And I Am Not
She was sitting at her surprisingly ill-used vanity mirror. Her eyes were a dark honey color and she stared deeply into them, daring her reflection to make a move. It didn't. It was a coward and she allowed her eyes to gloss briefly over her perfected features before picking up a hairbrush. Limp wristed, she dragged it through her blonde curls. They gave way easily after years and years of being smoothed out, and bounced back to life the moment the brush left them be. Her movements were slow, meticulous and a façade as she listed to the commotion from downstairs. They were addressing her absence, which was exactly what she didn't want. Normally, when she exited a room, it was ignored. Everyone had long since learned to 'let Rosalie be.' The face in the mirror grimaced and while it should have marred the beautiful face, it only made it more complex. A complex beauty. How many times in how many decades had she heard that line? Footsteps were on the stairs, coming tentatively towards her. 'You're not a narcissist,' she chided herself, the beautiful curls swaying against her cheekbones as she shook her head. 'They're not coming to see you. Stop your pretentious thoughts. If you can't fight against your own stereotype, no one else will.'
The footsteps were in the hallway now, heading her way. They were light, the resulting creaks from the wooden floor mild. Female. Her tongue glided ever so cautiously over her lips as she stared into her own eyes again, watching as her lids closed, feeling as her lungs rose with air to an almost painful degree. When her lids lifted, she was staring back at onyx irises. Her chin quivered, noticeable only by someone with superbly inhuman eyes and she picked the brush back up, making no reaction to the knocks that were received by her door. She made no effort to answer them and the person behind the door seemed to understand for the door soon opened and the smell wafted into the room, filling her nostrils with such perfection that, if she was capable, would have resulted in tears. The guest watched her as she brushed her hair oh slowly, her eyes moving with each rise and fall of the sculpted pale hand.
"You have Rodin hands," the guest whispered, looking down at her chipped and worn nails. She removed the brush from her silken hair, and brought it slowly to rest on the vanity, staring at the back of her hand as she did so. Was she referring to the Clasped Hands, one of the most sensual and beautiful sculptures to date, or was she referring to the Hand of Devil, which needed no explanation? The guest watched her, not daring to speak further. She stopped breathing for a moment, feeling the wood give beneath her nails as she gripped for her self control. When she felt comfortable, for she would never consider breathing if she was unsure, she inhaled, and spoke for the first time, catching her guest off guard.
"You like Rodin." It was supposed to be a question, and yet her reserved nature would not allow it to be so. An innermost part of her resented this, but there was nothing to be done about it now as she turned and faced her quivering guest. Their eyes met, and the brunette in front of her suddenly seemed to find confidence.
"I love his hands." The brunette blushed and the scent hit her like a wave. She responded to it by closing her eyes, turning back to the welcoming vanity mirror. She hated it, and yet it craved her reflection. She could always spot it no matter where she was in the room, reflecting her, taunting her with her own beauty. Her guest laughed awkwardly and she faced her once more.
"Tell Alice that I'm sorry. I thought the rehearsal was over. Do I need to come back down? Because I'd rather not. No offense, Bella."
Bella shook her head much too violently for the point she was making, her hair swishing and fanning the scent everywhere. She watched as she could practically see it landed all over her bed, vanity, shelves like a fine, precious dust. "Alice didn't send me up here. I came here of my own volition."
'Volition,' she thought to herself. Sometimes Bella could surprise her with intellect, when she wasn't acting positively tawdry over Edward. It was embarrassing and while she was hardly one to consider herself a devout feminist, Bella's actions towards her brother could make her nonexistent blood boil. Bella had paused again and she looked her up and down, studying every textbook sign of nerves. Shaky hands, sweaty palms, her cheeks were always in a constant flush but she appeared to be blushing now and she was averting her eyes.
"I just, uh, wanted to ask you something."
"You seemed to have a problem with my," she paused to clear her throat, "with my speech. I was wondering if you had some advice on it." Bella blushed again, shoving her hands deep within the pockets of her jacket. She looked her over again, grimacing at the dirty tennis shoes, the worn jeans and the jacket. Hardly the attire to wear to a rehearsal, even if it was just a rehearsal. However, she refrained from speaking her mind. One could bet that Alice had tried to reason with her on multiple occasions. Then her mind went to work toiling on Bella's words. There was no way that Bella was possibly that observant. Yes, she may have had a problem with the speech, but it wasn't one that could be fixed. Needless to say, she'd been torturing the girl for too long. She'd better start speaking before Bella literally melted into a puddle on the floor. Judging by the shift in scents in the room, she was sweating pretty profusely on her palms.
"I'm sorry. I say 'ma'am' when I'm nervous. And you seem like a ma'am to me." She bit her bottom lip, looking to the door as if it held sweet salvation. Something had to be done about this girl's nerves, but whatever it was could not be done for her. She hoped for a moment that Alice would come bounding up the stairs and take Bella away but no such hopeful sound was heard.
"Rosalie will be just fine, thank you," she said as politely as she could, gesturing to the bed bench to her left. Bella followed her hand, then nodded obediently as she took a seat. She played with the cream colored velvet of the bed bench, her head down. Rosalie also glanced at the bed bench. It was rare that anyone ever sat on it and she worried for a brief moment that Bella would leave an oily stain on the velvet. She considered telling her stop, but refrained, reminding herself that that's what bed benches were for.
"This is beautiful," Bella said distantly, running her hand down one of the dark cherry wood legs. Rosalie found herself unable to watch and she turned her head to stare at her palms, running through her knowledge of Rodin sculptures. "How old is this?" she asked, her voice just barely rising above a whisper.
"It came with a house we bought in the 30's. I decided to keep it."
"Thank you. Now, remind me again why you're here. Not that I'm not terribly fond of your company."
Bella chuckled, rolling her eyes and Rosalie found herself glad that she could make her smile, that Bella wasn't completely afraid of her. Certainly, they had their qualms but by no means did Rosalie dislike her. She was just reserved. At least, that was what everyone told Bella about her. "At the rehearsal today, when I gave my little speech about Edward, you didn't like it. What's wrong with it?"
"Bella, I apologize for my ignorance but I don't recall saying I didn't like it."
"No, no, you didn't say you didn't like it. I just knew you didn't."
"And how would you know that?"
"Because," Bella said lightly, holding up two fingers and pointing them both at Rosalie, "you averted your eyes." She flicked her hand away, copying the motion and Rosalie glared.
"I don't think that moving my eyes constitutes dislike for something."
Bella smiled as if she knew something that Rosalie wasn't in on. She leaned forward on the bed bench, daring Rosalie to look away, which of course Rosalie would not do. "Yes it does, Rosalie. Both you and I know that it does."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Come on, Rosalie. I've been in your life for three years and I can count the number of legitimate conversations we've had on my fingers. This is number eight, if you were wondering. And when someone's as…reserved as you, someone like me has to overcompensate for that. The way that I do that is by watching you, studying you. I think I can say with confidence now that I know when you're sad, angry, hurt and humored. During my speech you looked hurt. Are you going to tell me otherwise?"
Were Rosalie not so pristine, she would have allowed her mouth to fall open. Of course that action was out of the question so she settled for glaring and watched as Bella's eyes ran over her features. They lingered, she thought, on her red lips but Rosalie could pay no mind to that. Even her family members raked over her beauty every now and then. It was something she'd learned to tolerate and even ignore. Bella, however, was a new case. "Bella, there's nothing wrong with your speech. And even if there was, why should my opinion matter?"
"Your opinion matters the most because you care less," she answered quickly, as if she'd been waiting for that question. Rosalie felt her brow furrow in mock anger so that she could keep Bella at bay for awhile. Contradictorily, Bella smiled again, pointing at Rosalie's brow. "See, now you're confused."
"I'm not sure I like this, you reading me so easily," Rosalie snarled, causing Bella and her confidence to recoil. Rosalie smirked as if to show Bella that she'd won and also as a warning to watch her boundaries. The brunette nodded and Rosalie closed her eyes, taking deep breaths. While Bella's scent was completely alluring, it was also calming and in a few breaths she was perfectly fine with the guest in her room.
"Back to my point," Bella continued softly, "because you don't care, you are the least biased when making decisions. I'm tired of everyone just playing off of what I want without any real opinions. Your eye aversion today was the best comment I've gotten about this wedding yet."
"I thought you were letting Alice do all the work anyway," Rosalie countered, trying desperately to ignore the voice in her head that wanted to tell Bella she was wrong. She was just as, if not more biased than the rest of the family. Hers were just out of favor with the others.
"Alice is doing most of the work. But she's still asking me and grilling me on every little detail. It's like I'm doing the thinking, she's just bringing it to life, you know? But she won't offer counter opinions like I thought she would. I was hoping that you would." Bella took her lip in her bottom teeth again, a habit that the blonde abhorred but kept quiet about. After thinking for a few moments, she finally spoke, turning to face the mirror as she did.
"I don't like gushing. You were gushing. It's a matter of preferences, nothing more." She watched Bella in the mirror as she spoke, their eyes never leaving each other. Bella nodded slowly, almost as if she regretted asking and Rosalie thought that it served her right.
"This isn't sarcasm or anything. I'm just gonna say that in advance. How can I write about Edward and loving him without gushing?" She stared at Rosalie for a moment before reaching into her pocket and pulling out a sheet of paper. Rosalie could easily see the chicken scratched writing on it and knew that it was Bella's handwritten speech. She quickly ran through the speech in her mind. Then she compared it with Edward's speech. If she had to choose she would say that Edward's was better. It was sweet and thoughtful and made her want to gag herself with the fake flowers hanging on the altar. Bella's, while showing talent in writing, didn't seem to do anything for her but make her angry. She could tell, watching Bella read it, that Bella hadn't a clue what to write and what she did write she wrote because she thought she had to. That was what had angered Rosalie. That among another thing that need not be mentioned.
Bella continued to read through her speech, her eyes darting back and forth quickly as she chomped on her lip. Rosalie watched her for a moment, then watched out the paper shook more than necessary in her palms. Letting out a fairly obvious sigh, Rosalie grabbed a pen from her vanity and stood, gliding over to Bella and sitting down before the poor human could even look up. She opened her palm and Bella placed the speech in her expectant hand. Rosalie read it through quickly, the end of the pen tapping gingerly against her chin as she did so. Bella's eyes were upon her, not the speech and Rosalie fought to hide her smirk as she clicked the pen opened and circled a sentence.
"'Edward and I are perfect for each other; any fool can see that.' Now, do you really want to insult the guests? And here…there should be a comma, not a semicolon. I feel like the word 'love' is too present in this paragraph. This sentence needs reworking. I don't feel the emotion you're trying to convey here…." Rosalie continued on for the better part of three minutes, correcting everything she saw wrong with the speech. When she actually read through it, there wasn't all that much that needed to be done with it as she thought. Bella listened carefully and much to the blonde's delight, she offered insightful feedback. In fact, the feedback seemed to be prepared beforehand, as if Bella already knew what was wrong with the speech. Rosalie didn't quite know what to think of that.
They finished after awhile and Rosalie clicked the pen shut, handing it to Bella should she need it later. Bella took it from her and when they're fingers brushed Rosalie noticed that Bella had slowed her movements. Their fingers then brushed for longer than necessary and Rosalie watched them glide across each other, temperature and color clashing boldly with the black pen between. When the pen was finally in her grasp, Bella smiled and looked into the blonde's eyes. "Well, thank you. I won't take up any more of your time." She hesitated then, her body leaning forward then back as if she'd considered something, then stopped. That action was then followed by an awkward cough and Bella stood quickly, overwhelming Rosalie with her scent. She stood as well, to better escape the wave of desire suddenly put upon her and walked Bella to the door, pulling it open for her. Bella stepped halfway through before stopping short, taking Rosalie by surprise. She fumbled with the speech in her hand then looked to the vampire again.
"You don't know how much I appreciate this. Really, thank you again. And I liked this talk. I hope we can do it again." She licked her lips and continued to the banister without waiting for Rosalie's response. Rosalie watched her, mulling over the words and the possible dual meaning behind them. No, no she didn't like this. She didn't like being out of the loop. In a momentary loss of reserve, she called out to Bella, who had just reached the top stair. Bella turned around, appropriately surprised and waited for her to continue. Rosalie hesitated then, unsure of what to say next. That bothered her as well. Bella was beginning to look confused and Rosalie found herself panicking. She panicked, and spoke the only word that wouldn't ruin whatever reputation she'd created for herself.
Bella blushed, tracing her fingers along the wooden banister. Rosalie noticed this and also noticed that her hands were not as bad as originally thought. There was about thirty more seconds of silence and Rosalie felt herself growing nervous. She really shouldn't have instigated this conversation. Something had to be done. "Well?" she asked, tapping her foot with impatient intimidation. Her hopes were that it would scare Bella into providing some copout that would leave them both in peace. However, Bella just shrugged, murmuring in a tone so hushed that Rosalie herself could just make it out.
"Because you're a god."
The words echoed throughout Rosalie's mind, searching for subtext and all possible meanings, trying to fit the pieces together before Bella left and broke her concentration. However, Bella did it before leaving, by breaking out into an embarrassed chuckle. "And I am not. And I just thought I'd let you go."
Rosalie frowned, stepping out into the hall. "What are you talking about?"
"The nineties…a great time for music because the music said it all. I've got to go. Edward's waiting. Thank you again." With that she turned and headed down the stairs. Rosalie could hear the conversations downstairs. About how Bella was returning, she'd made it out alive, Rosalie wasn't following. Rosalie ignored them, retreating back into her room and closing the door behind her. She walked slowly to her bed, lying down on her stomach. Light was shining through a slit in her closed shades and she watched the collected dust rise into the air. With the faintest of smiles, she inhaled, and decided to lay there for a while.