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I was already awake when Alice's text message came through. It read, "shower day!" complete with over enthusiastic smiley emoticons. I sighed and pulled the blanket over my head, trying to bury myself. I had no desire to face this day. I had been looking forward to the shower, a day with just the girls, until both my mom and Jasper's mom agreed to come. They did not particularly like each other, which was hilarious to me because they were equally judgmental. The only difference was the type of judgment: Maria's was the snotty my family has money type and my mom's was some sort of Irish Catholic thing that I never really understood. It was exhausting.
I was attempting to roll myself out of bed when I heard Edward stomping down the steps. Yet another reason I wanted to hide under the covers all day. I had apologized. He shrugged it off and claimed his outburst was from a mixture of lack of sleep and too many energy drinks.
I didn't believe him, mostly because Edward was a lifelong insomniac and lack of sleep had never bothered him before. The other reason was that he stopped trying. We merely existed together in the house. He kept working on the attic and still refused to move out, but it was as if we had no history at all. Before, our fighting at least showed some passion, some kind of emotion. Edward seemed so empty. We spoke but it was more like two random roommates than two friends.
I wasn't entirely sure it was all because of my rejection though. I caught him in the spare room, which had once been Jasper's man cave, sitting absently twirling a drumstick Jasper caught at a concert. The door was only open a crack, and I know he didn't realize I was even there, but I stood there for a good ten minutes watching him stare at mementos.
We were both torn. What we felt fought against how we thought we should feel. Jasper's ghost hung over us, a reminder that the only reason we even had a chance for a relationship was because we lost someone so important.
The overwhelming need to pee drove me out of bed. Edward and I narrowly avoided each other and that continued for the rest of the morning.
I waited on the couch for Alice to come and get me. I could no longer comfortably sit behind the steering wheel of my own car, so now I had to be chauffeured everywhere. Lately, that responsibility had fallen to Alice, a job Edward would have previously jumped at the chance for. When Alice arrived, Edward didn't show his face, and Al didn't press the issue.
Although I had been under the impression that it would be a small gathering held inside the Cullen's house, when Alice pulled the car around to the refurbished barn behind the house, I knew otherwise. Vic and Alice stayed mum on all the details of the shower and now I knew why.
The barn was huge and could honestly hold around a hundred and fifty people. They held all their birthday anniversary parties in there. There were helium star balloons surrounding the doorway with a blue carpet leading the way in.
"Alice." I groaned annoyed at what was clearly going to be an over the top baby shower.
"Shut up," she said playfully. As I walked into the barn, I realize Vic and Alice must have invited everyone I had ever come in contact with while living in Forks. Almost all the female faculty members from Forks High were there. My old neighbors from when I lived in the studio. The lady that cuts my hair. Everyone.
"What the fuck, did you invite the whole town?" I asked as Vic appeared out of the crowd and enveloped me into a hug.
"Umm…well, sort of. Yeah, we did." She released me and kissed Alice in the cheek. "Actually when word got out about the party, people started inviting themselves."
"Jasper was pretty well-liked by everyone. Only makes sense they would all want to come help give his child a good start." Esme joined us and she kissed me on the cheek. "How is my favorite adopted daughter?" She stroked my hair soothingly. I loved Esme. Sometimes I wished I could trade in my mom for her.
"My back hurts and my ankles are swollen." I shrugged.
"I've separated the moms. Your mom is over on that side with Rose, she's keeping her distracted and Maria is on the other side with her old crew." Esme pointed to opposite sides of the barn, scrunching her nose a bit when she mentioned Maria. Esme was not a fan of her sister in law. "We have a plan set to keep them apart as much as possible."
"Thank you," I said, relieved. The only thing Maria and Renee ever agreed on was that it was an unholy disgrace when Jasper and I moved in together before marriage. Jasper had the smooth ability to wrap both of them around his finger. I lacked that talent and long ago stopped trying to hide my dislike of Maria, since she never bothered to hide her disdain for me.
I slowly made my way through the crowd, greeting everyone, thanking them for coming, and receiving well-wishes and the occasional condolence. Everyone wanted to touch my belly, which usually annoyed me, but I knew that I would offend everyone if I told them not to.
Finally I reached my mother. She hugged me limply and said, "Bella, you look well."
"Thank you, mom." We had barely spoken since Thanksgiving, although I called my dad regularly. I was shocked when she agreed to come. "Thank you for coming all this way."
"Well, you are my daughter, of course I would come." She smiled. She was too happy, too nice. I wondered if it was because Esme was standing with us. Esme was my mom's idea of a perfect wife and mother; she tended to try a bit harder whenever she was around.
I visited with my mom for a while and the grudgingly made my way to Maria. She was laughing with her cronies, the few people in Forks she never alienated. She had a dark tan, perfectly manicured nails, and highlights. She looked relaxed and happy, while I'd been spending the last six months getting fat, mourning her son, and crying almost daily over a broken friendship.
"Oh look everyone, it's my son's baby momma." She joked in that awkward way people did when they thought they were being cool. Her little band of Botoxed followers laughed like she was the funniest person on Earth.
"Hello, Maria. Everyone." I nodded toward her friends. I wasn't sure of their names since they never spoke to me unless Maria was around. "Thank you for cutting your vacation short to be here."
"It wasn't a vacation, Bella. It was a spiritual journey. After losing my son in such a devastating way," Translation: After losing my son because you sent him out for Chinese food. "I needed some time mourn his passing and learn my new role in life now that I am no longer needed as a mother." I bit my tongue, remembering my promise to Esme I would not start anything with Maria.
"Of course." I faked a smile and proceeded to listen to her subtlety mock me for her friends' amusement until it was more than I could take. I needed air.
I left Maria without excusing myself and slipped unnoticed through a side door. The air was crisp and cool; I took in a deep breath. The baby also seemed to enjoy it, as it started kicking.
"You like that baby?" I spoke to my belly as I rubbed it affectionately.
"Aw, is the guest of honor not liking the spotlight?" I turned my head to see Irina walking up the path, a small gift bag in her hand. She looked amazing; blond hair perfectly style, makeup expertly applied. Not for the first time I wondered why Edward would want me over her. She stopped in front of me, "Why are you out here?" Though still blunt, she said it without the usual attitude I got from her.
"Maria is in there and combined with my mom, I needed a break." She nodded as if she understood, though being a lifelong Forks resident; she was probably used to Maria. "So, you're here," I continued awkwardly.
"Yea, well, Alice invited the whole town." She shrugged.
"Well…thank you for coming anyway." She shrugged again but didn't respond. I felt like she was working up the courage to say something. I prepared myself for whatever nasty lecture she was about to give me. "Just say what you need to Irina." She averted her eyes and spoke to my feet.
"Edward dumped me once for you. Back when you and Jasper first decided to move in together. I've pretty much hated you since then. I immaturely wished a lot of bad things to happen to you but you didn't deserve to lose Jasper and for that I'm sorry." Irina tucked some hair behind her ear and finally met my eyes. "Everyone knows what's going on between you two and I thought you should know no one would judge you or think badly of you if you moved on with Edward."
"I don't care what people think of me," I said, tired of this conversation already. Irina rolled her eyes.
"I know, you are fiercely independent, you don't give a shit, blah, blah, blah. What I mean is, besides Maria, everyone else thinks Edward has earned his chance and being with him would probably be the most logical thing ever."
"Even you?" I asked, skeptical that this girl has crushed on Edward longer than he's crushed on me would ever stop trying for him.
"Even me. He deserves it and so do you. I can't imagine loosing someone like you lost Jasper. And although I still don't particularly like you, I would like Edward to be happy and if it's you that makes him happy, so be it."
"Umm. Thanks." I smiled and she smiled and then walked past me into the barn. After a few minutes of contemplating, I followed, feeling refreshed and my heart felt a little lighter.
Bella, Bella, Bella. will you finally be making some sort of decision?
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