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8. Fight

Again, I found myself walking funny for a couple of days after our first outdoor adventure. And again, it had nothing to do with getting laid.

Speaking of getting laid…

I had agreed to join Rose for party at some friend's place that night for the first time in a while since I would usually spend time caring for my dad in Forks and Emmett had a game and couldn't tag along with her like he usually did. It wasn't like I was some kind of mousy creature or a wannabe hermit or something – I had plenty of friends both around campus and back home and was enjoying the freedom and room for experimenting college life gave to me. I just didn't like the whole party scene, where people were only trying to impress others in order to feel good, or at least better about themselves.

Give me an evening with a few friends at a local pub and I'd be more than happy to tag along.

"What are you gonna wear?" Rosalie asked, putting the finishing touches to her hair. Over our time together she'd gotten used to the fact that 'getting ready' for me meant something that could be done in a fifteen minute timeframe while she needed that much time along to work on 'making her eyes pop'. Or whatever the fuck that meant.

"Pants and a shirt?" I offered, listlessly rifling through one of my textbooks.

"You should wear that new sweater we bought the other day," Rose thought along. "The red one?"

"Yeah." Grudgingly I got off the bed, stripping out of my comfy sweats and getting into a pair of skinny jeans that made my three day old battle scars sting all over again and the red shirt my friend had made me buy on our last shopping trip. It was okay, as far as sweaters went. It did the trick in covering me up but the wide neckline left one of my shoulders bare, making it just sexy enough to wear to the kind of shindig I was dragged off to that night.

"You know…" Rose sang, pouting her lips as she applied some gloss. "I heard Siobhan mention Jared's coming tonight."

"Really?" I tried to sound disinterested but between my ever-treacherous skin tone and the way my hands pulled at the sleeve of my shirt, making it drop even lower, I didn't think my plan worked.

I'm met Jared during Introduction Week last year, where he was one of the volunteers to show us around campus and point out all the important stuff we needed to know. We'd hit if off pretty much from minute one, his killer looks making me feel miles out of my league but his easy going character putting me almost immediately at ease.

And then, we found out we ever shared the same passion: law enforcement.

As a third year psychology major he planned to specialize in the criminal psychology area and hopefully end up working as a profiler or in-jail counselor while I was focusing more on detective work. He was one of the few guys who even gave me the time of day after Cullen had started spewing nonsense about me and his help had been my saving grace in a lot of freshman classes, as he offered his advice and a second set of eyes to look over my papers before I handed them in.

I'd been too chicken shit to actually do something about my steadily growing infatuation, though, and since he'd never asked me out unless for a friendly cup of coffee either, I'd kind of given up after a couple of weeks.

And then, of course, dad became sick and we lost contact altogether.

"Siobhan also tells me he's still single." I jumped a little at the sound of Rosalie's voice right beside her ear. In all my quiet musings, I hadn't noticed Rose had left her side of the room and joined me in front of the mirror as I applied a little more makeup than I would usually do and put a little bit more care into styling my hair than normal.

"Oh?" Again, my attempt at feigning aloofness completely failed, much to Rose's amusement.

"Yep!" Rose grinned, looking awfully smug. "So you'd better get a move on Calamity Jane, before some skank beats you to him."

I scowled at her usage of my nickname – the one Emmett invented. "That's it! I'm not allowing you near your boyfriend again. He's a bad influence!"

"Or what?" Rose mocked. "You're going to shoot me?"

"Nope." I shook my head. With dad no longer here, my shooting days would be over until I joined the force. There was just no appeal in heading into the forest on a hunting party without him. It would only make my hurt that much more painful. "I've got a much more effective weapon up my sleeve…" I waited until my eyes had her full attention through the reflection in the mirror until I explained myself. "Secrets."

Watching understanding slowly dawn on Rose's face was a sight to behold, her face scrunched up in confusion before it paled, her mouth falling slightly open as she muttered, "You wouldn't…"

"Call me Calamity Jane again and you'll soon find out," I shrugged, switching the lights off as I cramming my wallet and phone into the most party-appropriate bag I owned. "Now how about we head over there before we're late?"

The party was already in full swing by the time we arrived at the apartment, just a couple of blocks away from the university and our dorms. Looking around me at the small huddles of people standing close, trying to speak over the loud thumps of bass music but mostly trying to look more important than the other people milling around, I was quick to surmise that I hadn't really missed anything during those months that I'd been away.

"Do you want to go find something to drink or do you want to mingle first?" Rose suggested.

"Drink!" I was quick to reply. God only knew that if I wanted to have any hope of sticking around for longer than ten minutes, I needed alcohol. STAT.

What apparently had changed while I was away–and thank the Lord for that–was the fact that the keg had been replaced by huge buckets filled with beer that did actually taste like beer as opposed to the piss.

Not knowing anyone, I just stuck by Rose's side for a while, trying to feign interest in small talk I couldn't care less about as I slammed down one beer after another, the slight haze of intoxication settling in making the whole thing a lot more bearable.

"There he is," Rose whispered, her index finger pointing away from the stem of her cocktail glass and towards a small group of guys that had just gotten in, one of them standing out like a unicorn amidst a field of donkeys.

Hair as dark as ebony. Check.

Eyes as blue as a tropical sea? Check.

Skin as pale as snow? Check.

Lips pouty and red as blood? Check.

Me flustered because I made him look like fucking Snow White in my mind? Check.

I swallowed, gulping down my beer for some Dutch courage as he caught me staring at him like some idiot, his eyes widening in surprise as he recognized me. Shit, he's coming towards me! What do I do?

"It's great seeing you here, Bella!" he greeted, surprising me even more by pulling me into a hug. "It's been a while."

"Yeah," I nodded; my mood saddening as I thought about the reason why. "I'm back now, though, as you can see." Fucking hell, Bella! Idiot much?

"And still studying to be a detective?" he asked, standing a little closer to me than a 'friend' probably would. Yes!

I nodded. "Unless the Bureau or the Agency makes me an offer I can't refuse." I smiled at the dream. It had been done before, I knew that, but usually recruiters went for the top students in their year, and between taking care of my dad and missing a lot of lectures last year, my grades hadn't been what they would have if I'd have been able to attend all my classes.

"It's not that crazy of an idea, actually." Jared smiled, motioning for one of his buddies to bring us fresh beers. "After all, it happened to me."

My eyes widened. "No shit!"

His grin grew under the awe he saw reflected in my eyes. "Some guys from the Bureau sought me out last year and offered to foot the bill for the rest of my education if I signed on with them for a couple of years."

"Wow!" I whispered, his pedestal rising by the minute.

"Yeah, I was pretty floored at first," Jared nodded, "but don't let the glamour fool you: it's not like I can sit back and relax now that my future is taken care of…well, for the time being at least. It's not like their offer doesn't come with some demands as well."

I smiled, coyly biting my lip. "And what are these demands you're speaking of?" I had to admit I was a bit rusty at flirting but judging from the way he leaned in, resting his hand against the wall just beside my head, I hadn't completely lost my mojo.

"That, Miss Swan, is for me to know and for you to find out," Jared whispered back, seizing the opportunity to get a little closer to me as some drunk guy bumped into us on his way over to the drinks table.

I was just about to make one hell of an innuendo-filled remark when suddenly Jared was yanked backwards, his smoldering blue eyes replaced by seething green as DEFCON Cullen entered the scene. "What the hell do you think you're doing here?" he barked, his nostrils flaring with unexplained rage.

What. The. Motherfuck?

"C-Cullen?" I stammered, cursing myself for not having some kickass, badass reaction like those you see in the movies. Believe me, if I wasn't so shocked, I would dropkick the shit out of him right now.

"Outside. Now," he sneered, his hand already grabbing hold of me while I was still clamoring for some understanding of this whole situation.

What. The. Hell?

"I didn't know she had a boyfriend, man!" I heard Jared defend himself in response to something Edward barked at him as he was dragging me off to the hallway.

"Let. Me. Go!" I hissed, pulling myself out of his painful grip. "Jeez! What the hell is wrong with you?"

"Next time you plan to throw away all my hard work, let me know first, okay?" He snarled, pacing up and down our narrow confines like a caged animal. "I don't like wasting my time."

"What the hell are you talking about?" I spat back, my hands balling into fists by my sides as I gave in to my rage. "If anyone has the right to be angry, it's me! I was just standing there, talking to a nice guy, when suddenly you barged in there like some mad bull. Care to explain why?"

"Because you're drinking and partying like some dumb bitch, while you expect me to get you ready for the Alp," he clarified, though I should have punched at least two of his teeth out for calling me a dumb bitch. In fact, I still really wanted to. "Do you know the effect alcohol has on your speed? And your stamina?"

"A few beers every now and then are hardly going to leave me handicapped," I growled, rolling my eyes at him. This is what he dragged me away from Jared for? "Besides, it's not like I'm aiming to improve Pantani's record anyway."

This whole thing was starting to really bug me: being out there in the hallway, berated like some naughty child while I should be in there talking to Jared. "Now, if you don't have anything else to say," I added, daring him to say something that would give me a reason to punch him, "I have a party to get back to."

His shoulders dropped in defeat, a slight shake of his head preceding his retreat as he went off again to do whatever he'd been doing until he just showed up and pounced at me like some psycho.

Kill defenseless little kittens?

Sabotage ambulances?

Pinch cute little kids playing outside?


I could see the damage was already done by the time I got in; Jared studiously ignoring me while he was chatting up some redhead bimbo with boobs the size of melons, the beer he'd asked his mate to get for me, now firmly clasped between her bony ass fingers and fake red nails.


The urge to party some more left as acutely as it had arisen when Jared walked in, the crowds barely parting even as I used my most colorful curse words as I went out in search for Rose, asking no questions as I plucked her from her group of friends and shepherded her towards the door.

"That bad, huh?" she sighed, commiserating as she wrapped her arm around me.

"Worse!" I groaned, sucking in some fresh air as we finally managed to worm our way out the door.

"Wanna talk about it?" Rose's heels clicked along the sidewalk as she downed the drink she'd been holding (and never let go of) when I'd started dragging her out the door and dumped the plastic cup.

"Just wait until we're back home," I grumped, crossing my arm in front of my chest as I stalked on at a steady pace, thinking about the colossal fuck-up my evening had turned out to be. And all of that because of one man.

That was the second time Edward had messed up my social life.

Oh, no he didn't!