Good morning lovelies!
So happy to see you all back here after last week! :)
A hug to my beta and good friend, MC!
I sighed deeply and closed my eyes, waiting for the sound of departing footsteps.
But I didn't hear them, instead, I heard my handle twist and my door slowly creak open.
I held my breath and kept my eyes closed. It had to be Rose coming to check on me and honestly, I didn't want her to see me like this; she'd seen enough of me blubbering this vacation. It was painful enough living it, but having her see me a complete mess again, and pity me, would be so much worse.
I felt someone lean over me, automatically I took a deep breath through my nose and I smelt him. My eyes desperately wanted to open and find out what the hell he was doing. But I couldn't give in and let him of all people see me like this, so I pretended to be asleep. I knew if I acknowledged him it'd be just that much harder to watch him walk away.
His fingers delicately ran over my cheek as he leaned in close. I could feel his warm breath on my face.
"I'm so sorry I couldn't be enough for you, baby girl," he whispered low, so I could barely make out the words.
Then his finger left my cheek and I felt his lips lightly brush against my temple and linger for a few moments before he pulled away completely. But not before I felt a wet droplet fall on my cheek.
His thumb slid softly over the apple of my cheek as it wiped the wetness away, making a large lump form in my throat. I wouldn't have been able to speak even if I'd wanted too.
My heart pounded wildly in my chest and I stayed completely still, as I listened to him leave my room just as quietly as he'd entered.
I shuffled out into the hallway after waking up with what had to be one of the worst headaches of my life. I needed to use the bathroom, which was the only reason I got up, as I was completely emotionally and physically exhausted. As I walked toward my destination, the pounding in my head just wouldn't give up; it seemed to reverberate through my skull with every step. What a hell of a night.
While out there I saw his door wide open. I knew he had left for good; it wasn't as if it should have been some kind of shock to me. But nonetheless, seeing his pristinely made bed and his things gone made a hollow aching hole emit in my chest. My memory was still crystal clear regarding what had happened earlier this morning. The skin on my cheek still burned from where he had touched me, my forehead still tingled from his soft kiss, and my heart still fluttered from his tender words, but none of that changed the way he felt or the fact that he'd left me here reeling from his rejection.
I sighed and kept walking, on the way I found Rose's room in the same fashion, but I wasn't about to fault her for wanting to spend a few nights with the man of her dreams. I loved Rose and even though I was hurting, she needed some time to herself. We'd be back in school soon enough and maybe this damn ache would be gone by then.
It was still fairly early when I made my way back to my bedroom, a bit refreshed and drugged with Tylenol for my headache, so I decided to lie down and try to rest for a while longer.
When I woke again it was to the light sliding through the rift in the curtain. My pillow had finally dried from the copious amount of tears I'd shed. I groaned as I stretched up from the bed. It was a new day and I was going to put everything Edward behind me. Or at the very least I was going to try. Try like hell...
I slipped on my robe and walked slowly down the stairs. My body was achy from all the crying I had gone through last night. I figured it was more than likely that I was dehydrated. I stumbled into the kitchen and got myself a mug from the cupboard.
Coffee wasn't the best option when I was dehydrated, but I was going to have some anyway, because if not I would be like a zombie all day.
Sleep, it barely came last night and really it wasn't restful at all, I think it was just more of an unconscious state that I was put in when my body finally took pity on me.
Carlisle was sitting at the table reading the paper still, so I knew it couldn't be that late.
You'd think it would be awkward for me to be in the Cullen's home without Rose, but it wasn't. It wasn't even awkward knowing that I was the only other one in the house besides them and I would be for the next few days.
I just shrugged it off because I felt at home here. They were, in my mind, my parents.
"Morning," I mumbled, after pouring myself a hot cup o' joe and plunking my ass down at the table.
"Good morning, Bella," he said bending the corner of the paper down so I could see his face.
Carlisle was dressed to the nines in a beautiful blue button up paired with a darker blue tie. Both of which, matched his eyes nicely. He had to work. It was back to the hospital grind for him today. It seemed like an awful life, but Carlisle Cullen found it not only rewarding, but stimulating. He was like the Houseof the real world.
We sat in silence for a few minutes, not really having anything to talk about with each other that wouldn't take its emotional toll. I could see he wanted to say something but gave me a few minutes to enjoy my coffee in peace. I nearly verbalized a thank you to that, but I resisted, because I was sure as soon as I said something he would start up a conversation about it.
He nudged a banana my way, being the father figure that he was and I peeled it open before breaking off some pieces and chewing them.
The coffee was finally starting to kick in.
And that combined with the depreciation of my awful headache, I was starting to feel like a human being again.
"So do you want to talk about it?" he murmured after a few moments, confirming he had in fact heard what went on the night before.
I shook my head, because really there wasn't much to talk about. Not only that, but I had no desire to cry again. I was determined to make it through at least one day without another emotional breakdown. I wasn't really sure how much more I could take.
He nodded in understanding.
"So, what are your plans for the rest of the week? Want to catch a movie, like old times?" he asked sweetly.
"I was planning on calling Dev and seeing if he was busy. And I would love to catch a movie with you, that would be great," I said, giving him a genuine smile.
A little father, daughter time was just what the doctor ordered, I guess.
"Oh that's great, Dev would love that. And, I was thinking maybe we could go see a Christmas Carol or the Grinch, they're rescreening them for the holiday next week."
"Perfect, I'd love to see either of those," I said brightly, trying to improve my frame of mind. It wasn't an easy task, but not having him in the house was helpful.
Just as Carlisle was asking me about Devin, Esme came down in a big flourish. "Bella, you're just the person I was looking for! I was thinking you and I could go get our nails done together, since you missed out on the last time."
I nodded and smiled at her, but then shot Carlisle a look that told him this conversation wasn't over. He nodded and winked at me.
Esme dipped down in front of her husband and gave him a passionate kiss. Oh what it would be like to find a love like that... one that would last...I quickly turned my head so I wasn't staring, not that they really cared. Because really, they practically mounted each other in front of their children, but yeah, I still wasn't about to become a voyeur to their passion.
I finished my cup of coffee quickly before heading upstairs to get ready for the day.
Esme and I spent the day getting our nails done and pampering ourselves, neither of us touched on the subject of Edward. She skirted around him by sticking to all topics of school, and I stayed to anything directly related to Rose. So over lunch, which we grabbed after we got our nails all done up, we discussed Paul and Rose. Esme seemed to really like them together and thought they were good for each other. She admitted that she was a little nervous about his age and experience, but it didn't matter too much since she'd known Paul for so long.
I smiled and nodded my way through it all. Esme had no idea that Rose had liked Paul for a very long time.
"Really? I thought it was so obvious," I said before spearing a piece of lettuce.
I stuck with a salad because I was determined to lose the ten pounds that I had gained since I was home.
Esme shook her head, "Nope, I really thought she might've had someone up at school."
I laughed that comment off. Rose couldn't be bothered by college guys, they were annoying to her and most of them only wanted her for one thing. Yeah, and I knew she was not about to give that up to any of them.
"Nah, Paul was her dream guy for years; I mean we're talking back to when she was fifteen."
She laughed at that. "Poor Rose, it must've been hard when Paul was dating Leah then."
I shrugged. "Rose handled it with so much grace. Much more than some people would've," I said referring to myself, but I didn't want to talk about that so I changed the subject entirely.
"So, how's the charity coming along?" I asked. Esme had been heading a committee for a charity devoted to children with diabetes for a while now and they were just about to start up. It had taken them almost a year to get all the legalities taken care of and sorted out.
She smiled widely. "Great, we're just about done. We hope to open right after New Year's and we have some big sponsors willing to donate generously."
"Yeah, I think it will really be productive. The kids are just so wonderful."
We talked some more about the charity before I grabbed the bill with a smile. I pulled out my fancy credit card, thanks to my parents, and handed it to our waitress.
I knew perfectly well that Esme could've afforded our meal out, but I figured if my parents weren't going to be around I was going to stick it to them.
Our waitress brought back the slip for me to sign and I handed it back to her with my sloppy signature on it and a big tip for her.
Thanks Mom and Dad.
I dialed the familiar number and waited while the phone rang.
"Hello," his sweet voice said.
"Dev, we need to hang," I said softly.
"But I thought you said the act was over."
What, we can't hang out?
I sighed. "It is, Dev, but right now I just want to hang out with you, I need my friend."
"Alright, B, I'd love to see you, I'll be over in a few minutes," he said before hanging up, without questioning anything else.
I hurried around to get ready, because tonight I was going out with Dev and we were going to have a good time. It wasn't like I was going to lead him on. He knew where my feelings had been and when I explained myself to him, he'd understand that I wasn't ready for anything, but there was nothing wrong with going out and having a good time.
Fifteen minutes later I was downstairs and pulling the door open. I frowned when I saw Ryan.
"What are you doing here?" I asked instead of welcoming him in.
"Dev called me, he told me to come hang with Edward."
I rolled my eyes, Devin was a sweetheart and I guess I hadn't mentioned to him that Edward had already left.
"Ry, you're a little late, Edward left early this morning," I told him.
He shook his head looking a little upset. "You know I broke my date with a hot little blond for this shit," he muttered.
"I'm sure you can scrounge someone else up for the evening."
Ryan chuckled and ran his hand through his dirty blond hair.
"So Dev said he was coming by... to hang out with you," he said in a questioning tone.
And I just nodded, not offering any details.
"What's up with that?"
I shrugged, because there really wasn't anything up with it.
"Bella if you're looking for a man to make you scream, you really should've asked me."
I giggled and smacked his arm, "Good try."
He smirked at me, "No but really, I thought you may have had a thing for Cullen."
I frowned and looked at the floor; apparently that was a very obvious fact.
"Ryan, it's been a long ass month. I don't have any idea what I want anymore. Dev and I are just buddies and we were going to hang out tonight," I told him softly; because there really wasn't anything else I could say.
He closed the distance and wrapped his arms around me. I leaned into him and let my head rest against his chest for a few moments. Ryan might have been a horn dog, but he could feel when someone was upset and I let myself enjoy the comfort of his hug. That was, before Dev came through the still open door.
"I thought I told you to keep Edward busy, not slobber all over Bella," Dev said sounding actually annoyed.
I peeked up from Ryan's shoulder and smiled at him. "I was just telling Ry that we were going to hang out and Edward left to go back to NYC this morning."
Dev smiled a bit before realizing what he was doing and wiping it off his face.
"Ry, do you wanna come with us?" I asked as I grabbed my purse.
I watched as he looked over at Dev and they seemed to have a silent conversation before he shook his head. "Nah, Tiffany might still be around."
"Alright, well good luck with that and make sure you wrap it up," I told him with a smirk.
"I always do, Darlin'," he said before stepping outside.
Dev held out my jacket and I slipped it on before following out after him.
We spent the evening walking around Port Angeles. Dev thought it would be a good place to go. I talked his ear off, telling him all about what happened between Edward and I, and then the aftermath, of course.
"I can't believe that fucker," Dev muttered.
I sighed; I figured he was going to say something like that.
"He just doesn't get it, does he?"
"No, I'm pretty sure he gets that I like him, I just don't think he cares at this point."
"The fucks wrong with him?" he said, shaking his head.
I shrugged, because I sure as hell didn't have the answer to that question.
"Bella, this shit is ridiculous."
"I know, but there's nothing I can do and feelings don't change overnight," I whispered.
He nodded and pulled away a bit. We had been walking along with our arms linked.
Dev calmed down, and then we hit up an ice cream shop before heading home for the night.
He was a true gentleman and even walked me to the door.
"Thank you for tonight, it meant a lot to me," I told him softly.
He scoffed, "Anytime, Bella, really."
I gathered my nerves and reached up on my tiptoes to place a chaste kiss on his lips. They were soft and smooth, but there was no tingling fire like with Edward's kisses. Dev's arms were quick to wrap around me and pull me in even closer. But I was smart and only let it be a chaste kiss.
I pulled away and he looked down at me.
"What the hell was that for?"
"Because you're definitely one of the best friends a girl could ever ask for."
His face softened and he dipped down and kissed my cheek lightly before turning away.
I shouted goodnight before heading inside. It had been a good night.
The days passed slowly after that. I worked on my reading assignments for class and tried really hard not to think about certain things. It was depressing sometimes, but others, I got so far into my book that I forgot to live everyday life. Which was a nice relief. It helped to ease the anger... and I guess the pain. Mostly though, I was angry. And not even so much with him anymore,no, it was more with myself, for letting it get that far, for almost giving myself up to him with no semblance of returned feelings on his part. It was difficult to accept that, but I eventually did, and then placed the blame solely on myself. And that made things a bit easier to swallow. I took a deep breath and vowed to hold my head up high. To reclaim my self-respect. I promised myself there would never be another man who would do that to me again.
I texted Rose occasionally, too, checking in with her to see how things were going with Paul out there in Seattle. She said they were going really well with a wink and even sent me a beautiful picture of the lights over the water. And then she sent a picture of her and Paul holding each other on their snow covered balcony.
They looked so in love. It almost hurt to look at the picture, but I was happy for her at the same time.
And for a few minutes I wondered what the hell took them so long to find each other.
In my head, all I could come up with was that some things just happen when the time was right... and while it was a nice way to put it, it still made me sad.
But that only led me back to thinking about things that I didn't want to think about.
So I dropped it from my mind the best that I could and headed downstairs. Tonight, Carlisle and I were planning on playing a rousing game of Scrabble.
He had been my buddy lately. We went to see the Grinch one evening, and I kept him company while he reviewed a new medical book that needed his approval. He was the one with the degree, so he had confirmed the facts that were in there.
Esme was out at her book club meeting, so we were alone for the evening. When Rose got back tonight we would be packing and in the morning we would be heading back to school. That would give us the weekend to rest up and recuperate before classes started up again on Monday. So I wanted to get in the last bit of time I could with him before I left.
I set out a couple of beers, for him of course, and a water for myself. I was fairly certain that Carlisle really wouldn't mind if I popped open a Budweiser in front of him, but I was still beating back the flames of embarrassment from what happened the last time I drank, so I was saving the drinking for when I got back to college where no one would judge me.
"Evening Bella," Carlisle said setting his briefcase down on the counter.
He had been out at dinner with a colleague and promised to make it back in time for our Scrabble match. This was a tradition for us. We were the nerds in the family, and while everyone else could play and play well, we were the only ones who really enjoyed the game. Carlisle and I made plans a couple times a year to play. It was something that I very much looked forward to and I think he did too.
I got some sick pleasure out of kicking his ass.
What can I say?
"Ready to have your ass handed to you?" I asked nonchalantly.
He beamed down at me, "Only if you are!"
I laughed and sat down at the kitchen table, where I had set the game and munchies up.
"Oh and a beer too, what did I do to deserve this?" he said loosening his tie and shedding his jacket before sitting down.
I shrugged, not really answering.
He smirked at me and once again I had to look away. Why did it have to look exactly like Edward's?
I still didn't look up at him as I divided the tiles.
Carlisle and I played a few words and he even spit his beer out when I laid down oxyphenbutazonefor a crushing forty-one points.
"Do you even know what that is?" he asked incredulously.
I smirked at him, because I wasn't as dumb as I looked. "Yeah, it's an anti-inflammatory. I had to take some this past October for a sprained ankle."
Yeah, I was really clumsy, it was true. But I was working on it.
He smiled brightly at me and shook his head in disbelief.
We traded back and forth, smaller words that weren't worth too many points and I was pretty confident I was going to win. To be honest, I was damn near positive I was going to, I could almost taste it.
"That's fine, but I've got one better," he said before laying down his tiles.
I raised an eyebrow at him and was just about to challenge him when I remembered he'd played that same word last summer. See this past summer I had broken my big toe on my left foot, and I couldn't really walk around. My balance is bad to begin with but throw in a broken toe and it's damn near nonexistent, so Carlisle was nice enough to play a few extra games that summer with me. Both of us trying to one up each other with longer and higher point words.
That was one of them.
Forty-four mother fucking points.
"Cheat!" I shouted, not really meaning it.
He smirked, "Read it and weep baby."
"Ugh whatever, you win," I said handing him the score sheet.
That was the thing with this family; you got to keep the score sheet or card if you won. And he won, fair and square.
Carlisle smirked and looked over the sheet again. "It was close."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah... Whatever."
I sat there pouting for a minute, while Carlisle leaned back in his chair and finished off his second beer.
Rose came in dusting the snow off of her black pea coat, looking mighty fine and right behind her was Paul stomping the snow off of his boots.
"Hey guys," Carlisle said, standing up from the table and pulling Rose into a hug.
"Paul, son, how was the drive?" Carlisle asked, greeting him with a hug, too. It was adorable how the whole family rallied around Paul and Rose. I was so happy for them; it was great to see my friends find the happiness they deserved.
"It was good, long though."
Carlisle nodded; he knew just how long the drive from Seattle was, since he drove it twice a month for hospital related business.
"So who won?" Rose asked motioning to the Scrabble board.
"I did of course," Carlisle boasted with a grin and we all laughed.
After a little more chatting Paul headed home and not ten minutes later Esme came strolling in.
Rose and I chatted with her for a few minutes, she went on about the new book for the month and how it was racy and very sexually explicit. I smiled and giggled, while Rose blushed and got a little embarrassed.
I laughed because she knew her mother and father had a healthy sexual relationship and would probably be trying all the kinky shit Esme was reading about. I shuddered at those thoughts.
"Well, Bella and I have to pack and get our shit together for tomorrow," Rose said practically dragging me out of the room.
We both headed up the stairs two at a time and stormed straight for her room. I had to admit that when I passed his empty room it shot a pang of something through me, but I tried my damnedest to ignore it.
Once safely closed inside Rose's room with the music playing loud enough that Carlisle and Esme couldn't hear the conversation we were about to have from the hallway, Rose started jabbering about her trip.
She told me about the restaurants that Paul took her to and then about the shit they did. Like sightseeing and they even saw a play. Blah, blah, blah... let's get to the good stuff, shall we?
"Rose hon, I'm so fucking glad you had a good time, but really can't you tell me the part I really want to know about?"
She smirked and I could tell just from that, she had done the horizontal tango with Paul.
She nodded sheepishly. "It wasn't the first night, though," she added softly.
Who the hell am I to judge?
"So when was it?" I wondered, like any good friend would.
"It was Tuesday night, the second night. Paul had taken me to dinner and we even went dancing afterwards. It wasn't like planned or anything. It just sort of happened."
I raised an eyebrow at her and she let out a girlish giggle that was completely unlike her.
"Well, we were kissing and stuff and then I guess I sort of showedhim that I was ready for more."
And that made me think of Edward's words. He told me that I had showedhim that I wanted more, but when he went to get more, I passed out like a fool.
"Was it good?"
She grinned and that meant it was. Up until Tuesday, Rose was a card carrying virgin as well. She had vowed years ago that she was saving herself for Paul. She loved him and I was so damn happy everything worked out for her.
"The first time was a little uncomfortable, you know, but I have... my little blue friend so it wasn't asbad as it could've been," she said quietly.
I nodded; I knew all about her little blue friend, I had to go with her to get it. And of course the fucking perv working there thought we were together as a couple.
I had a pink friend too.
"But after that," she said biting her lip, "it was so fucking good. He was so gentle and caring, Bella. I don't think I could have asked for more."
I felt a shiver go up my back, not because I wanted to bone Rose, but because that could've been me if I hadn't passed out.
"So what was your week like?" she wondered.
I went through the motions of telling her about all the reading I did, and then the lovely afternoon I spent with her mom and I showed her my nails. She smiled at the pretty blue color, and I told her it was in honor of her, my best friend. That, she laughed at. After I told her about the friend date with Dev and my movie and Scrabble game with Carlisle she asked the dreaded question.
"Have you heard from him?"
I shook my head and sighed. "Have you?"
I knew she had, they always checked in with one another. But she nodded anyways.
"Did he say anything?"
"Not really, he just asked how things were, that's all. He didn't seem to like that I was up in Seattle with Paul. He wondered who was back at the house with you too."
So he did mention me...
"Whatever, he can try to pull all that protective bullshit, but he's got to realize you're a grown woman and you can handle yourself. Especially against the likes of Paul."
"He needs to realize you're a grown woman too," she said softly.
I scoffed, "Oh, I think he gets that, he just doesn't want this woman."
Rose rolled her eyes. We chatted for a while longer about her trip before breaking off to pack up our stuff.
It was a little past midnight when I finally zipped my last suitcase and had double checked everything.
I slipped into bed and made myself think about school. I knew if I didn't, my mind would wander back to something that I didn't want it to think about.
And with the last thoughts about my old, hairy professor, I finally drifted off to sleep.
The next morning was lived in a haze. I hadn't really slept well again. I had just laid there in an unconscious state. At least, that's what it felt like when I got up.
Two cups of coffee later and I still was feeling groggy.
Carlisle and Paul loaded in our bags and we proceeded to say our goodbyes.
Esme reminded us that the spring semester would be over before we knew it and we would be right back home after that. My gut turned a little bit at that thought. But I was okay, because Edward rarely visited in the summer.
I smiled at them both and thanked them, like I always did, before giving them both a huge hug.
I waited while Rose gave Paul a few chaste kisses and then one not so chaste. I could see that she was having a hard time leaving him. Eventually they pulled apart and he helped her into the Jeep, while I hopped in on my side.
Rose and I waved like mad women as she beeped the horn furiously on her way out of the driveway.
The ride was quiet for a while, then finally I asked Rose what I had wanted to ask her for a while.
"Hey, do you think, once we get back to school, that you could maybe give me a makeover?"
She looked at me with her brows furrowed together. "Why?"
"Because, I want to get out there. You know? Meet guys. Try to move on, and I think a new look would really give me that pick-me-up I need."
She smiled, a look of understanding in her eyes. "Bella, you're beautiful as it is, I don't think you need it, but sure we can change up a few things. Maybe some highlights and a new cut to start."
I thanked her quickly before plugging in my iPod and blasting some good tunes.
Time to head back to reality, without the Christmas present I'd hoped for.
So what did you think of Bella's bonding time with Carlisle and Dev?
How about that beginning? hmmm?
And what do you think of Bella getting a make over? Moving on? Think it'll all happen?
See you Wednesday for some Tick Tock & of course on Friday for the Teaser!