Chapter 16: Stupid Little Girl
I get out of the shower and stare at myself. My skin is pale. I drop my towel. Turn to the left. Turn to the right. Hmm. Nothing major, yet. Unknowing minds would have unknowing eyes. I can do this. I pull out my bag and find a bottle of red polish at the bottom. Ten toes, ten fingers and Bella looks fucking pretty. It dries and I spray myself with some shit I find under the counter. It smells fruity and leaves a slight shimmer on my skin. I like it. An hour to dry my hair and get the frizz out. I creep downstairs. Edward is still sleeping on the couch. I have no idea how long he was up last night.
I try to be quiet as I walk towards the laundry room. My clothes are fresh and warm. I change in here. I scoot my ass back upstairs for my boots, coat and bag. One last check of the hair. Edward is still sleeping as I close the front door.
I walk into the club and head straight for the backroom. Emmett is counting out money at the table. He pauses – dollar in hand – and looks up at me, then resumes counting.
"I'm pretty sure we've discussed the importance of knocking before, haven't we, Bella?"
I take a seat. "Sorry. I thought you'd be expecting me."
He taps the stack of cash and hands it off to another man. He faces me. "I'm expecting to get busted someday, and nothing else." He slides me a picture and an address. "His name is Demetri. He's attending some art thing uptown. You'll need a dress and he made a specific request that your hair is up. There's a party at his place afterward. He expects you to stay the night."
Emmett slides the yellow envelope my way, next. "Twenty-five hundred now, the rest after the job is done. He'll pay you. I take my normal cut."
I nod and reach for the envelope, but his hands stays on it. "Does Edward know?" He asks.
I shake my head. "He was sleeping when I left." There is hesitation in his face, but he releases the money and I put it in my bag. "I'll meet you there at six."
I walk around town, trying to find an appropriate dress. There is a shop that I like. I try on everything black. One fits and I find shoes to match. The night arrives and I am fucking stunning. The man is pretty decent looking. Dark and great features. He walks like he owns everything and a part of me follows suit. None of these people know and the ones who do know, have dates very similar. We eat and laugh and drink. We dance and he tells me I am sexy. He lets me know what he intends to do and when the time comes, he does it.
Emmett is waiting outside the door and I put my coat on. It's early morning and Cinderella turns back into a pumpkin. I get a glance of my face as I step into the elevator. Mascara is smudged; hair is knotted. I'm exhausted and I suck it up. I give Emmett his fee and he nods before sticking it in his pocket. I want the cash in my bag to feel like freedom, but it feels like guilt. Normally, I'd go buy a bottle or two and drink myself stupid. Today, I have to go back to Casa De Cullen and put on a smile and fake a story about where I've been. Not that I have to explain this shit to anyone.
The cab drops me off the down the block and I rummage through my bag. I find a hair tie and pull my tangled mess into a ponytail as I walk. A neighbor waves and I just look away. The garage is open and I see his car. I feel like I'm a child, even though I have every right to do what I want. I push the door open, cautiously, and step in. There is no movement or sign of life. I wait and try to find him, but nothing. I take a step and my boots are fucking loud on the tile floor.
I make it to the stairs and climb, quickly. My foot reaches the top and his bedroom door creeks open. I pause, even though I want to run. He has on dress clothes and looks like he's headed somewhere. I fold my arms over myself and try to avoid his gaze, but it's mental to even think that is possible.
"Nice to see you," he says. It's an open door. He's not scolding me, but the look on his face is asking where the fuck I've been. It's none of his business. I owe him nothing. He is not my friend, nor my father.
"I'm just going to change and then I'll start my work." I take a step and so does he.
"Your work from today, or the work you forgot to do yesterday, Bella?"
I turn. I am annoyed. "Are you firing me?"
He shakes his head. His arms cross and he leans against wall. "Just curious." His eyes are getting pissed and as they roam over my clothes, I don't have to say anything. He is smart and he knows. I try to head to my room again, but he isn't having that.
"Let me ask you something." He leans off the wall, but hands stay in his pockets. "Is there something you're not getting here? Something else you need?"
My mouth says nothing; but even if it could speak, he wouldn't understand. It is a useless, pointless argument. The venom in my words isn't meant for him, but he is here and he is bringing the ire on. "Being left alone would be nice."
"So would honesty, Bella."
"I didn't lie about anything and even if I did, it's none of your Goddamn business."
"You live in my home. I think that makes it a little bit of my business."
I repeat my words from before. "Are you firing me or not? If you want me gone just say it, I'm a big girl, but don't play this 'I have a right to know' bullshit, because you don't and even if you did, Freak, you wouldn't understand. If you don't like who I am then maybe you should have went looking at one of those nice little rich people agencies for service workers and shit. Not your Goddamn hospital where pregnant whores are being treated."
I should stop, but my mouth is not listening to my brain.
"And who the fuck are you to judge me, anyhow? What? I can get on my knees and suck your cock, but when someone else wants me to do it, it's no longer alright? Only Edward the poor little freak and all his tears over his dead wife can get head from the whore without repercussions because the next day he says he is sorry and checks my face for a fucking temperature when he thinks I'm sick?
"Rosalie told me your little princess wife was fucked up and if you even think that you can save me because apparently you couldn't save her, then your wasting your precious fucking time. I. Don't. Want. To. Be. Saved."
In my mind I am already out the door, but as I turn to go down the steps, he grabs my arm. I try to pull it free, but he is too strong. He is pissed and he won't let go.
"You think you're so smart, Bella?" He jerks me towards him. "Let me make you privy to a little something, Miss Fucking I know It All." He pulls me towards his room and I kick and smack and drag my feet. I yell for him to let me go, but he doesn't. I can't break free.
We get to his room and he heads towards a desk. I am still trying to get free, but have no luck. He holds tight to my arm as he pulls something out of a drawer. A folder. He flips it open and papers and pictures scatter. He searches for one and holds it up to my face.
"Looks like a real princess, right?" It's a woman. A style of picture I recognize all too well. Charlie used to have them on his desk. Her face is black and blue. Her lip is swollen. "I like the purple marks under her eye the best." He drops the picture to his desk and holds up his fist to my face. I flinch, but he is only showing me as example. "You can count each knuckle from where he hit her."
He searches for a new picture and holds it up, jerking me towards him again, when I try and look away. "There is over a years worth of pictures in here, but this has to be my favorite, Bella. She's never looked more like a fucking princess. She never looked more like she had a husband who used to make her better when she was sick or who loved her…"
My eyes don't want to see it and he jerks me towards him again. "And she sure as fuck doesn't look like anyone was able to save her. Now does she?" He tosses the picture on top of the pile and holds my face with his free hand. I have no choice but to look at him.
"You think I don't know what and who you are? I know exactly what you are. I know everything you think, everything you lie about and all of your mannerisms. I know that the bottle downstairs is ten shots shy of where I last left it and that you have a life inside of you don't give a shit about. I know I can't save you…" He picks up the picture and holds it up. "But I also know what happens to stupid little girls who think they know everything and sneak off with strange men who they think can."
I stare at the picture. The woman's eyes are closed. She is on a silver slab. Her body is nude and she is pale and speckled with purple and yellow and red and blue. Her neck is exposed and I'm going to lose my shit. She didn't die peacefully.
He sweeps the pictures up into his hands and tucks them back into the envelope. He walks out of the room and slams the door. I hear the front door and then the garage. I walk out of his room and see his car pulling away. The tires screech and the engine is loud. My bag is abandoned in the hall from where I was fighting against him. The cash is all over the floor and when I touch it to collect it, my hands shake. I clean it up and sling the bag onto my shoulder.
It weighs a ton.