What do you mean you don't recognise this beautiful face? It has only been...oh...that long? Shit.

Life gets in the way guys, hope you ain't mad, brahh.

Enjoy!

Chapter 20

Explain, Chimes

"Guys, chill the fuck out," I say, my coffee nestled in my one hand and my other held up flat in a patronizing 'calm down' fashion.

"This is a highly sensitive matter," Tex tells me in a voice which indicates he is being completely, annoyingly serious.

"You're about to get hit by my highly sensitive fist."

"Bella, don't you get it? The first note was suspicious, but it wasn't dangerous...Whoever has done this has your phone number. Do you know what that means?"

"That I should be expecting a flurry of prank calls?" Edward looks scathingly back at me.

"That you are in danger, Bella, I told you us going out together was a bad idea."

Whoa.

Hold up a second.

What the fuck did he just say to me?

I watch the scene unfold; Rose, Tex and Alice both cringe away, but they seem to drown out in the hazy background. My eyes are focused on the six-foot-something dickhead in front of me, who looks like he's backpedalling his words.

"What I meant was-"

"Well, here's a good idea," I say, and my voice is that regretfully familiar toneless drawl, cold and sharp, "you get out of my fucking house, and go die in a hole."

I stand up, then, bypassing Tex stood by the door. No one calls after me as I leave and start to ascend the stairs up to my room.

I want them all gone.

I don't think Edward slept at all last night, I could see his brain darting and diving to conclusions the whole time, and I knew that when morning came, he would expect everyone to show up to talk about it.

The damn text; for all I know, I accidentally subscribed to a children's nursery rhyme programme. Perhaps today's text will have something to do with rings of roses.

Edward didn't appreciate this genius idea; in fact, he didn't appreciate any of my conclusions.

"You're not taking this seriously," he says. "You have to look at the facts."

Well, fuck him.

I don't need him yammering on about the seriousness of a handwritten note and a suspicious text. I'm not scared of the Freaks or the Greeks, not anymore, not now that I know that I can be myself, and if myself means kicking some ass, then be that as it may.

Tex wasn't helping my mood either; he was being far too Columbo for my liking.

He brought a freaking flipchart.

A flipchart.

To write notes and shit.

Regardless, I did enjoy the game of Pictionary Alice, Rose and I began before Tex complained that we were 'abusing his utensils' and took the dry wipe pen away from us.

He'd drawn a neat Venn diagram with the word 'Sanctuary' and the letters from the text; granted the middle section was still empty, but Edward called it 'progress'.

Alice called it 'shit' and was promptly banned from talking.

It was all too Scooby Doo for my liking.

And don't get me wrong, I love Scooby Doo. In fact, I'd happily spend a full Saturday watching Scooby Doo by myself rather than hanging out with real people.

Despite this, it does not mean I want to spend the morning before a full school day discussing the inevitability of my demise at the hands of a Disney loving farmer.

So when I looked out of my window and saw that their cars were not in fact gone, and therefore they were still in my living room, I picked up my phone and dialled the only person I could actually bear to see right now.

He was just far enough removed from this situation that I wouldn't be reminded so much of Edward, and yet far enough away so that I might actually think about something else.

He gets to my house in record time; I don't know if he was just nearby my house, or if he was that shocked by the tone of my voice that he rushed down here in case I did something drastic. I like to think it's the latter - that seems more badass.

I don't even look into the room as I pass, calling to Alice to lock the door behind her when she leaves. I swear I hear Edward growl, whether it be in frustration or anger, as I slam the door shut behind me.

But to be honest, I really don't care.

My mind is so set on getting away, just out of that place.

I am starting to think the heavy, Rose-esque makeup I'd gone with today was a symbol of how my day would pan out. I was in that sort of mood.

The fuck off mood.

And I think he senses it, because when I get into the car, Wolf doesn't say a word. He just waits until I' buckle myself in, then he revs the engine hard.

...

"You don't want to talk about it, do you?" He lets out a startled laugh. "Judging by that look, I'd say that'd be a solid 'no'."

"Gee, ya think?"

"Look, just know...you can talk to me. Okay?" I sigh and rub my forehead with my palm.

"I'm sorry," I mumble, after all he did go out of his way to drive me to school, and then sit with me in the parking lot until I'd calmed down a bit. He'd spent the whole ride with his hands clenched on the wheel, because I'd decided that the only way to cool off a little was to play REM as loudly as I could.

He seemed a little startled that I'd started screaming "it's the end of the world as we know it!" But he said nothing against it.

To be honest, it did actually make me feel better.

"I've been getting these notes...okay, there have been two but...they're really weird."

"Weird how?"

"Is there a scale of weirdness?"

"Think on a scale of Johnny Depp to Jim Carey."

"Jim Carey being?"

"Borderline hilarious peculiarity."

"And Johnny Depp therefore being-"

"-so mysteriously weird as to morph into sexily secretive."

"I think we're probably working off of a different scale."

"Well, that's hardly interesting."

"And yet it has Edward's panties in a twist-"

"I knew that guy was too scarily manish, he had to have something girly going for him!"

"-the problem is," I continue, completely bypassing his – surprisingly happy – outburst against my boyfriend, "all of the signs seem to point to Tadpole."

"What?" He doesn't look so jokey now. In fact, I've never seen Jake like this before. His face is so straight that the normally permanent laugh lines look practically nonexistent. He sits straight and still, and I marvel at how he doesn't move, because I've never been able to sit still for longer than five seconds. "Explain, Chimes."

His voice is deeper than I feel it should be, and for a moment I consider grabbing my bag and darting out of the car. After all, the only reason I'm here in the first place is that I was pissed off at Edward for overreacting.

Then again, if this is how Jake is acting too, am I perhaps under reacting? Am I not taking this seriously enough?

I begin to wonder if I truly know enough about both the Freaks and the Greeks to accurately adjust my level of fear. Perhaps because I am segregated from the other members - as they have been a part of these groups way before me – I'm not seeing the bigger picture.

"Bella!" he snaps out, and my hand instantly raises up to smack him, but I hold back and it hovers in the air. I let it fall down into my lap with a smack.

"The first note fell out of my bag in my room; it was handwritten and it had the word 'sanctuary' written twice."

"As in-"

"The hunchback of Notre Dame."

"Was it spelled correctly?"

"Yes,"

"What was the handwriting like?"

"Inexpressible, it had no character, it was just...generic."

"Then how does it link to Tadpole?"

"He helped me pick up my books when I dropped them; Edward seems to assume this means he planted it there, but I just can't see it!" He sits quietly for a moment.

"What was the other note?"

"Well, it was a text message." His fist tightens.

"This person has your number?"

"Well yes, but, Tadpole already has my number. So, the other day when he picked up my phone because I'd dropped it, wouldn't have been relevant, because he already has it."

"Chimes, what did it say?"

"E.I.E.I.O."

"Can you really blame Edward for freaking out?"

"I guess not, but that's not all he did!"

"I don't particularly want to hear about your relationship."

"Oh."

"I don't mean that in a mean way. I just...I don't want to hear about you two."

"Well, why not?"

"I don't like him, Chimes," he says with a sigh, "but I like you. You can date whoever the fuck you want. I just can't stand him being happy."

"But...Why?"

"He acts like he doesn't care about anything. He struts around this place like he owns it, but he doesn't. He's already pissed off Hound, not to mention the repercussions of beating up that Greek. He's ruthless, he doesn't think about his actions, and he sure as fuck doesn't care about the impact on you."

"Jake, I-"

"No, you listen. He might be some 'God' in your eyes and in the eyes of all of his other groupies in this place, but he is a selfish bastard. He lets his temper destroy his life and he's going to end up dragging yours down with him. He doesn't deserve someone like you; he doesn't deserve someone funny, and smart, and gorgeous, with an amazing life ahead of her. He didn't even deserve Tanya, and she was a skank whore. No one can stop you wanting him, but he's a destroyer, Chimes, he destroys things. He chews people up, and then he spits them back out again. Do you think I would have gotten beaten up if it wasn't for what he did in the past? Has he even told you about that? It's his fault, Chimes, all his fault." By the time he is finished, his chest is heaving and he has closed his eyes in frustration.

To begin with, the words weren't really sinking in. The tone he was using was a familiar one; stern, strict, and opinionated. So I was programmed to ignore it completely. But then what he was saying started to register.

And I really didn't fucking understand.

I actually surprised myself; my eyes started to tear up, and my nose started to tingle.

"I," I have to clear my throat because my voice breaks, "I don't know why you would say that to me. Why you would try to highlight the flaws of my boyfriend. And that's exactly who he is, Jacob, he's my boyfriend. I'm not perfect...I'm laughably imperfect. When I'm with him, everything feels different. I don't feel stupid, or ugly, or useless. I know that he's fucked up, but don't you dare place all of this shit on him. Because every single person in this hell hole is messed up. Every single one." I open the car door now and slide out, because I'm seriously worried about losing my shit in front of him. It appears a nerve has been struck, and when my nerves are hit, it's like a two tonne truck. "I don't think we should talk for a while." I slam the door shut and hurry into the school with my bag clutched to my chest, heading straight towards the ladies bathroom.

When I look in the mirror I close my eyes. I can't bear to see the red blotches on my normally pale cheeks, or the flush about my neck. I most certainly don't want to see the pools of muddy brown behind my eyelids.

I feel disappointed when I cry.

Like I'm losing strength.

So, I don't let the tears fall, they just stay, brimming frustratingly in my eyes.

"This sucks," I say to my reflection, then bat at my cheeks as if this will somehow reduce the redness. Unsurprisingly, it makes it worse. I'm such an idiot.

When the door swings open, I jump. It slams against the wall and the sound reverberates around through the stalls.

"Well, he said Friday, so I-"

"Shut up," Tanya hisses to her babbling friend, who immediately turns bright red and silences herself. "Crying over your misfortunes? If so, you'll be here for a while."

"You're so funny for being such a dense bitch," I quip, picking up my stuff and heading to barge past them. I am not in the mood for petty bickering, as fun as it sometimes is.

"You'll sure be crying over a lot more soon."

"Brittany, shut the fuck up."

"Was that a threat?" I say, unable to stop myself. My hands fall to my sides and I can feel my whole body tense up. I take a step towards her and she flattens up against one of the stalls.

The blonde girl with the huge hazel eyes looks back and forth between Tanya and I, as if they are somehow communicating telepathically. She squeaks like a mouse and eventually Tanya breaks.

"For God's sake, let's go. I can't believe we have to share facilities with those disgusting freaks of nature anyway." She wraps her talons around Tiffany's tiny arm and drags her out.

"Hey, it'd be great if you would keep refusing to use the services in this school, it'll stop everyone else from worrying about catching your sordid ailments." Sordid ailments? Jesus Christ, I've been spending far too much time with Edward. Only he could infect my delightful come backs with his ridiculously uptight jargon.

I feel he should be punished for this.

...

It all goes down in Biology.

And by all goes down, I mean that Edward and I made up.

Unsurprisingly.

This whole relationship thing is easier than I thought; when he screws up, he apologises. When I screw up...he apologises.

Simple.

He wasn't exactly taking this opinion this time though, in fact, he came in as frosty as Rose.

"Let's sort this."

"What?"

"Let's sort this, right now." I don't know why I sound like a determined school teacher.

"But I was just going to-"

"Edward, I want this fixed. I mean now. I can't cope being mad at you, and I most certainly don't want you to be mad at me.

"Let me explain-"

"I overreact, I know that. But what you said...it really...it hurts...I don't want us being together to be a bad idea."

"I don't think that at-"

"What I mean is that it's hard for me. You know it is. When you say things like that, it just...I can't take that, Edward, I just want things to be-"

He presses his mouth firmly down on mine, his fingers pushing my hair behind my ear, but not letting go. I can't breathe for a moment.

"-Good."

"Things are good. I know I sound like a broken record, but I'm sorry," he whispers, his eyes inches from mine. "All this is stressing me out. I can't bear to think of you in trouble. I say stupid things all of the time, and I don't mean them at all...You believe me don't you?" He places his forehead on mine for a second. "I need you to believe that I don't want anything other than you."

I take a deep breath.

"I know."

...

For the first time since I'd been here, Jake isn't at the table at lunch.

I try not to care too much.

Rose doesn't seem that happy that Edward and I are okay; I like to think it's because she thinks he doesn't deserve to be forgiven for what was said, rather than that she's madly in love with him.

Shut up, brain.

The afternoon flies by, and before I know it, I'm in Wood Shop. Except, I'm alone, because none of the guys seem to be here – which is quite strange, because I'm sure Emmett left Maths in front of me.

Tex is the first to get here, loping in like he's in slow motion or some shit.

"What is up, in the land that is Chiming?"

"New hammer," I saw, waving the shiny metal object in the air.

"Sexy."

"I know, right? I'm the handy-man's dream."

"You're my dream," Edward says, sliding down next to me and for some reason biting my shoulder.

"That was gross, never say that again."

"I thought it was cute."

"So you said it to me? You should know better by now..."

"I probably just shouldn't talk at all."

"We could get you a board or, like, a chart that you can write all of your thoughts on," I don't know why Tex sounds so excited when he suggests this.

"What the fuck is your deal with charts?" I ask, just as Emmett ambles over.

"Just because I like to present ideas in a set fashion-"

"Dude." Emmett shuts him down mid-rant with a shake of his head and a disappointed look.

"I hate you guys," he says, then pulls his beanie over his eyes and folds his arms, apparently in a huff.

We all realise we're sat staring at him at the same time, and all turn back to each other together.

"Edward told me, Bella,"

"Edward told you what?" The shock isn't from the idea of Edward sharing things, but rather from Edward actually talking to Emmett out of wood shop.

"About the messages," I groan a little too loud, and Edward narrows his eyes at me. "Come on, guys, let it go!"

"Chimes," Emmett says, leaning forward, looking far too serious for my liking. "We'll work this out."

We didn't need Jasper's comic raise of one side of his beanie, revealing just one eye, to realise that what Emmett was saying was a big deal. A Greek looking out for a Freak? Sacrilege!

I have this strange philosophical feeling like something is changing; I can't exactly put my finger on it, but I know that something is about to go down.

What do ya think?

Review for me, my pretties.