A Love Worth Defending

Crossing Ms. Weber

Bella straightened the papers on the table, her peripheral vision trained on Edward. He adjusted the rolled-up sleeves on his white dress shirt and slipped a hand into the front pocket of his gray slacks, the motions too casual for her comfort. Though she couldn’t put her finger on it, Bella felt something was amiss as Edward approached the witness stand.

But when he leaned on the podium and greeted Angela with a velvety smooth “Good morning, Ms. Weber,” Bella discovered what it was.

And didn’t like it one bit. “Objection!”

“Yes?” Rosalie asked when Bella fell silent.

“Counsel is…” She glared at Edward who only smirked as he faced her. “You know what I mean,” she hissed.

He backed away from the witness stand with his hands up. “Opposing counsel objects to my greeting the witness? That hardly seems logical.”

They both appealed to Rosalie with their eyes, and she rolled hers. “Your objection is unclear, Ms. Swan. Therefore I must overrule it.”

Bella took her seat, muttering under her breath, but perked up when the judge called Mr. Masen’s name.

“Take care to remember this court’s earlier instructions about your conduct,” she said. “Though it would give me great pleasure, I would rather not waste time holding you in contempt. Do I make myself clear?”

“Crystal,” he grinned, returning his attention to Angela. “My apologies, Ms. Weber. Thank you for your patience as we sorted that out.”

“It’s okay.” Angela hadn’t stopped blushing since Edward’s greeting. “I didn’t understand any of it.”

He lowered his voice. “Neither did I, but I had to play along.”

Angela chuckled, and Bella gripped the sides of her chair to keep from jumping up again. “Resist the Dazzle, Angela!”

“Ms. Weber, I need to ask you a few questions about some of the answers you gave Ms. Swan. Is that all right?”

“Sure.”

“Good. Um… just a moment.” He walked back to his desk, tapping his foot on the floor as he flipped through his notepad. Bella clasped her hands in her lap and counted backwards from 300, trying to appear calm for Angela’s sake. If Edward’s goal was to irk the living snot out of her, he was succeeding.

“I’ll just bring this with me,” he said, taking the legal pad as he approached the bench. “So Ms. Weber. You said you noticed a change in Ms. Swan after the night you all went dress shopping in Port Angeles, is that correct?”

“Yes.”

“And you remember Ms. Swan and me showing up together at the restaurant?”

“Yes.” She glanced at Bella. “Bella seemed flushed and excited to be with you, so I knew something was up.”

“I see. And what about me?”

“You?”

“Yes. You say Bella seemed excited to be with me. Did you notice anything about my demeanor?”

“Not really,” Angela shrugged. “I was too busy watching Bella to look at you.”

Emmett snickered then cleared his throat. “Sorry.”

“So you cannot say for sure if I was as excited to be with Bella as she was to be with me?” Edward asked.

Angela frowned. “I’m sorry?”

“You just admitted Bella seemed happy to be with me that night, correct?”

“Yes.”

“But those were her emotions only.” His voice dropped a dangerous octave and became almost seductive. “You cannot speak for my feelings at the time, can you?”

“No.” Angela’s eyes seemed to glaze over. “I guess not.”

“Good. Now let’s continue, shall we?”

“Okay,” she breathed.

Bella slammed both hands on the table, causing Angela to start and Rosalie to glare at her. “Ms. Swan, is there a problem?”

“No, Your Honor. There was an annoying mosquito on the table that needed to be squashed.” Edward glared at her, and she smiled sweetly. “My apologies to the court and to you, Mr. Masen. Please go on.”

His voice was flint. “Thank you, Ms. Swan.”

“You’re so very welcome.”

His smile was forced as he returned his attention to the witness. “Ms. Weber, you say Ms. Swan and I were inseparable from the next day onward, is that correct?”

“Yes.” Again, she beamed at Bella. “Made for each other, like I said.”

“What about her trip to Phoenix?”

“Her what?”

“Didn’t Bella return to Phoenix earlier this year?” Edward sounded confused. “Alone?”

Bella pinched the bridge of her nose as Angela answered. “Yes.”

“Do you know why?”

“She never told me why. I mean, not directly.”

“Okay.” Edward came closer to the podium. “But you did receive word of her reasons, correct?”

“Yes.”

“And what were those reasons?”

Angela sighed. “She left Forks to get away from you.”

“She left Forks in the middle of the school year to get away from me? Why would she do that if we were perfect for each other?”

“I don’t know,” Angela cried. “Sometimes perfect couples need space, I guess.”

“That seems a bit drastic, don’t you think?”

Angela looked at Edward over the rim of her glasses. “Maybe. But she was back in your arms at prom a few weeks later, so I guess it all worked out.”

Edward stiffened, forcing his eyes to his notes. “Let’s leave Ms. Swan alone for the moment. You testified that quote ‘about every girl in the school’ made a play for me, correct?”

“Yes.”

“Did you?”

“Excuse me?”

“Did you ever make a play for me?”

“Um…” She tried to make eye contact with Bella, but Edward was blocking her view. “I don’t think that’s an appropriate question to ask in front of your girlfriend.”

“Nonsense. This is all in fun.”

“Still, I don’t think I should.”

He narrowed his eyes. “Are you refusing to answer?”

“Not refusing, just…” She looked at Rosalie. “Is he allowed to ask me that?”

“As opposing counsel has not objected”—she glanced at Bella who shook her head—“yes, he is allowed to ask you that.”

“Fine. The answer to your question is no, I never made a play for you.”

“I see.” Edward clasped his hands behind his back. “Why not?”

Bella came to her feet. “Objection. Ms. Weber’s feelings for Mr. Masen are not on trial.”

“But Ms. Swan presented this witness specifically for her opinion on us as a unit and as individuals, rendering Ms. Weber’s feelings for me quite relevant.”

Rosalie pursed her lips as she looked between Bella and Edward. “I agree. Your objection is overruled, Ms. Swan. The witness may answer the question.”

“You want to know why I never made a play for you?” Angela asked.

“That’s right,” Edward smiled. “And with as much detail as possible, please.”

“I don’t know. You just weren’t my type.”

“Not your type?” He flipped through his notebook. “You said I was gorgeous, well-dressed, well-mannered, intelligent, and in possession of the most amazing voice on the planet. Is that not your type?”

Angela adjusted her glasses. “No?”

“Ms. Weber, you are under oath.”

“I understand that, Mr. Masen. And I am being completely honest when I say you are definitely not my type.”

“And why not?”

“I don’t think that matters.”

“It does to me.” He leaned on the witness stand. “Immensely.”

“Mr. Masen…”

“Why am I not your type, Ms. Weber?”

“Because you’re creepy!”

No sooner than the words left her mouth did Angela cover it with both hands, shaking her head. Emmett echoed the motion in a poor attempt to hide his amusement, as did Rosalie and Alice.

But Bella’s eyes were fixed on Edward, noting the satisfaction in his stance.

“You think I’m creepy?”

“I’m so sorry.” Angela refused to remove her hand. “I shouldn’t have said that.”

“No apologies needed.” Edward’s smile was genuine, making Bella even more anxious. “I wanted your honesty, and your embarrassment suggests I have it. But if you could elaborate, I would be most…”

“No.” She folded her arms. “That was a cruel thing to say, and I can’t take it back. But please don’t make me elaborate.”

Edward leaned in, his voice like honey. “But you must, Ms. Weber. Lest Judge Hale hold you in contempt.”

“Contempt?” Angela looked up at Rosalie who had just finished glaring at Edward.

“I am afraid Mr. Masen is right, Ms. Weber. Witnesses who refuse to cooperate will be held in contempt and their testimony excluded from the report on these proceedings.”

Angela gasped. “I don’t want that.”

“Then please answer counsel’s question,” Rosalie said kindly. “However bizarre it might be,” she muttered in a subhuman voice.

“Thank you, Your Honor,” Edward replied. “Now, Ms. Weber. Would you please tell the court why you find me ‘creepy’?”

“I don’t…” Angela huffed with a long roll of her eyes. “It’s like I said before. You’re very intense to be so young, like you can’t relax because you’re always afraid something awful is about to happen. And that’s more important to me than the way you look or dress.”

He came closer. “Do I scare you?”

“No.” She studied his face. “You confuse me.”

“Confuse you how?”

“Because I know you love Bella. No matter what else may be going on, I know that for a fact. Yet here you are, picking your relationship apart for some reason I can’t understand. I mean, I know you say this is all in fun, but honestly? You look like you’re playing for high stakes, like someone’s life is on the line or something.”

“I assure you it’s nothing so serious.” Edward’s light tone was forced, though Angela was the only one who didn’t know. “I just don’t like to lose.”

“That’s too bad,” Angela smiled. “Because I think Bella can take you.”

“She already has,” Edward said.

Bella caught the ache Angela missed and fisted a hand in her lap. Glancing at her watch, she hoped Edward was almost done so she could get some air.

“Do you have a boyfriend, Ms. Weber?” Edward asked.

“Um, yes.” Angela blushed. “Ben Cheney.”

“Is he a good guy?”

“The best. But don’t tell him that. Wouldn’t want him getting a big head.”

Edward chuckled. “Do you think it’s Ben’s job to protect you?”

“I guess so.” She lifted her chin. “But I’m capable of protecting myself.”

“What if there were a situation bigger than you, something you couldn’t handle on your own? Wouldn’t you agree part of Ben’s duty and honor as your boyfriend is to protect you from it?”

“Objection,” Bella said. “Apples and oranges. The relationship in question is not the same as that between Ms. Weber and Mr. Cheney.”

“Sustained,” Rosalie said. “Mr. Masen, rephrase or move on to your next question.”

“Very well.” He set the notepad face-down on top of the witness stand. “How close are you and Ms. Swan?”

“Bella is my closest friend, and I hope she could say the same about me.”

“How important to you is her happiness?”

“Very important.” She looked up at Edward thoughtfully. “That’s why I’m so glad she has you. Because you make her smile.”

“Hmmm. So if I made her cry, would you want me to leave her alone?”

Angela leaned forward. “Are you making her cry?”

Edward held her gaze as he addressed the judge. “Your Honor?”

“The witness is not allowed to question counsel,” Rosalie said. “Please answer the question, Ms. Weber.”

“Yes.” She narrowed her eyes at Edward. “If being with you made her cry, I would want you to leave her alone. I would almost demand it.”

“Do you think being in constant danger could make her cry?”

“Yes.”

“What about jeopardizing her relationship with her father?”

“Yes.”

“Losing her friends?”

“Yes.”

“Squandering her future?”

“Yes to all of those things.” Angela folded her arms. “If having you around caused her more harm than good, then yes, I would want you gone. Like yesterday.”

“Thank you, Ms. Weber.” Edward grinned to her great surprise. “I have no further questions for this witness.”

Bella was on her feet before Edward reached his table. “Redirect, Your Honor?”

“You may,” Rosalie said.

“Just one question, Ms. Weber.” Bella struggled to keep her voice neutral. “Are there any circumstances under which you think Mr. Masen would be correct to leave me without my consent?”

“What do you mean?”

“Without my permission, consent, or desire to see him go, are there any circumstances under which Mr. Masen would be correct to leave me?”

Angela’s eyes widened, and she fixed them on Edward. “No. None whatsoever.”

“Thank you, Ms. Weber. You have been very helpful.” She turned to Rosalie. “I have nothing further.”

“Ms. Weber, you may step down,” Rosalie said. “And as Ms. Swan prepares to walk you out, please accept our thanks for your participation today. This was an unusual assignment, but you did a great job helping us out.”

“Thank you, Judge Hale,” Angela said. “I hope you guys get an ‘A’ on this.”

Bella led Angela out of the courtroom and to the parking lot, a careful smile pasted on her face.

“That was… interesting,” Angela said.

“Never a dull moment in that family, that’s for sure,” Bella replied. “Thanks again for coming all this way. We really appreciate it.”

“Beats the heck out of cleaning the bathroom.” Angela unlocked her car door. “I hope Edward isn’t too upset about me calling him creepy.”

“That’s a compliment compared to what Emmett says,” Bella chuckled. “Don’t worry about it.”

Angela closed her door, looking at Bella through the open window. “I meant what I said on the stand. You and Edward are made for each other. And whatever this case is about, I hope the verdict somehow reflects that.”

“So do I, Angela,” Bella thought as Angela honked and drove off. “So do I.”

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