Disclaimer: I do not own the characters, but I love playing with them
Thanks: I'd like to give special thanks to my beta AlicesWhiteRabbit and also to The Triangle of Curls girls who supported me through this journey. A special thanks to those of you who have donated to this special cause.
Love and prayers go out to those suffering from this disease. To those I've personally lost to this disease, I miss you and love you all.
The feel of the fist nearly impaling my stomach makes me want to curl in on myself, a nearly impossible feat with my arms being held behind my back. The gust of air is released from my lungs in a whoosh, and I feel lightheaded for a minute. I shake it off; I won't give these guys the satisfaction.
"Not so tough are you now, Masen?" The huge goon in front of me laughs.
I struggle against the two holding my arms. "Tell these fuckers to let me go, and we'll see who the tougher of the two of us is."
They all laugh as Paul pulls his fist back to hit me again. I can hear his approach before the fist can connect.
"That's enough, Paul," he says calmly, snapping his fingers at Quil and Embry. I fall to the ground, narrowly avoiding smashing my face. Rosalie would be pissed if I showed up tomorrow with my face bruised.
"You've been avoiding me, Edward," Jake says with a sigh. "I'd hoped it wouldn't have to come to this."
"I'm working on it. Can't you cut me a break?" I ask.
He scratches his head lightly, as if considering something for a moment. "I really liked you, Masen. You swore you could double my money, and I believed in you. I'm disappointed. But here's what we're going to do. You have three months to come up with my original investment of five thousand dollars, and we'll call it square."
I inhale sharply. Three months isn't that much time, especially for that much money, but I'm in no position to argue with him. I pull myself up off the ground. "Deal," I say, reaching out my hand to shake his. "But if any of your goons come near me again, on your orders or not, the deal is off."
He shakes my hand. As I walk by Paul, I flinch in his direction, and he cowers back. I chuckle darkly. "Just what I thought, you're a fucking pussy if your prey isn't being held down."
I continue walking down the alley and out to the street. I rub my hands together and try to think where I can get my hands on that kind of cash. It's not really my fault the purchase of the shop fell through, banking issues; it's why I had to go to Jake in the first place. God knows you didn't want to deal with The Pack on a normal day. I considered—but only briefly—going to my dad. The thought of him telling me, for the millionth time, that if I tried this—taking over this shop instead of following in his footsteps and going to med school—it meant I was on my own. I just didn't need to hear that right now. Guess I'll have to come up with something else.
It was a mistake to try and move by myself. I was exhausted. The thought of anyone helping me though, and seeing how bare my house was, was mortifying. Keeping up with the Joneses was sure hard on a girl. I should have stayed in my fully furnished apartment instead of buying this house when I had nothing to put in it, but remembering the conversation I had with my mother last month was a stiff reminder that things had to change in my life.
"Isabella," she'd huffed, "why are you still in this shitty little apartment when all of your friends live in beautiful houses?"
I didn't have the guts to tell her that I was sinking already. She'd only remind me that she'd wanted better for me than my chosen career and that I'd wasted my time on my art. Art was my passion; I wanted to do a job that I loved. Yes, sometimes it didn't pay the bills, and I had to eat ramen noodles more times than I could count, but I'd sold some stuff and had another gallery showing coming up after the wedding. Hopefully, I'd sell enough pieces to get some furniture, and plates, and a blender. Hell, you get the picture.
If it made my mother happy to tell her friends that I'd just purchased a lavish townhouse and show them pictures of how beautiful it was and how successful I surely am at what I do, then who am I to argue. I'd disappointed her enough in my life.
I brought the last box in from the bed of my run-down truck—the next to go on my mother's list—and set it down in the middle of the empty room. The shear size of it was overwhelming to me, and I could feel the lump growing in my throat. I refused to cry. I would have to come up with some way to furnish it quickly. I could only hold my mother off for so long before she wanted to tour the place.
I needed a stiff drink, a bath, and then bed. I suddenly realized I had no bed to sleep in, no glass to drink out of, and no bath supplies. I sunk to the bare floor and cried.
Weddings blow. It's not that I'm against the institution of marriage, but why can't they be shorter, with less posing for pictures, and less bloody fucking speeches. Right now, Rosalie's fifth cousin once removed is enlightening us as to how often Rosalie picked her nose when they were five. Jesus Christ, she's been going on for a solid ten minutes, and she's only bridesmaid number seven. Who the hell needs seven bridesmaids? Especially when you consider that she had not one but two maids of honor. That's nine fucking speeches I'm going to have to sit through for the bride's side alone. Not including the seven groomsmen, the two best men (of which I am one) and the fucking parents. If the waiter doesn't come around soon to refill my drink, I might seriously consider offing myself. Wouldn't it have been easier to just have a select few people give a speech and that's it? Do we really need to know that Rosalie stuffed her bra in the fifth grade before finally growing the ample breasts she has today? I surreptitiously check out her tits; she's got a nice set now. Jasper sees me checking out his sister and elbows me in the ribs. I grunt in pain. They're still sore from the beating they took yesterday.
"If Emmett catches you checking out his new wife's tits, I don't think you'll make it to the dance part of the program, my friend," he whispers with a chuckle. "He'll kill you."
"Not my fault the cousin made that comment; she has a nice rack." I shrug my shoulders in response. "Speaking of nice racks, who's the hottie sitting beside Alice?"
"That's Bella," he answers. "Rosalie's former stepsister. They remained friends after their parents split, and she just moved into a new house in the area. She came here about a year ago from New York."
I take another glance at the brunette goddess and wonder why I've never met her before. She's small in stature but taller then Alice, which honestly isn't hard as the girl is a midget. She's got dark hair that I can only imagine is long since Rosalie insisted that all the girls have their hair up and curled the same way. I watched her walking down the aisle earlier, and the way the dress clung to her curves made my pants tight. She had a rocking bod and killer tits, and I wondered if she'd want to hookup with me later, take me back to her place.
Bridesmaid number seven was finally at the end of her speech, and the nearly five hundred guests applauded politely. The master of ceremonies took over to announce the next speaker, and I looked frantically for the waiter. He was still nowhere in sight. I sighed; somebody just shoot me now.
By the time the speeches were over, I had moved past slightly tipsy to straight up buzzed. I was glad when they finally served dinner, or I would have been tanked by the time the dance floor opened up. Why they couldn't have served dinner during the speeches was beyond me. Emmett held Rosalie firmly in his large arms as they swayed back and forth, and I couldn't suppress the sigh. They looked so happy, so in love. Jasper was whispering in Alice's ear, no doubt reminding her that they were next, and my eyes welled. Why couldn't I have that? I wanted a love like that. Something all consuming. I wanted someone beside me to support me, someone I could support. I wanted a partner, an equal. I was only 23, but I could feel the cat lady moniker already looming in my future. I couldn't even support myself properly let alone somebody else.
"Looks like we're up next," someone whispered in my ear, causing me to jump.
"Ex-excuse me?" I asked, turning in my seat to see Emmett's other best man behind me.
"Dancing," he replied, pointing with his beer toward the dance floor. "It looks like we're up next. What did you think I meant?"
I blushed furiously for letting my mind wander in the direction it had. "I wasn't sure," I mumbled.
He grinned at me, and I couldn't help but notice how hot he was; a feeling of lust surged somewhere deep inside of me. My thighs involuntarily clenched. Good Lord, he was hot. I needed a fan.
"Isn't it tradition for the wedding party to dance?" he questioned, loosening his tie. "Surely Jasper will want to dance with Alice, so I figured you were mine."
It was really pathetic that my heart skipped a beat when he said I was his. God, I'm such a loser. He held his hand out toward me and said, "Shall we?"
Taking his hand, I let him lead me to the edge of the dance floor.
"I have to warn you now, I'm a really bad dancer," I told him. "I'm sorry for any harm I may cause."
"It's all in the leading," he said, grinning cheekily at me.
We stood side by side waiting for the DJ to announce the wedding party dance. I kept glancing at him out of the corner of my eye. I didn't know much about Edward Masen, just that he'd been Rosalie's friend since her father divorced my mother and married Edward's Aunt Esme. They would always hang out together at family functions, and it was through Edward that Rosalie had met Emmett. They had hit it off pretty much right away and had been together ever since. It was through Emmett that my former stepbrother Jasper had met Alice and through Skype that I was able to keep in touch with them all. Edward was a mystery though. He really seemed to keep to himself, and I wanted to know more about this mystery man. I had lived in Seattle now for a year but had yet to meet him. I found myself hoping that we'd be able to get to know each other better.
Edward loosened his tie further and undid the top button on his dress shirt. I noticed that he had a tattoo of a noose around his neck. That was weird; interesting, but weird. I wondered what it represented.