Here is the new chapter. Again it feels hopeless to apologize for how long I'm taking to post. I can only tell you that I'm truly sorry. Life has been a bit hectic, mind hectic, but I'm hoping to post one chapter at least every two weeks. I need to get to that goal. Thank you so much for all your reviews and for being patient. I hope you are still along with me on this ride.
Disclaimer: I do NOT own Twilight or any part or character from that beautiful world. Just borrowing their names a bit cause our dear Stephenie Meyer said we could play with them.
Ch. 7 – Jelly Fangs and Giving In
- Edward -
It was fairly quiet in here and the noise of the leather sole in my shoe against the chair kept annoying me. I was sitting on Nathan's desk, it was low and the little chair that went with it too low for me so always ended up sitting on the desk on nights like these. I needed to think but I was too stressed. The number one object of my stress and worries was sleeping peacefully right in front of me in his bed. Nathan looked like he didn't have a care in the world and I wish that was true even in his sleep. I wish that I could actually do something to help him. I had been looking at his medical files before coming into his room and I knew that Vivian was right. I could not force Nathan to heal or to share whatever he needed in order to move on. "Kids don't move on" were the words that Vivian used when I suggested to bring in a better psychiatrist.
I got up as my cell phone buzzed in my pants, signaling a text. I took out my phone and looked at the text while I got up and gave a last glance to Nathan before stepping out of the room.
The text was from Alice letting me know she was back and we needed to talk. I headed downstairs cause I knew where she was going to be waiting for me. On the way I tried to stay calm because I had already mistreated Bella Swan today. Which in any accounts was not fair but I kept loosing control with her. Fighting something that I knew…would not end up good for any of us both. I got to my office and once inside, I found Alice sitting really still on the couch. That was never good.
I sighted and went to sit in front of my desk in order to face her. We then both looked at each other and I regretted that Alice looked somber. So many things unsaid and I hated it. The silence lasted a few minutes…
"Where you in Nathan's room when I texted you?" said Alice breaking the silence.
"Yes", I said putting my phone away.
Her tone changed. "Vivian told me Nathan needs you Edward"
"I'm here". Why did she have to start with this side of the conversation?
"Don't be stubborn cause I know you think Nathan hates you. Which isn't true"
I had no response to that.
"I think that spending more time with him" she continued. "That would help more than bringing in psychiatrist from abroad. He's three dammit. Can't you just try before it's too late?"
"Why are you bringing this up right now? I thought you were worried about your friend" I said unable to not sound evasive.
She looked at me and her anger came back.
"Is this how this is gonna go?"
"Don't 'Alice' me Edward!" she said all menacing from the couch.
I just looked at her cause I did deserve her anger.
"I'm waiting," she said looking at me.
" How was your day Alice?" I said angered too.
Alice got up from the couch and came directly towards me. When she got to me, before I could say anything, she slapped me…hard.
"That's for messing with my best friend" she said angry.
Was this going to be a precedent? First Swan and now my sister had slapped me for the first time.
"That hurt" I said looking at her while she went back to sitting on the couch. "Are you drunk?"
I said noticing the way she was walking.
"Edward. Don't even go there," she said grabbing her temple and then looking towards me. "Are you fucking kidding me with Bella? Why are you messing with her?"
This was going to be a long night…
"Still waiting," she insisted.
"I'm not going to answer to you about Swan, just so you know" I commented.
"Because she is your best friend"
"The nerve that you have Edward. I swear. If you weren't my brother…"
"I will kick you in the balls"
"Your friend is not so innocent"
"You don't know about Bella"
"Do you?" I asked my sister cause now was the time to know how much Swan had been lying or hiding. Whichever answered her silence?
"Of course I do" she said sounding so sure of herself.
I took a moment to decide how much to tell Alice. I hated not being completely honest with her but right now was just not the time.
"Bella Swan has a past Alice. That's why I was a bit adamant about you starting a business with her. I'm just trying to protect you", I said the last part honestly.
She huffed at me.
"Is that why you harassed her at the alley?"
"You saw us"
"Tom tried to stop me but he knows better" she said non repentant.
"Why didn't you go and hit me then?" I asked her with honest curiosity.
"Because Jake and Emmet followed me after and I had to stop them"
"Ah" I said understanding. "Those two"
"Tell me" she insisted.
I looked at my sister. I will keep disappointing her cause honestly; I had no intentions of staying away from Swan. That was something that I will try to stop on my own if that was possible because I had proof of failure.
"I like her. I'm sorry."
"You are so confusing Edward" said Alice clearly exasperated and standing up taking her purse with her. "Just one thing. Jasper." She said obviously trying to make another point.
I looked up towards her.
"This is different," I said frowning at her.
"It's not. You didn't want me fucking your best friend. But you can mess with mine!" she said angered.
"Don't fucking tell me this is about Jasper"
"The hell it is and about everything! I don't want to see you handling her like in that alley ever again. At least could you fucking respect that? 'Cause I can see that you just don't care" she said almost in tears.
I knew the whole Jasper thing was getting to her. Fucking Jasper.
"Don't cry Alice," I said lowering my voice. I couldn't deal with that. But Swan had it right I am an asshole.
She kept looking at me and waiting for something. The right thing to do would be to stop this and respect her and apologize but I just couldn't.
"I don't want to lie to you. I'm sorry you saw me mistreating her. I was mad but it won't happen again. I can't tell you more though. I'm sorry." I said finally.
"You know" she said grabbing her purse and then turning once more to face me half way through the office. "If I find out…"
"Don't take it like that", I said lowering my voice.
"Then how should I take it Edward? You intrude in my relationship. Long time ago and now I see you with my best friend. What? Am I suppose to just let you mess with her?"
"Maybe you should tell your friend not to mess with us," I said not willing to have her go at this irrelevant situation anymore.
I wanted to shut my mouth sometimes.
"Keep at it Edward. I don't know how long I'm going to stand living here. One thing is to do it for Nathan but you…"
She stopped right there on the verge of tears and I was surprised at her admitting what I knew. As she stepped out from the office, I wanted to stop her and tell her that I knew how she felt. I wouldn't blame her for leaving.
In the morning, I decided to stay and work a few hours from home. I needed to see Nathan today and by the time I got home tonight it will be too late for that. As I grabbed a drink, a bit too early, I was trying to decide if I should stay and cancel his classes so we could go and buy that Ferrari that Rosalie kept pestering me about that Nathan wanted. We had an argument over me not being able to send any of my assistants, or anybody that worked for me, to buy the damned toy. But she was persistent about me buying it for Nathan and preferably with him. Vivian had sided with Rosalie over this but the thing was that…I was doomed. As I heard my phone vibrating on the desk for the tenth time, I picked it up and not in the best mood.
"Tanya it better be important…that project was finalize…we sue them…what do you mean his lawyer is there? …Send him…fine…I'm on my way…get me Stenville on a video conference…I don't care if you have to wake him up…tell him he better be up and ready when I get to the office…I'll call Jasper…thanks Tanya…"
I put my phone back on the desk. Great.
I finished my drink and took off to the office. Nathan will have to wait. Hopefully Jasper can get the bureau on this for us to finish early. Damn Stenville.
- Bella -
I parked on the employee parking as Emmet had directed for my visit. He said it was really important cause apparently the towing company had a thing with the building after Emmet told them off. He claimed they were out to get him. I claimed that he should not expect them to paint the fire lane just so that he could park closer. Of course I couldn't get feedback from Jacob since we weren't talking at all. He ignored any of my attempts and my attempts literally ended on a bad note because I was at a loss on what to tell him. The convenience of him believing I was going out with Cullen seemed to have a worse effect than if I told him I was directly involved with a gang and James and so many other people were out there threatening me and not letting me live in peace. It all sounded like a bad movie. It all sounded false and Jake will probably ignore me on the first sentence.
At least Emmet was not mad at me or at the fact that I was moving away from their apartment since he had invited me over for lunch at his new office. I had to meet with Isaac but he had insisted that we needed to catch up. As if we didn't see each other every day.
"Emmet?" I said as I went into the office. It was empty and his secretary wasn't even there. I took a moment to look at the décor Alice had designed. She was so talented.
"Hey! You came," said Emmet stepping out from what I presumed was his office.
"You wanted me, here I am," I said making a fake voice while he hugged me.
"Batman" he said while I nodded. "But I'm not the joker", he said indignant.
I let him go. "True. I feel more like Harvey Dent," I said truthfully.
"It couldn't hurt your chances" he replied as he let go of me.
"We watch that movie too much" I commented because I didn't want to go into the whole two-face analogy that I was identifying myself with now that we kept quoting the movie. "But I love it"
"Me too" he said all happy.
"What are we having for lunch?" I said as he motioned towards his office.
"Pizza", he said pointing at the pizza box.
"We had pizza last night" I said as I went over to his desk.
"I was thinking about something fancy but it's been a busy morning. Everybody went to grab lunch.", said Emmet bringing up a chair for me. "You'll love it though. It's from that new place I told you I found"
After two slices of pizza eaten by me, the rest by Emmet, we were on the floor resting and facing up. There was no time for us to go to the park or something which is were we usually ended up in Forks, in the only park, right after eating. Even with the wet grass and the rain. Good times. Good memories. Plus, Emmet had been the first one to lie down on the new office carpet and I joined him afterwards.
"How's Seattle for you?", said Emmet out of nowhere. We had been joking about high school because Eric had called him for a reunion. This was a bit of a departure but maybe was he really wanted to end up.
"Jelly Fangs?" I said not wanting to go to into that topic. Quick escape.
Emmet started laughing.
"Bella…you and those Jelly Fangs…"
"It was an awesome disaster at the cafeteria…everybody thought you were seriously bleeding…" I said remembering those good times.
It was our senior year and it was Halloween. Emmet had texted me that he had woken up with fangs and I told him to buy me a cross or some garlic. The usual belief in the masses and for him to come to school right away cause I wanted to see his costume. He didn't want to tell me what it was cause he accused me of being able to tell Jake and he had a bet with the boys on the reservation. Once in school, I was having breakfast with Angela in the cafeteria when out of nowhere people turned and started gasping at Emmet. I knew it was him cause he was the only one that would do something like that. He was dressed as the phantom of the opera but with his size he looked more like Frankenstein with a mask. He got in and kissed the lady at the cafeteria and then went off running and kissing two other girls that were dying to go out with him. The surprising part was not the kissing, he would do shit like that but rather the…bleeding. He kept putting his hand over his mouth right after kissing someone and I thought he was just fooling around. But no, he wasn't. He told me later about the 'jelly fangs', after receiving a month worth of detention for "contaminating" the cafeteria food while kissing the lunch lady and for molesting two girls. He found 'jelly fangs' at that old store in Forks that sold antiques. No idea why he went there to buy stuff for his Halloween costume. Not that there were that many choices in Forks but seriously? Not the place to go. He found those and bought all the four packages that he could find. The "jelly fangs' had sweet blood inside of them (at least that was the description) and every time Emmet would kiss somebody he would place some on his mouth and explode them with his teeth. Gross. But while we were laughing, the principal didn't find it that hilarious. One of the girls freaked out thinking it was real blood. I didn't blame her, Emmet would do shit like that too. Plus, the jelly fang exploded right between the eggs and the gravy biscuits. Horrendous food but apparently a precious possession and I kept telling Emmet that it was food. You don't just throw it away, no matter how awful it is at school.
"I should've put real blood on those jelly fangs" he said laughing.
"Nasty. You got in enough trouble as it is," I said looking up again.
"They were delicious"
"Have you ever found new packages of those things?" I said trying to think of him ever telling me about them later.
"No! Not even on EBay. I think it was an invention of old Mr. Brown"
"Sucks. Think about it. You could have a Cafeteria Disaster 2.0 with those jelly fangs for the High School reunion," I said laughing at that image.
"Please. Fuck Erik. Making us feel old. It's way too fucking early for a reunion. What am I? 50?"
"You are 63"
"That makes you like 80 years old Bells"
"Just cause you are immature"
"You get a handicap privilege"
"Fuck. I liked that when I had it. Well, except for my leg." I thought crinching as I remember the Cullen Leg Incident as I mentally recalled it.
Emmet laughed and then we remained quiet for a bit.
"Are you going to keep avoiding my question?" he said getting up and sitting on the carpet next to me. "Or do I get to know what is going on with you?"
I turned to look at Emmet. He looked worried and making my need and their need for the truth obvious. But I couldn't give it away.
"Listen Bells, I'm trying here. I don't think you are fine. Regardless of what Jake thinks and then there is this relationship…"
When did I think that getting back to my friend's life after my involvement was going to be easy?
"Did Jake tell you I was fine?" I said focusing on what I did not want to dwell on.
"Jake likes you more than a friend Bells. I don't know if he's in love but he is definitely jealous. I told him to suck it up because he has been playing nice," said Emmet seriously.
"I'm serious. That's what he did. I don't know. What I do know is that I'm worried about you", he said looking right at me. "I thought Edward Cullen was an asshole. Not a jealous boyfriend."
I tried to avoid looking at Emmet cause I needed to tell lies once again. I needed to give them something believable. What was I doing?
"Okay. Fine.", I said trying to bring everything together. "That day that Edward came over to the apartment…we've had an argument…"
"And he didn't know about us?" inquired Emmet.
"No. We got in an argument and I didn't have a chance. Which just made him more mad."
"He has quite the temper", he commented.
"What would you do Emmet, if your girlfriend was staying over at some place with two guys? One of them straight out from a shower", I couldn't believe I was siding with Cullen. Asshole, I thought as I remembered the incident.
"Are you defending him?" he said accusing me.
"No. I got at mad at him too. We didn't speak for days after that. What I'm trying to say is that", I took a pause before continuing. "I'm sorry I didn't tell him about you and Jake. This is new. He thought the worst"
"What about Alice? She's your best friend. That's her brother Bells," said Emmet with no judgment in his voice. I loved him. He was just honestly worried. I hated myself for lying to him.
He took my silence as guilt.
"Bells", he said helping me sit up as well. "Look. We don't have much time. I have a meeting this afternoon but its time for you to come clean. Tell Alice. You already told Jake and me. I'm guessing this is why you are so sad. It's because Alice doesn't know right? Or she didn't approve?"
Great. Oh God.
"She doesn't know"
"Drama coming up then?"
"Yes Emmet. I don't…I wasn't thinking…", I said trying to stay honest which was such a hypocritical thing to do when I was straight out lying. What was I going to do with Alice? It suddenly hit me because I had to keep up with the story with her as well. Oh God.
Emmet hugged me.
"Look Bells. Just know that we are always here for you. Even Jake, he's not that pissed okay? We are worried about you. I'm worried about my little sister. That's what you are to me. And Jake needs to start being a pussy…."
"Emmet!" I said pushing him. "You ruined the moment" I said with my voice all raspy. He was making my eyes all watery.
"Good then cause I don't want you to cry. And it's true! You finally get your interest in this one asshole"
I looked at him.
"He is Bells. He needs to make up a lot of shit. A lot. "
"Okay. I'll give you that one," I said finally feeling the tense conversation going away.
"I'm not happy with him at all. You two in a secret relationship", he said shaking his head. "I don't want to know how this happened cause I'm gonna go beat his ass…"
"I will. He's older than you! He has the responsibility in this. You two better start getting out of all that secrecy. Or you might want to keep it cause as soon as Charlie knows about your boyfriend…", he said suddenly smiling. I knew that smile.
"Oh no! Em you better shut the hell out. Shut it! Not one word to Charlie. This is not easy"
"But…he told me to…"
"Take care of me!" I said pointing at him. "You need to promise. If I get serious with Cullen then I'll tell him"
"Wait. You are not serious? Are you Bella Swan?"
"He better watch it! Serious or not…"
"I promise. I promise.", he said smiling all evil still.
"Okay. I'm out." I said as I stood up to grab my things. "Good talk Emmet," I said with sarcasm.
"Great talk Bells," he said laughing.
I didn't want to know why Emmet was laughing. I thought as I got out.
Once I was in my car, I headed to my finish up other things I had to get done for the day. Isaac wanted to meet in the afternoon because we had just gotten more orders and we were still waiting on one more permit to move in to the place. Regardless of Cullen buying the whole damn plaza, the authorities still needed to approve. Hopefully by tomorrow we would have that approved and move on from there.
One could hope.
Twenty minutes later, I arrived to Isaac's dorm and he was all into his computer when he called out to just come in.
"Do you always leave the door open?", I said closing the door behind me.
"I knew you were coming", he said smiling. "Come on. Get over here Sugar Mama"
I rolled my eyes at him and went to set over on his side. My own folders in my hand with some stuff we were going to go over.
"Sugar Mama is getting damn old," I said lightly punching him. "What is that?"
Isaac just laughed and started showing me the new section that he had talked about the night before with Alice.
"That Scarlet O'Hara was really inspirational. I couldn't even sleep", he commented.
"How does Scarlet O'Hara inspire you?" I said confused but loving his work. He probably spent all night writing up codes. "It's a kids section"
"Wikipedia says she's egoistical, vain and self-centered", he informed me.
"Oh God. You need to read 'Gone with the Wind'"
"No I don't"
"You do! Look at you searching her on Wikipedia"
"It's not the best, I can attest to that but I had some drinks last night. Specifically a Scarlet O'Hara" he said sounding all proud.
"HTML code goes good with a drink then?"
"You are learning! Yes, look at Mark Zucherberg in that Facebook movie. He was completely drunk while he riled up the school" he said while typing something in his computer.
"I don't think you should follow that example. What does it say there?" I said pointing at a weird word.
"It's a draft"
I just laughed at him. "Okay, leave the computer a bit. We need to go over these papers and you need to sign your contract"
"I'm getting a new contract?" he said all excited.
"Sadly" I said smiling.
"Do I get a raise?"
"It depends on you not making fun of Scarlet O'Hara anymore"
"She had good taste! Look at Rhett Butler!" he said putting his laptop on the center table. "He could be my sugar daddy"
"Oh you…look…" I said handing him his copy of his contract. "Look over it. You can decide if you are going to be my slave"
"Rhett Butler, Bella"
"What?" I said while he started reading.
"You know its politically incorrect for you to mention the word 'slave' but is butt-licious if Rhett Butler wants me to be his slave" he explained.
"What is butt-licous? Isaac, we need to work and don't get me on that politically correct crap, you'll loose…"
"No more debates for Ms. Swan?" he raised his glasses all the way to his forehead while looking at me.
"You don't need a debate. You are murdering literature. Specifically" I said mimicking his tone, "characters from a historical romance novel"
"Read your contract Homer" I said taking out another file.
While he read his file and I went over the other ones, time seemed to pass quickly. We went over details and I took notes cause I needed to go over them later on with Alice. She hadn't texted back when I told her about meeting Isaac and while I was relieved that she was not coming cause that bought me a bit more time in order to explain things to her. It just felt wrong. An hour might have passed till we heard some knocking on the door.
"Did you lock it?" said Isaac looking over the bunch of papers he was writing something on.
"Come on in" he said louder. "It's probably one of my dorm mates. They are having a beer pool party or something…"
He stopped explaining as Alice came in to the room in that moment.
"Forget I said that" said Isaac quickly.
Alice looked tense. Or the air felt tense in that second. Probably my guilty brain I thought.
"Hello Isaac" said Alice going over to him.
"Hi Alice" he said giving her a hug. "What's up? I thought you couldn't make it"
"Could you go over to buy some donuts or something?" said Alice quickly. "I need to burrow your room. I need to talk to Bella"
She still hadn't looked at me.
"Sure. I'll go get some donuts", said Isaac getting up. "Want some?"
I shook my head. If you didn't force Isaac to eat actual food, he could spend all day eating donuts and coffee. He claimed it gave him the caffeine and sugar his body needed to get through college. He would find another excuse later on after college.
Isaac left, closing the door behind him, and I was left alone with Alice. I watched as she placed her purse on Isaac's bed and then she stood in front of me.
"So yesterday night, I slapped my brother across the face defending you…", she said clearly angry.
But she ignored me and continued now with a higher voice. "Then I defended you from Rosalie, you know how much I hate for Rosalie to be right? Do you? Or have we stopped knowing each other?"
"Alice, I get that you are angry at me….", I said trying to explain myself again.
She raised her hand. Stopping me. Alice was a force of nature but she could be quite the opposite sometimes. I wasn't planning on speaking to her yet but I guess it will be sooner than later.
"You need to think really carefully Bella. 'Cause you can fool Emmet or Jake about having a relationship with my brother but not me. So think before you lie to me", said Alice folding her arms. Waiting.
"Jake talked to you?" I said while I gather my thoughts together.
"We've gotten close", she said curtly.
She reminded me a bit of her brother in the moment when she did that. But I was not about to make that observation. The thing with Alice was that I couldn't lie to her. Alice knew I was lying already but I still couldn't give her the truth. I decided to go with a lighter version of the lie because I had to be realistic. She knew I was lying. Let's not make it any bigger, I thought, like I had done with Jake and Emmet.
"Alice, I can't lie to you"
"No you can't"
I sighted. "But there is something going on…"
Alice kept looking all carefully at me and I had to avoid her eyes. I was under an X-Ray machine and with no way out.
"We've been seeing each other since that day that he found me at the hospital. Nothing serious. I felt guilty but…"
Alice huffed at me.
"I know that already…", she said exasperated.
I looked up and with clear surprise written all over my face. But it was a natural reaction, what did she know?
"Look Bella. Just be honest here okay? Like I said, Jake and Emmet can find it believable, somewhat, because they haven't seen you much for the past four years. I can also deduce that Edward was the one who approach you cause my brother is not easy to pursue. The only way you would have any contact with him, no offense, its if he wanted to"
I could only look at her. Maybe Cullen told her something? What if I messed it up? Or was it only her assumptions? I was not offended by the way, it was true, Cullen had security around the clock and the only reason I had ever had contact with him was because Alice was involved. The only reason I got to step into his office at CMC on the first day was because his sister was with me. The only reason we were in this situation is because I'm a current threat to his family. His sister is my best friend. He can't change that, I'm a threat, a current threat that opened her mouth and told Dr. Silva that I was his girlfriend. I tried to get payback on a millionaire, stepping on unknown ground, yeah that sounds like something I will do. I thought I could get even.
But despite Alice's attempts, I didn't have an honest answer to give to her. We kept looking at each other. Alice finally had enough and went to sit next to me on Isaac's bed.
"Edward only wants to mess with you", she said slowly. "I'm not happy with him"
"I know that" I said cause that at least was honest. I knew he wanted to get payback as well.
"And you will let him?" She said now turning to me.
Would I let him? I didn't know. Probably not and I'll probably end up trying to get a payback as well. What am I thinking?
"I don't know Alice"
"So you like mi idiot brother?" she said in disbelief.
"You were never that superficial"
"No but I'm stating the obvious. I don't know Alice," I said exasperating myself cause I was admitting something I shouldn't.
We were left in silence for a moment till…
"I'm not happy with you Bella. I hope you know that"
Alice's tone was serious as she got off the bed. "I know" I said cause I did know. I could see it.
"We are going to keep our relationship in business for the next few days". I looked at her grabbing her purse and I felt a sudden sadness at her deduction but I didn't expect less. I let her continue talking though. "It pains me Bella. I know I have no right to get mad over whatever relationship you are in. I can give you advice though. But I never thought it would come to my brother and you being together. I told you it wasn't my story to tell when you inquired about him. And you were looking for information cause you two are seeing each other. Cause he keeps looking for you"
Yeah. That was true as well. I was a big hypocrite.
"Rosalie was right and I don't know what to do here cause you do know Edward, my brother, has a son right?" she insisted as she kept looking at me and I didn't want to face her.
Nathan. Nathan who appeared to be traumatized and having seizures and had been kidnapped and here I was messing around with his father. I could see her point. For a moment I wished I could tell Alice the truth, the confusing truth but the truth at the end. I was the threat. Cullen was no threat to me cause this wasn't about love. I liked him. The way you like a hot man in a magazine. He intrigued me though, I would give Alice that one, but there wasn't more than stress in this whatever type of relationship that was developing. Cullen had kissed me as well and I had reacted. But it was all hormones. I didn't let myself think of this leading to anywhere special with him. He could have anybody. Maybe he was lusting after me, as he did and I felt the night before just cause I was his sister's best friend. Which was sick but Cullen was an asshole. Alice did say he just wanted to mess around.
I heard Alice calling my name and I turned to look at her because I had gotten lost in my own thoughts.
"It has always been impossible to reason with my brother. And now you", she said shaking her head.
I looked at her at a loss. How long had I not been listening to her?
"Alice…I'm sorry…" I said low. My voice didn't come out any stronger. "I…"
"I'm sorry too Bella. Keep me updated with Bellice and as soon as you have all the paperwork done. Isaac and I are going to be in charge of the wedding client we have right now," she said with her eyes a bit watery.
What was going on? I stood but Alice was already on her way out the door. I stopped cause what was I going to tell her?
Edward had been wrong the night before, I thought now that Alice left, because I was not going to pay back when he decided. I was going to pay back sooner. I was paying back right now with Alice. I didn't even need to tell her about the dinner I was not attending. I needed to fix it, at least with Alice. But I was at a loss.
It was nine at night and I was on the couch in Emmet's apartment looking at Craigslist. I kept adding tabs and looking for a sublet or some temporary place till we opened Bellice because I didn't want to be in this apartment anymore. Emmet made dinner this time, "Mac n cheese from scratch", he claimed every time he went to the supermarket to buy an infamous amount of those things. It was decent Mac n cheese because he had remembered the way I taught him to add more cheese and a few other things. We ate in relative peace but the problem was not the food but rather the reason for his cooking. He felt bad with the whole situation between Jake and I and Alice and I and…just wrong. I love Emmet, I thought, so I needed to get out because the problem was me and the lies would increase and uncomfortable moments of Jake getting back late so he didn't have to deal with me needed to stop. Emmet also needed back his bathroom since I had been using his instead of Jakes'
So I kept looking nervously at the clock and for a place in quiet. I didn't want the TV on. Emmet had gone early to sleep and Jake had gone straight to his room when he got back a few minutes ago. But my nervousness wasn't because of Jake. I knew that today I was supposed to be at Cullen's office at eight. He didn't specify if it was in the am or pm but either way I decided not to go. I didn't have his phone number so I couldn't call to cancel and I honestly didn't want to call his office. God knows how many secretaries would understand that I needed to talk directly to the CEO of CMC. Not a good idea but Cullen was a stalker and I wouldn't have it passed him to have my phone number. But he hadn't called. I needed to relax, somehow, from my permanent state of stress. I had enough stress as it was so hopefully Cullen got the hint that I was not going to his ridiculous dinner and that maybe we needed to at least tell the truth about this particular 'relationship' issue. Could he be amicable? He could blackmail me in other ways. He could even convince Alice that I was not competent enough to handle Bellice. Wait, no that made me mad cause I could do this. Bella, this is not about capability, I thought to myself, this is about payback. Taking one for the team…
While I decided my negotiation, I heard a knock on the door and my phone started buzzing on the center table. I picked it up and the screen said 'private' number but I had an idea of who it might be. Cullen. There you go. I called the asshole. Mental call? I ignored the phone and hurried to get the door before Emmet or Jake would hear.
I was prepared to see an angry Cullen behind the door cause I had not shown up. But what I was not prepared for was to see Cullen in a state that I couldn't define. He seemed mad but desperate, he was sweating, no jacket on, only his cotton shirt. He looked frantic. Almost as if he had been running for a long time. But it was almost midnight. For a second I thought I was imagining him this way.
"I need you to come with me", he said with his voice all strained.
He surprised me again because his voice was not as harsh. But he looked determined. But still…
"What is wrong with you?" I said worried cause even though I wanted to be mad at him just sort of ordering me to go with him… he didn't look good. "It's almost midnight"
He looked at me and I could see that he looked in pain almost. I couldn't define it. He shut his eyes for a moment. "Please" he whispered as he took a step towards me.
It was a good thing that I was still holding the door because I didn't know what to do. I never heard him say please to anybody…and hearing him say please in such a way, he looked frantic…it was late…but he needed help. Maybe I could call Alice…
"Come with me" he pleaded again. He just stood still and passing a hand through his hair, desperate.
"Okay fine" I said thinking I will regret this. This was so weird. Maybe I had fallen asleep on the couch? Maybe I was having a nightmare and Cullen came to take me away and then kidnap me till I agreed to disappear out of their life. "Let me get my keys", I said trying to still think whom I should call. Jasper? Alice will probably just not answer my call. She was not happy with me.
"Hurry", he said quickly.
I nodded cause he looked like he was about to loose it. I didn't close the door cause somehow I felt he needed to see me grabbing my stuff. To see that I was going or rather I was worried he would leave or faint right at the door. I grabbed my phone off the table and my keys from my purse. Grabbing on the way a small wallet I had inside with my credentials and some cash if I needed to drive him or something. I was just wearing some old gym shorts and a tank top but I didn't have time to change. I grabbed my hoodie that I had been wearing from the side of the couch. Blushing as I put it on cause Cullen just saw me with no bra under my tank top. Great. Well, he didn't seem to notice. I needed shoes. I had been wearing slippers and I wouldn't go out on slippers right now. I found my converse next to the luggage that was next to the other couch. One more reminder as to why I needed my own place. I grabbed my hair on a ponytail, ran to the kitchen to get a bottle of water…and then went back to the front of the door. Cullen was still frantic and passing his hand obsessively through his hair. For one second I wondered if he was on drugs or something…but as he looked at me…his eyes showed no sign of that…he was altered but I knew when to sense drugs. I knew very well.
"I'm ready," I said slowly. Not wanting to startle him. As my hand kept a grab unto my phone and my keys, I regretted that I didn't call Jasper while I was on the kitchen. He could help him better than me. He knew him. I didn't. My other hand was holding the bottle of water I had gotten for Cullen. I closed the apartment door behind me and then turned once more to look at Cullen. He didn't say anything but he started walking towards the end of the hall, towards the stairs. I followed him and it was then I noticed he had no bodyguards with him.
"Where is Tom?" I asked as he headed down the stairs. He had to be kidding me making me follow him through the stairs at this time of the night. Late workout I thought as we kept going down floors. But he didn't answer. Was he even allowed to be somewhere with no bodyguards? Had he been running from them? My mind had so many questions.
When we finally got out of the stairs and walked into the street. I had to stop. Where did he think he was going? He still looked stressed as he motioned towards the left. Then I saw an ostentatious black sports car waiting on the side. It had to be his. He was planning to drive that. In his current state, and worse he had driven here like this.
"Oh no", I said shaking my head. "You are not driving like this"
He looked at me almost in disbelief and walked a few steps back towards me.
"You are going to be fine", he said taking my hand and with his voice all strained. He was struggling to keep it together.
He looked bad so I just followed him to the car against my better judgment.
Cullen drove for a good fifteen minutes till we were on the outskirts of the city. I knew it because we were almost on the freeway that took me back to Forks. The ride was awkward because I was only holding on to the bottle of water while the silence filled around us. Cullen hadn't mentioned one word or answered again when I asked him about his bodyguards. He kept tapping his fingers on the steering wheel and passing a hand through his hair as he speeding through the city. I was half expecting the police to stop us at some point. The car had a red interior that made me think that it failed the test of "this probably would be a car Batman would drive" conversation that Emmet would have if he had seen this sports car. I hope Emmet or Jake didn't wake up or call and start freaking out. Or maybe they did need to freak out cause I had no idea what was the plan Cullen had.
It seemed he finally found the spot he was looking for cause Cullen pulled over to the side of the road. As the motor of the car died down, leaving us with more silence, I just stayed in my current position. What was Cullen up to?
"I'm sorry", he said in a raspy whisper.
I looked at him. Surprised again. What?
"I know I seem crazy to you right now". Cullen was struggling to spit out the words. I could see that. His voices sounded hoarse.
"You do", I said being honest and almost smiling at the irony. The only person who I could be honest about this whole situation was with him but he had also placed me in this position. Both of us had. "Here", I said handing him the bottle of water.
He stared at the bottle for a bit.
"I didn't poison it. Drink. You can barely speak" I insisted trying to figure out why he looked in pain.
He eventually nodded and took the bottle of water from me. He opened it in one motion and he gulp down what seemed like half of it. I watch him close the bottle as reclined his head in the back of his seat, closing his eyes momentarily. I crossed my legs cause it was a bit cold outside and I was wearing shorts. Then I hard him open the door and when I turned he motioned for me to follow him.
Once again I got off the car and followed him. Half expecting him to take out a gun cause my mind went there for a moment. I closed the passenger door behind me and I kept walking towards the front cause Cullen was sitting against the hood. I was on my way to facing him, he looked tense still but as I was making my way, I felt him grab at my hand and pull me towards him.
I gasped cause it all happened in one motion with me almost tripping and landing him farther into the hood of the car. I was about to make a remark when I came upon his eyes, his look. He was not sweating anymore but he still had that frantic, desperate look. I had no idea what had happened but he kept looking at me in a very intense way. I wanted to say something, to yell at him or demand that he would tell me why it was necessary for us to be outside, on the outskirts and at this hour. But I also knew he hadn't forced me. I was not lying when I said that he intrigued me…he…
He kissed me…
His lips were suddenly on mine demanding a kiss. I felt it. I felt his need. Why was I…oh God…I responded and as he claimed my lips I felt him give a sigh. Which only provoke an odd sensation in me…it was not unpleasant. I gave myself a moment to properly respond to him…forced my mind to not over think for a bit and let myself feel for a bit. Feel his lips against mine and mine against his. It was all sensation and I was useless against his need. His lips felt solid, urgent and then it stopped. His forehead was against mine and he was struggling to breathe. As I opened my eyes, taking in some air, I felt both of his hands going up and down on the sides of my rib cage…tentative…so I grabbed his hands between mine. I was not ready for this. I didn't even know what this was. I pulled his hands between us, not letting go, and that gave us some distance. He looked at me. I was getting tired of knowing how much I didn't know him. What was this expression? What was he hiding? What was I doing out here with him?
"You need to stop doing this," I said feeling no conviction in my voice. It wasn't right.
He looked at me. His eyes still alert but he seemed less tense. "I needed it", he said slowly. Not taking his eyes away from mine.
"What? To kiss me?" I said stuttering suddenly.
He nodded and took one hand away from mine. I felt his hand touch the side of my face, lightly, and him looking at the motion he was performing with his hand. It all felt tentative. I was confused because I liked this.
"You don't believe me". It was a statement.
I could only shake my head.
"I'm sorry for how I treated you last night", he said still entranced with his hand. He wouldn't look at me. "But I had to be honest with you", he removed his hand and I let his other hand go. I needed to put some distance, I thought, as I took a step back.
He shook his head at me but just placed his hands back in his pockets.
"Where are your bodyguards?". I needed him to start talking.
"I didn't want them with me tonight", he said in what felt was honesty.
I took this as a cue to continue. "What's wrong with you?"
He passed a hand through his hair while he continued looking at me. "Simpler questions", he simply responded.
Cullen was so complicated. Was I ready to follow along?
"Fine", I said my tone a bit harsh. "You do know you can't just order me around or show up at my door and bring me miles away cause you need somebody to kiss, right?"
I couldn't describe the look he gave me. But he had this tiny smirk, the tiniest bit, for a moment. It distract me a bit cause I had never seen him smile one bit, let alone fully smile.
"What do you want me to say?", he said looking seriously at me now.
That was a tough question. "For now, just to stop with this dating nonsense", I said thinking about the first thing that could be fixed.
He shook his head.
"No?", I said in disbelief.
"No", he said so sure of himself. Serious again.
"You know, Alice is already mad at me. I'm not going to your dinner thing", I said getting annoyed at the fact that he wouldn't care about my relationship with his own sister.
"Let's talk about dinner afterwards"
"How about never?", I retorted.
He didn't like that. That one I did notice. "I might need a kiss"
I looked at him taken aback once again. A kiss? Was this his way of payback? Or did he just go around kissing random people?
"You are crazy", I said stating the obvious and shifting my weight to my other leg since it had started to hurt from just standing there.
He got off the hood of his sports car. Took two steps towards me and I took one back. He raised one of his eyebrows at me and then held out his hand. I didn't know what to do.
"You wanted to be my girlfriend. Why so hesitant now? Let me take your hand", he said as he stepped forward once again and grabbed my hand.
I felt his fingers intertwining with mine and he started walking back and leading me once again towards the hood of his car. I let him even though I was fighting a mental battle between my cravings for his touch and being logical. As he sat once again on the hood, he took my other hand between his and pulled me close to him. Once again not a lot of distance between us, his smell mixing with the forest that surrounded us. It was really late and I had yet to make sense of what was happening.
"How long is payback going to last?", I muttered as I kept trying to clear my head. He was beautiful but he looked tormented. There were so many contradictions with him.
He just shrugged his shoulders. I was ready to argue with him over this but then he placed our left hands in front of my face, grabbing one of my fingers and placing it lightly on my lips, as if to say silence.
"Shhh", he muttered low as he kept looking at the space between my shoulder and my neck. I couldn't really be sure but as he kept pulling me slightly, he kept getting close to that area. I tried to hold still as he caressed the side of my cheek with his nose. I felt him take my hands and placed them on his waist. It took me a bit but I finally noticed he was trying to hug me. He distracted me by smelling the side of my neck and placing what felt like a kiss below my ear. I held still trying to concentrate on what was happening here. It was not as if I had never had a boyfriend, which I had. But Cullen was different cause my hormones were on his side. I reacted to him and he was a complicated man. I had no idea how we got here or why he held any interest in me when he had been so clear about me being a danger. I had no idea also what was wrong with him or was it that he killed his wife? Was that tormenting him? I shuddered at the thought.
He was holding me closer and his hands were now around my waist. He was breathing me in and I was holding my breath once again. How come I reacted to him like this? I was still mad at him for being an asshole countless of times. Annoyed with him cause he had used his contacts and money to run a background check on me. Still mad over him embarrassing me at the hospital…even if it felt nice when he held me…still. Most importantly, he was Alice's brother!
"Is this such an inconvenience for you?" I heard him say close to my ear. I came back to the present moment. Stop thinking so much.
I shook my head.
Suddenly his head was no longer next to my neck. He was still hugging me but he was facing me now. He was really close.
"I know you don't trust me", he said sighting. "But something's gotta give, don't you think?"
"You are so weird today", I said as I looked at him in disbelief.
He had a tight little smirk on the side of his mouth once again.
"I'm vulnerable right now"
That I was not expecting but I wouldn't believe that.
"I don't think so"
"It's great that you don't notice"
"Cullen. You. Negotiating?" He shook his head immediately. I knew it.
"Not with you", he said once again with what felt like an honest response.
"See, I don't like that" I said going for honest too.
He looked at me with curiosity. "I thought you just didn't like me"
"I don't…I think it's just hormones", I said quickly.
"We are attracted to each other"
"Hormones", I explained stubbornly.
"Are you on your period?" he said arching that damn eyebrow at me again.
"You just want me to slap you in the face again", I said trying to put some distance but he didn't relent.
"Alice already did." he said serious once again.
We stayed silent for a bit.
"So what's gotta give?" I said curious since I could feel that he wasn't so proud of his fight with Alice. I still wanted to know though.
He let me go in that moment. He did so slowly and without taking his eyes off me.
"You didn't go to our meeting today"
"No I didn't", I said trying to figure out his deal.
He placed both of his hands inside the pockets of his pants. "I was supposed to take the hint."
It took him a moment to start talking again while he passed a hand through his hair. His features tensing as he kept debating on whatever he was going to say next and I was hoping this night started to make sense now.
"I was mad that you didn't show up to the meeting cause I was suppose to apologize. You should know now that I don't do that often", he said. He seemed a bit exasperated. "I was thinking of staying away and I went home and had this huge argument with Rosalie cause I didn't have time for Nathan today. I was suppose to buy this toy with him and I didn't do it"
The last of his words were harsh. I could see him mad again. They way he said his son's name was odd.
"You don't spend time with him?" I said knowing the answer already.
He looked at me as if I had asked something outrageous. He gave out a small laugh but there was no smile on his face, I guess that was Cullen being sarcastic. He passed a hand through his hair once again before continuing.
"No I don't. I was supposed to do so today but I had a lawsuit facing the company this morning. That kept Jasper and I a bit busy throughout this whole day. I have a successful company to run. So no. I don't have time for Nathan", he said blatantly obvious in a harsh way.
"But yet you are here" I said unable to control myself because it made no sense for me to ignore the obvious.
" I needed to see you", he said curtly.
"What? Why?" I said as I saw that he was being serious.
"I don't know", he said talking faster as he went on. "Rosalie and I had a huge argument, bigger than the one I had with Alice. I had a lot of pressure at work and today in general. Which would've been fine but then Nathan got to my office at the wrong time…"
"Let's just say he heard things he should've never heard from me" he said angry.
"You need to calm down", I said looking directly at him and mad that he kept directing his anger at me just cause he thought he could.
He nodded but the crazy look in his eyes was returning.
"Look", I said trying to distract him but failing. "You are not making sense"
"I know", he said looking away. "But I don't know how to explain it. I don't know if I even want to explain it. I hurt him today. Once again, Rosalie went to take care of him and I had no place in there…"
I shook my head. "You are his dad, why didn't you stay with him?"
His look was firm. "You don't get it", he said looking at me again. "I have no place in there. So I got out and went running."
Running. Odd. I guess my looked gave it away cause he continued.
"I tried running around the track but I couldn't calm down"
"Running for how long? " I thought remembering the state he had been in my apartment when I opened the door.
"A few miles", he said going back to sitting on the hood of the car.
"Why?" I said standing still on the same spot. Not far at all from him but now with more questions about Cullen than ever. I was surprised he was answering. I was in shock about this whole current situation.
"The pain helps".
As he said those last words, that's when I found myself wanting to reach out to him. Lift up my hand and touch him. But I was confused. So damn confused because my mind was on overdrive already. I was trying to process different sides of Cullen and the current one was getting to me. It was easier to get mad. It was easier to just not give a second thought to him because he was an asshole and out of reach. It was easy to give a good front because my life was a mess. Why was he trying to mess more with me?
"I don't know why are coming to me for help or to mess around…" I said honestly.
He scoffed at me. Mad. "You know better than anyone that we can only be honest with each other. Look at my sister, she's your best friend and she doesn't even know what you are really into"
That got to me. "Do you?", I said trying to not yell at him even in the middle of nowhere.
"I have a better idea of the threat you pose, even if we have known each other for a short amount of time. You gotta be honest with me", he said simply. I didn't like his confidence.
"Is that why you send security to follow me?"
"You noticed", he said slowly. I guess he thought I was stupid.
"I know my deal. So thanks for having me lie to Emmet and Jake about that car following me around", I said crossing my arms once again.
"That wasn't…"he said suddenly.
But I interrupted him. "Don't tell me it wasn't to follow my every step. You are stalking me. I get enough with James"
He didn't like that. "They were taking care of you!"
I looked at him not believing him one bit.
"You don't believe me", he stated once again all exasperated and raising his voice. "Is there any merit on being honest with you?"
"You are not being honest", I said finally exploding with everything I had inside. "You want me to think you are being honest. You are so confusing. I'm sorry you have this situation with your son and Alice and Rosalie but have you stopped to think were that leaves me? Alice is mad at me. Rosalie thinks I'm trying to take away time from Nathan. According to them, I'm trying to get with you. But then that proves a problem because I had the stupid idea to get payback with your mentor or whatever he is to you. You not only know about James and have investigated me all the way to my kindergarten years but you have also threatened me. I'm so damn stressed with everything. Trying to put up a good front for everybody and now you are trying to ruin that", I said trying to keep myself from crying. When had I decided to just explode like this? "I've become a professional lying machine for the past months. I'm getting tired of it. I don't want you messing with me. Would it be easier to just stop the business? Would it be easier for me to just disappear cause…?"
I stopped when Cullen grabbed me and I tried pulling away but he was stronger than me. He pulled again and I fell into his body with my face right on his chest crying. Crying cause I had finally broken. Great job Bella, I thought bitterly, give more to Cullen. But I couldn't hold on anymore. I was tired. Really tired of barely holding on every day and trying to continue. I had grabbed on to the opportunity of being able to be honest with someone. Even if that someone was, once again, Cullen and I didn't even know how we had ended up in this situation.
"Don't cry," he said as I finally paid attention to what he was telling me in my ear. I felt him tense. "I don't like it. I couldn't stand it with Nathan and now you"
I felt his arms around me and let myself get lost in that warmed that I had felt every time he had held me since we met, that which I had been denying myself from.
"It felt good to see you. I'm sorry. I don't know how I ended up in your place. I mean I know", he said as I felt him rushing the words. "I just needed to see you because you make me feel better. Running wasn't helping. I don't know how to do this. You are a threat but you help me. I don't know how to keep you at my side when we don't know each other"
I was trying to calm myself down but I was listening to every word. I needed to put some distance before I believed him. I pushed my hands slowly from his chest. Away. He didn't let me go too far, just enough so that we were facing each other, but not enough.
"We are both messed up, right?" I said trying to make sense of this conversation that was all over the place. I had forgotten about being cold and had settled for trying to contain my emotions. Rein them in.
"No. You are not. You just have to get rid of that fucker called James", he said suddenly.
"It's not just him", I said deciding to let him in a little. But he probably knew the origin already. That scared me. I tried to get off his embrace. "How much do you know?"
He finally let me go. I wiped the tears from my eyes with my hands. Whatever was left of my moment of weakness? I had to keep it together.
"I don't know everything. I have people investigating", he admitted.
That brought panic. "No. You'll just create more problems. You don't know them"
"But you do", he said interrupting me. "I can help you and trust me. My people won't create problems with you which is why they are taking long"
"You can't help me" I said finally admitting it. He couldn't.
"I can help you", he insisted. "I have a bit of connections. We can help you."
"Then you don't know anything". If he really knew then he wouldn't be offering. He looked offended by my statement but I was not going to take it back.
"You want to try me?" he said serious now. "Because you are putting Alice and my family in jeopardy. You are aware of what could happen"
"I'm trying to get out okay?", I said trying to get away from him.
"It doesn't seem like you are doing a good job. You are trying to buy them off?"
He knew about the money.
"I know you gave money to that fucker", he said confirming it once more. "You owe me this because you are not going to be able to buy them off"
"I was trying to buy off time!" I said mad once again. I thought his people hadn't followed me there. I had lost them earlier on my way. I had checked.
"It's fine Swan. I trust you on this one. But I'm warning you. I don't want you to give them more money. We need a solution", he said passing his hand through his hair once again. He seemed to do that a lot when he got frustrated or at least it appeared to me that way.
I got away from his hold and refused to keep arguing with him over this so I stayed silent as he kept waiting for me. He just didn't know. I couldn't be hopeful that he could help me. He had said it himself. We didn't know each other. I was so confused and I didn't want to be hopeful on top of that. I was in trouble.
"You help me. Let me help you." He repeated once more.
"I have family to take care of as well", I said trying to get him to understand. I needed him to stop intruding.
"Charlie Swan. Your dad." He said nodding slightly. "I can protect him"
Could he help me? I thought for a moment.
What are you doing Bella? I thought to myself. But there was more than just Charlie.
"If I accept, would you take care of Emmet and Jake too?"
I knew he wouldn't like that and judging from the look he was giving me that was correct.
Once again we were looking at each other. If he wanted to help, if he could help, he had to help everybody. Not just me.
"Why would I take care of your boyfriends?" he said angry.
"Well then you can't help me. I care about them and they are involved since I'm living with them."
He took another step towards me.
"What are they to you?" he said harshly.
"Why do you care? I said they are important", I said now exasperated with him cause he was giving me attitude again. "But if you care so much. They think we are dating."
Those last words came out from me at a lower voice, so many lies. Oh God.
"They do?" he said changing his tone.
"Yes. I told you", I said now walking to sit on the hood of the car cause I was tired of standing up. "I'm a professional lying machine"
He turned towards me and got closer.
"Its late", he said stating the obvious.
I didn't answer him and just rubbed my eyes with my hands cause yes. I was tired. When I let myself explode…I could still feel everything on the surface…I needed to rest and regain some perspective. I was still in deep trouble.
When I opened my eyes, he was once again in front of me. He looked tired too.
"I can include your two boyfriends if you go to the dinner with me"
I looked at him surprised but I was too tired to yell at him.
"Can't you just be a good person and help us all out?" I wondered out loud.
He shook his head. No.
"I need to think about it", I said slowly trying to thing of a way out.
"That's how much you care about them?" he retorted.
"I'm tired Cullen", I said putting my face in my hands in an effort to avoid looking at him.
I felt him grab both of my hands away from my face.
"Cullen" I said not having the energy suddenly to deal with this anymore.
"Come on. I'll take you back. Think about my offer", he said leading me towards the side of the passenger.
As he opened the door for me, I broke the silence again.
"You know you are not giving me any options right?" I said trying to focus my mind in between all the mess I had going through it.
"I know", he said slowly nodding.
"Asshole" I said automatically.
"Just accept Swan. Payback is still on", he retorted.
I had to smile when he said that.
And out of nowhere. He smiled. Not a full smile but his mouth formed into a slight smile. He was still holding the door for me but I could only look at him. We were close and I felt his hand on the side of my face.
"Are you going to let me help you?"
I looked at him and he looked so sure of himself, even with the storm of emotions, it got to me. I was tired. I had a lot to think about but I also needed help and he was not backing off. I still didn't really believe he could help me but what else did I have to lose?
I nodded. Hopefully I will not regret this decision.
"Thank you", he said a bit less tense. "We will continue this conversation later. Come on. I need to get you back. Its cold and I don't have a jacket for you with me"
We both got into the car.
On our way back, as I fought to stay awake, I felt a bit better. Something I hadn't felt in weeks. I hoped that was a good sign but I knew that Cullen meant trouble. Inside me, I knew I was going to pay a prize for this. I knew that more trouble was coming my way and that's why feeling a bit better took me by surprise.