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 The sun beat down warmly on her skin, her body rested on a large blue towel lazily. The sound of the river gushing and trickling, along with the trees, created a peaceful soundtrack. A light breeze caressed the sun kissed skin of the golden blonde as she lounged upon her favorite rock. The place was somewhere between an escape and a haven for her. Fresh flower scented the air, mixed with the subtle smell of rain and rock.

Below her the river flowed and pushed itself onto the thin strip of sand that parted the flat rocks and the water. She looked to her right and saw only the trees and water. It was familiar and comforting. She looked to her left and saw a figure out of the corner of her eye.

She gazed at warm brown hair draped across the freckled shoulders of the girl who sat up beside her. She studied the streaks of gold that only shown in the light, the deep chestnut waves wild and free. Deep in her thought the brunette turned to smile at her, realizing that she was being surveyed. Her white teeth, so dangerous, so destructive, were glistening with joy. A long dimple on her right cheek made its appearance, as it did only when she smiled genuinely.

“Can I help you?” Bella laughed musically. The blonde threw her hand over her eyes to shield her vision from the light. The skin of her companion reflected the light like fine diamonds.

“Just lost in thought, you are here. This is perfect.”

The brunette seemed to become more serious. She lay back once more and shifted to face the blonde, her hand propping up her face. Honey brown eyes studied violet as she waited for the blonde to continue. The human seemed to notice, she shifted slightly under her scrutiny.

“I can’t believe you are here, with me.”

“Why wouldn’t I be?”

“I don’t…I don’t know. I can’t remember, it feels strange. To not remember.”

“That’s ok. Just relax and enjoy your time with me. You like this place, yeah?”

“Well, when we are here, I feel myself. I just wish I could stay here forever. Nothing else seems to matter. I know we have school soon, and we are set to move away from here soon.” She became more and more nervous with each word.

“Yes, it will be a new adventure. It may not be as peaceful as this, but I think it will be a lovely venture all the same.” The brunette studied the blonde’s expression. She seemed upset in some way. For all her studying, Bella could not figure out what could be troubling her. Was it the change or the move? “What trouble’s you?”

Rosalie sat up feeling uneasy. She looked away; her fist propped her head up while watching the current carry a stick downstream. Her guilt was crushing her, she knew what she was supposed to say. The blonde scrunched her brows and bit her lip in pain. She needed to tell Bella that she was to wed Royce. She knew she had to tell her the plans she made to appease her family, even if it might taint their sacred place by the stream.

“I haven’t been honest with you.” She looked back with a small semblance of courage to face Bella. “My family demands a lot of me. Hale’s have a reputation to uphold, and my father’s career… Well my family needs something of me.”

“What is it?” Bella sat up and put her arms around Rosalie’s shoulder with concern.

“I am to wed Royce King. My family wishes it.” With the news Bella’s arm fell from around her.

“When?” She asked quietly. Her question was a whisper, almost lost before leaving her lips.

“The date is not set yet, but soon. I am told I can go to school here.” The blonde said solemnly, a tear forming in the corner of her eye.

“What about us?” Each of her words made Rosalie feel pain. The blonde winced.

“I do not want him. I didn’t want to tell you; I couldn’t bear to see the look on your face.” She said as she watched the vampire, tears freely falling from her face.

“I don’t know what to say.”

“I want to be with you. I have thought long and hard about it. I don’t think I can do it; I don’t think I can marry him and leave you. When I’m with him I feel lost and ashamed. I only think of you.” She reached out and intertwined her fingers into Bella’s.

“Your family, I don’t know what this will mean.”

“It doesn’t matter.” The blonde wiped away tears and smiled. The vampire thought long and hard, her features slowly softened.

“You know what I have to do now? I have to punish you for keeping that from me.” Bella smiled facetiously. She stood up quickly, Rosalie looked at her incredulously. “I have to throw you in the river, of course.”

“No no no!” The blonde screamed out as the vampire grabbed her quickly and threw her over her shoulder. She tossed the laughing and kicking blonde into the water. She stood proud with her hands on her hips as the blonde surfaced, spitting water and wiping her face.

“You ass! Come down here and face me you wimp!” She shouted up to a proud Bella.

“Me? I’m the ass?” She feigned shock.

“I don’t see any others here.” Rosalie spat back adamantly.

With that the vampire jumped in the river, with little grace for a vampire. She didn’t surface, but rather left an eerie silence for a long minute. The blonde knew her antics, knowing she was about to be preyed upon she looked around her in the water, the dark blue left little visibility, however.

Behind her she felt hands at her side, she jumped and spun around to face her predator. The brunette was smiling at her playfully with hands resting on the blonde’s hips. Rosalie trapped her with hands around the back of her neck, pulling her close. The air grew thick around them, and the tension between their lips drew them closer.

The blonde could feel soft lips brush teasingly across her own. She felt her smile grow as she moved to collapse them onto the Brunette’s.

Braynkkkk! Braynkkkk! Braynkkkk! Braynkkkk!

A hand slid its way out from a bundled blanket to slap the top of a very obnoxious alarm clock clattering its way across the nightstand. The delicate hand fell, dangling off the bed freely as if the body attached was no longer among the living. After a moment of silence, the body stirred, and a very groggy woman with wild blonde hair fixed into loose curlers flipped to her back. She sighed and stared at the ceiling, as she did every morning. She noticed the crack in the crown molding as she did every day and thought to herself for the thousandth time ‘I have to get that fixed.’ She quietly worked up the strength to get out of her warm cocoon and start her day.

The warmth of the sun on the rocks and the light breeze faded from her with every waking moment. She wished desperately to return to her dream, but she couldn’t, even if she did go back to sleep. She knew she had to start her day. With one more labored sigh she slid out from under her thick blanket and placed two bare feet on the cold wood floor.

In bed she left Royce sleeping, he stirred, spread out his arms into her spot and began to snore with his mouth agape. His hair was stuck up messily at the sides. The blonde tip toed out of the room as to not disturb him. She crossed the house to her own bathroom in her cream silk robe. The end of the robe flowed out from behind her creating the illusion that she floated across the halls.

The King’s were a wealthy family. Royce was set to inherit a generous amount of money from his father, even without such an inheritance their wealth showed in the home. Six bedrooms, four bathrooms, a grand kitchen, a parlor and living room, all decorated tastefully. The bathroom off their own bedroom was Royce’s. Rosalie would cross the house each morning to get herself ready within her own space.

The halls were wide, and the staircase was extensive and dramatic. The floor of the entry was marble, much like the rest of the house it was cold but beautiful. Dark wood molding lined the walls, along pictures of works of art and the rare family photo. A white silk robe sashayed through and into a large bathroom with marble floors and tiled walls. Most everything in the room was white, aside from the large dark mirror frame and cosmetics on the counter.

She turned on the faucet, the cool water warming as it drained. She placed her hands on the counter as if to steady herself, her shoulders were hunched over and her head down. She stared at the sink in front of her, watching the water run. Letting out a heavy sigh, she lifted her head to evaluate herself in the mirror.

She was blessed with abnormally beautiful features. Her soft, high cheeks complimented her structured jaw and plump red lips. Her oval face held two striking violet blue eyes under manicured eyebrows. Age had been kind to her, but she was still youthful at a mere twenty-five. She pursed her lips at her own reflection.

Her reflection was a stranger of her former self. Once full of life, her face wore her stress and pain now. Bags formed under her eyes. Her mouth seemed to be in a slight downward curve in its resting state. She furrowed her brow, something that she seemed to do more in the past few years. The changes in her face had slowly occurred, but it seemed as though she truly noticed them for the first time. She was beyond beautiful, but without life.

She washed her face, brushed her teeth, and applied a generous amount of make up to hide her bags. Red lip stick, mascara and blush were spread to perfection. Her hair was taken from its curlers and pinned up in various places to remain current with the style. She misted her head with hair spray and inspected her work, nodding with satisfaction at her image.

Her closet was off her own bathroom, a rather large room with carefully categorized clothing. Her shoes lined a shelf made especially for them. She picked out a red dress with white flowers that fell two inches below the knee. The V shaped neck left room for modesty, with just a tease of what could be hidden underneath. She paired the dress with red heels and grabbed a fresh apron as she made her way downstairs.

With her husband still sleeping she put on a pot of hot water to make coffee. Like clockwork she could expect her husband down and ready for his coffee at seven-thirty sharp. She put bacon in a skillet and eggs in another. Fresh toast was placed on a sheet in the oven, and jam on the table. She danced around the kitchen, her movements were practiced and calculated. Her routine was a well-oiled machine, down to the timing of her excursion to the porch to catch the morning paper.

She could hear her husband bumping around upstairs, his groan familiar as he once again stumbled into the bathroom door frame. She paused her movements to take in his sounds. She turned again to flip his eggs.

He made his way into the room just as she had finished plating his breakfast and placed a few slices of fresh cut orange to its rim. He grumbled gruffly as he smoothed his greased hair and grabbed his briefcase. His eyes did not regard her, only nodding slightly in her direction as he grabbed a piece of his toast in his one hand and placed his hat on his head with the other.

The blonde stood regarding him with a smile as she watched him shove the toast in his mouth to grab his paper. As he passed her, he grunted a quick goodbye, not stopping to acknowledge her fully. He left quickly out the back door. She watched the door as if expecting him to rush back in, realizing she had made him a breakfast. When he didn’t, she let her eyes avert to the steaming meal growing cold upon the table. With yet another heavy sigh she went to the table and sat in the spot across from his, slid his plate over and nibbled on his orange slices.

At ten she had a fitness calisthenics class followed by a water aerobics class at the community center. After touching up her hair and makeup she was off to one of her few student’s homes. She gave private strings lessons. She of course, specialized in the Cello. Jane was her favorite student, only eleven but so naturally talented with the cello. She gave her an hour lesson twice a week. She usually had one lesson with a different student each afternoon during the week.

After her lesson she was off to the grocery to pick up a few items and food for dinner. She then made her way home to tidy the house and prepare dinner. If she were lucky and preparing an easy meal, she would fit in some reading time. She read crime novels, love stories, historical biographical works and fantasy. Her time was never idle, her mind was kept busy. She had dinner ready by six, the approximate time that her husband would arrive home from his day.

A roast with garlic and potatoes sat warm on the table, plates and silverware were laid out. She took up her position in her seat, her make up and hair perfect for Royce. She waited with her back straight, her posture unrelenting. The minutes went by, and the food grew colder. She picked at her fork nervously, waiting until she was sure she would need to reheat the food.

She placed the food back in the oven, staring at the oven door as though it might speed up its process. Her back door opened with a screech of the screen door, she really needed to get oil for that. She took in the sloppy man that was her husband. His hair was dangling to the sides of his head, looking so greasy it appeared wet. His shirt was unbuttoned a couple of notches and untucked in one corner. He carried his jacket over his arm and his briefcase in the other. His hat sat sloppily to the side of his head.

He stopped once he was in and straightened his back. He was silent as he took in the room around him, the lack of food on the table, and his wife staring at him. He scoffed and walked to sit down harshly at his spot at the table.

“I even give you extra time, and you don’t have it ready.” He said without looking to her.

“Had you been here an hour ago it would have been.” She said in a low voice.

“What was that?” He looked over his shoulder to her.

“I just wish you would give me a ring if you are going to be…held up.”

“Excuse me for working to give you all of this.” He gestured to the room with his arms.

“I could plan better if I knew.” She said calmly.

“A man needs his time. Its his damn right after a long day to let off steam.” He spoke as if complaining to his friends. His right hand gestured out in front of him. “You wouldn’t understand.”

At those words Rosalie pulled out the roast from the oven and shoved it onto the table. Her demeanor had gone from thoughtful to angry. Royce jumped slightly at the action; his face grew severe. He jumped up from his seat so fast that the chair behind him fell backwards.

Fearfully, the blonde backed up a step, realizing what her moment of strife would cost her. Royce flung his arms at her, he missed. She backed up until she was only a step away from the wall, her face was showing her anxiety. Royce quickly followed her step for step. He reached out his hand and grabbed her chin and jaw tightly. His force shoved her head into the back wall. She winced in pain.

He bore into her with his eyes with his own blackened dead eyes that he got when he became angry. His brow furrowed heavily, and the once handsome man was gone. He was no longer himself; he was a monster. He pushed her head harder against the wall, seemingly curious of what could happen if he pressed further. The blonde raised her hands, grasping at his wrists, whining at her own pain.

He studied her for a moment, his mind working slowly. After a pause he released her, walking back to the table to grab his food. She doubled over slightly, tenderly touching her hurting jaw. He grabbed a slice of the roast with his hand, took a bite and walked past her to go to bed.

She took a few moments to gather herself. She stood up straight finally and brushed off her apron. Her hands were still shaky. With a sigh she sat back down at the table and served herself dinner. She ate slowly, her mind a million miles away from this unpredictable home.

~x~

Harvey’s Steakhouse was a local favorite. It was fancy enough to impress a girl, or in Royce’s case, entertain a boss. Pictures lined the dark wood walls. The tables had white clothes spread across them with a single candle lit on each one. The chairs were dark red velvet, matching the dark red carpet.

Royce was wearing his best suit; his hair was parted to the side but slicked back. He had shaved closely, leaving his signature thin mustache above his lips. He sat with Rosalie, his arm around the back of her chair, appearing casual. His was sipping on brandy as they waited for his boss to arrive.

Rosalie was dressed for the part as well, her hair done up and curled. She wore a modest dress that she favorited when going out for dinner. Her lips were ruby red and her lashes dramatic.

“Hey, I…um…I got you this. I’m sorry Rosie, for last night.” The greasy hair man passed her a small long box with a red bow. She took it knowing it was a gift, he always had a gift after. “You know, I just get so crazy from all the stress.”

She nodded in understanding, opening the box after unraveling the tied bow. It was a silver bracelet, expensive and delicate. She gave him a small smile, not genuine enough to reach her eyes. He kissed her on the cheek and turned his attention to the front of the restaurant.

A round man in his fifties approached their table, his wife trailing behind him. His shirt strained slightly under the pressure of his stomach. His hair was parted in the middle, a style that had been out of fashion for years now. He would have been handsome as a younger and thinner man. That must have been the way he was able to attract his beauty of a wife, Rosalie thought.

She was nearly just as old as him but had aged far better. Her salt and pepper hair done into curls and pinned fashionably around her head. Her face was tight, make up done well and eyes sparkling with a pleasant joy. Her body was slender and her dress new to the season.

“Hello my boy.” The round man said boisterously.

“Mr. Crouse.” Royce shook the man’s hand politely.

“Ah, and I see you are lovely as ever.” The man turned his attention to Rosalie, taking her hand and kissing it.

“You are too kind.” The blonde responded, she turned to face Mrs. Crouse “Good to see you Mrs. Crouse.”

“Good to see you my dear, please, for the hundredth time, call me Annie.” Rosalie nodded at that.

“Annie. I love your dress, Its new?” Rosalie questioned with charm.

“Indeed, it is, an eye for fashion I see.” The older woman said as she sat in the chair her husband had pulled out for her.

“Mr. Crouse, I am so pleased you were able to make it tonight. I brought the wife because to me, business is more than numbers or goals. Its about supporting those we love. Good to see you as well Mrs. Crouse.” Royce said with charm he only reserved for occasions such as this. He was a different person at work and in from of those he wished to impress. He seemed to be the man Rosalie had wished he would be. She felt sick listening to him. It was time to distract herself.

“So, Mrs. Crouse, are you planning to head to the Hampton’s this summer?” She said turning her attention to the man’s wife. Her husband carried on his own conversion with the man.

“It’s funny you should ask; we are thinking of selling our place in the city and moving there full time.”

“You have a place here as well, yes? How would Mr. Crouse continue his work if you do not reside in the city?”

“Well yes, we still have the old stone house here. I want to keep that one for when we visit the grandchildren. They are getting so big. Calvin is eight, and Theodore, well he is walking now. Can you believe that?”

“It’s hard to believe, last time we had dinner he was just sitting up on his own.”

“When are you going to start having your own? Better hurry up, three before thirty darling…”

“Ah, yes, well we are trying. All in good timing I suppose.” She said with fake optimism. She knew she would never realize her dream of children. Not with the man next to her at least.

“Well, I sense you will have a bit of extra income for the help of a nanny soon.” The woman said with a knowing smile and a nod to the men talking. Rosalie turned her ear upon their conversation.

“Well, my boy, that’s why I chose you. Your father is one of my best employees. I am excited to see what comes of you, if the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

“He has spoken of retiring next year, I am hoping to be able to take over his position as the regional manager here in Rochester.” He said with a smile as he took a drink.

“You are thinking too small. What do you think of me and my position in New York?”

“Well, I admire you of course. You have done well out there in the city, you held it down out there during the depression in twenty-nine.”

“I did. It is time for me to rest though. I have decided to focus on my family, to retire and spend time with the wife and grandchildren. I need a solid man to fill my shoes as regional director for the state.” He said putting his arm around his wife, giving her shoulder a squeeze with a jolly smile.

“Sir, are you proposing me?”

“Well, I thought that was obvious.” The large man moved to put his elbows back on the table.

“I…I don’t know what to say…”

“If you would rather not have the responsibilities or want to stay in this small city…”

“No, no, no. I would love to sir.” He said with a big bright smile. He shook the older man’s hand vigorously. His hair fell into his face slightly from the exchange.

“I need you to start next month. I have to be in the Hampton’s at the start of May.” Mr. Crouse said as he put his arm around his wife’s shoulders and smiled to her. She gazed back at him with a warm smile.

Rosalie ached for a love like theirs. After all those years, after all the time he worked long hours and held stress, he was able to love her with warmth still. She felt empty in the pit of her stomach as she watched their exchange.

“Royce, did you want to discuss this first?” Rosalie said to him in a whisper.

“What is there to talk about? This will mean loads more money. You will get to live in the city like you wanted.” He spoke out of the corner of his mouth as his boss and his wife were distracted by the menu.

“I am to start a graduate program in the fall…”

“Rosie be serious. You can find another one of your little programs there. Besides, that has never been our priority.”

“I just think…”

“You will drop this.” He whispered back harshly. He turned to smile at his boss and continue their conversation.

It was late when they arrived home. Rosalie drove her husband due to the over celebration of his promotion. He insisted on driving but gave in when he vomited on the sidewalk. He was lucky that they had parked two blocks in the opposite direction of his boss. The scene would have called into question his professionalism.

She helped him walk into the house, his arm was draped over her shoulder. His hair was disheveled, and his weight rested on her more than she liked. Once inside the door she took his and his hat and untied his shoes.

“This... going to be so good for us. I don’t understand why you had to be such a bitch about it…” He said with minor slurring as she pulled his coat from his shoulders. He kicked off his shoes sloppily.

“I merely insisted that we talk about this, since I am your wife, and this is a big change for us.”

“Your job is to support me and take care of me, something you haven’t done in God knows how long…”

“It’s hard to support someone who treats you like their servant. Forgive me for not jumping your bones when you stumble in drunk half the nights.” She said with acid on her tongue.

She turned to put his coat on the rack at the door, when she turned back, she felt instant burning across her cheek. Her head thrusted backwards. The lights seemed to go out, then it sparkled like stars in her eyes. The sound of the smack hit her recognition as her sight regained focus. He always hit the hardest backhanded.

“You are an insulate bitch. The only thing you were good for was a good fuck, now you aren’t even good for that.”  He said as he stumbled out of the kitchen. Just before the door he stopped and turned his head to speak once again. “We are going, that is final.”