A/N I spent AGES working on this with my darling pre-reader. So I hope you like it! :)
Beta: Jessi Pooks
Disclaimer: I own nothing. SM owns it all
"Beellla!" Jessica whined, banging loudly on the bathroom door. "Would you hurry up! We have to be at the club in an hour!"
The girls were incredibly close; some even said they behaved more like sisters, than friends.
Jessica loved her to pieces, they had been through alot together and always came out the other end of each catastrophe stronger. When the girls were five years old, they were bullied constantly. Bella was picked on because of her ghostly pale skin tone, while Jessica was bullied because of her outgoing personality. The girl talked...a lot.
But through all the bullying, name-calling, demeaning comments and persistent criticism, the girls stayed strong. They had one another, and as long as they remembered the deep bond they shared, they would be fine.
Now fourteen years later, they were just as close as ever, if not closer.
"Yes, I'm coming!" she yelled back in annoyance. Bella had been umming and ahhing over her chosen outfit for quite some time. She and Jessica had been out earlier that day to browse for dresses for their night out. After hours of shopping, the girls finally settled on two dresses.
Bella had chosen - much to Jessica's disapproval - a green taffeta dress that was accented with black flocked roses, a velveteen waistband with black trim, and black opaque tights. Her friend had tried to persuade her to get something a little more revealing, show off her figure, but Bella was dead set against it.
Jessica had decided to wear something a little more skimpy; she was going with a short blue strapless dress - leaving nothing to the imagination.
Bella was a shy girl, there was no way she could pull off a short dress like that. As soon as she exposed her legs, people would more than likely run and hide in fear. She was a magnet for accidents, and as a result she ended up with scars scattered all over them. No, she was quite happy sitting in her bedroom reading her latest book and daydreaming about a guy she longed for, but would never have.
Bella had an insanely huge crush on Jacob Black. He was gorgeous, dreamy, handsome and the definition of the word sexy. However he was out of bounds, however; taboo, forbidden, prohibited and that minor detail left her wanting him even more.
Nobody knew of her infatuation with said hunk- not even Jessica. She had managed to keep it well hidden and she knew nothing would ever come of her liking of Jake, so what was the point? At least this way Bella could sit and fantasise to her heart's content.
"Bella! Would you hurry the fuck up!" Seth, her brother's voice boomed through the door. "Jake's expecting us at the club in an hour, so get a move on!"
That right there was another minor problem; Jacob dreamboat Black was her brother's best friend. Seth and Jake had been friends since kindergarten and even went away to college together. Not everyone who went to college as friends, came back as friends. Seth and Jake had roomed together and played basketball together- they were as inseparable as they had always been. They had breezed through college, their friendship strengthened and still saw each other nearly every day, even though they were no longer roommates.
Bella rolled her eyes at Seth's and Jessica's impatience, while checking her appearance one last time before unlocking and opening the door.
"Finally!" Both Seth and Jessica said in unison.
Bella smiled impishly and shrugged. "Sorry, a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do." She then made her way past the scowling pair and into her bedroom.
Two hours later, Bella and Jessica were sitting in one of the many luxurious booths at Jake's club. He owned an extremely suave, elegant burlesque club called Reverie in central Port Angeles. Surrounding them were rich colors of red, browns, oranges, golds and blues. There were numerous stunning black crystal chandeliers suspended overhead and spotlights built into the ceiling, which were directed at the stage. Decorating the walls were gorgeous satin drapes, and oil paintings of burlesque dancers.
In the centre of the lounge stood an old-fashioned, dark oak stage, and scattered around it were several platforms, with swings hanging from the were also rooms and booths which were an extension of the main lounge, where the private dancing took place. Situated behind the booths was a very chic looking bar - where they made every alcoholic concoction under the sun.
The lounge had an upper balcony which was specifically for VIPs. It was even more plushly decorated than the lower level, with better seating and old-fashioned binoculars, so the customers were able to view the performances in comfort and style. The VIP level also had security guarding the staircase and elevator, only letting people through with VIP passes. The security staff were dressed in white pinstripe suits, with black shades - like gangsta mafia.
This wasn't Bella's scene at all; she felt extremely uncomfortable surrounded by the semi-naked women, with tassels covering their nipples; her innocent face heating up with embarrassment as she saw one of the dancers wink at her. She shook her head to clear it and reminded herself she was here to support Jake; she could deal with her uneasiness for a few hours.
The girls couldn't drink as they were underage, but the handsome looking - Jessica's words, not Bella's - bartender made them a tasty exotic fruit juice.
Both girls brought the drinks to their mouths and began to sip, when Jessica gasped in shock. "Oh my God! That is one fuckawesome drink! I think I'm gonna get another!" And with that she all but downed the drink. Bella chuckled and shook her head at her friend's over enthusiasm. She took several more sips of her own drink, when a pair of extremely fake-tanned legs came into her view.
Bella groaned internally- awesome. Lauren's bitchiness was the last thing she wanted to deal with. She was still getting over the fact she had actually worn a dress - Bella never wore dresses.
"Jess! Bella!" Lauren greeted, brashly.
Bella rolled her eyes at her fake behaviour, and continued to sip her drink.
"Lauren. What are you doing here?" Jessica sneered, while trying her best to bite her tongue.
Lauren Mallory was one of the girls who bullied Bella and Jessica, so this unwelcome visit set them both on edge, bringing back several unwanted memories.
She flicked her white blonde hair, then moved her gaze elsewhere, as if the girls that had been forced into a conversation with her didn't matter. "Oh, Jake invited me. He said it was some special event or something like that."
Bella's heart fluttered at the mere mention of his name. God, he wasn't even there and he had her practically panting like a dog! Though, she had to wonder, why Jake would invite one of the girls who made her and Jessica's lives a living hell throughout elementary school?
Maybe because he doesn't know or care about your childhood bullies, you moron. She thought to herself.
Just then, Lauren murmured something that was barely audible, "Not that I can see anything special here." Bella clenched her fists, while locking her jaw. She wasn't one to get into petty cat fights, but Jake had worked extremely hard to get the lounge to the status it had reached, and that selfish, stuck-up bitch had the audacity to say something as disparaging as that? Uh-uh.
"You should be honoured," Bella growled unintentionally, "Tonight is special to Jake, he's worked incredibly hard with the club and deserves some recognition," she stared directly at Lauren. "So try and have some fun...for his sake."
Jessica's eyes snapped towards her friend in complete shock. Where the hell did that come from?!
Lauren then narrowed her eyes at Bella, glaring murderously. "Oh don't worry, I'll be having a good time. And I'm pretty sure he will too."
Bella's heart sank at the thought of them having fun together. Jessica sensed her friend's sudden discomfort and discreetly placed her hand over Bella's, squeezing gently.
With her bombshell, Lauren chuckled devilishly and strutted towards the bar, leaving Bella with a feeling of complete and utter emptiness.
They had been at the club for a little over two hours, and Jake still hadn't made an appearance which made Bella a little anxious. All she wanted to do was see him, make sure he was ok, then she'd be fine and could enjoy the rest of her night with Jessica.
Bella noticed that she and Jessica were low on drinks, so she got up and made her way towards the bar, where she then sat on one of the stools while she waited to be served. Even with all the staff working behind the bar, there was still a queue. She people-watched happily, waiting patiently until someone came to take her order, pleased that Jake's big night was obviously a success.
"Hey there beautiful, what can I get you?" the bartender from earlier asked, flirtatiously, a hint of mischief dancing in his eyes.
"Same as earlier, thanks." Bella replied, awkwardly.
He smiled impishly, then winked at her as he made her drinks. "So, you here with anyone?"
Bella blushed profusely as she registered the undertones of suggestion in his voice. "Just my friend."
He cocked his brow in disbelief, then placed the cocktail glasses on the bar. "So your boyfriend didn't bring you?"
She shook her head, while biting her lip. "Nope, no boyfriend."
He then chuckled and folded his arms, while looking directly at her. "So you're telling me, that a sexy girl like you doesn't have anybody to go home to?"
Bella's eyes met his and she felt something shoot through her that she'd never felt before. Was this guy interested in her? Was he dropping hints? God, she was so out of practice with all of this shit. Where was Jessica when she needed her?
"Nobody around here is good enough and they'd have to go through me first," said the voice she had longed to hear all night long.
Bella moved her gaze from the guy behind the bar - who was nice, but didn't hold a candle to the man now locking eyes with her.
She blushed and bit her lip; why did that man have such a powerful effect on her? "Hey Jake," she said, softly.
Jake looked breathtakingly handsome. She had never known a man to pull off a suit that well before. He wore black slacks, a crisp white shirt and a black blazer.
He smirked, while looking at her with one brow raised. "Hey Bella," Jake replied, pushing himself off of the wall he was leaning on. "Thanks for coming," he added, his tone sending her mixed signals. Bella was no pro with relationships; far from it but she definitely caught underlying hints of flirtation.
Determined to appear stronger and not like the wallflower she was known for being, Bella sat up straight and looked him dead in the eye. "It's no problem. I'm glad to be here to support your one year anniversary. I guess time flies when you're having fun."
Jake smiled warmly, his eyes never leaving hers as he walked towards her, casually leaning over the bar directly opposite her. He was so close, Bella caught a breathtaking hit of his aftershave, mixed with his own scent.
Good God. she thought, while trying to maintain a cool, calm composure.
Their eyes burned into one another's, Bella's heart beating like a drum against her chest as he inched closer. "No problem, it wouldn't be the same without you here."
Her blush deepened as she tried to work out what he was saying. Were these the words of a strong friendship? Or something deeper? She mentally slapped herself. C'mon girl, he probably says that to every girl he meets.
Deciding to let it go for now and enjoy her night with her best friend, Bella simply smiled and reached for the cocktail glasses. Jake got there before her and grasped the stem of one of the glasses, causing her to unconsciously graze her hand across his. As soon as they touched, they both felt thousands of bolts shocking their bodies to life.
Without thinking, Jake then delivered a blinder. "By the way," he leaned in closer, so their cheeks almost touched and added earnestly, "You look beautiful."
Bella smiled shyly, turning away from his alluring gaze, her face heating up more by the minute. "Er...thanks," she moved her gaze back to him, as she looked into his eyes and somehow found a foreign confidence rise from within her. "You don't look so bad yourself." With that she grabbed her drinks, threw him a mischievous smirk, then headed back to Jessica.
Where the hell did that come from?
The night was in full swing, the sexy jazz music flowing from the speakers which were placed all around the room. The dancers on stage swayed their bodies seductively, dancing with the props. Several men were whistling and catcalling - that was until Jake had a word with them. He ran a very classy establishment and behavior like that was not acceptable nor tolerated.
Several more of Seth and Jake's friends showed up; there was Quil and Embry, Jake's other best friends; Leah and her boyfriend Sam, and lastly Jared. Bella knew most of them from the bonfires they would hold on First Beach in La Push.
They were all sitting in the booth, laughing, joking and reminiscing about old times. The days when Seth would beat Jake at basketball - that quickly changed - he wasn't one to be messed with on the basketball court, Bella had witnessed many a time. She was idly twirling the cocktail umbrella around in her drink, not really listening to the groups childhood memories, but relaxed in the warm, easy atmosphere of their booth. She was trying to work out what the scenario at the bar was all about. Was Jake flirting with her? Or was he just throwing her the usual lines that he gave every woman?
She decided to just give up with trying to figure out the working of a guy's mind- there was no point. God, this guy stuff was extremely frustrating! You could tie yourself up in knots, trying to decipher every word and touch and still be nowhere near figuring anything out!
As Bella twirled her umbrella around, she had a niggling feeling that somebody was watching her...
She looked up, subconsciously looking straight towards the guy sitting directly opposite her; Jake.
Without meaning to, her eyes locked with his. Why was he watching her? How long had he been watching her?
Looking like a deer caught in the headlights, he quickly turned away. Bella quirked her brow in confusion. What the hell?
The following twenty minutes this odd dance continued; Bella would lose herself in her thoughts, and look up to see Jake gazing at her with a smirk on his face. He was beginning to make her paranoid. Did she have something on her face? Was her makeup smeared? Did her hair look weird?
Officially freaked out and worried about her appearance, Bella tapped Jessica's shoulder and leaned into her ear, murmuring, "I'm just going to the ladies room, I won't be more than a second."
Jessica cocked her perfectly shaped brow and gave her the 'oh-no-you-don't' look, then replied. "I'm coming with you."
Bella nodded, gave Jake one last glance, noticing he now wasn't looking at her, but concentrating on the group conversation. She internally shook her head and made her way towards the bathroom.
Both girls had just finished washing their hands in the bathroom, when Jessica decided to apply yet more make-up.
"So Jared is kinda cute..." She gushed.
Bella giggled and shrugged. "He's ok, not really my type." She started to conduct a quick inspection, to see what fault had kept drawing Jake's eyes to her. Teeth- no lipstick, or food stuck where it shouldn't be. Nose- clear, no bats in the cave. Eyes- gunk-free, make-up holding up nicely. Hair- same as always, but that couldn't be helped. She fretted and preened, making sure everything was as it should be. What could he see, that she couldn't?
Jessica scoffed, while pouting her lips. "Girl, you are too picky. That hot bartender was totally checking you out. I think you might be in there."
She nodded, biting her lip. That was all well and good, but she really wasn't thinking about anyone but Jacob Black.
"Jake seems happy about the turnout tonight, and I couldn't help but notice how he lit up when he saw you..."
Bella caught on to her comment, her eyes widening in shock. Crap! She really had to keep her own emotions in check, if Jessica had been that observant...who else had? Jake had "lit up" when he saw her? Yeah, right! "Jess...he's my brother's friend. He just looks out for me, that's all."
"Mmhmm. If you say so honey." she then placed her lip gloss back in her bag and held her arm out for Bella. "C'mon chick, lets head back out there." As they left the bathroom, they saw a woman on stage in a crazy position that didn't even look humanly possible.
Jessica's eyes widened as she stopped and glanced at Bella. "How do they do that stuff? There's no way in hell I could do it! And with all these people watching, too! They must be so confident."
Bella couldn't help but laugh, though she agreed with her one hundred percent. That shit just looked plain uncomfortable!
As they approached the booth, Bella's blood ran cold. In her absence, that little ho Lauren had moved in on her friend. The girl was practically on Jake's lap! And what hurt even more...he wasn't pushing her away. Did the girl not understand the concept of personal space?!
Awesome, time to play third wheel.
As Jessica and Bella slid onto the booth, Lauren managed - with great effort - to tear her gaze away from Jake.
A cunning - pearly white - smirk played across her features as she then began to speak. "Jake was just telling me about this competition the club are hosting to find the new Reverie girl." She turned and purposely ran her finger along his arm. Bella rolled her eyes and looked away.
"Isn't that right, Jake?" Lauren batted her false eyelashes at him, causing Bella to throw up in her mouth. Disgusting.
"Yup, the winner will get a six month contract with the club, their own oil painting which will be placed on the wall and one thousand dollars prize money."
Bella's eyes widened. One thousand dollars! A contract at the club...damn.
Lauren started clapping her hands like a seal and bouncing up and down with excitement. "I can't wait! I'm so going to enter! What do you think I should wear, Jakey? Maybe something lacy and revealing?"
He nodded as if trying to appease her, though from the way he was glancing at Bella, something told her he wasn't the least bit interested in what Lauren chose to wear.
"So, say if I wanted to enter...how would I go about doing it? Are there heats? Age-limits?"
Lauren scoffed and rolled her eyes scornfully at the idea of Jessica entering. "Honey, please don't take offense to this, but are you really sure you want to put yourself through that? I mean come on, you're not exactly perfomance material."
Bella - who was becoming more annoyed by the second, with Lauren's blatant attempts to seduce Jake, felt her blood boil at Lauren making fun of her friend. Hell no! They were not kids anymore and they didn't have to take Lauren's crap! Bella snapped her eyes towards the little skank, and hissed, "And what makes you think you are? I think Jess could definitely pull it off, heck, maybe we could do one together!"
Jake laughed incredulously. "Bells, please don't tell me you're thinking of entering? Sweetheart, it's not your thing, hell, you can't buy a fucking can of soda without blushing." he continued to laugh at her expense. "I mean, you're completely uncoordinated, you'd more than likely fall flat on your ass, or knock yourself out and I really can't take that risk - my insurance doesn't cover what ever catastrophe you'd bring down upon my place - and yourself."
Bella glared at him murderously, then dropped her eyes to the floor. Gee, thanks Jake.
Feeling like a complete shit for the obvious effect his words had on Bella's mood, Jake reached forward and used a gentle hand to bring her face level with his. "I'm sorry, that was bang out of order. I shouldn't have said those things."
She simply nodded, still hurting from his harsh words.
"C'mon Bells, everyone here knows you don't have it in you; you're not that kind of girl," Jake adds, softly.
Bella forced a smile across her face, deciding to let it go. Though internally, pissed off with his disrespectful words.
You think you know me, Mr. Black? You have no idea what kind of girl I am...
So should I keep going, or give up? Tell me what you think :)