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The L Word

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When we got back to the car, I draped my new dress across the backseat and then plopped myself in front of the steering wheel. "So, where exactly is this fantastical book store that you looked up online?" I asked Bella, who was sitting beside me as my passenger.

"It's not actually far from here. If you pull out of the parking lot I can … um … give you directions," Bella replied, glancing up at me and then quickly turning away to focus on a lock of hair she had grasped between her fingers.

Her demeanor had changed during the walk from the department store to the car. She now seemed embarrassed about wanting to take me to the bookstore at all and I regretted having teased her so much about it before. I decided to reel back a bit on that part of my personality … at least when it concerned Bella. I wanted her to be comfortable with me and not be afraid of sharing, because she thought I might judge her. If I made her feel apprehensive then wasn't I being a hypocrite? Except for my anonymous blog posts, I never shared who I really was with anyone, because I feared being judged. How horrible that I was making Bella feel like me.

"You know, I've always wanted to have my palm read, but I was too afraid. We should totally try and get ours read when we get there." I was lying, but it was important that I try and pull Bella from the shyness my teasing had obviously caused.

"Well, if you do it then I might as well too," Bella smiled at me, letting her hair lock of distraction go.

"Good. We can be each other's support system in case we're told that some bad karma is coming our way. Maybe not telling Angela about our trip will come back to bite us," I joked and then placed the car's key into the ignition.

Only when I twisted it upward the engine didn't start. I tried again, but got the same result. Apparently I'd spoken my bad karma into existence. "I thought driving slow would keep this from happening," I mumbled to myself.

"What's wrong?" Bella asked, although it was pretty obvious what the problem was.

"I'm not sure why, but the car won't start. I'm not really good with cars. Talking about douchebag guys, yes. Why a vehicle won't start, no," I replied, trying to ease her worry and maybe some of my own with humor.

Bella pulled her phone from her purse. "Do you need me to have Charlie come take a look at the engine? If he can get it to work again, you won't have to call your parents and get a lecture about responsibility. My dad's cool. If I ask him not to say anything, he won't."

I was thankful for Bella's offer, but panicked at the thought of losing our alone time together. If her dad came to help, she wouldn't want to tell me about Edward anymore, not that I really cared much about him, but it was the reason behind this trip. Would I ever get this chance again? Probably not.

Maybe it's for the best. You need to let this fantasy of yours go

Oh, closeted lesbian, welcome back, I replied sarcastically to my subconscious, which really was just me replying to myself. Great, I was talking to myself. Clearly I was insane. Insane for the ongoing conversations I kept having with a part of myself I had labeled as another person, but more importantly insane for pursuing Bella.

Well, I'd gotten this far and tuning back wasn't an option. My fate of heartbreak was already sealed and I was going to enjoy my fall into it. "Thanks, but we don't have to call him right now. You said the bookstore wasn't far. We can walk there and then come back here to eat in the food court. Not exactly as nice as that Italian restaurant on the boardwalk, but we can pretend by eating at Sbarros. Pizza's Italian, you know. Even reheated pizza!"

I hoped I didn't sound as pathetic to Bella as I did to myself. It all came out like one long groveling plea. Please, don't leave me. I need you … to eat pizza with me, so I can pretend you're my girlfriend, you're so pretty, god I'm such a loser.

Bella didn't notice any pathetic qualities to my begging or at least didn't let on. She instead patted my hand that was still resting on the steering wheel and said, "Okay, I see what this is. You just really want to get your palm read."

I gave her a sideways glance and Bella laughed softly. When she removed her hand a second later, its absence was noted. "I get it," she continued. "You're just trying to keep me on track. I know I've been stalling about the whole Edward thing."

"Yeah, I guess I'm too transparent for you." I internally sighed, relieved at her inability to see my true colors.

"Okay, let's go and maybe I can tell you what's really going on."

We left the car and began our journey towards Bella's mystical bookstore with a promise to return for lunch and make that eventual phone call to her dad. Bella was right about the store not being far … for a car. Walking took us a bit longer, 30 minutes longer. The route brought us through parts of Port Angeles that I wasn't familiar with and didn't think were that well taken care of. We passed a few people along the way, none that made me pause to grasp my pepper spray out of my purse, but I reminded myself exactly where it was if I needed to use that form of defense for whatever reason. I also pulled up some memories from those few times I had tried to get an exercise routine going. The workout DVDs hadn't exactly been marked as self-defense 101, but I was pretty sure some kicking had been involved. In any case, my legs had hurt the next day.

As we walked Bella made small talk, asking me questions about my life, trying to take the focus off herself and El Douchebageo. I told her that I had lived in Forks all my life, was active in my parent's church, although I considered myself agnostic, and named off both my siblings. There were a few more questions, but after some time she ran out of things to ask and I decided to take advantage of her pause. "Are you interested in Edward … like as a boyfriend?"

She looked up at me in surprise, but her face quickly sobered like she was a child caught in a lie. Bella wasn't lying, she had been trying to distract me. "I don't know. I think I'm more interested in him as a thing than as a future boyfriend. I don't really date and if I did he wouldn't be my first choice."

"What do you mean?" I asked too forcefully, my curiosity getting the better of me.

Bella shrugged. "I don't trust my feelings for him. Ask any girl in school if they think he's hot and they'll say yes, but I wonder if they feel that way, because of their true feelings or are they drawn to him, because he makes them."

I gave her a weird look and she waved her hand as if to say ignore me, "Sorry. I guess that makes no sense. I'm just babbling. Anyway, it doesn't matter, because there's other things about him that bother me that I couldn't deal with if we dated."

"Like his ..." penis, because you're a lesbian like me.

"Oh, look … we're here!" Bella said, being overly enthusiastic about the fact that a distraction had popped up just when she needed it.

I looked over the outside of the bookstore and had to suppress a laugh, because I knew it would come out sounding cynical. It was every bit as new-agey as my mind had thought it would be. Despite my doubts about the crystals and dream-catchers on display in the window actually working, I followed Bella through the door. There was a little tinkling of bells announcing our entrance and an old woman with long gray hair looked up from behind a see-through counter that was home to more crystals on display. She greeted us and Bella and I disappeared into the rows of books occupying the center of the store.

"This is the weirdest Barnes and Noble I have ever been to. I think as a company they've really let themselves go," I whispered to Bella as she tapped the spines of the books, looking over the titles.

Her response was an exaggerated eye roll and I pouted my lips. "Sorry. I couldn't help myself. I have a sarcasm problem. I idolized Chandler Bing from Friends when I was younger."

"Could you be any more annoying?" she mimicked the Friends character I'd mentioned and then jabbed me with her elbow playfully.

I laughed and had to fight the urge to tickle her back, because that would have made things weird. "Look Bella, I'm trying to be supportive, but what do any of these books have to do with Edward?"

"You'll see," she replied just as her fingers pulled one of the books away from the others.

"What's that?"

I tried to peer over her shoulder, but Bella twirled around to face me with the book clutched tightly to her chest. "Let's wait till we get back to the mall. It's some pretty heady stuff and I don't want to bog down your first palm reading with it. I promise you when I show you the book you'll … well, you will either think I'm crazy or you'll see Edward in a whole new way."

"What? Is he actually a decent guy that doesn't try to control his lady friends? That's the only new light I can see him in that will actually surprise me," my voice was mocking.

Bella ignored me. "I'll go pay for this and then ask about getting our palms read," she replied.

I wanted to kick myself for being so sarcastic again and groaned softly as I watched Bella walk away. I went to follow her and apologize, but stopped when I saw her move the book from the protected shield of her grasp. It was no longer covered as Bella placed it on the counter and I saw the title for the first time: The Complete Encyclopedia of Vampire Lore.