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Falling for Acacia Chapter 9, Best Laid Plans...
"Are you crazy, Bella? We can't go to that party. Why would you tell her that?" Bree whispers in a shocked tone.
We walk toward the parking lot, still bickering over the conversation with Jessica Stanley.
"Shh. Be quiet and trust me." I don't want Rose and Alice to overhear. "I have no intention of attending any party."
"Then why would you say it, Bella?"
"Bree, we're going to the ferry as planned. I don't want to get into details now. Just write down your number, and I'll call you to let you know when I'm going to pick you up."
"But you don't have a car," she responds worriedly as she hastily writes on a slip of paper.
"You let me worry about that. I'll call you later."
I watch as she drives off with her mother and then turn my attention to Rose and Alice.
"Can we stop at a store on the way? I need to pick up a few items for my camera."
"Talking to us now?" Rose asks arrogantly, and I'm not surprised by her attitude. I've been just as bitchy to her and Alice over the past few days.
"Look, I realize I've been a little difficult to tolerate, but I'm really trying to fit in around here...with you guys and everyone in the house and school. It's a little tough."
"We understand, Bella, and we want you to feel comfortable and know that you can trust us." Alice comes over and puts a reassuring arm around my shoulders.
"Can I?" I say, looking in Rose's direction. She turns and looks away briefly before she answers.
"Of course you can trust us. We're your family."
We drive to the mall and while looking around at all the eateries, I have the urge to pig out on junk food. Alice and Rose warn me not to, because Elizabeth would have a fit. I argue, wondering how in the hell she'd find out if she's not here to witness it.
"Bella, Elizabeth is very in tune to what goes on with us," Alice starts as we stroll past several stores, and I cut her off before she can go on.
"I don't understand. She's like the typical parent and we are typical teens. She sets rules and expects us to follow them, and we sneak out and break them, and we possibly get grounded as an end result. It's that simple."
"We never get grounded." Rose slips in without much expression. "Elizabeth is not the typical parent and we are far from typical teens."
I shake my head at her revelation and decide not to press.
Jeez! I just wanted a hotdog.
They sense my anxiety and lead me over to a juice bar that sells fruit smoothies. It's not my idea of junk food, but it's surprisingly better than I expected. We sit at a table in the food court and enjoy our afterschool refreshment.
"This is better than any of the crap I'm sure you were going to stuff your face with." Rose says and sips on her beverage.
"Oh, stop it, Rose. This, coming from the girl who wants pepperoni pizza every other day," Alice scoffs, and I laugh at Rose when she twists her mouth and waves Alice off.
"I'm just saying it's delicious and less likely to get her in trouble with Liz."
"This is true." Alice agrees and takes a big slurp.
I really am confused by this entire situation I've come into.
"You said she's in tune to everything that goes on. What exactly do you mean by that?"
They share 'that' look, the one I notice they often exchange when I ask a question about Elizabeth; but this time I'm surprised when Rose actually responds.
"You can't eat junk food, Bella. She'll know about it. We have routine doctors' appointments; which means routine weight monitoring."
"Weight monitoring?" I repeat with a scowl.
She holds up her hand to silence Alice and continues. "It's time she understands how things are done and what Liz expects."
"Along with maintaining a specific weight, we also visit the dermatologist once a month to ensure that whatever non-healthy food we've snuck and eaten, does not have an affect our skin. Liz makes it a priority to ensure her girls are pristine, Bella."
Pristine. Root word being priss. My God!
"Well, won't she be disappointed with me. I'm very much the opposite of pristine." I roll my eyes and scoff under my breath.
"Not for long. Have you been introduced to your etiquette instructress yet?"
"Etiquette instructress? No, why?" I frown in confusion. "Wait, is that one of those people that teaches you how to talk and pick up the right fork?"
They both burst into laughter and nod.
"It's not that bad, Bella," Alice promises, and we leave the table en route to find a store to buy supplies for my camera.
Somehow, after I purchase the photographic items, we end up in a clothing store; and surprisingly, I'm not as uncomfortable shopping with them as I was before. I even pick out a few items which Rose happily pays for, and on the car ride home, it gets me thinking.
"You guys seem to be able to do whatever you want without much interference from Elizabeth. You have your own cars and money. You have cellphones. I don't even have a cellphone."
Alice turns around in her seat and looks at me; and I notice Rose watching me in the rearview mirror.
"Elizabeth won't allow you to have a phone or car until you're seventeen." She states and focuses back on the road.
"I'll be seventeen in a month." I mutter, knowing that they won't be able to hear.
I'm in my room, relaxing on my bed and listening to some music. I can't really do much else since I'm grounded. I go to school, practice and then come straight home.
My father is still pissed off. He doesn't say much to me during breakfast or dinner and it upsets my mother.
I thought about telling my parents the truth about where I actually was, but honestly, the lie is easier for them to believe, especially for my father.
I told my mom about Bella and she thinks that I 'stayed out' with Lauren to try and hide the way I'm feeling. She feels terrible about what happened, but I reassure her that I'm fine, and that I simply need to move on. Typically, it would be the correct way to deal with this, but I can't seem to get her out of my mind, so I do the next best thing.
I reach over to my nightstand and open the notebook I use to write down things that I keep bottled up. I've done this since I was ten and it's helped me, not only with expressing my feelings, but also with developing my writing.
As I begin to jot down things, Jake bursts through the door. I immediately hide the book from his sight.
"Knocking a foreign concept to you?"
"Why, are you in here jacking off?"
I let my head fall back and gently bump the wall in frustration. "What do you want, Jake?"
"Hey, you should be a little nicer to me. I got your mom to convince Carlisle to lift your sentence."
"Why would you do that?" I deadpan.
"I did it because my cousin Paul is having a party this weekend, and surprisingly enough, he didn't go ape shit about us going."
"He doesn't go ape shit when something we want to do lines up with his agenda."
"My cousin's party meets his agenda? Man, you need to get out of this room. You're going insane."
I shake my head and smirk at his obvious obtuseness.
"Your cousin plays for St. Anthony's."
"What's your point?"
"My point is, that my father doesn't care about us being social as long as it has to do with football. Paul is a junior and a damned good player. It doesn't hurt that his father is the coach for the Bothell pee wee team." I rise off the bed and cross the room to turn off the music.
"Pee wee football, Edward, really?" His voice is laced with sarcasm.
"I was being facetious, but Paul's father has to know something about the sport to actually be able to coach; and anything that has to do with football gets my father going. Besides, Paul's father is a good, tough coach. The kids on that team could do a lot worse. Why do you think Dad suddenly doesn't have a problem with us going to a party where girls will be present? He knows that given the travel distance, we'll have to be out for most of the night. How is that different from any other social gathering that we may or may not want to attend? Simple, it's associated with football, which is all his agenda consists of... get it now, Jake?" I huff in frustration.
"Whatever. All of that is irrelevant. I came to let you know that the party starts at seven and to be ready to leave at three-thirty. Paul tells me there's going to be a lot of chicks from Westley there. Private school girls equal extra fun and a nice change from the chicks here in Forks."
"You're a pig, Jake, and I'm not going. If Carlisle gets wind of what really happens at those parties, you can surely believe you will then only get to see your cousin at holiday dinners."
"I'll be ready at three-thirty," he says, ignoring my statement and leaves the room.
I sigh as I sit and stare out of the window, over the treetops to the view of the Olympic Mountains. I've heard about what happens at parties over there. Jake and a few of our other teammates often go. They assure me that they only have a couple of beers and make out with some of the girls, and I hope that's all that they engage in.
Paul and his father have great aspirations for him to get into a good college on a football scholarship, but if what I hear about what goes on at those parties is true, then his dreams may end up in jeopardy.
It's three o'clock in the afternoon, and I stand at the foot of my bed, running a hand through my hair as a way of combing it. I've showered and pulled on a pair of jeans and a simple navy blue T-shirt. As I'm choosing a pair of sneakers to wear, Jake knocks on the door this time and pokes his head in.
"I see you're ready."
Begrudgingly, I've had a change of heart about going to this party with Jake. It's not that I think I'll have fun. After grappling with my thoughts for some hours, I've decided to go for two reasons. Firstly, I know that I need to do something to get out of the house and into a totally foreign environment to try and get my mind off Bella. I constantly worry about what may have happened to her. I don't know if she died in that fire, and the thought of her suffering has me nearly tearing my hair out. I hope so much, that she survived and is now living with relatives or friends. But even though it makes me feel happy that she could be alive somewhere, the feeling that I will never see her again is distressing. Getting out of the house is a tangible step to take my mind off these oppressive thoughts, if only for a little while. And secondly, I'm basically going as a chaperone. Jake, although as annoying as hell, is like a brother to me. I feel the need to make sure that he doesn't indulge in anything outrageous that will land him in hot water this close to graduation. It would truly mess up his chances of a football scholarship.
"I'm driving." I grab my keys and cellphone from the bed, stand and shove them in the front pocket of my letterman jacket.
"Awesome! Now, I can sit back and enjoy the ride. Riley and the rest of the guys are going to follow us over."
"Fine. Let's go."
We bound downstairs and my mother shushes us because she has company over. Before we can leave, she calls us into the dining room where she's entertaining and gushes about us to some of her friends. We politely greet and say goodbye to her guests, and I tell her that we will be home late due to the location of the party. She tells us to be careful and to call her when we arrive in Seattle.
I'm less than thrilled to be driving such a long distance, but someone has keep a clear head, and I know Jake won't.
Riley, accompanied by Mike pulls up just as Jake and I are walking to my car.
"Well, look at this. Cullen's actually going to hangout this time," he snarks and we greet with a quick handshake.
"Yeah, well, I figure you all need someone to keep an eye you."
"You mean be a narc." Mike laughs.
"Call it what you want, man, but we do have reputations to maintain."
"That's Carlisle talking." He says, causing everyone to laugh at my expense.
"Fuck you, Newton. Let's get out of here. The ride is long enough without prolonging it." Jake and I both duck inside my car, and I pull out onto the road.
I pace the floor in my room, trying to put this crazy plan into motion. I've used Alice's phone to call, telling Bree I'd pick her up just down the road from her house in a couple of hours. I feel that it's more convenient if her parents don't see me picking her up.
I also decide on taking Alice's car. She hardly ever drives it, and I feel she'd be easier to deal with if I actually get caught.
I look myself over in the mirror, checking what I'm wearing. I'm as nervous as hell, and I can't actually believe I'm going to go through with this. Getting to Forks and back will undoubtedly take up most of the day. I really don't care about those details at the moment. I'll deal with the consequences as they develop, if I need to.
Edward was on my mind all of last night. I could barely sleep, thinking about this day. What I would say to him, would I actually even approach him? Maybe just seeing him would be enough for me. Surely, driving that distance, one would think I could muster up something to say once I see him, but what?
"I can't worry about that right now. Just get to Forks first and worry about what to say and do later." I coach myself before heading downstairs to meet up with Rose and Alice.
We're all sitting in the living room. Jasper and Emmett are here as well, discussing something privately. I haven't seen Elizabeth or any of the other girls, so I assume they're preparing for a party they're supposed to attend this evening. That's a good thing. They should be out pretty late, and hopefully, I'll make it back before they notice I'm gone.
"So, we thought about going to see a movie and dinner afterwards. What do you say to pizza, Bella?" Alice interrupts my incessant worry about my planned trip.
"Huh…oh, um, I don't think I'm going to be able to go out with you guys tonight. I'm not feeling all that well."
"What's wrong?" she asks with genuine concern.
"I don't know exactly. I think I'm coming down with a flu bug or something. I think I'm just going to stay in bed the entire day."
Rose looks at me and frowns as if she doesn't believe a word I'm saying, but she surprises me with her response.
"We'll get you some saltines and chicken broth before we leave. The staff is off today, so there'll be no one here to make you anything." She rises from the couch, I assume to go into the kitchen.
"You don't have to cook for me. I'm sure I can manage to find something in the fridge, Rose, but thank you."
"Nonsense, it won't take long, and I'll put the soup into a little container until you're hungry. Elizabeth will kill us if we leave you home alone and don't make sure that you're properly taken care of."
I instantly panic. Surely they're not going to cancel their plans on my account. They can't. I won't be able to follow through with my own if that happens. I need to figure out a way to make sure they make it to that movie.
"I'm okay to be here alone…really. I'm just going to lie down and rest. You guys should go to the movies. I'll be fine. Besides, Jasper and Emmett will be here." The moment I say it, Jasper's attention is engaged. He looks at me oddly then nods.
"I'll make sure she's alright. The two of you should go," he says and resumes his conversation with Emmett.
I'm not too worried about Jasper hovering. He spends most of his time working out in the garage. That will be more than enough time for me to slip out, and at this point I don't care if he follows me.
"Are you sure, Bella?" Alice asks.
"Yes, I'll be okay. You guys have fun."
As promised, Rose makes chicken broth and leaves it on the kitchen counter for me to eat later. Soon, they both leave with Emmett, and I'm left alone with Jasper. I glance at the clock on the wall and note that it's two o'clock. I'm curled up on the sofa, and he sits across from me on the arm of the chair.
"How are you feeling?"
He surprises me with his concern. Normally, he doesn't say much unless he's being cryptic or sarcastic.
"I'm fine. I just think I'm coming down with a cold, that's all."
"Can I get you anything, make you some lunch?"
"Rose took care of that already. She made me soup."
He simply nods and taps his fingers on the couch in-between his legs. I can sense that he wants to say more, but doesn't know where to start. He eventually breaks his silence.
"The three of you seem to be getting along well, and shockingly, you and Rose appear to be hitting it off."
"Things are still a bit rocky with her, but for the most part she's cool."
"Glad you're starting to feel comfortable." He stands and prepares to walk out of the room. I try and use the opportunity to see if he'll open up about a few things.
"Can I ask you something?"
He turns and waits. "What?"
"How old are you?" I'm confused by my own question, and by the expression on his face I can tell that he is too; but then he smirks and walks back to me.
"I'm just curious." I shrug. "I hardly know anything about the people I'm living with, and I'm just trying to find my way, so to speak."
"I don't see how knowing my age will help you with that."
"Forget it," I scoff in annoyance. "Why would I even think that I could have a normal conversation with you?"
I rest my head back against the couch and close my eyes, my thoughts drifting back to my plans to see Edward.
"I'm twenty-three." His voice stuns me, and I open my eyes and glance at him, before I sit up to give him a full-on stare.
"You're only twenty-three years old? I...I didn't expect that," I say hesitantly as I rake my eyes over him, studying his features. Under closer scrutiny, it's now noticeable to me. He does look fairly young, like a new college student. His blond curls are thick and sun-kissed, like a young boy's pure natural hair color, free from anything artificial or chemical. His eyes are a beautiful blue, sometimes morphing into a deep sea green. In short, he's rather gorgeous, except for the fact that he annoys me.
"What'd you expect?" He smiles slyly, and I notice how perfect his teeth are.
"Nothing. I just thought you'd be older, but I am curious about something."
"Who are you exactly? I mean you're obviously too young to be dating Elizabeth, so I figure that you're simply employed by her. Are you a family member or what? What exactly is your reason for being here?"
"You ask a lot of questions. I did that when I was your age and first came here."
"What do you mean?" My eyebrows fuse together in confusion.
"I mean, I'm not a relative, and I'm not Elizabeth's boyfriend. I'm just like you. I was sixteen and alone when she found me."
"I won't get into details, but yeah, found."
"And now you're like what, a bodyguard or something?"
"What makes you think that?" He crosses his arms and looks at me pointedly.
"It's obvious. I mean you stick to all of us like glue and after seeing the way you and Emmett beat up those slime-balls back at Ben's club, what else could you be?"
He doesn't respond, only smiles as he turns to leave the room once more.
"I'll be in the garage if you need anything. Eat your soup and get some rest."
The minute I know he's really left, I hop off the sofa and run upstairs to Alice's room for her car keys. I watch from her window to see when Jasper leaves the garage, and I instantly realize that she must watch him from here a lot. I know she has a crush on him. I understand what it's like to feel that way. That's why I'm doing this.
Jasper pulls out of the garage, and I know I have to move quickly because he won't be gone for long. When I see his car disappear down the road, I race out of Alice's room and downstairs. I grab my jacket and sprint toward the door, only to be stopped by Rose and Alice.
"Going somewhere?" Alice says crossing her arms and blocking my exit.
Shit! Think of a lie, Bella.
"I'm just going to get some fresh air." I chuckle nervously.
"Where…Seattle?" Rose adds with a shake of her head.
"Cut the charade, Bella. We know about the party you and Bree are going to. You used Al's phone to call her and she must've thought it was yours. She sent this text." She holds the phone up to my face, and I silently curse in frustration, turn on my heel and walk back into the living room.
"Can I at least borrow your phone so I can call her back to let her know I won't be picking her up?"
"About that, whose car were you planning on driving to pick her up in anyway? I know it wasn't mine." Rose cocks one perfectly arched eyebrow at me, and at her gesture, I toss Alice her keys.
"You were going to steal my car? She gasps
I plop down on the couch, but don't reply. She actually looks hurt.
"Look, I'm sorry. I just wanted to get out and do something that normal kids do." I lie.
"You wanted to go to that party?" Rose scrunches her face as if it's a dirty word.
I shrug my shoulders at her and blow out a frustrated breath. There's no way I'll be able to get to Forks now. I leave them downstairs and return to my room.
A little while later, Rose appears at my door.
"There's still plenty of time. It's only 3 o'clock. What time does it start?"
"The party, what time do we need to leave? I'll drive."
"I don't want to go." I sigh heavily and stare at the ceiling.
I hear her enter the room and when the bed dips, I know she's sitting beside me. I sit up and look at her.
"Look, I know things seem rather strict around here and you feel like…" Her voice trails as if she's searching for the right words.
"Oh, come on. Don't be so dramatic. You've only been here a couple of weeks. Given your particular situation, did you think that you would just be able to do whatever the hell you want?"
"No, but it's just a party. What's the big deal?"
"Well firstly, you lied about being sick and were going to steal Alice's car. Lying and stealing are two things Liz will not tolerate, especially when doing it to the ones who are your family."
"You keep using that word…family. You and Alice are not my sisters, and Liz is not my mother. All the family I've ever had are now gone."
"Even more of a reason to let someone who cares into your life. I know about what happened to your parents and your adoptive father, Bella; and it's shitty, but you're with us now and it doesn't have to be a difficult situation."
"Was it easy for you….to let Elizabeth and the others into your life?"
Her expression hardens right before she gets a faraway look in her eyes.
"Liz saved me from a very scary time in my life. I was a little younger than you when I came here, but the situations are entirely different."
"Did you lose your parents too?"
"Technically no, but I guess you could say I was more of a loss to them," she says more to herself in a way, as if she's remembering something from her past. I decide not to pry. I know it's a gesture of trust that she's even opened up this much about her life to me. I wish I could offer her the same, but right now, I'm just not so sure I can trust anyone.
"We also know how important it is to be social and to hang out with our peers, so party it is."
I loathe the thought of going to this party, especially after what Bree has told me, but Alice and Rose already assume it's where we were going, and I'm not ready to confide my true plans to her. Despite all the negative feelings I have about this, I need to keep up with the charade.
"Party it is." I repeat, and she smiles faintly.
"Cool, it'll be fun to watch the other girls from Westley make fools of themselves." She stands, and prepares to leave. "Oh, what time does this party start?"
"I think seven….at least that's what Jessica Stanley told us."
"Jessica Stanley." She scoffs and walks out of the room. I smile at her fearless nature to not hide the way she feels about anyone or anything. It's a quality that I often wish I had the courage to possess.
I get up from the bed and walk over to my laptop. I tap the mouse pad and click on the folder containing Edward's picture. I stare at it briefly then close my laptop, silently making a vow.
There will be a next time.
After picking up Bree, we drive to Seattle to a guy named Paul's house, where the party is taking place. She can't believe we're actually attending this party and frankly, neither can I.
"Bella, I've been meaning to ask you something." Rose turns in her seat after parking. "Why the hell were you going to leave so early for party that starts in the evening?"
Bree nudges me and widens her eyes. I simply shrug as if I don't know the answer to her question. Rose shoots me a skeptical glare.
I look around as we exit the car, and there looks to be a nice sized crowd around, most of them still arriving in expensive looking cars, girls walking around in the shortest of skirts and blouses. A lot of them I recognize from Westley and others I don't, but one thing is for sure; Bree and I are both out of our league. I didn't bother to change out of the clothing I wore earlier in the day, it's what I chose to wear when I originally thought I was going to Forks. It isn't much of a fashion statement. Rose and Alice always look flawless in anything they wear, even if it's only jeans and a simple top.
I figure a couple of hours are all we need to be here for, and then we can leave and forget we ever were.