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Suggested Listening: 'Come Undone' by Greg Laswell
Tab ‘A’ into Slot ‘C’
When you're over the age of twelve, it's pretty much a given that any whispering going on behind closed doors will no longer have anything to do with birthday parties, surprise trips to Disneyland, or a new bike. It will, however, have everything to do with unwanted changes in your life and the drama that always accompanies them.
The 'D' word is the big one to look out for in these not-so-low-key conversations, but I like to think Esme and Carlisle are pretty solid these days. They're more co-dependent than ever- thanks to their marriage counsellor and her encouragement of certain... sexually deviant behaviours that I'd rather not elaborate on. Really.
So, in the Cullen household it's the 'A' word that triggers the alarm.
This simple word immediately makes me roll my eyes.
I already have two siblings, both of whom I'm certain were adopted in an attempt to replace my first, my twin Lizzy.
Naturally I miss her every fucking day, but honestly? I don’t need another Alice or Emmett to fill the void. Thankfully, it appears mom is on my side for this one.
“I'm not saying 'No, period,' I'm just... it's so out of the blue.” I hear her whisper from my hiding place just outside the kitchen. Okay, maybe I jumped the gun a little there. I wish for once she wasn't such a doormat, but I get the basics of their relationship. He manipulates, while she bends willingly.
“Darling, she's been through so much already! We can't very well just throw her back into a group home now, can we? What kind of people would we be? Refusing a child help that we could so easily give?”
“I know, I know, but we hardly know anything about this girl. She could be a junkie now, or a thief! I wouldn't want to bring that kind of influence around the kids. They've been doing so well lately.”
Jesus, this is like tuning into a show halfway through. You don't know what the fuck is going on, but desperately try to prove how clever you are by working it out.
“We know that she's been through a horrendous experience with no-one in her life to provide the support she desperately needs. Isn’t that is all we need to know?” He pauses, waiting for her response. When she falters, he continues, “Look, we're not committing to anything major, sweetheart. It'll just be a temporary foster agreement at first; testing the waters, okay?”
Do they teach that in Persuasion 101? Act like it's a done-deal to secure your victory?
“I don't know... I ...” She sighs. “I just don't want to risk hurting her further. If it doesn't work out-”
“Please,” He pleads, lowering his voice and bringing out the big guns. “She could help us find Lizzy.”
My sharp intake of breath, accompanied by the sound of my body slumping against the wall, alerts them to my presence.
Shit, shit, shit.
I scramble to move before they can identify exactly which one of their nosy-ass kids has busted them. Wow, the stairs are further away than I remember, and the hardwood floor is way more slippery underneath socks.
I end up doing a floor slide that Tom Cruise would be proud of... with a finish that he wouldn't be. I catch my ankle, allowing the smashing of mom's vase to punctuate my non-escape nicely.
Stupid tiny tables.
“Edward! What are yo- that vase was your great-great-grandmother's!” She huddles down at my side, completely ignoring any injuries I might have incurred, and gasping at the broken shards in disbelief.
In true form, dad gets straight to the point, “What were you doing loitering in the hallway, Son!?”
“I wasn't 'loitering', Sir." I get up and dust myself off dramatically. In my peripheral vision I see my mother picking up the miss-matched pieces of the vase, comically trying to fix them together in the air. “I was simply taking a stroll in my own home when I just happened upon my dear old parents conspiring to fuck up our family”
“Language,” Mom mutters, apparently giving up on the heirloom and sitting back on her heels.
“Obviously,” He clears his throat, “you have no idea what you’re talking about, but if you consider helping someone in need to be a ‘fuck up’ on our part, then we’ve clearly failed somewhere in your upbringing.” Ugh. As if he doesn’t call my mother the nastiest shit in bed. I almost gag.
“Well climb down off that cross for a sec and explain it to me, yeah?”
“Not now," He glances at mom. "We'll discuss this as a family when it's appropriate. Come on, dear, I'll send it in for repair and it'll be good as new, don't worry,” He soothes, pulling her up to him.
He can shove that pointed look he just gave me up his ass; they shouldn't be sneaking around and keeping secrets in the first place.
~ X ~
The fateful “Sit down, kids, we need to talk.” line is never uttered by either parent, but a week later dad comes home from his shift at the hospital with the aforementioned delinquent hobo in tow.
Needless to say, their first thinly veiled attempt to replace Lizzy after her disappearance hadn't turned out how they'd planned. Alice's dark features and fickle personality bear no resemblance to Lizzy's light and introverted demeanour. This, however, this small girl shrouded in my stolen hoody and sweatpants, reminds me of her even less. I know this good little deed will look awesome on dad's 'Human of the Year' application, but she's creeping me out and smells like my grandpa. My dead grandpa.
“Kids!” Mom interrupts my observations and moves swiftly next to the girl, placing an awkward arm around her shoulders, “This, is Isabella.” She beams, “She'll be staying with us for the foreseeable future, so I'd like you all to make her very welcome whist she settles in and gets the hang of things.”
I look over at my established siblings in the crude assembly line we've formed in the lobby. Emmett looks vaguely amused, while Alice- against my expectations- has her nose crinkled up, looking mildly disgusted. I honestly thought she’d be thrilled at the prospect of a shiny new sister, but Isabella clearly doesn't meet her standards. Hobo is neither shiny, nor new looking.
“Do you have any luggage, sweetheart?” Mom asks, turning to Isabella and disregarding our lack of enthusiasm.
“No.” Dad intercedes, “You two can go to the mall this week and get all the things you need.”
Don't forget to salute, mom.
“You can keep the clothes,” I offer, under the pretence of kindness. The tensing of her posture tells me she hasn't missed the insult, and I smile at the fact that at least she's not dense.
“Okay!” Dad says, releasing a deep breath, his hands making a single, loud clap, “Who wants to show Isabella to her room?”
“Well?” He prods. Eyeing each of us.
“The shower is that way,” I point with my thumb over my shoulder before turning and ascending the stairs with a wave. I hear mom scold me as I make my way to the third floor, half-expecting her to follow and give me an informative lecture on the value of manners and respect. Twenty minutes later it becomes apparent that she has her hands full with other, more fragrant things. So I settle in for a lovely night of forensics and porn. My favourite.
~ X ~
Hello, cloudy summer morning. Please leave.
I wake fully and roll over in bed apathetically. The few days since the golden child arrived have passed uneventfully. I've barely even seen her, and I'm starting to think that's a good thing. Instead, I've had to tolerate mom's gushing over 'What a sweet girl' she is, and 'You should take her into town, I know you'll get along swimmingly, she's so smart'. Man, you'd think it was her who'd brought Isabella- sorry, Bella- into our lives.
Dad has barely even acknowledged her existence, which is more than a little confusing. The same applies for Alice and Emmett. Although to be fair, they've both been gone most of the summer, undertaking their socially acceptable activities, with their socially acceptable friends.
Me? Never changing. Ever present.
I'm pulled from my thoughts by a knock at the door.
“Um, it's Bella, Esme said to give you these.” Her voice is muffled and foreign.
“Whatever, come in.”
I don't make the effort to move as I hear the door open and her quiet footsteps approaching. It's a good job I didn't kick the covers off in the night.
She clears her throat loudly, “Stop being an asshole. Where do you want them?”
I lift my head up by my neck, remaining on my back and raising an eyebrow at her unexpected lack of timidity.
“Well, aren't you just a bowl full of sunshine?” I retort, taking in the folded hoodie and sweats in her arms, “And I said keep them.” I allow my head to fall back and sink into the warmth of the pillows, closing my eyes and wishing she'd just leave me alone to take care of my morning wood.
“Yeah, no. I don't have rabies or whatever it is that offends you, and they've been professionally dry-cleaned. Which is fucking ridiculous, by the way. Who dry cleans sweatpants?”
“Fine, just leave them on the end of the bed and go.”
The door closes a moment later and I lazily sit up to find that she's just dumped them on the floor, right where she was standing. Literally just let them drop out of her hands.
Okay, so I guess I deserved that for being a bit of a dick to her, but I'm really not a morning person. I wonder idly if that's a good or bad thing. I mean, Ghandi and Nelson Mandela fall into the 'Morning Person' category, right? I, on the other hand, am stuck with the likes of Hitler and Juan Arreola as a 'Night Person'.
Jesus, I need more things to fill out my day.
I'm pulled from this second bout of musing by the sound of 'My Humps' blasting from the tiny speaker in my phone. It's been a while since I've heard that particular ringtone, and so, against my better judgement, I answer it; or rather, my dick answers it for me.
“Baaaby!” I hear the shrill greeting and cringe into the receiver, rubbing a hand over my face and scratching my belly absently.
“Jess... I told you not to call me that.”
“Oh! Sorry, I just... I thought maybe you'd find it funny now. Y'know... after your little tantrum or whatever before?”
“It wasn't a tantrum, and it will always be too soon.”
“Alright, alright, 'baby' is no more!”
“Great, now we've cleared that up... again... what do you want?”
“Edward, you really do need to get over this whole...” I can practically see her waving her arm around in circles, “thing... you have going on. It's not cute anymore, and you know it only works in romcoms and romance novels, right?”
“That fucking 'thing' is my personality, Jess. So number one, I don't have to do shit. Two, I told you to stop reading that deluding crap, and three.... I have stuff to do” I lie easily.
Wait, no, I don't lie. Jerking off and re-organising my DVD’s totally counts as 'stuff'.
Jess is one of the few friends I have in Forks, and although she's a year younger and Alice's best friend, we still have fun. I know her great rack has a lot to do with that, but she also has an original thought every once in a while too, which helps. “Did you break up with Mike yet?” I tease, “Want me to make it all better?”
“I can hear you smirking through the phone, idiot, stop it.” I laugh because she's right. “And no.... on both accounts. Thank you very much. I told you I'm done with the ‘giving and no getting' routine.”
“Oh, please! You get plenty.”
“No, I got half. The sex is no good without the love. Everybody knows that.”
Oh god, I can't.
I actually snort, “And Mike Newton loves you?” This shit is golden. The guy loves getting his pole wet and his mother's mac 'n cheese. That's it.
“Well... no,” She fumbles, “not yet, but he will because he's not an idiot.” She insists.
“Don't patronize me, Edward!” She huffs, “Anyway, that ship has sailed and I'm not calling to talk about us, so stop being self-involved for a sec and gimme the deets about the Swan girl!”
“Huh?” I wrack my brain. “You mean the old police chief's kid?”
“Duh! Daddy says she ran away from a group home and she’s come back to Forks after all these years! He says they found her curled up on the porch of that old house and Carlisle just brought her home like a stray cat! Is it true!?” she barely takes a breath, and I cringe at the excitement in her voice.
Jess's dad is the current chief of police, and I'm pretty sure he shouldn't be running his mouth off to his daughter; especially with the way she lets hers flap.
Chief Stanley got the job when the previous chief, along with his wife, were brutally murdered in their home. Their daughter was taken, and Carlisle was always convinced it had something to do with Lizzy's disappearance, since the incidents were only weeks apart. Both stories were a media sensation, especially when Bella- against all expectations- was found half-dead at the side of a freeway near the Canadian border months later.
I'm so fucking stupid.
“Bella is Isabella Swan?”
“Um, yeah.” She says like it's the most obvious thing in the world, “So she's there!? It's true!? How do you not know her freaking surname!?”
“We haven't quite bonded yet. Our Hair-braiding session is pencilled in for next Tuesday.”
“Whatevs, just tell me about her! What's she like!? Is she pretty!? Is she smart!? Is she-”
“Jesus, slow your roll, woman. Why aren't you calling Alice about this?”
She sighs, “Because she's otherwise occupied at Jasper's. You'd know that if you weren't such a deadbeat brother.”
Point taken. I really can't argue with that.
“Sooooo, get to the answering! You're killing me.”
“Oh, um.” I try to remember her questions, “Er, smart? Mom says she is.” But that's my mother.
“Continue...” She states all shrink-like. I honestly wouldn't put it past her to be taking notes.
“Er....” Pretty? It occurs to me that I haven't actually looked at Isabella properly. I mean, the first time I saw her she had on my over-sized hood and her long brown hair all over her face. I guess I've seen the back of her head a few times, so, more hair. This morning I noticed she was kinda scrawny looking. With long hair. “Er...” I stall, “She's... small?” It comes out as a question.
Small is a good adjective, right?
“And she has hair.” I add.
“And...?” Jess pushes, not satisfied with my elaborate description.
“Aaaand, I don't fucking know, alright!?”
I also don't know why I'm so high-strung today. I'll admit the words 'chipper' or 'perky' have never been thrown around in reference to me, but still.
“Okay! Don't bite my head off, I'm just curious!”
“Well, you'll see her at dinner tomorrow afternoon, won't you?” Jess has been a staple at our Sunday lunches since we moved here from Chicago five years ago. “If you really can't wait until then you'll just have to hunt Alice down,” I say with a tone that I hope isn't as short, but still says 'Now leave me the fuck alone and hang up.'
“Your useless.” She goes quiet, as if that's supposed to make me spew out Bella's life story.
“Yeah, I am. I'll see you tomorrow, bye.”
I hang up before she finishes her word and fall back into the pillows with a sigh. Looking at the time on my phone I realise it's actually not a cloudy morning, but a cloudy afternoon.
Shit, how did I sleep in 'til twelve-thirty?
You'd think knowing how much of the day I'd already wasted would make me sprint for the shower. No, I manage to snuggle in the sheets for a further twenty minutes contemplating how my bed is my prized possession. Along with my Volvo- yeah, laugh it up- it's one of the few things in this world that perfectly serves its purpose. Unlike most people.
~ X ~
The day remains dull until I make my way back upstairs, having been evicted from the living room by Emmett.
“Sorry bro, flat-screens were made for sports and tits, not autopsies and fingerprinting.” He says, stealing the remote.
I shake my head at the fool. Forensics and criminology are completely valid interests; he just doesn't have the mental capacity to grasp that. I'd rather be a science nerd than a quarterback any day. Plus if he actually paid attention he'd realise that the chicks in my shows are still actresses. As in, hot actresses solving crimes. Simple logic.
Reaching the door to my room, I open it to find Bella.... wait, Bella?... stood by my night stand. She literally freezes on the spot with the keys to my beloved Volvo dangling in her small hand. The expression on her face would be funny if I wasn't so shocked.
“The fuck are you doing in my room!?... With my keys... In my room!” I fume.
She doesn't move or speak. Just stares back at me stupidly.
She finally snaps out of it. “Er... um...” She fumbles, dropping her arms at her sides and looking away awkwardly, “I, er... I needed the keys to the garage. Esme said I could use your old bike, but I didn't want to wake her, so.”
“Ooookay...” I don't buy it for a second, the girl can't lie for shit with those shifty eyes. “Well if that's the case, what the hell do you need a bike for at stupid ‘o clock in the morning?”
Is she a high-functioning sleepwalker or something? The thin shorts and tank she's wearing are definitely not compatible with Forks' weather. Her nipples are already protesting… not that I’m complaining.
“Can't sleep. Thought I'd burn off some energy.” She shrugs, making my eyes move from her modest chest to her face. Before I can stop it, an idea of another way she could burn off the energy forms in my head.
I slap my hand over my face and shake my head side-to-side, desperate to get the image out of my brain.
No, no, no, no, no, no, NO!
When I reopen my eyes a moment later I cautiously take another glance at her face. Her expression has morphed into something that I assume she thinks passes as nonchalance.
Yeah, not at chance sweetpea.
I move towards her, and snatch the keys out of her hands. It doesn’t escape my notice that she recoiled when I approached, but visibly relaxed when I moved back.
Calm down. I’m not that mad.
“Here.” I say, holding the garage key out to her after taking it off the ring. No way am I giving her the entire set. She doesn’t waste anytime grabbing the metal out of my hand to quickly dart passed me.
My brow furrows as I watch her retreating form disappear around the corner.
Well that was… weird.
Shaking my head I decide not to waste any time thinking about it. I grab a quick shower, jerk off to the image of erect nipples, and head out onto to the balcony attached to my room for a bedtime smoke. The air is chilly as hell on my wet head.
Forget lung cancer, I’m gonna die of frost bite in this climate.
I light my cigarette and lean over the edge of the railing, resting on my forearms and looking out into the surrounding woods. A few moments later I hear the distinct sound of gravel crushing under tires.
Lo and behold, when I lean over the railing further I see Bella peddling down the drive in the dim light. She’s at least put on a sweater and some pants, but this is still Forks, man!
Oh yeah mom, I chuckle to myself, she’s real fucking smart.
~ X ~
*Deep breaths* Hope you enjoyed it, I’d love to know your thoughts!
Until next Wednesday...