Thursday, March 17, 2011

Chapter Six: A Bump in the Road

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Bella pulled into the parking lot of the newest diner in town, cleverly named The Forks Diner. Her fingers strummed nervously on the steering wheel as she battled with herself over how to go about this breakfast with Edward.

She had an undeniable physical attraction to him, that was for sure, but she couldn't let that become a distraction. The last thing she needed was to get starry-eyed over him and have it get in the way of her mission. No, she needed to nix those feelings right in the ass. Bella felt sick that she couldn't be entirely truthful to Edward. She felt a connection between them, however faint, but unmistakably there. But at the end of the day she's doing what she's getting paid to do. She needed to do this for Alice. She would do this for Alice.


The sound of tires crunching over the gravel lot signaled her to Edward's arrival as his car pulled up next to hers. She muttered quietly to herself, "Even if it were under different circumstances, a guy like Edward would never go for a girl like me anyway." With a defeated shrug of her shoulders she heaved open the creaky door. Before she could blink, Edward was there ready to assist her out of her big, rusty, heap of a truck.

He'd walked over to Bella's door in an effort to be chivalrous and help her down from her seat. As he approached he heard babbling coming from the other side of the window-glass. He caught her by surprise for the second time as he tapped on her window alerting her to his presence. Bella gasped and clutched her hand to her throat exclaiming, "Dammit, Edward, you have got to stop doing that."

Chuckling, he opened her door and held out his hand for her to take as she descended from her seat. She looked at it warily, unsure of his intention before he spoke up, "I'm trying to be nice. Just take my hand...please."

She reluctantly accepted his offer and managed to step down without incident. "After you, Marie." Edward gestured toward the restaurant and noticed a look of consternation on Bella's face as her brow furrowed, before smiling softly and biting her bottom lip.

The diner wasn't terribly busy; a few other patrons were sprinkled throughout the restaurant. A table of giggling younger teenage girls gawked at Edward as he sat down across from Bella. He heard them whispering back and forth with one another. He shot them a glance and scowled, shaking his head as if to say "not in a million years."

Shelly, a matronly-type woman with her hair pulled back in a frizzy, gray bun, introduced herself as their waitress. She wore the quintessential diner uniform - light blue dress, white collar, white shoes with a white apron to match - and a warm smile. She handed them menus and gave a brief explanation of today's specials.

Edward couldn't help but chuckle softly when Shelly offered them both a nice hot cup of coffee, both of them answering in the affirmative. He looked up to see Bella stifling a laugh of her own and he noticed the light reflecting in her deep brown eyes.

Bella gazed out of the window, spotting a marquis in the parking lot with The Forks Diner flashing proudly in neon lights. She snorted quietly to herself and Edward immediately became curious about the thoughts swirling in her mind.

"What's so funny?"

"Oh, it's nothing, really. I was just thinking how original the name of this place is. The Forks Diner. Really? That's the best they could come up with?" She asked, giggling.

The sound of Bella's laughter danced in Edward's ears and for the first time in a long while, he felt completely at ease. There were no nagging thoughts in the back of his mind relating to his family, or the final job he had to complete for Aro. He was simply in the moment, enjoying breakfast with a friend.

"You got a better name for it?" Edward challenged as he smiled across the table at the beautiful girl sitting across from him.

"I don't know, The Burly Logger." Bella exclaimed with a flourish of her wrist.

"You can't be serious," he quipped.

"Okay, so I can't think of anything either. I guess I'm as unoriginal and dull as the rest of them."

"I highly doubt that, Marie." The words fell quietly from Edward's lips, almost as if he didn't mean to say them out loud. Had it been any louder in the diner, Bella might not have heard him.

Edward took a moment to look at the beautiful girl sitting across from him. She wasn't obviously pretty, but when he paused and really paid attention he was blown away by her simplistic beauty. She didn't have fake nails, or fake tits. She didn't hide behind a veil of makeup or tease her hair in an artificial attempt to be attractive. She simply was.

"This place any good?" Edward asked breaking Bella from her thoughts as he noticed her gazing out of the window once again.

"This is my first time here, actually. It opened up about a year ago, maybe? My dad always took us to The Lodge, which was the only decent place in town to eat for a long time. I would have taken you there, but..." Bella's voice broke off and her eyes closed. The grief was still very much present within her heart, even though she did her best to hide it. Unfortunately for Bella, she didn't hide it very well. Edward immediately noticed her sadness and his mind worked overtime trying to figure out the source of her pain.

"...But I wanted to give this place a shot," Bella finally concluded. Edward had a feeling that she was about to say something completely different, but he wasn't about to press the issue.
Thankfully for Bella, Shelly arrived with their coffee and asked to take their order, effectively distracting her from whatever thoughts were plaguing her.

0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0o0

Edward watched Bella with an amused grin on his face as he watched her eyebrows furrow together as she crafted her coffee until it was just right. She systematically added sugar to the mug before stirring, tasting, adding creamer, stirring and tasting again before taking a long, satisfying sip.

He was quickly becoming fond of this girl with whom he'd had a chance encounter today. He wondered what would've happened if her car hadn't broken down, or if he didn't stop to help her. Would he have missed this one opportunity to get to know her, or would their paths have crossed further down the line?

The two of them sat, sipping their coffees while Edward tried to engage the young lady in conversation.

"So...uh, you just moved to Seattle recently?" Edward stammered, not quite sure how best to break into a conversation. He so rarely put himself into situations where he shared information openly with another person.

"Yes, actually. Very recently. I, um, just started a new job this week, and I relocated with my younger sister."

"Is it just you two?" Edward was curious about where her parents were. She looked barely old enough to care for herself, let alone a younger sibling.

"Um, sort of." Right away Edward recognized the same sadness laced in her voice as before. "My mom isn't really around anymore. She just kind of took off after my dad died." Her voice got quiet at the mention of her father, but her features hardened as she spoke of her mother. "Renee just wasn't cut out to be a mom, I guess. So yeah, it's just me and Ali."

He could tell that there was more to that story than she'd let on. Renee. The name was familiar to him, but though he tried, he couldn't place where or when he'd heard it before.

Edward was quiet for a moment. He didn't want to push her, or make her uncomfortable, but her voice was a soothing balm that quieted his chaos and he'd do whatever he could to keep her talking.

So Edward asked her about her future plans and if she wanted to go to college. Bella explained that though she would very much like to go to school, her priority right now was her sister. She needed to focus on working as much as possible so that her sister wouldn't be taken from her. She'd lost the rest of her family, and she'd die before being stripped of Alice as well.

Edward was stunned at how selfless she was, putting off her dreams in order to care for her sister. That was a job her mother should be doing. He thought about Jasper and knew in his gut that he'd do the same thing for him if, God forbid, something ever happened to Esme.

In a way, he was doing that now. Edward put most of his earnings away in savings account in Jasper's name just in case anything were to ever happen to him.

Desperate to get the spotlight off of herself, Bella turned the tables and began her own line of questioning.

"What about you Edward? What do you do in Seattle?" She hoped that he'd open up to her and tell her... anything... so she'd have some more information for Dr. Cullen.

Edward wondered how best to describe what he does, without giving away too much. "I mostly just work doing odd jobs here and there. I sometimes run errands, make phone calls or do research or scouting for my employer."

"So you're like a personal assistant?" Bella was fishing for as much information as she possibly could.

"I guess that's a good of a description as any. It pays very well, but it's starting to get really old. I'm tired of being an errand boy, you know? Truth is, I just told Aro, er, my boss that I want out. I'm in Forks doing some research for him right now. This is my last job, though." Edward hadn't meant to say Aro's name, that could turn out to be a dangerous slip of the tongue, but it was too late now. He could only hope that she would easily forget that piece of information.

"So if this is your last job, what do you plan to do next?"

Edward shrugged. "I don't know, maybe travel for a bit. I could use a change of scenery. I think next fall I'd kind of like to go to college. We'll see what happens."

"That's very admirable, Edward. Your parents must be really proud. Are you close with them?" She could see pain flash across his face and she instantly regretting bring up the subject, but she was desperate to know why he'd keep himself away from his family for all this time. Bella's family was taken from her, she had no choice in the matter. But Edward was choosing not to go home. She needed to know why.

"I, uh, don't see much of my family these days to be honest." Edward really didn't want to talk about this with her, or with anyone for that matter, but she'd opened up to him. The least he could do was reciprocate with his own story, even if it was an edited version.

"We kind of had a falling out, I guess you could say. I try to keep in contact with my younger brother, but even then I rarely get to speak with him. It's better that way anyway. I'm not the best role model for him right now."

"It's never too late to change that, Edward."

He nodded in agreement and puffed out his cheeks, not sure what else to say.

Moments later Shelly arrived at the table with their breakfast. They sat in relative silence, digesting not only their food, but also the fact that both shared so much of themselves, something neither of them really intended to do.

Edward watched Bella again in fascination as she methodically prepared her breakfast. Similar to how she prepared her coffee, she systematically cut up her pancakes, dipping each individual bite into the syrup before popping it into her mouth.

She felt self-conscious as she caught Edward gazing at her mouth.

"What?" She asked when he wouldn't stop staring, and she moved her tongue across her lips making sure there wasn't any food hanging from her face.

"Huh?" Was his eloquent response, but he stopped staring at her mouth and looked up into her cautious brown eyes. "Oh, nothing. It's nothing. I was just noticing how you eat your pancakes. I've never seen anyone dip them in the syrup before."

"I don't like to pour the syrup on. The last few bites are always too soggy. I hate that."

Edward chuckled saying "Fair point," and started shoveling in his blueberry waffle.

Edward sat for a moment, contemplating how at ease he felt sitting across the table from Bella. He couldn't remember the last time he sat so comfortably with another human being, whether in silence or in conversation. He wondered if Bella would be someone he'd eventually call a friend.

Not wanting to lose the connection they have, after Bella finally declared that she was running late for a meeting with her boss, Edward asked for her phone number. Bella hesitantly gave it to him, not sure if this act would come back to bite her in the ass. He programmed it into his phone under 'Marie'.

Edward watched as Bella drove away. A strange, but not unwelcome, feeling radiated throughout his body as he thought back on the last ninety minutes with Bella. For the first time in a long while he felt optimistic.

0o0o0o0o0

When Bella pulled up to Carlisle's house, she was excited, nervous, and anxious to give him the information she learned about Edward. There was a part of her, a bigger part than she'd care to admit, that wanted to keep the information to herself, but that wasn't what she was getting paid to do.

Knocking on the front door, she couldn't shake the feeling that she would be betraying Edward's trust by divulging his personal information to Carlisle, even if he is Edward's father.

Alice, Bella thought, I have to do this for Alice. That had become her personal mantra ever since Bella became responsible for her little sister.

"Bella," Carlisle's voice was warm and welcoming and instantly calmed the butterflies fluttering inside her. "So very nice to see you again. You're looking well."

If only he knew how I really felt, she thought. "Thank you, sir. It's a pleasure to see you again as well."

"How are the accommodations for you and Alice?"

"The house is incredible, Dr. Cullen. So much more than I was expecting. Really, it's too much. We can't thank you enough for everything."

"Excellent, excellent. And please, call me Carlisle," he said with a smile. He led Bella into the living room and she took the same seat as she had days before when Carlisle offered her the job.

"How was your drive down today?"

"Actually, to be perfectly honest, I need to talk to you about my truck. It broke down today. I was lucky that someone came along and was nice enough to get it running again, but I'm not sure how often I'll be able to keep driving down here to meet with you. I don't exactly have the money to get it fixed right now."

There was shame in Bella's tone and the sound ripped Carlisle's heart. His features scowled in disdain. It's not you who should be burdened with shame, Isabella, he thought, that burden lies with your mother.

"Yes, that is a serious problem. I'm so sorry you had car trouble today. Do you think you'll be able to get back to Seattle this evening?"

"Yes, I think so."

"I'll get in touch with Emmett. He'll make sure to get a suitable replacement vehicle to you tomorrow. That should solve that problem."

"I'm not asking for a new car, Dr. Cullen," Bella was taken aback by the offer. "I could never ask you for that. I was just hoping to maybe get it checked out by a mechanic. That's all."

"I know that, Bella. But please forgive me for wanting to ensure that my dear friend's children are safe when he no longer can." He didn't want to bring up the subject of Charlie, but somehow he knew this was the only way to quiet her protests. Bella was a very proud individual, just like her father. "How do you think your dad would've felt if he knew you were stranded on the side of road today, reliant on a stranger to help you out?"

Bella let out a sad chuckle, "Yeah, that would've gone over like a lead balloon."

"Please let me help you with this. You have no idea how priceless the job you're doing for me truly is." Sincerity coated every word when he spoke, and Bella nodded in acquiescence.

"Please forgive my impatience, Bella, but have you been able to procure any information?"

"I do have some news for you." Bella paused for a moment, trying to figure out the best place to begin. "Erm, well, Alice and I went to McDonald's for dinner the other night, and we uh, sort of ran into Jasper. He was very... friendly... with Alice." Bella couldn't contain her giggle thinking back to the way Jasper kissed her sister's knuckles in greeting. "I'll just say, I don't think it will be a problem for her to get to know him... they really hit it off."

Carlisle's face lifted into a broad smile at that news.

"Wonderful. Any news of Edward?"

Bella nodded slowly and Carlisle's eyebrows raised in anticipation.

"You were right in assuming he'd try to get in touch with Jasper. Within minutes of my arriving at Esme's, the phone rang. It was Edward calling for Jasper. He wouldn't tell me who it was, but I could just tell it was him. Esme walked in while we were talking and he didn't want her to know who it was. I told her it was a telemarketer." Bella hung her head in shame as she admitted lying to her new employer.

"He's alive," he whispered. "Anything else?" Carlisle continued, unconcerned with the fib. After all, he did hire her to get information and he wouldn't judge her on how she came about it.

Where did Bella even begin to tell Carlisle that she'd just spent the past couple of hours in Edward's presence?

"Umm... so I told you how my car broke down? Well, Edward was the helpful stranger who stopped to help me. I didn't recognize him at first, it was so rainy. It wasn't until after he'd finished taking a look at my truck that he introduced himself and I really got a look at him."

Bella went on to tell him about their encounter, leaving out the bit about the whole coffee incident. She told him about the fake name she gave him and everything. To say that Carlisle looked stunned would be an understatement. They sat in silence for several minutes while he processed this information.

"Edward spoke briefly about his job. Working for a man named... Aro, I think he said? But it didn't sound like he's too happy with it anymore. He said he told his boss that he wanted to quit. He'd like to start college in the fall semester—" Bella stopped talking when she noticed Carlisle's reaction.

His face had paled and his normally handsome features contorted into a look of panic as he stood up and paced back-and-forth across the room. His usual calm, cool, collected demeanor had been replaced by fear and anxiety. His worst fears had come true. It was confirmed that Aro had his hooks in Edward, and it would be nearly impossible to free him unscathed.

"Carlisle?" Bella asked, "Is everything okay? I figured you'd be happy to learn that Edward wanted to go to college." Confusion was written all over Bella's face. She simply couldn't understand what it was she said that would make Carlisle react this way.

She watched as he rubbed at his temples, attempting to soothe the sudden headache that plagued him.

"Bella," he paused, "this information stays strictly between you and me, do you understand me?" His voice was burning, and desperate. Bella nodded her head furiously, as Carlisle took hold of her by the arms and looked hard into her eyes.

"Edward doesn't have the kind of job where you just turn in your two weeks notice to Human Resources. I know Edward's employer." The word slipped from his mouth as if it had a sour taste. "You see...Edward works for the mob. And I can't imagine he'll just be allowed to walk away without serious repercussions."

Bella sat for several minutes in stunned silence until her brain started working in overdrive.
"The mob?" Bits and pieces of Bella's conversation with Edward were beginning to fall into place. "We have to help him, Carlisle. What can we do? What can I do?"

"You've done very well already, dear. I can't thank you enough for agreeing to work with me. I haven't had any news of my eldest son in quite some time." His voice was strained with emotion.

"I'm sorry to say that Aro was once a dear friend of mine. We had a falling out many years ago and took very different paths in life. I'm afraid he's been using Edward as a pawn to hurt me." The sadness in his voice was palpable as Bella listened with rapt attention. "You see, a long time ago, Aro was in love with Esme. I venture to guess that he still is. However, she never felt the same toward him. Once he found that she had fallen for his best friend and that we were lovers, I'm afraid he just snapped. He's never been the same since."

"Esme and I split up when the boys were both very young, in the hope of protecting our family. Unfortunately, it didn't pan out like we had hoped." Carlisle no longer looked like the handsome man that Bella had come to know. He looked broken and defeated, and it pained her to hear of his heartache.

"The best thing you can do for Edward is to keep me informed of anything you hear from him."

Bella nodded her head in acknowledgment, still shocked by this revelation.

Needing to get on the road to get home to Alice, Bella said her goodbyes to Carlisle, promising to keep him up to date on any information from Edward. Though she knew that Alice will get home long before her, Bella needed to make sure she had plenty of time to prepare dinner. Even if that dinner preparation meant ordering a pizza.

Bella hopped in her truck, and as it rumbled to life and vibrated beneath her, she realized just how much she would miss it. Charlie bought it for her after all, and this would feel like saying goodbye to him all over again. But she needed to move forward with her life, and hanging on to that hunk of metal just didn't make sense anymore.

0o0o0o0o0

Edward had sat in his car, lost in thoughts of Bella. He would've sat there all afternoon if the sound of laughter hadn't finally snapped him out of his trance as the group of teenage girls walked out of the diner.

Edward glanced at the passenger seat and noticed the file folder that Aro had given to him. The light and airy feeling quickly dissipated as he thought about the job at hand.

Thumbing through the photographs, an uneasy feeling washed over him. He'd stolen these jewels before, he'd recognize the antique sapphire and diamond heirloom necklace anywhere. It was probably the most complicated lift he'd ever made for Aro, and to be honest he wasn't thrilled about having to do it again.

He wasn't sure how the good Dr. Cullen was tied to this necklace, but that's what he needed to find out.

Edward went to grab a cigarette from his coat pocket when he noticed his pack was empty. Cursing his bad luck, he started the car and headed for the nearest gas station. Once his nicotine craving was sated, he started off toward the address that was in the information packet.

As he drove, Edward allowed his mind to drift back to the beautiful brunette he'd met hours earlier. He was beginning to think that fate had caused her clunky old truck to break down and place Bella in his path.

As he pulled into Carlisle's driveway, he spotted the very same truck that just occupied his thoughts. Confusion started to cloud his brain as he wondered what the fuck Bella could possibly be doing there.

Her words about how she was running late for a meeting with her boss rang through Edward's ears. His mouth went dry and his breathing stilted as he voiced the only thing that made sense.

"Holy shit. Marie works for Carlisle?"

Edward was paralyzed trying to figure out what he should do next, before throwing his car in reverse and backing down the driveway out of sight. He needed answers and he decided right then that he was going to get them.

He didn't have to wait long before he heard the roar of her engine, signaling she was about to leave.

He stood out in front of his car, his face seething with rage. Bella slammed on the breaks when she saw him standing there, her hand jumping to her throat surprise. She quickly emerged from her truck, wondering why the hell Edward was standing there.

"Edward, what are you doing here? Did you follow me?"

"I'm working," he said harshly. "I think a better question is what the fuck are you doing here, Marie?" His tone was far from the friendly one she'd come to know in the short time they were together. He was furious, but she didn't know why.

Bella made a decision then and there. She inhaled a deep breath and took a leap of faith.
"My name isn't Marie, well my middle name is Marie, but my real name is... Bella." She let out a deep breath as she waited for his reaction.

"Bella?" He asked, very obviously confused and trying to make sense of it all. "As in the girl who answered my mother's phone the other day, Bella?"

She nodded meekly.

Edward couldn't believe it. He'd been hoodwinked by this fucking girl. All of his former thoughts about how he felt he could trust this woman were thrown out of the proverbial window.

"What sort of game are you playing at, huh? Do you work for Aro? What the fuck is going on here?" He couldn't make sense of any of it.

"Why don't you come inside? I really think you should talk with Dr. Cullen... he wants to help you."

"And why the fuck would he want to help me? I don't even know him!"

"Edward, Dr. Cullen, Carlisle, is your father."

.

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AN: Thank you to dandyvamp for your help and inspiration, and for trusting me with your chapter. I hope I did you proud, sweetie.

From The Load: Wisdomous is a gorgeous, active member of the Twilight Fandom and we were so lucky to have her step up and write this wonderful chapter. Please find the link to her profile in ours and explore her other work, like Rub My Ass and Call Me Bella.

1 comments:

rebadams7 said...

Not so much a bump per se, more like the detour (off the interstate) that shows you where you really want to be

Brave Bella, brave.

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