"No, but there really has been some mistake!" the brunette shouted, her mousy hair falling in front of her face. Her pleading was met with silence and she looked up, wide-eyed at the guard, who merely shoved her new clothes into her shaking hands. The guard looked down at her trembling figure, considered laughing, but instead held up the clipboard clasped to her side.
The guard looked to her, rolling her eyes as she checked her name off of the list. "Well, Bella, these be your new clothes. It's your only extra set so you best get used to em. Oh, and wipe that wide-eyed bullshit off of your face. You ain't gonna last long with it." Bella's eyes only widened at the guard's words and she scoffed, tossing her meaty hand out and pushing the new inmate forward and into a new line. She tripped on the force and caught herself on the woman in front of her. She turned around quickly and Bella fell to the floor, her clothes falling onto the dirtied tile.
The woman in front of her was about fifty years old with graying and greasy hair. She snarled down at Bella with what few teeth she had left and Bella felt her legs turning into jelly. Luckily, a guard came to her aid, shoving the gnarled woman to make her face forward. She looked down at Bella on the floor and straightened her suit. "Are you just going to sit down there, princess?" she asked impatiently. Bella shook her head, quickly collecting her wrinkled clothes and standing in line. The guard huffed, wishing that she'd put up more of a fight, but let it go, continuing up and down the line.
Once they had checked in with the registration, they were taken to another line. Upon paying attention Bella realized that they were getting assigned to their rooms. Each woman was given merely a number and a guarded escort towards their living quarters behind sliding bar doors. Bella gulped, feeling the line grow shorter and shorter. By the time she finally made it to the guard, her entire body was trembling. The guard looked her over and raised a lone eyebrow. "You were already asked about drugs, weren't you?"
"And did you answer honestly?"
"Yes, ma'am. I'm not on drugs."
The guard looked her over condescendingly before looking back down at the paper, asking for Bella's name. When she gave it Bella watched as her pen lowered and rose along the paper, searching for the proper name. It stopped midway down the page and she looked up with a rather foreboding grin on her face. "Cell six C, Miss Swan," the woman called loudly, her eyes sifting over the other inmates in the room. Bella looked around and noticed that all of the attention was suddenly upon her. The guards looked malicious and the inmates looked pitying. That couldn't have been good. Bella gulped as a guard came over to her and took her arm, leading her to the door. The bars opened swiftly and he stepped in, pulling her along with him. Bella followed him through a series of hallways and then a door, which opened up to the main holding center. Three stories of cells in a massive, warehouse looking type of complex. Women, intrigued by the sound of an opening door, all crawled to their bars like deprived animals. They watched with hollow and sunken eyes. Some were grinning, some were glowering and some had an expression that didn't have a name.
The guard practically threw Bella to the stairs and told her to climb to the top. Bella nodded and proceeded up the metal stairs, her bare feet were pushing through the wrought iron and it made them sting in some places. When she reached the third floor the guard stood behind her and pushed her forward. "Cell six C!" he shouted, just as loudly as the previous guard had. Women were suddenly flocking to their bars, looking on at the fresh meat that had arrived. Bella thought it best to keep her head down and walked slowly past her newly selected cellmates.
With every step she took the volume of the inmates increased. First there were just mutterings of snide or grotesque comments. Pretty soon it was an overwhelming blur of screeches and hollering and raucous laughter. Bella felt herself trembling and didn't notice the gray hand that shot out from the bars. It gripped at her shoulder and peeled some of her skin back as it pulled her near. Bella considered screaming but kept her mouth firmly clamped shut. The woman inside was young, possibly around her age. Her hair was blonde and matted to her head. She smiled at Bella with a full set of yellow teeth. "Looks like the Bloody Bride will have her next victim!" she shouted, throwing Bella back onto the walkway.
What arose then was a chant. It was three syllables and every woman in every cell on every story had joined in. They'd even started stomping their feet or clapping to the rhythm of the demonic-like chant. The guard seemed amused but continued to push Bella along to the end of the walkway. Bella walked slowly, tuning her ears to try and decipher just what it was that was being spoken. After a few more steps, it suddenly became very, very clear to her.
"Bloody Bride, Bloody Bride, Bloody Bride…" Over and over in Bella's mind, thudding out all conscious thought with its thunderous and foreboding drone. Cell six C came all too soon and Bella felt her legs going weak as she stopped in front of the unforgiving metal bars. The room was lit, but her cellmate had found the one and only shadow and was currently sitting in it. She was on the top bunk, her back relaxing against the cinderblock wall, face cast in shadow. The guard behind Bella made some sort of motion and with a long and eerie creak the doors slowly unhinged and slid open. Her cellmate made no response to the opening of her bars and Bella felt a hand on her back, pushing her in. She stumbled in, tripping over the threshold as she did. However she managed to regain her balance and turn around just in time to see the bars sliding closed.
A hush fell over the prison as the bars shut. The women that Bella could see looked longingly out at them, watching with a hopeful yet apathetic silence until they latched shut. Then it erupted again. Women cheering and jeering at Bella until the guards managed to subdue them with violent hits to their arms with their Billy clubs.
Then it was all too quiet for Bella's tastes. She shivered in the middle of the stone confinement, debating with herself. Should she try to make friends with this new cellmate? She looked up at the woman, still resting on the top bunk. Her head was still in shadow but Bella could make out lovely blonde ringlets. How strange…to have lovely blonde ringlets in this place. Bella gulped again and put one foot on top of the other, feeling just how cold they were. Keeping her eyes firmly on the blonde, she skittered over to her bed, the bottom bunk, and sat down on it, lifting her feet up. She placed them on the bed and entangled them in the sheets until she could feel warmth starting to spread. Then she knelt down and pushed her spare set of clothes under the bed. Once that was done she lifted herself up and laid back down on the bed, looking up at where the assumed infamous Bloody Bride was resting. What did that mean? How did she get that title? Bella closed her eyes tightly, wishing that she'd kept up with the times a bit more.
But she couldn't help it. She couldn't help the copasetic daze that she'd fallen in. She couldn't help that she'd fallen in love with the most wonderful man on earth. Or so she'd thought. Bella felt a lump in her throat and turned over to bury her face in her pillow. She wouldn't cry in here. She wouldn't cry in the presence of someone known as The Bloody Bride. She just wouldn't.
But the tears fell anyway. They ran warmly down her cold and raw cheeks and settled in the crevices of her pillow. And she couldn't take it anymore. She let it out. She let it all out. The fear, the pain and loss all consumed into tears and she allowed them to soak her thin pillow all the way through. Her body heaved with effort and her throat soon became raw with all of the choking and sobbing she was pulling. It hurt so much but felt so good to release. She was tired of keeping it all in. She was tired of playing the strong one. She was just plain tired.
Her sobs eased after a few minutes and she relaxed into her moist pillow, feeling how cold her tears had gotten and rubbing them against her cheeks. The woman on the top bunk still hadn't made a sound as far as she knew and Bella blushed at the fact that she had just sobbed with another woman in the room. Well, prison wasn't exactly the place for reserve. Bella lifted her head, peering up into the mattress that was over her head. It was sunken in slightly due to the woman's weight and after some focusing Bella found that she could trace the exact outline of how she was sitting. She looked to be in the same position as before. Maybe she was dead.
As if the woman had heard her thoughts, there was a sudden tapping sound. Bella's head jerked around, searching for the noise. It only took her a moment to realize that her cellmate overhead had merely tapped. It was probably in a random act of boredom or impulse but all that she had done was tapped her nails against the cinderblock walls. She was alive. Relief washed over Bella and she reached out, tentatively, and copied the tapping motion that the blonde had just done. Her nails made the exact same sound and she looked up at the mattress. No response.
Bella swallowed hard, sitting up in her bed. She was going to do it. She was going to talk to this Bloody Bride person. She was going to ask her name. Simple as that. After all it was just a name, right? What did names mean in the long run? Taking a deep breath, Bella found the words to say, and opened her mouth.
"Lights out, ladies!" a voice shouted from down below. In an instant the lights were shut off. Bella closed her mouth and watched as the figure above her adjusted, lying down with her front facing the wall. Bella lied down as well and shut her eyes tightly. It was too quiet and she couldn't find the right tune or thought in her head to drown the silence. When it was to no avail, she sighed and opened her eyes. She faced the cinderblock wall and traced her hand along the rough edges, feeling just how alone she really was in this place.
The Bloody Bride
"Let's go, on your feet!" someone shouted, waking Bella from her troubled slumber. She shot up instantly and the guard who had shouted at her, nodded quickly. "Come on, ladies. We all know you need a shower," he sneered, his eyes darting up to the top bunk. "Not that it will really make you clean…" Bella looked up above her and watched the person above her shift. Legs appeared in front of Bella's face and she leaned back as her cellmate hopped to the floor and stood waiting at the bars. She was in the same striped dress that Bella had been assigned but it clung to her figure much more than Bella's did. It was almost as if it was a half size too small, rounding tightly around her defined curves. Just by looking at the back of her Bella could tell that she was the most attractive woman here.
"Are you coming or not?" the guard shouted, his eyes burning into Bella's. Bella made sort of a squeak and untangled herself from the covers, running to stand behind the blonde. She didn't acknowledge Bella in any way but Bella couldn't dwell on it for too long for the cell soon opened and the blonde stepped out. Bella followed her quickly but silently and noticed that only a few other cells had been opened. The women were all in front of them, as they were in the last cell and they moved obediently down the walkway, merging to the left. They didn't walk far before they came to a very large shower room.
Bella's cellmate headed over to the left again and Bella followed her again, having no idea of what else to do. Either she didn't mind or she didn't notice Bella but either way the blonde didn't acknowledge her as she went over to a bench and stood tall, her arms lifting to undo the buttons of her uniform. Her back was still turned to Bella but she didn't mind, so long as she knew what to do. Her hands sought out the buttons of her dress and she undid them slowly with nervous fingers. When it fell loose across her chest, she blushed and looked around. Two male guards were waiting at the door. Their eyes wormed their way over every woman's body and stopped when they noticed that she was still in a dress. One guard winked at her and waved her on. Bella blushed again and turned back around to find that her cellmate had left her. Showers were starting and steam was filling the area. Closing her eyes, Bella allowed the dress to drop to her feet. The guards laughed and she was quite certain that her entire body was blushing.
Keeping her head to the ground, she walked over to an available shower and turned the water on. It was cold at first and she jumped but soon it became warm and she closed her eyes allowing it to wash over her. Bella looked down and saw the water held brown swirls. She was disgusting. Bella reached for a bar of soap and began to lather herself quickly. The soap appeared to have no smell but it didn't matter, it was cleaning her. Shampoo was provided as well and it smelled horrible. Bella grimaced and looked at the bottle, noting that the shampoo was for lice. Despite the heat of the shower, she shivered and applied it to her hair quickly, wanting to get it out of her hair as soon as possible.
As she was finishing up, the woman next to Bella left, revealing two empty showers after her. Bella looked down the row and saw her cellmate showering just four spouts away. For some reason, it was comforting to know that she was there. Her body was a beautifully light cream color and her legs looked strong and powerful. Bella noticed her stomach held the faintest creases of abs and her breasts were proportional to her body, though covered by her long blonde hair. Then her eyes roamed up to the woman's face, and Bella could have sworn that she was looking in a magazine. Pristine, was the only way to describe it. She had lovely patrician bones and naturally shaped eyebrows. Her nose was straight and not too narrow and she had the fullest, reddest lips that Bella had even seen. Then Bella looked into her eyes.
Those eyes were staring right at her. Bella's own eyes went wide as she realized she'd been caught. Her cellmate looked less than pleased, but also like she was used to it, and her glare came down hard on the brunette. Bella felt herself blushing again and looked down, unable to meet her eyes. The water was suddenly shut off and the guards shouted for the women to dry off and get dressed. Bella went over to the bench where her dress was and put it on quickly. Her cellmate stood next to her, her back turned again and this time did not wait for Bella as she walked out of the room. As usual, Bella was one of the last ones out of the room and she walked silently and with her head down all the way to the cafeteria.
The line was long and the food didn't smell that good but Bella couldn't find herself to care. Her stomach rumbled violently as she stood in line and she rocked in place in anxiousness. She hadn't eaten in the past two and a half days and her body was certainly punishing her for that. Bella regretted not eating when she had the chance but she knew she wouldn't have been able to if she tried. She'd been so heartsick, throwing up the nothingness in her stomach time and time again at the thought of him.
A time or two when her stomach growled the woman in front of Bella would turn around and glare at her. Bella would only throw her diminutive eyes to the floor in response and the woman would turn back around. Bella didn't like looking at her. There was scary and there was ugly. This woman was scary ugly. What seemed like ages later, it was Bella's turn to grab a tray. She held it firmly in her hands and winced as a metal bowl was thrown on it. Goop was then poured into the bowl along with a single sausage patty. The goop looked like colored water and the patty was most definitely burned but Bella couldn't find herself to care. Food was food, and she was grateful for it.
Still gripping her tray, Bella turned from the line and looked around for an empty seat. Just as she found an open chair, a woman came into her line of vision. It was the same one that had stood in front of her in line. She looked to Bella and smiled. Just as Bella was about to return it, the woman threw her hand down, slamming the tray out of Bella's hands. The metal tray was rough and it cut her hand as it fell, her goop and sausage spilling to the floor. Bella stared longingly at it for a moment before a shrill cackle brought her from her daze. The woman was laughing at her and she brought her face just inches from Bella.
"Better learn how to hang on to your tray, whitey," she sneered before taking her own tray and walking away. Bella watched her go silently, noting that no one seemed to be paying any attention to her situation. She turned hopefully back to the line but the cook shook her head at her.
"One meal per person, love. Sorry," she said almost sincerely. It would have been sincere if Bella had caught her on her first day on the job. Bella nodded, feeling the tears in her eyes. She turned around, determined not to cry in front of these people, and went to sit at a table that had almost cleared. She sat quietly at the table and watched as the other women ate their meals with no disregard for her. Her fingers kept toying with each other and occasionally she would pinch herself to distract her stomach from growling and distract her from crying. Her hand was still bleeding a bit and she watched it for a few moments as it slowly dripped down her wrist. She had nothing to wipe it on so it was best to let it dry along her arm.
Suddenly, during her gazing, she realized that the entire cafeteria had gone silent again. It was just like before when she first arrived and Bella looked up to see that everyone was looking at her. She returned their looks before her gaze fell upon what had caused the silence. The same woman that had knocked her tray was standing up, facing her. She was hideous and evil and quite angry looking. Her nose was squashed and crooked and she looked to have just a thin line for an upper lip. She had one eyebrow that stretched across both eyes and grisly green teeth. And Bella had somehow made enemies with her.
"Hey, didn't you like your meal, whitey?" she shouted, noting how the minions behind her chuckled. Bella looked fearfully to the guards closest to her, but they paid her no mind. They stood and stared straight ahead, ignoring all that was unfolding around them. She felt her body begin to tremble and the ugly woman's face contorted into a grimace.
"Did you hear me? You gonna answer my question?" she shouted, stepping closer. "Because if you didn't like your meal, I can offer a suggestion or two." The woman mispronounced 'suggestion' but Bella still gathered the full weight of what it meant. She wanted to get up and run, but her jelly legs were glued to the bench .The ugly woman started stepping closer and closer until she was in front of Bella. She leaned her strong arms on the table and Bella found that she couldn't look at them. She didn't belong here. She shouldn't be here right now, enduring any of this brutality.
"You deaf?" Ugly asked, slamming her fists on the metal table. Bella jumped at that and Ugly scoffed. "You ain't deaf, so you're just stupid. Well, don't worry, whitey, because I am a very good teacher." Ugly laughed and brought her hand back. Bella winced, bringing her hands to cover her face and preparing herself as best as she could for the blow.
A tray was slammed down on a metal table, breaking the silence. Bella winced again, though she hadn't been hit, and allowed one eye out to look around. Ugly had recoiled and was looking just to Bella's left. Bella glanced that way and her hands fell limply from her face, plopping into her lap. The Bloody Bride had taken a seat next to her. And her tray, which was untouched, was the one that had slammed on the table. Bella looked back and forth between Ugly and Pretty. Both were glaring hard at each other, though Pretty's seemed to be much more intimidating. After a few seconds, The Bloody Bride lifted her hand and placed it on the edge of her tray and slid it towards Bella. Her hand let go of the tray and then her pristine eyebrow rose, challenging Ugly to continue, if she wished. Ugly looked her over for a few minutes more, then looked back at Bella, then shrugged and walked away.
Bella took her first breath in a long time then, letting out small gasps as she tried to calm down. The Bloody Bride looked her over with a strange expression. When Bella calmed down, she smiled at The Bride, and slid the tray back over to her. "Thank you," she mumbled, saddened by the fact that she had let her food go. The Bride gave Bella the same eyebrow raise and slid the tray back over to her. Bella looked at the food, then thanked her again. The Bride still didn't say anything, but instead hiked up her dress, exposing her thigh and stocking. Bella's eyes widened at the sight but then focused on The Bride's hand, which slipped inside her stocking and pulled out a white handkerchief. She held it out and Bella in return held out her good hand, not wanting to dirty what looked like expensive fabric. The Bride made the first sound Bella ever heard then. She scoffed. She scoffed and grabbed for Bella's injured hand, placing the handkerchief in it and applying pressure. Bella hissed at the pain and The Bride stood, leaving the article in her hand. The cafeteria remained silent, everyone's eyes on her as she crossed the room and headed out the door to the recreation area.
When the sound of doors shutting echoed through the cafeteria voices rose again. They were tentative and occasionally eyes would shoot to Bella. But no one bothered her, and for that she was more than grateful to her cellmate. The goop and sausage patty tasted delicious and Bella smiled as she finished it off, using the clean part of the handkerchief to wipe her face. She would clean it, of course, because it was stained with blood and sweat. But for now, she would use it.
"You are one lucky broad," a girl said, sitting across from Bella with her tray. Bella hitched for a moment, but saw that there was no malice in this girl's eyes. Just disbelief. Her hair was wet from the shower and a stringy sort of blonde shade. She didn't look as grotesque as the other girls, which led Bella to believe that she was fairly new here.
"What do you mean?"
"You've got The Bloody Bride on your back! Anyone in this place would kill…again, to have her on their side. You saw what she did to Vaudeville." The girl gestured to Ugly, apparently Vaudeville, and shook her head. "Next to The Bloody Bride, Vaudeville is the most intimidating dame here. But she ain't gonna mess with you no more. No one is. Cept for maybe the guards." The girl lowered her head, her eyes darting to the nearest guard. Bella looked over at them, then lowered her head to be eye level with the girl.
"Why should I worry about the guards?"
"You know why Vaudeville called you 'whitey?' It's cause you ain't been touched yet. You're pure, a virgin."
"I'm not a—
"In here, you're a virgin. They decide when you aren't." She gestured again to the guards and Bella gasped, growing red in the cheeks.
"You mean they…"
"This is prison, honey, what do you expect? Speaking of, why you in here?"
Bella shrugged, feeling her throat go dry. "I'm not supposed to be in here," was she said. The girl seemed to understand that for she didn't pry. She merely nodded and slurped some of her goop. Bella then looked to her and motioned towards outside. "What did The Bloody Bride do?" The girl looked up again, smiling as if she'd been waiting for that question.
"You didn't read about that? It was all over the papers? I read it when I was still out of this joint." Bella shook her head and the girl shrugged before continuing. "Well, The Bloody Bride is actually the daughter of a wealthy banker, yeah? And she was engaged to the bank's next prodigy. Then, one night she just snapped. Came home all disheveled, put on her wedding dress, went down to the bank and just slaughtered her husband. Apparently she'd scared him prior, because her fiancé locked himself in a bank vault with two guards! She killed them both in her wedding dress! I bet she didn't get the deposit on that one back."
The girl chuckled and Bella glared at her, silencing her for the moment. Then the girl shrugged, playing with her goop. "And now you're her new cellmate. You wanna know what happened to The Bloody Bride's last cellmate? Now, this was before I was here, she's lived by herself for a time. But I heard that the last cellmate of The Bloody Bride was found in her bed with both her wrists slit. She bled through the entire mattress. But here's the kicker: this girl was on the top bunk!" The girl's eyes widened and Bella made a rather disgusted face. "That's right! She was on the top bunk and bled all the way through! The Bloody Bride never woke up! Yeah, the guards came to get them in the morning for their shower and the both of them were covered in blood!
"Then, when they finally woke The Bloody Bride up, she was completely unfazed. They said that she looked from one blood soaked arm to the other, then brought a bloody hand to her face and looked at the guard. Then she stood and walked down the walkway towards the shower. Everyone thought she was a ghost raised from the dead. It was probably just how she looked when she murdered those people before. Course, I'd like to think her dress was a bit more fancy than this here tarp we have to wear." The girl gestured to her clothes and Bella nodded.
"But she didn't kill the girl. It was just suicide. She could have been in shock for all you know," Bella challenged, watching as the girl's eyes hardened.
"Let me tell you something, whitey. Being in a place like this makes you more human than you can know right now. I've seen the biggest and the baddest break down over something as small as a torn dress. So for The Bloody Bride to have acted like she did, she had to have known. Hell, she probably liked the blood bath she got. Good for the skin, don't you know?"
The girl broke into a rather disgusting fit of laughter and Bella found that she couldn't sit with her anymore. She rose from her chair and headed out to the recreation area. Could someone like her really be so murderous? She seemed so…well, Bella didn't know. She'd only known her for a few hours and they hadn't spoken once. But, The Bride didn't have to protect her. She was under no such obligation to protect her. Bella looked around the recreation area and saw The Bride off in a corner. She was in shadow again, leaning against a wall with her arms crossed as she watched everyone else attempt to enjoy themselves.
Bella cradled the handkerchief in her hands, then looked over to her guardian. She looked at the way she grimaced and the way she let her fit body fall against the wall. And it was then that Bella Swan decided to get to know this Bloody Bride better.
War and Peace
It had taken copious amounts of scrubbing and hard work, but Bella had finally gotten every stain out of the handkerchief. It had taken her a course of three days to get it all out, and she was certainly proud of her work. As she'd suspected, the fabric was very nice and it took a careful eye to make sure that none of it was ruined in the process. Now that it was dry, Bella waved it around a bit, watching the wind catch under it and ruffle it beautifully, just like The Bride's hair. Bella shook her head at herself. Five days at this place and she still hadn't learned her protector's real name. Of course, The Bride didn't help. What with her glaring and reserve, Bella could hardly keep her heart rate down enough to speak to her. So she hadn't. But today was different. Today she had a real motive, and a peace offering. She made her way from the bathroom down the walkway. All of the cells were open and while some people shot glares at her, no one dared try anything. Not while she was under The Bloody Bride's care. Not that she'd needed it in the past few days, but it was nice to have.
Bella made it into her cell and looked up to the top bunk. The Bride was sitting there, head bent, reading a novel. She liked to read a lot, Bella deducted. Perhaps that was something they could discuss, later on, because she liked to read too. As usual, The Bride paid her no mind when she entered. But Bella smiled at her anyway, just in case she was looking through her peripherals. She headed up to the side of their beds and stood on her tip toes, which brought her forehead just up the mattress. Still The Bride paid no mind to her wandering forehead, and simply turned the page of her book.
"Um, ma'am?" Bella asked quietly, relaxing back onto her feet. The Bride looked up, then leaned over and looked down, giving Bella her full attention. Though Bella could tell by her expression that whatever she had to say had better be good. Bella smiled again, feeling color run to her cheeks, and she extended the handkerchief to her cellmate. The Bride watched it as it dangled in her hand for a moment, then took it, taking extra care not to touch her cellmate's fingers.
"Thank you, for all of your help that day, including the handkerchief," Bella said calmly as she could. The Bride merely nodded, clamping the handkerchief firmly in her hand and returning to her book. Bella looked on for a few more minutes, then became slightly annoyed. "So, are you a mute?"
The Bride looked to her with a rather obvious expression that gave Bella the answer. She blushed and The Bride went back to her book yet again. She gave a loud sigh and Bella caught the hint of her annoyance. However, she wouldn't be deterred just yet. Tentatively, she placed her foot on the mattress of her bed and gripped the underside of the top bunk. Using her legs she thrust herself upward so that she was standing on her mattress, almost eye level with The Bride. "Look, we're cellmates, right? And by the looks of things we're gonna be stuck together for a long time. I think the least we could do is strike up a conversation now and then? You might be able to live happily without speaking but I, if you couldn't tell, need to talk just a little bit."
The Bride's eyes slowly lifted from her book and Bella could tell by her eyes that she wasn't ready for speaking just yet. So she took the chance at glancing at the book. "War and Peace, huh? Can't say I've read that one yet. It's fairly dark, isn't it?" The Bride met her with no response but her eyes continued to pour into Bella's. The brunette felt her cheeks blushing as she sought for some other type of conversation, something to make this woman open up. She sighed heavily, and when she did so one of her feet slipped off of her mattress. Bella gasped, preparing to grab on for dear life even if it resulted in a couple of broken fingers and closed her eyes, feeling the weight of her body start to pull her down onto the concrete floor.
A petit wrist shot and Bella felt her arm suddenly enclosed in long fingers. The arm held her long enough for Bella to regain her footing and continued holding a few moments after. Bella looked at the hand and followed it up the arm until it revealed The Bride's face. She looked rather pissed at the fact that she had to save this girl yet again, but somewhere hidden in those glare lines, Bella knew that she was relieved. "Thanks again," Bella murmured, gesturing with her head to the woman's arm. The Bride's grip loosened and she slowly pulled her hand back until it was resting on the page of her book.
"What's your name?" Bella inquired. The Bride looked to her and Bella shrugged. "I don't like your nickname. It's very negative and it doesn't seem to suit you."
"It suits me," The Bride whispered, the first tones of her voice hitting Bella. Her voice was low but still feminine. And it was soothing. Bella imagined for a moment if The Bride read her books out loud, how much more beautiful they would become.
"So, it's fine with you if I see you in the cafeteria and say 'Hi, The Bloody Bride, how are you doing? That's just peachy?"
"I don't want you to say anything to me at all." The Bride glared then and Bella felt her eyes shooting daggers into her body. It caused her heart to race and she gulped a bit. The Bride seemed pleased with this and she smirked ever so slightly.
"Okay, you don't want me to speak and yet you saved me from Vaudeville. And you saved me just again right here. What's up with that? You seem like a fairly kind person to me."
"Well you don't know me, do you?"
"Well then let's start! Hi, I'm Bella Swan. I'm your new cellmate. What's your name?"
Bella stuck her hand out, balancing herself with her other arm and waited patiently. The Bride looked back and forth from Bella's hand to her book. Her brow creased and she closed her eyes for a moment, letting out a thoughtful sigh. Just as Bella was about to retract her arm, The Bride opened her eyes again. Ever so slowly, her hand came out and was placed in Bella's.
"It's nice to meet you, Bella. I'm Rosalie Lillian Hale," she said, almost professionally. Her grip on Bella's hand was firm, yet feminine and her fingers were so very soft. It was as if she'd done this before, time and time again. Perhaps it was because of her well to do family. Bella squeezed her hand a bit too tightly than necessary and couldn't help the grin that spread onto her face.
"You have a lovely name. Much more suiting to you than your nickname."
Rosalie glowered then and Bella jumped as her book slapped shut. She leaned over on the bed and made her face come very close to Bella's. "Let's make something clear, okay? I don't want to be your friend. I don't want anything to do with you. I liked you fine when you said nothing at all to me, so let's try to keep it that way, yeah?"
Bella gulped and for a moment considered challenging the woman, but thought better of it. She was in a bit of a precarious situation at the moment and one thump to the head would send her flying backwards. So she sighed sadly and let herself fall to the floor. Rosalie did not watch her as she did so and from her point on the floor Bella could hear that she had opened the book again. "Well, I'm here, just so you know," Bella called, unable to see Rosalie as her face was cast in shadow again. "If you need to talk or if you want a book recommendation. Or hell, if you want my lunch money, I'm just down here." The sound of a page turning was heard and Bella sighed as she rolled into her bed and tucked herself into the worn covers. A page was turned again, and if she thought she was alone before, that was nothing to how she felt now.
"Lights out, Ladies."
The guards had been looking at Bella rather strangely. She tried not to make eye contact with them but every time she did there was a wiggle of the eyebrow or a strange smirk. It never failed to give her the shivers and the words of the girl that she'd met in the cafeteria rang through her mind often. However, nothing had been done to her yet and she was still slightly hopeful that the girl's words were just a scare tactic. Not that she needed any more of those. Rosalie continued to ignore her and when she did show her any sort of attention it was in the form of a scowl or glare or variant of. And while Bella was saddened that she had failed in her attempts to make a friend, she still had her protection. Rosalie allowed Bella to follow her around, sit next to her in the cafeteria and just generally be in her vicinity. That was coming in handy now, especially since Vaudeville and her group had been giving her strange eyes lately.
The only time when Bella could really relax was when she was in the shower. The water was warm and lasted fairly long for prison terms. She liked the way that it washed over her in waves, warming the parts of her that were always cold and making her feel clean. That was the only time she felt clean, when the water was upon her. The minute it was shut off she was just as dirty as when she started. Feeling particularly dirty and alone this morning, Bella finished scrubbing quickly and closed her eyes, allowing the warm water to spread over her face. Doors were opening and closing around her and she heard the shuffling of clothes and sporadic water splashes and she took a deep breath, feeling the way it filled her lungs.
Then it was just a bit too quiet.
Bella's eyes shot open and she looked immediately to her left, where Rosalie had been showering. She was gone, her water shut off. Bella began to panic as she did a 180 in search of her protector. She was nowhere to be found, her clothes missing from the bench next to Bella's. Figures were approaching to her left and Bella looked to the guards. They were staring straight ahead. Closing her eyes, Bella tried to keep her breathing even as the figures came closer.
"Hey, whitey," Vaudeville said, her guttural voice spilling over the showers, "I hear that you killed your husband and the cops 'cain't find the body. I didn't think you had it in you." Bella shook her head, her body trembling, and she opened her eyes to face Vaudeville. She was also naked and Bella was bound and determined to keep her eyes on her face. "Aw, don't tell me you're innocent, whitey," Vaudeville sneered, edging closer. Bella watched as the water beaded off her cracked, beyond repair hair. Her scalp was gray, like the rest of her body and Bella shook her head again.
"I am innocent."
"That was the wrong thing to say," Vaudeville answered happily, looking around the showers. "Say, where's your bride? She finally decide to let you fend for yourself?" Bella didn't answer and Vaudeville gave a grisly chuckle. "Well, you know, I'm okay with that. Because I been waiting a goddamned long time to do this."
Bella felt hands on her head and in an instant it collided with the tile wall. She felt warmth oozing from her scalp and looked again to the guards. They stared straight ahead. Rosalie was gone. "Hey, when you wake up, make sure The Bloody Bride is clear on who runs this joint!" Vaudeville shouted, the sound stinging in her victim's ears. The room was starting to spin and Bella watched Vaudeville's mangled fist coming towards her. It was the last thing she saw.
"Isabella? Isabella, wake up."
The voice was old, snarly, and she didn't like the way it made her head feel. Bella opened her eyes, noting that her right eye hurt if she opened it too widely, and watched as the blackness turned into a blur and the blur focused. The room was too white and it hurt her head again. She threw her arm over her forehead to provide some shade for her eyes and looked at the man speaking to her. His white lab coat answered her questions that he was a doctor. He smiled at her, because he thought that he had to, and shined another light in her eyes. Bella grimaced, feeling her body ache all over as she did so. The doctor nodded and wrote something on a chart.
"She's good to go," he said, turning to a guard that was waiting in the room. "Just make sure you pay attention next time." The doctor's eyes turned into a glare as they fell upon the guard and he merely shrugged, throwing Bella her uniform. Trembling from fatigue Bella clambered off of the hospital bed and took her gown off. She replaced it with what felt like a clean uniform and slipped her shoes on. The guard seemed patient enough, albeit apathetic and when she finally straightened up he grabbed her by the arm and led her out the door.
Bella was in a state of shock as the guard led her out of the hospital and into the prison van. It wasn't until she was helped into the back of the van and the door slammed shut that she really woke up. The guard climbed into the driver's seat and Bella edged her way over to the front of the car. It was covered with wire mesh but she could still see the rearview mirror very clearly through it. Her face was a sappy looking yellow color and bags were dangling from her eyes. The entire right side of her face was a giant purple bruise and Bella saw the tinges of green around the rim of it. Her eye was swollen and she was surprised that she could open it at all. Gently she ran her hand through her hair, noting that it was caked with blood, and winced as her fingers brushed across the contact point.
"Hey, don't touch it," the guard ordered, causing Bella to draw back. He lifted up in his chair and shot her a glance. "The doc said not to touch it or it might open again. You gotta be careful for a few more days, kid." Bella looked intently at the guard's face that she saw in the mirror and noted that he wasn't one of the ones on duty when she was assaulted. Still, it didn't stop her from glaring at him, despite the fact that she let her hand fall. The guard shook his head and continued driving and it was silent for the rest of the journey.
When they returned to the prison the guard helped Bella down and kept a firm grasp on her arm as he led her through the doors. "Now, sorry to say that you missed breakfast, kid. But lunch isn't five minutes away. Hand this here slip to one of the cooks and they'll give you an extra helping or two. Ain't nobody gonna bother you for a few days. They don't want the medical bills." Bella took the note that he offered and stuffed it in her pocket, choosing to let her head fall as they headed down the walkway. Most of the inmates were out and about, enjoying their free time before lunch and Bella was grateful that she didn't see many of them as they passed.
What she hadn't really thought about was the fact that Rosalie hardly ever left her room. Today was no different and as the guard pulled her in front of her cell, letting her go to walk in freely, Bella heard the shuffling of clothes. There was a sudden smack as Rosalie's bare feet hit the concrete. Being much taller than Bella she towered over her, her eyes roving over Bella's injuries. Bella kept her eyes down, feeling ashamed like she had somehow let Rosalie down. Rosalie's hand lifted briefly before it hitched in mid air. Bella glanced at it and looked up towards her cell mate. Rosalie's face was hard, concerned and it held a bit of anger to it. Bella closed her eyes and lifted her head as much as the pain would allow. "Vaudeville told me to make sure that you were clear on who runs this joint," she repeated robotically. Rosalie's brow furrowed but Bella held up her hands.
"I should be able to take care of myself. I'm sorry," she said right as the buzzer sounded for lunch. Rosalie made no response to that and Bella turned around and trudged down the walkway. Rosalie followed but did nothing more.
By the time they made it to the cafeteria most of the inmates had already gotten their meal. Bella stood in line patiently and when the time came she handed her note to the cook who nodded and placed two slices of meatloaf on her tray instead of one. Bella was quite aware of the gnawing hunger in her stomach but felt that if she were to eat this she would vomit. However, she took it and turned to find a seat. She sat down lazily, her tray clanking on the table as she did so. Rosalie sat down next to her and Bella noticed that there was no food on it. She looked over at her cellmate and their eyes met for a moment before the doors opened once more.
Late as always, Vaudeville walked through the parting doors with her posse. She was laughing and showing off her fist to the group but her eyes were scanning the lunch room. When they fell upon Bella she smiled and then looked to Rosalie. Vaudeville made some sort of hand gesture to her posse and proceeded to walk down the rows of tables toward them. Bella looked to the guards and found that they were indeed alert, gripping their Billy clubs should the violence come to that. There was the sliding of metal on metal and Bella looked over to see Rosalie standing up. She held the tray limply in her palm and joined Vaudeville in her walk down the rows. They met in the middle and Rosalie tilted her head to Bella, watching as Vaudeville showed off her mangled teeth.
"I see you saw my handiwork!" Vaudeville shouted so that the entire lunchroom heard. "And I hope that your whitey passed on the message." She then grimaced and stepped closer to Rosalie, their faces inches apart. Bella watched as Vaudeville's hand curled into an all too familiar fist and she gripped the sides of the table fearfully.
"So, Bridey, are we clear?" Vaudeville asked, her voice just a shrill hiss among the silent cafeteria. Rosalie looked back to Bella, then looked Vaudeville over, her gorgeous violet eyes scoping over the hideousness that stood before her. Then, Bella watched the tray tighten in her hand. Before anyone had a chance to see it coming, Rosalie brought the tray up into the both of her hands and slammed it across Vaudeville's face.
The sound echoed through the cafeteria and the guards ran forward as Vaudeville fell, the rest of her teeth beating her to the floor. Rosalie stood triumphantly over her for a moment, then let the tray fall where it landed lightly on Vaudeville's injured cheek. "I think we're clear," she said before a guard picked her up about the waist. In an instant another one had the both of her feet and they proceeded to head to the door. A sudden hum filled the cafeteria as Rosalie was carried away. It rose and rose with each step of the guards. The inmates were jumping from their chairs, clapping and whooping and hollering at the fallen Vaudeville who had more victims than Bella knew. But the noise that clambered above all others was the chant. The chant that no longer held malice or fear, but hope and triumph. Pretty soon even Bella stood, raising her fist high in the air with the others as she screamed out as loud as she could:
"Bloody Bride, Bloody Bride, Bloody Bride."
Speak to Me
Rosalie's actions had not only put Vaudeville in the hospital, but it also got her a week of solitary confinement. Bella found that hard to swallow. For now not even Rosalie's presence could comfort her like it used to. Every night for the past week she had found herself waking up screaming or sobbing to the silence that welcomed her. She didn't like being alone. She missed Rosalie. She missed her protector.
The only productive thing that came from the week was a visit from Bella's lawyer. He was the standard issue that was provided with each inmate that couldn't afford their own. He smiled at Bella and while it was fake, it comforted her. They were sitting in a private room. He had one hour to spend with her and Bella intended to make the most of it.
"So, kid, tell me your story," he said with a grin as if this was all a game to her.
"You haven't read up on my case Mr. Delaine?"
"Of course I have, kid. But these are just words. I wanna know the truth. And tell me the god's honest truth. You've already put in a plea of not guilty and trust me, if you did do it I don't care enough to let technicalities get in the way." He pulled a cigar from his vest and offered one to Bella, who declined. He then proceeded to light it and while waving the smoke away from his face, waved her on to continue.
Bella held her shaking hands together. She looked to the corner where a shadow had fallen and imagined her protector standing against it. Her arms would be crossed and she would be looking at Bella with a 'just tell him' expression. That thought comforted her and Bella sighed, starting from the top.
"Edward's family never cared for me much. I mean, Edward's father was a doctor and Edward was following in his footsteps. But my father was a patrolman and while that's an honorable job, they aren't exactly in the same class. But Edward and I fell in love! We were in love and no one could see that. Well, my father could but he didn't have much say in matters of anything, as far as Edward's father was concerned.
"Because of his father, Edward was growing tenser around me. He loved me and I could see that he did. But he found it hard to distinguish reality from his father's propaganda. I tried as best as I could to please him, but he wouldn't have any of it. This started from when we first met up until the day before the…incident." Bella's breathing hitched and the lawyer nodded to her to regain her composure before continuing.
"Then, on March 14, 1933 I came home from work- I worked as a secretary for the Rochester Times-Union—and I found Edward's coat lying on the chair. The light was on in the bathroom and I thought that maybe he was in the tub, relaxing like he does…did. Well, I went to the bathroom to greet him and I found him face down in the tub, stark naked. It looked like he had d-drowned."
Bella paused again, the tears filling her eyes as she flashed back to that night. "His legs were up in the air because he was a big, strong man and he couldn't fit all the way in the tub like that and I tried to pull him out but he was so slippery and wet and I couldn't do anything for a few moments but scream. It wasn't until Jim McCafferty from next door came over about the screaming that I could do anything. But I swear I didn't do it, Mr. Delaine. That's the god's honest truth!"
Mr. Delaine nodded slowly, puffing on his cigar as he looked over his client. "So, you're telling me that somehow this man drowned himself? You're aware that that's physically impossible to do by yourself without some contributing factors. Your lover could not have just put his head under water and inhaled. It's not that simple."
"I know it's not that simple."
"How much do you weigh, kid?"
"About 130 pounds."
"And how much did Edward weigh?"
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe 175, 180? He was muscular, but lean."
"We might have a case then, kid. If this guy weighed as much as you said and we can find pictures of his muscle, I might let you off the hook. Gimme a few days to scrounge up some stuff and I'll get back to you, okay?"
Bella nodded and Mr. Delaine stood, escorting the woman out of the room, where a guard was waiting to take her the rest of the way. When Bella reached her cell, she found another woman was inside of it, crouched on the floor, looking at something. Blonde ringlets fell down her back beautifully and Bella gasped, startling the woman. "Rosalie!" Bella shouted in a hushed whisper, flinging herself towards her cellmate. Rosalie turned around just in time to be greeted with a hug. Her arms stiffened but she didn't push Bella away and Bella's grin widened as she sighed into Rosalie's uniform. "Oh, Rosalie, it's been just terrible without you," she said, finally pulling away. Rosalie looked rather confused for a moment, then changed the subject, stepping to the side and gesturing to the pile of books on the floor that she had just been crouched over.
"Oh, I got those for you from the library. It's sort of like a welcome back present," Bella said, heading over to the novels. "I hope you don't mind, but I got some choices that were a bit happier than the subjects you've been reading. I like Shakespeare a lot, if you can't tell." Rosalie nodded and they both crouched down on the floor, sifting through the novels. Bella would gather them and present them to her cellmate along with a brief summary. If Rosalie liked the way it sounded, she would grab it. If not, she would merely push it with her hand and Bella would get the point. When they were about halfway through the stack Rosalie reached out and grasped Bella's wrist. Bella looked up and noticed that Rosalie was studying her face intently.
She let go of Bella's wrist and brought her hand up to gently caress the healing bruise on Bella's cheek. Bella smiled and closed her eyes at the frail touch. "It's almost gone. Thank you…for doing that. And I think I speak on behalf of everyone here." Rosalie caressed her cheek once more, then let it fall to the books.
"I don't like it when people take advantage of others," she said simply, looking to the books.
"You're a very kind person, Rosalie."
"No, Bella, I'm not. I'm a damned person." Rosalie's tone was cold and biting and she stood quickly. Bella followed suit but the blonde paid her no mind as she threw her new selection of books to the top bunk and then followed after them. She situated herself like she normally did and cracked open the first one that her hand found. Bella watched her from the ground, her shoulders sinking. When no response was made from Rosalie after a few minutes Bella picked up her own book and crawled into bed.
"I wish you would speak to me," she whispered to the top mattress, wondering if Rosalie could even hear her. "Because I want to hear what you have to say." No response was made and Bella shook her head, opening her book to try and drown her thoughts with words.
After showering the next morning, Bella was called to the visiting room. Her first reaction was that she was supposed to clean it. Because there was no one that Bella knew of that would visit her. She was nothing before Edward, and she was nothing without him now. Bella sighed as she headed down the walkway next to a guard, wishing that she had someone to talk to. Rosalie hadn't given her so much as a passing glance and while Bella knew that she shouldn't care, she did. Terribly.
The guard had moved slightly ahead of her now and he pulled the door open for her, allowing Bella to enter what looked like a small office. Inside there was a simple card table and two folding chairs. The one closest to the door was her for her and the other one was occupied by a man. A man that made goosebumps rise on Bella's arms and turned her feet cold. He stood about six foot four and sat down straight and tall in the chair with his hands clasped in front of him. His blonde hair was gelled back without a single strand out of place and baby blue eyes were boring into her. By the looks of him it would seem that he had just gotten off work and a stethoscope still hung from around his neck. For a moment Bella pictured him on top of her, using the stethoscope to strangle her. It was a bizarre thought, but it didn't ease her nerves in the slightest.
"Dr. Cullen," Bella said with a wavering voice as she took her seat. The guard shut the door behind her and then stood in front of it, tuning out the conversation as he had been trained to do so many times before.
Dr. Cullen nodded and slowly unclasped his hands, sliding them across the table and bringing them back to rest at his sides. "Bella, I understand that you've entered a plea of not guilty."
"Haven't you caused enough pain for this family?"
Bella winced at his words. She knew that it was coming; that civility would only last for so long. Dr. Carlisle Cullen, Edward's father to be more specific, had never liked her. In fact, he was the first one that had accused Bella of murdering his son.
Bella remembered that night vividly. Edward lying face down in the tub, his bronze hair waving at her from under the water. His body had grown swollen and wet and the smell was terrible. She remembered closing her eyes and picking his jacket up from off of the chair, bringing it to her nose and smelling that familiar and beautiful scent that was Edward. It was worn and smelled of ink and Edward's own personal scent. She used to fall asleep to that smell, nestled into his side. And now, now she couldn't stand the smell of ink. It made her vomit and she was thankful that all of the books in this prison library were old and had lost their smell.
Her neighbor had pulled Bella away from Edward's side, and she could fell the sticky residue of his decay on her cheek as she was carried out of the room and thrown on the bed. Everything that happened next was a blur but somehow no time passed in between her finding Edward and the police and Carlisle arriving. She remembered hearing his voice as he ran up the stairs to her tiny apartment. It was a roar and reminded her of a lion, which reminded her of Edward and she started crying again.
She remembered that he seemed to have stumbled over the doorjamb when he entered and then as he regained his balance his eyes never left hers. Then he gripped the side of the door and raced over to the bathroom, letting out an all too familiar sound as he discovered his son. Bella fell then, into a fetal position on the bed and listened carelessly as Carlisle blubbered over his lost son. It wasn't until he had come back into the room and grabbed Bella's shoulders, shaking her, that Bella awoke from her catatonia.
"How could you do this?" he had shouted, the guards pulling him away and off of her. "You murdered my son! You bitch, you…you murdered my Edward!"
The lines rang through clearly in Bella's head over and over again. She hated them so much and she hated the bearer of those words. His Edward…it almost seemed like a cruel joke. Edward never liked his father. He had often told Bella this. If Edward was anyone's, he was hers. He was her Edward, not Carlisle's. The doctor made a sort of impatient sound and Bella jumped at it, feeling her palms start to sweat.
"I don't mean to cause your family anymore pain, sir. But I did not murder Edward and that is the god's honest truth," Bella answered quietly in hopes that it would keep the waiver out of her voice. Carlisle's posture tightened and Bella took her lip on her bottom teeth, praying that the guard was keeping careful watch.
Carlisle had slapped her once. It was on one of the most horrible nights of her life. Edward had invited her over for dinner and a chance to finally meet his parents. She remembered that he had gushed about them so, especially his caring mother. And he talked dotingly about his father too. His father's success and how he had raised him to be a real man. Bella had commented about Edward being a real man and it resulted in his booming laughter that was followed by a kiss.
The house had been gargantuan and beautiful and intimidating. Bella noted the ivy that was growing up and along the white columns of the house and was pleasantly surprised that Edward knew the name of it. Esme, his mother, had been an absolute joy when they first met. She remembered her heart shaped face and the way that she had hugged Bella. Bella knew that it was a motherly hug and her eyes almost watered at the absence of her own parents. Carlisle had been working let but she assured us that he would come in time for dinner.
And he did. She remembered him rushing into the house, breathless, and kissing his wife. He then gave Edward two pats on the shoulder and greeted him. Edward returned his large smile and then turned to Bella, introducing them. He extended his hand and she took it, noting that his smile faded to simple etiquette. Bella wasn't quite sure what to make of it but by that time dinner was ready and nothing more could be said.
Dinner was wonderful and filled with great conversation…from Esme. Bella tried not to look but every once in awhile she would steal a glance and Carlisle and note that he was playing with his food, not bothering to carry on in the conversation. It insulted her, but what could be done about it. Edward had seemed to notice though she could see his passive aggression had gotten the better of him and that nothing was going to be said on the matter.
It wasn't until after dinner that things really took a turn for the worst. Bella had offered to help Esme with the dishes, insisting and soon got her wish. Carlisle then asked to speak to Edward alone, pouring him a drink. It seemed to last long, their talk, but Bella didn't mind as Esme was wonderful company. To this day, Bella knew somewhere in the back of her mind that Esme knew she was innocent.
And then, during the middle of drying the final dish, their voices escalated. Both Bella and Esme had turned to the direction of the study, listening intently as the two men's voices tried to roar over one another's. Bella felt herself shaking and Esme seemed to have blanked out, as if this sort of thing happened all of the time. Then Edward had shouted that they were leaving and it would be a miracle if they ever came back. Bella remembered it all so clearly. Edward rushed into the room, never forgetting that crooked smile when he laid eyes on Bella, and took her hand. He kissed his mother goodbye, who was still in her strange daze and started to pull Bella out of the house.
"We're leaving," he had said to her. "I'm so sorry for putting you through all of this." Bella remembered opening her mouth to respond but not getting the chance as Carlisle burst from the room, chasing after his son and grabbing his arm.
"Why are you wasting your life on this woman? Look at her, Edward! She'll never become what you want her to be!"
"I don't want her to be anything but herself! I love her, father!"
Edward then had gestured to their clasped hands and Bella realized that for the first time he had seen the engagement ring. She remembered his eyes and the way they had turned dark and sinister. And the look in his eyes when they were laid upon Bella's again and even though she saw his hand raise, she didn't think that he would actually do it. But he did. He raised his hand and brought it across her cheek so violently that Bella couldn't help but cry out. However, her pain was soon forgotten as Edward lost all of his control. He lunged at his own father, knocking him to the floor and Bella watched in horror as Edward kept bringing his fist back and down, back and down again in a terrifying rhythm.
Bella didn't know just how much time had passed in that moment. She didn't remember leaving the house either. But she didn't remember sitting in Edward's car, cradling her knees to her chest as Edward drove viciously down the road. He was too angry to speak and she knew this. She knew that he was hurting just as much as she was if not more and allowed him to drive as silently and recklessly as he liked down the road. She remembered him crying that night. He tried to tell her how sorry he was as they lay naked together in her tiny bed. He tried to tell her but the words came out choked and he ended up burying his head in her chest, trying desperately to keep his composure. She had held him tightly, rocking him back and forth as he struggled with his demons. In the end, she supposed they won.
"You will not win this case. You're putting Esme and me into an even greater depression by prolonging this." Carlisle's eyes started to water and he scooted back in his chair. "How…how could you?"
Bella licked her lips and looked away. She couldn't meet his eyes. She didn't know what to say. It was then that her mind flocked to Rosalie. She saw that cold exterior and then smiled at the thought of what lied beneath. She still didn't know what lied beneath, but she knew that it was worth the fight. Perhaps the same was with Carlisle. Bella sighed and looked up again, meeting the doctor's eyes.
"Do you know what Edward's favorite book was, sir?" Bella asked.
Carlisle looked up at her and he glared but Bella could see that it was hollow and she smiled at him.
"His favorite book was 'Years of Grace' by Margaret Ayer Barnes. When he wasn't reading that, he was pouring over some handwritten notes you had given him, trying to see if there was something subtle you had slipped in there that he missed. He always loved your handwriting, doctor." Bella nodded once and then turned to the guard. "I'd like to go back to my cell, please."
The guard nodded and Bella was escorted out of the room, not bothering to give the doctor a second glance.
Someone was screaming. No, someone was moaning. Bella's eyes shot open and she listened into the dark night. It was probably early morning and she shivered underneath her sheets. The moaning started up again and Bella looked to the mattress over her head. Rosalie was writhing in her bed, producing the moans. Bella gulped and blushed, embarrassed at what she'd just woken up to. Then Rosalie let out a hiss and a…whimper? Something just didn't seem right about all of this. Bella crawled out of the covers and peered over the top bunk. The first thing she saw was the both of Rosalie's hands. That caused her immense relief at first, until she noticed that they were gripping the bed sheets. Her knuckles were pale and Bella could see her nails digging into her sheets. Her face was contorted into one of agony and her feet kicked violently against some unknown attacker.
Yet, despite her obvious retaliation to whatever was happening in the dream, she would still let out an occasional moan. A moan that Bella, and any other woman, knew all too well. Bella took her bottom lip in her teeth and hoisted herself up to get a better look at Rosalie. She'd often heard that you shouldn't wake people from their nightmares. But was this a nightmare? Either way, Rosalie was making a lot of noise. Bella looked her over once more and finally decided to let her ride the dream out. Just as she was about to climb down, Rosalie let out another whimper, stopping the brunette in her tracks.
"Please, please stop," she choked out, turning her head to the side and opening her mouth, only to close it again and grit her teeth. Bella watched as a tear fell from her eye and caught silver in the dim light of the prison. Her mind made up, Bella reached out and placed her hand on Rosalie's cheek.
"Hey, Rosalie, come on wake up," she said a little loudly, patting the girl's cheek with her palm. Rosalie continued to writhe and cry in her dreams and Bella felt tears coming to her own eyes as she saw the tortured soul before her. Closing her eyes, Bella brought her hand up, then back down, slapping the blonde hard across the fact. She opened her eyes to see Rosalie shoot up in bed. What happened next was a blur but suddenly Bella was on the floor, only to be picked up by her neck and slammed against the wall.
She tried to cry out in pain but found that she couldn't. She was slowly losing air as the grip on her neck tightened. Rosalie's eyes were angered and she was still crying but she appeared to still be in her dream. Using the last bit of strength that she could muster, Bella reached out with her hand and placed it against Rosalie's cheek again, softly like she'd done the first time.
Rosalie's eyes widened as if they'd been opened for the first time and she wrenched her hands away, allowing Bella to sink to the floor in a coughing fit. Her throat was raw and aching but she knew she would recover quickly. She could only hope that Rosalie wasn't too hurt by all of this. In a moment, Rosalie crouched down next to Bella, reaching out and placing her hand on her head. Bella smiled at her as she rubbed her throat. "You were having a nightmare. I…I thought it best to wake you," she croaked. She smiled again and Rosalie leaned forward, embracing her tightly. Though shocked at first, Bella quickly returned the hug, pressing herself into Rosalie's arms.
It had been so long since she'd been held by someone. And Rosalie was no Edward but Bella didn't want it that way. She wanted Rosalie's arms around her. She wanted to feel her strength and warmth and she wanted all of Rosalie. Rosalie seemed happy to comply for the moment and Bella felt her body shudder against her in controlled sobs. They held each other for a long time, neither of them knew just how long, before Rosalie finally pulled away. Her eyes were red and she sniffed lightly, sitting next to Bella. "I'm sorry," she said quietly.
"You didn't know what you were doing. Don't worry about it."
"But I hurt you. After all that you've been through, I was the one to hurt you." Rosalie lowered her head but it was quickly picked up as Bella placed her hand under her chin.
"You didn't hurt me. You were scared. I'm fine. Please don't be down on yourself. I hate to see you so sad."
Rosalie nodded and Bella rested her head against her shoulder as they lay against the concrete wall. After awhile Rosalie rested her head on Bella's, sighing almost contently. "Do you know why I'm in here?" Bella asked after a few moments.
"I know the rumors," Rosalie answered.
"Well, the rumors are only halfway true."
"They usually are."
Bella smiled softly and then proceeded to Rosalie of her story. She told her of how she and Edward met, about their love and about his family. She told her of the first time they made love, unashamed at her admissions, and when she found his body in the bathtub. By the time she'd finished, she was in tears, cradled in Rosalie's arms. Rosalie never once spoke during Bella's story and now that it was over, all she did was hush the sobbing girl as she let her emotions out once more. When Bella had calmed down, she stayed in Rosalie's arms, listening to her heartbeat as Rosalie rocked the both of them back and forth. In the midst of all of the silence, Bella had sort of hoped that Rosalie would open up too. Then maybe she could understand what it was about this woman that made her so proud yet so angry. So strong and yet so fragile. But Rosalie never said anything, and Bella fell asleep in her arms that night.
Bella woke up to the sound of clanging bars. She jumped, only to feel Rosalie's arms still secured around her. Looking up, she noticed that it was still dark outside. She couldn't have been asleep for more than a few hours, if that. A guard was standing at their cell with a cruel grin on his face. He slammed his Billy club against the bars a few more times, then gestured with his hand. "Come on, ladies, the tea party's over. I hear we got a whitey in this cell needs taking care of." The bars unhinged and slid back as Rosalie stood, helping Bella to her feet. The guard stepped in slowly, his boots echoing off the hard floor. He came over to Bella and used his Billy club to lift up her head. A flashlight was brought out from his other hand and Bella squinted as it shined in her eyes.
"You're not half bad," he said, clicking the light off and motioning her to follow him. "Come with me quietly and I promise you'll enjoy it." Bella's hands started to tremble as the rumors were slowly starting to come true. The guard motioned for her to follow again and she felt tears forming in her eyes. Cautiously, she took one step forward, only to feel Rosalie's hand on her shoulder.
"Take me instead," Rosalie said, stepping in front of Bella. The guard cocked his head to the side and stepped back into the cell, shining his light on Rosalie. He looked to be interested and Bella shook her head, grasping on to Rosalie's arm.
"Rosalie don't do this! You don't have to do this!" she shouted. Rosalie gave her arm a jerk and Bella's hands were torn away. The guard appeared to be confused for a moment and Rosalie stepped closer to him, flashing her violet eyes.
"Come on, you know you want me. Every guard in this joint wants The Bloody Bride, don't they?" The guard nodded and Rosalie smiled at him, stepping forward and out of the cell.
"Rosalie please!" Bella shouted, the noise echoing through complex. She raced to the bars and stuck her hand out, her fingers just barely managing to graze the fabric of the blonde's uniform. Rosalie stopped only for a moment and took Bella's hand in hers. She caressed it softly for a moment, then pushed Bella's hand back through the bars.
"You should be able to keep what innocence you have left. Save this for those who don't." She jerked her head towards the guard and blinked once before heading down the walkway. Bella watched her go until she disappeared down a hallway. Then she went to her bed and crawled under her covers and cried.
Rosalie returned sometime in the early morning. On the outside she didn't appear to be too harmed but Bella could tell by the way her eyes were glazed over that Rosalie was definitely not okay. The doors opened for her and she stepped inside. Bella wanted to lunge at her, embrace her, but she didn't know if that would be the best thing for her. When the bars shut behind her, Rosalie closed her eyes and took a deep breath. Then she looked to Bella and stared at her through hollow eyes before she made her way to the bed. She lifted one leg onto Bella's mattress and then put her head down, hissing a little bit. Then she turned to Bella. "Do you mind if I sleep on the bottom bunk for the rest of tonight?" she asked through gritted teeth.
"You shouldn't have done that, Rosalie."
"Well, I did. May I have your bed?"
"I could have…done that. I know I seem weak but you didn't have to do that, Rosalie!"
"Look, it's nothing I haven't experienced before, all right?" Rosalie shouted, causing Bella to jump. Rosalie sighed and ran a hand through her blonde hair, watching as the realization hit her cellmate's face. Bella's eyes widened as she connected the dots. Rosalie nodded and then gestured to the mattress. "So, for the final time, may I sleep down here tonight?" Bella nodded dumbly and Rosalie gently climbed into the bed. She winced a few times before turning on her side, letting out a small exhale. She stared at the wall for a bit, then turned her eyes to Bella, who was still staring down at her, tears running from her eyes.
"I assume you've also heard the rumors of how I got in here, haven't you?"
"Well, I'm sure they start out with me having a breakdown of some sort, don't they? I just snapped and went on a killing spree, right?"
Bella nodded again.
"You should value your innocence, Bella. It's something you can't get back you know."
"But I told you about my first time with Edward. I'm not inn—
"There's a difference, Bella. There's a big difference." Rosalie's eyes were hard and they pierced through Bella's core, causing her to ache in places she didn't know she had. Rosalie closed her eyes for a moment then licked her lips.
"I am Rosalie Lillian Hale and I was engaged to Royce King. He was the predecessor of the bank my father worked at. It was going to do us well to get married, move us up in the world. And Royce was very attractive. And I'm…well," Rosalie gestured to herself with her sculpted hand and Bella nodded. "Well, a few nights before the wedding I went to visit my friend, Vera. Let's just say she put some things into perspective for me. On the walk home I saw Royce coming out of a bar with his friends. I was content to just let him be but he saw me and called me over. He talked about how beautiful his fiancée was. One thing led to another and I guess you could say that was where I 'snapped.' The deprived me of my innocence, for I was virgin, and left me to die in that alleyway.
"But I wouldn't be dismissed so easily. I am Rosalie Lillian Hale. And I don't give up, nor do I give in. Royce must have known it too. As if he thought a couple of guards would stop me. Look at how beautiful I am? No one would have the strength to pull the trigger on me. And they didn't. And Royce lost at his own game."
Rosalie's eyes softened then and she traced the lining of her mattress. "You know, I really liked the fear that I saw in Royce's eyes when I killed him. The knife plunged into his gut with a most exquisite sound…I could have drank his blood after that it was so enticing. It pooled around my wedding dress and he looked…he looked almost sad about seeing it ruined. Whether that pertained to me or not I guess I'll never know. And now, not only am I destined to die here, knowing that I belong. But now, when I die, I'll be going to an even worse place. A place for the sinners…a place for the impure." She grimaced and Bella reached out, stroking her cheek.
"Rosalie, you're not damned."
Rosalie laughed sickly and shook her head. "I killed people, Bella. I'm fairly certain that's a mortal sin. I deserve my place in hell. I know that. But it doesn't mean I have to be happy about it."
"Yeah, well, if you go to hell then God is stupid."
Rosalie's eyes widened in shock before they turned into that glare that had so intimidated Bella before. But she was no longer afraid an instead nodded boldly in defiance of Rosalie's glare. "Yeah, I said it. Rosalie, there are truly terrible people in this world. You're not one of them. God was there with you that night, and he's here with you know. He knows you. And if he's anything like the god people boasts he is, then you have earned your place in heaven ten times over."
Rosalie seemed to mull over Bella's words for a moment. It took so long that Bella thought for a moment that she had gotten through to her. Then she scoffed and met Bella's eyes. "Would you believe that the guard tonight was gentler than my fiancée and his friends that night? And he wasn't gentle at all." Rosalie tried to laugh but it came out as a choked and reserved sob. "Just once before I die, I'd like to be kissed by someone, and have them actually love me back. But apparently that's a pretty big thing to ask." Rosalie wiped her eyes and sighed, shaking her head of the matter. It was then that Bella found her feet and headed towards the blonde. She kneeled down next to her and took her face in her hands.
Bella then leaned in and pressed her lips to Rosalie's. Rosalie tensed at first but soon relaxed and Bella found herself not wanting to stop after the simple peck she intended. Her lips molded so well with Rosalie's, better than Edward's ever did. She ran her hands through Rosalie's thick and silky hair and pressed as close as she could to her. Rosalie whimpered almost tenderly into her mouth and when they broke apart minutes later for air it was too soon. Rosalie's eyes were still closed and Bella bent down to kiss each eyelid tenderly, listening as Rosalie gave a content sigh.
They looked at each other then, not really knowing what to say. Then Rosalie scooted over in the bed and pulled the covers back. Bella smiled at her and climbed in. Rosalie reached out and caressed Bella's cheek softly before she turned to face the wall. Bella snaked her hands around Rosalie and held her close, closing her eyes in hopes of getting just a bit more sleep.
"Swan!" the guard shouted, his voice echoing over the recreation area. Bella looked up from the wall she was leaning on and glanced at Rosalie. The both of them shrugged and Bella headed over to him, raising her eyebrows. He said nothing but merely jerked his head for her to follow him. Bella did so obediently.
It had been four days since the guard had taken Rosalie away. And while things were still new Bella couldn't deny that she was happier than she ever thought possible in a place like this. And it was all thanks to Rosalie. They were by no means perfect, and Bella still didn't know even half of what she wanted to about the girl, but Rosalie was happy. And Bella could tell that she hadn't been happy in a long time. And she was more than pleased to give that happiness to her.
The guard led her down a long hallway and into a small room. It was one that Bella recognized instantly and she smiled as she laid eyes on her attorney. Mr. Delaine smiled at her as well and came over to give her a pat on the shoulder. "I've got some great news for you, kid. Dr. Cullen came to visit me the other day. He said that he was missing some of his anesthesia. Lethal doses of it. He's willing to testify that Edward took the anesthesia and killed himself. The judge ruled that with that kind of testimony there was no case. You're off the hook, kid!"
"Wait? Dr. Cullen? Edward committed suicide?" Bella asked, trying to wrap her head around all of it.
"Yes, ma'am. Sorry to say that apparently your poor husband to be couldn't handle the burdens placed upon him. Now that's no fault of yours. He clearly wasn't a man. But you're free, kid! Don't you get it? All I need is for you to sign a few of these papers and you can walk out that door with your head held high. Oh, and Dr. Cullen asked me to give this to you." Mr. Delaine reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a letter, extending it to the brunette. Bella took it and looked to Mr. Delaine, who nodded. Then she ran her nail across the top and ripped the letter open, taking it out and unfolding it slowly. The letter was handwritten in the doctor's handwriting.
I read 'Years of Grace.' I'm not sure exactly of what you were trying to tell me, but I can tell you that I think Edward left behind a clue for me in this book. My repentance now will not bring him back, but I find that it does bring me a small bit of closure. I find that I am a weak man, and therefore cannot tell you this in person. But I do believe you may have saved me somehow with this piece of information. I feel like I know Edward for the first time. I'm just saddened that it came too late. I had seen the missing amounts of anesthesia but somehow found the cowardice to ignore it. I can no longer do that and I offer my sincerest apologies to you. Cowardice, it would seem, runs in the family, as does anger and many other things I am not proud of to have passed on to my son. When you get out of this place, Esme and I would love to have you for dinner.
Carlisle Cullen PhD'
Bella reread the letter three times, feeling her knees quaking. Surely…surely he was serious. There was nothing Bella wanted more than to meet with Esme again and try to regain some of that which had been lost. Bella walked over to the table, unsure of how her legs were able to move. Everything seemed to be moving so quickly now that things were getting better. Surely Edward wouldn't have killed himself, would he? Well, apparently that didn't matter much now. He was dead. It wasn't her fault. And she was free to go. Bella smiled to herself as she signed the papers now, fully aware of what was going on. She was going to go home, see her father, maybe get her job back and start a new life. And maybe she and Rosalie could…
Bella's heart plummeted into her stomach as she changed into her civilian clothes and walked back to the cell to gather her things. She would be leaving Rosalie. And they'd only just gotten started. Bella felt tears in her eyes as she came into the cell. She looked up into the top where Rosalie was sitting and it only took Rosalie a moment to notice the tears in her eyes and her pedestrian clothing before she swung herself off of the bed and onto the floor. "What's the matter?" she asked, reaching out to brush Bella's hair.
Bella grinned sadly and stepped forward into Rosalie's expectant arms. "I'm free. I'm going home," she mumbled into her cellmate's chest, feeling the arms around her tighten. Rosalie took a few breaths and rubbed her arms up and down Rosalie's back before letting her go again.
"That's great," she said when she pulled back, and Bella was surprised to see real joy behind her eyes.
"But I don't want to go. I mean…I want…you…"
Rosalie shook her head sadly. "I'm never getting out of here, Bella. This is good for you. I always knew you'd make it out of here."
"But I want to be with you!" Bella shouted, lunging herself at the blonde again. Rosalie accepted her into her arms once more and rocked her back and forth, hushing her softly as she cried against her uniform.
"Bella, you've got to be realistic. What do we even have together? A few days and some nights of what? Nothing. Not that I don't cherish it or you but you have a life waiting out there. I don't. And I will not be responsible for holding you back." She let Bella go again and slid her hands up and down her arms a few times. "Now, come on, I'm sure you're here to get your things."
Bella found that she couldn't answer and she watched numbly as Rosalie quickly gathered what few personals Bella had. She took the pillowcase off of her bed and put her articles inside, extending them to Bella. Taking them lightly, Bella toyed with her hands as she stood in front of Rosalie. "I promise to come and visit you," she said quietly, meaning every ounce of her words. Rosalie shook her head, that familiar glare coming into place.
"No, Bella. I don't want you to. I don't want you to ever come back to this place again." She stepped forward and grabbed both of Bella's hands, rubbing them softly with her thumbs. "Promise me that you won't come back?" she asked, her eyes tender and hopeful. Bella swallowed hard and while she wanted to deny Rosalie, she couldn't. So she nodded with tears in her eyes.
"Good, now get out of here," Rosalie said, smiling. "It's almost time for lunch anyway." Bella smiled back and embraced Rosalie once more. She leaned in, smelling Rosalie's hair and gave her a quick kiss on her exposed neck before she walked out. Rosalie watched her go with a grin on her face that didn't fail even when Bella was out of sight. The lunch bell sounded and when she stepped out of her cell, Bella was nowhere to be found.
Rosalie managed to keep her cool all way to the lunch room. It wasn't until she'd gotten her tray and brought it to an empty table that she felt she might lose it. Still standing, she set her tray on the table and leaned over a bit, taking deep breaths to keep the tears from forming in her eyes. She couldn't be weak in front of these people. She just couldn't.
Footsteps were heard from behind her but she paid them no mind. All she could think about was Bella and how she was going to start a new life. Rosalie Lillian Hale was always proud. But, this may have been the first time that she ever felt proud of someone else. The blonde smiled to herself and shook her head.
And then there was a pain
A sharp, violent pain. It started in her knees and radiated up in her neck. Rosalie felt warmth pooling against her uniform and she closed her eyes, feeling the blade in her back as it was pulled out, then pushed back in. The room began to spin as she turned around, leaning against the table for support. Vaudeville was standing behind her, a makeshift and bloody knife in her hand. Rosalie glared at her and Vaudeville let out a horrendous chuckle at her own triumph of cowardice. Rosalie was starting to grow cold. She felt her fingers tingling and her eyes were suddenly become very tired to stay open. She didn't have much time left.
Vaudeville opened her mouth to say something and Rosalie used all of what was left of her strength to bring her tray around one last time. The sharp metal edge caught the artery in Vaudeville's throat, silencing her permanently. Rosalie watched as she fell, her head lolling to the side. And it was only when she saw the grisly, mangled mass of the terrible woman stop moving, that she allowed herself to fall.
She landed on the cold hard floor and smiled as her eyes fought to keep focus. Footsteps gathered around her and the last thing she saw before she closed her eyes was the image of Bella Swan walking past those prison gates.