Chapter Thirteen: Unexpected
"So the hottie with the body on Skype was TonyMazen69, aka, Edward Platt?"
I nod at a bewildered Rose, who pauses from coating her nails in 'Pussycat Pink,' at least, that's what she tells me the nail color name is.
I have my doubts.
"And you asked him to meet you ... soon? As in, before the Moonlight meetup?"
I nod again, feeling dumb and mute, and maybe I am. I've most certainly shown my stupidity over the past few weeks. Between Facebook smackdowns and drunken boob-flashing, I don't understand how Edward can still enjoy talking to me every single day.
"So, are you gonna fly up there or is he gonna travel down here?"
"I have no idea," I shrug, swiping the nail polish bottle from my scowling friend, stealing the little brush from her as well. "You know I'm terrified of planes."
"So take a bus," she responds, stealing her nail polish back with an incorrigible grin. "Or take a train."
"A long train ride sounds nice," I muse aloud, lost in thoughts of locomotives. "I've never ridden a train before."
"Maybe you'll come up with a new fic idea," she grins, carefully coating her pinky with the pink concoction. "Love on the Tracks! That's a good title!"
I snicker and roll my eyes, falling back on the couch. Rose sits cross-legged on the floor, celebrity rags spread out around her in a vibrant spray of red, blue, yellow, and green glossy papers.
"I need to come up with some new ideas. I haven't published a fanfic in so long," I whine.
The inevitable anxiety of no new story ideas clings to my chest, wrapping around my ribs and bringing panic along with it. I still receive the occasional private message from my readers, anxiously awaiting my next new fic, but my ideas are slow to arrive, as my mind has been dwelling on other things...
"Have you told Charlie yet?" Rose asks, breaking me from my thoughts. "About Edward, or your trip?"
The mere mentioning of my father's name sends my heart speeding and a knot to lodge at the base of my throat. My father is a manly sort of man, the type of man who prefers hunting, fishing, and drinking beer to blogging and Skyping. He considers the internet nothing but the work of the devil, and the thought of confessing my attraction to a man I met online is enough to send me into a nervous breakdown.
"No, but I will," I reply. "Soon."
"I'd love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation," Rose admits with a grin, causing me to groan.
The air becomes thick with discomfort, so I do what I do best. I flip the conversation around, focusing on her.
"Any more thoughts of asking Jessica out on a date?"
Rose scowls and I snicker, remembering a conversation the two of us had earlier today. I told her since she was a questionable lesbian that she should just ask Jess out on a date, as I've suggested before. I did this with a straight face, no mockery present in my voice.
"You worry about your man problems and I'll worry about mine," she snaps, uncrossing her legs and standing. She yawns and stretches, then shoots me a grin that reminds me of the Cheshire cat.
"And by 'man problems,' I'm obviously referring to your father," she chuckles, her blonde waves shaking with her laughter. "Because he's gonna tan your hide once he finds out you're in looovvve with some random guy on the internet."
Rose leaves the room with a sweeping sashay, her arms loaded with her gossip rags. I fall back on the couch, turning over and planting my face into the deep cushions. I mull over her words, images of my father going loco and chasing me on train. I can see him now, driving his pickup truck, gun waving wildly through the driver's side window as he chases the train, hollering my name.
Instead of lying around making myself miserable with thoughts of my gun-toting, Republican father, I grab my Kindle from where it lies on the coffee table. It lights up as I turn it on, then I scroll through the hundreds, yes...hundreds, of fics I have saved to my tablet. I quickly get lost in my addiction, absorbing the scandalously tantalizing words of one TonyMazen69, my lady bits tingling the entire time.
Edward no longer sends me private messages through Facebook. No, we've evolved so much further than that now. Now he prefers to call and send me text messages. I'm standing on my father's doorstep shaking in my boots, literally, when he decides to text me tonight.
I miss you. - Edward
I miss you too. This may very well be the last text you ever receive from me, as I am quite possibly about to die. - Bella
Die? What's wrong? - Edward
I don't have my response halfway written when my cell vibrates in my hand, an emailed photograph of a grinning Edward peering back at me. I grin back at the screen in return, shaking my head at my reaction to this man as I answer the phone.
"Hey," I mentally kick myself at the breathy word leaving my lips.
"Hey, baby," he returns, sounding just as breathless. "Are you alright?"
"Yes," I sigh, staring at the buck brass knocker on my father's door. "For now. I'm ... about to tell my daddy about us."
There's a stiff silence, aside from my bated breaths. Finally, he responds.
"Fuck, I hate that I'm not there to meet him in person," he hedges. "Maybe this isn't a good idea."
My heart drops in my chest at his words.
"You and I ... aren't a good idea?"
"No, baby. I mean, yes. Yes, we are. What I meant was, maybe I should fly down there and formally introduce myself."
Now I'm envisioning my daddy chasing Edward with a sawed-off shotgun. The thought makes me shudder.
"No, I think this is the best way. Besides, I love the idea of taking a train. I can get some peace and quiet away from Rose and focus on my writing while on the long ride."
"Only if you're sure," he says, in a very unsure voice.
"I'm sure. Oops! I think hear Daddy coming. Got to go."
I end the call without further warning, then shove the cell into my back pocket. Daddy answers the door with an uneasy grin behind his scruffy face and thick mustache. He's still wearing those same worn cargo shorts with the holes near the pockets that he's had for years, and also wearing that stupid Duck Dynasty shirt I bought him for his birthday last spring. There's a glass of tea clasped in one hand, reminding me of Uncle Si himself. I give him a one-armed hug that he returns, the awkwardness of our stiff father and daughter relationship evident by the way we embrace.
"Bells," he chuckles nervously, his eyes darting behind me constantly. "What are you doing here?"
My brow wrinkles in confusion. I glance behind me, but see nothing out of the ordinary. His yard is filled with a couple of old junk cars propped up on concrete blocks, stacks of balled tires, and of course a couple of coon hounds lounging beneath the shade of a fat gum tree. The yard looks better than the last time I saw it: cleaner, more organized. I glance back at him suspiciously to find him sheepish, with pinkened cheeks peeking out beneath black, coarse facial hair on his tanned face.
"You expecting someone, Daddy?"
"What? Naw, come on in gal," he laughs, the sound forced, as he practically yanks me inside and slams the door behind me. "Who'd I be expecting this late in the evening?"
He's sipping his tea nervously as I carefully study him.
"I don't know, Daddy. Who would you be expecting?"
His face goes from pink to pale in two seconds flat.
"If you've come for supper, I'm afraid I ain't got nothing besides some leftover fish I fried earlier. There may be a slice or two of cornbread left," he says, running his fingers through the dark curls on the back of his head.
"Sound delish," I respond, still eyeing him suspiciously as he follows me into the kitchen.
I throw a couple of pieces of fried catfish and a slice of cornbread on a plate, then grab the ketchup from the fridge. He's still standing nearby looking like the kid who stole the cookie from the cookie jar. I decide to ignore him, dipping my fish into the ketchup and popping a piece in my mouth as I hum contently. He eventually joins me at the table, his long legs extended in front of him.
"I met someone," I finally say, breaking the tense silence. "Someone wonderful, whom I really enjoy speaking to."
Daddy's leg, that has jitterd slightly, now pauses. He silently watches me as I continue to eat my fish as though I didn't just admit for the very first time that I've met someone I'm truly interested in.
"Speaking to?" he asks, my father immediately picking up on my word play. "Why do you say 'enjoy speaking to?' Why didn't you say 'enjoy spending time with?'"
"Well," I hedge, cleaning my greasy fingers on a paper napkin he hands me. "I haven't actually met him ... yet."
"Isabella Marie," he says, warning clear in his tone. "Don't tell me you've met someone on the chat line."
I can't control the snort that erupts from my nose at his use of the word 'chat line.' Who says 'chat line' nowadays?
"Daddy, you remember how much I enjoyed writing when I was a kid?"
Daddy nods, his dark eyes narrowing suspiciously. My father always told me writing was a waste of time. While I dreamed of being an author he encouraged me to go into healthcare, a steady job, he'd called it.
And that's what I did. I went into healthcare, but my love of writing remained and now ... now it's time to come out.
It's time for me to come out of the fanfiction closet.
"Well, I sort of ... never stopped writing," I shrug, the apples of my cheeks burning under his intense stare. "I write fanfiction now, and so does this guy, er, this man I'm talking to."
"Fanfiction?" he grunts, looking thoroughly displease. "I've heard about that there 'fanfiction,' as you call it. You're writing dirty words for a living? You ought to be ashamed of yourself, Isabella Marie. I raised you better than this!"
"I don't write smut," I scowl defensively. "Well, not much smut."
"Shit," he grunts, shaking his head and glaring at me. "Not much smut?"
"I write romance."
"Romance," he mocks, standing and wiping his brow. "Romance, she says. You're sitting around wasting your time writing about romance, when you could be going back to college and furthering your education! Go back and get your Masters!"
"I don't want a Master's degree," I groan. "I enjoy being a clinic nurse. I have no desire to further my education. If I pursue anything, it'll be writing."
Daddy opens his mouth to fire back, but our argument is abruptly interrupted by an insistent pounding of the buck-head shaped, brass knocker on the front door.
Daddy's eyes grow wide, darting back and forth between me and the kitchen doorway. I raise an eyebrow and ease out of my chair, jumping away as he reaches to grab my arm. What I find as I open the front door is not at all what I expect.
A young woman, around my age, stands at the door, wearing a simple floral dress and smelling like a bouquet of spring flowers. Her ebony hair is stick-straight, her eyes wide and slightly scared. In her hands she holds a hot apple pie, so hot that the steam curls in the air, even thought it's a humid, Southern day.
"Can I help you?"
The girl looks caught between running and crying. I hear a groan behind me, turn, and find Daddy standing hesitantly in the hallway.
"Bells, move out of the way," he hoarsely whispers, clearing his throat. "Is this any way to treat company?"
"Hello, Bella," the girl greets me, her tone soft and sweet.
I nod my head, motioning for her to come inside. She slides past me and into the kitchen. I shut the door, then plant my hands firmly on my hips as I study my father.
"That's Sue," he responds after a moment, looking entirely too sheepish.
"And just who is 'Sue,' pray tell me?"
There's a long pause. Now my Daddy looks like the one who wants to run.
"Sue is my girlfriend."
Shameful Hoodfabulous Confession: I 'came out' of the fanfiction closet to my hubs when I started writing. I had to. I went from reading constantly to reading and writing constantly. Have YOU come out of the fanfiction closet to anyone?
EPOV next ... will they finally meet?
Reviews = lurve