Suggested Listening: 'I Might Be Wrong' by Radiohead
Tickle My Morbid Fancy
"Take that look off your face this instant!"
"You pull a stunt like that again, son, and you won't have a car to get yourself home."
Great, when did they discover tag teaming?
"I told you! She just freaked out and ran off before I could stop her, mom!" I continue uselessly trying to defend myself. That's not a complete lie. Bella did freak out, and she did run off. I just left out the part where I yelled at her while questioning her sanity.
We've been arguing- or rather my parents have been accosting me- in the living room for the better part of an hour. I can bet that meanwhile, Bella is upstairs eavesdropping with smug satisfaction.
My eyes narrow at the thought.
After our little debacle on the roadside two days ago she didn't come home until this morning, leaving me to explain exactly how I'd managed to misplace an entire girl.
"Your story would make a little more sense if you could explain the cause of this mysterious 'freak out'," mom persists.
"I don't know. She's just… odd, okay?" For reasons that I'm not entirely certain of, I've decided not to divulge the almost-accident. Not yet, anyway. I'm thinking she probably doesn't want them to know, which puts the ball in my court and gives me something to work with. Not to mention, I still have her post-it note with the truck's plate number.
I don't plan to blackmail her exactly; it would just be nice to get some answers. For example:
Where does she go in the early hours of the morning?
Who is that ponytail guy?
Is she serious about not graduating?
Finally, where the hell did she stay for two nights?
I'm certain this list will get exponentially longer at the expense of my own sanity. I therefore need to start getting some answers as soon as possible.
"Can I go now?" I ask impatiently, the pressing obligation to sulk looming.
"Yes, I suppose," dad sighs, "but this isn't the end of it, Edward. We'll get to the bottom of this sooner or later."
Yeah, good luck with that.
I drag my feet all the way to the foot of the stairs and retreat to my cave. When I stroll into the room, I find little Miss Bella Swan sat on my fucking floor with my fucking laptop balanced on her fucking knees.
I turn and walk away.
My penchant for foul language has increased tenfold since meeting Bella.
She's got some fucking nerve talking about 'personal space', when she clearly doesn't understand the concept herself. She's purposely going out of her way to piss me off, that much is clear.
I make it halfway down the stairs when I hear her call, "Edward, Edward, wait a sec!"
"What?" I snap and swing around in place on the stair to glare back up at her.
"I… I'm sorry," she's apparently lost her nerve. "I thought you were out."
"Oh, well I guess that makes it okay, then? Cause you thought you wouldn't get caught doing… whatever it is you were doing?"
"No… I guess not," she answers lamely and looks down at her feet. "I'll ask next time, I promise."
"Next time?" I scoff, "there won't be a 'next time'."
Bella looks vaguely panicked, before she nods her head meekly and decides to retreat along the hall into her own room, opposite mine.
Oh, no you don't!
Inspiration strikes, and I follow right after her up the stairs, stopping the door with the palm of my hand before it swings shut. The thud of the impact makes her turn to me with wide eyes as the door bounces back open.
"What are you doing?"
"Oh, I'm sorry, are we not sharing? Thought I could use your bed, maybe borrow some lip-gloss? Do you have anything in a pink shade?"
"I don't own lip gloss."
Well, that wasn't the smart-ass response I was expecting. Stumped, l look around, taking in the odd appearance of the room.
"Where's all your stuff?" There's no girly shit on any of the surfaces. No clothes or makeup strewn about like I'd expect. It doesn't even smell like her- not that I know what she smells like, but rooms tend to reflect their inhabitants, and this one still looks like the guest room.
"I told you, this isn't my home," she answers cryptically.
"Yeah, about that…?"
Bella doesn't take the hint.
"Fine, you can keep your secrets, but I if you want that plate number you're gonna have to start playing ball." I threaten. Maybe I'm playing that card too soon? I wanted to be more prepared; have my strategy planned out.
Bella laughs, she actually laughs. "You might want to find a better hiding spot, then," she says, reaching in the back pocket of her jeans to pull out the now crumpled post-it note. She waves it in the air, her eyebrow raised.
"The amount of porn you own is offensive, by the way," Bella adds, before swiftly moving to the ensuite bathroom. She disappears inside and closes the door behind her, effectively shutting me out again.
~ X ~
"Do not call me that, Alice."
Really, why can't people just call me by my name? Does that whole forced familiarity thing ever actually work?
"Whatevs, do me a favour, yeah?" she asks casually, taking a seat at the breakfast bar opposite me. I resent the way her group share the same stunted vocabulary, Jessica included.
"What?" I mumble around a mouthful of cereal; my morning fix.
"Bring Bella home with you after school? I have to go to Jasp-"
"Are you fucking kidding me?" I interrupt. She has to be. No way am I setting myself up for that fun-fest again. A week later and mom and dad still have to let it drop.
"Pleeeeease?" she whines in that specifically female tone designed to force assent, that naturally makes men wince.
"Nope. Not a chance."
Alice pouts, placing her chin in her hands on the counter to frame the fluttering of her eyelashes more effectively.
"I said, no. She nearly killed us the last time."
"What are you talking about? You're such a drama queen."
I don't bother to elaborate, and instead roll my eyes.
"Please? Just this once? I don't want her to walk home with some crazy murderer on the loose."
It's my turn to look puzzled, "What?"
"The Quileute thing."
"Yeah, I still don't know what you're talking about."
"Are you joking? Oh my god! Do you like, live in a box?" Her eyes are bright, like they always get when she's about to depart news upon the tragically uninformed. "Some guy was murdered down at the reservation! They found him in the woods last night! It's all over the news!"
My whole being sits up to pay attention.
Holy shit! A real-life, actual murder? Here?
It's disturbing how excited she sounds. My sister clearly shares the traits of a sociopath. I figure my excitement is ethical, since it stems from morbid curiosity, but hers is simply from the gossip it will yield.
"Murdered?" A mix of scepticism and hope tints my voice, "are you sure it wasn't just a hunting accident? An animal attack, maybe?" I'm fully aware of this town's fondness for Chinese whispers.
"No way! He was stabbed like a bajillion times," Alice exaggerates, "I don't get how you missed this! This crap is what you live for, right? And don't you have that stupid police radio, or whatever?"
"It's a police scanner, Alice," I correct, "and I haven't used that thing in years. Nothing ever happens here. You know that."
Please let the batteries still work.
"Ugh! So true! I can't wait for college in the city." The fact that she doesn't even know which city she's referring to doesn't stop her from picturing it dreamily, before she continues, "so, Bella? You'll bring her home?"
"Wait, where was this?"
"The dead guy? I told you, in the woods."
"But where in the woods?"
"I don't know."
"Where was it near?"
"The reservation, I don't know."
"Well, who was it?"
"I don't know."
"Who called it in?"
"I. Don't. Know." She sighs, frustrated with me, "Really, Edward, do you see me wearing unflattering nylon? No, because I'm not on the police force!" She huffs. "Will you take care of Bella, or not?"
"Fine, but you owe me." I may have issues with Bella right now, but that doesn't mean I want her to get axe-murdered or anything. I'm not a monster.
"Great! You're the bestest!" Alice squeals, pleased at getting her way. She asserts her rapid mood swing by leaning over the counter to kiss my forehead quickly.
"Yeah, the bestest." I mutter to her retreating form as she leaves the kitchen. I drop my spoon in the cereal bowl with a clang. At least I know today won't be dull. Not if Alice's revelation is correct, and certainly not with Bella around.
~ X ~
I arrive at school early for the first time since mom decided to let me try on the big boy pants and escort myself. I'm eager to speak to Jess- her dad being the police chief and all- but her car isn't in the lot, and I know she didn't get a ride with Alice today.
Undeterred, I awkwardly try to insert myself into the conversation of a group of football players congregated around Tyler Crowley's stoner van. Butting in unannounced probably isn't the best way to interact with these douchebags, but I'm desperate for details and have no time for social conventions. They sense the intruder, and turn to stare at me like I have a literal dick on my forehead.
"Soooo… you guys talking about that murder down at the res?" I ask, nonplussed.
"You're such a weirdo, Cullen," Tyler proclaims, like this is brand new information.
"Yeah, we've established that. What do you know about the murder?"
"Actually," Newton interjects, "We were just discussing the fine piece of ass that is Bella Swan."
"She'd get it." Eric announces casually.
Lucky girl. What a privilege.
"Yeah, man. She's got that tight little bod. Like, small… like hot-Asian small," Mike agrees, attempting to make up for his lack of articulacy with lewd hand gestures.
They all nod and grin.
"Hmmm, those pouty lips will look perfect around my co-"
"Shut the hell up!" I blurt, cutting Tyler off. I unconsciously curl my fists at my side. They take in my posture, my tight jaw, and are initially taken aback before they begin to laugh in a Mexican wave.
"What's wrong, Cullen? Pissed cause you'll never get in those panties?"
This is why they hate me, I know, it doesn't take a genius to figure that out. In simple terms, they can't comprehend how someone not on one of their gay little teams- someone who actually studies and thinks for themselves- can still get laid when he needs to.
I resist the urge to inform them that I could, in fact, get Bella's pants off in a heartbeat. I resist the urge because I'm better than that, but mostly because I know it's a lie and she'd rather chow down on razor blades than spend five minutes in my company.
"Yeah, I'm just dying to add incest to my portfolio." I reply dryly.
Bella is nowhere near close to being my sister- either biologically or legally- but maybe thinking of her as such will prevent me from mentally plotting her demise in the future.
Apparently my retort is sufficiently witty enough to shut them up for a second. "So, do you know where it was? Who it was?" I try to salvage something from this stunning display of social interaction.
"Morning gentlemen." A feminine voice calls from behind us.
Sweet baby Jesus, I've never been so happy to see Jess in my life. I grab her by the arm immediately and pull her from the crowd. She almost trips from my manhandling, but my curiosity won't let me feel guilty for it.
"I know you're dying to spill, what do you know?"
"Um," Jess looks up into my eyes, bewildered, "did Esme buy that weird coffee again?"
"What? No. Come on, I know you know about it."
"I presume you're talking about that poor Quileute guy?" she asks, and I can see she's silently judging my excitement- the exact same way I judged Alice earlier.
"Yeah." I try to sound less enthused… for her sake.
"Um, I don't really know. Daddy said it was one of the locals. His buddies reported him missing so they went to check his house and there was blood, like, everywhere." Her face scrunches up in disgust, but an intriguing kaleidoscope of potential blood spatter patterns flits through my mind.
"And…?" I prompt.
"Well, they got the sniffer dogs and stuff to search for him, and eventually they found him like half a mile from the house in the woods. Whoever it was literally dragged him the entire way."
"What kind of idiot bothers to dispose of the body, but leaves the crime scene intact?" I laugh in disbelief, prompting a glare from Jess.
"Someone gets brutally murdered and all you can think about is how they could've done it better? You amaze me, Edward."
"Sorry, but you have to admit that's murder 101, right?" I second-guess myself when her scowl remains in place, "Sorry," I clear my throat, "Who was it?"
"They haven't caught him yet."
"No, the victim." I clarify, although I doubt it will take them long to find a suspect with a stupid ass mistake like that.
"Um, Embry Call?" she asks, but I shake my head, not knowing the name, "He was a big tribe member, in his forties I think, but luckily he didn't have a wife or kids, or anything."
I wonder if he thought that was lucky when he was alive?
"That's all I know." Jess says, raising her hands at either side of her head to abruptly end my line of questioning.
"Really. Come on, Sherlock, we're gonna be late."
~ X ~
"I need your help."
A worn photograph of a young girl and an older moustached man appears on the pages of the book I was invested in. My eyes flit around the cafeteria briefly, before they settle on Bella's face directly opposite me. Opposite me… looming over the vacant table I'd rather keep that way.
"You're going to make me say it again?" she asks, her face clearly expressing her intolerance.
I don't reply straight away, and instead look back to the photograph. The subjects are atop the hood of an all-too-familiar-looking red truck. Their close embrace and warm smiles display their familiarity and apparent happiness.
This is Bella, I realize. This is Bella and her father.
I feel a momentary pang for her loss.
"Whist I admire your compulsion to be right, I can't see how I can help." I say as I move my fingers to pick up the photograph, but she quickly snatches it back with an almost panicked expression.
I'm gathering Bella has issues with sharing.
Sharing her things with others, of course, not sharing others' things.
"I want it back… the truck."
I sigh as I watch her hide the picture away in her bag on the floor. She slides into the seat next to me. "Bella, we might live in a nice house and all that shit, but Carlisle keeps us on a short leash. I don't imagine I have any more money than you do." I answer honestly. Sure, we have decent trust funds, but for now we settle with the 'realistic' weekly allowance dad sets. 'Boundaries for real-life' or some bullshit like that.
I try to look in her eyes as I say this. The sooner she believes me, the sooner she'll leave the table and leave me be. She holds my gaze and bites her full lower lip. Naturally, my eyes send the electrical impulse to my perverted hypothalamus, relaying that: 'Hey! This girl is fucking attractive, stand to attention!'
"I know that," her voice breaks my gaze from her lips, "I don't mean buy it. We have to take it back. An eye for an eye." She shrugs.
"I didn't realise you were into the Bible."
"I'm not, asshole, but he deserves it, it's a victimless crime."
"Bella, that's what guys who have sex with dead bodies say."
She waits a beat before continuing, completely ignoring my rebuttal. "You've never had something taken from you? Something… irreplaceable?" Her words are slow and purposeful. I think she knows what she's doing.
Immediately I can't breathe.
In. Out. In. Out.
It's not fucking working.
Seconds pass. I'm hopeful my internal struggle isn't as blatantly obvious as it feels.
"Edward, he stole it from me. I'm only taking back what's mine." She adds hopefully.
It strikes me that she thinks I've taken the bait. I haven't, she just took me off guard by playing on my weakness. The fact that she's using my- our family's- loss as ammunition and trying to manipulate incenses me and I stand to leave the table abruptly.
Many of the students surrounding us turn to the sound of my screeching chair as it pulls back. The echo lingers, and more turn to gape.
She tilts her face upwards as I take steps to approach her slowly, clearly getting in her personal space, since I know she's so fond of that.
I hope I'm as intimidating as I feel, but probably not.
"You steal that truck and I'll report you so fucking fast it'll make your head spin."
"Why?" Her simple reply is more swift and direct than anticipated. She's not scared.
"You crossed a line." Her eyes are questioning, but not remorseful like I'd hope. "You know what you just tried, don't play fucking dumb."
She's a better liar than I initially thought, because she still looks confused. "Don't talk to me. Stay out of my stuff, and stay out of my business," I assert bluntly and turn to walk away.
I realize eyes are following my retreat to the exit, but I really can't bring myself to give a shit.
~ X ~
Massive, gushing thanks to Chrisska, Landdownunder and OrdinaryVamp. again! And thanks to YOU for reading! :D
Think Edward is being a whiny little bitch? Think Bella needs a new hobby? Let me know! I love reading your thoughts and questions!