Two little girls become instant friends, and their single parents are thrown into the game. Will their bruised hearts merge? AH, Christmas shortie.
Hello, dear readers!
This is my Christmas gift to you (and to myself, LOL) It was supposed to be a one-shot, but I got carried away and it became a little longer, now consisting of 12 chapters, one of which I will post every day. Wake Up and Dream will continue posting somewhere between Friday and Sunday as usual.
I wish each and every one of you a wonderful Christmas and a very happy 2012.
As usual, the fantastic dellaterra betas this story. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Oh, and I do not own Twilight.
MISTLETOE AND YOU
Bella Swan was tired. Actually, she was so tired that she didn't even bother to take off her shoes before she collapsed on her bed, falling asleep instantly.
She had set the alarm to wake her an hour later, and when it did, she felt fuzzy and confused. Her bedroom had grown dark over just the space of that hour, the dark December afternoon enveloping Seattle as if it were already night.
Bella took a couple of deep breaths and forced herself to leave the glorious comfort of her cozy bed. She loved it. It was king-sized, with an enormous purple bedspread made of rich velvet. She would never allow anyone's shoes to touch it. Thank God that Paulie hadn't caught her doing it.
Yawning and stretching, Bella walked into the bathroom, splashing water on her face and quickly brushing her teeth, which made her feel a little more human again. She slipped into her thick duffle coat and left the apartment, once again cursing Jasper for putting that damned mistletoe over her front door. As if that would make someone stop by and kiss her!
She wound her way through rush hour, not wanting to be late. Madame Sasha didn't react well to that, as Bella knew from her own experience. She probably shouldn't have indulged in that nap, but she'd just been so deadly tired after a night that had ended at six a.m., after four hours of sleep. She had grown used to it over the years, exhaustion being her constant companion, and she accepted it, yet sometimes Bella longed for the careless days of her youth, the days before she had to act like a grown-up twenty-four/seven.
Bella put the car in park and hurried up the steps to the dance studio. The little foyer was already filled with moms waiting to collect their daughters from the weekly ballet lesson. Bella chatted with Emily Young for a couple of minutes before the doors burst open and twenty little girls came rushing out, squealing and shouting and running into their mothers' open arms.
"Mommy, mommy, mommy!"
Small arms wrapped around her neck as Bella's heart made a light, happy jump the way it always did when Paulie was back with her, her tiny body all warm and animated after the excitement of the day.
"Hey, sweetie pie!" She kissed the little girl's cheek. "Did you enjoy yourself?"
"We made piroettos!" Paulie told her excitedly, while Bella helped her put on her little coat. It was pink, which was Paulie's favorite color.
"And Madame Sasha said we will all be very good at the recital!" Her large, dark eyes, the same as her mother's, were sparkling with joy. The recital had been an important topic for some time now, dominating their dinner conversations. Paulie had been attending Madame Sasha's ballet center for two years, her granddad Charlie gladly paying the fee.
Bella wrapped the pink scarf around Paulie's neck and helped her put on her mittens and the pink woolen hat with mouse ears.
"Ready to go?" she smiled, taking her little girl's hand.
The drive home passed quickly while Paulie recounted all the happenings of her lesson, including Jessica Stanley's mishap when she landed on her butt during the Dance of the Little Elves.
Bella and Paulie were both snorting with laughter, enjoying themselves thoroughly. Although Bella was aware of the fact that making fun of other kids was not exactly appropriate parental behavior, she couldn't help herself. Firstly, her daughter's way of telling a story was too adorable. Secondly, Jessica Stanley was a horrible brat, the spitting image of her loud, overbearing mother.
Bella, of course, would never utter any of these thoughts in her daughter's presence, so she steered the conversation to a safer topic.
"How was your afternoon with Jazzy, sweetie pie?"
"We made broccoli hedgehogs for lunch!"
Paulie launched into a lengthy account of her culinary adventures with her godfather, Jasper, Bella's closest friend since they were both eleven years old. Jasper Whitlock was the male presence in Pauline Charlotte Swan's life, trying as much as he could to fill in the gap left by Paulie's biological father, James. Charlie, Bella's dad, was a wonderful grandfather, but Bella had always felt that it was healthy for her daughter to have Jasper as a kind of father figure.
Well, as much of a father figure as his bitch of an ex-wife had allowed him to be until they finally divorced six months ago. Bella still got angry when she thought of all the tears and pain Maria had caused her darling Jasper before he finally got rid of her after finding out what his loving and devoted wife had been up to behind his back. The mere idea made Bella's blood boil.
"… and we made Play-Doh bunnies wiv Christmas hats!" Paulie told her from the backseat of the car.
Bella couldn't help the nostalgic smile that spread over her face whenever she heard the remainders of her daughter's lisp. Paulie had turned five in August, and she was changing so fast it sometimes made Bella's heart tear. To her, it felt like only yesterday that she had carried her tiny newborn out of the clinic, flanked by Jasper and her dad.
"Do you have them with you? Or are they at Jazzy's place?"
"No, they're at Jazzy's because he said they might be hurt if I twansported them."
"Oh, but that's okay, right?" Bella said as she pulled into the parking garage. "We're going there the day after tomorrow, remember?"
"Can we make a swing for the bunnies?"
"Of course, sweetheart."
Bella and Paulie had a simple dinner of grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato salad, after which Paulie took a bubble bath, squealing happily when Bella attacked her with the numerous plastic ducks that were sitting on the edge of the tub.
Wrapping her little girl in a fluffy towel, Bella carried Paulie into her bedroom, helped her put on her Smurfs pajamas and tucked her into bed.
"Night-night, sweetie pie," Bella whispered softly.
"Nightie… mommy…" her daughter replied, already falling asleep.
Bella took a moment to inhale her scent before she left Paulie's room, leaving the little night-light on.
Having made sure that Paulie was settled in for the night, Bella sat on the couch in the living room. She had a bottle of Merlot, a glass, and a corkscrew. The clock above the TV told her that it was just after eight p.m. Bella yawned, and grabbed her phone, opening the bottle of wine and pouring a good amount of it into her glass before she pulled up her legs up under her body and speed-dialed the number for her nightly call.
The sound of furry feet galloping across the wooden floors of her living room startled her the second her best friend answered the phone.
Had she not been so annoyed at the fact that she'd forgotten to put Paulie's rabbits back in their huge cage, she would have found the little animals cute, but one of the cute little animals was shitting on her carpet right now!
"No, no, no, no, no!"
"Sorry, darlin'" answered Jasper. "What's happenin'?"
"Oh, fuck, I'm sorry, Jazz. The fucking rabbit. Why does it have to leave a shit trail wherever it fucking goes?"
Jasper chuckled. "How can such a well-behaved and pretty little girl have a mother this foul-mouthed?"
"Gee, you're such a charmer, Jazzy…"
"How was your day, lollipop?" Jasper asked, using the nickname he had given Bella in sixth grade.
"Let me just carry this little shitter back to where it belongs. I mean, there are two of them, and they're supposed to be happy, and not shit everywhere. Jazzy!"
It was Jasper who had bought the rabbits for his goddaughter after all!
Paulie had been whining about wanting a dog for ages, and Bella had to explain to her, time and again, that a dog would not be very happy if he had to stay by himself all day during the week, so the bunnies had been a compromise.
Holding the telephone between her chin and collarbone, Bella carried the little animal back to its cage and grabbed a roll of paper towels from the kitchen, proceeding to clean up the mess while she asked Jasper about his afternoon with her daughter.
"She was adorable," her friend replied. "As always."
"Did she take a nap?"
"Yeah, after I read the first chapter of Sam Pig to her."
"Oh Jazzy," Bella sighed, dropping back on the couch and taking a large gulp of her wine.
"Where would I be without you?"
"I love you, Bell. And Paulie."
"And I love you. Are we still on for tomorrow?"
"Sure. I'll bring the bagels, and Rosie and Em are making eggnog."
"For brunch?" Bella giggled.
"You know my sister," Jasper chuckled. "I think she's also planning on bringing some of her legendary homemade cornbread. I'll be over around eleven. 'kay?"
"Okay." Bella tried to suppress a yawn. "I'm sorry. I guess I should drag my ass to bed…"
"Yeah, sure. After all, it's nine p.m. on a Friday night," Jasper said mockingly.
"Nine p.m. for a mom who got up at six and had one stinker of a day," Bella corrected him. Mondays to Thursdays, she had the early shift at the reception desk of L'Auberge Huilen, the hotel where she'd been working for the past three years. She started at eight and finished at two, giving her time to collect her daughter from kindergarten. Fridays, though, she had a long day and didn't finish until half past four.
Bella had dropped out of college once Paulie arrived, originally planning to return after six or seven months, but things weren't that easy. Though Charlie had a nice pension and supported her as much as he could, she needed to make money, and she didn't have the chance any longer to study abroad for a year as she had originally planned. Her goal had been to become a literary scholar, and she had been planning to go to London to work on her dissertation. The British Library would have given her all the insight and papers she needed to study the influence of 19th century women's novels on current literature. Whenever she had a chance, she still worked on it, but there were times when it seemed like a hopeless endeavor to Bella.
Most of the time, she enjoyed her work at the hotel, however repetitive it sometimes would get. With the upcoming holidays, it had been busy all day.
"Really, Bell," Jasper said. "Paulie could have stayed with me tonight, and you could have taken Angela up on her offer. When's the last time you went out?"
"That, you know exactly," Bella returned. "It was in August, and it was with he-who-shall-not-be-named."
"Oh right," Jasper chuckled. "The Slobberer, right?"
"Don't remind me," Bella groaned. "I am never dating again after that experience!"
Jacob, the guy in question, had been nice enough, even though his bodybuilder stature was not really Bella's type, but he was warm-hearted and easy to be with. They had dated for about a month when Bella decided that he just didn't do it for her, which was mainly caused by the fact that his kisses were wet and slobbery.
"It was like making out with a spaniel," she giggled, Jasper joining in after a moment. "Or like your mouth was in the car wash… Ugh," she shuddered remembering it.
"Still," Jasper insisted when they'd had their fair share of laughs about Bella's former date. "You should go out once in a while."
"What's the point?" Bella huffed, refilling her glass. "I don't dance, the wine at my place is fine, and I'm certainly not looking for a man."
Jasper sighed softly. Bella hadn't been lucky in that department for a long time. Ever since James, Paulie's father, had left her after learning that she was pregnant, to be precise. He wasn't ready to fill that position, he'd said, and had taken off to California with Vicky Hunt, his redheaded, fake-titted ex-girlfriend. And that had been that.
Enough, Jasper had to admit, to make any woman go off men. Still, he knew that his best friend deserved to be happy, and he completely believed that there was someone out there waiting for her. Which in itself was remarkable, considering the heartbreak he had recently been through with Maria.
"I'm not saying you should be looking, Bell," he insisted. "I'm saying you might have a little fun. You're twenty-seven, for God's sake! The fact that you have a child doesn't mean that life is over."
Bella sighed. They had this conversation at regular intervals, and she loved Jasper for trying to help her be happy - or happier - but she didn't think it was necessary. She was happy. Happy enough.
She had a wonderful little girl, great friends, and a job she didn't hate. That was more than a lot of people could actually say about themselves, wasn't it?
Sure, it would sometimes be nice to have someone to share stuff with. Someone to share the small and big moments with, someone to share the burden of being a single mom with. On the other hand, she did have Jasper. Things were much easier since Maria had left the picture, too. If she was honest with herself, Bella had to admit that sometimes the thought crossed her mind that in all probability Jasper wouldn't stay single forever, and that it scared her a little.
The two friends talked a little longer about inconsequential things, laughing a lot, then making plans for the following day. It was after ten when they ended the call, and Bella was a little tipsy from the wine. She switched off all the lights before she went to the bathroom to get ready for bed.
She brushed her teeth, groaning slightly at the pain in her back from standing so long at work, and decided to take a shower. She shed her clothes, putting them on the washing machine, and stepped under the hot spray, moaning at the sensation as it relaxed her tight muscles. She scrubbed herself with a massage glove, rubbing over her skin. She sighed, and tried not to pay too much attention to her thighs and stomach. Her body had never changed back to how it used to be before Paulie was born. Most of her baby weight had been lost over the first six months, but there were sixteen vicious pounds that would not go away.
It wasn't something that bothered her in everyday life; she was far too busy with her daughter and work and keeping things going. She didn't think about her body a great deal.
Bella left the shower and slipped into her fluffy white robe, wrapping her hair in a towel. She wiped the mirror clear of condensation and applied moisturizer and the antiaging gel she'd bought last month on a whim. Sometimes Bella felt that she was much older than twenty-seven, but then, all her friends would attest to the fact that she was an old soul.
That night, when Bella Swan went to bed, she felt more like a lonely soul.
Thank you for reading; I'd love to hear your opinion!
See you tomorrow!