Guest: Glad to be back and sorry again for having been MIA for so long. Happy you enjoyed the chapter. Paul is definitely something. Wonder if I can steal him for myself? (Probably not.) LOL.
Guest(2): Thanks for reviewing. Glad you liked it.
Guest (from ch.1, Nov. 2014): Thank you. Happy you like the story. Sorry for taking so long to update. Real life, and all. But I've promised never to permanently abandon a story, and I won't. Hope this update is worth the wait.
Lenniem: Thanks. I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out also. Now, I just need to get and keep my inspiration...
AN: Effusive apologies for YET ANOTHER long delay between chapters. Never meant to take over a year to add another chapter to this story. Same old, same old in terms of excuses: still super-busy and still dealing with writer's block. But as always I will keep plugging away. I know I promised my "Jagged" readers that this would likely be updated earlier this month, but I had a pretty crappy weekend right after making that promise and I just wasn't in a frame of mind to write.
I woke up in the morning with a curious sense of disconnect before everything that had happened over the past two days flooded back. I'd caught Edward cheating on me. I'd run into Paul Lahote and had sex with him-repeatedly. I'd broken things off with Edward more than once and given him the ring back. My mom had reacted to my news with her usual lack of sensitivity, and my dad had met Paul.
After a quick shower, I fixed some breakfast and sat down to start figuring out my day. I was going to have to call the car's-somebody-and get Edward barred from accessing the GPS information. I'd also need to touch base with Jake and ask if he could help me figure out what to do with said car. Probably that was going to involve taking it to Port Angeles or Seattle to sell or trade in-it was too nice of a car to dump off at the small used dealership in Forks-and then figure out what I'd be getting to replace it. Also high on my list was getting myself a doctor's appointment to be checked out. I could hope that Edward still had the decency to not have unprotected sex with me if he knew he had gotten something from another woman-but then again, I had expected that he would have the decency not to be in a position to catch something from someone else to begin with. He'd clearly failed on the one point, so it would be stupid of me to make any assumptions on the other point. I could make an appointment with the family practitioner here in town...but I knew that one of my old high school classmates worked in that office now, and her gossiping tendencies wouldn't be able to resist spreading the word that the police chief's engaged-well, formerly engaged-daughter had just come in for STD testing. And as I was trying to hold to the promise I'd made to Edward that I'd keep our breakup civil, going to a doctor out of town would be better. I could always go back the doctor I'd used in Seattle, but that would require an all-day trip and she was usually hard to get a quick appointment with even with plenty of advance notice. There was sure to be an emergency clinic in Port Angeles that I could use today.
With a plan for my day now in place, I got to work on my to-do list. A call to Jake filled him in on my car plans now that they were more definite. He asked me a few questions about things I did and didn't want in a car and said he'd get back to me with some options.
Next on my list was the car company. After the usual pass-around that accompanies any customer service call, I got transferred to yet another department that promised to help me with my problem.
"Hello, Bella, my name is Stephanie. I see that you're having an issue with your car's GPS unit. Is that right?"
"Sort-of," and I began my explanation yet again. "The car was a gift from my boyfriend, who later became my fiance. Our relationship just ended and he isn't taking it well. I want to remove his access to the car's GPS information, since I'm pretty sure he's already used it once to track me down-that's something that is very concerning to my friends as well as my police chief father. I can get a legal order if I need to, but I really want to get this taken care of immediately, for my own peace of mind and well-being."
"Absolutely. I completely understand. Let me pull up the GPS unit's information..." keys clicked in the background. "Miss, you're right to be addressing this situation: I see in the account activity log that the GPS location of your car was accessed two days ago."
My heart began to pound with the confirmation that Edward had basically stalked me the night I'd broken up with him.
Stephanie was still talking. "Bella, I'm bringing my supervisor in on this call as well." She did so and quickly explained my situation to him.
"Bella, my name is Malik. We are going to get this addressed for you. I'm having Stephanie deactivate that GPS access log-in, so he won't be able to use it again. We'll also set up an alert on the account that only you can verbally authorize any new log-ins. I don't see one set up for you-did you use the existing login?"
"No. I'm not a car expert-I didn't even remember that the car had anything like this until my mechanic friend mentioned it. My ex must have set the access account up when he bought the car for me. Can you-did he use the GPS tracking before this week, or can you tell?" If he had, it would just confirm even more strongly to me that Edward wasn't a good person now and hadn't been for a while, if he'd been using the car feature to make sure I was where I said I was or else to facilitate him sneaking Tanya into town when I wasn't there.
There came a clicking of keys over the phone line. "It looks like there were a few access events right after the account was initially set up-what we would view as being standard times of a new user learning the system. But other than that, it does not appear that the tracking was used before this week. Even so, I would recommend getting your own access account set up. And I'd also recommend talking to your local law enforcement so that they're aware of what happened."
"I already have-my father is the police chief in town. Can you set up the new log-in for me?"
When I got to work, the guys checked me out pretty obviously.
"You're not my type," I snorted.
"Just checking to see if your balls are still attached," retorted Sam.
"Definitely none of your business. But, yes, my balls are right where they ought to be."
"Chief didn't try to take them for banging his little girl?" Jared leaned in
"Nope. Part of him might've wanted to, but right now he hates Cullen worse than anything I might do."
"You lucked out there, my friend." Both my partners nodded.
"And don't I know it. Hey, Sam, you mind giving me Emily's number to pass on to Bella? She could probably use someone to talk to who's been through this kind of shit."
Sam nodded. "Sure." He jotted his sister's phone number on a scrap of paper and handed it over to me. I pulled out my phone and texted the number to Bella.
If you need to talk, Sam's sister Emily knows what it's like. 360-555-2398. xo Paul.
I felt like a middle school dork putting the hug and kiss at the end of my message, but if Bella liked it I'd suck it and endure. Good deed done, I started to put my phone away so I could focus my mind to the tasks we needed to get done today. Before I slid the phone into my pocket, it vibrated with a new text message.
Thanks. xo Bella.
The grin that flashed across my face was one I couldn't quell, and didn't try to. That Bella had reciprocated the ending of my text thrilled me a heck of a lot more than it ought to have. A few days ago, I'd barely known who she was. Now I was sending her texts with sappy endearments, meeting her dad, and wanting to do things to and with Bella that might really put my balls at risk if the chief ever found out. I hoped that Emily could help, if Bella decided to call her. The quicker Cullen could be banished from the picture, the faster those fantasies of mine might start coming true.
I waited until my dad had left for work before I headed to Port Angeles. The hour-long drive passed with me trying to think of what the appointment might be like and what I'd say.
I stood when the nurse called my name—I'd decided to use the full name I didn't like rather than my preferred nickname. After the standard weigh-in, I was shown into an exam room and handed one of those embarrassing hospital gowns to change into. Then I had to wait for the nurse to return. I hated the annual well-woman exam with a passion in the normal run of things. It was sure to be even less fun having an unscheduled repeat exam only a few months later.
"Hello, Isabella. I'm Kathy. What brings you in today?"
"I—I just dumped my fiancé after I caught him cheating on me. He didn't use a condom and…"
"So you're here for a full-panel STD screening?"
"We are here to help you and get you the answers you need. Let's get this underway. Isabella, I'll take samples to check for chlamidia, gonorrhea, and HPV, then do a blood draw to test for HIV, syphilis, hepatitis, and genital herpes."
"I looked up the symptoms for some of those diseases and I don't have any. That's a good sign, right?"
Nurse Kathy sighed. "Truthfully, all it would prove is that if you have contracted something that you're not in an active stage at the moment. And some STDs, like herpes, can be totally without symptoms. The tests are the only way to know for sure if you were given anything."
What happens if—"
"We'll take things one step at a time. First thing is to get these samples taken. Then we'll run the tests, and you'll be contacted within three days with the results. If anything is positive, someone will talk it all through with you and we'll move forward with treatment."
"Yes. We'll send the samples out to the lab today and get the results back no later than 3 days after that."
After my appointment, my resolve to treat Edward courteously was strained almost to the breaking point. I didn't tend to get angry, but I was furious now. I felt humiliated that I'd had to undergo this invasive and embarrassing medical procedure, and irritated that I now had to wait until the end of the week to get the results. I hadn't known what STD testing involved, but had somewhat naively assumed that I'd know the answers today; instead, I had a three-day wait to get the test results back from the lab. So the nagging uncertainty lingered, as I waited to know whether or not Edward have given me a parting gift to our relationship.
Going back to Forks right now didn't appeal to me; I opted to find a quiet café to have lunch and think. I really needed someone to talk to who understood where I was at, so I pulled out my phone and called the number Paul had texted me this morning.
"Hello?" a female voice answered.
"Hi, is this Emily?"
"Yes. Who's this?"
"My name is Bella. Paul Lahote asked your brother Sam for your number to pass along to me."
"You're one of Paul's friends?"
Was I? Did being lovers one night make us friends? Well, we'd decided to try and see, so, "Yes, we met recently, but we've known of each other for a while, I guess. I've known Jake Black and his friends for years. My dad's the police chief in Forks."
"Oh…I think I know who you are, then. You got engaged to Dr. Cullen's son this summer."
"And just got un-engaged this past weekend. Hence why Paul asked Sam for your number."
"He cheated on you?" Emily guessed.
"Bingo. I came home from a job interview last weekend to find him banging a college classmate in his bedroom."
"Ouch. At least I didn't walk in on my ex with someone else. I just found pictures and text messages on his cell phone. "
"How do you get over something like this?"
"One day at a time. It's a roller coaster ride, I won't lie about that. Some days will be better than others. One day you'll want to forgive him, the next day you'll hate his guts through the nine circles of Hell."
"Today would be one of those days. I went in for STD tests," I confessed.
"I'm sure you'll be fine," she assured me. "But it's smart of you to find out for sure."
"Thanks. I want to know, but…it makes me so angry, you know? It's not just that he cheated on me—I mean, that would be bad enough—but having to wait for days just to know if he gave me something because he was with her…? I promised him I'd keep things civil, but right now I just hate him for putting me through all this pain."
"Would you like to get together sometime?"
"Sure. What works for you?"
Emily and I made plans to meet for lunch tomorrow. I picked at my lunch, then decided to distract myself with some retail therapy in the downtown bookstore. Later that afternoon, I was in the middle of dinner prep when Paul called me.
"Hey, babe. How was your day?"
"It was okay. I went to the doctor and talked to Sam's sister."
"You okay?" concern filled Paul's voice.
"I hope so. I'll know in a few days."
"You want me to kill that creep?" Anger mixed with a chilling determination.
"I thought you were trying to make a good impression with my dad?" I tried to lighten the mood.
"I appreciate that thought—really. Part of me even agrees with you. But we aren't going to let him ruin our lives, right?"
"Nope," agreed Paul. "Got too many plans for you."
AN: Again, I'm sorry this took 13 months to happen, but I hope you enjoy this. Will love to know what you think.