Chapter 22: Lazy Sunday
Bella has a good poker face. She nodded and acted completely oblivious about the blankets and yet, here two of them sit in my room. They are still slightly warm on the inside of the folds and the scent confirms she washed them. It's a small thing, but it's impressive for some reason. Unexpected. I'm not easily surprised. It's refreshing.
I bring the papers into bed and read them over once more. It's Bree's test results. Everything seems fine, but almost too fine. I don't know how to describe it. There is just something there that doesn't feel right. Maybe I'm being paranoid. Maybe I should just shut off the light and be grateful something is good. Yes, I need to learn how to do that. Hope for the best, but expect the worst. I always expect the worst. Habits die hard.
I awake at seven and shower. I give my shoes a rub and polish them a bit. My tie is on and I look the part. Bella is downstairs. I see her waiting on the couch. She has on her coat. Her hands are clasped in her lap. She looks nervous, but I'm not sure why.
"Did you eat breakfast?" I am asking to let her know there is time, but it sounds harsh leaving my mouth. She nods and I keep walking. I make coffee and eat toast. She stays in the living room. My mind is somewhere between Bree's test results and Tanya. I'm not sure which is worse. I clean the crumbs and have no idea what Bella ate for breakfast. There is no trace left behind.
I call to her from the kitchen and let her know we are leaving. I have no idea what my damn problem is, or why I am taking it out on her. She did nothing. She is silent in the car, until I pull into the parking lot where the floral shop is. I reach for the door handle and her voice stops me from getting out.
"Do you mind if I come in?" I look over to her. Bella's eyes are on her lap. Her fingers are fidgeting with the fabric of her coat. "I need to bring something. It's…his birthday."
The last two words barely make it to my ears, but I hear them. She is still looking down and I am still staring. I want to say something comforting or perhaps apologize for not knowing, but the only thing that leaves my mouth is another poisonous comment.
"I don't own the store, Bella." I climb out and she follows behind. The door chimes as I enter. The owner looks up and appraises me, quickly. She smiles and I simply reach for my wallet. She has my usual order prepared and I lay the cash on the counter.
"I don't need change." She opens early on Sunday just for me. Not only do I pay triple for the rare flowers, but I also recommended her shop when Rosalie married Emmett. Rosalie's wedding could have put Princess Diana's to shame. If she wanted it, Daddy paid for it. She loves flowers.
"Thank you Dr. Cullen. See you next weekend." I take the bouquet she has prepared from the counter. As I turn, I see Bella. Her finger is in her mouth. She is chewing on her nail. She is standing in front of a small display of cards, spinning it as she searches. Nothing catches her eye. She moves on to a stand with stuffed animals. Her other hand reaches out and scratches one of the fuzzy bear's heads. Her finger comes from her mouth and she picks him up.
She stares at him for a moment and turns. She sees me watching and looks down. Her feet walk slowly towards the counter and I leave. I wait for her in the car. She comes out a moment later and the bear is in her hands. She buckles herself in and I shift, putting the car in reverse. The ride is silent.
We go our separate ways when we arrive to the cemetery. I lay the flowers down and stand. The snow from last night has covered the ground. I can't read the name on the plaque, but the angel statue tells me this is her place. The flowers are bright against the white blanket they lay on. I stare at them and say nothing. In my peripherals, I see movement. I look over and see Bella on her knees. She is moving the snow away from her father's place. When she is done, she rests on her heels. I see her reach inside of her coat and the bear she purchased is produced. She kisses its face and sets it on the plaque.
I am already in the car when she climbs in. She sighs and when I glance over, there is a small smile on her face. It is confusing. Why would she be happy?
"I take it you don't want to go to church?" I ask and I am still sounding like an asshole. Her smile fades. She looks over and shakes her head. "I don't see what the big deal is, Bella. It's not like Emmett owns the damn church. You have a right to go there. Anywhere you want, you know. Emmett doesn't own you, either."
She looks away from me and out the window. She says nothing and I cannot get a grip on my anger. I need to. I throw the car in reverse and drive her home. I leave the car running and unlock the front door for her. She thanks me and steps inside. I take a seat next to my family, in church. I'm in between Alice and my father. Service hasn't begun, yet. Alice is talking with my mother about some show they love. My father is turning off his phone.
"How are you doing, Son?" His hand taps my leg, once.
Going a little insane. "I'm fine."
"You don't look fine," he argues.
My annoyance and anger flares. "Well, I am, so just drop it." Alice stops talking beside me and looks over. I ignore her and get up. I don't know where I am going, but I am not staying here. I've already ruined Bella's day and don't need to add any more victims to my list. I push through the doors and dig in my pocket for my keys. No one is following me and I don't expect them to. They know better. Alice sends me a text. It just says that she loves me and that is all. I don't text back.
I don't want to go back home and I find myself driving in circles. I end up at the park. It is covered in snow, but I get out anyhow. The ground crunches under my feet as I walk towards the bench. I dust the snow off and take a seat. I don't know why I am here. Tanya isn't going to show up and make it better. Sitting here isn't going to make it better. Being pissed off isn't going to make it better.
I walk the park until my legs are tired and I have reined in my poor attitude. I feel tired as I step inside of the house. It's quiet and I walk into the living room. My feet halt. Bella is asleep on the couch. Her knees are curled towards her chest. Her little hands are under her cheek. I've never noticed how tiny this girl is. Like this; she looks so very innocent. So very much at peace. A part of me wants that. Peace.
I take a seat across the room and watch her for a while. My cheek rests against my hand and I just watch. I wonder how someone so small, so delicate, could have become so lost and mistreated in the world. How someone who has so little, can even manage to get up everyday. How someone, who was just a child, dealt with a pain, I, as a grown man, cannot deal with. I wonder how simply watching her sleep makes me feel like my bullshit problems are just that. Bullshit.
She has the throw blanket covering her, but it cannot be enough. I reach for the remote and turn the fireplace on. The noise of it igniting causes her eyes to open.
"Sorry." It's the first decent thing I've said all day. She goes to sit up. "You're fine. You can sleep." I sit back in my chair and I'm still staring at her. I shouldn't be, but I can't help it. She rests her head back down.
"What time is it?"
I glance at my watch. "Almost eleven."
She yawns. "How was church?"
I lie. "Good."
Her eyes stay on me. She looks over my clothes and she laughs a little. "Cullen?"
"Does Kate go to your church?"
Her lips smile, but she looks at the fire place.
"Is there a reason why you ask?"
She shakes her head. The smile grows wider.
Her head turns my way, again. "I was just trying to imagine what she would look like bursting into flames from all the dirty thoughts she must have while sitting in the Lord's house staring at you. That's all."
I can't help the laughter that comes from me. I shake my head. "You're crazy, Bella. Funny, but crazy."
She sits up. "Seriously, you try to ugly yourself a bit if you have no interest in getting pussy anytime soon. It would be like, a great service to the women of this town."
My face scrunches. "You're supposed to dress up when you go to church. These are just dress clothes."
Bella scoots over to the end of the couch. She leans on the arm rest, facing me. "Okay Mr. Naïve, let me teach you a little something about women, since you are apparently quite clueless."
She smiles and continues.
"Women like men who dress nice. Uniforms and clothes like those. It makes them think two things; money and power. You can take the frumpiest, most disgusting man – that would never be able to score a date in his life – put him in your clothes, spray a little cologne on him and presto; he'd be up to his neck in pussy."
My brows furrow. She keeps going.
"Take a guy who looks like you and dress him up; you could like….fuck, Cullen, you could pretty much get any piece of ass you wanted and then some. Dudes too. You'd be a gay man's dream."
I shake my head. "I'm not into dudes."
She laughs. "I didn't say you were. I'm just saying there is serious power in a well-dressed man. Probably enough to get God to light Kate on fire."
I'm smiling at her, but I'm at a loss for words. She looks quite pleased with herself. My eyes are searching her face, trying to figure out how Bella knows how to distract me. They come up blank. She looks towards the window.
"Is it supposed to snow like this all day?"
I nod. "I think so. Probably all day tomorrow, too. On and off."
She sighs. I stand. "It's lunchtime. Hungry?"
Bella follows me to the kitchen and I pull out some things to make a vegetable chili. When it is finished cooking, I sit on the sofa with a bowl and she sits on the other end. I flip on the television and stop at the sport channel to check the score.
"Pfft. Why do I even bother with these guys?" I keep channel surfing and I stop on the movie channel. "What do you want to watch?" She shrugs and keeps on eating. "Bella, if you don't have an opinion, I'm going to go back to watching my team lose."
She smiles, resting her spoon in the bowl. "I don't mind watching sports."
"They really suck," I warn.
"Most teams do, Edward."
"You watch sports?"
She shrugs. "I've seen my fair share." She goes back to eating and I flip back to the game.
I am about to ask her when and also who she likes, if any of them, but the doorbell rings. I curse under my breath and set my bowl on the coffee table. I walk backwards, watching the screen and curse again when the other teams scores. Bella laughs. I open the door, not having checked who it is and to my surprise, it's Emmett.
"Hey," he nods.
"Is Bella here?"
I open the door wider and wave him in. He walks towards the living room and I follow. Bella sees him and her chewing slows. Her eating comes to a stop and a part of me would like to ask Emmett to leave before he upsets what is ending up being an alright Sunday; despite it's start this morning. He takes a seat on the chair closest to hers and looks at me.
"Can we like…have a minute? Alone."
I shake my head. "This is my house Emmett." I'm not trying to be an asshole, but I'm not comfortable with leaving him alone with her. I'm just not. He looks back to Bella.
"What's this for?" He waves a white envelope at her.
"It's the money I owed you."
He stares at her a second. The envelope gets tossed at her side. "Consider us even."
She looks bewildered. She sets her bowl next to mine. "No. I owed you money from a few weeks ago. I'm repaying you, Emmett."
"And I sent you on a job that put you in danger. So I didn't do my job, now did I? Technically, I owe you." He rubs his face. "Fuck, Bella. Why didn't you tell me you were goddamn pregnant? You know how stupid that shit is?"
"How the fuck did you-," she pauses and her head looks at me. She's pissed off.
"I thought he knew already, Bella. I'm sorry. It was the weekend we fought and I was pissed at Emmett for doing that." I put my hands in my pockets and she looks away.
Emmett starts speaking. "Listen, I'm not trying to start trouble. I just want you to know that I'm not down with that shit, so count me out if that's what you're gonna be doing."
Her voice is low. "I'm not."
"Good." He looks at me for a minute - he's hesitant - and then back to Bella. "And knock off that other shit, too. Your damn kid will be all fucked up when it's born. That shit's not right, Bella."
She's angry. "Yeah, I get it. Anything else, Emmett?"
He shakes his head. He stands. He pauses. "Actually…Rosalie said you guys hung out the other day. Wrapping presents and shit. I'm not trying to be a dick, but I'd prefer it if you didn't become friends with my wife. She likes you and if she finds out about this shit, it'll only hurt her more."
Emmett goes to leave and glances to the television. He shakes his head. "You should let Bella pick your teams if you're putting money on them, Edward."
My face scrunches and he smiles. He looks at Bella. "That shit you keep from him? You know, I'll never understand you, Swan." He lightly hits my chest as he passes. His voice is low. "Take care of her." I nod and he leaves. The door closes and I take my seat on the couch again. I start eating and after a few minutes, Bella does too.
"So where did you learn about sports?"
She watches the screen. "My dad." Of course. She takes another bite and chews. Swallows. "My mom is married to some baseball player."
I'm surprised. "Who?" Please be someone good.
She shrugs. "Some unknown dude. Strictly Minor League. I've never met him. Just heard about it."
"Did you and your dad go to games together?"
She nods. "Sometimes."
"Did you like it?"
She smiles. "I liked the food. Hot dogs."
My turn to smile. "I have seats at the stadium. We should go sometime when the season begins."
"Trying to make money off my mad betting skills, Cullen?"
The question halts my brain. She is teasing, but the underlining is tainted by the fact that she has been used to make money of off and it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I look at her and muster all the sincerity I can find.
"No, just asking a friend if she'd like to go watch baseball. That's all."
We don't move from the couch for the rest of day. Night falls and my foot is close to hers as we both lay along the couch. Her eyes look sleepy again and I can't say that I am in better shape. I need to gather my things for tomorrow, but I don't feel like moving. Ugh, tomorrow.
"Bella?" She shifts her eyes from the television to me. "I'm working a double tomorrow. I won't be home until late. Probably after you're asleep…" Yawn escapes my mouth. "So if you hear someone coming in during the night, it's me, okay?"
"I thought your dad was hiring someone to replace you?"
"Yeah, me too," I laugh.
She smiles and looks back to the screen. It's the same smile from this morning. Small, but pleasant. My mind is back to wondering. I sit up and swing my legs so that my feet touch the ground. I clasp my hands. Bella looks at me. The fire makes her eyes look caramel. They are curious. So am I.
"Why did you smile this morning?"
Her brows knit together. "What?"
"When you got in the car, you smiled. You said it was your father's birthday, today, but when you got in the car you looked happy. How could you be happy, today, Bella?"
She's quiet for a moment. I feel like shit for asking her that. I should have kept my mouth shut. Her legs curl a little to her chest. She stares at me and her voice is soft.
"It was the first birthday I was ever sober."