The "Normal" Conversation
I am an engaged man.
It feels odd being labeled as such. I always knew this day would come, I knew it would be Tanya, but I don't exactly feel… happy.
It really makes me wonder- have I ever been happy?
I think the most I've ever felt in life was satisfaction. Satisfaction with who I am, where I've been, what I've learned…
Yet, I don't think I'm too familiar with what happiness feels like.
Tanya was overly enthusiastic when I proposed. There was a lot of jumping up and down and squealing in the middle of our favorite French restaurant. I had known this moment would come one day, and yet I felt unprepared for it.
My parents are over the moon about it. They'd been nagging me to do this for a while, and to have them off my back at last feels good.
Good, but not great.
Three days after having proposed to Tanya, I am lying in bed and staring at the ceiling. Sleep evades me, though my thoughts are fast paced and vivid. My mind replays the past few days, all the media attention, the congratulatory comments, the questions about the wedding…
Through all of it, I don't remember even one moment of joy.
My phone interrupts the film reel in my head as it buzzes against my nightstand.
Hey babyyy. You still awake? – T
I sigh as I read the message, not really in the mood to talk to her. To say that Tanya is clingy would be an understatement.
Glancing at the clock, I see that it's around two in the morning. If I ignore the text, she'll think I'm asleep.
I set my phone back on the nightstand and ignore it the next few times that it buzzes. Tanya is undoubtedly trying to wake me up.
Miss you. –T
Thinking of youuu… –T
When are we going to go get a different ring? –T
I put the phone on silent after that, but it constantly lights up the room every time she sends another message.
Aggravated, I sit up in bed and a run a hand through my hair.
The frustration I have with everything and everyone is almost overwhelming. I'm frustrated with Tanya, my parents, myself...
But most of all, I'm frustrated with the girl the thoughts of whom have yet to leave the little nooks and crannies of my brain.
I need to get away from these four walls.
Climbing out of bed, I throw on a t-shirt and leave my room. I need to get away from that phone; I need to calm my thoughts.
I've always been a wanderer when my thoughts become too much to handle. That much hasn't changed. I find it easy to let my feet do all the thinking, to lead me where they want.
Tonight, I find myself drawn to the second floor.
The second floor, where the library is.
My memory of the last time I was there comes back in full force.
Flashes of brown, ivory, and pink…
Soft voice, stuttered words, dropped items.
I've turned a corner on the second floor when I halt, surprised by the sight in front of me.
For the briefest moment, I think I'm seeing a large animal crawling in the opposite direction. My eyes adjust to the darkness of the hallway, and then I realize that it's actually a human on all fours.
"What the hell?" I mumble to myself.
The person has long dark hair that sweeps against the floor as she crawls, and I'm momentarily reminded of that girl from The Ring. The very thought makes a shiver run through me.
This is clearly suspicious behavior, so I step forward to get some answers. My hearing picks up the closer I get to the figure, and I suddenly realize that she's mumbling to herself.
"…fucking… sick… Alice… hate… puke…"
The words are slurred, so I entertain the thought that she must be intoxicated.
My eyes land on the staircase at the end of the hall, and I feel a brief second of panic when it occurs to me that she's heading toward it. In her state, she could go tumbling down.
Without thinking, I find myself walking briskly forward and reaching down to grab hold of her slender arm. I gently pull her up, and she sways on her feet so I push her against the wall.
"You almost fell down the stairs," I say, and the more I stare at her, the easier she is to recognize.
She doesn't look like herself. Her eyes are caked with dark makeup and she's wearing a short, black dress that fits her like a glove. Her hair is down in messy waves, and she looks….
She looks sexy.
My cock agrees.
"You," she slurs, her voice bringing my eyes back to her face. "It's you."
I can smell the alcohol on her breath and her eyes are glazed over in the dim light of the hallway. She's very, very drunk and my only thought is that, in her condition, she needs to be somewhere safe.
"You need to go back to your room," I tell her. "Clearly you are in no state of mind to be wandering around."
"Don't you tell me what to do," she spits, jabbing me in the chest with her finger.
"Excuse me?" I am completely taken aback by her hostility, seeing as I've never seen her as anything other than shy and awkward.
"You and your hair. You and your lickable… jaw. Ugh, you disgust me."
Was that a compliment?
"Where is your room?" I ask her, fully intending to drag her there. While her drunken ranting is amusing, she shouldn't be wandering the halls.
"I don't give a fuck," she slurs, and I sigh. This isn't going to be easy.
"Is it on this floor? Down the hall, perhaps?" I can only assume that she crawled down here from somewhere on this floor.
She doesn't answer the question.
She just keeps on ranting, slurring every other word and glaring at me with eyes that are highly unfocused.
"You and your fiancé with her fake smiles and fake tan and fake tits… She's so fake she was probably made in China… or Taiwan… or Idaho. Wherever they make products through underpaid and overworked illiterates. Stupid whore."
I stare at her, stunned by her outburst despite her intoxication.
I'm not surprised she knows about the engagement, but is that how she feels about Tanya?
"Okay, this is getting out of hand," I sigh. "Where is Emmett when you need him?" He's better at handling inebriated young women. We come across them all the time.
Much to my surprise, Bella's fallen silent. She stares at something on my shirt before she mutters an "oh shit", and then falls forward.
I quickly grab a hold of her before she vomits all over the floor, missing my feet by mere centimeters. I dodge out of the way in time, and she slumps against me.
"Christ," I mutter, at a loss for what to do.
Bella slumps against me at the same time a new voice is calling down the hall, "Bella?"
Another figure wanders out of a room at the end of the hall, and I immediately recognize it as Alice Brandon.
Meanwhile, Bella is muttering, "fuck my life" repeatedly.
Fuck her life, indeed.
After another second, her eyes are closed and I try waking her up, but she's out cold.
I lift her up into my arms, surprised at how light she is. I'm not even thinking about the fact that I'm cradling this girl to my chest. All I can think is that she needs a bed. Now.
I carefully step over the puddle of vomit and make my way over to where Alice is leaning against the wall. Bright light filters out from the doorway next to her.
"Is this your room, Alice?" I ask, and she stares at me like she's trying to figure out if she's really seeing me.
"Mmmhmm, yeah…" she trails off dreamily, eyes glazed over, and I shake my head when I realize that she's drunk, too.
I walk past her and into the bedroom, a small room with two twin size beds on one side.
I carefully lay Bella down on the one closest to me, aware that Alice has entered behind me.
Alice stumbles to the opposite bed, evidently singing to herself.
"Cinderella," she sings, flopping down onto her stomach. "Bippity boppity boo."
I stare at her confusedly and watch as her eyes close. A second later, I know that she's also beyond consciousness.
I glance between Alice and Bella, at their somewhat skimpy attire. They have obviously been out partying. I find that fascinating, seeing as workers don't generally leave the manor for leisurely activities. Not that I know of, anyway.
I stare at Bella a bit longer and my eyes are immediately drawn to her body. She's slender but curvy in all the right place, and once again my cock takes notice.
I squeeze my eyes shut and shake my head, immediately leaving the room.
Once I've found someone to take care of the vomit on the second floor, I head back to my own bedroom.
My mission was to search for a distraction, and a distraction was exactly what I found.
It was the wrong distraction, however.
I didn't realize what I really needed a distraction from until I ran into the very thing that'd been haunting me.
I sleep restlessly that night.
I toss and turn, all but begging sleep to come. When I finally do doze off, it's only for a brief amount of time. Then, the sunlight is seeping through the windows and it's impossible for me to stay in bed.
The only thing I'm glad about is that I've got nowhere to be today. I can just spend the day by myself, attempting to get a peace of mind.
Somehow, before I've done anything else, I've sat down at the piano in my living room.
I haven't played in a while, haven't really felt the urge to. Now, my fingers ghost over the keys and I try to play the first thing that comes to mind.
It ends up being a somber melody, one of my own creations. I don't even remember when I wrote it, or why. All I know is that it best expresses the myriad of irritating feelings inside of me.
So, that's what I do. I pour my unnamable emotions onto the piano, letting my fingers speak for me.
Time passes as the music flows around me, lulling my mind into a serene place. It's not hard to get lost in the music, to forget almost everything else and focus on the dips and sways of the tune.
I don't know how long I sit there, playing, but it's not long before my fingers are aching a little. I crack my knuckles a few times and stand up, stretching. It's still too early for breakfast to be delivered.
I make my way back to my bedroom with the intention to shower the somberness off of me. It angers me that I've been so down lately. Things in my life are fairly good; I shouldn't be sulking like a pouty little boy.
I stop in the doorway that leads into my bedroom, my heart skipping a beat when a familiar head of brown hair is standing by the bed.
Bella is oblivious to my presence as she puts laundry away. I'm rooted to the spot, unable to take my eyes off of her.
I watch as she picks up a pair of my jeans and giggles.
I blink, taken aback by the sound.
It's like the tinkling of water when you leave the faucet open just a little bit. Or like the sound of wind chimes. Perhaps it could be likened to the clink of ice against glass.
She frowns at my jeans for a moment longer, and I decide that I should probably alert her to my presence. I don't want to just stand here and watch her like a stalker.
I clear my throat and Bella jumps, dropping the jeans into the basket on the bed. She whirls around to look at me, her eyes widening in surprise. Her gaze runs over me for a moment, and her lips part just slightly.
My eyes are immediately drawn to them, but not for long enough before she speaks and snaps me out of it.
"I'm, I'm, uh… just putting laundry away," she mumbles.
I merely nod in response, a pang of guilt going through me. She's probably saying that to inform me that she's strictly doing what she's supposed to not and not touching things she shouldn't be.
I feel irritated at myself as I recall my overreaction when she almost found my birth certificate.
Bella hasn't pulled her gaze away from me yet. She continues to stare, a slight crease in between her brows, lips still parted.
What is she thinking?
I'm suddenly dying to know.
"Something wrong?" I ask.
"You're in sweatpants," she replies, blinking rapidly.
My brows furrow. Why does that surprise her?
"Yes… Is that a shock?"
Her cheeks become tinged with pink. "Kinda."
"I, uh… wasn't expecting that," she says quietly, averting her gaze.
I'm momentarily confused. She wasn't expecting to see me in sweats? It starts to make sense after a second. To her, I'm not any other guy. I'm royalty. The way she says it makes me believe that she thinks sweats are uncommon among my family.
"What were you expecting?" I ask curiously. "Diamond encrusted silk?" I try not to sound a little bitter.
Bella blushes and folds my jeans, moving to put them in a drawer. I tell her to leave them on the bed instead, and she complies.
A part of me knows that I should leave her alone and let her work.
The other part of me wants to stay, to get to know her.
I've always been a somewhat impulsive person. It's because of that fact that I decide to stay and talk to her. Surely, it's the polite thing to do?
She looks fairly young to me, though she comes off as being wiser for her age. Appearance wise, she looks maybe eighteen or nineteen. She could be in her early twenties, though.
Just for clarification, I ask her how old she is. I don't think she's old enough for that to be considered a rude question.
She tells me that she's eighteen, and I'm not surprised. Most of the younger workers are older than her, though. She may just be the youngest.
A girl her age should be in school, so I wonder what she's doing here.
"Shouldn't you be in school?" I ask curiously, and suddenly I want to know her story.
I feel a spike of frustration at her. She should be somewhere else, yet here she is, drawing my attention, ruining my sleep…
"Why are you here?" I ask, and the frustration is unintentionally evident in my tone.
She gives me a funny look and then proceeds to explain her situation. She tells me about Carlisle and how he visited her dad's restaurant and asked them to work here. She talks about her fear of student loans and how she can't afford college otherwise.
I could listen to her talk forever.
What she tells me is slightly unsettling, though I can't pinpoint why.
By the time she's done telling me about her schooling situation, I'm already formulating a plan to help her and any other worker that may want to further educate themselves.
By the time she's gone, leaving a lingering scent of strawberries in the air, I know that I want her to stay.