A/N: Hope you guys like this one! Follow/Favorite if you haven't already!
"Mommy did you k-know what g-grade I got to-d-day?" My ear-splitting grin widened as he went on and on about his science grade, even if we were in different parts of the city; I was happily applying the last of my makeup when he began to describe the saltiness of The Villagio's private sandbox.
"Tony." I interrupted. "I told you not to eat sand anymore! It's yucky." His daytime tutor, Mrs. Norris, was as oblivious as she was intelligent- why in the world had Edward hired her as Tony's private tutor if she didn't know how to properly care for a child?
"It w-was in t-t-the name of science!" He breathed the last word out and I was so proud- I tried everything from kid's books to timeless poetry, the way my father learned how to take away his own stutter, but all he was really interested in was an old encyclopedia of police codes he found in my supply closet.
"Did you say your bedtime prayers yet? And brush your teeth?" Maybe I sounded like an old hen, but I doubted Edward would time from running the world to remind his son about valuable pre-sleep habits. When he consented to both, I said my goodnights and promised to take him to the zoo's new exhibit the next day off I had right before the receiver was suddenly passed off.
"It's Edward." Why did those two words make my skin all tingly and my spine shiver so suddenly? They were just meaningless greetings, what was my problem? "Hope I'm not interrupting any important business." There was a teasing edge to his usually stern voice, to which I chuckled awkwardly on my end of the line.
"Um, no." I spluttered forcefully, knowing he'd expect more from me than weird, un-ladylike chortles of laughter.
"Antonio mentioned a birthday party outside of Chicago. Your father's, am I right?" I swallowed nervously at the no-nonsense way he was speaking now. Before I could reply he continued. "I don't allow Antonio out of Chicago, mostly because he's safest here in the city with the security team and my person just a call away." I reeled in my disappointment and frustration at his statement, knowing the fact that he wasn't actually my son meant I had no control over this situation or these types of things. I really wanted Tony to come with me but I hadn't even invited him because of this- Tony didn't need this kind of damper and cold realization placed on his shoulders.
As far as he and anyone he met knew, I was his mother and he was my son… I didn't want his oaf of a father to ruin that sweet story for him! "You understand what that means, don't you Isabella?" Ah, good ol' robot Edward Cullen.
I sniffled quietly, silently chastising myself for ruining my mascara. "Yeah, of course. Tony's safety comes first, I get it." My voice cracked towards the end, which hadn't happened to me in a very long time; I was usually excellent in stressful or disappointing conversations, having dealt with the type of father I had, and so I never showed my true feelings so openly. But I couldn't help it! I had gotten my hopes up, thinking for a moment that Edward would trust me a little more… was it because of what happened at Starline Nightclub? Was he using something that wasn't my fault at all against me?
My dad and stepsiblings basically ran the police station in Avila, where I grew up! It was a small, sweet little town with barely over a thousand residents- not to mention the fact that it was still in the state of Illinois, not too far from here. It wasn't like I planned on taking him across the country or something!
He was silent on the other line for a second before a deep sigh left him, his tone softer than before. "I apologize if I came off strong, I only-"
God, that seemed to hurt even more. He was giving me pity, talking to me like I was fifteen year old girl that had missed her chance at concert tickets or a cute boy's attention! It was more than I could take.
"I said I understood." I snipped back at him, staring at the mask I painted on myself that night from the mirror. "Tell Tony I'll see him soon. I've got to go-"
Edward cut me off before I could brush him off effectively. "Isabella, I'm not doing this to hurt your feelings." The tone of his voice was so tender, so soft that I imagined if he were in front of me he would have reached out to caress my face. But I balled my free hand into a fist and stayed firm, reminding myself that he hadn't trusted me or approved of my status as an adult in Tony's life. Don't let that beautiful voice trick you into being submissive; I had to remind myself silently. "If it's any consolation, I'm sure we can think of a few ways to make this up to him." He said playfully, but I winced when he said 'we', as though he and I were on the same page about it. Yes, I did say I was… but that was just because I would have sounded stupid and immature if I disagreed!
"Okay, Edward, I need to get going. I'll call Tony tomorrow when I get the chance." And before he could say another word, I hung up the cell phone and tossed it on my bed. I rolled my neck back and forth, trying hard to dispel of this negativity before the night began. Despite his brutish words, I knew he meant well… but I just couldn't stand tripping over the technicalities of this situation! It wasn't ideal at all, and it was sort of my fault for being too kind with a stranger… but when Tony looked up at me with those sweet eyes and called me Mommy, I just knew there wasn't ever gonna be a good enough reason to walk away from him.
And it certainly didn't help that I kissed his dad last Sunday, beginning a whole new tirade of confusion and mixed emotions. I was close to pulling my hair in frustration when my cell phone dinged, a message alert flashing over the screen. I scrolled down the menu and clicked on the new message, furrowing my unplucked brows when the unknown number popped up.
Hey Bella, I know this is sudden and sort of random. But I really need you to stop by tomorrow, or tonight if you can. It's Karly.
I read and reread that message for almost an hour before considering what I would reply with. It had almost been a week after what happened at the club, and I sort of just wanted to forget about that entire incident- but on the flipside, Karly had been so friendly and kind to me that night following up to the incident, as I now referred to it.
Is everything okay?
I tried to brush off the treble of worry I started to feel when she didn't reply immediately, so I instead started to slip on my platforms and was fighting with the ankle strap when my phone dinged once more. I snatched it from the counter and fought the shake of my hands when I clicked on her message.
Just promise you'll visit? She's not doing so well. I think she just needs to see a familiar face.
Of course, I knew immediately who Karly was talking about. I hadn't see Rosalie's face since that night but everyone at work hadn't left me alone about her- where's Rosalie? Why isn't she at work? Does this have anything to do with that club shooting? Have you two talked lately? Our coworkers were nonstop persistent but it wasn't like I was hiding any secrets, seeing as I hadn't seen or heard from Rosalie and Karly since Saturday. I had thought that maybe they just needed their own space, and it wasn't like Rosalie liked me all that much before all this happened. We were civil coworkers at most, and so I didn't feel the liberty to bug them or check up on either of them… but as I went over the message again, I typed without further thought.
I'll be there in a few mins.
I grabbed my keys and coat before throwing myself into the car, thinking up a few different excuses I could give him for our canceled date. He would probably be pissed and wouldn't want to see me for the rest of his stay, but I just couldn't let myself down by choosing a guy over a coworker, who obviously needed someone to be there for her. Even though someone like Rosalie would never admit to needing anyone, Karly wouldn't have messaged someone like me unless she was desperate for friendly faces.
Rosalie's townhouse was quiet literally a few minutes drive from my place, though it took some serious thinking to remember which one was hers. As stated before, our interactions had always been limited so it wasn't like we were best buds that threw sleepovers on weekends at each other's places… I picked her up for work one morning, so that was the only reason I even knew the area. With a little luck, I knocked on the white and gold trimmed door of 332 and Karly's sweet little round face appeared behind it, a cheekful of something sweet in her mouth as she greeted me. "Thanks for coming so soon." She said after swallowing her treat and offered me one from a small tray but I declined, feeling too unsettled to eat anything. Karly strolled to the staircase before passing me a strained smile. "Rosie! You have a visitor."
"A visitor?" Rosalie's roguish reply was nothing like what I witnessed, her tone so hateful and full of contempt. "Make them go away, Karly! I don't wanna deal with anyone's bullshit." She yelled back down, not even making a physical appearance. Karly cleared her throat before hopping up the stairs, speaking in low tones to her girlfriend for what seemed like endless awkward minutes before coming back down, that same cookie cutter smile plastered on her shiny cheeks.
"Come on then, she'll be down any minute." She beckoned me with a hand and I followed her accordingly, and again refused some more treats as I sat down in a plush recliner. I twiddled my thumbs as Karly struck up friendly conversation, looking at me as if Saturday night hadn't happened at all. Maybe that drove Rosalie crazy, then? Here she was, stressing her brains out and Karly was being so sweet and innocent… not that I faulted Karly for her demeanor. It was better than having the girl cry her eyes out for days on end. "I was telling Rosalie that-"
"Telling me what?" Rosalie's voice cut through the civil tone of conversation we had going. My eyes immediately shot to her appearance, which was odd. She seemed to be in pajama bottoms and a tank top, a wrinkled robe slung over her shoulders- and to anyone who knew Rosalie would immediately blanch. She was always the epitome of put together, meticulous, picturesque… but the woman before me looked drained and tired, no longer caring what she looked or sounded like. "What, Karly?" She snapped at her girlfriend for no apparent reason, except when I followed Karly's eyes and I soon mirrored her face. "Don't you have a cake to bake or something?" I averted my eyes to avoid seeing the hurt flash in Karly's eyes and further more, I couldn't take the scolding heat from Rosalie's glare anymore.
Okay, so she hated me. Either because I was here when she obviously didn't want visitors or because she felt like I endangered her girlfriend in some way, I couldn't tell. Maybe both?
It wasn't until I heard Karly's sniffling presence scuttle out of the living room that I looked up again, only to get caught up in those blue pits of fiery hell. "Well, look at you." She pursed her lips as she looked me up and down in that demeaning way only a mean girl could. "Off to date another married man tonight or what?" There was no joking edge to her voice like usual, and I knew exactly who she was referring to.
I dug my press-on nails into my palms until there were eight little half-moon crescents imprinted there. "He isn't married." I bit out, but remembered why I was here in the first place. There was always a next time to argue about Andy's marriage status... I was here for her, whether she liked it or not. "Look, Rose, I'm not here to argue about stuff like that."
Rosalie snorted and brought her glass to her lips, taking a healthy sip before lounging back in her seat. "What exactly are you here for, then?"
I couldn't very well say, your girlfriend asked me to come see you as soon as possible and seeing as I feel sort of guilty about last weekend I felt the need to cancel my date and stop by. The chances of us being civil and calm after that would be like two percent at best. "To say hello." I said at last, not knowing a good enough lie to supply her with.
Rosalie sent me a wicked look, the pristine features of her twisting in a cruel way. "Right, right… Saint Isabella felt the need to see if I was okay. Tell me, what version of this are you going to take back to everyone at work? Let's see, you could say I was doing good and just needed some personal time… or you could exaggerate the whole thing and preach about how you and I had a heart-to-heart, wherein I realized what fabulous friends we've been all along." Her tone was beyond biting- it was downright vicious. "Maybe you can even tell everyone how terrible I've been to my girlfriend-"
"I'm not gonna tell anyone anything!" I snapped at last, feeling my face go red with the amount of spunk my words had. She was my superior and had every power to make my life a living hell when she came back to work. But I couldn't stand her like this for another second! "I'm worried about you, that's it! Karly must be going insane with you like this." I licked my lips wearily, not knowing why I was suddenly so cotton-mouthed but pushed on. "And you are being terrible to her- for no good reason at all!" My chest was heaving up and down with the pent-up emotions I had this entire week, not daring to spill one morsel of it to anyone else. "She loves you so much, you can just see it on her face- besides, who else would have stayed with someone so bitchy if they didn't love them?"
"Shut up!" Rosalie growled. "You know nothing about the realities of living with someone you love-"
"Maybe I don't." I jutted my chin out, not letting her jabs slow me down. "But I damn sure know how it feels when the person you love treats you like dirt. It hurts, Rose. It hurts a lot." She stared at me unblinkingly, as if she wasn't sure I was really in that room with her. Her eyes were bloodshot but still that beautiful blue everyone was envious of; just how many of those glasses did she have that night? "You're hurting the last person that gives a shit about you." I added insult to injury, hoping she would just get the hint and relent already. From what Karly had said that night, Rosalie didn't have people over very often and even fewer phone calls from friends and family alike. It was as if once they moved in together, family and friends dropped from their lives like flies.
"What do you even know about love, Isabella?" Her eyes were unmoving but the quiver of her upper lip spoke words she seemed incapable of. I couldn't even answer her, because that was a damn good question. What did a clueless, twenty-something like me really know about love? I knew it hurt, I knew it wasn't meant for everyone… and maybe I was learning what it felt like to truly experience it.
She threw back the rest of her drink, catching my eye as she went. For the first time since I knew her, I made her squirm slightly in her seat. "Stop looking at me like that." She spat.
"Like what?" I spoke through clenched teeth, not really sure why I hadn't just up and left already. She obviously hated me now and there wasn't anything I could or say that would change that. "Like you're making the hugest mistake of your life?"
Rosalie pursed her lips against her glass, not even really looking at me anymore. "Maybe." She's okay, you know. Rosie's strong; I don't think she'd ever take another sip if it killed her… I shut my eyes when Karly's voice from that night came floating back to me. She had been so confident, so proud as she spoke of Rosalie's sobriety. "Four years…" Rosalie's voice was watery, so close to madness or perhaps sadness, I couldn't decide which one it was. "Four fuckin' years without even a whiff of it…" She glared down at her cup, as though it had done all of her misdeeds, "down the drain. This stupid fuckin' glass ruined everything for me."
I slowly got up and chose a seat next to her, close enough to reach out and touch the cup she was currently trying to set on fire with just her thoughts. "Don't think of it that way." I started softly, taking the empty cup from her and balancing it on one palm. "It's just a cup, a pretty one at that." I chuckled softly, trying and failing to bring humor into this. I wasn't ever good at consoling people or giving useful advice… but I tried to tap into the soothing way my father spoke to people, and the caring eyes Tony gave me when he pretended to like what I was talking about.
So I took a deep breath and continued. "All you gotta do is keep it empty, Rose. And then everything goes back to normal. Karly stays and your son looks up to you again, and everyone at work stops wondering about you… and all those kids at the community center, who's gonna teach them to like, fight or whatever is you teach them to do? You don't think they miss you?"
She looked at me then, a string of salty tears falling down her cheeks and into the curves of her lips and chin. And the smallest smile started on her lips, like a tiny ray of sunshine that breaks away from a blanket of rain and grey clouds. "Who's gonna teach them to, like fight?" She mimicked my words, making me laugh for the first time. I knew I was a bit out of touch with MMA or UFC or WWE or whatever the hell Rosalie did with all those kids. But Karly had gushed about how much Rosalie was involved with the community and how much she loved spending time with her son and all the kids down in Rhyer's district.
It was important to her, that was obvious.
"Point is," I shot her playful look that said 'shut up', "they need you. Karly needs you, your son needs you, the kids need you…hell, I need you to come back to work and whip people back into shape." Another chuckle left her, probably without her permission, and I took that as a good sign. "Besides, if you're not around, who's gonna remind me not to date married men?"
Rose sobered at that, not liking the fact that I pointed myself out to make her laugh. "I'm sorry about that, Bella, I just… my temper got the best of me these last few days. And I-" Before she could apologize again or say anything else, a timid knock on the door interrupted us and Karly poked her head in. I suppose she expected Rose to have me in a chokehold or everything in sight to be broken, so when she saw the both of us sitting so close to one another and smiling it took her aback.
"Oh." Karly Woods was caught between blissfully happy and silently shocked, and much more when Rosalie rose from her seat and made her way to the wonderfully delightful woman at the door. Without as much as a warning, Rosalie took the love of her life in her arms and quite literally kissed the daylights out of her.
I smiled and looked away, not feeling as awkward as I did intrusive. This was obviously a private thing for them, patching everything back together and here I was just sitting in their living room watching. Before I had to witness anymore "patching everything back together" I stood up and gathered my things, intent on going home and washing off all this stupid makeup before sleeping in my cold bed. "I'll see you guys around, then?" I offered awkwardly, sidestepping their love fest. It was sweet really, but I was just a distanced friend- I was the last straw Karly could pull to try and help Rosalie. I wasn't a family friend or bff.
I was just Bella from work, and so I made my way to the door, feeling happy enough that at least Rosalie had listened to what I had to say. "Bella!" Karly's voice stopped me as I pulled open their front door; had I forgotten my keys or cell phone or something? I looked up expectantly, not prepared for her disarming smile and shining blue eyes. "Thank you." She mouthed the words, Rosalie's hand resting on Karly's waist. I nodded and sent her a short smile, suddenly feeling very emotional and then angry with myself. Why was I taking this so personally? It wasn't like me at all to be this way.
Angie and her husband had been more than friendly to me all this time, and Tony had certainly given me enough heart-stopping kindness to fill up my heart. So why did the interactions between Karly and Rosalie suddenly make my chest clench up in agony? "You'll come by for dinner soemtime, right?" Coming from Rosalie's mouth, the friendly suggestion almost came out like a command.
But I smiled at the sentiment behind it. She never invited anyone over, ever. Karly had made sure to remind of that fact last week. "Sure, boss." I replied cheekily, promising to stop by soon before finding my way back to my car.
It was late now, too dark to take a stroll through the park or browse the mall. But there was a place I had in mind that had never been too late to visit.
A/N: who was she meant to meet that night? What do you guys think of emotionless Bella's breakthrough? Rosalie's fall off the wagon?
I was trying to be as respectful to the real world as possible when writing this… but I know some of my readers are more politically correct than others. So if anything offends you, I apologize.
But I do like the way I wrote this chapter.