Disclaimer: All recognizable characters belong to SM. The storyline is mine.
AN: Thanks so much to my amazingly talented beta (and writer) karenec! Without her, there would be a lot less commas and a few wonky words.
Bella pulls her car into the garage; she's exhausted from the long, tedious drive. Every summer for one week, she likes to escape reality and sit on the beach. This year, the small cottage that she frequents was not available during her preferred week; instead, she needed to come later in the season. It could be a welcome change.
Normally when she is here, the Mallory's rent the house across the street. She loves to see the same family year after year. They have become an extension of her own. They exchange Christmas cards and emails throughout the year, but sometimes the kids, Jimmy and Peter, can be too invasive and Bella ends up working quite a bit more to accommodate them. This summer, she emailed them to tell them how sad she was that the house was not available on "their" week, but part of her is relieved to have seven days of rest. She looks over at the Mallory's house and sees a man standing out in the yard; he glances over at Bella as she pulls in the driveway.
I hope he is alone and will keep to himself.
It has been a long, torturous year and she needs time to regroup. A few months ago, she found her fiancée face deep between his secretary's legs when he was supposed to be working. Bella is not a weak woman, but seeing James with that woman made her question her whole life.
How could I have been so blind? I wasn't happy with James or at my firm.
She pulls her suitcase out of the car and treks her way into the house. She feels the weight of her life, and the burden makes her need to lie down before it becomes unbearable. Since the incident, she has been having lots of anxiety. One of the best ways she has learned to cope is to rest and meditate. When she reaches her bedroom, she becomes aware of the fresh air, and the cool breeze blowing in from the ocean. It leaves the taste of salt lingering on her lips. She is transformed; she can breathe again, feel again, and maybe learn to love again. She decides to lie down, just for a little while.
By the time Bella comes to, it is already seven o'clock. She didn't mean to nap so long, but the insanity of her life just exhausts her.
She didn't bring much food, and knows the stores close at five. She loves the quiet town and simplistic lifestyle in Maine. When Bella is here, she is forced to relax, but also to plan.
At home in New York, nothing ever closes, making people crave instant gratification. This is a blessing, but also a burden. Human beings need to rest, though city life doesn't stop to rest. Now Bella is burnt out, and needs to make changes in her life. She feels a lot of resentment towards her firm and the employers who kept in constant contact with her. They were always interrupting dinners and special occasions between her and James. If she thinks hard, though, she can see that she fueled it, too. She loved James, but there was a part of her that felt alone with him.
"What am I going to do about dinner now?" she asks herself.
Thinking back to previous year, she would go across the street for dinner on the first night. Getting up out of bed, she makes her way out of the house and to her car. As she backs down the driveway, she glances across the street wondering what the mysterious man in the Mallory's house is doing tonight.
The lights are off, he must go to bed early, or is out for the evening.
Driving into town, Bella looks to see if any new places have opened in the last year and is unsurprised to find none.
It's going to be dinner at The Hub tonight. Again.
Bella is used to the sounds of horns blaring and bright lights everywhere. Here, there are no streetlights to line the way, and only two stoplights in town.
It's so peaceful. Everyone that lives here is so happy and easygoing; I would love to relocate here.
She reaches her destination, The Hub and Grub, in minutes. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but it's the best bar food around. She always makes a point to stop here a few times during her annual visit and the owner, Tyler, remembers her and gives her a few free drinks if he's working.
As Bella walks through the door, she is assaulted by the smell of greasy fries and beer. The Hub has a laid-back vibe, with pretzels out in bowls, exposed wooden beams, a jukebox in the corner, and a set of regulars at the bar.
In New York, she goes to swanky restaurants or upscale bistros. For Bella, though, nothing beats a burger, greasy fries, and a cold beer.
This feels like home.
"Bella, I didn't think you were coming this year," Tyler said.
Bella didn't notice Tyler approaching her. He is a nice guy, but he is not her type. Tyler is close to her height, but his body is shaped like a triangle, very wide at the top, with a narrow waist and thin legs.
Wow, every year he gets bigger and bigger on top. He must only work out his shoulders and chest. He has these little tiny chicken legs. I think it's time he did some leg lifts.
"Tyler, hi, how are you?" she says while trying to hold in her laughter.
"Been well, business is good, and I'm getting married to Jane. You remember her. She is one of the servers here."
Oh yeah, Bella remembers Jane: long blonde hair, big boobs, always leaving with customers.
What a whore.
"I am trying to think..."Bella says, hedging. " I don't know Ty; you will have to introduce me later. I am going to sit down and order some food."
"She's around here somewhere. I need to go and get some work done before I go, but I'll come by later with her."
Bella grabs a seat in the corner, happy to get out of that conversation. She doesn't want to slip up and make a rude comment about Tyler's fiancée; she enjoys coming here, and wants to be able to come back.
She turns her attention to one of her favorite pastime: people watching. She likes to make up stories in her head about people's lives.
A young couple walks in. They are holding hands, and the girl is giggling. Bella imagines they are on a first date. That they just left an early movie and now out for dinner and drinks. He's just told her a lame joke, but she's laughing because she likes him. Bella wants a carefree relationship like this, but is unsure if she can trust a man again.
Where the hell is the server?
She huffs impatiently and starts shaking her foot under the table. She looks around the room again for a server and almost rolls her eye. Walking towards her is Jane. Her normally straight blonde hair is a big nest of messy curls, and her eye makeup is like black raccoon rings. She's even wearing bright red lipstick. Her outfit is a skin-tight, neon orange dress that shows the swell of her ass. Her right breast is popping out of the top, and both of her nipples are hard.
Oh, you have to be kidding me. Isn't the rule dark eyes or dark lips? She looks like a hooker... oh no, I hope they weren't just having sex in the back. Gross!
"Hi, my name is Jane. I will be your server tonight. Can I start you off with a drink?"
"Actually, I know what I would like to order. Can I have a black and tan, and a home-style barbecue burger?"
"Sure, I'll put that right in for you."
Bella loves The Hub's home-style burger; it's smothered with all her favorites: pickles, mayonnaise, fried onions, American cheese, and homemade barbeque sauce. The burger is so decadent in fatty, greasy goodness that it cheers her up if she is having a bad day. Her mouth is salivating just thinking about it. Bella has begged for the barbecue sauce recipe; unfortunately, Tyler refuses to give it to her. She even offered to pay him for it once.
She looks around the room for Jane, wanting a beer to help squelch her hunger. Her eyes land on a man sitting alone in a corner. He has a baseball cap pulled down so low, it's covering his eyes. She notices a few unruly strands of hair sticking out under the cap and his angular jaw line.
It's almost a perfect ninety-degree angle.
The man has an empty glass in front of him; a server drops another drink off. He doesn't look up or acknowledge her, but peers down into the glass; from the looks of it will be empty soon.
He looks so sad. I bet his wife just left him, or maybe he lost his job.
Jane plops a beer down in front of Bella and sloshes a little on the table. It annoys her that Jane doesn't even have to decency to apologize.
I guess the streetwalker doesn't have manners.
"Your burger should be out in a few minutes, hun. Can I get you anything else?"
"Some napkins to clean up this mess would be nice," Bella says in a snide tone.
"Of course, I am sorry about that."
People must not say anything about her attitude. All the regulars probably just stare at her tits.
Bella admires the perfect balance of her drink. The warm amber tone of Bass at the bottom and thick black Guinness resting on top with an inch of frothy foam; it always amazes Bella that the beer stays separated.
Perfection, this is the best beer ever.
The smooth taste of coffee stout fills her mouth. Her subconscious is nagging at her to look at the sad man in the corner. He seems to be leaning heavily towards one side.
The alcohol must have caught up to him.
Jane saunters over to the man. Bella watches as his eyes scans Jane's body. Jane, of course, does what Bella recognizes as her signature move, and leans forward so her tits are eye level with his face. Bella is surprised when he reaches out and strokes her thigh, and Jane doesn't stop him.
Instead, she leans in closer to whispers in his ear.
Bella feels sick to her stomach. She always knew that Jane was a tramp, but to see her allow a man to touch her so intimately in her fiancée's bar is despicable. Bella thinks about getting up to find Tyler, but instead sees that he is coming to her.
"Hey, I heard that Jane is your server, isn't she great?" Tyler was waiting for Bella's response.
"Umm, yeah, she seems great…."
Tyler appears to be oblivious to Bella's reluctance to answer. Instead, his attention is focused on Jane, who is finally bringing over Bella's burger.
"Hi, love, you know Bella?" Tyler is looking at Jane with such admiration.
Love really makes people blind.
"Hi, Bella! I didn't realize this was Tyler's favorite summer visitor I was serving. It is so nice to meet you. Tyler was just saying how he didn't get to see you this year; he was afraid you found a new vacation spot," Jane says in a sweet voice.
Is this bitch for real?
"Yeah, nice to meet you," Bella mutters dismissal tone.
Jane takes the hint and tries to drop Bella's burger off, but Tyler stops her to hold hand.
I don't understand her angle; she must be taking advantage of Tyler somehow.
Tyler interrupts her thoughts. "Great to see you Bella, but I have to go. Jane is going to run the bar tonight. Will you stop back in so we can catch up?"
"Yeah, of course, I will be in town until next Sunday."
Tyler gives Bella a hug good-bye and tries to place a kiss on Jane's lips, but she turns away from him and he kisses her cheek instead.
So, she has a problem with PDA when it comes to Tyler; such a hypocrite.
The delicious scent of the burger wafts up to Bella's nose, spicy smoked hickory and fried onions invade her senses. Her mouth begins to salivate from the aroma, but having to deal with Jane still leaves her feeling sick to her stomach. However, she can't waste this delicious beast. Once she finishes her burger and beer, Bella waves Jane over for the bill. She wants to go back home and rest, and not have to deal with Jane's deceitful ways.
I can picture her going home with someone.
"How was everything? Can I get you anything else?"
"No thanks Jane, just the check."
While Jane retrieves Bella's bill, she looks at the sad man again. He has his hat off and his head is down in his hands. His body is slouched and curling in itself.
Something must be seriously wrong for him to be so distraught.
There are four empty glasses around him. It appears that he has been running his hands through his hair and pulling at it. It is sticking up in all directions and is greasy looking.
"Here you go Bella; the beer is on the house."
Bella pays the bill and makes her way home. As soon as she enters the house, she heads to the bedroom. After the stress of the past year, she needs some more downtime.
Tomorrow is a new day. I will enjoy the sunshine and the beach, but tonight I need more sleep.
She climbs in bed and falls into a deep slumber.
All too soon, the sun is shining on her face and it is morning. One of her favorite things to do is sit in the bay window with her coffee, and watch the ocean's waves. She makes herself a cup from the Keurig, and assumes her position at the window. But this morning it's not the ocean that piques her interest. It's the sight of Jane, wearing the same clothes from last night, stumbling out of the house across the street. Standing in the doorway is a man, waving to Jane. It is not any man, however; it is the sad man from the bar.
AN: Thanks for reading and would love to hear anyone's thoughts!