A/N: I don't own this. We all know who does. What I do own is a dozen red roses that my hubs gave me for our 20th anniversary yesterday. They're pretty. :)
This story was written for the FAGE Six Pack, based on a prompt from Artemis Leaena:
Tatt/Piercedward (looks rough on the outside, but is sweet, intelligent, gentlemanly, & a hopeless romantic) & Bella meet in an unlikely place.
From there the story loosely follows the song "Merry Go Round" by Kacey Musgraves. Find it on YouTube, because it's awesome. :)
This story is not currently beta'd. When it is, I'll swap out the chapters and rid the world of my messy grammar skills. ;)
* O * O * O *
Maybe that's what it says on a map but those of us who live here know what it should really be called. Mary Ville. Marry Land. Merry Town. The Place of Cookie-Cutter Houses That's Eternally Stuck in 1973. Gossip Central. The City of Pink Cadillac's and Even Pinker Lipstick. Home of the Finest Weed in the Northwestern United States. Borington, USA.
All of those names fit. Any of them were more appropriate than Forks. Most days I felt like I was the only one who saw it, who acknowledged it, who admitted it. But then I'd see Rose and I knew I had at least one person like me – one person who couldn't wait to get out, get free, get a life.
The bell above the door jingled and I let out a deep breath before plastering on a smile and turning to face the counter.
"Welcome to Hot as Hale's Ice Cream Shop. What can I dip you for today?" I rattled off. Mr. Hale thought he was so funny when he'd come up with that phrase 20 years ago. I wasn't even born yet, but I can imagine that wherever my little pre-mortal soul was, I probably cringed.
Oh yeah, I knew about all that pre-life and post-life stuff because Forks was also the church-going capital of Washington. The seven churches that were located throughout town tallied up their attendance roles each week. The Forks city council proudly boasted at their Monday night meetings that the town had a 99.7% attendance record, meaning on Sunday mornings nearly everyone could be found sitting in a pew, praying and singing along. Whether they believed it or not. It was expected, practically required. The only holdouts in town were Old Man Black and his mid-thirty-something-year-old son, Jake. Technically, they didn't live in the city limits, but the state forced Forks to include them in their count. It was a point of contention for church leaders because those two were the only things messing up the town's perfect record.
"Hey, pretty girl. How's my sweetheart today?" Mike said as he walked into the small dining room of the ice cream shop. I kept the fake smile plastered to my face, hoping if I played nice he'd leave sooner.
"Fine. How are you?" I asked, because that's what a good girl would do.
Mike wasn't a bad guy. He was nice enough, and certainly cute enough. He was smart and funny and had a good future lined up for him. What he didn't have was that certain spark I'd been looking for my whole life. He wasn't exciting or adventurous. He was happy in Forks and never wanted to leave.
"Good. Sunday dinner was nice the other night," he said as he continued to smile at me. After all the time we'd spent together it still bugged me a bit that he couldn't tell my fake smile from my real smile. Then again, he couldn't tell my fake orgasm from my real one, either. I guess that was just asking too much.
"Yeah. My mom said to tell you thanks for coming over and she's sorry about the pot roast. She thinks her crock-pot must be acting up again." It wasn't. My mom just couldn't cook for shit. She was usually too worried about getting her next Mary Kay order right and accounting for all of her monthly points.
"No problem. In a couple of years you can take over the cooking when we have them over to our place every Sunday, right?" he asked. "I'll watch the kids while you cook dinner."
Oh, yeah. Crap.
"Maybe," I hedged, then grabbed for a hand-towel and a scooper. "So you want some ice cream, or what?"
"Yeah. Um, just my usual." One regular sized scoop of vanilla on a wafer cone. Boring. "So what time are you done? Can I see you tonight?"
"Um... well I work until six and then I'm supposed to help my mom with something. Maybe after that."
Mike and I were technically high school sweethearts. We'd been "together" since sophomore year. Everyone expected us to date, get engaged, get married, start popping out babies, and live in Forks for the rest of our lives. We'd have a cute little box house, I'd drive a beige mini-van, he'd run his dad's store, our kids would get perfect grades. That was the dream, the expectation. It was everything I didn't want. The only reason I'd stuck with him as long as I had – for just over four years – was that he was better than nothing, and easier than explaining I was just biding my time until I could escape.
I figured while I was stuck in Forks I may as well have some fun. Though I wasn't having much fun. Or sex. We hadn't had sex. That wasn't what good kids did. Not that we were exactly good. We'd done everything except for shoving his dick into my pussy. Well, that's not how he said it. He hadn't "inserted his penis in my vagina." That would be for the wedding night, but until then he could put it anyplace else and it was fine. Like I said, Mike wasn't a bad guy, he just wasn't what I wanted for the rest of my life. And in the mean time he was a good choice to pass the time with. Although every time we got together and things were getting hot and heavy, just before I'd finally lose it, my mind would wander back to the one boy I'd slept with, had sex with, made love to... whatever you called it. It was one time with a cute boy who was just passing through town for a few days. I was a little bit high and maybe a tad bit drunk, but that only served to make me brave. And it was worth it.
"Okay, I'll stop by around eight. Sound good?" he asked, licking his cone and keeping his eyes trained on mine. He was good with his tongue, I had to give him that. His dick might not have been in my pussy, but that tongue sure had. Stupid boring boy.
"Yeah. See ya then."
After he was gone I let out a sigh, closing my eyes as I shook my head. I needed to get out of this town.
"Awww, did Loverboy leave?" Rose teased as she walked through the swinging doors that led to the back room of the building.
"Yep. Gone, with his vanilla cone in hand."
"Bet that's not the only thing he's had his hand wrapped around today. Bella, honey, when are you gonna ditch that guy?" she asked. Rose had been my best friend since Kindergarten, and she seemed to be the only person who understood how I felt about Mike and life in general.
"As soon as I have a plan to get out of this town. Until then, it's better him than my hand, you know?"
"Oh, your mom's still snoopin', huh? That sucks."
My mother's favorite past-time was snooping through my drawers. Since I still lived at home and she still did all my laundry, I couldn't really stop her. Not that I had anything to hide. And as long as I lived under her and my father's roof, there would be no sex toys in my drawers for her to stumble upon.
"ROSEMARY!" we heard shouted from the back room.
"Oh, shit," Rose huffed. "MOTHER! My name is Rose! Call me Rose! For the last time, I'm NOT an herb!" she yelled back. After rolling her eyes in annoyance she pushed her way through the doors and left me alone to face the morning ice cream crowd. Basically, since the shop was empty, she left me alone.
Sometime in the middle of the afternoon, after serving ice cream to five of the seven Mary Katherine's in town, two of the nine Mary Louise's, and all three of the Mary Elizabeth's, the bell on the door jingled again. There were several girls from around town who made it a point to stop in as often as they could to flash their diamond rings in my face, just as a reminder that they'd gotten engaged before I did. Like I cared. MaryJes and Mary Lauren were the worse offenders. They were both a year younger than me and had just graduated from high school. Their fiances, Tyler and Eric, were a few years older than me so I knew them. I knew everyone. It was a small town, it couldn't be helped. The loud footsteps on the tile and the deep laughs soon clued me in that the newest customers weren't female or intent on blinding me with jewelry.
"Hey, little lady," one of the men said. They were younger looking, not much older than me, and definitely not from Forks. "How are ya this fine afternoon?"
"Welcome to Hot as Hale's Ice Cream Shop. What can I dip you for today?" I asked them. Both smiled brightly back at me.
"That's a catchy little saying. You say that to all the dips that come in this place?" the bigger of the two guys asked.
"Yeah," I said with a nod. "I have to. It's part of the job."
"Nice," the shorter guy said. "I'm Jamie. This is my friend Emmett. We were wondering if we could leave some fliers here for the carnival. See if maybe you'd pass them out to your customers."
"Carnies, huh? Yeah, you don't need fliers," I assured them. "Everyone within a 50 mile radius knew you were here about ten minutes before your trucks parked out at the rodeo grounds. But you can leave them here if you want." I knew I probably sounded bored, lifeless to these two, but really they were the highlight of my day so far. That's how pitiful and mundane my life was.
Emmett smiled a big toothy grin at me. "I like you. What's your name?"
"Ah, Bella. Not Mary Bella or Bella Mary? Somethin' catchy like that?" he asked.
"No, I'm not that awesome," I deadpanned back to him. "Why do you ask?" Clearly he'd been in Forks before. How else would he have known about the whole Mary thing? And as I looked at him closer I noticed that he seemed a little familiar.
"Nothin'. Just I noticed a lot of Mary's around here."
"Yeah," Jamie said. "What's up with that? It's kinda weird. And why are all the houses the same? It looks like someone took a fuckin' cookie cutter and made everything identical. Kinda Stepford Wives like, if you ask me."
"If you're afraid of Stepford Wives I'd suggest you stay away from the grocery store," I told him with a smirk. "Ladies shopping for food in their heels and pearls. It's not normal."
Like I said before, Forks was eternally stuck in 1973, although sometimes it felt more like it could be a flashback to 1963.
"Cool," Emmett said. "So, you plannin' on coming out to the carnival this weekend?"
"Maybe. It's not like there's much else to do here."
"Yeah, I noticed. You married? Got a boyfriend? It seems like all the girls around are taken."
Emmett watched me closely for a few seconds, then looked over my shoulder and instantly his smile was gone. That's when I heard the swinging doors push open.
"Bella, did you clean the milkshake machi-?" Rose said before skidding to a stop. "Oh, customers. Hi."
"Hello," Emmett practically whispered, causing Jaime to laugh.
"Good night, nurse! Where've you been hidin' all my life?" Jamie asked as he held his hand out over the ice cream display case, hoping Rose would shake it.
"Uh uh, no." Emmett growled, nearly pushing Jamie out of the way. "Mine."
Rose snickered a little laugh and then pulled a piece of her long blonde hair between her fingers. "So who are you?"
"Carnies," I told her. I hadn't seen her look so intensely at any guy before, but the way she was looking at Emmett had me convinced that I'd just witnessed a full fledged instance of love at first sight. I was certain it would make the front page of the Forks Gazette when she ran off with the carnival as they pulled out of town in a few days.
"I'm Emmett," he said.
"Rosemary," she replied.
"Like that movie, Rosemary's Baby?" Jaime asked with a laugh. "Dude, that was some messed up shit, right there."
I smiled at his joke. He was funny and a little off, but he seemed harmless enough.
"You workin' the carnival this year?" Rose asked Emmett as he held her hand over the glass case. He was shaking it, but it wasn't a normal handshake. It was slow and soft and lingering, like he never intended to let go. Rose seemed fine with that.
"Yeah. Me and Jaime here are workin'. You gonna come out? I could get us some extra long rides on the ferris wheel. My buddy Alec runs it. He owes me a favor or two."
Rose smiled at him. Her ruby red lips parted as the corners of her mouth pulled up into a smile and showed off her snow-white teeth.
"I think that could be arranged. You gonna be up and running tonight?" she asked.
"No, tomorrow. Be there at 8pm, and find me. I'm manning The Zipper. You can't miss it. Just look for all the lights and the long lines."
Rose's face lit up even more than it already was. "Oh, I love that ride! I'll be there, don't worry."
It was like a storybook had decided to throw up all over my life because after saying goodbye to her, Emmett slowly bent over and gently kissed the back of Rose's hand, then wished her a nice afternoon before hesitantly walking out of the shop.
"Oh my goodness," she whimpered, her hands clasped together over her chest. "He's like a dream."
"Yeah," I mumbled. "My worst nightmare."
I was losing Rose. My one source of support. My one piece of encouragement. My one bit of reality. My one chance of actually making it out of Forks and having a life someday.
I was screwed. And ticked. And then MaryJes walked in the door, sweetly yelling in her most annoying voice "Hey, Bella!" as she paraded herself and her enormous sparkler right over to me.
Sometimes I really hated Forks.
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