Soaked to the bone, shivering and half blind with tears, I stumbled along with the bike. Trying to cover the last hundred yards towards the Cullen’s garage, without tripping and falling flat on my face.
I was so done with this day.
I just wanted to go home. I wanted to have a hot shower, climb into my own bed, and cry myself to sleep.
Jakes words had hurt. They’d been like a slap in the face, and I just…I didn’t want to have to deal with anybody. I didn’t want to field a million question. I didn’t want to pretend I was fine, and I didn’t want to play Bella Barbie.
I just wanted to be alone.
But there was no way my kidnapper would allow it. I could already see that the light was on in the garage, and I knew Alice would be in there waiting for me, ready to read me the riot act. Besides, we were only half way down her slumber party check list, so there was no point in even asking. She’d probably already decided to torture me for the rest of the night, so I’d just have to suck it up.
I was too exhausted to argue.
I didn’t have any fight left in me.
My Jacob, my sun, hated me.
I shuddered violently and choked back a sob as I approached the garage. My throat was so thick, there was no way I would be able to talk, and I wasn’t even slightly prepared for Alice’s onslaught. I needed more time to pull myself together. But I was out of time, so with a shuddering sigh I pushed the bike through the garage doors.
I frowned in confusion, and cast my eyes around the cavernous space, half expecting her to jump out at me. When she didn’t, I looked back towards the lone, imposing figure that stood, arms folded, against the counter, staring at me.
“I thought you might need these.”
“Um, thanks.” I stuttered, blinking stupidly up at Emmett, as he held out my keys then dropped them into my outstretched hand. He was the last person I expected to see, and I braced myself for the inevitable bought of teasing.
“Here, let me help you with that.” He offered.
His black eyes were unreadable as he pushed himself off the workbench and reached for the bike. I stepped back instinctively, for once having what Edward would call, an appropriate response to a vampire. Then I just watched him blankly as he lifted the bike with ease and placed it into the bed of my truck.
The truck that should have still been in Charlie’s driveway.
This wasn’t making any sense.
Emmett had left on Thursday to go hunting with Edward, Jasper and Carlisle so why weren’t his eyes gold? Had something happened? Had they been unable to hunt? Had they all come home early? But surely if Edward had come home, he’d be here now, ushering me in out of the cold, demanding I get warm and dry.
Had my escape to La Push angered him so much that he couldn’t even bear to face me?
“He’s still hunting, he’ll be back some time tonight.”
“Oh.” I frowned, “And Alice?”
“Finishing a pedicure. She said you’re free to go.” He shrugged as he turned his back on me and walked towards his Jeep. His lack of wise cracks was starting to freak me out. I’d never seen Emmett so…detached and ill humoured. It just wasn’t like him at all, and it wasn’t like Alice to just let me off the hook like this. I’d expected her to drag me across the coals, or at the very least, guilt trip me into a shopping trip for my crimes.
Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, Bella!
“I just need to get my bag.” I murmured instead of escaping while I had the chance. I didn’t need the bag. Charlie would still be at work, so he wouldn’t be there to question it, and Edward would bring it by tomorrow.
No, he wouldn’t be home now, but he would be later, and there was no way he’d miss the bike in the back of the truck! I’d planned to leave it here, but with the way Emmett was acting, I felt kind of uncomfortable asking.
Maybe he’s had an argument with Rosalie?
“I’m sure you know where it is.”
“Yeah.” I nodded numbly, “I’ll just…um.” I kind of half pointed to the side door, and when he shrugged again, I swallowed the sudden lump in my throat, and rushed into the house.
The mud room door slammed shut behind me, and I fell back against it, staring blindly through my water logged eyes. My heart was racing uncontrollably and I was shaking so much that my teeth were chattering. But it had nothing to do with the cold, and everything to do with the fear that was suddenly consuming me.
What is going on?
Every vampire in the house would be able to hear my heart, smell my fear and taste my tears in the air. Their heightened senses often left me mortified and embarrassed. There was absolutely no privacy in this house, and I hated it. I hated being mollycoddled. I hated the questioning and knowing looks. I hated feeling so exposed.
Because on any other day, at any other time, Edward would be in here with me, panicking while he dried my tears and demand to know what was wrong. Esme would be in here with a warm, dry towel, and an even warmer hug, offering to make me tea and something to eat. Alice would be in here, with a tight grip on my hand as she dragged me upstairs for a hot shower and some clean clothes.
Then there would be Carlisle with a fatherly smile, and a concerned look, as he listened to assess my heart rate. Jasper wrapping me in a tranquil blanket of peace and serenity, and Emmett…
Emmett, the dark eyed vampire, the only one who had actually seen me, and dismissed me, without an ounce of his usual jovial charm. He would be throwing out wise cracks to try and make me laugh or blush or both.
And I hated it all.
Yet, I suddenly missed it.
All of it.
I’d wanted to be alone, and I was. But I’d never felt as alone as I did in that moment. Not even when I was alone during those dark days without Edward.
Maybe I was being overly dramatic. Maybe my guilt was playing havoc with the rest of my emotions. Or maybe I really should be carful what I wished for.
Taking a deep, shuddering breath, I swiped at my eyes, pushed off my shoes and coat, and reached for one of the fluffy towels. I was being ridiculous. Emmett said that Alice was busy, and if he had fallen out with Rose, then of course he would be distracted, and of course his eyes would be black.
He was probably just angry.
With a sigh, I used the towel to dry the access water from my hair and clothes, dropped it into the laundry basket, and made my way into the kitchen. It was dark and empty, with the only light coming from the small bulb over the cooker. Unlike last night, there was no homely smells of baking cookies and no pasta sauce bubbling away in a pan.
As strange as it sounds, in a house full of vampires, that was unusual.
Esme was missing, but I could hear Alice’s tinkling laugh coming from the lounge. So, I slowly made my way toward her; and the stairs that would take me up to Edwards room.
“H-hi.” I stuttered as I walked into the room. Like the kitchen it was darker than usual, with just a couple of side lamps lit, and soft music playing over the sound system. Alice was sat leaning back on the couch, with Rosalie kneeling on the floor at her feet, painting her toe nails a deep shade of purple. She didn’t even spare me a glance, and while that was normal, after our conversation last night, I thought she’d at least say hello.
“Your things are up in Edwards room.” Alice smiled, as she looked up at me from the magazine that rested in her lap. I’m sure I looked like a drowned rat, standing there shivering, with my red nose and puffy eyes. But she didn’t frown or gasp or demand to know what was wrong.
She just smiled.
It was small, and sad and it completely broke my heart. I wanted to run to her, to throw my arms around her and tell her how sorry I was. To listen as she gave me the third degree, then let her drag me upstairs to be poked and prodded. But like Emmett, she suddenly seemed so unapproachable. So, I just nodded and turned towards the stairs. I’d never felt so unwelcome here. I felt like a stranger, an intruder, and that feeling hurt worse then any words Jake could ever throw at me. I’d always been so self conscious around the Cullen’s, so embarrassed, that I’d never noticed how comfortable I’d become in this house. How welcomed I’d been by this strange family.
Until suddenly I didn’t feel welcome at all.
My humanity had always made me feel kind of like I didn’t belong, like I was the oozing red pimple on an otherwise beautiful face.
But I was wrong.
Because this was how it really felt to be an outsider. This was how it felt to be unwelcome.
The newly healed hole in my chest, split at the seems. It was just a crack, but it was enough to steal my breath. It came on so suddenly that I had to grip onto the hand rail so I didn’t fall down the stairs. I needed to get out of here. Their indifference was terrifying me, and I was on the verge of a complete breakdown.
They all obviously knew what I’d done, and I had no doubt that Alice would have told Edward. So where was he? Why wasn’t he here pacing, shouting, pinching the bridge of his nose in irritation? Emmett had time to come home from wherever they had been, which means that Edward had time too.
Yet he wasn’t here.
And the thought of his indifference, and what it could lead to, had me almost paralysed with fear.
With my arms wrapped tightly around my chest, I stumbled blindly into Edwards room. I was trying in vain to hold myself together just long enough to grab my bag, get in my truck, and find an isolated place to break down. But as I blinked away my tears, a silent sob burst from my lips, and I collapsed to my knees.
The stunning wrought iron masterpiece that’s had dominated his room last night. The expensive purchase that I’d deemed unnecessary, and stubbornly refused to sleep in?
It was gone.
Last night had been the first time I had stayed over at the Cullen’s, and Edward really hadn’t needed to buy the bed. I was perfectly fine on the couch. So why did it’s sudden absence hurt so much?
Dear God, I really need to get out of here!
Taking deep calming breaths, I grasped onto the side of the couch and pulled myself back up off the floor. I couldn’t fall apart here. I felt guilty enough as it was, without forcing them to listen to me breakdown in their own home.
After wiping my eyes on the sleeve of my shirt, I looked around the room for my bag. It was leaning against the side of the couch, packed and ready for me to take. I was barely hanging on to my sanity, so I grabbed it quickly, and rushed back out into the hall.
The bathroom door was open, steam was billowing out into the walk way, and like something out of my nightmares, a beautiful, petite blonde was stood leaning over the bannister, rubbing her hair with a towel.
“Alice, will you come dry my hair?” She called quietly, in a soft musical voice.
She had to know I was there, but she didn’t turn around until Alice materialised between us, almost vibrating with excitement.
“We’re going to have so much fun! I was going to suggest that you wear the new Dior dress I ordered last week. But if you loose the jeans, and we add a belt, I think you’ll look perfect. We’ll go with major sex hair and Rose's nude Louboutin’s I think. Make you look like you’ve just rolled out of bed.” Alice rattled off quickly as she ran her fingers through the strangers hair, and tugged lightly on the shirt she was wearing.
It was a waffle patterned white shirt, with dark blue buttons, and an internal lining to match along the collar and cuffs. It was a shirt that I loved. It was a shirt that I knew belonged to Edward.
I gasped quietly and they both tuned to face me.
Dear God, she was so gorgeous she made Rosalie look like an umpa-lumpa. She had pink pouty lips, warm golden eyes, and a light flush to her high cheekbones that proved she’d hunted not long ago.
And she was wearing Edward’s shirt.
“Have you got everything?” Alice smiled, her excitement noticeably absent.
“Um, yeah, I think so.”
“Good. I’ll see you on Monday. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.” She nodded before turning, grabbing the strangers hand, and pulling her down the stairs. “Come on, Kate, so little time so much to do!”
The stranger…Kate…didn’t even acknowledge me as she laughed and allowed Alice to drag her away.
“Annoying little pixie.” She giggled musically, “Where the hell is Edward when I need rescuing.”
“He’ll be home before we leave. I just hope he doesn’t ruin my plans. I’m not sure he’ll let you out dressed like that.” Alice’s voice was quiet, but I heard every word, and they ripped the hole right open.
I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t move. Until suddenly, Alice’s bedroom door slammed shut, and I was running down the stairs. I could hardly see where I was going, and I knew I’d have a few more bruises come morning, but I just didn’t care.
If Rosalie was still in the lounge I didn’t see her. I just rushed right passed into the mud room, grabbed my shoes and raced into the garage. I didn’t see Emmett either, but then again I wasn’t really looking. I just jumped into my truck, dumped my bag and shoes, and threw it into reverse.
I had no idea how I got to the reservation, no memory whatsoever of racing through the slick streets of Forks. All I knew was that I had to get rid of the bike before Charlie saw it. It was the only conscious thought that was ratting around my empty head. Everything else was just too painful to think about, and I needed to be alone in my dark bedroom before I unleashed them.
I saw Jacob step out onto his porch, and I climbed shakily out of the truck and stopped to watch him. I could tell he was still angry with me, his clenched fists were a dead give away. But I just didn’t have it in me to care.
“Twice in one day. The bloodsuckers are slacking on their kidnapping skills.” He spat, as he stalked down the steps towards me.
“I was just returning the bike.” I mumbled, as I backed behind the door, shielding myself from him.
“Oh, and here I thought you’d come to apologise.”
“Apologise?” I gasped, “Apologise for what?”
“I don’t know, Bella. How about the fact that you disappeared out of my life as soon as that leach came back? How about the fact that you led me on for months, only to throw everything back in my face? How about the fact that me, Charlie, Renee and all your other friends mean jack shit to you?” He seethed as he got closer and closer.
“How can you do it, Bella? How can you just turn your back on all of us as though we mean nothing to you? How can you throw your whole life away? How can you destroy your own chances to live in the sun? To go to college, to get married, to have children and grandchildren? Tell me! Tell me, Bella because I really don’t understand!”
“Because I love him.” I spat back, my own fists clenching in anger. Jake scoffed and shook his head
“No you don’t.”
“Yes I do…”
“NO YOU DON’T!” He yelled right up in my face. “Do you think I’m stupid? I’ve seen you with him, more times than you know. And I’ve seen you with me. You might think you love him, but when do you ever laugh with him? When do you smile and joke and have fun? When do you make out with him? When do you have sex?” I gasped, and took as step back, almost cowering in the open door of the truck.
“That’s none of your business!”
“The hell it isn’t! When you’re constantly running away from him to come and see me, I’d say you made it my business. You’re in denial, Bella. You spent so much time pining for him that you never stopped to realise that you’d fallen out of love with him, and in love with me! After all, if you loved him so much, why’d you say no when he asked you to marry him?”
My eyes widened, and what air I had left in my lungs came out in a single, harsh breath.
“How did you…”
“What? Did you think I wasn’t keeping an eye on you? He’s asked you more than once and you just say no, over and over and over. That’s not love. That not a woman who wants to give up her mortality. You have to know, Bella that once you do, this is all over. They’ll be no Charlie, no Renee, no friends, no US. You’ll be on your own for the rest of eternity, beholden to the man that you don’t love enough to marry. That you can’t love like that because you love me!”
“You’re right, Jake.” I stuttered brokenly, “You don’t understand. You’re my friend and I love you, but I’m not in love with you. I never led you on. I told you, so many times..."
“No, you’ve just never given us a chance. And I’m not giving up.” He said, softer now, but not gently, as he lent over the door and touched my face. I batted his hand away and slid into the truck before he could do something we’d both regret.
“Just get the bike, Jake.” I murmured, my voice hollow and empty.
“I said…Get. The. Fucking. Bike!”
“Geez, chill.” He huffed as he moved away from me and strolled casually to the back of the truck. I heard the tail gate drop, and felt the tuck move as he lifted it, and I used his distraction to close and lock the door.
He’d hit on too many sore spots, and with everything else I had to deal with tonight, I just couldn’t face them yet.
I heard the tail gate slam and watched him move away through the side mirror, before I started the truck and drove away.