School recently started and I don't even know what sleep means so if things don't make any sense, it's all on me. I have to admit, this is a sort of filler chapter but it kind of sets things up. Sort of.
Guerilla Warfare: If you do know who Rachel Davis is, then I'm going to assume I've been discussing the plot with you which would make no sense at all. Also, my dear, I don't think I could do justice to your idea D:
Bella stared at her computer screen, a photo of Rachel Davis staring back at her. Leaning back into her chair, she focused on Angela, who was furiously typing away at her computer. "Find anything?"
"Mostly everything I need to know about her. Birthday, social security, credit cards, cars… there's just one problem." Angela sighed, rubbing her forehead. "The problem is that she's sort of disappeared from society. I mean, she hasn't made a charge on her credit card for about four years now. Her bank account hasn't been touched and there's no recent address of where she is. I dunno, Bella, it's like she went into hiding. Why would she risk being exposed?"
"This doesn't make sense. Why would someone leave a tip about her if she basically went into hiding? How do they even know her? Or that she exists?" Bella's eyes strayed back to the picture, going over the dirty blonde hair, the green eyes, and the slight frown tugging at the corners of Rachel's lips.
"Maybe they wanna get back at her. Maybe she did something to someone and whoever it was wants revenge. Could be why she pretty much went into hiding."
"Maybe… If this tip is true, what are we going to do? Wait it out and put whoever's life it is in danger?" Bella picked up the envelope, staring at the blank space. "Does she have anything on her records?"
"Uh, a DUI… and she was arrested for possession of cocaine twice."
Biting her lip, Bella switched tabs on her computer. "Okay, so someone involved with drugs. There are way too many people in the drug business to even narrow down… There's no address associated with her?"
"One. A job she worked at before she fell off the face of the Earth." Angela spun her chair around toward the printer behind her, snatching a piece of paper. The sound of her pen scratching on the paper quickly along with her tongue peeking out at the corner of her mouth caused Bella to lose her train of thought.
"Dude… what the fuck?"
Rubbing her forehead, she slouched low in her seat. "I just seriously hope that this isn't a waste of freakin' time."
"Stop telling me to shut up! I'm trying to figure this out while you're over there doodling."
"I swear, if you don't shut the fuck up, I'm going to shove my foot so far up your ass, you'll have my toes as teeth."
Her jaw dropping for the second time, Bella squeezed her eyes shut. 'Oh my god, what the hell did she just say? Please tell me I imagined that.'
"Okay, so, this Rachel Davis or whatever worked in a factory near the biggest drug trafficking city. Let's say she worked at this factory as a cover or to get the cash she needed for her own fix. She fucks up at work, loses her job, can't get her fix, and makes a deal. When the time to pay rolls around, she's in more debt so she skips town. No one reports her missing because they don't wanna get their hands dirty and she has no family because of her addiction. Maybe someone heard through the grapevine that she's coming back and whoever she scammed wants her to pay up."
"I am so confused."
"About what? Didn't I just explain my guess?"
"No, I mean, why did you need the paper? What was the point of doodling?"
"You have your way and I have mine. It helps with my thought process so quit judging. You were no help at all."
"I showed you the envelope, didn't I?"
Angela rolled her eyes. "If you didn't, you'd still be here like we are now. It doesn't make a difference if you showed me or not. Besides, you know better than to go somewhere without backup with your dumbass mistake from last time."
"You're such an asshole sometimes."
"I'm honest and I don't wanna see you get fucked up."
Bella batted her lashes, folding her hands over her heart. "Angela, was that you being nice and caring?"
Rolling her eyes, Angela crossed her arms. "Don't get used to it. You've used up my ten year allotment of being nice."
"And here I thought I used that up last year."
"Just tell me what you think of my theory already."
Shrugging her shoulders, Bella stretched her legs. "I think it's possible. I mean, it's not like it's the only possibility but it's worth investigating. What about you? Do you honestly think it's worth investigating or did you just make up that theory for the sake of it all?"
"I don't know. I'm a little doubtful. I mean, this anonymous tip is pretty much claiming that this Rachel Davis plans on doing a hit on someone and we don't even know if we can trust this informant. What if it's just a trap? What if we both go there to investigate only to get our asses kicked? Killed, even."
"But that's the risk with all anonymous tips! If we had that kind of mindset for every tip we received about a case, we wouldn't get anywhere."
"So, what? You wanna go?"
Bella bit her lip. "I want to but I don't wanna go in blind."
"We will, no matter what. It's not like I can Google what's currently happening there." Angela pulled herself out of her chair, hands tucked into the pockets of her slacks. "So? Do you want to or not?"
"Yeah." Bella bit her lip then stood. "Yeah, let's go."
The two made their way to the elevator, Bella pushing the down button multiple times before standing back.
When the doors slid open, they went inside, Bella turning to Angela. "I'm driving."
"Uh, no, I'm driving."
"If you drive, we won't make it outta the parking structure."
"First opening the envelope and now this? You are a wuss."
"No, I just wanna live to see tomorrow."
Angela shrugged. "I made it to the precinct in one piece, didn't I?"
"Do you have any extra napkins?" Angela lifted her plate to look underneath then up to Bella. "I think I used my last one."
Bella merely took another bite of her sandwich, shrugging.
"Come on, seriously. Do you? I don't wanna go back inside just for a napkin." Angela watched Bella slowly eat, before sighing. "Look, it wasn't my fault! I didn't know."
"You do not understand the level of frustration I have right now. How did you not check that?"
"It wasn't exactly my number one priority. What are the chances?!"
"Well, what do you want me to do? Go back there and demand to have it opened? It's the fuckin' weekend; no one wants to come in!"
"How could you not check if the factory was open or not? Isn't that like, the first thing you should do before going anywhere? We drove a good two hours only to find out that they're closed for the day. Two hours I could've used to do something else."
"Jesus, Bella, what would you have been doing? Sitting at your desk and staring at the tip? At least we tried." Groaning, Angela stood. "Fine, forget it. It's my fault, yadda yadda. I'm done. You wanna head back with me or what?"
"Nah. Go ahead."
Angela grabbed her trash and headed to the trashcan before leaving Gathering Grounds.
Alice cleared her throat, a small smile on her lips. She watched as Bella's head snapped up, eyes widening ever so slightly.
"Hi. Mind if I sit?"
"Oh, uh, no. Not at all." Bella grabbed at the old napkins scattered on the table and dropped them onto her now empty plate.
Gently placing her plate and cup onto the table, Alice lowered herself into the chair with a soft sigh.
"Day off today?"
Alice nodded, stabbing at her salad with her fork. "Mm, sort of. I was going to go in today but decided against it. I wouldn't have gotten anything done anyway. And you?"
"Just finished, actually." Bella stared at Alice's fork, which seemed to be backed by more force than necessary for a mere salad. "You… okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. Just a little edgy today."
"From drinking or from something else?"
"I didn't drink last night." Alice chewed thoughtfully before setting her fork down. "Jasper did though. More than he has in a long time, I think. He didn't wake up 'til after lunch today."
Bella felt the heat creep onto her cheeks, smiling guiltily. "That… that was my fault."
"I know." Alice grinned. "He told me while I was helping him into the car. Or, well, how nice it was of you to buy him drinks anyway. Should I be worried that you're coming onto him?"
"What? No!" At Alice's raised brow, Bella shook her head. "No."
A small laugh bubbled from Alice's lips, before she rolled her eyes. "I was kidding. I know you weren't trying to hit on him." She picked her fork back up, pointing it at Bella slightly. "But if you were, I think I'd be a little jealous."
"The fact that you'd hit on Jasper before me. Duh. You're gay, right?"
"So the fact that you wouldn't even bother to hit on me before moving on to a guy is a bit insulting. I would think that I'm sort of a catch."
Bella chuckled, giving Alice a small shrug. "I'm not so sure on the catch thing, but I'd probably hit on you for the sake of hitting on you. If you turned me down, it wouldn't matter because I'd still get to hit on Jasper after."
Alice gasped, her eyes wide. "Bella! Now I'm insulted." Her lips formed a slight pout before poking at her salad once again. "And here I thought you liked me."
"Eh." Bella waved her hand slightly, pressing her lips into a thin line to try and prevent herself from grinning.
"Mean." Alice took another bite of her salad, focused on the leafy greens.
They sat there in silence for a little while longer until Alice flashed a smile and pushed her tray away from her. "What're you doing today, Bella?"
"I'm not sure. Go home and sleep?"
"You're kidding. You've got the rest of the day to yourself and you're just going to sleep it away?"
"That's the plan. What're you doing today?"
With a huff, Alice sunk in her seat just a bit. "Nothing. I was going to hang out with Jasper today but since he's nursing a hangover bigger than a castle, he doesn't wanna do anything today. He wants to go out tonight but since I work tomorrow, I don't want to. So we're doing our own thing today, I guess. I was thinking of shopping but shopping's no fun alone. Unless…" Alice looked at Bella from beneath her lashes, another pout making its way onto her face.
"Unless you come with me? Please?"
"Me? Shopping? Uh, that's not really my thing, Alice."
"I know but you haven't gone shopping with me yet." She batted her lashes. "Pretty please, Bella?"
"I…" Bella sighed, her hand coming up and rubbing the back of her neck. "I'm not the greatest shopping buddy, to be quite honest. I don't wanna ruin your day out."
"You won't. I promise."
"Alice." A sigh. "Alice?"
"Are we done in here yet?"
Alice looked up from the clothes rack and at Bella, who stood with different blouses, dresses, jeans, and shorts in her arms. "Almost, I promise. Just five more minutes."
"You said that five minutes ago and five minutes ago before. Come on, Alice, we've gone around the store at least twice. I'm pretty sure they didn't bring out anything new."
Rolling her eyes, Alice went back to looking at the rack of button-ups. "I know that but I just want to make sure I don't miss anything. Besides, it's the last store for me so I need to be thorough."
"I think you just don't wanna go into any of my stores."
"That's… silly. Ridiculous, even. We made a deal and I plan to stick with it."
"Uh huh. Okay, whatever you say, Alice."
They continued to circle the store and after going around a third time, they were headed to the next store.
"You're impossible, you know that right?" Bella led the way, her hands tucked into the pockets of her slacks.
"What do you mean?"
"We were in that store for at least an hour. We went around it at least three times and you had me carry so many different clothes at once, I felt like I was carrying heavy wool. Then, when you finally finished, you went through what you picked out and didn't buy a single thing. What was the whole point of going in there and picking out all of those clothes?"
"Ah, Bella, you really aren't a fan of shopping." Alice tugged at the sleeves of her button-up, and then flashed Bella a grin. "Why would I just go into a store, pick up something I like, and just buy it? I have to make sure I still like it at the end. If I don't, then I probably wouldn't have liked it enough to wear and that, my dear, would've been a waste of money."
"That is so complicated; I don't even understand how some people do that."
"It takes skill."
"Yeah, it takes a skill that I clearly don't possess which I don't mind."
"You're just grumpy. Come on, what store are we going to next?"
"Oh no, I'm not telling. If I do, you might try and get out of it."
"I would never do that!"
"Bella." Alice raised a brow, a small frown in place. "I wouldn't."
"Okay, whatever you say. I didn't say you would."
Bella began to climb the stairs at an easy pace, concentrating on the sound of her shoes hitting each step.
"Yeah, but you were implying it." With a groan, Alice followed Bella up the stairs. "You do realize there's a perfectly good escalator that works, right?"
"I figure you don't do much working out so what better way than to do it at the one place you love the most?"
"Rude! I don't just sit on my butt and draw all day, you know. I work out every now and then when I get the chance. I used to run a lot but I've been in a rut lately, so I haven't had the time. I'm in pretty good shape though."
"Well, why don't you go running?"
"Bella, I just told you—"
"No, I mean, why don't you go running to clear your head? Maybe it'll help get you out of your rut." Finally at the top of the stairs, Bella turned to look at Alice. "Edward told me you've been in this rut for a long time now so maybe you just need a good run. Clear your mind."
"It's not like I haven't tried. I just don't really have the time to." Alice linked her arm with Bella's, tugging her along. "Sorry, we were blocking the top of the stairs. Kind of a pet peeve when people do that to me."
"It's alright." Bella veered them to the right, her store of choice already in sight. "Well, what stops you from going out and running? Do you lack motivation? Or do you just not feel like it?"
"A little bit of both. I tell myself that I'm going to run but I just never get to it. Sometimes I'll get hit with inspiration or I have to sort out a problem with the upcoming show. I don't know. Maybe I just really don't like running."
"Maybe you should get someone to go running with you. Why don't you ask Jasper? I'm sure he wouldn't mind accompanying you."
"I doubt it." As they stood outside of a store, Alice looked up at the sign then back at Bella. "Really?"
"It's a guilty pleasure. Even if I already have a dog, I just like looking at all the puppies. It brings back memories."
"So we're not really buying anything here?"
"Well, if you want a dog, you can get one."
"Oh no, that's not a good idea. Jasper doesn't exactly get along with dogs."
"How does he not get along with dogs?" Bella shook her head, heading into the pet store.
"I'm not sure. He just never liked them. Oh," Alice paused at the first aisle, her eyes trained on the small basset hound whose ears grazed the ground as it stood. "So cute."
They both stood and stared at the basset hound as it paced around, stumbling over its ears every now and then. It paused to look at them both, head tilted ever so slightly.
"Oh my god, get me away from here," Alice murmured. "Look at those eyes."
"It's telling you to take it home with you." Bella grinned, leaning forward to look at the sticker at the top right of the glass case. "It's a boy. His name's Ollie."
"So cute." Alice squealed softly, squatting to her knees, and pressing her face against the glass slightly. She stared straight at the small pup that was now up on its hind legs with its front paws on the glass.
"Jasper's going to kill me." Alice sighed, her head coming to rest on her forearms as she lay on her stomach on the ground. Her eyes focused the small basset hound that was napping in front of her.
"I doubt it. He might not even notice the little guy." Bella leaned back on the couch, her body sinking into it.
"Mm, maybe. I'm sure he'll notice if his favorite pair of shoes are chewed up though."
"Shoes are shoes. You can always replace them."
Rolling onto her back, Alice rested her hands on her stomach. "Are you sure I don't need to puppy proof around here?"
"From what I've seen, there's not much to change. Maybe hide your favorite shoes so he doesn't chew on it but I think you're fine. You've got a pretty good backyard and you don't have carpet. I think you're pretty safe."
"Okay, if you say so. You're going to help me with him, right?"
"What're you talking about? You just need to tell Jasper and have them get along and you should be home free."
"No, I meant with Ollie. I don't really know much about dogs, you know."
"Oh, yeah, of course I'll help."
"Great." Sitting up, Alice ran a hand through her hair. "Are you hungry? I can call somewhere that delivers."
"Sure, sounds good. Whatever you're up for." Bella slowly stood, stretching. "Um, mind if I use the bathroom?"
"Yeah, go for it. Down the hall, second door to your left. Is pizza okay?"
"No sardines or pineapple and you've got yourself a deal. I'll be right back."
Bella made her way toward the bathroom, her eyes latching on to the pictures on the wall. Her hand gently trailed along the wall in the hallway, noting its lack of photos until she reached the bathroom. Slipping in, she gently closed the door behind her and locked it.
She turned toward the sink, the soft green color of the walls bouncing off the mirror. She began to wash her hands, noting that the soap was cucumber melon. A hint of a smile tugged at her lips as the scent of the soap lingered on her hands after she finished.
Hands now dry, she rubbed at her face, trying to get rid of the sleep out of her system. For someone so small, Alice had more energy than she expected. And when she was debating on whether or not to get Ollie, Bella found it endearing at just how much thought she put into it.
With a yawn, Bella left the bathroom and headed back to the living room where she found Alice on her back once more, but with a very awake Ollie on her stomach.
"Oh, you're back. I was starting to wonder if you got lost." Alice's eyes stayed on Ollie, her hand gently scratching the top of his head.
"Yeah, just a little. I lost count with so many doors in the hallway, I looked in each one." Bella dropped herself onto the couch, positioning herself onto her side so she could see Alice. "You have some interesting things."
"Did you like the torture devices in the first room on the right? I usually save that for the third house visit a person makes." Alice gently set Ollie down onto the floor beside her before sitting up. "Is pepperoni okay? I didn't really know what to get so I went with something common."
Bella snorted. "Yeah, all those bags of clothes were pure torture."
"It should be. That's my return pile."
The harsh knocking on the door caused them both to jump slightly. Alice stood from the floor, dusting the imaginary lint from herself.
"Pizza's here." Alice rummaged through her purse, grabbing a twenty and headed towards the door. Unlocking the door, her eyes roamed up past the shoes, the black pants, and the black shirt. Eyes wide, she lifted her hand in a slight wave. "Olivia, hi."