Chapter 42: Ours
There was a swing in our yard. Charlie made it out of an old tire. Rope from the garage. He made one of the rookies climb the tree and test out the branch. It was sturdy. In the warmer weather months, I would swing and sit and wait for the cruiser to pull in the driveway. Ten minutes. I always begged for ten more minutes. It was the best time of the day. He was tired, but never too tired to give a push.
Before Sam died, he would come over sometimes. After school. He would wind the tire swing as tight as his scrawny arms could muster and then let go. My stomach would spin and swirl. My mouth would scream and I would laugh until I wanted to throw up. Sam was a good swing spinner.
I'm sitting in front of my old house. Along the street. The truck is turned off. The paper this morning reported Phil getting cut from his team. Couldn't even handle the minor league. Jesus. I'm watching her in the yard. The swing is gone. She doesn't see me. She never did. I just wanted to see what it looked like. It's been a long time. It's sort of the same. It's sort of different. The color of the house is still white, but the years have made it a little grey. If my Dad was here, it would be fresh and bright. For so many reasons. He took pride in his home. It is now just a reflection of her. Grey. Yeah, it's definitely her.
I don't know if she is staying here for long, but I hate it. Everything in this town is a ghost. She isn't close to Edward's house by any means, but it's too close. Phoenix was better. She should have stayed there.
The truck ends up driving until I see the cliff rocks. I see Sam. I see the boys. It's like they still exist. I was always too chicken. Plus, Charlie would have killed me. Them. I pull into the gas station and fill up. I have my hood drawn over my head and hope no one will recognize me. For various reasons.
I hate being here. Everything I touch is the same, but different. It all has visuals I spent years trying to forget. I see Charlie standing here with a beef jerky stick in his mouth and I remember how much I hated the smell. I see the bucket to wash your windshield and he is cleaning bugs from the cruiser. I see a man who sat in the rocking chair out front and always went over sports scores and news.
I put the pump back into the cradle and walk to the door. I head towards the drinks and grab a bottle of juice. There is a group of boys standing to my right. One of them I know. His face. He was the kid from Edward's office. Jacob. The bruises and the spitter.
I eye them and know what they are up to. I know what they are daring him to do. I shut the door to the cooler harder than needed. It gets their attention. Jacob's face looks relived. The other boys are bigger. They look pissed off. I see Jacob, but I see Emmett. These boys need to fuck off.
"Everything alright, Jacob?"
I glare at the older fuckers and they shove Jacob. They say shit that is supposed to be scary, but otherwise leave. I walk over to him. "Who are they?"
He shrugs. "My friends."
"Your friends look like punks. Punks who were trying to make you steal."
His face looks to his shoes. "It's just fun."
"Didn't look like you were having fun to me."
He mumbles. "I didn't have money and I wanted one of those drinks."
I look at the cooler. I look at Jacob. He's still staring at his shoes. They are dirty. They are like mine. So are his clothes.
"Do you know how to wash a truck?"
He looks up at me. He nods.
"Well then grab the stupid drink and follow me."
I pay for our drinks and then walk to my truck. Jacob follows behind.
"If you get the bugs off my windshield I'll give you the drink. Deal?"
I'm not a bitch, I'm just being fair. I wouldn't want it if I didn't earn it. I'd never do that to someone else.
He nods and hurries towards the bucket. He's short. It's sort of hard for him to reach but he manages to climb on the hood. There are already dents. It doesn't make a difference. He does a good job and I hand him the juice. He chugs it and I hand him mine, too.
"Do you need a ride or something?"
He's gulping his drink and shaking his head.
"I don't think I should leave you here. Where's your mom?" And Jesus, I sound like Cullen.
He swallows and takes a moment to catch his breath. "Working."
"Well maybe I should drop you off home."
His face looks panicked. "No, no, no. please. My Dad is there."
He looks away as soon as he says it. My mind is curious.
"Why does that matter?"
He shakes his head. "Just leave me alone, okay?"
He starts to walk off. I close the truck door and follow him. Jacob looks over his shoulder.
"I said go away, Bella!" He runs faster and I can't keep up. Little punk is fast.
And now…I don't have juice. Damn it.
I plop my shit down on the counter when I get home. Edward is already here. He is reading and looks up.
I roll my eyes and take a seat. "Add pissed off and irritated to that diagnosis as well, Dr. Cullen. Oh, and thirsty."
He slides his drink to me. "What happened?"
I take a long sip and then another. Jesus, this thing.
"I saw my mother. She moved back to Forks which is fucking fantastic and then I ran into your little Jacob friend while I was getting gas. Fucker stole my drink."
Edward's face is confused.
"Well, alright, he didn't steal my drink. Technically he earned it by cleaning my truck, but still."
He shakes his head. "Let's deal with one thing at a time here, Bella. First, why is your mom back in the area?"
I take another sip. "Her husband got the boot from his team. I am guessing they moved back here because of it. I didn't exactly ring the doorbell and ask to have a sit down, so really, I have no fucking idea. She's living in my old house. From when I was a kid."
He digests that information and then moves on.
His hand waves me on. "And now Jacob and the thieving of your beverage?"
"I stopped for gas and these kids were messing with him. Trying to get him to steal something. Long story short; they left, I traded him two bottles of juice if he washed the fucking bugs off my truck and then when I offered to take him home he freaked out and ran off with my drink."
His face scrunches. "Why didn't he want to go home? And why was he there unattended?"
I smile internally at his word. Unattended. It's very…Edward.
"I have no idea, Cullen. Something to do with his Dad."
I take another sip and Edward's face is troubled. He's thinking. I've already come to a conclusion.
"Do you think….do you think it's Jacob's father hitting him, Cullen?"
He thinks a moment longer. "I'm not sure. From what I understand, there is a lot of issues happening there, so….I'm not sure what is going on."
"What do you mean? Issues with what?"
He doesn't want to say anything. I see his reservation. I sigh.
"Cullen, I'm not going to turn you into the fucking board of…whatever the hell someone gets turned into if they spill the beans about something. You don't have to tell me what goes on in the clinic, but shit, Billy Black was my Dad's partner. It's not like you're talking to me about just anyone."
He gives in. "Leah has another son, Seth. She had him after she divorced Jacob's father, Paul. She's remarried now to Seth's father, Seth SR. They are all Clearwaters…except for Jacob. From what I hear Paul isn't too fond of Seth Sr. Won't even let the poor kid take on his name."
He rubs at his face. "I know. It's a mess."
"You think Paul takes it out on Jacob?" Edward looks at me and I have to elaborate. "That's how it was for me. That's how Renee was."
He touches my face. "It could be."
"I wonder if Billy knows. I mean, the guy was a cop. It's his grandson. How he could not know?"
Edward's fingers keep rubbing my face. "Sometimes people would rather be ignorant. Hence, Leah not wanting to talk about it, or believe it."
"So…that's why she left the other day? Why she was pissed off at you?"
"You know what Cullen?"
"Parents fucking suck."
Emmett looks over my truck. "This is a piece of shit."
I cross my arms. He grins. He lifts the hood. I smile. I'm not as stupid as some people think. I had a father once, you know. He wasn't a fucking doctor, but he was smart and knew how to fix shit. Like cars and trucks and boats. I wasn't a ribbons and bows type of girl. Renee was my mother.
"I can pay. I have money. Just fix the rattling sound. It drives me fucking crazy."
Emmett gets out tools. He has nothing to do with his newly found spare time. He has no side job. He has no kid to watch. He has no wife to entertain. There is counseling and church and regular work that is boring as sin. But it's not sin, so that is why. He is hanging around Edward's house more.
I am guessing he is either hungry or trying to stay out of trouble. Either way, I have a noisy truck and if Cullen sees me with grease under my nails he might shit a brick. I don't need a speech on how fixing a truck when you are growing a parasite is dangerous and whatever bullshit his doctor-mouth will say. Plus, I'm sure Emmett could use a few extra bucks. Not that he'd ask.
He uses the wrench on something. "So…how is this shit working out, anyhow? Working for Edward?"
I play with the chipping red paint on the truck. "It's alright. I like it, I guess."
He keeps working. "What about the kid? I mean, what are you gonna do when it's born? I'm sure Edward doesn't want a screaming baby living here, right?"
Chipping away at the paint. Chipping, chipping, chipping. My voice follows the red flakes to the ground.
"He said I could stay."
Emmett glances at me. He stops working. "Is there….is there something else going on, Bella? Between you and him?"
I say nothing and I might as well have. He shakes his head and goes back to work. I just watch. I don't know what to say. I'm not going to defend whatever it is that is happening. It's like the initials on the tree in the park. I just want something I don't have to give away. Something that isn't shared. Something is only mine. His. Ours. Whatever it is. It's ours.
Edward pulls in. He has Alice with him. It's Esme's birthday tomorrow. They were shopping. I was thinking of wrapping up my nurse's outfit. I'd love to see her face. I'd love to his dad's face. I'd love to see Edward's face. That's would be too wrong. I'm supposed to be doing right.
"What's up, Smiley?"
I roll my eyes at him. He gives a scratch to the back of my head. I see Emmett's eyes glance over. Alice is occupied getting bags out of the trunk of the Mercedes. I nod towards the truck.
"Emmet was jealous of my horsepower. He had to get an up close and personal look."
Emmett snorts. "Bella, this thing is nice, but not that nice."
Edward's face scrunches. I point at him. "Don't even put your two cents in, Cullen. You already admitted to me that you know nothing about what's under the hood and your daddy is to blame, waaaa, waaaa, waaaa. You can't judge the truck. You have no skills to comment on the matter."
Emmett's eyebrows rise. He looks at me. "You better watch it, Bella. I mean, if I washed someone's underwear for a living, I don't think I'd talk trash to them. You just never know when you might get a case of the runs….or just feel the need not to wipe."
Thank God for Alice. "You would know about all things shit related, Emmett. Being a shithead, acting like a shithead, treating people like a shithead…."
She rolls her eyes. "This is stupid. I'm going inside." She looks at me. She smiles a little. Very little. "Hey, Bella." She looks to Emmett. "I hope you have to fix something under that monstrosity and it falls on your ass."
She takes the bags in the house. Emmett looks hurt but not surprised. I'm not surprised. I actually expected much worse. Edward looks tired. I let my eyes roam over his clothes. He's wearing jeans, today. It doesn't happen often. A navy blue long sleeve shirt. His hair looks lighter. Seriously fucked up. Alice must have been driving him nuts. He needs a good fucking. Maybe a hand-job. Shit, so do I. When are these people leaving?
"Alright, start her up, Bella."
Not soon enough. I climb into the cab and turn over the ignition. Purring like a kitten. Perfection. Emmett closes the hood. He puts away the tools and walks over to the sink in the garage to clean the grease from his fingers. I turn off the truck, but sit. Edward leans against the frame, close to me.
"I missed you, today."
I look at him and it shows in the honest green. I hope it shows in mine. I'm not getting sappy in the driveway with Emmett twenty feet away.
"You were probably causing serious health conditions to most of the women in the mall with that shirt. So much for being a doctor, Cullen."
And I want to put my mouth where the shy grin forms. And I know what his eyes want. And I know what I want. Fuck Emmett. He leans in and it's soft and quick. My heart purrs like a kitten. Perfection.
I am on a swing. If I close my eyes, I can still feel his hands. Gentle and him. Faster, Daddy. Higher, Daddy. And laughter. His. Mine. The air on my face feels the same. The way my legs move. The way my mind wanders and thinks that I must be too high, but when I open them the world looks a little dizzy and I am still not swinging high enough.
If you look up, you seem so close to the clouds. You could reach out and grab a handful of cotton. You could see God's playground. You could see why people don't give up believing even though it's all a bunch of shit. Even me.
Hands and I am stopped. I know the difference. I know whose they are. I smile.
Lips by my ear. Chin on my shoulder. "Are you trying to fly?"
I tilt my head towards him. Lips are all I see. "Maybe."
Lips come closer. This is how you know you're alive. The goose-bumps. The nerves. It's only lips. It is so much more than lips. They don't even touch me.
He whispers. "Want to follow me somewhere, instead?"
Anywhere. I hop down and he pulls me along. The rest of the party is…somewhere over there. Not where we are going. They have already opened presents and had the cake. It's all very cheery and shit. But this is Sunday and only we share Sunday. It's not like it was, but it's still ours.
He stops under the tree, our tree. My back is against the trunk and lips. The lips. This time they are going to touch me. And I feel life under my skin. I feel warmth on my face and I feel light like the clouds. And the clouds and heavens are close. I open my mouth and want it all. My fingers curl against his shirt. His fingers slide into my hair. He presses into me. I make noises he likes. He makes noises I like. I pull at the fabric of his shirt so he knows I want him closer. It will never be enough, but it's still true. His mouth moves to my chin and neck. His family can't see, but everyone else can. Good. Let them see. I want them all to see.
He rests his forehead to mine. Light pecks on my lips. His eyes open. Thumbs on my cheeks. He's trying to smother what he started. He's hard against me and I would do anything he wanted. I'd give him anything. Everything. And he's looking at me like he has the same thoughts.
"You're way too pretty, today, Bella."
And my smile is stupid.
More kisses. "I don't think my father would appreciate you defiling me against his tree."
His smile is stupid.
"That's why we're on this side."
And my smile is stupid. The initials are on the other side of the trunk. Smart boy.
"I see. So does that mean this is our side?"
And his smile is stupid. And he places his fingertips under my chin. My face tips up, but it's not lips he wants. It's shoes. Our shoes. Hanging in our tree. On our side.
On our Sunday.