"Emmett eloped." Edward's voice was a mixture of awe and consternation. "That will make it harder on us if we want to marry straight after graduation. My parents went ballistic on him."
This was not good news for our situation, but I was happy for him anyway. Emmett was like my older brother, and he must have been very much in love with his girlfriend to marry her. "Wow. Have you spoken to him?"
I looked over at Edward, the crease between his eyes utterly adorable. "Yeah. They're moving into married student housing. He's so… happy isn't even the word. He's ecstatic that Rosalie agreed."
The Hales had moved into a nearby neighborhood of Forks, Rosalie and her twin brother Jasper attending the high school in the same graduating class as Emmett. I hadn't heard what their plans were for college, but apparently Rose had joined Emmett at the University of Washington. Now they were married, mere months into their first year of college.
It's what Edward and I had planned for my first year out of high school, without the eloping part, discussing down to the last detail of how it would work with me one year behind him. Although I worried about our age and immaturity, I knew without a doubt that he was it for me; I would put in whatever work was necessary to make a successful marriage.
"Do you know her very well? How many times did she come over?" It was a little strange that I'd never met her, as often as I could be found at the Cullen house.
"He says they weren't serious until they started spending more time together at college. He ran into her studying at the library so often that they formed a bond, according to him." There was a tick in the muscle of Edward's jaw, and I wondered what he was thinking.
"I can't help but wonder what she knows about his inheritance." His gaze was somewhere off in the distance as we sat in the bed of his truck in our favorite meadow.
"You don't really think that's what had her agreeing, do you?" I knew Emmett was popular with the ladies, and had many friends. He had a boisterous, friendly personality that drew you in. He would do anything for anyone, and some kids at our school had never been afraid to use that to their advantage.
"I don't know." He shrugged. "I just have this feeling, you know? But I want him to be happy, so I'll never say anything to him. I'll just have to wait and see if she makes a good wife, I guess."
"No more talk of Emmett, baby, okay?" It wasn't all that hard to distract him as I leaned into him and kissed along his jaw. It was something I constantly longed to do, put my mouth on the smooth skin stretched taut over the bone that created such a sharp line. He was delicious, precious to me, and I always wanted to worship him.
We lowered together to the quilt spread over the rusted metal, kissing long and deep, hands moving over clothing as we made out. And all thoughts of Emmett and Rosalie were forgotten.
I've had my first night as bar bitch, working for Jacob under Paul's supervision. To say I'm horrible at waitressing would be an understatement. I dropped or spilled more things than I successfully delivered, and I wasn't smooth enough to pilfer any keys. I just want to forget the whole experience, but I'm expected back tonight.
I run into Angela as I'm heading into the diner for lunch; literally run into her, my clumsy feet tripping over the edge of the industrial rug in place to scrape your shoes on. She catches my arm before looking at my face directly, and then she drops her hand immediately.
"Bella," she acknowledges, a stern and unfriendly expression on her heart shaped face.
I'm saddened by her reaction. I thought we could still be friends, if I ever got up the nerve to speak to her. "Hi, Angela. Um, I was just grabbing some lunch. Would you like to have a drink, maybe catch up?"
I can see the inner conflict as she contemplates my request. Finally, she nods and heads to a booth somewhere in the middle. I follow, grateful for the chance.
Sitting in the booth opposite my middle school best friend, I fidget silently until the waitress appears and we place our orders. This girl looks more friendly than the one that served me the first day I was in here, which reminds me that I want to ask about Edward. "So. I saw Edward in here the other day."
I rethink just diving in when Angela's eyebrow goes up above her glasses. "No 'how've you been, what are you doing with yourself'? You want to start off this conversation with 'I saw Edward in here the other day'?" she asks archly.
"I'm sorry Ang, that's not how I wanted to start this conversation. It just hurt, and still does, thinking of him with a wife and child." The pain of him loving someone else the way he was meant to love me once upon a time, is killing me.
She snorts. "He's not married, never has been. And his daughter Malone is adopted." She moves to leave, obviously disappointed with how this reunion is going, and I put out my hand to stop her.
"Wait. Angela, I do want to talk to you, honestly. I could use a friend." I can't afford to take advantage of her if I want to have anybody in Forks on my side.
She sinks back into the booth, watching me carefully. "Well, I'm gonna need some explanations if you want to be friends again. I haven't heard from you in four years."
All of that is fair, but how can I tell Angela and risk putting her in danger because of me? "There are some things that I really can't tell you. Mom and I left because Charlie was becoming abusive with her. I was afraid. I was afraid for her safety, mine, and really anyone close to me. I lied to Edward, Angela. I lied and told him that I didn't love him anymore because I wanted him to move on and have a life, even if it couldn't be with me."
"And yet you're upset that he might have done just that, and moved on," she points out, as though I don't see my hypocrisy.
"Yeah. I know, I suck."
She sighs. "What safety, Bella?"
"That's the part I truly can't answer."
Angela rolls her eyes, but I'd rather she think me dramatic than wind up involved with this crap I'm stuck in. "So why'd you come back?"
"Um, well, Charlie was really insistent. I ignored him for awhile, but then Renée died." I blink back the tears, still feeling the huge blow of her death.
"It's okay, you don't have to tell me more." The waitress drops off my food and refills Angela's drink.
"Ben and I got married last year," she tells me, showing me her wedding rings.
"That's really great. He always made you happy." I want to move on from the past, to find a way to be happy, but I just don't know how. Maybe renewing my friendship with Angela can be a start.
We talk strictly about her and what she and Ben have been doing, but my mind wanders back to Edward and the little girl he adopted. I wonder why he would choose to be a single father, what he studied in college, assuming he went, and what he does for a living. A small spark of hope wells up in my chest as I think of the fact that he isn't actually married, but I squash it as soon as it comes. I'm still the girl he hates, and all the reasons I let him go still exist. My situation is even more dangerous than it originally was, and I still come with baggage.
She skirts around the issue of Emmett, which is good. I need a reprieve from the accusations, even though I know it's the proverbial elephant in the room. One day I'll tell her the very basics, but only if I know for sure she won't be compromised by my truths. I'll take what I can get from her for now, and deal with her questions as they come. Hopefully she'll maintain our budding friendship, even once she knows what I did.