A|N: As I am in school, constant updates are nearly impossible, especially with school being so close to finishing. I'm hoping the upcoming summer will be a lot easier on me and the things I've been dealing with, as I want to really get this story done.
Chapter Ten: Moving on with life and hateful sisters
After the birthday barbecue in the park, Edward and I seemed to have settled into a kind of acquaintance-like arrangement. We weren't overly friendly, but we weren't at each other's throats anymore, either. We were just…making the best of everything. Eventually, I felt like we were close enough to the point where I could bring up my biggest concern to him.
"Okay, Edward. Here's the deal: I'm extremely tired of staying in this house all day, every day doing absolutely nothing," I said to Edward one morning following my birthday.
The previous night, it hit me that I was getting lazy. Sure, I still worked out, and I still danced, but I was being lazy in every other part of my life. I cleaned and cooked, but Cynthia did most of that because it was her job. I didn't go out anymore. I didn't hang out with friends anymore—granted, I only had two, and one of them considered herself too old to do anything with me—and I didn't work. I was mooching off Edward.
"And another thing! We don't know anything about each other. At least, we don't know the good things about each other," I mumbled, bothered by this.
It didn't take a genius to realize that Edward knew about my anorexia. There were enough small comments that clued me in. I wasn't sure, but I was under the impression that Alice knew, too. I was thinking that was what she was referring to that day she came over, telling me in more words that she hated me.
Anyways, a week prior, he'd finally called me out on it. It was getting bad again—if I were being honest with myself, I would admit that it had been "getting" bad again for a long while now—and he noticed. I, clearly, hadn't told him anything, but I guessed my dad did because, as I said, he'd noticed. I had just turned down a plate of pizza when he asked about it. The conversation eventually led to a fight, which lasted a few days and ended with me crying to him, explaining that I didn't want to relapse, and him promising he'd find me someone that could help me properly.
That was the night I realized Edward and I still didn't know much about each other. I wanted that to change.
"So," I began, "I was thinking. What if we played Twenty Questions? And then after we play, I look for a job. I know you said I don't have to work because you'll take care of me, but I want to. I wasn't raised to mooch of people, or to be some rich little princess, or to never work, or…"
I sighed. "You're okay with all of this right?"
"I don't want to just jump to conclusions or make you feel obligated," I explained.
I went to say more, but he cut me off with, "I've been waiting for you to bring this up."
"I mean, if you don't…what?" It took me a moment to realize what he said. I grinned. "Really?"
He laughed, folding the newspaper he was reading and placing it on the table, nodding. "Yeah. Well, not the Twenty Questions part, but the wanting to work and get out of the house part. I had been thinking you were cooped up for a while, but you never said anything, so I just thought you didn't really care."
I sat on the couch next to him, shaking my head. "No, I care. It just didn't start getting on my nerves until now, you know? It all finally just caught up to me, and I'm ready to do something about it."
Edward smiled. He had been doing that a lot lately. Things were going really well, and I couldn't have been happier about that.
"I understand. Enough about anything but the game of Twenty Questions for now, though. I'm intrigued and ready to play."
I grinned, he turned to face me, pulling his leg up under himself, and I said, "Okay. Basic question first: what's your favorite color?"
"Um…Brown. Chocolate brown, to be exact," he answered.
I frowned, surprised by that. "Really? I always found the color really…boring, plain."
"Hey, don't judge my answer!" he exclaimed hotly, though his eyes were sparkling with laughter. "What's your favorite movie?"
I made a sound that suspiciously mirrored a dying walrus. "Why would you ask me that?"
"No, no, Bella, it was my turn to ask the question," said Edward, grinning.
I rolled my eyes and thought hard about his question. "Oh what to choose, what to choose," I mumbled, unsure. "It's so hard! Okay. Um. I really, really love Eternal Sunshine of A Spotless Mind. Yeah. That's definitely number one of my favorite movies list."
"Well, after watching it four times this week, I'm not surprised by your answer," he said. "Though I was sure you were going to say Pride & Prejudice because you watched that almost as much."
I smiled. "That's second. When you were younger, say ten, what did you want to be when you got older?"
"Oh, um, I didn't want to be anything unusual or non-cliché for a kid my age—I wanted to be a doctor," he confessed, looking away from me sheepishly.
I raised a curious brow. "What kind of doctor, Edward?"
"My turn. When you were younger, what's the one thing you've always wanted more than anything?"
"…I've always wanted to be a ballerina," I lied.
It wasn't all a lie. I did want to be a ballerina—part of me still wanted to be—but what I really wanted was so much more personal and complicated, and I just didn't feel like getting into that with Edward right then.
"I could see that," he murmured with a grin, completely unaware of my moment of hesitance.
"My turn. What kind of doctor?"
If I didn't know any better, I would swear Edward Cullen was…blushing.
"Um….I wanted to be an OB/GYN," he admitted, for some reason embarrassed by this.
I blinked. This surprised me greatly, but thinking about it, I guessed I shouldn't have been. Edward, when he wasn't being a self-righteous, "I'm a millionaire, hear me boss you around" asshole, was probably a real charmer.
He nodded. "Yeah. I wanted to deliver kids."
"You wanted to deliver babies?" I gaped. "That's so cute! Wow. I never would've thought. You like kids?"
"My turn," he reminded me.
I shook my head, far too captured in this sudden news to care about the game anymore, leaned forward slightly and repeated, "You like kids?"
Seeing he wasn't going to get out of this, Edward sighed and leaned to the side, resting his arm on the top of the couch and laying his head on it. "Yes. I like kids. I can't see what's not to like. They're…"
"Cute?" I offered, chuckling.
He frowned. "No…"
"Not the word I want."
I shook my head. "It is."
"Edward, it is."
"I don't know any man that ever used the word 'cute' to describe something ever," he said.
I grinned. "I'm looking at one."
The conversation continued to flow easily for the rest of the night, only pausing when we needed to get up for something and the one time Edward got a phone call that he "just couldn't miss." I finally asked him what his real reason for getting me was—"I needed my mother off my back, and a wife always looks good to people who are higher up," he had said. Then he asked me how old I was when I was first diagnosed with anorexia nervosa—"I was four. I was considered a 'special case.' Before me, the youngest the doctors had ever seen was eight," I had answered. Eventually, we got back to talking about my wanting a job and out of the house.
"I want a job, but I don't want just any ole job. I mean, I'll take what I can get right now, but working at a fast food chain for forever isn't something that I want," I explained. "I took the SATs and the ACTs. I got really good scores. I was in the top five of my school, actually. I think…I think I want to go to school."
"Where would you want to go?" Edward asked. He appeared to like this thought.
I smiled. "I looked at Seattle University today before I came to talk to you. I think I'm sold on that, and we're actually really close by."
"Go for it. I know the dean and…"
I shook my head, frowning. "No way! No. I don't want you to do anything, Edward…"
"Aside from supplying the obvious money you'll need," he pointed out.
I ignored him. "I want to get in on my own. I want to know that I was good enough for something, okay?"
"You're good enough for everything." He was firm in his declaration.
There was an awkward pause.
"Um. Thanks," I said.
The conversation sort of died down from there, random small talk here and there. We watched movies for the rest of the night, ending with our favorites: Eternal Sunshine of A Spotless Mind and The Dark Knight Rises.
"God, I hated that ending. I loved this trilogy, and that's how they're going to end it? Without giving closure?" complained Edward, putting the DVD back into its case. "I mean, honestly, what the hell were we supposed to do with that?"
I frowned, trying hard not to laugh because he looked so serious. "What do you mean? It was a happy ending. Alfred's fantasy of seeing Bruce again at some restaurant with someone he loves became a reality. Batman will be remembered as a hero. Bruce and Selina get to be happy together! Robin is taking over with Batman's blessing. Rumor has it; he's getting his own movie! What wasn't there to like?"
"I…I don't know," he admitted, frowning as well. "I liked the ending. It was perfect, what I wanted, but I still feel like they left me hanging, you know?"
"Uh, no, but I guess I understand where you're coming from," I told him, nodding. "That's kind of how I felt when Remember Me ended. I mean, I know he died, but that ending? Her little smile, letting us know she'd be okay, and then the credits? Really? Yeah, that's great…but really?"
Edward shook his head. "I haven't seen that movie, but I can see myself hating the end already. You know what really sucked as an ending?"
"Gone With the Wind?" I said.
His eyes widened, and he threw his arms in the air in exasperation, exclaiming, "Yes!"
"The movie I could kind of handle, but that book? Oh, my God, I wanted to die and wished I had never read it!"
We stayed up until 3A.M. discussing bad movie endings and bad adaptations of good books. By the time we finally called it a night and headed up the stairs, we were both exhausted.
"Goodnight, Bella," he mumbled tiredly as he headed to his room.
I smiled and began walking toward my own room, but something stopped me in my tracks. It had been on my mind since I first asked the question.
"Hey, Edward?" I called to him, turning back to face his door.
His eyes were partially closed when he turned back to face me. "Hmm?"
"What's the real reason you wanted me here?" I hadn't believed his first answer. At least, I was sure he was not telling me something.
He mumbled, "Got tired of being alone, I guess," and then headed into his room, shutting the door behind him.
As the days went on, I continued to look into Seattle University, steadily growing excited. College was always something I wanted to do, but it was hardly an option as my family's financial woes continued to grow, which meant things like great universities and dance academies had to be forgotten. Now that it was once again an option, I was ready to go through with it.
"Before you make any final decisions, don't you think you should at least visit the school first? Get a tour, maybe talk to some people that are there to get a feel of the class," Edward suggested, turning away from the coffee pot to face me.
I frowned. "I guess that would make sense. I, obviously, didn't think of that."
"I'll see us up a date for the Saturday after next."
Again, I frowned and sat down at the island where my breakfast was already waiting for me, courtesy of Cynthia. "'Us?'"
It was his turn to frown. "Why do you seem so surprised that I want to go with you?"
Why was I surprised? Sure, we'd been getting along well—so well, actually, that it was hard to believe we didn't like each other in the beginning—but that was it; we only got along well. I knew he would pay what needed to be paid, that he'd do whatever he could to get my in if it came to that, but I hadn't been under the impression that he wanted to actually be a part of it all.
"No reason. Anyway, what's going on this Saturday that you want to wait to do the tour?" I asked. "I'd actually like to get it done now so I can officially make up my mind."
Edward laughed. "You already did officially make up your mind. I'm just delaying you a bit. But anyway, for the longest time now, my mom has been trying to decide when she wanted to invite us over for dinner again…"
My nearly choking on my eggs from snorting cut him off.
"I'm sorry. I just…she wants us to have another dinner, and you're okay with that? Do you not remember how the last dinner ended?"
"Dinner went well. Our night did not," Edward said. "But like I was saying, she was trying to figure out when to invite us over again. We've been talking about it for a while now, somehow Alice and Emmett got in on the conversation, and that prompted her to suggest a…family barbecue."
"A family barbecue?"
"Where I will no doubt at some point of the night be the center of attention?"
He grimaced. My tone, I was sure, gave away how much I didn't like it. "Yes."
"I wouldn't have a problem with this if I knew Alice wasn't going to be there, but I know she will be," I said.
"What?" He appeared to be in disbelief.
I rolled my eyes. "Edward, your sister hates me. She hates me, and she is going to start problems no matter where we are, I know it."
"Alice doesn't hate you, and she would never start problems with you—especially at Mom's house for a family gathering. She'd burn all her clothes before she did that."
I glared at him. I could understand that he wanted his sister and me to get along. If I was going to be a part of the family, it would be good to have a nice relationship with her, but he refused to see that that just wasn't going to happen. No matter what I did to try and be nice to her, Alice just wasn't going to like me. Ever.
She made that clear when she came over the previous week.
~One Week Ago~
It was twelve o'clock in the afternoon, and Cynthia had just finished making brunch. I helped her, wanting to make sure everything was just right. Of course, Cynthia was more than capable of making a perfect meal, but I had to be there to nit-pick at everything because it hadn't been just a regular brunch—Alice was coming over.
Since Edward and I had decided we would try to give this "marriage" one-hundred and ten percent, I had wanted to make sure that I became a part of the family. Everyone else liked me well enough, and I them, but it seemed no matter what I did, I could never sway Alice.
The brunch, though Edward would be there beside me, was my chance to get close to her. The way everyone had described her to me, I knew I would like her.
The doorbell rang a quarter after twelve, and I swallowed nervously. Cynthia and I had just finished setting up the table.
"Go get it," she'd said encouragingly, softly pushing me toward the kitchen exit.
I'd nodded, left the kitchen, and headed toward the front door, opening it quickly.
Alice stood before me in a floral maxi-dress. She looked to have grown a few inches, so I knew she was wearing heels. In her hands, she held a pan of pie. On her face, she wore a scowl.
I think I had managed to control my grimace just a bit. "Hi, Alice."
"Bella." She nodded once.
That day Rosalie, Alice and I had gone shopping, I thought we had gotten along pretty well. It was rocky at first, especially since I had been convinced even then that she hated me, but it didn't end on a bad note. I thought we were going to be able to be friends.
"Well, brunch is ready, so come on in."
I stepped out of the way to let her inside, closing the door behind and locking it before following her back toward the kitchen.
"Hey! I'm just getting the drinks. We're eating outside," Edward informed Alice when we got to the kitchen, giving her a loose hug before letting her go to grab the pitcher of lemonade Cynthia had made earlier and a couple of beers for himself.
"You hate eating out on the patio. What in the world made you okay with it today?"questioned Alice, befuddled by the apparently sudden change.
Edward smiled. "Bella suggested it, and I thought it would be a good idea."
Alice didn't appear to know how to react to that. After a sideways glance my way, she headed out the patio. I gave him a pointed look, which clearly read "She hates me." In return, he gave me an encouraging smile.
The brunch was awkward to put it mildly. Whenever Alice and Edward weren't lost in their own conversation, Alice was throwing snide comments my way. I didn't know what pissed me off more: the fact that Edward, who was supposed to be my "husband," let her treat me that way, or that I was allowing her to.
Eventually, I'd had enough and abruptly excused myself to the kitchen, where I helped Cynthia clean up.
"Edward has been through a lot," Cynthia explained, being careful to keep her voice down. "Alice is only trying to look out for her brother, though she's going about it the wrong way."
I scowled. "Everyone has a story, Cyn. Everyone has some part of their past they'd rather forget. Alice is just being downright hateful."
We never finished our conversation. Alice and Edward came walking in, laughing over some memory, and helped with the last of dishes, one washing and the other drying. After that, they went upstairs.
I stayed and helped Cynthia with desert—key lime pie and homemade strawberry ice cream, the latter being my idea since it was both mine and Edward's favorite. She tried to bring up the topic of Alice again, but I wouldn't let her. I was tired of constantly worrying about Alice.
When it was time for desert, I offered to go up and get the two siblings, and that was when the extent of Alice's hatred for me became clear.
"You can't honestly be serious about that girl," Alice had said to him.
"Bella, Alice. Her name is Bella," was Edward's exasperated-sounding response.
I could hear Alice's quiet scoff in return. "Forgive me. You can't be serious about Bella. From what I can tell, she's just like all the other skanks you bring around."
"No. Don't 'Ali' me, Edward! I believe your feelings for her a real, I do. I've never seen you like this before, but I know she's not serious about you. If anything, she's just after your money. You're young, you're 'hot,' and you're Seattle's 'it' boy. She doesn't love you, and she never will!" Alice snapped.
I was taken aback by her words. Had I really come off like that? I didn't think so.
"How much do you know about that gi…Bella, anyway?"she asked.
"So, basically nothing? You just met her in Vegas and thought she was fuckable and said, 'hey, maybe I'll marry that girl?"She mocked his voice poorly.
The longer she talked, the angrier I got. The way Edward went about getting his "wife" was utterly unconventional, and some days I still had trouble dealing with it— and rightfully so, I thought—but we were selling it; was it really so hard to believe that I loved him?
"I mean, you two don't even sleep in the same room for Heaven sakes." She laughed, though it didn't sound like she found anything humorous at all. "If you think I hadn't noticed, you're wrong. I've been over here more than once since she's been here, you know? It isn't hard to notice something like that. If you're married, why aren't you two sleeping together? Did she…"
"Alice!" Edward snapped. He seemed to finally be having enough. "Bella is my wife, and nothing you say is going to change that. I know you're just looking out for me, but I can handle myself, all right? Lay off her. Believe it or not, I want my sister and my wife to get along."
There was a pause before she asked, in a quiet voice, "Do you want kids?"
I wondered if that took him as off guard as it did me.
"Yes, you know that," he said without hesitation.
Apparently, it hadn't.
His answer terrified me to no end. How long were we supposed to keep this charade up? We had both said no sex, but how long did he plan on staying that way? What exactly was he expecting of me?
With the all these new questions jumping at me with every thought, I suddenly found myself wanting to call it all off again.
A quiet gasp left my mouth, and I threw my hand over it, nervous for just a moment that they heard me—they hadn't.
Tears pooled into my eyes immediately. She didn't have to say anymore; the direction she was going in was an obvious one.
"From what we know, there's no way she can bear children. It'd be impossible. And even if she could conceive one, her chances of carrying out a full term are slim. Since not knowing her well enough means nothing to you, does that?"
I didn't hear anything else after that, as I left and locked myself in my room for the remainder of the day.
For as long as I could remember, the subject of kids had always been an extremely touchy one for me. There was always that possibility that I couldn't physically have any of my own, but I tried to never think about it.
Their conversation had been the first time I ever stayed around long enough to hear the possibility spoken out loud.
The emotion on Edward's face was hard to decipher. Not knowing what he thought put me on edge, and I wondered if I should have just kept the fact that I'd heard their conversation to myself.
"I wasn't aware that you'd heard that," he said. "I'm sorry."
I shook my head. I hadn't gone into detail about everything, and I didn't want to suddenly, then. "Don't worry about it, but do you see my point? Edward, just admit it—what she's doing goes far beyond 'looking out for you.' It's…its' plain hatred and I don't deserve it."
"Maybe you're right."
"Maybe I'm right?" I scowled. "I am right. Talk to her, but if that doesn't work, I'm going to talk to her myself."
I'd honestly had enough. How much shit was I supposed to take?
"What's her problem anyway?"
Edward looked confused. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, it can't just be me. There's has to be a reason why she's behaving this way toward me."
He nodded. Before I could ask him to say something, he went on to explain that it wasn't his place to tell and then announced that it was time for him to go to work before abruptly leaving.
I sighed and went and did what I always did all day: nothing.
That would be the last day I did nothing, though, and it would be the last time I put up with Alice's shit. Whether she was troubled or not, she didn't have to take it out on me. Whether I was bought or not, I'd be treated with respect, and I would do something with my life.
I had the potential to be something great, and I didn't want to waste that any more.
I didn't want to be just Edward Cullen's wife anymore.