A/N: It's been too long... I'll let everyone read. See you at the bottom!
Chapter 21: Six Months Later
"Did you find a dress yet?"
"Okay. What about a location?"
"Um, maybe some place close?"
"All right, did you decide on whether or not you want a DJ or a live band for the reception?"
"Isabella, the wedding is in two months!"
I sigh heavily; I have no idea why Dad thought I would have figured anything out by now. He called only last week to check up on the wedding plans and I didn't have much to share then either. True, he has a point, the big day will be here before I know it, but I don't want it to be a big thing. I want simple and intimate, not elaborate and full of people I don't even know.
"Why can't we just make a mixed CD?" I ask slowly.
"A mixed CD?" Dad says, as though he's trying out the words.
"Yeah, you know, something that has a bit of everything on it," I say, liking the idea more with every moment. "I could put some classical on it for Alice, some British Indie Pop for Edward—maybe even some country for Jasper!"
"I am not paying someone to push play on a boombox, Isabella," he says, sounding annoyed. "We'll hire a DJ if you really want something for everyone."
He spits out the last three words mockingly, clearing indicating that he thinks I'm fucking crazy for wanting music as archaic as a CD at my own wedding.
I feel my face heat up.
"Dad, it's my wedding," I point out, the hand not holding my cell to my ear balling up in my lap.
"Yes, which I'm paying for!"
I sigh and pinch the bridge of my nose, a habit I picked up from Edward. Whenever the coffee shop gets a more difficult customer, Edward has to leave the register to cool down. When I asked him how he dealt with people like that at his bar, he said, with a sheepish grin, that he would give them a free drink and that they'd magically become pleasant.
I had to remind him not to mess with a coffee addicts caffeine supply.
"Look, Dad, I have to go," I tell him, forcing my voice to sound anything but pissed the fuck off. "I told Jake I'd be at the cafe by ten."
"Fine," he huffs. "I'll see you tonight, right?"
"Oh, yeah, sure," I say, suddenly remembering my promise to meet him for dinner. "See you at six, I guess."
"Remember socks this time," he snaps before hanging up on me.
"Ugh!" I growl, throwing my phone across the couch. It hits a throw pillow with a soft whump and slides down by my feet where they're resting on the spot next to me.
"You okay, love?"
I look up to see Edward in the kitchen, pouring himself a cup of coffee, his hair damp from his shower. I smile; I've so got him hooked on the java.
Damn it, Dad made me miss my shower time with Edward.
No quickie for me this morning.
Or a chance to wash my hair.
Hey, I really did need to shower. No reason I can't multitask in there.
"Yeah, fine," I grumble. When he shoves my feet over and sits down on the couch, I snatch the mug out of his hands and take a big gulp.
"Uh, really?" he asks, looking between the cup and my red face. "You seem bothered."
Through my anger, I snort at his phrase, thinking back to a Jimmy Kimmel show I once saw; something about a British actor, up in a tree, being "bovvered".
"Just my dad," I explain, shaking my head.
"Ah," Edward says, completely understanding. "Wouldn't it be a bit easier to stop wanking and let him pay for whatever the hell he's wanting? You could have anything!"
I try to protest when he takes his coffee back, but I'm too busy hanging on the way he said wanking.
His British terms get me so turned on.
Wait, what were we talking about?
"But that's just it, I don't want anything," I say, leaning back, pulling the small square pillow out from behind my back and pressing it over my face.
"Nothing?" Edward asks. "Not even roses on every table? Silk banners to line the pews at the church? Peacocks in the garden?"
"Not even matching napkins, Brit," I say in a muffled voice behind the fabric covering my mouth.
"Oh, come on," he says, pausing before saying excitedly, "you could have Alice plan it! Oh, sorry, that's even worse."
My death glare even works through pillows, who knew?
Alice planning the wedding would be even worse than all of Dad's questions.
If it were up to me, I'd wear jeans, a hoodie and maybe even my new fuzzy slippers Edward got me when he saw that my old ones were falling apart.
"Seriously, can't we just elope?" I ask, throwing the pillow to the floor and giving my best puppy dog face, complete with bottom lip sticking out.
"You know I can't say no to that," Edward groans, running his hand through his hair in frustration. Flecks of water pepper my face. "You need to tell him how you really feel about the whole thing."
"Oh, shit, we'll talk later," I say, noticing the time on the microwave. "I promised Jake we'd be there in twenty minutes."
I rush through a shower, not even bothering to wash my hair, and opt for a ponytail as we race out the door, a travel mug prepared by Edward in hand.
Yup, he's a keeper.
Six-o-clock on the dot, Dad shows up at the door. He gives Edward a stiff handshake before rushing us down to the cruiser and driving us to our usual restaurant across town. Like normal, we're seated in seconds and he orders the most expensive wine on the menu.
"I thought maybe we could discuss meal options for the reception," Dad says, speaking for the first time since he picked me up.
"Oh, um, sure," I say with a shrug, perusing the menu.
"The wine I ordered would be great paired with either the steak or the chicken," he says.
I wrinkle my nose at the description of the chicken—capers and mushrooms? Does he know me at all?
"Also, a white cake would be best," he continues without waiting for my opinion. "That way, there won't be any ugly smiles stained with chocolate."
"A white cake, dad?" I say, suppressing the urge to point out that I absolutely hate plain vanilla frosting with a passion.
"To match your dress," he says, closing his menu and setting it on top of his empty plate.
Edward's words from earlier run through my head and I decide to bite the bullet and tell my Dad what I really want.
"Actually, I thought about getting this dress I saw online," I tell him, finally excited about a decision for the wedding.
"Oh?" he says, lighting up. "It's not the traditional white, then?"
"Not exactly," I admit, realizing it would have been better to not have said anything.
"Off-white?" he asks, and when I don't answer, he tries again. "Cream? Egg shell?"
"Um, purple," I mumble, shrinking down in my chair.
"What?!" he explodes, making me jump. He looks around, clears his throat, and lowers his voice to a threatening snarl. "I am not having my only daughter getting married in anything but a version of white."
"Dad, nothing about our relationship has been traditional in the least bit," I say, finding my voice again. "Why the hell would I start now?"
"Because I said so! If it's that horrible of an idea to purchase something white for yourself, then you can borrow Sue's wedding dress."
"The fuck I won't!" I snap, thinking back to the butt ugly dress Jake's aunt wore to her first wedding back in the early nineties. I may not have remembered much, but pictures didn't hide the fact that she made a lot of bad choices when she married her first husband.
"Watch your language, young lady," Dad says, pointing a finger at me; instantly bringing me back to when I was a teenager and getting in trouble for sneaking out.
"I'm going to the bathroom," I say, snatching my napkin off my lap and balling it up. I want to throw it in his face and storm out, but instead I toss it next to my untouched glass of wine.
I'm barely a few steps past him when Charlie calls after me.
"You better not sneak off this time."
I pause, screwing my eyes shut and take a deep breath.
"Wouldn't dream of it," I mutter just soft enough that he won't be able to hear the sarcasm.
I practically stomp into the ladies room, grateful that it's empty, and lock myself in the stall at the end. I pull my phone out of my back pocket so fast that I nearly drop it in the toilet and angrily press the speed dial to call Edward.
"Hey, how's dinner going?"
"You know that feeling you get when you're talking to the guy, what was his name... the one with the bad breath and too much gel in his hair?"
"Oh, um, Ricky?" Edward says. "The one that wanted to order a decaf chamomile?"
"Yeah, and when you tried to explain to him that kind of tea was already caffeine free he looked at you like you were speaking Russian?"
"God, that bloke was so daft," he laughs. "He even told me that he couldn't understand my accent and could I please speak English. It was like talking to a cement wall."
"On a scale of one to ten, ten being he was an absolute delight and one being you wish you could stab yourself in the ear drum just so you wouldn't have to hear him explain about how he had a hot three-some to get to in the morning so he needed his beauty sleep, how eager would you be to talk to him again?"
"Definitely a one, maybe even a point five," he says, chuckling some more.
"That's how dinner is going," I say with a decisive nod at the stall door.
"Shit, I'm sorry," he says, sighing. "Your ideas for the wedding not going over very well?"
"'Not very well' is an understatement," I say. I hear him trying not to laugh at my ridiculous attempt at sounding like him. "All I did was mention the color of that dress I thought about and he shot me down faster than you trying to drive when the parking break is on."
"Oh my god, that was one time, and I tried to tell you I haven't driven in-"
"Brit!" I scream, my voice bouncing off the tiled room.
"Right, sorry," he says quickly. "I don't know what to tell you."
"I wish I could leave, but I wouldn't be surprised if Charlie has every bus boy and dishwasher in the place staking my where-bouts to make sure I'm coming back to the table. He'd probably chip me like a dog if he could."
"Bella, I'm sure he wouldn't do that."
We sit in silence for a few moments before I sigh heavily.
"I better get back so that Charlie doesn't think I fell down the toilet," I say sadly.
"Just try to get through tonight and we'll talk to Alice this weekend and see if she has any ideas," Edward suggests.
"Why this weekend?" I ask; it's only Tuesday, which is Alice's night to stay in and watch whatever Disney movie is on TV.
According to her, it gets her though the week.
"Didn't she tell you?" Edward asks. "Jasper called me last Friday and said that the two of them were going to go down to LA for the week to try and get get Jasper a record deal."
"Well, if anyone can talk someone into a contract, it's Alice," I say, shaking my head. "Did I ever tell you about the time she promised to pay me five bucks and buy me coffee every day for three weeks if I streaked across the football field in high school?"
"What, no!" Edward shouts. "When did you, why didn't you—huh?!"
"Apparently not," I say with a giggle. "A story for another time."
"You can't leave me like this!" he says in a strangled voice.
"Are you just now noticing my evil streak?" I say in a low voice. "Until later, Brit."
I end the call with him still sputtering on the other end.
I wash my hands in the bathroom sink, slathering on some of the complimentary rose scented lotion that's on the counter, and head back toward the table where Charlie is waiting.
I'm three tables away when I hear a phone ring. I pull mine out to check if it's me, when out of the corner of my eye, I see Charlie reach into the pocket of his slacks and answer his Blackberry.
"Hey, Sue," he says, and I slow down. "Yeah, I'm still out to dinner with Isabella. No, of course she hasn't made any decisions. Did you really expect her to?"
I stop all together, straining my ears to catch more.
"No, she can't hear me, she's still in the bathroom," he says, twisting in his chair to look back at the bathroom door. I crouch down behind a kid sitting with his hoity-toity parents. He can't be more than six or seven.
"I tried offering her your dress but she wouldn't take it," I hear Charlie say as I hide my face behind the kid's cloth napkin.
"Sorry, I, uh, lost my earring," I lie to the parents when they glare at me; the kid giggles as I lift his half eaten salad to search beneath it.
"Yes, yes, I know, she's running out of time," he continues. "That's why, from here on out, I'm calling all the shots."
I pause as I look into the kid's glass of milk, holding it up to eye level, so I can get a better look at Charlie.
"I was just thinking the same thing," he says with a dry chuckle. "For once in her life, she's making a grown up decision and she nearly screws it up by choosing some damn British idiot."
I nearly spill the lady's wine, as I pretend to look for my earring in their basket of bread, and seize a roll to cover my mistake.
"Sorry," I say, tearing off a chunk with my teeth, speaking around the soft dough. "I'm just so hungry."
The woman narrows her eyes and lifts her nose in the air; the kid covers his mouth as he tries to quiet his hysterical laughter.
"Well, she got lucky with her cafe." I can barely hear Charlie over the sound of the man at the table huffing at me. "I expected it to flop within the first year. Yeah, she should have just married Jake—or maybe even Mike. He was an outstanding man."
I've had enough.
Raising myself up from my half crouched position, I point across the room.
"Hey, did I just hear that they burned your steak?" I ask the family at the table. The parents look, but the kid stares at me, transfixed, as I fling my partially eaten roll across the two tables separating us from Charlie. It whacks him right in the back of his balding head, the force of it nearly smashing his nose onto his dinner plate.
I snort and throw myself down to the floor as he whips around in his seat to find the culprit. I stuff my fist in my mouth to keep from laughing.
"Excuse me, but someone just threw something at me," I hear Charlie say.
"I'm sorry, sir, something was—what?" I hear our waiter say. "That's never happened here before. I'm terribly sorry, let me speak to the manager. The meal's on us tonight."
"Thank you," Charlie says exasperatedly.
I look up as the kid looks under the table, smiling from ear to ear. He gives me the all clear in the form of a thumbs up.
I crawl out from under the table, clutching at my imaginary earring.
"Found it!" I announce to the parents as they stare at me with disbelief at my behavior.
I walk away, turning back to slyly wink at the still smiling kid.
At least I made someone happy here tonight.
"And then, I stood up, said, 'I found it' and went back to the table."
Edward and I are sitting on the couch, containers of Chinese food littering the couch and coffee table, as I tell him about the rest of my night.
"What did your dad say when you got back to the table?" Edward asks, frowning as another mouthful of rice slips between his chopsticks and falls to his lap before he can eat it.
"He still looked annoyed and when I asked him what was wrong, he put this fake ass smile on his face and told me 'nothing's wrong, our dinner is paid for tonight because I told the manager that we are thinking of using them to cater the wedding!'" I say, expertly transferring some chow mein from the box in my hands to my mouth, using only chopsticks.
"What a bastard," Edward says, shaking his head, which causes him to lose yet another bite of rice. He throws his chopsticks into the container he's holding. "Okay, tell me again why you're torturing me? I'm starving, but I haven't been able to get anything to keep from falling!"
"I told you, if you're eating Chinese with me, you have to use chopsticks," I reply, showing off by pinching a particularly large portion of the sticky rice between the wooden sticks and popping it into my mouth.
"Fine," he pouts, picking up a single stick and spearing one of the egg rolls in one of the many boxes on the coffee table.
"Nice," I tease him, rolling my eyes.
He smiles as he chews on the end of the roll he holds up in the air.
"So, what do you want to do?" he asks, swallowing his bite.
"I don't know," I sigh, picking at a fried wanton with my fingertips. "Should I go along with it? Pretend like I didn't hear him bashing me and act all fucking happy while he plans what's supposed to be the biggest day of my life?"
"Supposed to be?" Edward asks with a raised brow.
"You know what I mean," I say, rolling my eyes again.
"We'll figure it out," he say, placing his hand on my knee.
I follow his lead and stab an egg roll, smiling as I eat and he laughs.
We stay up late watching a movie; some zombie flick with Brad Pitt in it, and Edward teases me the whole time that I'll like it because my boyfriend is in it.
Geez, I mention once that he's a pretty all right actor (though kind of a screwy man in real life) and he's labeled as my love interest.
We go to bed and while I can't sleep, because my head is filled with nothing but the undead, Edward is snoring in seconds. I try to think of anything besides the way the zombies in this movie were super human as opposed to just hungry for people and end up comparing them to Charlie and the way he sucked the life out of my own wedding. I lay on my side, watching the leaves on the tree out the window blow in the breeze and listen as the time ticks by with each beep of Edward's watch on the bedside table, signifying another hour has passed.
Midnight, one, two, three...
I give up around 3:15 and carefully climb out of bed, moving in slow-motion so I don't wake Edward. Ben stretches on his spot on the foot of the bed, meowing quietly until I scratch his ears.
"And you said you didn't want him here," I whisper to him. "Come on, I'll give you some food."
Ben learned one word early in his life, and one word only, but he doesn't even bat an eye at the mention of food and simply curls up on Edward's chest, purring loudly.
I walk alone into the kitchen and make myself a mug of warm milk, hoping it'll calm me down. I sit on the couch with my mug, curling up with the blanket that was draped over the back of it, and turn on the TV.
Nothing is on besides infomercials and Nick at Nite so I settle for The Brady Bunch and soon fall asleep to the sound of the studio audience laughing at the cheesy jokes being made.
"Bella? Bella, wake up."
Edward shakes my shoulder gently and I open my eyes blearily.
"You better have fucking coffee," I mutter groggily.
"Do you think I want to die?" he asks with a chuckle, trading the cold mug clutched in my stiff fingers for a hot one.
Clearly, I fell asleep on the couch after drinking my milk.
"What are you doing out here?" he asks, sitting down next to me with his own coffee.
"I couldn't sleep," I say, sipping the steaming drink. "I kept thinking about Zombie Charlie."
"Zombie Charlie?" When I only shrug and wave him off with my hand, he shakes his head. "This is really getting to you, isn't it?"
"Wouldn't it get to you?" I ask, albeit a little snappy.
"Good point," he says, his mouth turning down as he drinks deeply. "It really doesn't matter to you if you don't get some huge party out of Charlie?"
"As long as I'm officially married to you, why should it matter?" I ask, pulling my fingers through my tangled hair. "Obviously, Charlie just wants some big fucking expensive thing to lord over all his friends."
Edward doesn't say anything, just scrunches up his face. My cup is half empty when he decides to speak.
"Come on, we better get packing," he says, walking toward the bedroom.
"Packing?" I ask blankly, not wanting to think on this little of sleep. "Packing for what?"
"Vegas, of course."
A/N: Long time no see, eh? So much happened in the past few months, some good some bad. I won't bore you with the details, but you can always PM if you REALLY want to know.
I've really missed writing, and I've started a million things lately (don't worry, nothing worth posting, just getting it out of my head) and you guys know I hate keep my readers waiting. So, I hope you liked this. Drop me a line lemme know. I had fun writing it-especially the restaurant scene!
P.S. Came back to say I forgot to thank my amazing Beta! ShadowedByPassion, I couldn't do it without you. Even with a toddler, work and your own RL editing biz, you still find time for little 'ol me, and I love you dearly for it.
P.P.S. I just realized... the title of this chap is Six Months Later... and it really has been six months since the last update. Geez, I'm a total fail... But hopefully you guys still love me