Stupid Volvo Owner
Chapter 18 ~ Too Much Time To Myself
I didn't expect to sleep much that night and knew what little I managed, Edward would visit my dreams. As I slept fitfully, they mostly focused on our interactions since we met. I had hundreds of questions swirling in my mind, and they bled into my dreams.
I was positive that the time he suggested I needed might drive me a bit crazy.
Spring Break was something I usually looked forward to every year. However, the timing of this one was horrible. There was no reason to see Edward in the next few days as I would at school. A part of me worried that he'd regress to his former self, somber and lonely. That bothered me.
I understood why he asked for time and distance. He wanted me to think about the idea of befriending a vampire, while Edward, who usually avoided close human interaction, had to do the same with me if we continued being friends.
I needed to be sure and it seemed he did, too. Just because I understood didn't mean I liked it.
I grumbled my way through my morning routine and headed downstairs. Breakfast was simple since Dad left for an earlier shift than usual, but I noticed that we were getting low on things like eggs, milk, and bread while I was in the fridge. Which gave me an idea of something to do to kill a little time, at least.
I would plan out the meals for the week and put together a list for some grocery shopping. I tried as hard as I could to remember some of my dad's favorites of the things I'd made for him since my arrival, but my mind was anywhere but on the task in front of me. And after an hour, I was still sitting there at the table, tapping my pen back and forth on the surface, staring expectantly at my phone. I knew I couldn't expect something so soon, but part of me was foolishly hoping—which was ridiculous. We'd barely crossed into the territory of friends, and even that was tentative at times. There was no reason for me to feel the way I did. I really hated to admit that I missed something as simple as seeing his Volvo out in front of my house, and as moronic as going over to clean his room that morning.
I growled in irritation with myself, and focused on the list again. It was the break in my routine that had me all mentally disheveled—that was all. Yeah, I really should keep telling myself that until my logical mind firmly convinces the rest of me.
Even with my distraction level, I finished the list in another thirty minutes, and I glanced at the clock on the kitchen wall. It wasn't even noon yet, so I decided to head upstairs again, and straighten up my own room for a change. I'd done all the laundry the day before, but I thought my bedding could use a washing, since it had been a couple weeks. As I was stripping my bed, I noticed the curtains looked a little dingy, so I took them down as well, making a mental note to check the ones in the rest of the house. That should be at least a two or three loads, and a few more hours killed.
The step stool Dad kept in the laundry room proved handy while trying to reach the rods in the living room and I snickered to myself, "Don't fall now. There's no vampire to catch you."
I groaned, realizing that my mind had immediately latched onto a memory of Edward again.
This is going to be a very tedious week of minute to minute planning of something to do, just to keep my mind off Edward, I thought to myself with a heavy sigh as I set to work.
Monday didn't start off too bad until full awareness hit me after waking up, and then I felt just as restless as the day before—there was no school. That really sounded strange coming from a teenager, who should be sleeping until noon and relishing in the freedom that was Spring Break. Yet, unlike most of my peers, I had made no plans for that week, since I hadn't thought much on it at all until it was glaring me in the face, and now, with nothing to do.
After taking a longer than usual shower, I sat at the kitchen table, eating a bowl of cereal and figuring out my plans for the day. Beyond the grocery shopping my dad had left the money out for as he was leaving for work, I had no idea what else to do. The stubborn side of me wanted to just head over to the Cullens' house, tell Edward that I really didn't need more time, and be done with it. However, I had to remember that it wasn't only me that needed to think, and just because I was already sure didn't mean he was. Having my phone lying on the table, taunting me with its blank, dark screen was a constant reminder of his words from Saturday night—he would call me on Friday to talk.
I stood abruptly once I was finished and put my bowl into the sink, but still found myself glancing over my shoulder to the table. The phone was dark and silent, just as it had been moments before, and it took everything in me to not scream in frustration. I stormed across the room and picked it up, lighting up the screen to find no missed calls or so much as a text message. I stared at Edward's name on my contact list for several moments, until I finally tossed my phone into the kitchen drawer, removing the temptation to message him. I had already forced myself on him once, and though it worked out in the end, I didn't want to try my luck again, and push him further away.
Patience. I'd never been very good at managing that where Edward was concerned, but I had to keep trying.
I hurried upstairs to brush my teeth and hair one last time, tying it up in a ponytail, and then into my room to grab my wallet and grocery list from my desk. When I reached the front door, I contemplated leaving my phone in that drawer while I was gone, but decided against it. Knowing my luck, it would be the one day my dad would call from work or the week my mom would do her check-in with me on the phone rather than an email. Either way, it would land me with a panicked parent, and those were never easy to deal with.
With a sigh, I made my way down the hallway to the kitchen, retrieving my phone from the drawer, and checking it one more time. Still nothing. So I slid it into my back pocket and grabbed my keys from the hook on my way out the door.
I needed to stop obsessing; I knew that. It wouldn't make time pass any faster, or Edward decide sooner, and it was completely opposite of my normal behavior. Even my dad would start to notice something was up if I didn't snap out of it.
However, Edward was not easily put aside in my mind, and he continued to plague my thoughts as I roamed up and down the aisles of the grocery store. As I methodically checked off one thing after another on my list, my thoughts began wandering again. Would things have been different if I had figured things out sooner, if I hadn't disregarded so much? Maybe we wouldn't have had the chance to connect at all, and I wouldn't be feeling as I did in that moment.
While putting the groceries away when I got home, I realized that wasn't true at all. Hadn't I felt just as inexplicably anxious when Edward had taken off after that first day of school? Even when I was angry with him and tried to tell myself it was a relief if he wasn't present, his absence always affected me in some way, without fail. What was it about Edward Cullen that drove me to such emotional heights?
He could make me angry quicker than anyone I knew, and I was usually a pretty mellow person. The slightest action of his could upset me exorbitantly, while on the flipside, a simple smile from him had the capability of simultaneously calming me and making my heart race. It was the strangest thing I had ever experienced. While I could admit that I enjoyed his company when he wasn't going all Mr. Hyde on me—and even more since I had been allowed to see some of the guy behind the mask he presented to the rest of the world—he had affected me long before I ever called him "friend", presence and absence alike.
I pondered on those thoughts throughout the night and into the next morning, when I found myself sitting at the kitchen table again. Determined to find yet another way to pass the day, I started to notice little things that bothered me. Like a layer of grime at the very edges of the flooring, against the wall, especially under the cabinets.
I decided it all could use a good cleaning and nothing but old-fashioned elbow grease would do the trick, which was perfect for me. After washing my bowl and spoon, I grabbed what I needed to scrub the floor. Careful not to break anything, I moved the rickety old table and two chairs into the living room.
Two hours later, kneeling on the floor, I wiped my forehead with my arm and dropped the stiff nylon brush into the bucket of suds. Standing, I surveyed the results of the now "so clean you can eat off it" kitchen, hallway, and laundry room floor.
Why stop with just the floors? It was just about spring cleaning time, right?
I lugged the bucket outside, dumping out the contents so I could fill it with clean water. Once there, I glanced out at the woods beside the house, and yet another memory of Edward struck me. He'd told me to stay out of them the week before, though I had never given him any indication that such a thing would ever interest me. I had thought it was strange, but now, I couldn't help but wonder if there was more behind it. Which, in turn, had me anxious for Friday to arrive again so I could ask him.
By the end of the day, my house was as clean as the day Dad bought it. At least, that was what he said when he walked in after work later that night. Thankfully, exhaustion took over and allowed me to slip into a dreamless sleep.
For the first time all week, I woke up feeling refreshed the next morning after a good night's rest, and immediately set to work on my plans for the day. I'd thought the previous afternoon, in my attempt to focus my mind on anything but Edward, about my dad. While he seemed to really enjoy my cooking, it got me wondering what he would think of my baking, and when the last time was that he had something like that. Even while he was still married to my mom, she was never all that great in the kitchen with the simplest of things.
I also knew that, though he would deny it, he did have a bit of a sweet tooth from time to time, and indulged in the occasional treat at the diner. It also seemed extremely fitting that it turned out to be a day that the air was a bit crisp from the heavy rainfall that morning. What better way to warm up the house, both in heat and scent, with the effects of baked goods.
Only when I was plating the last batch of chocolate chip cookies did it hit me that I had gone the entire time without thinking about Edward once. That, in itself, was startling, given the ease with which my mind had been drawn to him all week. Though the effect of that realization was…he was now all I was thinking about.
Had to go and ruin it, huh? I mused as I cleaned up the rest of my mess in the kitchen before heading up to my room. Reading seemed to be the best option for distracting myself—or so I thought.
I sat on the edge of my bed, ready to pick up my Austen novel, when the item beneath it captured my attention first. It was the book of legends from the bookstore in Port Angeles that had both fueled my curiosity and set me on the course to figuring out what Edward actually was. I wondered how much different the stories would read for me, armed with the knowledge that I now possessed. How the tale of the Cold Ones was more than just a one to pass from generation to generation.
With that thought it mind, I slid it out and settled back onto my bed, flipping through the pages quickly until I found the section I was looking for. Some of the details described in the book were pretty close to spot on, while others seemed embellished and elaborated to incite fear.
That illustration of the mask I saw the last time made me roll my eyes; there was no way something so hideous could be beneath such beautiful faces. The massacres described—surely, events to that magnitude would not go unnoticed. It very simply depicted them as evil and malicious creatures, with insatiable bloodlust. Monsters. Demons.
I couldn't see any of that in the seven vampires I had met. It was very difficult for me to imagine those traits in any single one of them, even Rosalie. If they were that insatiable, even an escalated decimation of the wildlife they fed on would have been noticeable after a while. They wouldn't be able to attend school, surrounded by hundreds of humans every day, without a single casualty. And I definitely wouldn't have made it out of the Cullens' house the first time, nor would my dad still be around, especially with the effect my blood had on Edward.
Also, Carlisle was a doctor, for crying out loud! Exposed to blood on a nearly daily basis for who knew how long, and nothing out of the ordinary had happened there, either.
I had no idea how long I sat on my bed, pondering every detail I reread, but by the time I closed the book, it actually felt like my brain hurt from all the thinking. My dad's voice coming up the stairs at the end of the day, commenting on the scents striking him the moment he stepped in the door, was more than welcome. I needed something else to occupy my mind with so I wouldn't drive myself crazy before Friday, and making dinner would definitely accomplish that—until I was finished anyway.
For lack of a better description, if there even was one, the week truly was driving me insane. The more I laid in bed thinking about it on Thursday morning, the more frustrated I became, with both Edward and myself. I was behaving like some lovesick teenager, moping around over some guy, when in truth, I really just missed my friend. Sure, I had other friends, but Edward was different. I actually enjoyed having conversations with him, and even the silence between us at times didn't carry the same awkward feel or need to fill them as it seemed to with others. And now I understood why things did get awkward when they did. Questions he couldn't answer. Temptations for him that were so enormous, they put my life at risk on a constant basis. I couldn't even imagine all the things I might have done to make things worse for him without even realizing it, if something as simple as my scent had nearly pushed him beyond the limits of his control.
However, was there so much to think about that it required the entirety of our break? Edward had told me that he couldn't keep himself away from me when I had no idea what I was up against, yet he'd managed it for the past four days, after I knew the truth. It was worth the risk for him when he came back from wherever he had gone that first day of school, or stopped that van from crushing me, or slipped into my room in the middle of the night, antagonized me before the accident, had me in his house, in his car, became my friend … the list went on and on.
What was so different now that I knew he was a vampire? Why had he become more confusing and seem increasingly nervous or even scared in my presence since I'd been enlightened? The biggest threat I could pose to him was my blood, and he'd managed to successfully avoid harming me in any way.
Why did he need so much time away from me now?
"Okay, I really need to find something to do. This is not helping me at all," I groaned loudly, thrusting my covers off and sitting up on the edge of my bed.
The problem was, there really wasn't much left for me to do. There was only so much I could clean before it became pointless, and I'd already passed that point. I had done the laundry already, and there wasn't enough dirty clothing from me and my father combined to even make up a full load. And the kitchen was stocked with groceries, except for whatever I'd used the day before in baking, that needed to be replaced.
Did I really want to go all the way to the grocery store just to pick up some more flour, eggs and vegetable oil? It wouldn't even kill much time, either, but it seemed like the only option that was left for me.
I showered and dressed quickly, stopping in the kitchen for a moment to grab a granola bar, and headed out to my truck. I tossed my phone onto the seat beside me, doing everything I could to not even look at it; to just go about my day as I might have done before I met Edward Cullen.
Which, on Spring Break, would have consisted of sleeping in until noon and lounging around the house for the rest of the day reading or something, unless I was visiting with my dad, I thought matter-of-factly, and I rolled my eyes at myself. I didn't need that kind of reminder that my behavior had been completely out of the ordinary that week—that was a no-brainer, and it didn't help me in my efforts to not think about why.
I was nearly halfway to the grocery store before I just couldn't take it anymore. I began cranking my steering wheel around to pull an abrupt U-turn, grateful for the absence of traffic on the road. I had resolved myself not to force my presence on Edward any more than I already had in the past, but I needed to see him, talk to him, something. It was only one day less than he'd suggested, and I knew I'd never been more sure that having him in my life far outweighed any of the risks of being friends with a vampire. I could only hope that he was at least close to the same conclusion about me.
As I made my way up the familiar drive, my stomach began fluttering. Would seeing me before he was ready finalize his decision, causing him to turn me away permanently? For a split second, I thought about changing my mind and going back home, but then realized it was too late for that. He would have already heard my truck, known I was coming, and made that decision before I even parked, if he was going to.
Time to face the music.
My feet felt as if they had lead weights attached to them as I trudged up the stairs toward the front door, hesitating there for a moment and taking a deep breath. Why did I have to be so impulsive and make such snap decisions when it came to Edward? And now, the same trait that brought us closer had the ability to sever that connection, as well.
I lifted my hand to knock on the door and it swung open before my knuckles made contact with it, and it was not Edward's face that greeted me, either. It was Alice.
"Hi, Bella," she said, giving me a small smile, but her expression did not match. "I'm sorry. Edward isn't here."
"He's gone," I said, feeling my stomach drop. He left; no goodbye, no call, not even a text message.
"Oh! No, not like that," Alice soothed me, placing her hand on my shoulder. She paused for a moment, staring at the point of our contact for a moment before her eyes snapped up to mine again. "He's gone hunting with Emmett and Rosalie."
"Oh," I said, feeling just as disappointed as before.
"He'll back tomorrow," she said, offering me a small thoughtful smile that still held that strange tilt to it. "I'm not supposed to talk to you." I cocked an eyebrow in question. She sighed, her shoulders lifting and dropping delicately. "Apparently, I can be a little 'overwhelming' at times. He's also very protective of you and he'd feel better if he was around when you're with one of us."
"Oh." I clearly had an infinite vocabulary.
She laughed softly, and I felt my face flush. Remembering where I was and whom I was with, I took a step back. Somehow, I thought Edward would be both pleased with my action and disappointed that I felt the need to do it. However, Alice didn't seem offended, and only smiled at me.
"I hadn't expected you," she said with a wistful sigh.
I shrugged, unsure as to why she would have been expecting me at all. "I didn't plan to come but…" I couldn't bring myself to admit that I missed him; not to Alice, at least. It was something that I should share with Edward, and even that was a stretch.
"I understand." She looked behind her, at someone likely behind the door or maybe someone that stood near the kitchen. She made no move to invite me inside and I thought that it was in concern for my safety.
"Can you tell him—"
She cut me off, shaking her head. "You need to tell him whatever you have to say yourself. It shouldn't come from me."
"I know," I said and exhaled sharply. I pretended not to notice the minute step back she took, making that my cue to leave. "I better go then. I'll just wait for him." She smiled and nodded, offering to walk me to my truck.
She kept her distance, politely asking about my spring break. Before I could pull away from the driveway a minute later, she said, "Bella, please stay close to home until he comes back." I gazed at her questioningly, but rather than giving any sort of reasoning behind the strange request, she tacked on another please.
She stated it so simply that I could only nod in response. It was a warning, one that Edward had given me before. Only his was to stay out of the woods. It made me wonder why I warranted another one.
The drive to the grocery store was uneventful and allowed me to dwell too much on the fact that Edward wasn't home. Despite Alice's assurance, I knew I wouldn't feel much better until I saw him again.
Tired of the constant swirling thoughts, I tried to think of other things I could to do to occupy the rest of my day. After putting away the few items I bought, I remembered I needed to make a quick stop at the post office to send the necklace I bought in Port Angeles to my mother. I took some time to put a care package together for her and Phil, thinking they would benefit from the overwhelming amount of cookies and cupcakes I made the day before. Dad and I certainly couldn't eat them all.
Once I returned home, however, I sat in my truck for several minutes, staring at my phone. I was positive that Alice would have told Edward about my visit already—would he call sooner? Possibly even come see me instead? Or had my impulsivity rendered the result I had dreaded on the way up that driveway? There was only one way to find out.
I don't need any more time. I've made my decision.
All day, I waited for some kind of response from him, compulsively munching down on cookies in my anxiousness. Yet, the only thing I accomplished was killing my appetite for dinner, and still had no word from him at all.
That night I fell asleep staring at my phone, hoping something would appear by morning. The long week and way too much sugar before bed caused my rampant thoughts to reflect in my dreams of sugar-covered cookies, speeding Volvos, and my home phone ringing with no one on the line, as I did my laundry naked. Yet, the one that finally stirred me awake the following morning was the clearest image my thoughts formed all week—Edward walking away from me.
My body startled out of sleep, but I didn't open my eyes right away. I knew I would be tempted to check my phone, and I wasn't ready for the disappointment of nothing being there. Yet, when I stretched my leg under the covers, my heel met resistance at the foot of my bed, and I breathed in deep—I knew that scent.
I rolled onto my back, my head turning slowly with the motion, and held my breath as I opened my eyes. At first, I thought I was still dreaming when they fell upon Edward seated by my feet, but once my vision cleared more, I knew I wasn't.
Dream Edward was always immaculate and stoic, not the disheveled one before me at that moment. Yet, somehow, I was still afraid to speak too loud.
"You're here," I whispered and he nodded in reply. "You got my message, then?"
"I did," Edward answered and I sat up on the bed, leaning against the headboard in preparation. "I'm sorry I'm late in responding. We were up in the mountains and had no signal. I came as soon as I could."
I waited for him to say more, but when the room was silent for several moments, I brought my gaze back up and met his eyes, confused by what I saw. He appeared more anxious than usual, and definitely had nervousness in his posture that rivaled my own, which could mean anything. I just hoped he wasn't trying to decide on how to let me down easy, and made up my mind to start first and get what I needed to say out. "Listen, Edward, I'm sure you know by now that I was at your house yesterday, and I'm sorry. I was just so frustrated about this whole thing. A week is a long time in a town like this. And about my text—"
"You said you had made a decision," he continued for me, eying me intently.
"Yes, I have." I paused, pulling my legs up from under the covers and moving closer, kneeling on the bed beside him. "It's the same one I made on Saturday. I don't want to lose this, Edward. We have come so far and made so much progress toward being friends. I understand the risks and your reasons for being cautious, but you wanted me to decide if I thought it was worth it. And the answer is yes. For me, it is."
Edward seemed to ponder over my words for a moment before his eyes fell to his feet, though the tension in his shoulders decreased dramatically. However, that did not ease my nerves as I awaited his response. "I went back and forth about it for a while. Not so much about the struggles I would be facing, but between what I wanted and what would be safest for you. I know that's not methat having me as a friend is not it, but … I missed your presence. Talking to you. Your grumpy moods in the morning." He gave a slight snicker when I growled, thereby proving his point, in a sense, and then resumed his serious expression and looked at me. "I was afraid, Bella. With you knowing, I have to pretend even less than I already felt I could with you before. I don't have to hide or concentrate so much on the camouflage, and that is terrifying. What if I got to a point that I was so comfortable with you that I became complacent, unthinking, and I hurt you? I could never forgive myself."
"I don't think you ever could," I replied instantly, shaking my head as he stiffened. "What I mean is, if my … blood … affects you the way you said it does, wouldn't that be a constant reminder for you?"
The way I stumbled over the word caught both our attentions, but I could see that he was processing what I said. "You're right," he said softly, his eyes roaming slowly over my face and landing for a second on my neck. "The beat of your heart, your scent, it serves as a reminder that you are human and that I could hurt you."
I beamed a little, feeling happy he understood what I was trying to say. "And yes, I'm aware we still need to be careful." His answering smile was tentative, but it seemed he was pleased by my words.
"I do not want to lose this, either, Bella."
Silence fell between us, but it wasn't uncomfortable, though. I sat there trying to find something to talk about, since I wasn't ready to see him go now that we agreed to be friends. Especially after the long week of not seeing him at all.
He finally broke the quiet with a chuckle. From under the cover of my hair, I could see him trying to get my attention, lowering his gaze enough to catch mine. "I can practically see your mind racing. It's written all over your face."
I hated being so obvious, but I was too curious not to ask questions. "I'm trying to figure out what's safe to bring up. You didn't seem all that happy about being what you are in the little time we have talked," I said cautiously.
Edward folded his hands together at his knees, but didn't show the usual signs that he was closing himself off from me. I was thankful that he seemed open to talk. "You are correct. There are very few advantages, and they do not entirely compensate for the rest."
The distress in his words had me pulling back a little. My mind ran over everything I had seen or taken notice of in the time I'd known him, and two things stood out the most; his speed and strength. My skin burned for hours from the wind biting against it when he ran with me in his arms, back and forth from wherever it was he'd taken me on Saturday. I still couldn't forget that rock disintegrating in his hand, so I knew how strong he was. His movement, on the other hand, made me curious, and it seemed a tame enough start. "How fast can you run?"
"I never actually clocked myself," Edward answered, seeming surprised by my question, but it didn't deter him from continuing. "I am the fastest in my family and since I don't allow anyone else to touch our fastest car, my Aston, I can't test my speed."
"Ever hear of a stopwatch? Boys and their toys. I guess it doesn't matter what you are, only that you are male and refuse to let anyone else touch your things," I muttered without thinking.
"You have no idea," he said. Before I could ask what he meant by that, he continued. "You said you were trying to figure out what's safe to bring up with me. For the most part, I'll answer anything."
Though he appeared and sounded sincere, I was sure there were still things he would keep from me. I wanted to know how honest he could be with me, but I didn't get the chance to ask him.
He moved his head toward my bedroom door. Something caught his attention. His lips thinned a little before looking at me again.
"Charlie's waking up. I should go," he said, standing from my bed and making his way across the room.
"Do you want me to come tomorrow?" I asked, averting my gaze. After all, it would be Saturday again, and I still had most of the debt left.
He whispered my name, forcing my eyes to lift again, and I looked at him standing at the window. His back remained to me for a moment, before he turned and met my gaze. "Yes."
The instant I saw his hand on the windowsill, I knew I didn't want our time to come to end just yet.
"Can you answer one more question?" He seemed amused and nodded. "Are you ever going to tell me what really happened to my truck?"
The corners of his mouth unevenly tilted to form a mischievous smirk, and then he was gone. "Edward!" I hissed softly, detecting his soft chuckle from just below the window.
"I'll see you tomorrow, Bella. Have a good day."