in. And the only tangible sound was the Moose cracking up even harder now. Edward glared in his direction.

I tried to backtrack.

"Gingers are the new black you know."

Now it was Miko's turn to give me some cut-eye.

I tried to backtrack on the backtrack.

"As in the color. Not the race. Although race is simply a failed social construct and not a reality. But anyways…."

Miko closed her eyes in anticipation of the new onset of diarrhea.

"Gingers are the new black-as-in-color because Gingers are hot nowadays, with Prince Harry leading the charge. Along with Paul Bethany, and Bobby Flay of course. I mean, I would throw down on Bobby's red hot chile pepper any day of the week—"

"Yes, Bella," Miko chimed in. "You do love your spicy foods. You should see this girl pile on the jalapenos on her nachos. Anyways, maybe Edward could tell us who he'd rather have cook for him: Mario or Bobby?"

And just like that, the social gathering around me went back to civilized discussion, as if my outbursts were just a bad dream for all of us.

As if I were just a bad houseplanted dream altogether.

Although a half an hour later as I nursed yet another glass of wine on the fringe of the party, a lone person wouldn't let me live it down. No… he wanted to celebrate it.

"Pssst….Hey. Hey you," the dimpled moose whispered conspiratorially in my direction - the way I imagined most flashers summoned their victims' attention.

"Hey, yourself."

Then he did something I imagined most flashers didn't do. He lifted up a grease-stained "In-n-Out Burger" bag that was accompanied with a come-hither finger. I could smell its greasy contents from where I stood.

I approached him without a word, hiked myself upon the brick fence next to where he was sitting, pulled a burger out of the bag, and began chomping.

And chomping.

And slurping up the milkshake.

And licking off the ketchup from my fingers that were falling off the fries I was devouring.

'Wow, your parents never taught you the "don't take candy from strangers" rule, did they? You're lucky you didn't end up on the back of a milk carton,' he mentioned with a sly smile, the douche smirk dialed down finally. He jutted out his hand.

"Emmett. People call me Em for short. "

'Bella. People call me "Social Outcast" for short.'

He whooped out a burly laugh. "That's longer than your actual name. But yeah, that sounds about right. That was just….what the hell happened to you back there earlier?"

The only answer I gave him was a defeated shrug. His slanted his head to the side to keep eye contact with me.

"Don't get me wrong, you've been the one bright light in this dull crowd all day. But what was that?"

I shrugged my shoulders in defeat. "That was me being me. Which is why I try to limit my social interaction most of the time."

I pointed to the burger booty.

"What's this?"

He smiled mischievously. "That's your reward for wearing this cute little dress tonight." He gave the bottom hem a quick pull. "….and for calling my brother a day-walking ginger on national television."

My mouth dropped open, a bad idea since it was shoved full with fries.

"Edward's your brother?"

He gave me a nodding half-smile.

"Oh my god, you are his brother. Same douche smirk."

Xxx

Long story short, Emmett told me he was Edward's brother. That he was working behind the scenes on the show in order to help his brother get more acclimated to his new gig.

"Let's just say that he needs me to explain the art of being charming, especially in front of a television camera. Apparently when he was busy holding onto mama's apron strings as a child, he missed a few socializing milestones."

"Me too," I said in all seriousness.

He explained that he'd been behind the scenes all day –

"I saw you stealing all those Cliff Bars, only to spit them out poolside."

"Hey, it's not stealing when they're complimentary," I said in my defense. "Besides, they were probably complimentary because they tasted like doorstops."

"Exactly," he concurred.

And apparently, I'd made the biggest impression on him in the group for some unknown reason.

"Yeah, you made the biggest impression with that nipple confession."

Okay, maybe not-so-unknown.

"Seriously, that was the best introduction ever in the history of the show."

He was staring expectantly now at my torso, like he was waiting for my auxi- nipples to personally thank him for the compliment.

"So how do you care for them," he said with a nod in their direction, his douche smirk returning.

"I have to water them three times a day, and make sure they get enough sunlight." I punched him in the arm. "They're nipples, not pet gerbils."

He laughed, his eyes still frozen in their direction.

"Where are they located, exactly?"

Weirdo.

I was about to put him in his place when Edward caught my attention on the other side of the patio. He had lovelies perched all around him as usual; but for some reason, we had his full attention right now.

Showtime.

I wiped my mouth daintily, then blushed while grinning coyly at Emmett.

"You really want to know their undisclosed location?"

He nodded like a naughty school boy.

I pointed both my index fingers in front of Emmett's face, then slowly redirected them back to my auxi's.

Emmett's face lit up like a kid's on Christmas, his own hands ghosting mine now, mere inches away.

Oddball.

"Can I….." His voice faltered right then, but judging from his twitchy thumbs , it wasn't hard to figure out the request.

"What, you want to touch them?"

"Thank you, yes…"

I was about to tell them that was a clarification, not a request, but his hands were already going to work in an oddly appealing way. His big moose hands wrapped slowly around my waist, gaining a firm grip. Then his thumbs sought out the resting place where my own fingers had been.

"Right there?," he asked quietly, his eyes trained on mine now. I couldn't help but break out in silent laughter.

"Uh, yeah. You know, you'd get more friction and pleasure from rubbing the blackhead on my chin—"

"Shhh," he scolded, my words threatening to ruin the moment. His thumbs began to slowly brush back and forth, gauging my reaction with a lazy smile.

"Like that?"

A loud laugh ripped through me now. "Like what? You realize what you're touching isn't like a normal nipple right? You're basically feeling up a pimple right now."

"Oh, I know. I know…" His smile was more sheepish now, but it sure didn't stop his thumbs. "It just feels so….intimate still. Comforting…"

In a weird way, he was right. We were both talking in hushed whispers that were brinking on giggles, our faces mere inches away.

"Like," he started again, thumbs still going to town, "what if everyone had auxi-nipples and we just touched them instead of shaking hands. That would be so fucking cool…."

He kept on talking, but I couldn't hear it over the gulps of air I was trying to take in between giggles.

"Oh my god, I think you just figured out the solution for world peace. Someone give this guy a Nobel Peace-"

"What the hell?"

Em and I jerked our heads in the same direction – we were met with Edward's face displaying equal parts of horror and anger. His eyes were frozen on Emmett's fast and furious thumbs.

"What are you doing to her?"

"They're not real nipples-" was all Emmett got out before Edward stomped on his foot and ordered him to get up.

He then turned his ire my way.

"And why are you letting him," he muttered without looking at me.

Why was I?

"But they really aren't real nipples," was all that came to mind. Which made Emmett point in my direction and start laughing.

"Exactly, Polly! Exactly." He turned to Edward now. "In a perfect world, that's how we'd shake hands, mofo!"

"Polly? My name's Bella," I called out.

Emmett shook his head.

"No, it's Polly Pocket now. " He cupped his hands together as Edward started carting him off in the direction of the poolhouse. "Cause you're so cute and tiny enough to fit in my little pocket!"

I could hear Edward muttering for him to shut up before they rounded a corner and disappeared.

"He's cute. Really cute."

Miko was standing beside me now, always knowing where to find the action.

"Yeah. He's Edward's brother."

She shot me a "oh-no-you-di'in't" smile.

Oh, yes I kinda did. And I felt a little sick over it too.

"Wow. First you feel up one brother. Then you get felt up by another when the first one ignores you. You've been a very busy little bee tonight, Ms. Swan."

I wanted to tell her she was wrong, but she wasn't. I'd acted like a reactionary psycho all evening, just because I felt rejected.

She picked up my milkshake and started sipping while we listened to the muffled bickering between the two somewhere in the distance.

"Yeah, consider me de-rosed for the evening. My work here is done."

She snorted. "That's not happening anytime soon, honey."

"Oh yes it is. You didn't see the way Edward looked at me right now. You couldn't pay him to rose me now. Which was the game plan anyways. "

Miko sighed. "Haven't I taught you anything, Bella?"

She pointed in the direction of Aro, who was all flying hands and bitchy commands at the moment. A lighting and cameraman were rushing along with him in Edward's direction.

'Aro's been complaining about "chemistry" issues all evening. Translation? Edward's coming off flat, as are the bachelorettes, especially together. But add in the square peg, her charming bff, and an older brother to the mix?"

"I'm a square peg now? Cause I thought I was the love child of Gary Busey and A.J. Maclean."

"No, you're kinda like the Jerry Lewis to my Dean Martin now. But between us and those Cullen boys, and the potential for brother-against-brother romantic strife with the square peg? That's some Cain and Abel meets "She's All That" gold standard programming there, Bella. There's no way Aro would let Edward not rose you now. "

Little did I know how right she would be.

Xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Thanks for reading! And on a sidenote, "Prince Hot Ginge" is the nickname for Prince Harry on Michael K's "Dlisted."