It took twenty-one days for everything to return to some normalcy before it all fell apart.
Bella stood by, watching everything happen before her, unable to stop it from taking place. She noticed Rosalie cave in on herself, agonizing in her silence, unwilling or unable to listen to the words of her friends and family. Emmett assured her it had nothing to do with her, but Bella felt blindsided. As if the entire family had failed to prepare her for their world or she'd simply fallen short of their expectations, letting everyone down.
Bella avoided catching their gaze in the school, mostly because of her easy to decipher expressions, but also the fear bubbling in her chest. It burned into her mind and threatened to consume her as the weeks passed.
Rosalie's reserved behavior put her on edge and was cause for concern. The blonde refused to spend time alone with her or even look her in the eyes. It all came crashing down right before the summer.
Bella asked Rosalie to spend the night, something she refused to do for her pride's sake, but received a gentle shake in response. She spent the entire time during school, thinking over her actions. Had she done something to upset her?
The bell rang, and Bella left her last period of the day heavy with dread. Would Rosalie still be upset when she picked her up? Swept up in her thoughts, she failed to notice Alice fall into step beside her.
"Bella!" Alice sang into her ear. She immediately jolted, but an arm stopped her from slamming into the person on her other side. "Rose asked me to drive you to your house."
The dread weighed heavier in her stomach and the sudden urge to vomit overcame her. Alice's eyes trailed across her face, nervously. Emmett's absence during the last two days weighing on her mind. She wondered if asking her question would backfire.
Getting into the sleek black vehicle, she wondered why the family had drifted. Emmett's offroading car nowhere to be seen or even Rosalie's red car. In their place stood Carlisle's car.
A loaded silence filled the vehicle. Bella's blood pounded in her ears. The pressure built until finally, she snapped underneath it.
"Alice, is everything okay?" The purring of the engine filled the silence. Her gaze took in the strained grip on the wheel and Alice's forward stare.
"They're leaving, Bella."
"Rosalie wanted them to say goodbye. Emmett couldn't work up the nerve. He and Jasper left a week ago." She sounded neutral and apathetic. The rare disposition she'd never witnessed on the petite face. "It'll just be Edward, Esme, Me, and Carlisle."
Bella slid down the leather, sunken into the seat, she grew hyperaware of every sensation. "I understand." The efforts she went through to deny the inevitable was happening. It was only a matter of time.
She should've known the last sleepover with Emmett was out of pity, a goodbye before disappearing.
"I voted for us to stay together, but--"
"You don't have to tell me." She got up from her seat and leaned her top half into the car. "I'm assuming that we won't have contact too, so it's been real." Fighting back the tears of astonishment, she shut the car door and walked inside her house, completely ignoring Alice's words countering her assumption. She heard the car remain idle before it purred to life as it left the driveway.
A throat cleared to her right, and she knew no matter how prepared she was, she'd be hurt. Rosalie came up to her and gestured for them to sit. The space between them minimal but significant.
Her eyes roamed across the beautiful face of the only person she'd loved to this extent—Rosalie, with impressive features but an even more magnificent persona.
Love, a visceral feeling she'd hoped would never turn bitter, was on the verge of crippling her with pain. The neutral features and the impressive apathy Rosalie displayed rendered her speechless.
"I'm sure Alice spoke to you." She paused, pursing her lips together. Those perfectly bowed lips only angered her further. "I don't know how to do this because you're the only person I've ever been with since I turned."
A numbing sensation traveled from her head and into her limbs.
Rosalie continued in her detached monologue. "I think we're better off as friends." Pink lips pursed together. "I love you so much, but right now, the three of us who graduated need to go off on our own for some time. With what happened in the spring, I decided it's for the best." Shoulders squared back, she continued.
Unable to stop herself, she spoke, refusing to let the silence sit. "Okay."
Rosalie momentarily froze before she continued speaking. "Wait, are you--?"
Bella watched from the recesses of her mind. She got up as if doused with fuel by the blonde's words and stood with her anger ignited. And yet, she felt the proximity of the flames, not the direct burn. "Nope." Her calm facade in place, she continued. "Thank you for asking, though. Also, thank you for being honest upfront and not dragging this out." With a wave, she grabbed her dad's car keys off the counter and left the house.
"Wait, Bella, where are you going?" She looked ahead, not noticing the arm jutting out to stop her from fleeing before it landed on her arm. Bella flinched away. She wanted to kick herself. Why would she shrink away from Rosalie? The adrenaline from earlier oozing out of her pores, leaving behind a familiar jitter and numbness.
"Don't. You don't just casually get to do this and ask me what I'm doing. You're leaving. So go ahead, but don't expect me to beg." Bella slammed the car door shut and drove in no particular direction.
Her shock wore off the further she got from the house until finally, her mind went blank. Tears burned her vision and made it impossible to drive to the point that she parked on the nearest available road to avoid swerving.
The sky opened up and poured over the town.
But Bella's tears wouldn't fall.
She couldn't do much of anything: mind, body, and nothing.
And just like that, summer began.