Love sees love’s happiness
But happiness can’t see that love is sad
That love is sad
Sadness is hanging there
To show love somewhere something needs a change
They need a change
Excerpt from “They’ll Need a Crane” by TMBG
I hung up on Edward without saying goodbye (another dubious first) and pulled the latex glove off, throwing it in the direction of my trashcan. It hit the inside with a satisfying smack.
Then, I hopped off the bed and grabbed blindly at the first thing my hand landed on to cover myself. My save was voided, though, when I slipped on a satiny cami and ass-floored.
But before I could pull said ass off of said floor, Tornado Alice whirled in my room with an expression of fiery intensity, but not the anger I was expecting.
That was weird.
She stopped with her hand on the doorknob and stared at me with confusion.
That was weirder.
I looked down, and realized that I had picked up the gauzy see-through top I’d considered wearing last night. It had been tossed on the bed where most of my clothes ended up between Cleaning Lady Tuesdays.
“Why are you sitting on the floor…naked?” she asked.
“Uh…” I looked around the room frantically for something I could use for an excuse. A naked man or vibrator would sure come in handy right now.
“Well?” She asked impatiently.
“I…” Then, I spied the bathroom door ajar and inspiration struck. “I was about to, um, shower.” I said, scratching my head and gesturing to said door.
She raised an eyebrow.
“OK…so, why didn’t you answer the door when I knocked?”
“Uh…naked,” I said, Vanna-Whiting my body, hoping that would be the end of it.
Realizing that the shirt was not serving it’s proper function (reason number one why I didn’t wear it in the first place), I threw it to the side, got up awkwardly, and headed for the shower, hoping she would take the hint and leave me alone for, like, ten minutes.
“You…” she pointed at me.
“What?” I stopped like a deer in headlights. Such a cliché, but, I’m pretty sure it was apt.
“You…what in the fuck did you do with your pubes? Did you get waxed?”
She stared at my slit in horror, still pointing, and because I just had to look down to see how monstrous it actually was; I noticed that it blushed just like my face when embarrassed.
I felt compelled to cover myself, but I wasn’t about to give her the satisfaction. She already saw the goods. What was I going to do? Cover it with my hands and tell her it was an optical illusion?
Instead, I ignored her question and looked back to the bathroom door, making short work of my escape.
She followed me, but not quickly enough, because I slammed the door in her face.
I stared at the knob, wondering if she would respect the boundary.
I actually have a fear that something terrible will happen to me while I’m in the shower (or on the toilet), so I never lock the door, just in case.
Satisfied that she would at least let me shower in peace, I stepped in and turned on the spray.
I inspected my work from the previous day carefully. I thought I felt a few rough spots where I might have missed a hair or two, so grabbed a fresh razor to fix it. I wasn’t sure when Edward and I would have a chance to, you know, get on the O-Train again, but I sure as kittens didn’t want a missed train to have anything to do with grooming. That would be the most unfair fail ever.
I took my time in the shower, but in the end, I hadn’t had enough stall-time, so I just stood under the spray, waiting for the hot water to run out. I was so not ready to face Alice, and I knew that as soon as the water turned off, she’d be all over me like I was the last taxi on New Year’s.
I thought about how I would answer the questions I just knew she’d ask me. I smiled inwardly at my new planning skill-set.
1. Why didn’t I come for brunch?
I might be able to get away with a “slept in” on that first one. It had never happened, but, I did have a stack of books next to my bed, and I was pretty sure she had no idea that not a single one of them was an all-night page-turner. She might buy that.
2. Why didn’t I answer the door?
Obviously, if I was naked I wouldn’t answer the door. That was a gimme.
3. Why I was naked?
I needed to stick to my guns about the shower. I just needed to be more convincing about it, because it didn’t seem like she was buying it. There was really no less of an embarrassing response for why I was naked. Maybe I could tell her that I was picking out clothes. That could be done naked. I wouldn’t ever, but someone might. It could totally happen!
4. Why did I have a hairless cooch?
That was the one that had me freaking out. Not that Alice kept tabs on my personal grooming, but anyone who says they just “really like” being bare down there is a hopeless liar. The hairless cooch screams to anyone within sight of it that it wants a good fucking…that it is, in fact, anticipating it at any minute. If one is not currently involved in a physical relationship, one is definitely planning on some slippery sex soon…possibly alone, but undoubtedly hedging bets for more than solo participation.
Would she buy that I was hoping for such a tryst with the Trust Fund Dummy/Ogre she wanted to set me up with?
Not likely. Plus, I needed to come clean about Edward. I would be a cow worthy of the TFD/O she had planned for me, if I thought for one second that the removal of the restraining order would go unnoticed indefinitely. I was surprised it had slipped her notice for the past few weeks.
No, my luck was about to run out like hot water in the shower.
I suppose my exhibitionist twat should be thanked for forcing the issue. I looked down at her, and imagined she smiled a “you’re very welcome” back at me.
I thought about giving her a pat for her troubles, but she’d become a total Edward-whore in the past twenty-four hours, and even cleaning her proved to be impossible without gratification. I wasn’t about to send the message that I was at her beck-and-call.
“Bad pussy,” I scolded her. “Dry up, and put your Mature Woman of Substance panties on. We’ve got to deal with Alice…this is no time to be weeping and begging for two shower-gasms in a row…greedy bitch.”
I ignored her rationalizations that an orgasm might “take the edge off.” That had addiction written all over it.
That reminded me…I was already worried that Edward was nursing his own emerging addiction. Six times in less than twenty-four hours!
I promised her that with an insatiable boyfriend like Edward…fuck…Did I just think boyfriend?
That did it.
She hid in her cave, and I told her it was good to know she was a fair-weather friend.
The hot water had already run out while I conversed with my cunt, but interestingly, the coldness of the shower seemed to have had less of an effect on my libido than the potential for a non-theoretical serious relationship.
Also good to know.
I turned it off, stepped out and began to towel-dry.
I realized once I was dry with a towel on my head that I had neither picked out, nor brought into the bathroom even a stitch of clothing…not even a fucking robe for fuck’s sake.
I banged my head on the door in front of me, knocking the towel a little off my head and pulling my hair.
“Ow.” I said.
“Bella?” Alice asked on the other side.
I grabbed the terry-monster on my head, holding it up and stared at the door.
Fuck. How long had she been there?
Wait. Did she just…she…
“What did you say?” I asked, my hands trying to shake free of my wrists, while my heart threatened to leave my chest and beat somewhere else.
Traitors, I thought while realizing that my body, which I already knew hated my guts, was now completely out of my control. It just did whatever the fuck it wanted without any regard for what my cerebrum dictated.
Alice still hadn’t answered.
“Bella, we need to talk.”
“Okay,” I croaked. I pulled the towel off my head and wrapped it around my body.
Then I opened the door to find my twin sitting on my bed. Knees together. Hands resting on top. Expression…
I don’t think it would be a surprise to anyone that “contrite” has never described Mary-Alice Swan Brandon. Ever.
She was fidgeting with her hands, eyes downcast, but not in a manipulative way. She looked…very uncomfortable. Like she was going into something unprepared.
She was never unprepared.
She couldn’t look me in the face, and, I wasn’t positive, but…now that I took a moment to look at her, I thought that perhaps she had been crying. Her face was swollen, but not in that weird way it swells when she gets Botox injections.
This was way different.
If I believed in such things as zombies and aliens, I would have thought my sister had been infected or was host to a fully conscious and morally self-righteous parasite.
But I don’t believe in those things.
However, I approached her with the restraint of someone who does.
I backed away to my closet, not breaking eye contact, as I fumbled for my robe (If I was going to make a get-away, I wasn’t doing it naked and shaved…I’d die first. I totally have my priorities in order.)
I pulled it on and went to my dresser for undies.
Satisfied that at least my tits and ass were covered, I gestured to the door leading out into the hallway. I made her go first.
On second thought, perhaps I should have gone first. It would be difficult to sprint with her in front of me.
But she did nothing suspicious—well, other than looking like she was about to tell me she accidentally threw a kitten in the blender—so I started to make tea, while she sat at the kitchen table and fidgeted.
I would never be the one to start this conversation, so I continued to ignore her as I poured out two cups of chamomile.
I set the cups on the table, pulled out a roll of McVitie’s and the honey bear and sat down.
“Um…may I have a spoon?” Alice asked.
“Uh, sure. Sorry,” I said.
I returned with the spoon, and she fixed her tea.
I opened the cookies and took one.
She took a sip and looked at her mug.
The suspense was killing me, but I was too scared to venture a comment or question. I read her pretty damn well, but she was the most conniving woman I’d ever known (well, other than our mother), and I wasn’t sure I could trust her behavior not to belie something sinister.
She reached for a cookie.
I stared at her (hopefully) impassively.
She didn’t meet my gaze, so it didn’t matter.
She nibbled at the thing for what seemed like an eternity.
Then she sipped her tea some more.
Finally, I couldn’t take it.
“I’m going to go change. I’ll be right back,” I said.
I wasn’t about to sit there half dressed while she played mental chess.
I grabbed a pair of jeans and a T-shirt. I dressed and brushed my hair, so if it dried it wouldn’t be a total mess. Then I decided to put it up in a wet bun. I wasn’t going anywhere today that would necessitate anything more complicated in the way of dress or hair-do, so why bother?
When I came back, I saw she had moved to the couch, and had her bare feet on the coffee table. She had added more tea to her cup. My cup and the cookies were on the table precariously close to her red toenails.
Edward would have vomited for sure.
I barked a laugh at the direction my thoughts seemed to take now that he was in my life.
Alice looked up at me, confused.
“Sorry…I wasn’t laughing at you,” I said.
I sat at the opposite end of the couch and waited.
“Okay. I’m not sure exactly where to start…”
All this, and she still didn’t have her shit together? Maybe she dropped some puppies in as well…
“How about you start with my name,” I suggested, since that was what I wanted to know.
“Okay, Jasper called you Bella last night. He said that’s what you preferred.”
Shit. I hadn’t worked out that her knowing that meant that she knew Jasper and I had seen each other last night…which meant that…er wait, what exactly did he tell her?
“I know you had dinner with Jasper’s family.”
Fuck. What did that mean?
Well, I wasn’t about to give anything away.
“I know that something happened…he smelled like your perfume and I asked him about it, and he said he hugged you because you were, like, upset or something? I don’t know what it was. Jasper said it wasn’t his story to tell. And, he wouldn’t tell me anything else.”
“So, you want me to tell you everything else.”
“Not if you don’t want to,” she said, although I could tell she was dying to know the details. But she seemed sincere that she wouldn’t press me.
Okay. I change my mind. I totally believe in aliens now.
“Who are you? And what have you done with Alice?” I asked the stranger in front of me who was also possibly a cookie-monster.
“I’m me,” she said, shrugging her shoulders, a few bits of cookie dropping out of her mouth and into her tea.
Me is a creepy alien-name.
And what a sloppy alien…No, that was just Alice.
“Okay. But seriously, Alice, what happened to you?”
“Nothing!…Well…Jasper and I talked about you after we had a big blowout last night. He,” she let out a breath she had been holding, “he told me that I needed to re-evaluate some of my choices. And I thought a lot about that.”
I waited patiently for her to finish.
“Okay. I lied. I really want you to tell me what happened, but I think I need to tell you some things first…um…I’ll just start at the end and work backwards…”
Please say she didn’t throw in babies, too!
“I’m sorry I got the restraining order against Edward Masen.”
“I know that you removed it. I found out Friday afternoon, when I called the police to see if there had been any updates to the file. I worried that he might go postal and show up at the station and make a scene or something.”
“You really don’t understand him at all, do you?” I said.
“Clearly you know him better than me,” she said, briefly glancing at my crotch.
“Well, you don’t have to be intimately acquainted with the guy to realize that he would never set foot in a police station unless he was being dragged in kicking and screaming,” I said defensively.
“Wow…I don’t think I’ve ever heard you say that much…ever.”
“Well, I guess we’re both new and shiny this morning,” I quipped.
“Jasper said he’s safe. Do you feel safe with him?” she asked.
“Yeah, I do.”
“But, isn’t he, like, really weird?” she asked conspiratorially.
“Who do you think I am? A nineteen fifties Betty Bakes-a-Lot? Attender of garden parties in desperate need of a Dudley Do-Right?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said. “I guess…shit, Bella, apparently I don’t know you at all.”
She rolled her eyes and sipped her tea again.
Then, she grabbed another cookie.
Finally, she continued, “I guess…well, I thought you were just like me, only…more in your head. I thought we were always on the same page…you’re just…more independent than me.”
“Yeah, I’m getting my error…I just…I don’t understand how your brain works. Are you really this shy? ‘Cause I thought it was an act to keep from having to take responsibility for shit.”
“Wow. You are dumber than a box of hammers, you know that?”
Her face turned red, and I think her eyes got a little misty.
“I’m not stupid, Bella. I’m just a little self-absorbed.”
“A little,” I said.
“Okay, a lot,” she admitted.
“Thanks. Thanks a lot. You know, I came here to apologize to you. The least you could do is—”
“—make it easy on you?”
She rolled her eyes and sighed.
“I liked you better when you didn’t speak,” she said.
“I liked you better when…nope, I got nuthin’,” I admitted.
“Jesus, you really hate me?” she asked, suddenly vulnerable, and…wait. Was she manipulating me?
This was my moment. I could not be deterred by her need for ego-petting.
“Well, let’s look at your track record, shall we?”
“Let’s not. I’m not ready for a list of my shortcomings,” she said. “How about I just say what I came to say, and we can table the rest for another day.”
I took a breath.
On the one hand, I was afraid I’d never get this opportunity again, and I’d really like the chance to give her a piece of my mind.
On the other hand, I’d never get an apology for anything if I just plowed through.
That was her M.O.
“Fine. Do it your way. That would just be like always…” Fuck. Who was in my head? I had never behaved so petulantly.
Maybe we had switched brains.
She set her tea down and turned on the couch to face me, and for the first time today, looked me square in the eyes.
“I deserve that. I know,” she said. “And you deserve to say all the shit you’ve kept to yourself for…well, forever, practically.”
“But, I’m trying, Bella. I want to have an honest and open relationship with you. And I’m almost at my limit for dealing with guilt today. I’d like to bleed some of it off, rather than suck some more in, Okay? I promise you: we will do it. Just not today…Please.”
“I said, ‘Fine‘.”
She rolled her eyes again, but accepted that pissy and silent was the best she could hope for out of me.
“I’m sorry I tried to sell your apartment. I called the Realtor this morning. She’s had several offers and there will probably be penalties to pay—”
“Which I guarantee you I will cover. I still don’t want to sell this place. I don’t know what I want to do, but I promise you that you and I will work that out together. I won’t go behind your back anymore.”
I unfolded my arms that had somehow crossed my chest on their own. I felt compelled to hug her, but I liked breathing, so I just reached out for my mug and started chugging my tea, instead.
“That’s all,” she finished.
That wasn’t all by at least a mile, but it would do for today.
It was a big concession on her part to admit that she had made unethical unilateral decisions, which should have included my participation…And I was getting my apartment back, so that was a bonus.
…And I didn’t have to cut a bitch to do it, so that was a big bonus.
“The Power of Attorney gets revoked on Monday,” I said.
“How about today?” she said, pulling what I assumed was a revocation out of her bag.
“Just sign here.”
“I’ll look at it later and bring it in on Monday.” If you think you can control yourself, I added in my head.
Then, she looked at me expectantly.
Alice had never apologized to me, so I was rusty on the dismount. I finally realized that she wanted an acknowledgment.
“I accept your apology,” I said awkwardly. The words felt odd and foreign in my mouth.
And I wasn’t positive that they were true, but I figured at this point, she’d be happy to take what she could get.
“So…are you gonna—”
“—Hells no,” I said. “If I tell you anything, you’ll know who Jasper’s family is within twenty-four hours. That’s none of your business, Alice. Besides, isn’t cousin what’s-his-name’s divorce almost settled anyway? You can wait a week or two.”
“Will you tell me then?”
“Maybe,” I said.
“Fine. You wanna go get lunch?” she asked.
“Sure,” I said.
“Can we go back uptown? Jasper and I are going hiking next week, and there’s this outdoor store I want to check out. Marcus Volturi said they have excellent customer service, and I want to make sure I get boots that won’t give me blisters.”