Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.


Friday, October 2, 2009
around 4PM

"I don't understand," Jasper starts again, leaning forward to rest his elbows on the picnic table.

He's been trying to get answers out of me since Bella stormed off. I really wish he'd just drop it and stop expecting me to sit here and gossip like a fucking girl.

"There are many things you don't understand, Jasper. It's not my job to make sure that you do."

"Seriously, dude. I don't get it. You just… kissed Bella? Because you felt like it?"

Obviously I kissed her because I felt like it. What kind of question is that? I don't answer him right away, though. I take the last bite of my pizza crust, and chew slowly. And then I wash it down with my beer.

"Why does it matter? I told you, we were high," I say, lowering my voice so the people sharing the table with us don't hear. They're caught up in their own conversation, but it still makes me paranoid.

"Yeah, but I've never made out with one of my friends while I was high," he counters loudly.

Two of the girls next to us glance in our direction, then quickly look away. They can't be older than sixteen.

"That's because you don't have any friends," I tell Jasper.

"That's not true," he says to the girls, offering a smirk.

I kick his leg under the table. It's my way of telling him to step away from the underage girls.

He glares as I pull my phone out of my pocket; still no word from Bella. There's a high chance she hasn't received my text because the signal is shit here, but there's also a chance she's ignoring me, which is stupid because I didn't do anything wrong.

"She looked at me, right?" I ask, bouncing my knee. "When she said go fuck yourself."

Jasper nods slowly. "Oh, that was totally aimed at you, man."

I pick up my beer from the picnic table, leaving a ring of condensation on the wood. I stare at it. Like it's going to give me answers as to why Bella would be pissed.

"I didn't do anything wrong," I defend myself, gulping the last of my beer. "So what the fuck?"

"Text her."

"I tried."

"Call her."

"I did. It went straight to voicemail."

Jasper regards me for a second, and I can't help but glare under his scrutiny.

"So does this mean she's gonna end things with Ben?" he asks.

"End things with him? It was just a kiss."

But there was also my birthday, when we were sitting on the couch and she kissed me. And then later that night in the shower, with my mouth on her and her fingers tangled in my hair. Then there was last night in my bed, with her beneath me, begging me to fuck her. And there was this morning, with her on top of me, when I was the one doing the begging.

I clear my throat, folding my paper plate in half. "How serious are they, anyway?"

"Fuck if I know."

"Okay."

"Do you want to be her boyfriend or something?"

I tip my head back and laugh, so fucking over this conversation. "Jesus. Why are you so in to this?"

He shrugs. "I'm just curious. I've known you guys since high school, so this is kinda crazy to me. I mean, do you like her or something?"

I swing my legs around the bench, and stand from the table, collecting my trash.

"I'm not doing this with you."

He mimics my movements, standing from the table and gathering his shit. "Not doing what?"

"Acting like a fucking girl. Overthinking shit. Talking about… feelings."

"You're kind of an asshole," he mumbles, following me to the trashcan. "This is why you don't have a girlfriend."

"Unlike you, I don't want a girlfriend."

His sigh is resigned. It seems I finally said the right thing to end this conversation.

"Whatever, man. Are you gonna go see Phoenix?"

"Yeah. You comin'?"

"Nah. I have to head over to the stage where Kings will be playing later. Gotta get a good spot, you know?" His face lights up. "I wanna see the sweat dripping off their faces."

His dedication is a bit concerning.

"Right. I'll see you later at Angela's, then."

"Catch ya on the flipside."

He salutes me, and I roll my eyes before we walk in opposite directions.

I wait for Garrett by the entrance, but can't find him, so I head to Phoenix by myself. I'm too distracted to really pay attention, though. The conversation with Jasper and his juvenile questions are still playing in my head.

I'd smoke to take my mind off everything, but I can't, because Bella has my joints.

So I drink instead.

I catch the last thirty minutes of Coheed and Cambria. I can't help but feel like a creep, standing alone at every show. Everyone else is with their groups of friends, and I'm by myself.

When it's just after seven, I make my way over to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I can't get too close to the stage, because there are already a shit-ton of people in the audience.

It's pointless, but I send Bella a text anyway, telling her where I am in the crowd. And to stop being a punk.

Everyone cheers as the band takes the stage. People around me jump up and down, screaming. The drummer starts to play, and Karen O walks out, wearing some ridiculous animal print getup.

They put on a good show, but after a few songs, I'm over it.

Halfway through their performance, I leave the festival.

I make the fifteen minute walk back to Angela's. Once I'm far enough away from the festival and AT&T decides to give me signal, my phone vibrates with new texts. None from Bella. Both are from Garrett, letting me know he was waiting at the entrance around four, and then another asking where I was.

He probably won't receive my text for a while, but I let him know I'll be waiting at Angela's for him to give me a ride back to my place.

Music blares from inside the house, and I walk in without knocking. There are more people here than earlier; none of them look familiar. I doubt Bella left the festival early, too, but as I make my way toward the kitchen, I kind of look for her.

Eric bumps into me. He has a headlamp secured to his head, but the light is off. This is why I've never been able to take this guy seriously.

"Hey, man. Want a beer?" He drinks from his canned Heineken, then offers it to me.

I laugh. "I'm good."

"Smoke?" he asks, pulling a half-crushed joint from his pocket.

"Nah. I have to work later, so…"

"Right on." He nods. "I think someone around here has some Molly if you want."

I decide to wait outside after that.

I sit on the curb, scrubbing a hand over my face before yawning. And then I check my phone for the millionth time.

I press the heels of my hands into my eyes, and think about calling a taxi. But since it's ACL weekend and more than half the city is relying on cabs to get them around, my best bet might be waiting here for Garrett.

I hear the front door open, and I turn around. Two girls stumble outside. I look away. I stare down the street, pretending like I'm not paying attention. But I can hear them whispering. Then I hear them laughing.

"Hi," one of them says, then bursts into a giggle.

I turn my head and stare. "Hi."

"What are you doing out here? You should come back inside," the other one says this time. Or maybe it was the same one. I have no idea.

"I'm waiting on someone," I say vaguely.

It's then that I hear loud laughter echoing from down the street. It's dark, so I can't make out who it is. The two girls tell me bye, and head back inside as a group of people come into view.

Someone calls out, "Cullen!"

I stand from the curb, running a hand through my hair.

The laughter continues, and once they're close enough, I see that Bella is with them.

She stares back at me.

A few of the people head straight inside the house, but Bella, Angela, and some guy, who I'm pretty sure is Ben, walk over to me.

It makes me irrationally angry that Bella ditched me to hang out with him. But then I guess he's the one who has a right to be mad. Seeing as how I fucked her this morning.

I don't give any of them a chance to speak.

"Can we talk?" I ask, staring pointedly at Bella.

She stares at me for a second before answering, "Sure."

The guy standing next to her gives her a look, then turns his gaze on me, sizing me up or some shit.

I'd like to see him try something.

Angela places her hands on his shoulders. "Give me a piggyback ride up to the house."

He groans out a laugh, but leans over a bit, allowing her to jump on his back.

I wait until they're inside to speak.

"Your boyfriend gives Angela piggyback rides?"

"That's not my boyfriend," she answers, crossing her arms. "That's Jared."

I can't help but frown. "So Ben is your boyfriend," I accuse.

"You're the one that said it. But no. He's not."

I can't think of anything better to say other than, "Okay."

"Were you waiting for me?" she asks quietly.

"I don't know." I shrug, keeping my eyes on her face. "I mean, Garrett's my ride. He's not here yet."

"Right."

"And you still have my joints."

She pulls the small plastic bag from her bra and tosses it at me. It doesn't come close to hitting me, though, landing halfway between us. I lean over and grab it, carefully slipping it into my back pocket.

"So you were waiting for Garrett and your weed, but not me," she states slowly. "I just want to make sure I'm understanding this correctly."

I hate the way she's staring at me, like she's waiting for me to say something to fuck all of this up.

So I say nothing.

"You're a fucking dick."

And apparently saying nothing can fuck things up, too.

"Sorry, I'm a little confused. Why are you pissed?" I ask heatedly. "You're the one who basically ditched me today."

"Because you're a dick," she repeats.

I shake my head, locking my jaw as I look past her shoulder. "What was your deal earlier? Everything was cool and then—"

Her laugh interrupts me, forcing my gaze back to her face. She's staring at me like I'm an idiot. "I left because you were being an asshole."

I replay everything from earlier. I don't think I was being an asshole. All I remember is that Jasper showed up, made a comment about Ben, a cactus, and a dinosaur, and then Bella stormed off.

"I didn't do anything."

"How do you think your little it's not what it looks like comment made me feel?" she questions, lowering her voice. "And let's not forget I only hook up with Bella if I'm really high."

"That's not what I said."

"That's what you implied."

I breathe through my nose. "Don't do this."

"Don't do what? Tell you why I'm upset? You'd rather I ignore you until I'm over it?"

"You're just trying to find shit to be pissed about," I point out.

"Well, you make it so easy," she snarks.

We stare at each other as silence takes over.

This is such bullshit.

I step forward until I'm towering over her. "Tell me what I was supposed to say to Jasper," I say, voice low.

"I don't know."

"Then you can't be mad at me," I insist.

"I'm pretty sure there were a million things you could've said other than it's not what it looks like."

I chuckle. She doesn't.

"I honestly don't know why I said that," I admit.

She stares at my chest. "Well, it kind of made me feel shitty, so…"

Now I do feel like a dick.

"If anyone should be upset here, it's me. You're the one with the boyfriend."

"He's not my boyfriend," she replies, sounding annoyed.

"He's obviously something to you. Enough for Jasper to ask me if you're going to stop seeing him."

"This is… so confusing," she mumbles, blowing out a breath.

"How is it confusing? You like him, right?"

"Sure." She shrugs. "But mostly because he likes me. And he makes sure I know it."

The simpleness of her answer catches me off guard.

"And that's all it takes?" I ask, trying not to sound irritated.

"That's not all," she clarifies. "But it helps."

"Get your ass in here, Bell!" Angela calls out from the front door. "Ben wants you to be his beer pong partner!"

Bella turns toward the house and yells, "Play for me!"

The door slams shut.

And I'm pissed.

"He's in there?"

She hesitates before saying, "Yeah. He's only going to the festival on Sunday. He hung out here with Eric—"

I cut her off. "Right." I fist my hair. "You know… I really wanted to hang out with you earlier. I left the festival early because it wasn't fun without you."

"I tried calling you before the Yeah Yeah Yeahs played," she admits quietly. "Your phone went straight to voicemail."

I sigh. "Come with me to work."

She smiles softly. "Shut up. You know I can't."

I tilt my head back, looking up at the sky. I can feel her eyes on me. And there's a split second where I don't give a fuck if she's still mad or if I'm supposed to be pissed. I don't care if that douche comes out here and sees me touching her. I reach for her waist and pull her to me. I wrap my arms around her shoulders, caging her in as I bury my face against her neck. She smells like sweat and weed. Her arms wrap around my middle, and she feels so small compared to me.

I don't want to leave.

I whisper the words before I really think them. "Don't go home with Ben."

And I mean it.

She's too quiet, and I pull back, keeping my hands on her shoulders.

"Why not?" she finally asks when she can see my eyes.

"Because I don't want you to."

"That's not good enough," she whispers.

"Because I'm coming by when I get off work."

Her face is blank. "Where, to my place?"

"Yeah."

She shakes her head. "You get off at six. That's too early."

"So? You don't have to get up. I'll just get into bed with you."

"Edward."

"What?" I ask in exasperation.

She doesn't answer.

Ben supposedly isn't her boyfriend, so I don't know why she's acting like this; trying to make this difficult for me. She says I never tell her what I want, but when I do, she questions me even more. It's fucking frustrating.

"Alright. I get it," I mutter. "You should go. Ben needs you or whatever."

"Don't be like that. Please." She lightly pushes my chest, then slides her hand down, fingers brushing against my stomach. I swallow, hating how much I want her.

I move my hand to her chin, my thumb brushing over her bottom lip. She stares up at me, like she's waiting for me to kiss her.

But I don't.

I drop my hand and take a step back.

"I'm gonna go inside now," she breathes out. "Are you gonna wait here for Garrett?"

I clear my throat. "I don't know where the hell he is. It's almost ten thirty."

"Do you want to take my truck back to your place so you can sleep before work?"

I shove my hands into my pockets to keep from touching her again. "How will you get home?"

"I'll make Garrett drive me or something. It's fine."

She runs inside the house to grab her keys, then hands them to me. We walk in silence to her truck.

"I'm still coming by when I get off work," I tell her, leaving the door open as I start the engine.

Her smile is small. "I'm gonna need my truck back, anyway."

I tug on the strap of her dress. "Be good."

She rolls her eyes. "Drive safe."


Once I'm home, I can't sleep. My mind won't turn off, replaying my fight with Bella.

I get out of bed and shower, deciding to head to the station early.

When I arrive, Riley—the guy whose shift is before mine—is still in the studio. I grab my clipboard off the wall and head down the hall to the lounge. I pour myself a cup of coffee and sit on the couch. I look over the schedule, noticing I'm supposed to give an extra traffic report this weekend, due to ACL.

I finish my coffee, and pour another cup before slipping into the control room just as Riley is wrapping up. Aro, the content producer, tries to do some handshake thing with me. He can never quite get it right.

He talks excitedly about some new Katy Perry single the morning show will be playing on Monday, which means I get to add it to my rotation.

His stare is expectant.

I'm supposed to be happy about Katy Perry.

I want to punch myself in the face.

Apathy wins and I convince myself I don't give a fuck about the music played here, because it's just a job; it's not what I want to do for the rest of my life. This Top 40 shit does nothing for me, but the experience will pay off in the long run.

I blow on my coffee, then smile and nod. Because until a position opens up at the alternative station across town, I'm stuck here, pretending I'm happy about Katy Perry.

I head into the studio once Riley's finished, and set up. I slip on my headphones. I stare at the microphone I hardly speak into unless I'm talking about the nonexistent traffic at three in the morning, or introducing a song. I doubt many people listen, and if they do, it's not like they care what I have to say, anyway.

A little past four, my phone lights up with a text from Bella, which doesn't help with my pity party.

Hey, just wanted to let you know that I'm staying at Angela's.

Why?

She makes me wait ten minutes before replying.

Garrett passed out. Jasper left. IDK where he is. Too tired to care. Crashing here.

I'm beyond pissed. Garrett was supposed to give her a ride home. And Jasper? Worthless. Probably off with Bangs, fucking in a porta potty.

Call a cab.

I almost offer to pay for it, but her response is quicker this time.

It's late.

Okay.

The texts stop after that. I've basically given up and convinced myself she's with Ben. I know she has no reason to lie, but a small part of me wonders if she is.

A bigger part of me wonders if they're fucking on Angela's couch right now.

I grind my teeth at the thought. I kind of hate her for pulling this shit. But none of this is her fault. Or maybe it is all her fault. I don't know who I should be pissed at, though—myself or her.

It's all so fucked.

I'm too distracted with all of this bullshit and end up playing the same song twice within ten minutes.

During a commercial break, Aro tells me to wake the hell up, and suggests I either snort a line or grab some coffee. I'm pretty sure he was joking about the coke, but I can't be too sure. He's always so on, I wouldn't be surprised if he were coked out 24/7.

I grab another shitty cup of coffee and switch off my phone, because I don't need any more distractions.

And Bella is definitely a distraction.


Thanks for reading!

Kim and Vic... you know.