Girls Gone South!
A/N Okay, so I'm in the middle of one story, The Hunters Heart, when I get this idea and it just won't go away. A story of three friends heading south for a girls vacation. I was talking to my sister and all these thoughts and idea's kept buzzing around in my head and though I still have to finish my other story, I needed to put this one up. I'm still continuing with The Hunters Heart, but not I have this one as well. Probably not a good idea to start another story when I have one on the go, but ah well. Let me know what you think.
"That son of a bitch!"
I couldn't help but chuckle through my tears at one of my best friends' passionate outburst.
"Calm down, Alice," I mumbled into my tissue as I blew my nose loudly. It was my second box of the night.
"Yeah, Alice, calm down," Rosalie, my other best friend, agreed with me as she stroked my hair back from my eyes. "There's no point in getting ourselves worked up."
I smiled gratefully at Rosalie for being level headed whilst Alice jumped to her feet and glared down at the beautiful blond that sat next to me on my couch.
"What?" She snapped as she shoved her hands on her tiny hips and glared down at us, fire spitting from her eyes. It was a typical Alice pose. She looked like an angry Tinkerbell.
Completely unperturbed my Alice's tone, Rosalie shrugged her shoulder's gracefully. "Why upset ourselves over that little prick? I say we go over to his and key his oh so expensive car," she grinned evilly.
While I rolled my eyes, knowing that I should have seen her reaction coming, Alice beamed down at her before high-fiving Rosalie enthusiastically.
Sniffling, I looked at my friends. They were both wonderful and extremely over protective of each other. Of course they would be out for blood.
I had met Alice Brandon and Rosalie Hale on the very first day of Kindergarten. I had stood there alone, crying because I hadn't wanted my mother to leave me when Rosalie had come skipping over to me and asked if I'd like to play. Alice had seen us and ditched the children she was playing with to come and play with us. The next day I ran into my classroom without a second glance at my mother, eager to see my new friends.
The three of us were inseparable since that day. Some days it had felt like it was the three of us against the world. I had always liked that feeling.
Alice was small, tiny even. She reminded everyone of a pixie with her short, black, spiky hair, sparkling big blue eyes and fully red lips. She was funny, smart, kind and creative. She had more energy than anyone I had ever met and made even the worst of day's fun.
Rosalie was the opposite of Alice. She was tall, with luscious golden blond hair and classic features that could rival Aphrodite herself. Her smoky blue eyes made men think of steamy nights on satin sheets. Her body every woman's dream and envy.
Rosalie was strong and confident, but she was also kind and sweet. A side that only her closest friends ever got to see.
While both were extremely beautiful, they also had brains. Alice was a fashion designer; everyone from Katy Perry to Reese Whitherspoon was dying to get their hands on an Alice Brandon original.
Alice had worked hard over the years, sacrificing boyfriends and her social life in the hopes of making her dream into a reality.
Rosalie, though she could have easily been a model in Alice's line, had followed her family's footsteps and earned her law degree. Now, one of the most sought after Defense Attorneys in the city, Rosalie barely had time for herself, never mind a relationship.
In school books had been my world. I loved the romance, the adventure, the mystery and even the heart break that was in each of the books I obsessed over. If I wasn't reading, I was writing, putting my own stories onto paper. Never without a pen and a piece of paper I must have gotten through a notepad a week. I still had them stored away in my parent's attic.
Like my friends, I had managed to turn my dream into a reality and was now a Romance novelist and while I wasn't on the New York Bestsellers list, I was happy with my small following of fans that gave me a comfortable lifestyle and let me continue writing as my occupation.
While we were like sisters, due to our schedules, it had been over a month since our conversations weren't over the phone or through email.
My only wish that our long awaited reunion could have been due to a better situation.
No, the reason for our reunion was sitting right in front of me. It was strange how a piece of paper, something I never went anywhere without, could suddenly become the very thing that tore my world down around me.
It was a letter from my husband, informing me that not only did he not love me anymore, but he was filing for a divorce and moving in with the woman he had been sleeping with behind my back for months.
Alice was right, I thought. "Son of a bitch."
"You said it, sister!" Alice all but cheered as she glared down at the piece of paper as if she wished she could beat it to a bloody pulp.
"Tell us everything, Bella," Rosalie ordered as she gave Alice a warning glance.
I looked into the kind, compassionate eyes of my best friends, my sisters in every way but blood, and found myself telling them everything.
"I knew something was wrong," I mumbled. "He had been distant for a while. I thought it was just because he was so eager to finish his next book, I shrugged it off," I lied miserably, hating myself for not forcing the issue.
"That's Jake's fault, Bella, not yours," Rosalie said earnestly. Alice nodded in agreement as she moved to sit on the opposite side of me, wrapping her arm around my shoulder, silently showing support.
I had met Jacob Black in my senior year at NYC, he had transferred from a small town in Washington and hadn't been used to the fast pace of the city. I had offered to show him around and help catch him up in class and that was that.
Jacob was tall, muscular, with dark eyes and long dark hair. His wire framed glasses had made him look cute in a nerdish kind of way that some girls liked and his Native American heritage gave him a deep tan that I had always envied. He was sweet and shy and seemed to like me for me.
Out of my group of friends, I was the most normal looking. Dark brown hair and brown eyes with pale skin, I wasn't exactly memorable. It didn't help that whilst my friends had fantastic bodies and could wear a garbage bag and still pull it off, I had always been on the heavy side.
As a child it had been shrugged off as 'puppy fat', and after that I had been 'chubby'. I had always struggled with my weight and secretly worried over ever meeting the right man and having the type of love I read about, and wrote about, so often.
Jake hadn't seemed to see my weight, though. He had called me 'curvaceous' and said that he loved my body. I had believed him.
After we had finished school, we had become more serious and gotten married a year after graduation. We had moved into a small apartment in the village and worked small jobs as we both tried to become published.
I had been the first to have a published book. My friends, as well as Jake, had been over the moon. Soon after, Jake had also gotten his first book published. It had seemed like fate, not only were we happily married but our dreams had come true.
It had changed over time, though. Jake was known for his thrillers that were dark and gritty and I was known for my comedic romances. I had never minded, I had liked the fact that our genres seemed to be the polar opposite of each other. After a while though, Jake began to point out that my books were 'fanciful'' and not as 'believable' as his.
It hadn't bothered me, at first. It was when Jake's book had gotten listed as a New York Bestseller that thing's really began to change. Or, to be more correct, Jake had begun to change. Suddenly, our small apartment wasn't good enough for him. The friends we had weren't smart enough or talented enough for him. And, after a while, it had become clear to me that I wasn't good enough for him.
As Jake became more distant, and critiqued my work, I developed a lower self-confidence. Before I had been chubby, but comfortable with it. I had insecurities, but what woman didn't?
But when Jake began to pull away, and when he started to put down what I worked so hard to get, I began to comfort myself with fast food and ice cream.
It had gotten particularly bad when Jake had come home one night smelling of another woman's perfume. I had wanted to confront him. I had wanted to scream at him. I had wanted to beg him to tell me that it wasn't true, but I did none of it. I pretended it wasn't happening. I didn't want to believe that Jake, my Jake, could do such a thing.
To be honest, I was also afraid of what would happen if he confirmed it. I was afraid that he would leave me and I would be all alone. So, I continued on as if we were happy. As if it didn't kill me whenever he would walk in late at night smelling of another woman.
I had lied to my friends whenever they asked, I had lied to my family and I had lied to myself.
Deciding it was time for me to start being honest, I admitted the truth. "That's a lie," I muttered. "I knew he was seeing another woman."
"What?!" They bother demanded in unison.
"Why didn't you throw him out? Why aren't you the one filing for divorce?" Rosalie demanded angrily.
"Why didn't you tell us?" Alice whispered; hurt filling her eyes at the thought of me hiding something so big from them.
"I'm sorry," I apologized, a wave of fresh tears flowing down my cheeks. "I didn't want it to be true and if I told you then it would be. I didn't want to be alone," I shrugged.
"Bella," they both whispered gently.
"I know," I smiled through my tears. "It's stupid. I have you, I have my work, and I have my family. It's just that... I thought he loved me. Even when it should have been so obvious that he didn't, I still thought he did. I thought that if I was more talented or more beautiful, then maybe I would be enough."
"Bastard's like Jacob Black can never get enough," Alice spat.
"He wasn't always a bastard, though." I pointed out.
Rosalie rolled her eyes. "Maybe not when we were younger. Maybe not when he had nothing. It was when he had attention, success, that he showed who he truly was, Bella. He is a bastard and I don't want you sitting here, crying, because of who he pretended to be."
Alice nodded. "She's right, honey. Jake used to be a sweetheart, but he hasn't been for a long time. He's changed. Or maybe, like Rosalie said, he was just showing who he truly was." She frowned as she thought of what she had said before nodding. "It's true. I don't think anything can really change who a person is deep down."
"You're too good for him, Bella." Rosalie added.
"Not to him," I pointed out, leaning forward to grab the letter that still lay face down on my coffee table.
I looked down at Jake's elegant scrawl and forced myself to read his parting words to me.
I know this may come as a shock to you, but for me it has been a long time coming. When we were younger, we could fool ourselves, but not anymore. We do not work, Isabella. We have not for a long time.
For the longest time, I have felt as if I were drowning. I felt as if you were dragging me down to your level and I cannot let that continue.
We are not on the same level, Isabella. I wanted to be, I thought that maybe, with my help, I could pull you up, but I cannot fight the inevitable. I need more, Isabella.
I need someone who can challenge me, excite me. You have not for a long time. I am serious about my writing, where you are happy to write frivolous romance novels. I want to be successful while you are happy to remain where you are.
I regret to have to tell you this way, but I have met someone else. She is beautiful and smart and has fire and ambition, something that you are lacking. I need those things in my life and have decided to put myself first for a change and do what is going to make me happy for once.
I'm sorry Isabella, but I cannot lie, I cannot pretend any longer. I do not love you and I have not for quite some time. It just took me a while to gather the courage to tell you as we do have a history and I thought you deserved that much respect.
I have left you this note in the hopes of sparing you're feelings and in hopes of ending things without any drama or fanfare.
I am leaving you, Isabella. I am leaving to be with Leah and start my life afresh without the constraints that you always put on me.
I hope that you one day find happiness.
"I honestly thought he couldn't sound any more like a prick," Rosalie muttered as she snatched the paper out of my hands to glare at the paper in the same way Alice had.
"Tell me about it," Alice muttered as she returned from the kitchen with a bottle of wine and three glasses and began pouring each of us a generous glass.
"He makes out like this is your doing, like he's doing you a favor by leaving a fucking note. Coward! And calling you Isabella? No one calls you that. He never used to call you that. How could he do this?" Rosalie snarled. "Not only does he admit to cheating, but he also put down you're work, the little bitch."
"Its complete bullshit," Alice fumed. "You're books are amazing, Bella. I have read everything you've ever wrote and I love them."
"You may be just a little biased, Alice," I laughed as I drank my wine.
Alice rolled her eyes. "I am not. Besides, tons of people, celebrities included who have asked if they can get me a signed copy of your books." She pointed out smugly.
I frowned. With all the things that had happened, I had forgotten that. As Jake had won awards and the critiques respect, I had secretly become more and more insecure about my own work. I had worried that maybe it was as frivolous as Jake pointed out towards the end. I had been so worried about not getting onto the bestsellers lists that I had forgotten the lists that I had gotten onto.
"I know," she smiled.
"Bella, you're books are wonderful. They make you laugh, they make you cry and they make you believe that maybe, just maybe, there is a person out there that is just for you. I know that's how I feel when I read your words," Rosalie murmured, almost absently as she re-read the letter.
I shared a glance with Alice that spoke volumes. Out of all of us, Rosalie was the one who had always avoided attachments. Avoided love. While Alice was sure she'd meet 'The One', Rosalie scoffed about it. She said that if she ever did meet the right guy, he would be a lawyer, smart, ruthless and good looking. Since she had never met a man that fit the bill up to her standards, she didn't bother with love.
I just hoped that while Rosalie waited for the guy who checked off all the boxes, she wouldn't pass over the one who would cherish her for the amazing woman she was.
"What pisses me off is that people think that to be a serious writer you have to write about war, and drugs and Russian mobs," Alice rolled her eyes. "I would rather read a good romance any day."
Rosalie nodded. "The things I see in my work, the things I hear about, the last thing I want to read is about some dude getting his nails pried off for information. Life is bleak enough as it is, thank you very much. I want to read something that gives me hope that makes me smile, not something that makes me cringe."
I couldn't help but smile at my friends. They were so supportive of me. They were my safety net. They were the people who I knew would always be there, would always have my back.
"What am I going to do?" I whispered.
Finally, Rosalie looked up from the paper, turning to face me with serious eyes. "First things first, we have to be logical. Jake has been with other women. Maybe it is just this Leah, but most likely there's been more. You have to get tested."
When I stiffened, hating the thought, Alice rubbed a soothing hand on my back. "She's right, honey. You have to be smart about this. The first thing we need to make sure is that you're healthy."
I felt the blush heat my cheeks. "Jake and I haven't had sex for a while," I grumbled.
Rosalie nodded, finding the news relieving. "Good, but we still have to make sure."
I nodded, knowing that it was true. I had to be safe, not stupid.
"Good," she nodded. "Let me know the day and I'll come with you if you'd like."
"Me, too," Alice added.
"Guys, you have work. Big, important work that you can't just back out of."
"I don't care," Alice said firmly. "You need us and that what's important."
I looked from her to Rosalie and saw that there was no way I could get them to change their minds. I did need them. I didn't want to go alone. I also knew that if it were the other way round there would be no way in hell that they could stop me from being there to support them when they needed me most.
"Okay, Bella, what next?" Rosalie asked, looking at me.
"What?" I demanded in confusion.
"What else do you want to do, you idiot?" She chuckled.
"Oh," I replied.
I thought about the last few months of my marriage and then looked down at the piece of paper that had ended it. No, I corrected myself, Jake had ended this.
Whether or not I was what Jake wanted, whether he considered my work as important as his, or whether I didn't look the way he wanted, Jake had promised to love me no matter what. He had promised to love me, respect me and cherish me in sickness and in health and he had broken that vow.
He couldn't respect me. He put down my works, my words, my very heart and soul and said that in comparison to his, they were nothing. He slept with other women. He was with one of them right now. I had to go and get a STD check because I couldn't trust the fact that he had been careful. They he had even been loyal. No Jake did not respect me.
He couldn't love or cherish me. After being together for six years he had left with nothing but a note. It wasn't long enough to be considered a letter. My bank sent me account balances with my length and depth than the note that Jake had chosen to end out marriage did.
Jake cheated on me; he disrespected not only me, but my work, my friends and our life together. He made me feel so insecure about myself.
I looked down at the sweat's I wore. The one's Jake had said made me look puffy and felt fury spread though me for the first time in months.
He left without a word. Just a fucking note.
There was no excusing that. There was no explaining that. Jake didn't love me. But more than that, he didn't deserve me. For so long, I had tried to be what and who he wanted. To be the woman he thought he had married, when really he should have tried to be the man I married.
"Well, for starters," I snarled as I snatched the letter from Rosalie's hands and tossed it into the fire.
I stood there for the longest moment and watched it burn. The entire time I kicked myself for letting myself fall so low that I couldn't see the light.
Why was I here sobbing over Jake when he was exactly what Rosalie had said he was? A prick.
He cheated, he lied, he put down everything I had worked for, everything I still worked for and I was sitting around crying over him? No way in hell.
Turning back to my friends, I told them what I wanted.
"I want to file for divorce. I was afraid before. I was afraid of being alone. Afraid of being a romance writer who couldn't make her own marriage work, but you know what? Jake's a dick. I don't want a man, any man, if they don't love me. If that cherish me. If they don't respect me. Hell, I don't want a man who won't look at me and know how Goddamn lucky he is to have me." I ranted breathlessly as my friends cheered me on.
"What else, Bella?" Alice laughed.
"I want to cut back a little. I want to lost the weight I put on while Jake was dicking around with other women because I was miserable and waiting up with him. I want to look, and be, fit and fabulous." I smiled, feeling confidence and determination wash over me.
Rosalie frowned. "You're doing this for yourself, right? I mean, you're beautiful no matter what you weigh, you always will be. I just don't want you doing this for him."
I shook my head firmly. "I meant what I said Rosalie. I won't have a man who doesn't see how lucky he is to have me love him. I refuse to do that ever again. I'm doing this for me. Isn't that what those diet people are always saying?" I joked.
My friends just shrugged; obviously still worried that I was secretly hoping that by losing weight that somehow Jake would love me.
"I'm doing this for me," I repeated. "I'm doing this because I want everything I can get out of life. I want to be able to get my confidence back. I want to walk into a bar and not worry over what I look like. I haven't been able to do that for a long time. Maybe getting healthier won't change that, but it's a good place to start."
Rosalie looked into my eyes for the longest moment before grinning. Bouncing to her feet, she joined me by the fire place, handed me my glass of wine. "I'm with you, Bella. I'll be here. Whether it's someone to call at one in the morning when you need a chocolate fix or someone to yell at you to move your ass when you go for a run, I'm your girl," she laughed.
"No way!" Alice argued as she joined us. "I am totally your girl. I have done Pilates, Kickboxing, Jazzercise and many more. I am your girl!"
Rosalie scoffed. "You've done one session. I don't think you ever went back and I remember the yoga incident. You said if you ever even saw a 'Downward facing dog' you'd call a vet to have it put down."
"I'm a searcher, Rose. I search."
"Is that what they call giving in these days?" She teased.
Alice just stuck her tongue out. "Hey, I have another idea!" She announced, her eyes sparkling. "We should set a date. A date for when you want to be at your goal weight and most confident, and then me, you and Rosie over here can take a long overdue vacation. Anywhere you want to go," she grinned.
It took a moment for me to think of somewhere I would like to go. Over the years we had gone to exotic beaches, with glitzy nightclubs and cute guys practically naked on the beach. Since meeting Jake those trips had stopped and whilst part of me wanted to hit the nearest beach, I wanted something different for this trip.
"Oh, God, I'm not going to like this, am I?" Rosalie groused when she saw my smile.
"You know how I have always had a thing for cowboys?" I asked, smiling brightly.
Alice scowled. "Bella, a vacation, if you have the funds, should be done right. That includes beaches, alcohol, cute guys in nothing but swim shorts and did I mention beaches? I don't think hanging out with some sweaty cowboy and farm animals really fall into that category, do you?" She demanded.
I couldn't help but smile at her smugly. "You said wherever I wanted to go," I sang.
Alice glared while Rosalie snickered. "We don't know anything about the South!" She snapped. "We're city girls. If we get a flat tire, we don't change it, we call the AA. I don't ride a horse, I ride the subway and I'm okay with that. We've never even been camping!"
"Alice, we're going south, not being stranded in the middle of nowhere," Rosalie laughed.
"Same thing," she snapped. "I am so going making you regret this, Bella," she vowed. "You just wait and see the hell I put you through when you're doing reverse squat lunges, Bella. You just wait," she repeatedly darkly.
Reverse squat lunges? My thighs hurt just thinking about it.
"You're on," I replied with more confidence than I felt.
"So?" Rosalie spoke up, sensing that our little battle was over. "What's the date?"
"The day I get the papers to finalize my divorce. I think it's a good day to celebrate the future, don't you?" I smiled.
The girls nodded. "Definitely."
I raised my glass. "To new beginnings, realizing I am so much better off without Jacob Black and to going down South to see some hot cowboys."
The girls just laughed. "To girls going south," Alice giggled.
Rosalie smiled. "That's less of a mouthful, I supposed.
"To girls gone south."
A/N Well, there you have it. The first chapter. Let me know what you think!