I couldn't get the image of Bella's purchased book out of my head. I wasn't sure how to interpret her buying it, but kept coming back to the theory that Edward was just a really obsessed fan of The Vampire Diaries and Bella was trying to be supportive. As far-fetched as that theory sounded in my head, it was much more believable than my second guess, that Edward was a vampire. Which, if correct, meant my life was about to get balls-out crazy … or maybe Bella was actually the only crazy thing here. She had said something similar, that either I would see Edward in a new light or I would think she was crazy, but I didn't think any scenario thrown at me would be as insane as what I suspected now. Not even close.
All through our palm readings I was distracted, thinking about the book inside the hemp tote Bella had also purchased along with it. Although, I didn't really pay attention to what the woman wearing the gold headpiece with a medallion dangling in front of her forehead had to say anyways once she saw a tall, dark and handsome man coming into my life and altering it completely. She'd acted like this news would please any teenage girl, but all it did was make me think she was that much more of a charlatan.
Would he have a big dick too? Oh boy! Just what I want.
Bella's reading didn't involve any guys coming into her life, but she did get the same life altering prediction and seemed to take it in stride. She probably didn't believe someone's life could be predicted by the wrinkles making up the inside of their hand. Bella had just wanted to come here for the book, but it was that book in question that made me wonder what exactly Bella did believe in.
As we left the bookstore, heading back towards the mall, I waited for Bella to bring up her purchase, but she remained quiet. Her head was turned slightly downward as she studied her shoes. Twice I had to get my friend's attention before she came in contact with something that would have caused her to fall on the pavement. It reminded me of my fantasy of Bella tripping into my arms, but I didn't find happiness in the thought, because I was too keyed up waiting for her to tell me what the hell her book had to do with Edward. Finally I reached out and grasped Bella's arm, causing her to stop and focus on me instead of her damn Converses. "Are we going to talk about what you bought at that bookstore?" My tone was a little less controlled than I would have liked, but I'd reached my breaking point. I needed answers.
Bella looked at me, confusion creasing the skin between her eyes. Then I watched as her vision traveled down to my hand still holding her forearm. Suddenly I became aware of our nearness. I was standing close to her, like I had been on the day when we'd tried to walk to the nurse's office together and I felt my face becoming flushed. I rarely blushed. I usually had more control over things like my emotions, because I was never really being myself. The emotions I projected were the ones of a character I'd created, but around Bella I lost myself and an unorthodox shyness crept over me. I let go of her arm and looked down, seeing the tips of our shoes touching. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to be … like him … what I mean is, being forceful. You don't have to say anything about anything if you don't want to." My words came out clumsy, fumbled by the embarrassment I still felt taking up space in every part of me.
I half expected Bella to laugh at how dumb I sounded or maybe run away from me for proving I was every bit as awful as her controlling boyfriend, but when I looked up again it was Bella's face that was now apologetic. She was biting her lip and twisting her fingers around a lock of hair. I was close enough to where I could detect the slight fragrance of strawberries again.
"If you wanted to tell me, you know about anything, I would never judge you," I reassured her, forcing myself to talk like a normal human being and not Gollum from Lord of the Rings.
"I think I saw his Volvo," Bella whispered, her voice full of apology. "That's why I haven't said anything since we left the store."
"What?" I replied on reflex, but did I really need to ask? I knew who she was referring to … the only guy who drove a silver Volvo to school whenever it was in session.
Before she could respond though, I heard a loud whistle coming from somewhere outside of our protective bubble. I twisted my head in the direction of the noise and saw four men standing across the street, dressed like they were too old for the abundant facial hair and casual clothes they were wearing. Someone their age should have been beyond the whole college uniform of flannels and ratty jeans that reminded me of guys playing in some sucky local band that no one ever came to see. Only it was Saturday afternoon and no bands would be playing so early. These guys looked the way they did, because they were losers. "Kiss her. You know you want to," one of them called out rudely.
I rolled my eyes in his direction and turned back to face Bella. "Volvo or no Volvo, let's get out of here. I have a zero idiot policy." I gestured my head towards the men being morons.
She nodded and linking arms, we continued to head back in the direction of the mall. "Hey, where are you going?" the same voice that had urged us to kiss called out as his buddies began to catcall us.
When we didn't reply they began laughing, saying even more disgusting things that hinged on rapey and I felt an anger flare within me. Just because we were of the female persuasion didn't mean we had to take their abuse. I suddenly stopped moving and reached into my purse to take hold of one of my defenses against them.
"What are you doing?" Bella's voice was shaky and when I looked at her, I could see the fear highlighting her wide eyes.
"Don't worry. I got this," I calmly said, trying to ease Bella's anxiety.
The fact that these guys were actually terrifying her made my hatred for their standard sexual harassment flare. No one was going to get away with verbally assaulting my would-be girlfriend without a fight. Besides, it was the middle of the day with other people around us. If these guys tried anything then they would have had to be the physical embodiment of stupidity. "Hey, asshats," I yelled out for them and anyone else nearby to clearly hear. "If you think you can intimidate me or my friend with your sexist remarks then you can say hello to my pepper spray. It responds really well to jerks who feel the need to bother two girls minding their own business."
I pointed the little bottle in their direction and scowled to let them know I didn't give a shit if they weren't intending to physically harm us, because if they stepped any closer then I wouldn't hesitate to physically harm them.
There was pause, as if the group had never been stood up to before by one of their victims and was truly surprised by my bravado, but then like some dumb Neanderthal knee-jerk reaction the ring leader shouted, "Lesbian," in my direction.
"Thank you for the compliment," I twirled around and pretended to curtsey, which only irritated him further.
He made some rude gesture, bringing his hands to the front of his pants and I replied by flipping him the bird. "Stay away from us," I warned in an icy voice.
Other people on the street were beginning to take in the scene and noticing this the guys gave up, turned and walked away. When they had moved a distance from us, I laughed to let off the tension I felt. Despite not really thinking they were a threat, it was still difficult to act like I could actually take any one of them on. "Are you okay?" Bella asked, probably confused by my weird reaction.
I nodded and then leaned into her. "Glad to know I have it in me to stand up to assholes. It will come in handy when I move to a bigger city. Yay to being an awesome woman."
I raised my hand for a fist bump and Bella responded with her knuckles against mine, before pulling me into a hug that I gladly accepted. When she finally pulled away, I saw her mouth open to say something, but she clamped it shut when a car suddenly raced up beside us and stopped. "Get in!" a voice commanded from the driver side door after it flew open.
"Edward?" Bella asked, her voice nervous.
"Just get in. There is a group of men thinking terrible things about you nearby. I have to protect you!" The way he sounded reminded me of the worst version of Christian Bale's Batman, all husky anger, but no comprehension.
"If you're referring to the douche bags that were saying chauvinist things to us before, then I can assure you, I handled the situation," I replied for Bella as I narrowed my eyes specifically for Edward. God how many dicks was I going to have to repel today?
But to my astonishment, Bella walked around his car to the passenger's side and opened the door. "Bella, are you leaving with him?" I asked, unable to hide the hurt in my voice.
Her look was desperate when she said, "Come with me, please."
It was amazing how quickly I wanted to do what Bella asked, considering doing so meant I would be forced into a situation where Edward and I would both be vying for her attention. I hated Edward Cullen and I couldn't stand the idea of being near him. Not to mention, my whole vampire theory … the dude could end up driving us to some secluded spot to suck our blood. Still, none of that mattered when I was faced with the option of leaving Bella alone with him. I didn't even question it. I just did. I jumped into the back seat of his Volvo, slammed the door, and left all my dignity behind.
I could never leave Bella's side as long as she wanted me near her.