The next morning Rosalie pulled up to Bella’s house just as the sun was beginning to rise, a great big grin on her face. Not wanting to explain to Charlie she quickly moved around to the side of Bella’s room, glanced around and scaled the side, easily climbing into Bella’s room.
She was going to have to talk to her about leaving her window unlocked, damn it.
“Bella.” She whispered, moving over to the bed where a mop of brown hair was all that stuck up from under the covers.
A grumpy moan came from the blankets.
“Bella.” She shook her a little.
“What?” Bella sat bolt upright, alarmed and rubbing her eyes. “Rose? What’s wrong?”
She grinned up from where she was kneeling, shaking her head. Bella, sleep mussed and confused, was so cute, so sexy that Rose considered giving up the plan for the day and simply crawling under the covers with her. She couldn’t only imagine what those Bella-warmed covers would feel like against her naked skin.
She shook her head a little to clear it. “Come on, get up. We’re playing baseball!”
“Noooo, last time I almost died!” She groaned and fell back into her bed.
It had taken a lot of convincing before Bella was willing to get up, dress in something warm, leave a note for her father and then make her way out to Rosalie’s silver beauty.
“Bella’s here!” Esme cheered as they stepped into the Cullen house a few minutes later.
Bella, still seeming partially asleep, stood next to Rose with only a half of a smile on her lips.
“She’s still sleepy.”
“Yeah, dude, it’s five AM on a Sunday,” she grumbled, making the room full of never-sleeping vampires laugh.
“Err, I don’t know,” Emmett teased as he came down the stairs. “Are you sure this is safe for her?”
Rose flipped him off.
“Cuz, uh, last time...” Emmett sucked in air through his teeth, easily dodging Bella’s thrown punch.
“I don’t know.” Rose sniffed. “Let’s ask Alice.”
“Gee thanks, guys,” Bella mumbled.
Alice appeared in less than a second beside her, face twisted comically as though she were looking hard into the future. “Hmmm, well, it looks like she’ll be — oh!”
Rose froze, her eyes wide with horror. She had only been teasing. Was Bella really not going to be safe?
She glanced around to see that everyone had frozen, all eyes on Alice, but Alice turned, looking toward the living room door.
“Oh.” Then she heard it too. Footsteps moving at vampire speed. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Emmett laughed, shaking his head and gently clapping Bella on the back. “Man, Bells, you have the worst luck when it comes to baseball.”
Bella had suddenly turned white. “What is it?” She turned, asking the statues in the room again. “What? What is it? What?”
A moment later there were footsteps on the front porch, making Bella freeze too.
Rose’s teeth ground. His timing was impeccable, she thought and watched as, eyebrows high, Edward pushed through the front door.
“Oh,” Bella said in a shaky voice and then, “shit.”
Edward paused, his glance falling on Bella, who had covered her mouth like she had just accidentally vomited on the floor. “My, you have been spending time around Rose, haven’t you?” He mused.
“Jump off into a fire, Edward,” Rose threw right back.
“Edward!” Esme leapt forward, grabbing him up in a hug that made him laugh.
Rose just glared. She wasn’t happy to see him, not at all. Things had been nice and now... her eyes trailed to Bella’s face, looking for any hint that she was happy to see him. It was just blank, and that didn’t make Rose feel any better, not when Bella was still staring at him. She had forgotten to worry about Edward’s return. She had forgotten to think about him much at all.
“Hi,” Bella finally breathed.
A stab of pain shot into her stomach.
Edward, for his part, picked up his bags and with one a slight nod in her general direction, headed up the stairs toward his room.
“Okay,” Carlisle finally said after a long silence. “Who’s ready to play?”
“To be fair, babe, of course, he’s gonna come. He’s our best outfielder.”
Rosalie scoffed, crunching through the morning frost on the leafy ground. “I’m our best outfielder.”
“Well, yeah.” Emmett shrugged, year and years of placating her showing. “But still.”
She glared at him. “Are you warm enough?”
Bella, who she had wrapped in her thicket jacket on top of the one that Bella had brought, laughed. “I feel like a balloon.”
“But are you warm enough?”
Instead of laughing at her, Bella smiled affectionately. “Yeah, Rose, I’m warm enough.”
“Okay.” She nodded, high strung, stepping through the edge of the woods and into the clearing. Across the grass the rest of the family stood, all able to get there much faster without a human companion with them. As she watched Edward glanced their way, swinging the bat.
She glowered and, unable to help herself, reached for Bella’s hand which was covered by thick gloves.
“Bella, come sit with me,” Esme called as Rosalie took her place on the pitcher’s mound.
“What?” Rosalie called back. “Let her play.”
It wasn’t only Bella’s head that whipped around to look at her like she was crazy.
“Oh no. No way!” Bella laughed, starting toward Esme with resolve.
“Come on!” Rose grinned. “I bet you’ll have fun.”
From across the field, Bella looked at her like she was insane. “Fun? Playing... baseball? With a bunch of vampires.”
Jasper chuckled, tipping his baseball hat in proper southern charm. “She’s got a point there.”
“I’m in a boot.”
“You don’t have to run.”
“I can’t even throw it to first base, Rose.”
“Oh yeah?” Rose smirked. She wasn’t sure if Bella playing would be fun or not, but her insistence on not even trying was triggering her competitive side.
“Yeah,” Bella responded, eyeing Rose. She wasn’t sure what Bella saw in her face, maybe the amused dare. “Okay, fine.” Teasingly she pushed Jasper off of first base and held her hand out for the ball, eyes never leaving Rose’s. Jasper stiffened a little at the sudden close contact, but smiled and tossed her the ball... which Bella dropped.
Rose stared back, loving the competitive standoff. If Bella wanted to play, she would find a way to help her play. It would be too much like Edward to just assume she wouldn't participate, or worse that she couldn't.
“Ready?” Bella asked, the ball back in her hand.
“Oh, I’m ready,” Rose promised.
“Okay. Here goes.” Bella cocked her arm back and with obvious effort, let it fly toward home plate where Esme was waiting with open hands.
Rose watched it arch into the air, smothering a laugh. The only word that could be used was pitiful. It was nothing less than pitiful. She launched herself, dashing for it as fast as she could. Moving at full vampire speed, so fast that Bella hadn’t even had time to react. She snatched it out of the air with a small leap where it was already beginning to fall a rough five feet from where Bella stood. In a flash, she threw it toward Emmett, who caught it and threw it to Alice, who threw it to Carlisle, who threw it to Jasper.
Before Bella’s arm had even fallen back to her side, the ball was smacking into Jasper’s hand, making her yelp and cringe away, her arms coming up over her head.
When her startled face appeared from under her arms, her hair caught across it, Rose was smirking.
“See.” Rose insisted with a wink. “You can totally play.”
The rest of the Cullens cheered as the ball smacked back into Rose’s hand, having made it through everyone else. Everyone, that was, except for Edward, who was glowering at her.
She cocked an eyebrow at him, sending a little mental reminder that he should stay out of her head because he might not like what was in there.
He turned, his face devoid of emotion and started toward his spot in the outfield.
Bella just shook her head. “I’m sitting down.”
The game wasn’t a specifically good one. Rose supposed if she and Edward had been on opposite teams then it would have made the game much more interesting, but being on the same team meant instead that the game was a landslide. Both she and Edward couldn’t seem to stop themselves, throwing harder, running faster, stealing bases, all so they could share an arrogant glare with the other. However, there were no thirsty vampires that showed up midway and tried to take her mate’s blood, so Rose considered it a good game.
As they played, Rosalie found herself very aware of Bella and Edward, watching them both closely. So closely that more than once she nearly missed a ball that went flying at her.
She couldn’t tell if she had seen anything between them or not. At times it seemed as though she did, but thought that there was a chance that it was in her head. She didn’t trust it. She didn’t trust him.
As tradition dictated, when the game was over they all shook hands, each shaking Bella’s as well for her valiant effort to get the ball from first base to home. All except Edward. Rose watched, her arms crossed in anger, as Edward shook Esme’s hand and then, with a glance at Bella, turned and started slowly back in the direction of the house. She glanced back at Bella and saw that she too was watching, her face hurt.
Rose’s teeth ground, her temper flaring.
“So.” Bella turned on Rose as if they hadn’t both been fully aware of Edward’s coldness. “Can I drive?”
That was enough to stop the step that Rose had been about to take, stunned. “What?”
Emmett came up, already howling with laughter. “No way!” He cried breathlessly. “No way Sappho is going to let you drive her!”
Head whipping around, she leveled him with a confused stare. “Am I Sappho or is my car?”
Bella turned red and Emmett’s laughter doubled.
“Take your pick!”
She gaped, unsure she liked either.
“So, can I?” Bella asked, her grin letting Rose know that Bella knew exactly what she was asking. There was a glint in her eye that Rose hadn’t realized had been missing that day under the weight of Edward’s sullen behavior.
“Yeah, Rose, you gonna let her drive your brand new car?”
Her mind worked fast. Emmett was right, this wasn’t something that she usually allowed. Her cars were hers. She didn’t like sharing. She didn’t like watching her babies, the apples of her eye driven by someone else. It was like watching your significant other make out with someone else. What’s more, she couldn’t let her baby be wrapped around a tree by someone with human reflexes. But both Bella and Emmett, looking at her like they knew exactly what she was thinking. “Oh!” Relief flooded her as she saw an out. “It’s manual.” She frowned, her shoulders slumping as if disappointed.
“You could teach me,” Bella said with a little too much innocence.
“You could. You know. Teach me.” And then she did something that Bella had never done before. She waggled her eyebrows at her. Waggled them with all the suggestion in the world.
“All right.” She didn’t want to, but oh how could she say no to that.
Emmett’s face dropped into shock. “What? You never let me drive your cars! I got next!”
Cornered, Rosalie sneered a smile. “Fine,” she ground out and the three started toward the backroad where the car was parked.
Rosalie was a stiff rod of tension as they walked up to her car, glimmering a little in the late morning dew.
“You having a heart attack yet?” Emmett teased.
Nose in the air, she sniffed. “Of course not. Why would I?”
Bella, however, did not look convinced as she took the keys. “So this goes into the turny thing, right? – Okay, I’m just kidding!” Bella cried at whatever she saw on Rosalie’s face.
They got in, Bella in the driver’s seat, and because he wouldn’t fit in the backseat, Emmett in the passenger side. That left Rosalie in the back, her jaw clamped tight, the plastic smile on her face probably not fooling anyone.
“I don’t know if I feel safe,” Emmett griped. “Where’s my seat belt?”
Bella rolled her eyes but Rose, on a hair-trigger, snapped.
“You’re a three hundred pound vampire. You’ll be fine.” She turned back to her mate, schooling her face. “Okay, Bella, driving a manual is all about balance.”
“Nu-uh! It’s all about timing!”
“Hey! Peanut gallery! Shut up!”
Bella looked between them, amused.
“Now. Bella...” She crooned, “you notice how there’s an extra pedal?”
The lesson in clutch versus gears deteriorated from there and soon there was yelling. Rosalie yelled at Bella as the gears ground, making her hyperventilate in the back seat. Bella yelled at Rosalie for yelling at her as the car jerked and shuttered. Emmett yelled over both of them, teasing and catcalling them both.
“Press and release! Press and release at the same time, Bella!”
“I am! I am!” The car revved, the accelerator pushed a little too hard and then jerked forward and stalled as the clutch wasn’t released enough to catch first gear.
Rosalie let out a whine of a shout as the car made a noise that couldn’t be good for it.
“This doesn’t make any sense! Why are there two pedals! What the hell?”
“There aren’t! There are three! It makes plenty of sense! You’re just doing it wrong!”
Emmett’s laughter only highlighting the point.
Bella tried again and for a moment the car moved.
“Yes! Yes, Bella, ye—”
The car stalled.
“Damn it!” Bella shouted, her fist smacking the steering wheel.
“Do – not – hit – my – car!”
“It’s just a car!”
Rosalie’s head dropped to the back of Emmett’s seat, hiding her face.
Her poor car. Her poor, poor, beautiful car.
“Okay.” She took a deep breath, doing her best to get her voice back to sweet and loving as she wanted to sound. “We can do this.”
Bella scowled at her.
“It’s just about delicacy. Remember, balance. Think of it as a dance. One foot releases while the other presses in equal measure.”
Steel in her gaze, Bella tried again and the car revved harshly and then, to Rosalie’s relief, caught in first.
“I’m moving!” Bella shouted, so excited that her feet jumbled and she shot forward, pushing the RPMs into second gear range.
“Whoa! Whoa!” Emmett cried as Rosalie’s hands clutched his arm. “Gaaaaah! Ow!”
Bella let out a scream as the car moved and released the pedals, making it stall again.
Breathing hard and frantic in the backseat, Rosalie did her best to hold on to that smile. “That was good! Try that again.”
“Uh-uh.” Bella’s head shook. “I’m done. I’m good.”
Rose’s hands were tight fists in her lap but she smiled.
“You almost have it,” Emmett pressed, making Rose glare at him.
It took another few tries but eventually they began to move, slowly but surely.
They turned off of the service road, Bella stalling in the turn and onto the empty highway.
“You know, Bella,” Rose said in her lightest sweetest voice.
Bella, whose eyebrows were tight as were the muscles in her back and shoulders, barely glanced at her.
“If we don’t get going soon, we’re not going to make it back before Charlie comes home for lunch.”
Startled, the car stalled again and Rose barely held back her wince. Perhaps it wasn’t true to say that she was only human, however, her ability to sit passively by was quickly fading.
Emmett smirked at her, seeing through her. She glared a silent shut up.
“He’s on his way home now.”
Bella looked up at her, surprised. “Wait, you can hear him from here? We’re miles from town.”
“Of course I can.”
Emmett shook his head. “Bullshit, Bella, don’t listen to her. She just wants to get back into the driver’s seat.”
Ignoring that, she smiled, tossing her hair over her shoulder and doing her best to look at her as prettily as she could.
Bella glanced into the mirror, and then over her shoulder at her, a little slack-jawed.
“You know, sometimes it’s intimidating.”
“What?” Rose asked, running a finger along the side of Bella’s neck, making her go red.
“Uh-oh, Bella, I know this trick. Resist! She’s trying to get in your head!”
Her eyes flicked over to him, warning him off as she gently tickled the shell of Bella’s ear. “What is intimidating?” She asked in a gentle croon.
Bella’s cheeks went pink again. “You looking like that.”
Rosalie’s mouth dropped open, not having been expecting that at all. Emmett howled.
Bella still looked a little dazed as she pulled over and got out.
Rose paused, kissing her soundly on the side of the road and then pushed the seat up for Bella to crawl in.
Sliding behind the wheel felt like an instant headache cure. She hummed, her teeth between her lip. She glanced at Bella in the mirror and saw her looking at her with amusement and something else Rose couldn’t place just then.
“You gonna show me how it’s done?”
Rose grinned. “That’s right.” With a wink, she shot off down the road, making Bella squeak and her laugh.
They made it to Bella’s house in four minutes, a record, she was sure.
“Have a good Sunday, sweetie.” Rosalie smiled sweetly, only kind of teasing.
Bella glared, closing the car door.
Rose frowned. There it was again. She had noticed it every day since they had kissed on Bella’s bed. She winced as Bella climbed onto the porch and gave a small half of a wave before heading inside. Rubbing her chest a little, she took a deep breath and pulled the car out.
This was new, this pull. It wasn’t bad, Rose thought, but it hurt and because she was a vampire, she noticed pain now. It happened so rarely.
Starting down the street, Emmett turned a little in his seat, his eyes shrewd. “So, we gonna talk about it?”
Startled, Rosalie glanced at him. How could he know what she was feeling? She didn’t even understand what she was feeling.
“Edward’s back,” he prompted when she said nothing. “Bella.”
Rosalie’s eyes snapped back onto the road, staring straight ahead with more concentration than she needed.
She shook her head once. “No. We’re not.”
Slowly he gave a nod, his face for once serious. “Okay.”