Monday, August 24, 2015 | By: Drotuno

A Few Tables Away Chapter 5 & Pics

Chapter 5
The feel of Bella’s hand in mine was surreal. I wanted it to last longer, but then again, I didn’t, because I could feel my nerves kicking into overdrive. My palm started to sweat just about the time we rounded the corner for the front of the library.
Pulling my hand from hers, I reached for the door to hold it open and then wiped it down my jeans once she was inside. Suddenly, I was a bit self-conscious. Where would we sit? And would it be together? Or were we going to take our normal spots?
Deciding to follow Bella’s lead, my mouth fell open when she set her things down in the opposite chair from my usual spot. I slid my backpack onto the table, slowly sinking down into my chair.
My surprise had to have been written all over my face, because Bella grinned, tapping the table. “You don’t mind, do you?” she asked, and I shook my head no.
“It is your library,” I whispered back, grinning when she broke into a quiet giggle.
“Hush, you,” she stated teasingly.
I pulled out my books for the class I needed to work on, but I also pulled out my journal and the book I needed to return. I started to get up to take it to the chute, but Bella’s hand wrapped around my wrist.
“I just finished that one…like a few weeks ago,” she whispered, smiling over at me. “It was so good. Sad, but really good.”
I nodded, smiling a little. “Yeah, I um… I liked it.” I turned the book over in my hands. “You… I saw you reading this…the first time I saw you. You…” I shrugged a shoulder toward her table. “You were crying. I… I almost…”
Her brow furrowed a little when I met her gaze.
“Anyway, my curiosity got the best of me. I wish it had ended differently, but it was good.”
Smiling, I shrugged again, getting up to walk across the library to the return slot, where I dropped it in. Then I made my way quickly back to my seat.
“You prefer happy endings, Edward?” Bella asked softly, due to the quiet of the library.
“Well…yeah!” I nodded a little and then focused on the books and papers in front of me. “Life is pretty shitty enough, don’t you think? People struggle every damn day. They fight with each other and diseases and their careers, and… I don’t know. When I read, I want away from all that.” I glanced up at her, smiling in embarrassment and adjusting my glasses, but she just smiled back. “I can’t help it. My mother said not all stories can end perfectly, but maybe there’s a perfect ending for the characters in the story itself. That book…it was sad.”
“It was,” she agreed in a whisper, pulling out a different book. “This one’s not. It’s hot.”
Laughing, I shook my head. “I think my sister read that one.”
“Smart girl,” she said, and I narrowed my eyes at the sexy tone of her voice, not to mention made note of the title.
We fell quiet as I worked on my paper for English Lit and she read. People shifted in and out around us for the next two hours. I glanced up when someone dropped their things heavily at the other end of our table. It made me jump a bit, but I frowned at the sight of Angela’s anger-filled face, which seemed to be aimed Bella’s way.
Bella, however, barely gave her a second glance as she twirled her hair, her book open in front of her. When whispers met my ears, she shot a look over her shoulder, too. Finally, she looked back to me.
Smirking a bit, she whispered, “Seems I’m not liked much…”
“Huh? What? Why?”
Bella marked her page and closed her book, leaning closer on her elbows. I couldn’t help but do the same.
“Why do you come in here, Edward?” she asked, grinning when I raised an eyebrow at her and gestured to all the work in front of me. “And?”
“I…I don’t know. I like libraries. They’re peaceful. I can lose myself in a book for a little while and block out everything else,” I explained.
She stared at me for a moment, her smile small but warm. “Yeah…me too.”
“I know. I could tell,” I said with a soft chuckle, embarrassed a little with that admission, but Bella had a way of making me say stuff I normally wouldn’t.
“But…” she sang softly, still keeping the tone low for where we were. “The two girls behind me probably haven’t been in a library since their mothers took them to reading circles for daycare. They sat next to you and behind you in my dad’s class.”
My eyebrows shot up at that, and I gave a quick glance to the girls she was talking about. They were in the farthest table, facing me. One was rather severe-looking, with unnaturally bright red hair and pale skin. She had the same color eyes as my sister, but they weren’t as friendly or happy. The girl next to her was blonde, and her cleavage was practically spilling out onto the table in front of her. While my brother would’ve totally gone after her at one point in time, all I saw was fake, scary red nails and too much makeup. They reminded me so much of the girls in high school who would laugh at me that I frowned back at Bella, shaking my head slowly.
Bella smirked. “Fair enough, sweetie. The other one…” She jerked her chin toward the opposite end of our table.
“Angela?” I whispered.
“Yes, her.” She smiled, nodding a little. “She’s braver than all of us, because she actually approached you.”
“She’s…She’s in my Physics class. She borrowed notes for a day she was out sick.”
“Was she sick? Or did you not even notice?” Bella laughed softly as she waited for me to think about it, and I shrugged because I didn’t have a clue. “Right. I saw her borrow the notes. I was kinda jealous that she got a smile out of you…until I really saw you smile the other day at work.”
My face heated, and I shook my head slowly. I took off my glasses and rubbed my face roughly, sliding my hands into my hair. Why would Bella be jealous? My heart sputtered at that thought.
“What do you mean ‘all of us?’” I asked.
Bella sighed, and I would’ve thought it was in impatience, but her smile was warm and sweet as always. “You…You honestly don’t see what we see, Edward. Most guys who look like you… What the fuck am I saying? No one looks like you. Most handsome guys don’t always come across as approachable.”
“Most guys are assholes.”
Bella giggled, which made me grin when she had to bury the sound in her hands. “Yeah, well…that’s true.” Her humor faded a little. “Edward, you are very handsome, but you give off a ‘don’t touch’ vibe. It can come across as arrogant or cocky, but since I’ve talked to you, I can see it’s a wall you put up. And I’m sure you have your reasons, but it’s a touch intimidating.”
“I’m sorry.”
She grinned, covering my hand with her own. “Don’t be sorry.”
Frowning a little, I gazed down at her hand on mine, I shifted my thumb so I could feel the smooth, soft skin across her knuckles. It had only been a week since I’d written my letter in my journal to her, talking about how I wished my Library Girl would notice me, how I wondered what she was really like. It all felt like a dream that she was sitting at my table and not her usual one. It felt liberating and freeing to know that she was better, kinder, more beautiful than my imagination ever considered.
Finally, I met her gaze. “The same could be said for you. Apparently I’m not as brave.”
“You’re plenty brave, sweetie. You’re just shy, and you keep to yourself. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
I grinned, shrugging a shoulder, but it fell when I heard whispers across the room. “They don’t know me.”
“They want to,” she countered, squeezing my hand, “which is why I’m not liked very much right now. And I’m perfectly fine with that; I have the best seat in the library today.”
I huffed a laugh. “I’m…I’m glad you think so.” I gave a quick look to Angela, who still looked upset, and then turned back to Bella. “I’m…I’m supposed to work with her on a Physics project.”
“Lucky girl.”
Shaking my head fervently, I said, “No, no… Bella… I don’t…” I sighed in frustration. “I need to keep up my grades, but I don’t… I’m not what they think I am, if what you say is true. My grades come first…but I don’t want to hurt someone. She looks…pissed.”
“I doubt you could hurt someone even if you tried, Edward. And she’s mad at me. Not you. Just stick to the work. It’s okay to be friendly. We’re doing just fine.”
“You don’t know me, either,” I argued, shaking my head and starting to pull my hand from hers. I wanted to tell her that I had hurt people, that girls like the ones in the back of the room could be mean and nasty, and I wanted to tell her that I wasn’t what people saw, but the words wouldn’t come.
“But I want to,” she said so firmly, holding on to my fingers and not letting go.
There was a split second where I wanted to bolt from the library, but I could hear Alice’s voice in my head, telling me to suck it up. Even if I called my sister right then, I knew what she’d say. She’d tell me that it was okay to have friends, to let people in, that I was no longer surrounded by rumors and bullies. She’d also tell me I was worrying for nothing, because I was in a place where no one knew my past, my family, my father.
I took a deep, cleansing breath at that last thought. He couldn’t touch me here. Not really. He could threaten or take away funding for school, but he didn’t have power over me here. As long as my grades stayed okay, he’d keep to the same old shit.
Dragging my eyes from our hands to Bella’s oh-so-pretty face, I smiled and nodded. “Me too.”
Her grin was bright and happy, and God, so beautiful. “Good. Give me your phone, then.”
“O-Okay.” I dragged out the word and reached into my pocket for my phone, handing it over.
She smiled, swiping her fingers across the screen and typing quickly. She then called her own phone, only to hang up and hand it back.
“There! Now I have your number, and you have mine. I saved myself as a contact. Call me, text me…anytime.”
I scrolled through my phone to see she’d put Bella in there with a smiley face emoticon next to it. It made me chuckle, until a shadow fell over us from the head of the table next to us. I glanced up to see Alec standing there, glaring at me and then Bella.
“Where the hell have you been?” he whispered in a hissing tone.
She raised a deadly eyebrow at him, and her humor and patience was completely gone. I didn’t have to know her all that well to see that.
“Um, and just when do I have to answer to you, Alec?”
He didn’t answer her, merely waved the question away. “There’s a party tonight over at the south part of the beach. You goin’?”
“No, I have dinner plans with my family.”
“Blow them off. You have to—”
“Okay, first… I don’t have to do any-fucking-thing. Second, I don’t ‘blow off’ my family,” she replied so firmly that Alec flinched, which made me smirk a bit. “And speaking of my family, Jasper told me to let you know that you aren’t allowed back at Sunset Roast anymore. I’d take heed to that if I were you.”
Alec’s nostrils flared, and his gaze landed on me. “I told you I was sorry. You get pissed off that you had to clean?”
I opened my mouth, but Bella beat me to it.
“Actually, we all cleaned up after your fuckery, so…” She stared him down, her eyes narrowing when he went red in the face with anger. “And aren’t you in my dad’s afternoon class? That’s interesting to know, right?” When he didn’t say anything, she shrugged, jerking a thumb behind her to the two girls at the table in the back. “Ask them. They’ll go with you to the party. I’m almost sure of it.”
Grinning, I started packing up to go to my last class. However, I couldn’t resist watching him for just a second. Alec eyed the blonde and redhead, a wolfish grin crawling across his face.
“Your loss, sweetheart,” he drawled, walking away from us.
Bella locked gazes with me for a moment, raising an eyebrow at me before we both turned to watch him approach the table. It was kind of sickening to see his flirting and them laugh and flirt back. When they all three left together, I grinned at Bella’s happy laugh.
“I thought you liked him,” I murmured.
“Oh, hell no!” she hissed back. “He’s a pompous asshole. And after what he did to you the other night… Oh, I don’t think so. Now…” She pointed toward the empty table. “We just killed two – okay three – birds with one very jerk-ish stone.” She threw her books back into her bag, smiling at my laugh. “Time for class.”
We gathered our things and made our way outside and around the building, where Bella stopped at the split in the sidewalk. “Um, you still want to come to dinner?”
“Yeah…Yes, definitely,” I told her.
“Where do you want me to meet you? I live on the outskirts of town, so I can pick you up and take you home.”
“Right. You sure?”
She smiled and nodded. “Of course.”
“Okay, um…the dorms okay? I can change and drop off my stuff.”
“Perfect. Call me or text when you’re ready.” When I nodded, she smiled and spun around to head to her last class.
I watched her walk away a few paces before turning the opposite direction to do the same.
My statistics class ran long, which was torture, simply because I didn’t particularly care for math of any kind. I could do the work, but it was tedious and boring to me. As a kid, math classes had been a source of many punishments due to my grades. It took forever for me to finally find a way to push through.
Frowning at that, I hurried across the courtyard and into my building. I dodged people on the stairs coming and going, ducking when a football was tossed overhead. I walked into my dorm room, giving Ben a quick wave as I set my backpack down on my bed.
“There you are,” he said, and I looked out of my closet to see what he wanted. “I’m glad you’re here. Listen, I just changed to the same physics class as you – a scheduling thing. We’ve got that group project coming up. Have you started?”
I shook my head. “No, I’m supposed to, though. But I have a partner already.”
“We can work with more than one person. I asked Professor Martin today. Can… Can I join you?” he asked, grimacing a little. “I don’t know anyone in that class but you.”
Glancing his way as I fumbled with a new pair of contacts, I could see we were pretty similar that way, though different in every other way. He was shorter than me, thinner, and he had sandy-colored hair and hazel eyes.
Ducking back into the bathroom, I pulled off my glasses and put in the contacts, saying, “Yeah, sure. We’ll talk to Angela after the next class and figure out when we can get started.”
“Awesome! Thanks, Edward. I really appreciate it.”
“No problem.”
I changed shirts, something nicer than the T-shirt I’d been in all day, and I tried to tame my hair but quickly gave up. Then I sent Bella a text to let her know I’d meet her downstairs at the front.
When I stepped back into the room, Ben looked up at me. “That’s not work clothes, man. Where you off to?”
“Um…dinner at Professor Swan’s house,” I told him nervously.
“Fuck me. Will his daughter be there? ’Cause that girl is hot!”
Grinning, I nodded. “Yeah, she’s…”
“Uh-oh,” he sang. “Go get ’em, tiger.”
Rolling my eyes, I shot him a wave and walked back out. I dodged the same people on my way out as I had going in, but when I made it to the sidewalk, my nerves kicked up a notch. I was going to be at the same table as my boss, my teacher, and the girl of my dreams, not to mention others I didn’t know.
A little red car was sitting at the corner, and when I looked closer, I could see Bella waving at me from the driver’s seat. I slid into the passenger side, still trying to get a grip on my nerves.
“Aww,” she sighed, smirking at me when I glanced her way. Her hand tentatively reached up to touch my chin, turning my head a little. “The glasses are gone.”
Chuckling, I nodded as my face heated at the feel of her touch on my skin. “Yeah, contacts are easier. My sister used to get really frustrated with my lenses getting smudged and my fidgeting, so she made me get contacts before I left for Florida.”
What I didn’t say out loud was that Alice had tried so hard to help me prepare for college. She wanted me to be able to start over, be someone different – or at the very least learn to be me without being surrounded by guilt, bitterness, and rumors.
Bella eyed me for a beat more, only to smile and nod. She pulled her hand away and focused on driving. As we got farther away from the school, I could see we were still working our way north up the beach. In order to distract myself from the glittering water, I looked to Bella.
“Should… Um, should I have brought something?” I asked her.
She shook her head. “Nope. Nothing. Trust me, Edward, there will be plenty.”
“Does your family do this a lot? Dinner together?”
The concept was strange to me. Emmett, Alice, and I had had to fend for ourselves due to my dad’s position at the hospital. He worked long hours and would be on call a lot, so sitting down at the same table was so rare that when it did happen, it was uncomfortable, and it usually ended up in some sort of disagreement…or really, he’d get pissed off at something I said or did. We’d had a woman come in occasionally to clean, but a home-cooked meal mostly consisted of frozen pizzas, boxed macaroni and cheese, or breakfast foods. Emmett and I got really good at omelets and pancakes, and Alice would bake cookies occasionally. But to sit down together – as a family – was a ridiculous idea, especially when I’d rather escape to my room.
“Yeah,” she answered, pulling to a stop at a light. “We try, anyway. My dad and Aunt Jane are close – like you and Alice – which is why Jasper and I argue like brother and sister.” She grinned at my laugh but went on. “Anyway, Aunt Jane just turned over the coffee shop to Jasper so she can travel when she wants or whatever, but she and Jasper live in the guest house. My house is rarely empty. But with the start of my first year at Edgewater, my parents’ busy positions at the school, and Aunt Jane’s recent trip, we haven’t really gotten together. Tonight is sort of a late birthday…thing.”
She sputtered that last part, her nose wrinkling a little, which made me narrow my eyes a bit.
“Whose birthday?” I asked, almost knowing the answer.
“Mine.” She grimaced, looking my way. “It was a week ago – the thirteenth – but we were so busy and Aunt Jane was in Europe, so I said to wait.”
“I really should’ve brought something, then,” I sighed, smirking at her happy laugh.
“Aw, don’t sweat it, sweetie,” she said, poking my leg. “There won’t be presents – those are already done. Just my family stuffing their faces.”
Grinning, I nodded but gazed out the window at the scenery. The houses were getting bigger and farther apart, with longer, winding driveways. The trees were so old and thick, they blocked out the late afternoon sun, making it feel later than it actually was, and the canopy of large, fat oaks, tall pines, and the occasional palm tree gave off the perfect tropical feel to everything. Aside from the heat and palms, the woodsy area reminded me a lot of home, even more so when she turned down one of the driveways. Like my house in Forks, hers sat on a large piece of property, surrounded by shade trees and green grass. While my house was a touch newer, more modern, hers reminded me of all the movies I’d seen about the South. It was white, with black shutters and a big front porch with a swing on one end. It felt warm and welcoming.
“Wow,” I whispered, smiling at Bella’s soft laugh. “This is beautiful.”
“Thanks. It’s been in the Swan family for years.”
Nodding, I looked her way. “It reminds me of Forrest Gump.”
Her laugh was beautiful and perfect, and she was so gorgeous, my breathing faltered a bit, but she leaned over and kissed my cheek. “Thank you! Most say Gone with the Wind.”
My whole body froze at the feel of her lips on my skin. I wasn’t prepared for it, and I didn’t want it to end, but I also didn’t know what it meant to her. When I turned to face her, we were eye to eye.
“Don’t be nervous, and don’t worry about not bringing anything,” she whispered, her brow furrowing a little. “I’m just happy you came.”
Smiling a little with nerves, I nodded again, gazing down at my hands as I picked at nothing on my jeans. “Happy belated birthday, Bella. I’ll have to get you—”
She shook her head, nudging me a bit. “You don’t have to get me anything, Edward, but thank you. I’m getting to know my Library Guy. That’s an awesome present.”
My head snapped up to meet her playful smile, simply because she’d called me that before. The fact that we had similar names for each other without knowing it was almost scary.
“You ready?”
I laughed, shaking my head, but I reached for the car’s door. “Not even a little bit, but…okay.”


Tajaunia Braxton said...
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