A/N: I don't own this. We all know who does. What I do own is a box of cream puffs. I really wanted the Ben and Jerry's Late Night Snack ice cream, the one with Jimmy Fallon's face on it and the chocolate covered potato chips in it, but then I thought no... I don't need that. And I really should share with my children. But oh, Jimmy's so cute... :)
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Rose and I sat in the living room watching a movie. Something About Mary. Seriously. Even the cable company out of Port Angeles that supplied Forks with television was in on the joke. They showed The Mary Tyler Moore Show at ten o'clock every night. They'd aired I Love Lucy reruns for a while, but then Mary showed up and that was it. My mother watched it every night, laughing and reminding my father about the good old days. Ugh, she was weird sometimes.
"You wanna head down to the rodeo grounds? I saw the lights on when I was driving over," Rose said as she grabbed another handful of popcorn.
"I should probably wait until Mike gets here. If we're gone when he shows up, my mother's likely to invite him to stay the night and then start schooling him on the acceptable and preferred diamond shapes for engagement rings."
Rose made a gagging sound. "Are you shitting me? She really thinks you're gonna marry him? Why would she want that for you?"
"I guess she figures that whole homemaker life is good enough for her, so why wouldn't it be good enough for me, you know? Not that there's anything wrong with it. I just don't wanna sell Mary Kay for the rest of my life." I turned to her with pleading eyes and grabbed onto her wrist. "And promise me now, if I ever start talking about wanting a pink Cadillac you'll shoot me. A bullet right between the eyes. Got it?"
"Yeah, whatever," she laughed. "That might be a little messy, though. Maybe just some rat poison in your vodka. I'm sure you'll be a raging lush by that point."
She was right. I'd have to be a full-blown boozer to be able to endure that lifestyle.
Soon there was a knock on the door and I heard my father's heavy footsteps as he tried to hurry down the hall. Poor guy... He certainly didn't have the body of a high school quarterback anymore, though he couldn't quite make himself understand that. Too many apple pies, apple tarts, apple crumb cakes, and caramel apples were really getting to him. He told himself if it had fruit in it, it wasn't fattening. Obviously he was delusional.
After several seconds Mike made his way around the entryway corner and into the living room.
"Hey!" he said, then let his smile fade away when he saw Rose.
"Hey to you, too, bucko," she grumbled, then turned back to the TV.
Mike hesitantly sat down next to me. "What's she doing here? I thought we were going out."
"Oh, well it's her time of the month and she's really hormonal, so I was afraid to tell her to leave," I told him with the straightest face I could muster. Just as I thought, he shirked back from me ever so slightly. Guys didn't like to hear about periods. They just didn't. Plus they knew that if their girl was on hers, there'd be no sex for a week. The thought of no sex horrified most guys, even the ones who weren't having any. Mike was no exception.
"Bella!" Mary Jane yelled as she came barreling down the stairs. "I thought we heard your bedroom door close earlier. I wanted to come say hi but Jasper had just got my shirt off and his mouth felt so good on my nipples. He does this tongue thing where he-"
"Bleh, bleh, bleh!" I yelled as I crammed my fingers into my ears. "I don't wanna hear it. Why do you think I came down here?"
"Oh, sorry," she giggled. Clearly, she was high as a kite. When a very relaxed Jasper made his way down the stairs a few minutes later, still buttoning up his shirt, I knew I was correct.
"Bella, baby, let's go. That carnival isn't going to set up itself," Rose said with a huff when the movie ended. "Besides, they're playing Mary Poppins next, and then it's So I Married An Axe Murderer. I've seen both of those like ten times so far this month. Why couldn't The Brady Bunch have had a frickin' kid named Mary? Gilligan's Island had Mary Ann, but how was anyone supposed to notice her when Ginger was parading around in evening gowns all the time?"
I turned to Mike. "I need to go. When she starts rambling like this, it doesn't stop. Ever. Hormones and all. You understand."
He nodded rapidly, then stood from the couch. "Um, I guess I'll see ya later then," he mumbled before making his way to the front door and letting himself out.
"Ugh, gone. Finally," Rose said as she let out a dramatic breath. "Let's go!"
"Where are you going?" Mary Jane asked.
"Uh, we're going to the rodeo grounds. The carnival's in town and they're setting up tonight. We're gonna go watch."
Mary Jane started to bounce up and down as she clapped her hands. "Ohhhh, can I come? I love carnivals!"
"Alice? Hello, are you in there? Can I talk to Alice now?" I said, squishing her face between my hands.
"Silly, it's me!" she said with a giggle.
"The carnival doesn't start until tomorrow. They're just putting together the rides tonight. We're going to watch the hot guys sweating and straining and over-exerting themselves. You sure you can sit still long enough to watch with us?"
"Yes, yes, YES!" she shrieked. She quickly kissed my brother who was lounging back in the recliner, his eyes glued to the TV, then ran to wait by the kitchen doorway.
"Mary Jane, you packin'?" Rose asked as she moved across the living room, eyeing me in a way that said "Get your ass up off that couch and let's go find that hot hunk of man who came in and made me swoon today!"
"Aren't I always? Grade A, Washington's finest. Daddy doesn't mind if I scrape a little off the top sometimes," Alice replied.
Nice. Mary Jane had some mary jane and we were going to watch sexy men. As we loaded into Rose's car I had a sudden realization – this just might end up being the best night of my whole, entire life. Well, other than that one night. The night with Tony. That was the best, and probably always would be. Especially if I never got out of Forks.
The rodeo grounds were easy to spot from any place in or around Forks. Other than the high school football field, they had the highest light fixtures in town, and when the lights were on you could see them from miles away. It probably helped that the rodeo grounds were located on the top of a hill and surrounded by forever green pine trees. When the lights came on it almost looked like the little mountain was wearing a bright, shining crown. It was beckoning us to come closer. It was calling to us to hurry up. It was almost teasing us with the idea that maybe it could be a space ship here to pick up willing human women who wanted to leave Earth and let naughty space men have their wicked, dirty way with them.
Hey, I'd seen the Enquirer Magazine. I knew women gave birth to alien babies all the time. Sadly in Australia they had to guard those babies from dingos, but whatever. In Washington all we had to worry about were vampires, or werewolves, or something. Yeah right, like they're waste their time in Dull Ville, USA. Even vampires would want more excitement than Forks offered. The ghost of Elvis, though... He might enjoy Forks. The diner downtown did make a pretty great fried peanut butter and banana sandwich. Just ask my dad. He knew all about it, though he always sweet talked Cora into adding some apple slices to his. That way it was fat free.
We parked a little ways down the hill and walked up to the bleachers that sat next to the arena. We weren't really supposed to be there, but come on. Seriously, nothing else to do in town. What did they expect? Several carnival rides sat in the open area that stretched out before us. Some looked to be put together already. Others looked like they still needed a lot of work. Men scrambled around from ride to ride with their tool boxes. We could hear them yelling to one another, and their language was by far the most colorful I'd ever heard in my ancient young life.
We sat half way up on the metal benches, looking down at the men. Some were wearing uniforms. Others, you could tell, had gotten warm and had pulled off their shirts. A few wore tank tops and a few other's wore sleeveless shirts. Nearly a dozen were completely bare chested, and Rose and Mary Jane were mesmerized. Not me. I liked long sleeves on a man. Tight, longer sleeves. I would happily admit that the tight was so I could see their bulging muscles, but ugh... yeah. The guys in front of us were okay to look at. There didn't seem to be anyone that swept me off my feet, but Rose soon spotted Emmett and the three of us girls decided to focus on him and his friend, Jamie.
"Doesn't there seem to be something familiar about Emmett, Rose?" I asked. I still couldn't shake the feeling that I knew him.
"I don't know," she said as she watched him and sucked on a lollypop. The way she was twisting her tongue around it was almost indecent. The way Emmett was watching her was probably why he kept whacking his thumb with a hammer. Ugh, stupid men. So easily enticed.
"I'm serious. Haven't we met him before?"
"Bella," she said as she let out a huff, "don't you think he would have said something today if we knew him? I mean, he's a carnie. He's not from around here. How would we know him?"
I thought about what she said. She was right. How would we know him? We'd never knowingly hit on carnie's before. Gawked at them? Sure. Yelled sexy things at them across parking lots? Of course. Flashed a few of them from the top of the ferris wheel? Um, yeah, what girls didn't do that? I decided to just let it go. Emmett didn't act like he knew us, so he probably didn't. Maybe it was the Mary Kay hair dye sinking into my brain and making things all fuzzy.
As the men started to wrap things up, Mary Jane pulled out a J and lit it up. "Oh, oh, gimme!" Rose whispered excitedly as Mary Jane sucked on the end of the little white roll.
"Hang on, let me get it started."
After we'd all had a few hits from it, Mary Jane put it out and stuck the leftover half into her shirt pocket. "Yeah, that's good stuff," she sighed as she leaned back onto the bleacher behind her. "Nobody grows boom like my daddy."
"Fuck, yeah," Rose said. "Mary Jane, if that mama of yours ever runs off, just send that daddy of yours to my place. He's hot."
Mary Jane and I laughed. Her dad really was good looking, for an old guy. But her mom was freaky and kinky and gorgeous. It was no wonder Alice turned out the way she did.
"I'm gonna hit the head before we go," I told the girls, then slowly made my way toward the port-a-potties that were lined up behind the bleachers. The last thing I needed was to fall down the bleachers in my current pot-haze and have to explain myself to my town sheriff father. It was dark once I got down there, and I knew it probably wasn't the safest thing for me to be going alone, but it was Forks. Nothing bad ever happened in Forks. If it had, maybe my dad would have worked off some of those apple desserts and I wouldn't be thinking about having to order him new uniforms. Again.
Once I was done – and trust me, I hovered because damn, spiders in port-a-potties are no joke and no one wants to be hauled into the emergency room with a spider bite on their ass – I headed back to my girls. The only thing was, they weren't there. I sat down on the bottom bleacher and waited, hoping they'd be back soon. Most of the carnies were gone, but a few of them were still standing around in groups. Soon enough I heard Rose's laugh, followed by Mary Jane's giggling and then the deep throaty laugh that I remembered hearing from Emmett earlier that day. Pulling out my cell phone, I decided to check my email while I waited.
"Pretty girls shouldn't be sitting alone in scary places," a voice said from behind me. I jumped a bit as I turned around to see who it was. Most of the overhead lights around the arena had been turned off, so it was quite a bit darker than it had been before, but I could see the shape of a guy leaning back across the bleachers a few rows above me.
"Why do you care?" I asked. He let out a short laugh.
"You got a death wish or somethin'? You really shouldn't be walkin' around under dark bleachers all alone at night."
"Yeah, well, it's Forks. Nothing ever happens here."
He was quiet for a minute. "You mean nothin' bad ever happens here?"
"No. I mean nothing ever happens here. Period. And I don't think anyone would really give a shit where I walk around."
"Maybe my boring, loser boyfriend. But that's probably only because I'd be messing up his plans of popping out babies in the next few years."
The man was silent for several seconds, then from the corner of my eye I watched as he lit up a smoke. "So you got a boyfriend, huh?" he asked. There was something in his voice. A tone I hadn't ever heard before. It seemed nervous, or jealous, or disappointed. I wasn't sure.
"Technically, yes. But only because I don't have a better option. No one else is asking."
"What if you had a better option?" he asked as he leaned forward and placed his forearms on his knees. The cigarette glowed between his fingers and I tried to make myself focus on my cell phone as I scrolled through my email inbox.
"I don't know," I told him. "Honestly, I had one once. But that was a long time ago."
After a few minutes of nothing, he stood from the bleachers and walked down them, moving past me and stepping off onto the ground. "You enjoy the carnival, Little Beauty."
My heartbeat quickened in the instant he said that. Little Beauty. I hadn't heard that name in a long, long time. Only one person had ever called me that before. But he was gone, he never came back, he didn't want me like I wanted him. My mind had blocked out so many things about him that I couldn't recall much, but there were things... a few things I clung to. Poetry. Sweetness. Embarrassment. Copper colored hair. Little Beauty.
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