A/N: Again, welcome to all the new followers and thanks for giving my story a chance! I love that you are enjoying this enough to follow it! And for my reviewers- your kind words make me sing! :-) And to my guest reviewers, I appreciate you guys too! Thank you very much!
Thank you to my beta girlies- Prettyflour and Ninmesarra- You ladies are AWESOME!
I know, I said this was going to be light-hearted and funny, and it will keep that for the most part, but every story needs a serious issue to work through, right? Get ready… cuz, here we go!
I pushed past them into my house, and tossed my purse on the side table. Opening the closet, I kicked off my shoes and hung up my coat. The girls followed after me like puppies as I walked to the couch and collapsed.
Alice had been kind of quiet, but the first question after we'd all sat down was, "Why the hell did you break Mike's nose?"
"What do you mean why did I break Mike's nose? It's not like it was on purpose. Think of it like when I broke your guys' bones dancing and bowling. It was an accident. Good Lord, Alice." I was feeling more than just a little perturbed with her accusations. These are my girls. They should know that I don't have a malicious bone in my body- I could never intentionally hurt someone unless they were threatening my life in some way.
"Oh," was Alice's fabulous reply.
"Alice, get real. Bella couldn't even bring herself to put down Trixie when the vet diagnosed her with cancer. I had to take the pup when it was so bad she couldn't even eat. Why would you accuse Bella of that?" Rose questioned.
My eyes teared up at the memory of my sweet companion. Angela noticed my watery eyes, and tried to soothe me by rubbing my shoulders.
"What I want to know is who the hell Eddie is," Rose continued, ignoring my mini-breakdown.
Angela stilled her hand on my arm, and Alice looked like someone had shocked her with a taser. "Eddie?" they questioned in unison.
"Yeah, Embry and I worked the short sift yesterday and he tells me that Bella was drunk on their date- what was up with that by the way?"
She cut me off before I could explain, "And he says that he took her home after an allergic reaction and she tells him to call Eddie. Now, who is Eddie, Bella?"
"First of all, I wasn't drunk. Not on purpose anyway. I took too much cold medicine and then had an allergic reaction and drank two bottles of Benadryl in five minutes to get rid of it. So, I was drunk but not on liquor. And you bitches will be happy to know I had a slight hangover," I laughingly told them.
They all laughed at me, but it was Alice who actually commented, "It's about damn time. I was beginning to think you were inhuman."
"Nah, you're just jealous."
"Damn right I am! Now, tell us about Eddie," Alice demanded.
"He's a good friend. And an amazing guy."
"Oh my Lord, Isabella Marie. You better give us the deets, like now," Rose commented.
Angela was sitting quietly, thrumming her fingers on her knee, staring, and waiting for me to spill the beans. The sound was muted, but it was enough to irritate me. I reached over and grabbed her fingers, trying to still the nervous habit.
"He's a bartender and he's amazingly gorgeous. Beautifully muscled with coppery-bronze colored sex-hair and his face… it's swoon worthy. And he's great- sweet, nice, caring…"
"Oh, so he's either gay or involved, or has some other serious deal-breaker going on. No one can be that gorgeous and not be flawed." Rose is such an optimist.
"Why do think that? Just because he's great, doesn't mean there is something wrong with him. When the hell did you get so jaded? I would almost think you were a bitter divorcee with the way you talk about guys sometimes. Not a happily-married, twenty-nine year old, that's never been lonely."
"Bella, you described him kind of like Ang did Eric with the whole great personality thing? Granted, he sounds a whole lot hotter… And, don't forget, I work with a bunch of men. Sometimes I tend to think like a man. But it's not like I'm going to magically grow a penis and balls."
I had to laugh at Rose- but then I grimaced. That was not a mental image I needed. Finally I commented, "Well, he's sorta beautiful."
Alice giggled, "I think Bella's in love. Does he like you too?"
"Um, I don't really know. You know how great I am at picking up on that kind of stuff."
"Oh, Bella, you don't give yourself enough credit. That's all. Hey! You never did tell me what happened that resulted in Mike's nose being broken. You do remember that I have to see him a regular basis? When I take the newest line of Alice's Adventure Wear in? I hope it's not awkward."
"Alice, is that really all you can think about? If he's going to keep letting you supply his store? I'm glad you're first thought was to ask if he tried to pull something and that's why his nose was broken."
Rose and Angie were casting dirty looks at Alice. "How's that foot tasting there, Alice? You seem to be consuming a lot feet-meat sandwiches… Maybe you should stop while you're ahead. -before you insult Bella so bad that she throws you out." I was so glad Rose speaking up. She was so strong…
Alice hummphfed in irritation. "Fine," she sighed out, "Tell us what happened?"
"We were hiking. Whose genius idea was that?" I gave a pointed look to Alice. "After we decided to head back, he was being nice and holding branches out of my way, so I tried to be nice and do the same." I could feel my cheeks heating up as they gazed at me. "So, I held a branch out of the way, only it was a slippery bastard and fell right through my fingers. It slammed back, right into his face and crunched his nose."
They all inhaled in surprise. Rose muttered a "Holy shit! That had to hurt!" while I just sat quietly.
Then, I just had to know, "Alice, why on earth would you set me up with a scrawny, little red-headed boy that blares Eminem and has a personalized license plate that reads Big Poppa? What the hell were you thinking?"
Angela was laughing hysterically and Rose had tears running down her cheeks as she laughed at the picture I painted. Alice looked crest-fallen.
"Bella, I swear he wasn't like that. I didn't know that was his car. And he was always super nice and dressed in his work polo and khakis."
"Well, I dodged a bullet anyway. Mike was a total mama's boy. I called her to come get him from the hospital and she reamed me out for breaking her little Mikey-kin's nose," I tried to get the nasally high-pitched voice down so they would understand exactly what that had been like.
Chuckling a little bit, Angie asked, "So what about Eric? I haven't had a chance to talk to him or you about that date. But, if you're calling Eddie, then I'd guess you and Eric weren't a match made in heaven."
"Not really. There was just no chemistry, Ang. He's a nice guy, and we could totally be friends, but never more than that. Sorry."
"It's okay. It's either there, or it's not. Not worth apologizing over, B," Ang reassured me.
"Now, it's time for more talk about Eddie!" Rose said.
"Um, no. I don't think I want to tell you guys more about him yet. I'll take you guys to the bar to meet him in a couple of weeks, but not yet. I have a date tomorrow night and I'm not about to ruin it with more talk about the dreaded curse of dare-dates. This one is one that none of you set up!"
I listened as the girls bombarded me with questions, trying to drag details out of me. Staying quiet, I was a lock they couldn't pick. Rose gave up first and went into the kitchen to grab my last bottle of Moscato.
She returned bearing glasses and the bottle, with a quick "shut-up," to Alice and Ang- they were still trying to crack me. Alice only relented when Angela put Just Dance in my Wii. I couldn't help but think, Lord, not this again!
We played for an hour before they were finally too tired to keep going. I'd cheered them on from the sidelines for a while. They collapsed on my couch and I went to search the kitchen for my hidden bottle of vodka. I thought a few shots of that were in order- it burns so good. Not like a good whiskey, but good enough for tonight.
I poured my shot glass full and slammed it back. I had just poured myself another when Rose sat down on the stool across the counter from me. I went ahead and tossed it back before I grabbed her a shot glass, too.
"What's going on with you, Bella? You aren't quite yourself lately."
I pondered the question for a little bit. Did I even know who I am anymore? "I don't know. There were a lot of things that went on with me and Sam that I never told you guys about. I lost sight of me. Of who I am when I was with him, and just kept trying to conform myself into this mold of what he thought I should be. I thought that-"
"What's going on here?" Alice asked from the doorway. Angela was hovering behind her with a lifted eyebrow- echoing Alice.
"We're just talking," I told them.
"Come on in girls. Bella was telling me how she lost her identity when she was with Sam."
"Yes, thanks Rose," I really needed to tame down the sarcasm. These girls are like sisters to me. If I can't talk to them- can't trust them- then who can I? I repeated what I had told Rose and continued with, "Sam wasn't exactly the prince that everyone thought he was. He wanted me to be seen and not heard, show up perfectly coiffed and be the epitome of elegance and grace. He was mad, a lot, when I just couldn't force myself to fit that."
Alice was crying- openly sobbing. Angela was quietly sniffling, and Rose- well, Rose looked like she was ready to jump in the car and turn into a gangsta… She looked like she was going to 'pop a cap in his ass.'
"Seriously though- I'm still the fun-loving, laid-back Bella that I was with you in high school, Rose- and in college with you guys, " I said, motioning to Alice and Angela. "I just lost sight of that. I have discovered that I hate shopping in the mall; I'd much rather go to thrift stores and buy my clothing. I am still the biggest klutz in the world. I'm figuring it out, but… did you know that Sam always ordered food for me- usually the same as what he would order for himself. I don't even know what kind of eggs I like anymore, or if I like them at all.
"For me to have a type of guy that I usually date- it would be hard for you to find because I don't even know what it is. I think I have an idea now," I said with a sly smile, "and so I can see where based on Sam, Ang you would set me up with a serious-type guy like Eric. He'll make a great friend, but he's not boyfriend material for me. And Embry- he's quiet and laid-back like I was in high school, but, again, he's just not for me. And Alice, I know you picked Mike because he was the polar opposite of Sam and you hated him. Right?"
Alice looked down and away guiltily, "Yeah, I did."
"But, I know you all did it because you love me and want me to be happy. It's okay, really it is. From now on, though, I'm totally finding my own dates. Those were just hell!"
Angela laughed and slung her arm around my shoulders. "You know we are here for you however you need us to be. You're right, we just want you to be as happy as we are."
All my sisters- that's what they will always be, blood or not- gathered around me and squeezed the ever-loving shit out of me with murmured "love ya, Bella" echoing in our huddle. I squeezed them back tightly, reassuring them, "I know. I love you guys, too."
"Aww, Bella, I know you've always had the hots for me, but… I'm a married woman. Then again, Emmett would probably jump on the chance if we let him watch," Rose said- effectively ruining the heartfelt moment and making us all laugh.
"You know it baby!" I said, grabbing a dish towel off the counter and snapping her butt with it.
She howled at me and then the war was on. We ran around my house, chasing each other with dish towels, seeing who could score the most taps. When we were finally dropped to floor in fits of giggles, I sighed in relief. It felt good to get that off my chest and share it with someone.
I looked around at my circle of friends. I was content in this moment, to relax and just be with them. The questions I had didn't have to be answered right this second.
When the bottles were empty, I sent them on their merry way. With one last wave, I closed the door and sagged against it. I love them to death, I really do, but they always manage to drain my energy.
Standing straight again, I went quickly to the bathroom. It was time for a hot shower. I rolled my shoulders trying to lose some of the tension that had gathered there over the last two hours.
As the hot water beat down on my body, I thought about the poor guys that had been set up with me. Eric- he didn't ask for me to be a bitch, or to have the weather change so drastically. Embry hadn't owned the diner or decided to store the strawberries with the bananas. Mike definitely didn't say 'Hey Bella! Break my nose for me? Mm-kay?' Granted, I hadn't exactly asked for those things to happen either, but I should have expected the worst to happen.
The worst always seems to find me. Glancing at the calendar, I realized that in exactly six weeks, I will have been without Sam for a year. It has been a long year. I've learned to cope without him, to be independent again. After three years with him, that was quite an adjustment to make. But he'd been no good for me. I just didn't know it until last year. His true colors had shown through when the going got tough.
I had considered Sam the love of my life. He was everything I'd thought I wanted in a man. He was successful and driven- the district attorney in our community, and his goal was to run for state senator and eventually governor and president. I know I would never be able to vote for him. Sam was also very handsome. His skin was smooth and had nary a mar on it. Dark hair was kept cropped short and gelled to perfection. Dark eyes would broadcast his emotions, or so I thought. He was very good at acting. He had a smile that was perfect for a toothpaste ad.
His too perfect appearance disguised his black soul inside. At the beginning of our relationship, he'd been so sweet and eager to please. Once he'd become the district attorney, it was like a switch flipped. He went from caring to domineering; affectionate to neglectful and borderline abusive. When I failed to fill the mold he deemed appropriate…
I shuddered and shook off the melancholy thoughts and feelings and focused on my date with Eddie that was going to be happening soon. I needed to sleep. I wanted to be well-rested when we went out. It wouldn't do to have bags under my eyes.
Sliding between cool sheets, I pulled the covers up under my chin and cuddled into my favorite pillow. I watched as the clock counted by the seconds and minutes. When the minutes became an hour, I resigned myself to a night of no sleep. The covers were kicked back and my feet shoved into orange squirrel slippers-pink bunnies were just too cliché.
The house was getting cool, so I turned the heater up a little and went into my office. Firing up the laptop, I waited for it to come on. R-E-S-P-E-C-T was quickly typed into the screen as my password, effectively unlocking my computer. I opened the file that was my new story, Dildo Dominatrix- no, that would not be the final title. I liked giving them crazy names until I decided on a real one.
I wrote until the words were blurring together on the screen and my sentences were no longer making sense. That's usually a good time to stop. I mean, do you want to read a story that is half gibberish? I don't!
I went back to bed and finally fell asleep.
A/N: So…. Tell me what you think! I need to know if you guys are still with me. Again, teasers for reviewers unless you tell me otherwise! Also, I can only send those to people that submit signed reviews- so if you want one, make sure you are logged in :)
And now for some recs…
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