Seven: Heavy Downpour
Chapter Eight: Heavy Downpour
I don't get much sleep once I head to bed. I can't believe I've managed to feel more pathetic than I already do. It's like I've been just lost all my lives before the end of Halo 3 at Legendary difficulty level: I thought that with the group I might have been getting somewhere, only to feel like I'm back at the start.
I realize, after obsessing over the Edward-car-seat-scenario for forty-five minutes, that I'm probably getting ahead of myself. Going to one support group session wasn't going to fix all of my problems. What I was dealing with couldn't be resolved by a quick fix.
But god, what had happened to me? What happened to the girl who made Edward erect, under the dinner table, by secretly grabbing his junk while Esme and Renee talked about pottery classes? What happened to the girl who was ready for whatever came her way because it was in those intimate and hot moments that she truly knew herself?
That Bella was buried eight feet under. I'm sure Edward would be crying at her funeral.
For the next week, Edward and I get on fairly well. We spend the car ride to and from school talking about miscellaneous crap; like school, the new movie Crosshairs and guessing what Lauren Mallory's real hair colour is. A few times he tried to bring up the Wednesday Night Debacle, but I'd always quickly change the subject, and he wouldn't press it again that day.
Exactly a week after the Wednesday Night Debacle, I wake up, say good morning to my dad and fully intend on continuing to ignore what happened last week. I had to get up a little earlier because Edward has something on - I have no idea what – but whatever, he's giving me free rides to school so I'm happy to comply.
The phone rings suddenly, just as I'm about to open a granola bar.
"Oh, Bella, honey! Hi!" It's Renee. I smile. It's good to hear from my mom again.
"Hey, Mom! How are you?" I reply, which then results in Renee going on for twenty minutes about some new guy she's seeing. He's closer to her age than Phil was, and works for a big law firm. I'm impressed with the new guy – he actually sounds mature – but kinda let down by Renee's turn of conversation. She's always been a little more into herself than into me.
At some point, she mentions the Cullens, and more importantly, Edward. I tense, foreseeing an awkward conversation.
"Charlie told me Edward was driving you to school," Renee hedges. "I hope you're okay with that, being so close to him and all…"
I seethe, venom in my voice. "I was fine all summer with him, wasn't I?"
"Oh yes, honey, but I just worry about you, that's all. I know you haven't been dealing well with happened with Phil."
"Is there a way to deal well? Gee, I had no idea, Renee." I cut the crap and stop calling her 'Mom'. She's always been happy-go-lucky, no-responsibility-Renee.
"Don't take that tone with me, Isabella. You know I'm just trying to help you. I miss my happy little girl, and I just want her back."
"Yeah, well, I guess since you barely talked to me all summer I'm just a little sceptical about you actually being interested in how I feel about the incident." I don't even let Renee argue back. "I'm going to a support group, now, anyways, and it's really helping. I'm more like myself than I've ever been. Look, I gotta go. Bye."
I slam the phone down back into the receiver. The sound echoes like my lies. I stare at the receiver for a long time, unseeing.
I decide that the mourning period is over. Forks-Bella-Swan is here to stay, and I'm just going have to swallow it. But I'll be damned if I don't show Renee that I can get over the incident. I'll be damned if I don't show Jess, Lauren, and Angela that Alice is a better friend and cooler person than all of them combined by just ignoring their stupid, bitchy comments. I'll be damned if I don't show Edward that I can still be up for anything.
I'll be damned if I don't erase Phil out of my head once and for all.
The drive to school is slow because of the black ice on the road. I check my reflection in Edward's side mirrors; I made sure that I wore eyeliner and blush today. Edward likes it when I dress up a little sultry.
Edward looks pretty tired; there must be some test that he's been studying like mad for. Shit. It's not for Bio, is it? I deftly grab my school planner out of my bag, and my heart slows once I realize that there's nothing due for bio yet, let alone a quiz.
At least that's one less thing I have to be nervous about. When we finally pull up at school, the lot is pretty much empty.
I undo my seatbelt and lithely crouch over Edward. I press my warm palm against his cheek and kiss him softly on the lips. He's hesitant to kiss me back. My hands roam over his wonderful shoulders. The electricity is there. My confidence is there, because I know what's going on and what's going to happen. No sudden surprises.
I start to trace my tongue along his lower lip, when suddenly, Edward moves away from me. A frown crosses over my face; confused, I try to explain. I look over at him, my long hair framing my face.
"I'm trying to show you that even if I've changed, I'm still…you know…willing. I got scared last Wednesday, but I think if we go slowly we can have a lot of fun." I smile winningly, hoping it will please him.
Edward unbuckles his seatbelt, kills the ignition and makes to open his door. He looks disappointed in me.
"You know that's not what I want, Bella," he says in a low voice, and I freeze. We've hit the point of no return.
I know what he wants. He wants three little words and a title that screams committed relationship. "That's not what we ever agreed to," I reply, an edge to my voice, scrambling back into my own seat. My chin is up, defiant. Edward knows the rules.
"Sometimes I wish that I'd never agreed," he snaps and slams the door shut. I scramble out the car and call after him, but he's already locked the Volvo and started to walk away.
He's sick of being used. Sick of not getting what he wants. Can I really blame him?
But he agreed, a little voice reminds me in the back of my head. He blood-swore with you.
I keep my head down, confused and shamed, as I walk the halls after totally blanking out on my first class. Edward texts me just before second period begins.
I can't deal with this today. Emmett will pick u up and drive u 2 the meeting.
I stare at the screen as I walk. I run into someone with a mop full of dead, chemically straightened hair in the hall. Ooh, just my luck – it's Lauren! Yay!
She swears at me for knocking into her – uhm, those aren't your books on the floor, bitch – and then glares.
"You know, I also ran into Edward Cullen just before," she mentions to me, "although, he apologized."
Lauren's voice is funny – I think she has a cold. I make to respond, but she cuts me off and carves me up into little tiny pieces of pathetic.
"You're such a selfish little whore," she goads, her voice purely gluttonous with power. "You expect him to just roll over and beg whenever you want him to? And here I always thought you were so vanilla. Guess you're more of a freak than I expected. But you're not the one he's tutoring every Thursday."
A simpering little smile flits on her pink-frosting colored lips. I bet she thinks she looks drop dead gorgeous with the latest YSL lipstick on. I bet no one's told her it washes out her whole complexion. She'd hang the person who told her that by their iPod headphones. Anyway, her smile says oh, look, I've won again. "Ciao, Bella!" she coos over her shoulder as she walked away from me.
I'm pretty much shaking by the time I reach Biology. Everyone's running later – including Mr. Banner – so it's a few of Mike's friends sitting up the back, watching something that sounds like porn on Tyler's laptop, and Edward, writing furiously fast, that fill up the room.
I slam my books on Edward and I's desk.
"You told Lauren about us? About our summers?" I fume, practically yelling in his face.
Edward looks seriously pissed. I've interrupted his precious writing time. He yanks his notebook off the desk, and angrily motions for me to follow him out into the hall, where the guys can't hear.
"No." He firmly replies. "I came into class, angry, and she asked what was wrong. I just told her a bit about what happened in the car."Ohmygod! I'm so humiliated I could scream. I could chuck a chair against the wall.
He continues. "Bella, I get that I should give you space because of Phil and all of that screwed up shit, but for fuck's sake, would you just give up on the idea that I'm going to fuck you over? I am not as shallow as your mother. You can trust me."
I'm silent. I will myself not to cry. He's hit the core of me. I stare at the sheet he's been writing on. The ball-point-penned musical notes swirl as tears threaten to fall from my eyes.
Edward fixes a hand in his hair, aggravated. He lets out a sigh as he concludes, "You know what? I'm not even sure if I want you to trust me right now. I'm not even sure if you trust me. You've never actually said it back to me. I….I think I need space from all this drama. Emmett will pick you up, okay?"
I nod. Edward's careful to give me a wide berth as he stalks past and away from me; just like everyone else in the hall.
Call the scientists. Apparently sexual assault is catching.
"Please," I whimper, my voice squeaking. Something snaps inside Phil. His hand is clenched around my upper arm. He looks horrified. "I'm sorry – I don't know why - " he stutters, but I try to run away from him and no one looks my way as hot, salty tears roll down my cheeks and nose. I guess it's just another day for Bella Swan at Forks High. Just another day where she freaks out.
I become so numb that I can't feel anyone there, just like the guys from Linkin Park. Alice lets it slide at lunch, I guess as a favour to me for not prying about her mom issues, but I actually start to feel a little guilt by the time we reach English. We get a partner project where we have to inform the class about a chosen topic – ours is the 'coincidental' first performance of King Lear staged after the Annesley lawsuit in 1603; boring as fuck, in other words. We both agree that we want to get it done quickly, so I suggest that we stay behind and finish it in the school library this afternoon. Alice is pretty keen about the idea.
While we learn all about Annesley and his who-the-hell-cares daughter, Cordell, after school, Alice admits that her mom doesn't actually allow people over on a school night so that she won't be distracted from studying. I consider sharing a few expletives with her, but I know the sad look in her gray-blue eyes. She's telling me because she needs someone to confide into, but she doesn't want me to judge. And I don't.
We finish the project in forty-five minutes, and then spend the next twenty or so discussing how on earth I went wrong with Edward in the car. Alice says that while my idea was good, I didn't execute it right. I think she's a little concerned about how I'm so guarded around him, or why I act so selfish when I'm with him, but she doesn't say anything. Hell, I don't even know if she actually thinks that. It's probably that lovely, magical little conscience-voice of mine that should be locked in a cupboard under the stairs. Vernon Dursley would know what I'm talkin' bout.
Emmett picks me up at quarter to five. We exchange pleasantries for a while. Thank God for him – he doesn't ask about why he has to drive me. He's such a calm, awesome guy. I wish he's my brother, sometimes. He actually seems genuinely interested when Alice gets that strange shadow across her face and tells him to, "Talk to the blonde girl with red lips."
I don't even want to go to the support group. I desperately want to go. My mind is torn, but even so, I hop out of the car, Emmett promising to meet me inside when it's finished. I let him payout my failing Chevy, I'm so distracted. I cross the pale, yellow timber threshold and take a seat in the circle that probably still has some symbolic meaning.
All too soon, Carmen, the group leader, invites me to share my story.
Everyone quietens down as I twist my hands around each other. Carmen encourages me, telling me I don't have to worry about standing up.
I think about how I'm going to word it, but then it all comes out in weird, stagnated sentences.
"About eight months ago, I was at home in the afternoon, making some tuna casserole. My mom and her boyfriend, Phil, had dropped into visit for the day at my dad's house. My dad was at work, my mom had gone out to see some old friends and Phil had stayed behind to watch a baseball game on TV. He… He. Uhm. Backed me into the wall beside the kitchen, and… uhm. Yeah. Touched me. Like, not inside, or anything. Just over my clothes and my underwear and stuff. I wasn't wearing a short skirt; I'd never tried to lead him on or anything. I froze for a while, let him do it, but he didn't stop so I tried to push him off me. Apparently that's not what you're meant to do, but for some reason, he snapped out it. Realized what he'd been doing, ran out of the house, and drove away. I eventually got a SAPO on him."
I will not cry. I will not cry. But I start to, anyway. The room is silent as tears sting my tired eyes. "People at school think I did it on purpose," I whisper.
One of the ladies, who cried when she spoke last week, comes over and hugs me. I cling onto her warm embrace, not even flinching at the unexpected touch. She's older, a bit plump, and smells like Chanel No.5. She feels like what a mother should. After a while, she lets go, and I mumble thanks. I think her name is Siobhan. Carmen quietly thanks me for being so brave and letting us in.
The girl, who spoke in a detached voice last week, speaks up now. The anger that coats her voice in a primeval way makes her even more dangerously beautiful. "You'll soon realize that you don't deserve whatever happened, Bella," she solidly reassures me. "Just because you wear a short skirt or flirt with someone doesn't mean you led them to rape you. It took me three months here to figure that one out."
I stare at her in shock. She's the first total stranger who's told me I didn't deserve the incident. When people who love you tell you that…it's like, just an echo. They have to say it. They love you.
But this girl doesn't love me. She hardly even knows me. She smiles, her red lips splitting to show her lovely white teeth. Her angry blue eyes become kind. "I'm Rosalie, by the way," she adds on. "Damn, I always need to introduce myself first before I say stuff like that."
This makes me smile back at Rosalie. One of the men clears his voice.
"I think you have it tougher than I did, Bella," he comments. "I know we're not meant to think like that…but I didn't have to worry about people saying that I was lying."
I swallow hard. "It kinda sucks."
Rosalie snorts. "It sucks major balls," she retorts, and laugher ripples out throughout the room.
When the meeting ends, Rosalie comes and finds me sipping on a mug of hot chocolate. She berates me for my lack of marshmallows. We talk for a while – she's really nice. She gives me hope, in a way. Her story was far more horrific than mine, and yet she manages to function just fine.
After about ten minutes, Emmett comes through the door gingerly, trying to spot me. He finds me, grins – complete with dimples, and I give a little wave. His face then goes kinda slack as he sees who I'm standing next to.
"Is he your boyfriend?" Rosalie inquires, her eyes on Emmett.
"No way," I laugh, while thinking are you kidding me? He's practically salivating over her.
Rosalie tucks a bit of her blonde hair behind her ear. For a moment, she looks devilishly sweet and shy. "Could you introduce me?" she asks.
"Sure," I reply, curious at this little twist of fate. I need to tell Alice to start charging by the hour.
That night, I don't dream of Phil's unwanted touches and leers. My mind twists and distorts a memory; Edward trying to teach me Fur Elise last summer. His fingers never brush mine, as they really did as I dumbly played the piano, and nor is it raining. It's sunny.
But Edward doesn't instruct me, as he really did. He doesn't speak. He lets me make mistakes and I hit all the wrong notes.
We're fifteen. Edward and I are up against his parent's caravan door, making all sorts of terrible and pleasurably good noises.
"Unhh," I moan. "Oh, yeah, baby."
Edward bursts out laughing, and like an infection, his happiness quickly spreads to me. I giggle. Edward bashes against the door again for dramatic effect and starts moaning too. We continue making mock-sex noises until Emmett and Tall-And-Tanned-Teresa from the ice cream store, his summer fling, take the hint and quieten down inside.
An hour later, Teresa sneaks out the back door with her dress on inside out and Emmett comes out to find us. He looks irritated.
"I was having a good time until you two ruined it!" he says, annoyed.
"Aww, lighten up, Emmett!" I tease, and he admits defeat, because that's what he says to everyone.
"Yeah, well," Edward jibes, "Bella and I were having a brilliant conversation until you two ruined it!"
Emmett grabs Edward in a matter of seconds and hoists him up and upside down. They scuffle on the sandy grass.
I watch amusedly and take a bite out of one of the blue popsicles Teresa thoughtfully brought over. The icy-cold sweet stains my white dress, and when Edward later comments that he thinks blue looks beautiful on me, I blush.
A/N: (A 'SAPO', 'Sexual Assault Protection Order', is basically is a Washington state restraining order pertaining to sexual assault.) What do you think of Edward snapping at Bella? And how do you like the inclusion of Rosalie? I love to hear your wonderful thoughts!