First thing: I apologize for such a long wait! Unfortunately, I cannot see another chapter close in sight. I'm sorry, school, homework, and life have all gotten in the way.
Also, sorry for such a long chapter. Half of this wasn't even supposed to happen, but I just kind of ran with it. I hope that you will all stay interested for at least the end of the chapter.
While you are reading this I want you to keep in mind this definition:
Neurosis- a functional disorder in which feelings of anxiety, obsessional thoughts or compulsive acts dominate the personality.
*cough* hint *cough*
Inspired by Poison and Wine by the Civil Wars (it's a song?)
"Edward!" Isabella called bitterly, huffing after her excited fiancé as he strode down the rainy, cold street. The pavement shimmered with a slick coat of rain, illusioned into a river of inky black. "Where are you going!'
"I told you, it's a secret!" With a careless call from over his shoulder, Edward turned another corner. Bella practically seethed, grinding her teeth together as her heels clipped shortly across the street. If there was anything worse than being stuck out in the night, with rain drizzling down her; it was surprises. Bella huffed, glaring at the top of Edward's copper stranded head through the crowds of people - bobbing up and down like a buoy lost at sea.
Streetlights glow brightly above every other street, eating away the slowly growing darkness. The casted lights create small flickering shadows that play along the sidewalk. They dance over the numerous passing feet, ghosting over their limber bodies as people pass through their somber light.
"You know, Edward, I have to leave in an hour. To New York, remember? An hour." Bella called out stubbornly. "I really don't have time to jump into some small adventure with you." And suddenly, the dark looming figure of her fiancé was right beside her.
Warm arms wrap around her waist, pulling her tightly to his chest. His heart thundered loudly against her ear as her head thumped against his chest. Bella crinkled her nose. Ew…Old Spice. "But babe, you deserve everyadventure. This one included." Ugh, if he kept saying cheesy things like that, she may have to throw her engagement ring at him. He chuckled softly. "And anyway, this place is really neat. I just know you will love it."
Bella sighed. "Fine. But I reallyshould be packing. I mean, I don't even know how long I will be gone." Edward only chuckled, slinging a heavy arm around her shoulder as he pulled her into the restaurant that seemingly materialized from thin air.
The smell of food instantly flushed against Isabella's senses. Her stomach growled happily in her lower abdomen. Dear god, she was hungry. Releasing a soft expel of breath, Isabella's eyes fluttered close, taking in the deliciousness that swarmed around her.
The restaurant was...quaint. Almost cute. It was decorated in such an old fashion; it was like opening a door to the past. The present fell away, dimming down to just the faint glow of streetlights from outside. Every detail, from the ceiling to the floor was constructed to appear from the early 80's. Curtains, each the color of maroon, were fashioned over the low awning windows, the candlelight's simmering down to a soft romantic glow. Each table was clothed with a quaint white cloth, adjoined with burning white candles and acquainted purple flowers.
The soft sound of a piano drifted through the air; swiftly roping Isabella's attention to the far corner. Her eyes dragged to the small stage in the far corner, where a soft, diminutive voice tinkled in the air. A plump man plucked delicately away at the piano keys, shadowing the soft voice that threaded inbetween the notes.
If I didn't care, more than words can say.
If I didn't care, would I feel this way?
If this isn't love, then why do I thrill?
Like a magnet, Isabella felt herself slowly drifting away, walking quietly to the base of the stage. The voice continued to pull delicately at her heartstrings, tugging her closer and closer.
And what makes my head go round and round...
Isabella gasped softly, her eyes widening as they locked onto the small figure behind the microphone. The woman with the soft, alluring voice. Her hair was styled delicately atop her head, forming silvery black spikes that loosely curled around the snug, blue headband. A small white flower dazzled the eye behind the small curve of her ear. Soft, hazel eyes burned with a deep, caring passion.
While my heart stands still.
Bella simply couldn't fathom it. There stood Alice. Not even a foot away from her. Her skin seemed to reflect the dim, burning light of the flickering candles. The soft, pale skin illuminated into a fiery, lively flush; filling the hollows of her cheeks with a bright, rosy blush. Gentle hands cup the microphone as if it were a delicate rose, its beauty astounding even her as her fingers carefully curl around it.
If I didn't care, would it be the same?
Would my every prayer begin and end with just your name?
Isabella's chest crushed with the sound of the tinkling, soft voice. It seemed to fill with such passion, as if she believed every uttered word that fell past her lips.
And would I be sure, that this is love beyond compare?
If I didn't care for you,
Bella released a soft breath. And as if that small, soft expel of breath was a scream, it snapped Alice's eyes open; her eyes instantly flickered to Bella's. Deep hazel eyes widened, becoming so large they seemed to glimmer with their own sheen of light as they locked intently on Bella. The microphone picked up Alice's sharp intake of breath, hitching her voice into temporary silence.
The plump man on the piano drawled out a few lines, filling the silence with his lower, raspy voice as he eyed her curiously. Steady hands plucked away uncertainly over each piano key as the man waited patiently for Alice to mix in again.
There was a soft lull as the piano man cleared his throat, repeating the measure. Alice blinked, shaking her head slowly as if coming out of a daze. Clearing her throat, Alice smiled softly, nodding at the piano man as she stepped closer to the microphone. Her eyes remained locked intensely on Isabella, however, keen with keeping her in sight even when her lips grazed the speakers for the intro of her song.
And would I be sure if this was love beyond compare
Her voice hitched, chopping her last word with a broken sort of passion. Her eyes seemed to suddenly glisten with such pain and longing that it swarmed Isabella's head with a whirling intensity.
Would all this be true?
Alice's eyes remained locked on Bella, but her small diminutive form seemed to wilt, her breath becoming a low rasp as her voice swelled in the last stanza.
If I didn't care for you…
The piano softly drifted off, rendering the restaurant in complete silence in the short, fleeting seconds that Alice stared at Bella. It was a moment of seemingly perfect tranquility, the wonder of both Alice's voice and the soft tinkling piano knocking away Bella's natural, snarling defenses. It left her vulnerable, open and available to anything that sat around lurking, waiting to pounce.
Alice's hand dropped, her smile growing around the corners of her lips as her body turned swiftly toward Bella. She took a tentative step forward.
But as time often does, it continued to tick, swiftly cutting off Alice's intentions like a severing knife; ripping the two connected woman into two entirely different worlds.
"Babe? We already have a reservation, we don't have to wait." Edward wrapped an arm around her waist, pulling the stranded girl against his body. Alice's eyes seemed to instantly follow the steel cords of muscle all the way up to his arm socket, narrowing darkly as it gathered in mass and bulk, forming the unlikely figure of Edward Mason. Someone entirely unknown to Alice, but already deeming a bad name.
Her lip curled. The soft, hazel eyes hardened, narrowing into dark, angry slits. But before Alice could rip the arm slung around her Bella off, a loud voice suddenly called for her attention. "Hey! Alice, get 'er blades on and start servin'!"
Alice instantly huffed, hopping gracefully down the stage and veering out of Isabella's sight. Apparently, to get what must have been her roller blades. Because apparentlypeople still serve in roller blades. Classy. Bella shrugs and follows the strong tug of Edward's arm that directed her to a table.
Like a gentleman, Edward pulls a chair out for her, watching carefully as she sat down. He seemed oblivious to his fiancé's distracted state, plopping down in his own seat as Bella looked around again.
"Isn't this cool?" Bella's eyes flickered across the small restaurant, gliding swiftly over the uniformed men and woman that rolled around serving people. Her eyes sought after someone else. Someone significantly shorter. "I just stumbled across this place by accident. But I like it, don't you?"
Bella inclined in her seat, lifting to glance subtly around the small, clustered restaurant for Alice. Seriously, what are the chances that she would run into her three times in two days? The world isn't thatsmall.
"Bella?" The voice rings loudly in Bella's mind. "Bella?" Another loud ring. "Bella!" It's like the irate bang of a constant drum, beating and clanging against the sides of her head. It pulls her dark, searching eyes from the room to snap back at Edward.
His face instantly brightens at his fiancé's attention; oblivious to the impending death she has sentenced him within her head. "Well, don't you like it?" Bella wanted to make a rude remark, perhaps roll her eyes, anythingthat would make that beaming, happy smile drop from his face. But instead, she merely nods and turns away, too distracted to mangle Edward's good mood.
Edward appears placated, blind to the flickering suspicion that swarms in his fiancé's eyes. He leans back against the wooden chair, admiring his fiancé's appearance. The woman rests stiff and taught like an arrow, her jaw clenched and eyes narrowed. She looks through the small corners of her eyes, inspecting and marking anything that passing by.
She's a mystery. She always has been. It's what attracted Edward the moment he saw her, and what makes him hang off her every word today. Her every motion, every movement is a question, the very epitome of the unknown. It's exciting. Everything she does is a rubrics cube of alternating reason. She lives a life of constant complications to fumble and work through, a walking never-ending puzzle.
Bella hates being at the disadvantage, and this unwillingness allows so many others to be left in the dust. She makes decisions without telling him - like this very situation in fact - often because it would only contrast with their two very different scripts of what their future will look like. Edward only has Bella written on his, he only wonders what she has written. But he doesn't mind. Not really. It's exciting. Like every corner he will round has another surprise waiting for him. And anyway, he already got her to agree to marry him, that's the hardest part isn't it? But once the ring is on, it's a ferry cruise to marriage hood.
Edward smiles happily, dragging his eyes down his fiancé again. Bella's dark brown eyes coast across the restaurant again, her lips tightening around the corners into a tight line. The man sighs softly. The only thing he does struggle with, however, is when he gets lost. A single look could be deciphered a hundred different ways, and when he doesn't catch on, it only brings bad things to cross his near future.
Edward regards his fiancé quietly, taking Bella's preoccupation as an advantage to admire. Bella's tight, narrowed eyes flicker around again, spinning with merciless persecution. They seem to always hold that. Accusation. Hard and sharp, they could tear any man down with seconds to spare. They flicker around again, her eyes narrowing in a hasty, angered search. A chill prickles across his spine. It's times like these, however, that he finds himself lucky to be out of sight. Because her anger, when not found an object to latch itself onto, tends to find its favorite set back. Edward.
They whirl around like a Ferris wheel, but as quick as a dart, they hit their target.
A soft intake of breathe is taken, and Edward's attention is enraptured again. Bella's eyes fasten tightly on a moving figure. They trail behind them like a tail, flickering from every agitated movement. Edward doesn't bother to look at the incoming stranger, too focused on the hard, narrowed eyes that swiftly come to an abrupt stop beside him.
"Hi there! My name is Alice and I will be your server for tonight!" A soprano voice pulls Edward from his inspection, following the sound of tinkling chimes to a small, pixie woman. The woman smiles brightly, tucking a strand of neatly styled hair behind a curve of an ear. Her teeth glint miraculously in the dim, romantic glow as her eyes remain trained professionally on Bella.
Bella glares. Edward smiles. "Good evening, Alice." His smooth voice calls from the side. And is it possible that he is even here? Did he die the moment he stepped in and become translucent? Because the waitress doesn't appear to have even heard him.
She is staring with wide, attentive eyes at Bella, her lips quirking into a soft, happy smile. Edward sighs. Well, he may not be in the musical production of Chicago, or have any previous desire to sing, but a part of him feels like he should stand up and perform Mr. Cellophane.
"What can I do for you this evening?" Alice answers softly. Now, Edward has never once studied the pitch, tone, or inflections of a voice…but his ears would have to be damaged as shit if he missed the double meaning in the woman's soft voice. It wasn't suggestive or anything, no, Edward would have laughed if it were. It was just different. It was hard to describe. It was like…it was as if the waitresses every word was coated and caked with something akin to intimacy. It wasn't a stranger'svoice, that much was for sure. The sugary, syrup flow of words seemed to flood his stomach, baking into a hard rock in his gut.
He was never really the jealous type, but there was something about this girl. Something that made him uneasy. However, if Isabella noticed any of this, she made no visible sign of it. She just plainly answered, "Just two glasses of water."
It's no real surprise. As perceptive as Isabella is, it took three whole years of constant, blatantflirting for Bella to realize he was interested. Or maybe she knew all along, and it took three long years of constant convincing for one date. Edward preferred the former.
"Is that all?" Alice's soft voice came from a haze in Edward's mind, reluctantly pulling him into the present. And to their order apparently. Which was water. Edward crinkled his nose.
"No it isn't. I'm going to change our order to two glasses of Chardonnay?" Bella pursed her lips, her dark, narrowed eyes flickering to him instead. Her lips twitched in clear agitation. Edward was forcibly oblivious. "I think Yellow Tailis still my favorite, it has such a fantastic, buttery taste to it, don't you think?"
The question apparently was deemed rhetorical, despite his clear inclination for an answer. But Edward just shrugs, smiling up at the waitress, who kept her eyes lingering upon Bella.
"Edward, in case you have forgotten, I do have somewhere to be in the morning. I'd rather keep it to water." Said the girl who drinks a shot of Jack Daniels ever morning. Edward smiled innocently, but held his hand firmly aside for the waitress to stand by their table.
"Isabella." Edward said her full name, a playful smile curling around his lips. Bella sighed impatiently. She was really starting to regret ever taking a step inside this restaurant. "Don't you want to celebrate? Tonight is your last stay here, loosen up a little bit!" Edward smirked, leaning back against his seat. His hands tightened around the junctures of the table as Bella just stared level-eyed at him, as if staring at him would make his words suddenly crawl back into his lips and seal his mouth shut. Edward's smile grew.
Suddenly, he jerked his head to the side, yanking the waitress into their silent quarrel. "What do you think? It's her last night here; don't you think it should be a night worth remembering?" Edward grinned happily, seemingly oblivious to his fiancé low, embarrassed groan. A pale hand arose to cover her forehead as her cheeks flushed brightly.
"Edward" Bella groaned in exasperation. "Don't bother the waitress." Edward merely shrugged, keeping his eyes trained on the small woman beside him. She didn't appear uncomfortable. Her eyes only flickered towards Edward as a shy smile curled the plumpness of her cheeks. But her eyes deceived her. Resentment and something akin to hatred clouded her large, glassy eyes. They glowered down on Edward with a piercing, hate-full glare while her smile remained ever so sweetly plastered on.
"Go for it." Alice's voice tinkled. "The Yellow Tails is one of our better selections; however, if you wish to make an impression upon tonight, I suggest you go with my personal favorite: Syrah?" Alice shrugged. "It's red wine, so it may not be the sweet and bubblytaste you are looking for, but…"Alice drifted off, her eyes dragging down to Bella and locked dead on with her usual rapt attention. "I can promise you it's not something quite as forgettable."
Edward came up short, his eyes narrowing in silent confusion. As easily forgettable? Was she suggesting his selection of wine was forgettable? And that hers was not? His eyes connected with Alice's, watching the dark, gleaming orbs shimmer in the dim light. Something told him it wasn't just the taste of fruity alcohol she was referring to. Edward pursed her lips.
"Great, we'll go with that." Bella's smile was tight and pinched, her eyes flickering from the waitress before sticking Edward with a hard glare. Edward's frown deepened, but said nothing. If there was perhaps one thinghe wish he could change about his fiancé was that for once, she could simply agree with him.
"Excellent." The waitress smiled brightly. Brightly, and so dangerously smug. However, she cannot hold fast to that smug smile, because as soon as their orders are scribbled in her pad, she returns to being just waitresses. She stifled a grimace as she slowly placed the necessities upon their table. Menus, napkins, silverware are poised on either side of the table, and with a sense of finality, Alice fished out a match and struck it against the table. The low flickering match glowed brightly, curling in the air as Alice dipped down and lit the two candles arranged in the middle.
The candles' uncoiled, black nub released an incense of vanilla. The flames simmered down to a soft, romantic glow as the candlelight flickered; its dim glow harvested an almost hypnotic appearance. The room seemed to darken as the golden halo around the candle brightened. And in a trance, Edward moved his hand to encompass Bella's. His engagement ring glinted.
Alice's lip curled. Her eyes seemed to glint dangerously as they leveled with the golden ring wrapped around Edward's finger, covering the diamond on Bella's.
"I'll be back with your orders." The once tinkling voice had taken a dramatic downward spiral, leveling into a dark, bleary indifference. Sounding almost numb. There was a soft expel of breath before the wheels upon her roller blades clicked, rolling her from the table and gliding her swiftly away.
Silence soon followed. Bella slowly removed her hand, returning it to her lap as she absentmindedly played with a loose strand of her hair. Edward momentarily admired the messy bun in which his fiancé had spun it into. He never noticed how soft it looked before, like molten, milky chocolate. She really was beautiful; which is something he tends to sometimes forget. But in moments like these, they come at him with the full power of a whip. It lashed him across the chest. Beautiful.
With a soft, crooked smile, Edward leans forward, propelled by his inner musings and grasped Bella's cheek. And right before his lips crashed against his fiancé's unsuspecting lips, the light momentarily flickered, darkening Bella's eyes into hard, dark orbs.
Bella's eyebrows creased, wrinkling her smooth forehead into a dogged expression of displeasure. She was never such a fan of affection, and even less so when expressed in public. In the corner of her mind, she always wondered if people where looking at them, the once strangers suddenly turning into a very attentive audience. But she complied nonetheless, melting a little into Edward's hard mouth.
The sensation was immediate for Edward. The taste of green apples flushed across his lips as he moved his against hers. The soft pads of his fingertips dug greedily into the soft, pale skin of her neck, wanting more of the enthralling taste of her lips against his.
Bella's sensation was a little bit different. The burning scent of Old Spice swarmed through her nose, watering her eyes from the prickling smell as his lips smashed down against hers. A warm tongue lazily rolled across her lower lip, and it was just enough to make her want to pull away. Before she could even start planning her escape, however, a sound clashed against her mind's right eye.
Bella's head suddenly whipped away, breaking the kiss suddenly as her eyes snapped to where the sound had transpired. There, in the center of the restaurant, stood Alice, her burning hazel eyes locked intensely on them. The woman looked positively insane. Her eyes seemed aflame with fire, burning with intensity unknown to man. Alice's chest rose and fell dramatically as the blood seemed to simultaneously drain and flush into and out of Alice's features. Instantly Bella and Edward separated, drifting to their respective sides as they watched the small waitress slowly bend down, picking up the broken scattered pieces of plates and silverware.
Alice's fingers quickly snatched at each fragment of glass and dish with hurried, angry movements, all the while her lips moved furiously in a stampede of angry spoken thoughts. And on the stage, a quite, distant sound of I've Got You Underneath My Skin by some imitator of Frank Sinatra droned away.
As Alice snapped up, her arms full of glass and dishes, her eyes seemed to pierce through the crowded room and hit Edward with a devil's intent. Her eyes glint with a darkening promise, her lips snarling back as if in a reassurance to fulfill. Edward swallowed softly, ripping his gaze away. Bella watched cautiously as Alice spun around and rolled away. Edward slowly shifted in his seat, his heart thundering in his ears. Well, that was…weird.
His muscles ached softly, stretching underneath his skin as he leveled his gaze to Bella; who seemed rather tense. But even that wasn't a fair description. She was stiff, but there was softness in her posture – whether forced or not – she appeared almost calm. Tense but calm, and always buzzing with energy. Tense but calm. Maybe she hadnoticed all of the small double meanings of the server's voice after all. Bella cleared her throat uncomfortably, twirling a strand of hair between her fingers again.
Her dull, manicured fingernails thrummed absently upon the tablecloth. Again: tense, but calm. Edward, unable to take the silence any further, released a strained, tight chuckle. Bella only cast him a questioning side-glance before dispersing again. "So that waitress, huh?" Suddenly, dark burning eyes snapped to his.
Edward swallowed gently, unsure whether or not that was the correct thing to say. Sometimes, even eggshells appeared as strong as steel when concerned with Isabella Swan.
"What about her." Her voice sounded edgy and tight, cutting like the sharp blade of a knife. Edward's brow creased, wondering why she sounded so defensive. It wasn't as if he had nicked or picked at Bella or anything. Just some strange freak.
"She was just weird." Edward shrugged dispassionately, his pale, pink lips quirking into an unhinged, crooked smile. Bella's only lips tightened, forming a thin line as her dark eyes flickered away. "Does she know you or something?"
Bella sighed, needling her fingers through her tousled, bundled hair. Her bun became even messier. "Of course not." She snapped, looking away again.
Edward shrugged, not looking too far into it. What was unbidden to him, however, was that the situation that he had unknowingly fallen into, was far more complicated than a simple answer could perceive. It was twisted into a complicated labyrinth that not even Bella nor could Alice understand. It threads inbetween them and entangles anyone else ignorant enough to get involved. One has simply accepted it. Bella on the other hand, fights it with every being of her.
Bella quietly sighs, leaning back into her chair. She almost wishes Edward could just read her mind and understand how uncomfortable she is. God forbid she actually say it aloud. But he seemed distracted by staring at the lobster that the neighboring customer had ordered. Bella only rolled her eyes, because of coursehe is. When an argument holds absolutely no consequence, Edward is as stubborn as a bull. But when she actually wants him to fight, to stand up for himself and take a hold of the situation, he takes a seat.
"Here you are." The soft, tinkling voice returned. The sound of glass clinked against each other welcomed Bella as each wine glass was placed at opposite junctures of the table. There was a flicker of hesitation. The small flame that danced in the mouth of the candle seemed to diminish, darkening the edges of Bella's vision.
Edward seemingly blended in to his surroundings like a chameleon, becoming a silent bystander of a scene that was slowly cutting him out. Bella lifted her head and connected with Alice's eyes. The waitress barelystifled her smile, wanting to simply beam from the sudden attention. Bella pursed her lips, her eyes roving over the waitress skeptically.
"Is there anything else I can do for you?" Alice drawled softly, her lips curling into a shy, abashed smile. Bella's eyebrow rose in question as Alice seemed to inch closer, her eyes narrowing upon the space between them. For such a soft, tinkling voice, one would have thought it had grown scales and slithered like a snake for the justice of such a reaction.
Despite the question obviously being directed to Bella – Edward seemingly having been forgotten – he was the only one to answer. "No, thank you." His voice had grown considerably harder, thrusting his presence inbetween the two girls. Alice snapped her head to the side, very narrowly avoiding creating a scene and glaring at him or interrupting. But with a strained, pinched smile, she nodded, and rolled away.
Edward huffed. "Maybe your right. We should probably cut this short." His dark eyes followed the servers' departing figure. They hardened, glowering like heated coals from a burning stove. "The service here is appalling."
Bella could hardly hear him. It was as if his voice was behind a thick, brick wall, the sound barely carrying over the thick, cemented barrier. Bella remained stiff and unmoving. Her eyes also remained locked on the departing figure of one Mary Alice Cullen, unseeing to Edward, as he was unseeing to her.
What was happening to her? What was making her act this way? On the surface, the answer was easy. But the reasons behind it was twisted and varied, creating a confusing labyrinth to fight through. Is it even worth it? She's leaving in less than twenty-four hours. Would that be the end of this confusing tirade, or would it carry through, latched onto her like some kind of blood-sucking leech.
Bella sighed haughtily. Her eyes remained attached to Alice, following her as she swiftly dipped down to retrieve dishes, smiling and talking to the rest of the customers. Did others get that same tight feeling in their stomachs? Like worms were wiggling inside her intestines and chewing at the lining? It does not appear so. In fact, they look quite enamored with her.
Bella's jaw clenched. It could not just be her. There must be something that Alice is playing at. Something she wants. Alice laughed again, tipping her head up as her lips curled back, releasing a bright, colorful laugh. And for a moment, a split increment of a second, Bella swore she saw Alice flicker her eyes to her. And smile.
For some reason, that small movement: the turn of her head and the connection of their eyes yanked her away and into the hazy, botched memory of last night. In the daze of the night – hot skin pressed against hers – someone had crept into their apartment. But instead of stealing anything, they simply looked around, as if peering into the strange habitat of an exhibit at the zoo.
With every blink, Bella's trace of the dark figure seemed to flicker over Alice's existing form. Her heart slowly started to pick up its pace. Every curve, every bend and shape seemed to fit, clicking together with impeccable accuracy. It was as if someone had cut Alice from a sheet of paper, leaving two imprints of herself. The paper, and the gaping hole.
But when slapped together, they fit like two missing puzzle pieces.
Is it possible? Could it have been Alice? This strange girl she has hardly knows?
No, it was just her imagination. Or at least a cruel play of it. But this strange new revelation had no kinder parallel to turn to. There was no easier option. Suspicion hummed in her mind, hissing like a swarm of wasps. Her temples throbbed as the swarming hum grew to a gradual crescendo, blocking any sense of reason.
Alice playfully swatted a customer's shoulder as she slowly collected each plate. The dishes stacked along her arms as she balanced effortlessly. Even in roller blades, she remained as steady and straight as a needle. There was a booming laugh from the customer and a playful wink from the waitress before she peeled away from the table.
Alice's eyes didn't even flicker towards Bella's. They remained steadily focused on the kitchen. But Bella still saw Alice's eyes on hers, probing and poking her mind like a hot rod. It's like watching a movie with split screens. One plays the character's perspective while the other plays reality. The problem is, Bella doesn't know which one is which anymore.
And before she could account for what she was doing, she was walking. Edward's confused calls fell upon deaf ears as her heels clicked against the tiled floor. It couldn't be just her. Alice must be playing at something. She must want something. It can't be just her. It can't.
The words pulsed through her veins and pounded against her head, making her blind to just about anything else. With her sight darkening at the edges, it left a bleary tunnel vision to follow Alice's trail. She rounded another corner and caught the unsuspecting sight of Alice Cullen. The woman cocked her head to the side as a soft, shy smile curved the plumpness of her cheeks.
Bella could only hear the clicks of her heels. The clashes of dishes and the sound of hundreds of moving mouths instantly hushed, sealing them into a soundproof bubble. Bella curled her lip, her eyes locked on Alice.
Before sense could fog her judgment, she had seized the woman's arm and started dragging - rolling - her away. There was a surprised yelp as the roller blades clicked against the floor, rolling her backwards. The elapse of Alice's surprised voice was the only protest to be heard, allowing herself to be dragged away without a flicker of resistance.
Before Alice could even blink, a door had swung open and swiftly swallowed them whole.
And effectively locked them into a cold, storage room. Not exactly the ideal place for an interrogation, but it was going to have to do. Bella swiftly turned on her heel, her arms coiling like livid snakes around her body as she hissed like one. Alice's smile dropped.
"What the hell do you think your doing?" Bella snarled. Her dark, narrowed eyes scrutinized the waitress, leveling her with a thick and heavy glare. Alice swallowed softly, and almost with a child-like curiosity, looked around herself questionably.
"Me?" Alice pointed to herself, an innocent smile wavering on her lips. Bella curled her lip. Alice's innocence was nearly as transparent as a window; furtively hiding the unconcealed nervous energy manifesting inside. Bella's patience - or at least lack of one - waned. Alice's innocent smile never wavered, but her eyes flickered, moving from every corner in the room before leveling back to Bella. "I'm not doing anything. You're the one that dragged us into a storage closet."
Bella bristled. Her lip curled from the pestering response. Usually, when confronted, one often trips up and spills their story. It's not exactly an obscurity. A simple fleeting glance with Isabella can cause mild heart failure, if not boiling over into a hyperactive alert sense of anxiety. If her stiff, menacing posture didn't daunt your approach, the hissing repartee that would follow would.
"Look I personally don't care. I don't care what your reasons are, or if you even have them, I just want it to stop. Stop bumping into me, stop staringat me, stop waiting for me at the bus-" Bella's lip curled, her stiff arms tightening around her body from the mere mentioning of their previous interactions. With last night fresh in her mind, every spoken word that has passed between them is just another milestone to topple over.
"I wasn't waiting." Alice whispered quietly.
"I don't care." Bella cried in exasperation, running her fingers through the wild tendrils of her hair. Her bun has nearly fallen out. "I really, really don't. I just don't want to see you again. At all." Inwardly, Bella frowned, finding the lack of zeal in her insults almost concerning. Either way, Bella expected Alice to wince, for her spine to bend like every other spineless person she's argued with. Including Edward.
But nothing seems to go as expected with Alice.
A flare of life sparked in Alice's eyes, flushing her hollow cheeks with a lively red. Her spine stiffened as her eyes reflected her inner chagrin. With someone so small, it's startling to see such a magnitude of animosity bubbling in them. It only encourages Bella; pushing her to step closer, now hovering over the smaller woman.
Alice fastened her arms at her hips as she scowled softly, her lips – although pursed – not quite creating the look ferocity she was going for. Bella, however, came up short, finding the posture oddly familiar. She didn't know, it was just, odd. Something about her expression reminded her of a young stubborn child. It made her slightly uncomfortable, her suddenly being the only present adult in the room. With a flick of the woman's head, the dark halo of hair glinted in the shallow stream of light, momentarily grasping Bella's distant attention.
But it was snapped right back by the sound of the woman's soft sigh, quickly followed by a voice. "That's not fair!" Alice whimpers, her voice wavering with emotion before steeling in the last syllable. "I haven't done anything wrong; you're just so stubborn. You are so set on disliking me that you refuse to give me even a chance!"
She sounded so childish, her voice swindled with the petulance of a five year old. And maybe she hadn't given Alice enough credit, because this was completely ingenious. Alice's eyes widened, influencing her already small appearance to look even smaller in comparison, her rosy pink cheeks turning Alice from an animated person into a decorated, painted doll; her sad, wide eyes watched ever so intently as Bella gazed back blankly.
And somewhere utterly unknown to Bella, a maternal cry of indignation was heard. Whether it was from trickery or honesty, Alice had thrown out a line like a fisher and swiftly hooked through Bella's defense and simply tore it down. Who knew playing the card of a helpless child was enough to discard Bella's aggression. Bella sure didn't. With a crippling cramping sensation in her lower gut, Bella felt herself back up, her tight, stiff arms constricting around her chest for an entirely different reason.
And just like the flip of a coin, the roles have been reversed. Alice, somehow, through the trickery of her honesty, found herself the upper hand. Alice was now pulling at the streams of her argument, thrusting them like pointed darts into Bella's.
"Did you even consider that maybe we met purely from coincidence?" Alice huffed, crossing her arms indignantly. "Despite whatever conclusion you have summarized in your head, I'm not a witch, God, or have ever been processed by sorcery, and thus, cannot create accidents purely for entertainment."
Bella frowned, her lips snarling downward. Child like or not, she was not going to be mocked. "Okay, so beside fate's correlation of our…coincidences" Bella snarled at the world, as if it tasted particularly ugly on her tongue. "Do you think that we always just happen to end up in these tense, uncomfortable conversations?" Alice balked, her eyes widening incredulously.
"And who initiates that Bella?" Her voice lifts in a shrill sound of outrage. "I have been nothing but kind to you, but each time I initiate friendly-"
"Friendly?" Bella interjects harshly, hissing like a caged beast. "So I suppose breaking into my apartment last night was for the off chance of catching me by surprise to – what? – extend friendlyconversation?" Alice slowly grew pale as her body stood as rigid as steel. Her eyes widened into the size of large tennis balls, her tightly set jaw loosened, hanging into a slack form of an 'O'.
"I…no, that…it wasn't…" At a loss of words, Alice just shook her head fiercely, as if the action could undermine the fierce accusation that had steeled in Bella's eyes. Her eyes suddenly swelled, her voice chocking as she tried to swallow down her thick and heavy panic.
Bella's heart suddenly flipped, her head hammering with the sudden confirmation of Alice's unspoken admission. Her blood ran cold, as a sick, metal taste seemed to fill her mouth. However, in the very far corner of Bella's mind, she allowed herself some small reliance of relief. It wasn'tjust her imagination.
But the relief was short lived, ending it in a pit of fire that was her anger – a flicker compared to the inferno that was her fear. "Oh. My. God. That was you! Oh my fuck, you freak! What the fuck were you doing in my apartment?" Bella screeched, her words coming out in sharp, jagged inflections that hurt Alice's inner ears.
"No! I-It isn't that bad! I was just worried about you! When you boarded off the bus, and disappeared, I freaked out! It was pitch-black out there and I didn't know how long, or safe the walk back to your apartment was. Bad things happen at night Bella! I just wanted to make sure you got home safely!" Alice slowly drifted closer, her frantic, wide eyes locking on Bella as she desperately tried to convey her sincerity. Bella took a small step back, her heart thundering in her chest as her stomach curdled, aching and twisting inside her body.
It was no longer suspicion that swarmed her mind, it was fear. The angry hum of wasps doubled, growing and extending into a larger mass; it drowned all reason and sanity, submerging her into a full sense of paranoia.
"And so you thought you would step inside my apartment?" Bella's voice wasn't quite as controlled as she had hoped, but her mind was at ends with herself. And no amount of strengthening could keep the waning fear from trembling in her voice. "Why would you do that? What do you want?"
Alice took a bated breath, her wide eyes glistening with sheen of unshed tears. "What do I want?" Alice drew a breath as if the question was absurd in itself. Her eyes seemed to try to convey her every feeling, but when that even failed, she rolled forward. The wheels of her roller blades clicked as it pronounced the space between them slowly closing. Bella stepped backward again, but was only horrified to find that the sturdy plaster of wall stood behind her.
Her heart dropped, her closely held emotions cut free and now ran wildly through the recess of her mind. Her muscles were aching for use, wishing for nothing more than to dash out of their locked cage. But luck was not on her side today, her attention cracking back to Alice as dainty fingers grasped the folds of her jacket.
With a tug of the fabric, Bella's eyes now snapped to attention. A shy smile curved the plumpness of Alice's cheeks, her eyes smoldered into Bella's with a cryptic, dark longing. "What do I want? I thought that much was obvious." Alice's lips curved into a slow, sad smile. "I want you, Bella."
There was a sullen beat of silence as Bella tried her best to absorb the meaning of her words. To no avail.
"What?" Bella asked weakly, her knees now wobbling from disuse. Alice's arms wound around Bella's waist, holding her delicately like a precious doll that harbored Alice's ever-mounting affection. She should have left things alone. She should have just left with Edward. She should have never entered through those restaurant doors.
"I don't mean to frighten you," Alice sighed, tenderly biting her lip. "I know you are…engaged." Alice's nose crinkled at the sound of it, her cheek brushing against Bella's again. "But when that is set straight, we can be together like we are meant to be!"
Bella's fingers touched the edge of her clad pocket, wiggling into the jean fabric beside her hip. Her fingers sought after the smooth, thin metal of her phone, flinching when the edges of her pocket were found and explored. Nothing but velvety textile. Bella nearly whimpered in desperation. She didn't want to stay here with her, not with this psycho in here with her. Her heart thundered loudly in her chest. However, the chances of simply disappearing seem little to none.
Her ears perked as Alice's tentative, flowing words picked up again. "I mean, think of how happy I could make you, Bella. I don't mind moving wherever your job permits you, as long as I get to be close to you! I could find some kind of job in New York and support you, with whatever you need! I would be your biggest fan, and I would always take care of you!" Alice's voice was shaking softly, her cheek brushing against Bella's again almost to reassure her of her affections. It was reinsured, but far from reassuring.
Bella's eyes grew wider as Alice's list continued, watching as the woman wormed herself closer, her head now resting against Bella's shoulder as a constant stream of words flowed from her lips. "I could be so much better than Edward; I would watch over you and take care of you. And, and you would never have to feel lonely or sad ever again!" Bella's heart flipped, her muscles clenching and flexing underneath her skin. This was getting out of hand, and Bella hardly knew how to gain control again.
"Stop. Get off me." Bella growled, her fingers digging into Alice's midsection. She didn't listen. She couldn't, she needed Bella to understand. She needed Bella to be with her. There was no other option, she couldn't leave it here. Alice whimpered softly, throwing her arms around Bella's neck and held her there desperately.
"Wait! Please, if you just gave me a chance!" Alice whimpered, bringing herself closer to Bella's warm and hostile body. "I would be so good to you!" Alice blubbered uselessly. Even in the desperate coil of her mind, she knew Bella would never be convinced. But that hardly stopped her from trying.
Alice's head tucked into Bella's neck, her lips expelling warm breaths across her skin; she softly mouthed a constant stream of promises against the shell of Bella's ear. Every word was soft, every sound was a promise as each movement was influential damage. Bella's skin felt too hot, her cheeks flushed with uncomfortable heat as the body pressed against her worms closer. She needs Alice off her. Now.
"You need to stay away from me." Her voice trembled. She winced, her body thumping against the wall as she wiggled in Alice's grip. Bella's hands seize Alice's thin shoulders in hopes to pull her lithe body from hers. And succeeded.
Her success pulled a soft gasp from her; Alice is so light. Her bones felt delicate and hollow beneath the skin. It was as if her skeleton was made of Styrofoam. If Bella pressed too hard, she might snap Alice in half, simply bending her in two. Bella mulled it over as her fingers dug deeper into the skin making white and red blotches against Alice's delicate skin. But as Bella raised her gaze to meet Alice's, the fire of her anger died out like a flickering candle.
She just looked so sad. It made Bella's stomach clench uncomfortably. She didn't want to make Alice cry exactly. Well, she kind of did. But not in front of her; it made her feel awkward. She didn't need to see Alice sniffling or looking up at her with those large, sad eyes of hers. Or see Alice's puppy dog look, her eyes begging for some kind of chance. It was unpleasant. Unfortunately, the door is locked and so any chance of escape seems little to none.
Alice took in a soft breath, sniffing quietly as a tentative hand rolled across her mussed, messy hair. Her eyes lifted again, meeting Bella's wearily. It made Bella uneasy, her expression hardening as Alice took in a steadying breath, apparently ready to try to make her point clear. As if she hadn't moments earlier. "I love you Bella, and I would do anything to make you happy. I could be the best person in your life and make you feel loved every day! And, and-"
"What? No, no no." Bella shook her head frantically. Oh god this has gotten out of hand. Alice's wide eyes shimmered with tears again, frantic and pleading. Her lips trembled, and Bella stiffened in horror as more words fell from her lips, getting caught in the constriction of her throat.
"And, and I could be so much better than Edward. I would do anything for you, if you only gave me a chance!" Alice whimpered, taking a shaky breath and sadly, continued. "I could be your everything."
Bella shook her head, staring with disbelief at the slowly breaking girl in her arms. "You must be joking. This cannot be happening." It was more to herself than anything, but Alice – stifling a small sob – shook her head bleakly, a broken smile stretching on her lips. A thin, choked breath expelled from Alice's lips and seemingly crushed her from the inside out, her chest heaving dramatically as if that really was the case.
Bella's jaw clenched tight, her stomach squirming uncomfortably. How was she supposed to handle this? Bella growled lowly, firmly tightening her hold of Alice's delicate shoulders. Alice looked up, blindly wiping away the tears streaking down her cheeks with the sleeve of her arm.
Isabella curled her lip. "You need to get a hold of yourself, alright? Because I'm not dealing with this nonsense. I am engaged to Edward, the man that I love, and you need to respect that." Alice whimpered brokenly, ducking her head as an anguished sob broke past her lips. Bella groaned. "Okay, stop that alright? Just-mngh!"
She stood suspended in time, her brain frazzled from the sudden contact of Alice's lips on hers. A small hum of electricity zapped and shocked her skin, and without any knowledge of it, her eyes fluttered closed. She couldn't breath, her thoughts were cut off midsentence; drifting off in the haze of her bewilderment.
She couldn't think anymore. Every jagged concern that had poked and prodded her mind suddenly smoothed out into an even plane. The only awareness that rose slightly above her calm, smoothed consciousness was the taste of vanilla and…raspberry? Whatever it was, it electrified her senses and enveloped her entirely, flowing smoothly across silky taste buds and fanning across her sensitive lips.
She couldn't recognize movements anymore. She felt herself leaning forward, but could hardly grasp the reason why or even towards what. It simply held the motive: to get more. And that's all her head could center around. More.
And more she got. With the lightest pressure, and a curious, inquiring taste, Bella had captured Alice's lips once more. The lips were soft and silky, releasing delicious breaths of cool, luscious berry. It was maddening. With the lightest touch of her tongue, she grazed the soft, delicious taste, demanding for entrance.
The warm, moist lips complied eagerly. Alice's teeth slid across Bella's lower lip, pulling it away briefly before lightly sucking on the delectable skin. Her fingers grasped the loose bun coiled upon Bella's head, playing with each soft, silky strand and digging for more. A low moan pushed from Bella's lips and brushed against Alice's feverant lips. However, with this admission, a hot spoken voice whisked against Bella's lips.
And suddenly, Bella's flat palms made contact with Alice's tiny, diminutive body. The waitresses body absorbed the impact, her spine bending backwards as the roller blades wheeled in any general direction. There was a loud wrecking sound as Alice hit the other side of the room, her body thumping against cupboards and packages. A clutter of objects fell to the floor, rolling off Alice's shoulder and bouncing off her head.
Alice hardly noticed. Her wide, dazed eyes had locked wildly onto Bella's.
She looked insane. Her eyes had darkened to an empty blackness, blank and pitiless like ones of a shark. Bella's chest rose and fell dramatically as a light blush flushed her cheeks. As if in a daze, Bella's fingertips gingerly raised and touched her sensitive, bruised lips. This impulse hardly quelled the spastic sparks and zaps that still nipped playfully at her skin. God, everything was throbbing. Her heart, chest, pulse, lips all thrummed with a rapid rhythm while everything else seemed to fall apart. Her entire skin seemed to shiver in movement, wanting nothing more than to crawl up from the tender attachment of bone and muscle and move away.
She cheated. On Edward. Her fiancé.Not only that, but with a waitress with stalking tendencies. Bella was in one piece, but she couldn't have felt more torn apart. Her sweet, adoring fiancé is waiting patiently for her return; while she kissed the freak that stalked her home. Repulsion couldn't describe what she felt. It wasn't nearly strong enough.
"Bella." Alice whispered cautionly from her corner, her fingertips also trailing her swollen, bruised lips. She looked torn as well. Her eyes screamed hope, but her expression was ruled into one of guilt and sympathy, however false it may be. Bella could only shake her head, her fingers still pressed against her lips, as if that could repress the tingling and heaving revulsion racking through her.
Alice fumbled for balance, rising from her knees to stand. Tentatively, the woman crept forward. "Bella…" Bella's hand clenched tightly, forming a fist at her side; but otherwise, said nothing. Alice sighed. "Bella, I'm sorry. I…" Alice trailed off as Bella strode toward the door.
Click, click, click-cli-cli-cl-click
Bella growled lowly, jingling the locked door again. The metal handle held no promise of ever opening again, unless of course, someone happened to need rolled up napkins, towels or rolled up bits of string. Why anyone would feel the need to store bits of stringinside a restaurant is just another question in itself.
With a thick, settling resignation, Bella slumped against the locked door. Her eyes gradually lowered from the ceiling and found comfort in glaring sharp daggers at Alice. Alice on the other hand, despite the heat of her animosity, took this as safe grounds to move closer.
Still in her ridiculous roller blades, Alice slowly rolled forward. "Bella, I think it would be impetrative if I explained myself."
"No need." Bella's hard voice cracked like a whip, slashing through the thick, tense energy. The air seemed to thicken, becoming a stifling, toxic gas. Every inhale felt like breathing in smoke, infiltrating their lungs with thick, heavy fumes.
Alice huffed, locking her hands on her hips. "Well tough, you're going to hear it anyway." Bella curled her lip in distaste. Her eyes leveled to Alice's with hardly hidden resentment. The waitress pulled at her strengths, willing for her nerves to still. "Again, I must apologize for my previous actions. That wasn't what I wanted at all."
Bella flexed her jaw, but said nothing. She had never been a violent person; it was always her words that drove her to win an argument. But right now, she had never wanted to hit a woman so badly in her life before. Her mind flashed with the sound of stinging flesh as her hand slapped across a pale, soft cheek. Again and again the sounds and slaps repeated, crafting a mantra of different sensations. She was not a fighter and she was most definitely not a cheater, but Alice seemed to lure an entirely different person from inside.
God did she wish for the door to just open. Or for the floor to crack open and swallow her whole. Even if it's hell the ground destined her for, she's sure it would be better than here. Her stomach muscles are squirming uncomfortably, gnarling themselves into a constant, tight, knot.
Alice watched carefully for any reaction within Bella's cold, hard features. "Please understand that I was desperate." Alice cringed at the sound of her own voice. "I know it doesn't justify my actions, but…" Alice struggled, her hands lifting - now suspended in air as she fought for the right, safe words to say. "I just felt hopeless, and in my despair, thought that if you felt what I felt, you could possibly…" Alice sighed, the rest of her words coming out flat. "Give me a chance."
Bella flexed her jaw; her hard eyes flickered towards Alice. But if Alice was looking for any indication for a resolution, she was sadly mistaken. Her dark, flat eyes remained as understanding as a rock. And Alice felt herself deflate.
The waitress's stomach squirmed, wishing for the door to open and spare her from more impending heartbreak. But life doesn't work like that does it? Because she is the villain in Bella's story. The one that tries to steal or keep the two good forces apart for purely selfish reasons. There is a knight in shining armor waiting just beyond that door; Alice is just the wicked witch that tries to convince the maiden to take a sip of her poisoned wine.
Bella's eyes never softened. "I don't know what is more pathetic." Bella hissed, her eyes narrowing into dark, dangerous slits. They were dark and pitiless, reflecting what must be the very figment of her soul Angry and piercing, she was like a snake constricting around its prey. "That you thought I would even consider such utter insanity, or that you are actually looking for pity in me." Bella's words whipped like an arrow and made its target. Right through the heart. Alice grew still, the poison pulsing loudly through her veins by the very snake she had fallen so recklessly for. And more recklessly, Bella continued. "I am engaged-"
"Yes, to Edward. I believe you have mentioned that before." Alice said sardonically. "But for your fiancé's sake, it's probably best not to mention that you kissed me back." Alice hissed, spitting the words out as it left an acidic taste on her tongue. Her heart quivered and whispered softly to take it back, but her resolve only steeled.
Bella balked, and for a moment, she looked stunned. Her eyes shimmer with a flicker of life, reviving her from the cold, calculated eyes of a snake. Her malicious, mechanic expression faltered. And for a moment, if only for one, she looked vulnerable. Afraid. But this new existence had a short life span, because a moment later, it died. Bella's lips curled back to bare her glimmering, white teeth.
"I did not kiss you back." Bella hissed lowly, her voice breaking down into a hushed whisper as if in fear of someone outside these doors could hear her.
Alice knows she's playing recklessly on the double yellow line of a highway, but she feels the need to continue. "That's not what I recall." Alice says almost in a singsong.
"Well you're fucking delusional." Bella snapped, her eyes narrowing dangerously. Her jaw tightened, flexing her muscles into twitching disarray. "I have no feelings for you other than growing resentment. You mean nothing to me. I am in love with Edward, and I did not kiss you back!" Bella practically screeched the end, her cheeks flushing into a flaming red.
Alice draws a sharp breath, cocking the gun to her venomous words. Her ammunition, however hollow, was ready to tear through skin and bone. The short hair on the back of her neck stood alert, rising as if electricity sparked between the two of them. And although she was coiled and ready to pounce, her heart faltered again. It wallowed in the growing pit of darkness in her chest, beating hollowly. There is no room for two winners in their little game, so obviously, one must loose. And whether she speaks or not, she will be on the loosing team. But she can't stop. The hurt, pain, desperation, it's all still there, and it's making to be a horrible influence on her.
However, Alice's response is broken off by a soft, tentative knock. Bella blinks, her head whirling towards the door. "Um…is anyone in there?" A shy, male's voice drifts past the muffled solid of the door.
Bella gasped in relief, striding towards the door, "Yes. We're locked in here!" Alice bit the insides of her cheeks, catching herself from telling the young server to go away. This is not a lover's quarrel, and thus, leaves her without any right to keep their argument fueling. And anyway, any more time spent cooped up in here and she might as well be prosecuted for kidnapping.
Alice bit her lip as the door swung open, watching as Bella shot out. It was as if the cage door to a tormented lion was lifted, sending the cat prowling with a whipping, angry tail and bared, sharp teeth. The man who released her cocked his head in question, but returned his eyes to Alice, a confused smile flickering across his face.
Alice forced a smile, shrugging her shoulders half-heartedly; which appeared to placate the man as she slowly rolled away. Her smile slowly fell when she turned her back on him. Dishes and glasses stack upon tables, push into the kitchen sinks, waiters move around, and settle them against counters. And as Alice watched Bella stalk out the door, hand in hand with her fiancé, she felt her heart couldmanage another break. Numerous in fact.
The servers continued to pass her, unseeing to her broken state, unloading their plates and menus. And as the doors swung shut, seemingly erasing Bella from her sight and future, the soft clinking of glass mimicked the breaking of Alice's fragile heart.
All she can do now is tug on her red string, and hope the end is still entwined with Bella.
"Are you going to talk about it?" Edward's soft, velvety voice is nothing but an irritation as Bella paces across her floor, grasping coats, jackets, shirts, pants and anything else remotely important. She passes Edward without even a glance.
The large suitcase is settled against her bed, dipping down the soft mattress with its overpowering weight. Things she never considered to take are suddenly fluttering through her head like a frantic heartbeat, memories and connections fearing to be left behind and forgotten. Books, filmy photographs, papers. So much paper. Stacks of old college essays – things she never figured she would be digging up again – old worn novels, small notebooks filled with lazy scrawled notes remain in a hideaway pocket as if she plans on revisiting them everyday in her time away.
As Bella crosses across the floor again, Edward's impatience finally falters. His hand reaches out and grasps her wrist, encompassing it easily with two fingers. The pale blue veins pulsate under his touch as he tightens his hold, lightly tugging Bella closer. Catching her by surprise had granted him a few inches, however, now that realization has settled, resistance snaps back at him like an angry dog.
"What."Her voice is tight and stiff, hissing like a livid, coiled snake. However, it's not the anger in her voice or how her fingernails dig into the palm of his hand that catches him off guard. It's her eyes. They say the eyes are the most expressive feature on a face, a window to the soul so to speak. But with just a flicker of connection, Bella's eyes seem to purge all previous human emotions, becoming as empty and pitiless as a shark's. It's enough to make him drop her hand, his fingers slowly sliding down her skin as she retracts it quickly.
Edward sighs, his hands loosely grasping the junctures of his knees as he is seemingly put back on the shelf, completely forgotten. Edward eyes the scattered papers in Bella's bag dryly. Figures. She would probably only ask him to come if he was made of paper and ink.
With a brisk sigh, Edward continues. "I just don't know why you won't talk about it. I mean you disappear with some weird waitress for some odd amount of minutes and turn up all pissy." Edward grunts, racking a large hand through his copper hair. Seemingly blind to Bella's stiff, immovable form. "I mean, something had to have happened."
"No, nothing did." Bella answered back dryly, her eyes flickering away as she absently folded a shirt for the second time. "Now can you stop talking about it? It's getting on my nerves." Her voice is back to the bristling, hackle-rising hiss her voice usually forms. Her lips curled back as if to bare sharp canines. But if Edward was mistaken, he could have sworn he heard her voice waver. Just a little bit, a glimmer of vulnerability. And it's enough to drive him mad.
Edward groans, his head lulling back as if he were a wolf howling to the moon. His throat throbs as his tone dips down into actual irritation, becoming almost harsh with skeptic sounds that billow from his mouth. With a deep grunt, Edward resigns himself to lie defeated against the bed, his arms bending and stretching across the mattress as he tilts his chin to stare blankly at the wooden frame. But his lips press firmly together, keeping his questioning words inside his mouth.
It's probably for the best; an irritated Bella is a one-way ticket to lying on the couch for the rest of the night; and a serious restriction of the chances of sexy times. And in all honesty, does he really even wantto know? Because, if something was wrong, and he didn't know how to fix it, what would happen? Now – it's almost as if the problem doesn't exist, and thus, doesn't need to be reminded and reprimanded. This is not the case if they are sealed away. Safe and out of sight.
Edward sighed softly, scratching his tummy. His eyes slowly drift close, the frantic motions of his fiancé drifting away and the pleasant darkness encompassing him entirely. Underneath his eyelids, sunshine awaits him, burning brightly with flares of white-hot colors. Flickers of molten chocolate hair tickle his skin, soft music lulling in the corner of his mind. It's times like these that he allows his mind the freedom it needs, his imagination merging everything once collected into a small live feature, an action packed movie that plays forever in his mind. Moments in time that could never truly be relived, but forever written in the productions of his own homemade creation.
With a pleasant sigh, he almost allows himself to drift entirely away. He has no responsibilities right now, not in his head, and Bella can wake him up when she wants to…well, do whatever she wants to do. His imagination is rolling again, playing like a flickering old movie.
And he almost drifts away.
If not for the slightest, repetitive creaking steps that sound from down the hall.
It would have been completely unnoticeable, just some random stranger roaming down the hall. It would have been. If his fiancé hadn't frozen erratically, knocking the corner of her hip harshly into the post, sending a shivering affect through both of their bodies. Edward lazily lifted his head, wondering how his fiancé was going to react. It soundedpainful. But not another sound is made. Not from Bella at least, her lips are pressed tightly together as if they were quiet literally zipped up, trapping any sound inside, bouncing off the roof of her mouth.
Edward groaned, lifting a tired, heavy eyelid. His blurry vision lazily started to clear, removing the pleasant thoughts that had started to form in his head and now brought him into the full front of Bella's whirling, hissing paranoia. It's like a fucking hurricane.And Bella is in the very center. Edward sighs, grunting softly as he slowly propped himself up by his elbows, his eyes slowly following the frozen, tight movements of his fiancé.
"Bella," Edward groans, rubbing his tired eyes. "What are you doing?" Bella only holds up a hand, her pointed finger indicating for him to shut up. Immediately. Edward smiles softly and plops back onto the bed with a lazy thump. He's okay with that.
Bella on the other hand, slowly prowled towards the front door, her eyes locked on the door handle. A stranger would walk right by, but if it was her suspicion, well, she's just glad she remembered to lock it. Her heart fluttered quickly in her chest, thrumming rapidly in her ears. Suspicion swarmed, the hissing whispers humming into one loud overwhelming sound.
The slow creaking sounds crept forward. They were in no hurry to come any closer, lingering at each door as if they were counting every individual tile. Then slowly, they came up to the mouth of her apartment, a closed door sealing them safely outside. Isabella's heart jumped, now pounding like a heavy, clumsy elephant. Nothing is delicate now, her swarming suspicion has hummed into a crescendo as every thought and pound of her heart prods with an almost sharpened tip, pricking like thousands of needles.
Bella sucks in a breath; her hands clenching at her sides as the person outside the door jingles the door handle again. Her heart jumps, a breath is drawn, and Bella's eyes are locked on the door handle. It's locked. She's almost positive. Yet, every single sense in her body is screaming for her to see something; a missing element that couldn't be more elusive in her eyes. But something must be wrong. Something.
And then she hears it. Just the slightest of sounds, a light ticking. It was as if the clock on her wall had suddenly boomed in sound, now becoming nearly distinguishable in the loud silence around them.
Or like metal pressing into a key hole, sliding around and clinking against each metal tooth. Bella almost laughs. Almost. She finds herself too startled to rouse the courage to. But as her mind reeled, a sharp reflex acted, reacting purely on the thin pulse of strength that thrummed inside her beating heart, lurching Bella forward and firmly grasping the door handle. The metal knob jerked counterclockwise, hitting resistance and with a relish of satisfaction, an object tinkles against flat floor tiles.
Bella's lip curls. Her fingers flex against metal, her teeth bared and ravenous. Her blood pulses wildly in her veins, as anger seems to do the same; it encourages a starving, ambitious beast to erupt from inside of her. She never had much control of her anger. It often snaps out too quickly, but when she tries to reel it back in, it's too heavy.
But as her fingers flicker across the lock, they still. She cannot find the will to unlock the door and go out there. The taste of raspberry and vanilla filters through her system, and suddenly, she feels as small and helpless as a child does.
Bella's eyes flicker down, catching the flickering movements of the shadow beneath the door as the person behind it drops down, delicately picking up the dropped object. A soft sigh sounds from behind the door.
"I suppose it was silly to expect that to work." Alice chirps quietly, and with a soft laugh, she continues. "What does one even use to pick a lock? A needle doesn't appear sufficient enough." Bella is frozen, unwilling to act on the reality of her situation. To leave or open the door. It is simple, and yet something she cannot decide on. She was once fearless. What happened? Now she is cowering behind her door, unable to even look through the peephole and confirm her definite suspicions.
God, she could make the Cowardly Lion seem like an old war hero.
Alice hums softly to herself as her shadow flickers again. "Well, good thing I was prepared. Otherwise, this night would have been a long one." The sound of quiet movement stirs from behind the door; Alice's slim shadow becomes an amalgamated blur from her slow, lazy movements. But Bella is just confused. What is she doing?
There is more quiet shuffling, then, almost mockingly, a loud crisp sound of turning pages called from the other side. Was she reading? Reading…really?
The silence continues almost cautiously, breaking suddenly with every turn of a glossy magazine page. Bella actually finds herself leaning in, looking to catch every soft movement Alice expels: whether it is a page turn or a small hum of interest, her ears perked to find every sound.
Then suddenly, just as before, Alice's voice pops out. "Did you know that ants never sleep? In their entire life!" Alice hums softly to herself, flipping another page. "That would suck, wouldn't it? I rather enjoy sleeping, I would find life tiresome other wise, wouldn't you?" Alice's light, syrupy voice floats out to meet Bella, her question instantly slotting underneath the rhetorical category whether intended or not.
Bella huffs, glaring at the oak door. Alice's quiet hum slowly dies down, but Bella's vexations have just begun. This needs to end. She is about to climb onto the first step of her stairwell of success; and she is stalling simply because a girl makes her nervous? Okay, more than nervous. This girl makes Mark Chapman look benign. But she is Isabella Swan, the girl who tore down her competition for every available job in a blink of an eye, the girl who climbed to the top of her university with only a few scratches and bites on her record. This shouldn't be such a problem. It's just one girl, one little insignificant girl.
Her pep talk is encouraging, but it doesn't quiet undermine the leaps and jumps her stomach perform. It doesn't block the smell, taste, and feel of soft raspberry and vanilla lips, a twisted simulation that pours over her senses in an endless, crashing ocean. Her words do nothing for her – as if mere thought alone has ever driven her anywhere – because it is her body that keeps her paralyzed.
Again, Bella revisited the old, dying question. Fight or Flight? It's never been much of a question before, but then again, there has never been such a feeling like this before. Like her heart has jumped from her chest and torn through her shirt, still pulsing, still alive, but remote. Alone. Isolated.
Bella sighs quietly. But remains. It's as if she stands before a fork in the road and instead of taking one, she sits down. She was usually blind sighted to any other option, having focused intensely on the one of her choice. However, this time was different. Staring at the worn, dirty paths of each road hasn't made up her mind yet, and so she remains quiet, sitting beside herself in her lost state of mind.
Before long, Bella has moved in her state of indecisiveness, now leaning limply against the doorframe. Perhaps she cannot face Alice, but maybe she could lure out the snarling, vicious remarks she used to whip out. It was a common impulse, a misstep, but even so, it was her safety. But now? Now it's nothing, because it has left her weak, left her to be vulnerable. Can she even speak?
Bella's lips tightened, forming a strained, purposeful line. Sad, isn't it? That she must question even that now. Can't she rely on something? A minor detail perhaps, but it's something nonetheless.
That's not fair. Bella chides herself softly. She has Edward. Edward can be relied on. But even this is left with seeds of doubt, because who lies in bed now? It's not her surely. Bella's eyes carefully trace Edward's calm, sleepy form, her eyes lingering upon his peaceful, resting face. His hand rests against his core while the other drapes across his forehead; a slow curve of a smile pulls his lips up softly, revealing what must be a particularly pleasing dream.
Edward must be off in La La land again; and the only Alice he will ever concern himself with is the one that must follow him everywhere, through his little adventures in Wonderland.
Bella draws a long breath, her eyes fluttering close as her head tilts back, bumping lightly against the door. If she kept her eyes closed long enough, maybe she could picture the airport. The gray, dull room filled with people. Clouds descending her as she soared right above. Another long, weary breath is drawn, and she is crashing, grounded by the obvious lacking of her imagination.
With the hit of reality, the scent of raspberry and vanilla follows through, enticing her memory with its miserable taste. And if she allows herself just the slightest of leeway before whipping herself back in shape, she can even remember how it had felt. The very slightest of pressure; so warm and moist. A flick of a tongue, a gentle caress. Again and again, they rejoin.
With a cry of pain and horror, Bella slammed her head against the door. The sound reverberates throughout the apartment, clashing like loud bells inside her skull. And yet, her thoughts rung louder. However, this time, they were not alone. Pain now throbs like a beating, aching heart, pulsing and pounding into her temples. Light and dark figments of color clash against each other as her eyes roll in the back of her skull. A curtain flickers, and suddenly, Bella's thoughts are scattered, untraceable but louder as ever.
Bella groaned softly, her fingers racking through her hair unkindly. She payed no mind to the tender bumps that had risen, running her fingers against the rough skin, heeding no care to it even when it sparked with pain.
The only thing that hurt her head worse was the shrill, desperate voice that called out like a siren from behind the door. "Bella? Bella!" Alice's panicked voice called out desperately. "Are you hurt? Bella, can you speak? Speak to me Bella! Dear god I swear if you don't say something soon I am breaking down this door whether I can pick the lock or not!" Alice's voice had resounded into a panicked shrill, becoming physically painful to listen to. Bella's ears rung.
"Christ Alice, I just hit my head!" Bella hissed out before wincing, rubbing the bump on her head again. It throbbed with every word, lapsing back and forth like calm, crashing waves.
"So…so you're not hurt?" Alice's tentative voice reached Bella's ears carefully, as if she knew any other sound would stab her like shards of glass.
"What do you think Alice?" Bella said bitterly, leaning back into her protective shield. The door that hid her from Alice. It was made of wood and steel, and yet, with Alice's voice on the other side, it felt thinner than paper.
With a soft sigh, Alice moves again, her shadow flickering under the door. Even blinded by thick wood, Bella could feel the relief in Alice's voice, her forehead smoothing out again as a smile taints her lips. It makes Bella's stomach clench. "I apologize for my panicked state. My imagination often runs away with me."
Bella swallows her words. She doesn't want to have a conversation with her, who knows what could spark aid in her crazed, desperate mind? So she expels a brusque sigh and jerks her head to the side, as if to disconnect eye contact that was never made.
And silence swallows them whole. It engulfs them in the belly of an awkward little monster, its stomach walls constricting tightly around them, closing them in. It's uncomfortable. Words are meant to be said, but Bella refuses to say them; however, it doesn't keep them from building up in her chest, bubbling over like an old science experiment left unattended. It bubbles to a boiling point, becoming almost strenuous to remain silent, something she had no qualms with only moments before. How odd that it was a simple knock on the head that encouraged Bella to speak. One could only hope what a full head concussion would do.
Finally, she snapped.
"Well?" Bella hisses. "Don't just sit there, say something!"
Alice jumps in surprise, her head-snapping upright as Bella's voice calls for her attention. The small girl stares incredibly at the door that separates them, her expression the face of shock as Bella addressed her personally. Did she want to talk to her? Alice hadn't expected that. No, she hadn't expected that at all. In fact, her plan didn't consist any of this. She wasn't supposed to try and break into her apartment or even come to this level of the compartment in the first place. She was only going to wait. Wait long enough and something was bound to happen, right? Maybe Bella would have come down, somehow pulled to Alice as she was to Bella. However, such a girl's dream had not transpired. And if it had? Well, she hadn't thought that part through yet, but it most definitely wouldn't have been the end.
But she hardly took a step inside the building before she was already slipping into a closing elevator and going to Bella's floor. They were like magnets; their positive and negative polarities pulling each other together by the very force of nature. And before she could even accumulate enough thought to dissuade herself, she was picking at the lock. Another mark on the score that kept them apart.
But maybe she's wrong. Maybe this isn't so bad. Maybe their game isn't over, and the scoreboard can still be saved. Maybe.
With a shaky breath, Alice spoke, her heart stuck in a fluttering mess. "I didn't know you wanted me to." The waitress leaned forward, now bent on her hands and knees as she nervously crept closer to the door. Her cheek now brushed against the cool wood as if she could somehow reach Bella through the solid mass between them. She just wanted to be closer, is that so wrong? Alice's answer was no, but a restraining order that is just waiting to be written says differently.
"Well it's not like I want you here, but somehow your silence is more concerning." Bella's voice drifts from behind the door, a beautiful melody to Alice's ears; if only she could just ignore the words. Unfortunately, for Alice, lyrics were the most important factor of any song. But as long as she's listening, she might as well sing along.
"I hadn't realized you felt uncomfortable, but then again, we are separated by a door." Alice said softly. "But if you wish to speak pleasantries, I have all night and the next morning to entertain." She shifted closer to the very bane of her existence, lifting a hand to rest it against the wood as if she had intended for it to reach straight through, touching Bella with no heavy factor inbetween.
Bella scoffed, lifting her voice to return their slowly forming song. "If entertainment was your only intention, Alice, I can assure you I would have left ages ago." Would she have? Or would she have remained still, contemplating her flight or fight reactants stubbornly as she did previously.
Alice merely shrugged. "Well, to be honest, I hadn't expected you to stay in the first place. And as nice as your presence has been, it had been quiet the damper on my plans." The waitress absently rubbed the thin needle against her fingertips. What if she could pick the lock? Would she have really gone in? As demoralizing as her answer was, it was purely the truth: that yes, she would have strayed inside. But it was by instinct, like a moth's attraction to light; so in reality, it shouldn't really be considered as her fault, right?
"I'm sure it was." Bella answered dryly. "You know, I am told that the clinical definition of insanity is the tenancy to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results." Her voice sounded too calm, almost as if Bella was mentioning that her hair was brown rather than questioning the sanity of a person's mind. "I'm curious as to what this makes you." Alice smiled sadly on the other side, the soft pads of her fingertips slowly sliding down the door. Maybe not.
"Well, technically, my first attempt to break in was a success. So perhaps I am not insane, but I'm sure you can come up with plenty of other titles that fit just as perfectly." Alice said weakly.
She's not crazy right? No, of course not, she had perfect reasons to be here.
…And if anything, she was crazy in love. Love can make people do stupid, silly things. Obviously. However, Bella doesn't appear to appreciate the persistence and unwavering care Alice is putting into this. It's exhausting to get a heart broken repeatedly, and yet, Alice seems eager to jump back up for more after each withering crack.
Sighing softly, Alice eyed the door between them tentatively. What was a door, really? It was just wood, nails, and a steel doorknob. That couldn't be the only thing keeping her from Bella, right? One layer of a very breakable mass. Cocking her head, Alice touched the door gingerly, rolling the pads of her fingertips down its smooth textile. Then, with sudden resentment, Alice's fingernails dug into the wood. Pain sparked against her skin and rooted underneath her nail as she dragged her fingers down its very center.
The action was pointless…but the sound was piercing.
Bella shifted restlessly on the other side, a nervous sound coming from her throat. Her heart slowly started to pick up its pace and thundered in her ears. The calm pulse of her thoughts started to increase, starting to beat a maddened tempo in her head, spiraling her out of control.
The dull ache in her head returned; the low hum of suspicion swarmed. "What are you doing?"
Alice blinked, her fingernails faltering in their descent. "Hmm?" She cocked her head to the side in wonder, her mind still wrapped around Bella's question in thought. What was she doing? She didn't know. Must she? Her eyes trailed the white carvings she had created, flushed with pleasure with her odd triumph. If anyone really tried, how easy could it be to break it down? A single barrier. And again, she had to resurface the question: what was a door but wood, metal, and nails?
"Alice, I don't know what you're doing, but…" Bella faltered, her voice rising in the weariness of her implications. "God, just stop." Bella's voice stabbed with a sharp edge, the heel of her hand slapping against the doorframe to knock Alice from her ministrations. It was like tapping a fish tank to gain attention, and with miner alterations, it could parallel this situation entirely. Both fish and Alice – already ready to follow your every movement – snapped back in surprise, eyes flashing rapidly and mouths gaping wide.
Surprise had knocked sense – as much as Alice ever had – back into her head. With new eyes to see through, Alice saw the white carvings with a restricted perspective, flushing with an entirely different reason. Alice's heart dropped, sinking like a heavy stone.
There was a time in Alice's life when she believed she was bound by morality. She stood by these convictions under the belief that she had governed herself to act pure and authentic. Now, however, she never felt so mentally abandoned. How did she lead herself so astray? How did it come to this point? Clawing at a woman's door for entrance; like some dog kicked and locked outside. Like some pest.
Alice winced. Perhaps she is insane. But not under the definition society has pushed her into. It's unjust if one were to really think about it, even if no one really does. After all, to get such a jagged point on an arrowhead, someone had to cut the stone.
Alice sighed softly, shifting until her head rested against the marked door. She wilted against the support. "I'm sorry." Her voice trembled, sounding as if on the verge of tears.
No one answered.
Alice cocked her head to the side, her stomach squirming uncomfortably. Turning her head slowly, she thumped her head against the door as her cheek rubbed softly against the solid barrier. Again, she cleared her throat, questioning the odd silence. "Bella?"
Her heart dropped, lurched, and then jumped again. Alice cleared her throat nervously, her stomach knotting into gnarled, entangled ropes. "Bella, dear, did you hear me?"
"Have you left?"
When no answer was returned, Alice dropped down on all fours and put her head against the floor. Squinting through the little crack, an odd filter of light blinked and sparked in her eyes. It sent an odd, cold prickling across her body, feeling as if a myriad of small nettles were pushing deep into her skin.
Bella wasn't there.
Alice whimpered softly, pushing herself closer to the small slit of light for a chance of a better sight. "Bella? Bella, hon, are you still there?"
Her quiet, inquisitive voice was met with only silence, setting her teeth on edge as her fingers dug into the slick tiles of the floor. A curtain flickered in her mind, blocking all reason from her brain as it often does, blotting out the boundaries that kept her from normalcy. Morality already abandoned, Alice rightened herself against the door, slapping her palms against the door wildly.
"Bella, please answer me! Have you left? Are you okay? Please don't ignore me darling!" Her fingernails dug and scraped against the wood, peeling off smooth trails of its oaky coat as her voice released a constant stream of trembling, desperate pleas.
These desperate cries were regarded quietly as Bella perched herself against the counter. Her blank, cold eyes stared absently at the door as her arms constricted around herself once more. She remained stoic inside her cold, little kitchen; her mind softly coaxing her frightened thoughts back to attention.
For a moment – as small as it was – she had lost her resolve. Everything that had stacked itself into a pyramid of distress had tumbled down on her, crushing her with all of its force. And so with a frightened little heart, she had scrambled up and scampered off like a wounded dog. But, as if tied to the end of a rope, Isabella found herself unable to get too far. Her feet halted hesitantly upon the threshold of her own bedroom as the quiet snores of her sleeping fiancé droned from inside.
And without much thought, she silently turned around and walked towards the kitchen; without even a word of consolation to assure her actions. It perplexed any logic that remains awake, watching blearily through her drowsy head.
The two worn paths of flight or fight are both trotted and worn, appearing nearly inconsequential in the balance of her future. Was it really even a choice? Could one voluntary decide which option was the best? Obviously not. If one were to think more deeply into it, it's more like teetering on a beam of glass than anything; the only conscious decision to make is whether or not you accept the consequences of the inevitable fall.
A sharp cry of despair pulled Bella's straying thoughts back to the ruckus outside her door. Alice thumped against the wall as she released a low, waning whine. Huffing, Bella pursed her lips as her eyes narrowed in distaste. Well if this keeps up, she will end up never leaving here, buried in the piles of complaints she will inevitably get from her neighbors. Or faint from exhaustion and never wake up again. Bella sighed softly. It's like owning a dog she never, ever, wanted.
But whether she wanted it or not, she'll be damned if she is called neglectful. So with a resigned sigh, Bella propped herself off from the counter. Closing her eyes in pure exhaustion, she slowly walked towards the door as she absentmindedly ran a hand through her tousled hair. Stepping closer, she slowly kneeled down and rapped the door lightly with her knuckles.
Alice, having resorted to thumping her head against the door for attention, now stiffened. Turning her head, Alice's lips grazed the wood as she stared blankly at the shadow underneath the door. "Bella?"
Bella's lips tightened, she still didn't like how her name sounded coming from Alice's lips, resulting in something that remotely framed a frown. But the heaviness of today lied on her shoulders, pushing down any free-willing remark that wanted to cross her lips, passing tired, forced words through instead. "Alice. I'm going to speak honesty right now and I want you to listen very carefully, can you do that for me?"
There was a moment of quiet silence, probably made from the extensive time Alice needed to realize Bella couldn't see her nod. It ended in a soft, tentative sound as Alice cleared her throat. "Yes. Yes, of course."
"I am leaving in…" Bella checked the clock above the kitchen counter, squinting her eyes in disbelief as the numbers blurred together. "In four hours." Bella finished off dryly. Fuck. "Yes, well, as you can imagine, I am exhausted. I honestly just don't have the energy – or time for that matter, to deal with this anymore. So I am asking you as politely as I possibly can, for all of this to come to an end."
Alice was quiet for another long, dreary moment. It was just enough time for Bella's heart to allow seeds of hope to blossom, warming her with the possible thoughts of freedom. But by the end, Alice sighed softly, followed through with words that Bella wished she didn't hear.
"I can't promise that." Alice whispered weakly, her voice sounding thread-barren, as if she was also worn from the long nights use as well. "A part of me wishes that I could, that I could give that to you Bella. But I can't. I cannot make myself give up. It's like asking me to stop breathing, or to forcibly stop my heart from beating; it's not a voluntary choice."
Bella simply nodded. She felt too numb to feel much of anything else. Too tired to try to fight back. If this was truly Alice's decision, than she will have to find dismantle it in another way. If simply asking her wont do the trick, than she will have to step up her game. But not tonight. Tonight she needs to get at least a blink of sleep.
"Okay." Bella sighed softly, nodding absently to herself as if to reassure what she has said with a simple, unseen gesture.
"Okay?" Alice asked incredulously.
"You won't call the police?" Bella blinked. The police. Police. Why hadn't she thought of that? Did she honestly need a criminal to remind her that there are people actually hired to enforce the law? Bella sighed heavily, running her nimble, skittish fingers through her hair again. But it doesn't matter now, and honestly, even if she had the choice, she wouldn't have made the call.
The dial tone rings in her ears, trilling like bells of a church service that echoed cavernously through her head. It continued despite the location of her phone that sat miles away from her, staring dismally at the girl – once a woman – leaning against her own door in despair. But now it was far too far, and it would cause such troublesome interactions with people she didn't need to see. How sad, that it was simply a minor delay that caused Bella to not pick up the phone. A minor delay that could have saved her, now tossed aside in favor of getting to an airport on time.
But Bella hardly knew the impact she had made, pulling herself back into their conversation in fear of another delay. "No, I won't call the police." And that was that.
Alice was silent for a moment as if weighing every word that Bella had expelled, worried by the heaviness in each outspoken letter. Her heart grew heavy, knowing exactly how her words had gotten so weary. She wanted to say something, anything that could relieve her of this sudden depression. It wormed through her like a snake, coiling in her stomach and nipping at her heart, releasing poison through her bloodstream. But she remained silent for too long, caught in the steel trap of her emotion for a second too late, because soon, she really was alone.
Alice mouthed emptily for words that never came, her tongue drying out like a cotton ball in Bella's release. A strangled word came out, but neither was it answered nor accepted, echoing loudly in the empty hallway again.
Out of place. Locked out. Alone again it would seem, but that was hardly anything new.
"Bella?" Alice's voice drifted in, caressing her inner ear with her soft, velvety voice. Bella strained her ears, still drifting in the blackness of her sleep, confused but not yet alarmed. It was almost wanted. Such a soft voice. Bella hummed softly, pressing the soft downy of her pillow more firmly into her face. Breathing in deeply, the charming scents of vanilla and raspberry greet her, tainting her mind with a memory not yet remembered.
Again, the voice called out for her, its glossy coat coaxing a soft and uninhabited Bella from her sleep.
"Bella? Darling it's time to get up." Bella's eyebrows creased. Umm...? The voice sounded different that time. Its sweet, syrupy sound remained, but it was as if a deeper, darker voice mimicked it, following just a delayed beat after it. The staggering voices called out her name repeatedly, flattening one voice over until it was only Edward that remained. Abolishing every part of Alice from the recess of Bella's mind.
"Bella, seriously, you are going to be late." Edward's deep voice boomed loudly into her ear. Bella jolted from her bed, the sluggish drowsiness instantly leaving her as she blinked away her sleep. Slowly, she started to pick up the pieces, both of her dream and reality, and the mixtures inbetween. Isabella stiffened her dark, blank eyes hardening.
Edward momentarily frowned, watching as Bella's eyes tightened, compelled by her dark, mechanical façade once again. Disappearing behind her walls again, it would seem. He sighed softly, rubbing the back of his head absently. Well, what was there to do? He would just irritate her if he tried, right? She had tough walls to break down anyway, even though, theoretically, he had never tried.
Sighing softly, Edward slowly excited the room, glancing nervously behind him at the blank, empty stare of his fiancé. Edward sighed, leisurely rolling up his crisp white sleeves to his elbows. As he made his way to the kitchen, he took out the I Love Lucy mug Bella used and filled it with her "energy drink". That would cheer her up, surely.
And perhaps she heard the soft clinking of glass or the cupboards open, because soon enough, she had roused enough energy to get up for her shower; if only for the hope to taste that pleasant burning once again. And when she could, it burned painfully in her chest as if it was a sun she had swallowed rather than the usual alcohol. It was such a relief.
Edward padded around the room, carrying large suitcases and limp duffle bags; things she most likely will never open again. The sunlight streamed in through the window, a constant reminder to check the clock above her head for any inconsistent changes that may have occurred. Bella took a long, deep breath. Come on, Bella, this is what you have wanted since day one. Could you at least manage some excitement?
"Hey, are you ever going to call your parents and tell them the news?" Bella sighed heavily. Of course. She forgot about her parents. Bella winced quietly, her lips curling at the idea of it. In all likelihood, most likely she will not.
"Yeah, I'll get to it." No, she won't. "Probably on the plane." Do they even allow that? "Thanks for reminding me, babe." Asshole.
Edward throws a charming smile from behind his shoulder before struggling to open the door. Bella froze, flinched, then lurched forward all at once. Her drink, now abandoned, spilled messily onto the granite counter (hopefully missing her) as she jerked forward in blind desperation.
"Oh wait Edward, here, let me get that." She quickly plucked the straps of duffle bags and suitcases from his hands, bumping the door open with her hip and slithering from his grip. Well, there we go. Humming forcibly to herself, Bella peeked out from the door and looked around.
Her eyes scanned the small hallway twice then back again, doubling her search for any hidden girl that was prepared to jump out and kidnap Isabella in any second. But after the seventh search, Edward's hand hesitantly rubbed her back, breaking Bella from her concentrations. Bella started, her spine stiffening in an irrational impulse as her features were governed once more, slipping back into the selfishly controlled.
Inwardly, however, she vigorously tried to console herself. After all, this is what she wanted, wasn't it? To be left alone? Isabella nodded silently as she stalked forward, her chin jutting upwards as she stepped with grace and determination towards the elevator.
For all the purposes of appearances, Isabella smirked; after all, it was her special day. But inside, she was anything but proud; wilted and shriveled, she only looked through her peripherals, determined to catch Alice in the act for good. But if she had wanted that, she only had to look forward.
The elevator door opened, sweeping her inside and closing Edward out.
Thick metal doors closed, blocking Edward from entering and silencing his protests. Bella stared curiously at the closed doors as a soft beeping marked their slow descent, not entirely comprehending the situation she had literally walked into.
Bella turned her head slowly as she watched in a thick daze the quick, swift movements unfold. Alice swiftly stooped down; grabbing one of Bella's bags as she quickly pulled the elevator's trigger and halted their descent immediately. Bella gasped, jostling forward helplessly like a marionette cut from its strings, paralyzed from shock again.
And like a shot from a gun, Alice was before her, a bright and happy smile gracing her lips with excellence. And her bag in hand? "Good morning Bella! I apologize for the possible fright I may have caused, but I promise you it was of great importance that we rid of the 'third wheel' for this particular discussion." Alice's smile enhanced an impossible amount of happiness, beaming from her like rays of sunshine.
Bella's mind snapped like a steel trap, capturing Alice's meaning in a flash of a second. Isabella seethed, hovering over the woman with emanating hostility. "Ho—"
"I'm sorry Bella, but I'm going to have to stop you there. You see, I don't have much time, and coming here with a reason and all, I feel it is important that I get straight to the point." Alice smiled, her eyes glinting cryptically. Bella bristled. "Although I am certain you already have assumed my topics of discussion that is not what I have come here to say. You know my points, I understand yours. And so with deliberate thought, I have come here with a plan of action."
Alice watched from underneath her eyelashes as Bella coiled her arms across her chest, straightening into a stiff, intimidating posture as she all but snarled back at her. "And what would that be?"
The waitress paused, allowing the moment to fill with stage suspense, her expression governed into one of nonchalance. Inwardly however, Alice's heart jumped like a jackrabbit, bolting for the hills as the feral coyote in front of her snarled.
Taking a small step forward, Alice maneuvered her way past the steel walls of Bella's personal bubble. Isabella grew nervous immediately, even if not shown visibly. Although her features were controlled, Alice inspected the natural inflections of Bella's alarm, watching as her fingers dug fiercely into her forearm and her close-toed heels tapped rapidly against the floor. All hidden underneath the scornful snarl plastered across her lips.
Alice smiled sweetly, tucking a stray hair behind her ear before answering just as sweetly, "Well, isn't that obvious? I'm not going to let you leave." Alice paused, and then as if obvious, rolled her hand in a lazy gesture as she spoke. "Well, without me of course."
The time it took for Bella to process this information was far longer than she would have liked to admit. It muddled slowly to its own conclusion with the enthusiasm of a dying horse; lazy and tired, it formed. She wasn't leaving unless Alice came with her, however, is she stayed, she might as well be Alice's prisoner. Or a stuffed trophy in the basement of her house. Either way, it is a situation that leaves little to be desired, and one she must wiggle out of.
Bella took a step forward, seemingly surprising Alice. She hadn't expected Bella to move forward, pushing them closer together. It leaves a small flicker of hesitation in her heart as her eyes follow the movement. But Isabella isn't halting, she steps closer with her arms still tight around her chest and her eyes burrowing deep holes into Alice.
Alice swallows gently, pushing down the sudden vulnerability and self-doubt that sprung up. However, it quickly sprung up again as Bella slowly uncoiled her hand, gently reaching around Alice to press the button back down. Her breath fans across Alice's cheek as the elevator lurches downward.
"I don't think so." Bella whispers softly. Her words touch Alice's skin like poison, leaving a thick, sticky coat in its wake. The elevator is in action now, slowly descending from their suspended state as it beeps with each floor that passed. Alice swallows softly, her eyes lifting to meet the dark and dangerous slits of Isabella Swan. Her heart still melts, and she finds it impossibly unfair.
Alice gathered herself again, sighing softly as if in disappointment. "Well, although your cooperation is preferred," Alice's gaze lifted, now staring deeply into Bella as if to ensure her eternal dedication. "It's not exactly vital."
The bell ringed, and the two doors opened. And for a small, teasing moment, Bella regarded Edward's absence in disappointment. Would it have been too hard to go down the stairs? Or was it such an inconvenience to see your girl off as she flew to a new state. It must have been, because when the metal doors peeled back entirely, both girls were met with absolutely no one to greet them.
Alice grasped the situation whole-heartedly with one hand, holding Bella's bag with the other. With no pestering Edward to stop her, Alice stepped forward, walking away.
Bella blinked. Her eyes followed Alice's retreating form suspiciously, as she made away with her bag in hand. Then, as if sensing Bella's hesitance, Alice looked over her right shoulder and smiled, "Come on dear, don't want to be late, now do we?" Her voice trilled that exciting, sweet voice, causing goose bumps to rise against Bella's skin.
Snarling, Bella stalked forward as she left the thoughts of Edward like shells on the beach, dropping them down delicately. Her heels clicked loudly against the floor as she blindly followed Alice's slim form. The waitress bounced ecstatically back into action, electrified from Bella's willingness.
Her mind whirled with possibilities, not quiet sure which one to choose. They were infinite, and yet limited all the same. She couldn't just follow her to New York, no, it wasn't quite that simple. It's not like her love can be amount to dollars and cents, and will most likely be insufficient in getting her a plan ticket. So the plan was to guide her away. Not kidnapping per-se, just…borrowing…until Bella can see the truth. That they are meant to be together.
Humming happily, Alice swung her arms back and forth, as she stepped out in front of the street. This was easier than she thought it would be! She thought she would have to bring Emmett along for reinforcements, but here she was, leading Bella almost willingly away!
The small giggle quickly morphed into a gasp as her arm jerked painfully to the side. Her fingers tightened involuntarily, grasping the suitcase in an inescapable death grip as Bella tried to pry her fingers away.
Alice huffed. "Well, here I thought you were being reasonable!" Stomping her foot, Alice tugged back. It didn't amount to much. Alice's small arms shook in their determination, quaking as if related to one of the intricate machines that register earthquakes, becoming very unlikely that she should win anything by the end of their tug-a-war game. It was like a small kitten hitting head to head with a snarling, angry wolf. Bella, after all, was stronger, and in all senses, larger. Underneath the white cotton-clothes lie tense, capable muscles, her body structured to endure.
The woman now glowered down at Alice with a mixture of boredom and irritation, her fingers holding loosely to the strap of her own duffle bag while Alice's side quivered in the excess of her desperate clutches.
"Alice, how many times do I have to say it for you to actually listen to me?" Bella sighed briskly, her mouth tightening into a thin-lipped line as her eyes bore hardly concealed contempt. "It's not going to work out."
Alice pursed her lips, her bright, youthful face falling into one of the rare, tight expressions she wears, looking more like a mask than anything else. It was obvious her face wasn't structured to contain such misery, for it twisted her skin in the most displeasing of ways. It was like watching the gradual process of a child becoming an adult in the course of seconds. It was uncomfortable, but human-sympathy can only stretch so much.
"Then I suppose the same can be said to you." Alice said weakly, tugging the strap feebly. As the women stood, torn in their moment, bystanders silently gathered in the corners of the streets. A low murmur of whispers started to pinprick the silence, filling the lapse of sound with loud murmuring words.
This reluctant audience, though seemingly invisible to Alice, started to wear on Isabella. Her eyes flickered about, following the mundane movements of each stranger's lips. What started out as halfhearted became admirably stronger, her hand swiftly yanking the duffle bag from the woman's grasp in the short of two or three tugs.
Alice gasped, and with feeble, nimble fingers, she dimly grasped Bella's shirt. It slipped through her fingers like sand. Men and woman alike stopped and stared as the small woman blindly spoke with deaf ears, hardly hearing her own words as they called for Bella. They seemed insignificant, uttered in a purposeless way that fell dumbly from moving lips. But to Alice, it was her underlining hope, her last line, reeled out for someone to pull her to shore.
But what a hopeless case, it sunk the moment it was cast.
But with humiliation burning in her blood and sadness eating at her gut, she started to trot, and then run, and so, just as Bella slammed the taxi's door shut, Alice hit it with the heel of her hand. Pain sparked through her skin and ran across her bones. It was a tender hit, not even containing much strength to make a sound, but either way, suspicions were made. The taxi driver lurched forward in a moment of disorganized panic and peeled away from the sidewalk, speeding quickly down the lane.
And Bella was gone, tugging their connected red string painfully until it seemed to have broken off, disclosing their future together with a slap of a car door and the rear of its engine.
Bella sat stiffly in her seat, her hands clasped together as if molded and shaped from stone. Her heart pounded heavily in her chest and roared in her ears as the taxi driver made another daring turn.
"Excuse me? Do you mind slowing down?" Bella called out briskly, shifting uncomfortably in hear seat. Her eyes followed the quick blurs that were once objects, inanimate or not. The taxi driver didn't seem to hear her, or maybe he didn't understand. Releasing another heavy breath, Bella started again. "Sir? I would greatly appreciate it if you could slow down." Even that was strained.
But at least that time the man heard, although, he didn't seem to come to the same conclusion. It was as if his ears only heard the inflections of a voice rather than its meaning, and in turn, shot a nervous glance over his shoulder at Bella as his eyes swarmed with confusion.
However, instead of meeting the man's eyes, Bella's attention caught something so much more horrific.
"Oh my god, look at the road!" Bella screetched.
The man blinked and spun around quickly; just in time to see the bright headlights of another car.
Sound blared as colors blurred, spinning around in an unorganized disarray. The car swerved into a panicked turn. Before any person, inside or out of the car, could grasp the motions or even have time to panic, the car lurched forward and off the thick cemented bourders, plunging them into grave darkening waters.
The last thing Isabella Swan could see, feel, or hear was the loud yell of the driver, the dark waters before them, and a silencing pain that smacked against her head, silencing all her thoughts in one terrifying gulp.
In a small hospital room, a thin burnette lies uncouncious in an even smaller bed. A heart moniter beeps her quiet existence; the dark bruises underneath her eyes and cotten lips are dubious, but the heart is beating, so by scientific theory: Isabella is alive.
A bleary sense of awareness enters Isabella's mind through the seams of her conciousness. The pads of her fingertips tingle, shooting rods of pain up her arm. A loud beat pulsates wildly against her temple, mirrored only by the the equally heavy thumps of her heart. The pain continues, distributing evenly through the rest of her body: joints, ankles, wrists, arms and legs. Everything.
However, through the dizzyness of this new pain, a soft and quiet pleasure follows as well. Careful fingers brush tenderly against her bruised skin, emanating warmth from her cold, mechanical heart. The fingers move to touch everything, brushing gently against her arms, chest, cheeks and finally through her hair, removing patches of dried blood with tender care. That at least wasn't painful.
Only a single thing defined a thin line between reality and make believe. A heartbeat. A rhythic pulse. And that's all she had. Just a twitching, pulsing muscle. Everything else was just pain or pleasure without reasons or even why. Why was she feeling pain? Why was she so warm?
"Oh, Bella." A soft voice answered quietly. The gentle fingers faltered for a moment, brushing across her right eyebrow hesitently before descending again. The voice sighed again, repeating her soft quiet plea like a prayer.
The sound reverberated loudly in her mind, ringing like the sharp chime of a bell. It was painful. Loud and bright, it seemed to paint colors in the underside of Bella's eyelids, stabbing her with bright-hot lights. Bella groaned queitly, turning her head away from the brightness.
The voice gasped, undermining Bella's intentions entirely by brightening her voice in surprise. "Bella!" It stabbed Isabella like a butcher knife, slicing through her mind with its colorful light.
A warm hand landed lightly against her wrist as cool breaths fanned across Bella's cheek, touching her lips. Almost instantly, a cool breath of vanilla and raspberry touched deliciously against her tongue. It caused an erratic, unrecognizable impulse, rightening Bella's spine painfully and snapping her eyes open.
Pain stabbed, but this time it was almost ignorable. Because now, through her bleary vision sat a small woman with an almost recognizable face. Large swirls of hazel stare back at her attentively; present with an almost common warmth in her ever-so uncommon eyes. Silky black spikes bounce energetically around her rosy cheeks as her plump, pink lips part. Bella half expected more painful, bright words to come falling out, but this time, they only moved.
She was almost familiar. Almost recognizable. Almost known. In the dark fog of her mind, she was grasping blindly for a name or connection. But whenever it seemed her searching mind came up with something substantial, it wormed eagerly from her fingers. Leaving her in blacknesss again.
This strange woman sighed again, her fingertips gently running down Bella's arm. Then suddenly, her moving lips produced words, spilling them out messily. "I'm sorry. I know I shouldn't be here. But when I heard...when I heard...I..." The woman broke off suddenly, jerking her head to the side as if a great pain suddenly blossumed in her chest. The stranger's fingers trembled against her skin, quivering with emotion as Bella sat there, emotionless. Blank. Empty.
With a deep, wavering breath, the woman revived herself, her voice renewed. "When I heard about the accident, there wasn't a single part of me that was strong enough to hold back." The woman chuckled sadly. "No self-restraint I suppose." Her pink lips turned down into an almost unnatural frown, her fingers selfishly leaving Bella to tenderly rub circles against her own temple.
Questions grew greedily in Bella's chest, growling angrily for attention in her blank, unhappy mind. Only figments of memories were left inside her, just a ghost of a life. It was as if someone had hazardously tossed the peices of different puzzles across the room, just waiting to be connected into one picture. But that was it. Small, already defined memories ghost around her mind, hardly containing enough information to tie a single thought together.
So with a tiny push, Bella cleared her throat, instantly wincing from the sensation. It was like swallowing shards of glass. But hungry, roaring questions in Bella's chest pushed her forward. "W-where a-am I?" Her voice sounded like sandpaper, rubbing aggressively against her eardrum.
Alice's large attentive eyes watched Bella warily for a moment, flickering over every point in Bella's face with rapt attention. Then, carefully, she answered. "You're in a hospital Bella. You've been in a coma induced sleep for three months."
Three months. Coma. Sleep. Hospital. They were all words that obviously held meaning, but in the fog of her mind, she couldn't grasp the importance of them. They were inconsequential.
Alice's eyes watched Bella carefully for a reaction, marking down every insignificant movement. And for Bella, there was none, which to Alice, was just as important.
"Bella..." Alice tested out carefully, her voice dipping down gently as she leaned forward. Her eyes remained locked intensely on her, refusing to let her go. Bella wished she had stayed quiet. "Do you know me?"
Silence extended painfully between them. It filled with an uncomfortable heaviness of unspoken words and unrecognizable expressions. Bella groped helplessly in her head, wanting something, anything to connect her to this body of hers, to this life. But no, it was just her heart. A rhythmic pulse. And yet, when she encompassed it with her hand, feeling it beat against her palm, it was insignificant. It was like it wasn't even hers, just another sound and motion in this body of hers.
Sighing softly, Bella shook her head slowly. The woman gasped, leaning back in apparant surprise. In a tight, weary voice, she continued. "Not at all? Do you remember anything?"
Another sullen, queit shake of her head.
Alice stared wide eyed at Bella in silence, her expression torn between horror and relief. Which was odd, but Bella didn't question it. What did she know? A painfully silence passed between them, but when void of words, it made up with wild, anxious movements. Alice bit angrily at her thumb as her eyes flickered about in a vicious circle, landing on Bella before circling around again.
Then with an almost resigned sigh, Alice dropped her hand as her body rippled with tense, estatic energy. Her wide, fearful eyes landed on Bella with such a heavy sense of gravity that it sparked her heart to an entirely different rhythm. Bella's body coiled, her spine stiffening again, from another unexplainable impulse.
However, before Bella could even attempt to make sense of any of this, Alice had carefully lifted from her chair and tentatively kneeled down beside her. The woman's dark, wide eyes flickered around as if she were a criminal performing a horrible crime, afraid of getting caught. A shaky, skittish hand slowly crept closer to Bella and eventually encompassed it entirely.
Then, with the heaviness of her gravity, Alice pulled Bella's gaze upward, locking their eyes together again. Her plump, rosy cheeks curled into an unnatural, strained smile, baring her teeth dangerously. Whether intended or not, it caused ripples of uncertainty to course through Bella's body, making Alice's next words all the more harrowing.
"I'm your wife."
Ta-da! Surprise? Probably not, but anyhow, this was my intention from the very beginning. Was it a pleasent surprise? Or horribly disheartening? I didn't want to put it into the summary even though this will be the basis of the story, just because I wanted people to read it and find out by themselves.
But this is pretty much what my story will consist of: Bella looses her memory and falls into the immoral hands of Alice Cullen, under trickery and lies, will Bella be able to accept this new life, or will she reject it? And if she did, could she ever learn to love Alice? (I think we know this answer)
So here is my question: should I put this in my summary to save other unsuspecting readers such as yourself from falling into the same trap? Or should I keep it the same? (I probably will keep it the same just 'cause that summary won't make sense to my title. Which is relevant by the way. Listen to Poison and Wine by The Civil Wars and you may just enjoy this story more?)
I got kind of carried away in this chapter, I am sure you have noticed. But I got so attatched to this stalker!Alice that I couldn't help myself. I'm kind of already warped into this new world I have created.
And as always readers, review.