Wednesday, September 9, 2015 | By: Drotuno

A Few Tables Away Chapter 11 & Pics

Chapter 11
EDWARD
The sky was a bruised, purplish gray, flickering with bright strands of lightning. It was fascinating to watch from the large windows of Sunset Roast. The rain was so different in Glenhaven compared to back home. It was heavy and harsh, with cold, fat drops that spattered against the glass. It was also interesting to see it roll in off the water, covering the blue sky in its path.
A part of me could feel the old fear at the sight of rain and ocean, but the other part knew I was safe inside the café. I was warm and dry indoors for at least the next couple of hours. October was starting to cool off in Florida, which made me smile at the hoodies and jackets and sweaters I’d seen the last few days.
The café was quiet; we’d had a rush earlier before the rain had rolled in, but now everyone was where they wanted to be in order to wait it out. I finished wiping down all the tables, and I wanted to get a head start on the floors before closing. With no one in the sitting area, it seemed like the perfect time.
It was just Tanya and me working. Maggie had asked for the night off for a party somewhere on campus – the same party that Ben and Angela were going to, I was pretty sure. Jasper and Bella were with Renee in the art building helping her get set up for the art show that coming weekend. I’d offered to help after we’d closed.
I was just about to take advantage of the quiet downtime and work on my Creative Writing paper, but my phone buzzed in my pocket. Pulling it out, I grimaced at the sight of my father’s number.
“Hey, Tanya?” I called, holding up my phone. “I’ll be right out back, okay?”
“Yeah, honey. Do what you do,” she said, barely glancing up from the magazine she was flipping through. “Tell Bells I said hey.”
I smiled but shook my head as I walked through the kitchen. I wished it was Bella.
“Hello?” I answered, stepping out the back door and under the awning that Tanya used when she was on her cigarette breaks.
“So your brother will be here for Thanksgiving,” he started immediately.
“I can’t make Thanksgiving, Dad. I have to cover for someone at work, and I have tests the next week to prepare for, so…” I shrugged a shoulder, trying to prepare myself for his reaction.
Nothing about that was a lie, either. I really would be covering for Maggie, who wanted to go home to Atlanta for Thanksgiving. And finals would be coming close by the end of November.
I heard the sigh, and then there was a snort of derision. “Work,” he scoffed. “Serving coffee is pretty pathetic, son.”
Smiling, I shook my head because I could see he was looking for a fight. He couldn’t make me come home for Thanksgiving. He also had forced keeping one’s word on us as kids. Lastly, he wouldn’t argue studying for tests. Instead of fighting any of that, he was going to remind me just what a piece of shit he thought I was.
“Yeah, well…my boss is pretty cool, lets me study during slow times, and I’ve saved a little, so… It works for me and my schedule.”
I stared out across the parking lot, watching the rain’s endless drops create circles in the puddles on the ground. My mind sort of shut down when he started his rants. My ears caught a few words – pathetic, weak, pitiful, stupid. I let them roll off me, until he moved on to Emmett and Rosalie.
“He’s bringing that whore with him, I suppose,” he sighed wearily. “I’ll have to watch her…”
Something about that bothered me. Rose had been nothing but faithful and loyal to my brother, and she loved him fiercely. She’d only ever been kind to me, which probably meant that Emmett had told her about the accident and Mom, but that didn’t bother me at all.
“Rose is cool, Dad,” I countered, frowning a little. “She really cares about Emmett.”
Dad laughed. It was so harsh and so loud that it made me flinch at the humorless tone to it. “Love makes you an idiot, son. Best learn that now. And any bitch who latches on to you is just gonna run you the fuck over. You’ll probably fall for the first one who gets your dick wet…”
Scowling, I closed my eyes and shook my head slowly in order to bite my tongue. He was goading me. He was testing me, and I knew that. He either knew about Bella, simply from the phone bill, or he had overheard Alice, but somehow he knew. The hows weren’t important; it was what he’d do with that information.
Panic combined with anger, all meshed into something I couldn’t control. It all built up to come out with something that always pissed him off. I brought up my mother.
“Yeah, well…that’s not what Mom always said,” I ground out through gritted teeth. “She said love was the best, most important thing in the world. I can only assume she was talking about you, but…”
The line went dead quiet. “You know, we’re gonna work on that attitude of yours when you come home for Christmas. There’s a bunch of shit around here that needs to be done since you’ve left. I’ve already bought your ticket, so don’t even bother to weasel out of it. I know for a fact that the dorms close over the break, so I know you have nowhere to go. And second, we’ll also discuss your sister’s unreasonable desire to visit you over spring break.”
My nostrils flared as I bit down on my bottom lip. He’d just used the one thing he knew I couldn’t deny – Alice. He didn’t punish her like he did Emmett and me. No, he’d simply deny her what she wanted. However, he didn’t mention that she’d applied to Edgewater in order to move close to me, so I kept my mouth shut. I had a feeling it would be something brought up once I was back in Washington.
“Fine,” I spat, sneering out into the parking lot, where headlights pulled in. “I gotta get back to work, Dad.”
I hated that he’d gotten to me, but he always knew exactly how to do it. Pocketing my phone, I glanced up to see Tanya standing at the door, lighting up a cigarette.
“You okay, kiddo?”
I nodded, shoving my hands into the front pockets of my jeans.
“Helluva fucking call – I could hear them over the line as soon as I got to the door,” she mumbled around the filter. “Parent?”
“Dad.”
“I can’t imagine you doing anything to deserve all that. You’re a good kid, so I don’t know what had his panties in a twist.” She shook her head at my humorless laugh, glancing out into the rainy evening. “My dad was a piece of work, too, honey. Believe that. Eventually, you have to do what’s best for you. Just because he had a hand in making you doesn’t mean he’s a good person.” She slowly turned her head my way, her eyebrow rising up. “Some people are just…toxic. You get me?”
“Yeah,” I sighed, shaking my head. “I just…my little sister is still there, so…”
“Ah…gotcha. How old is she?”
“She just turned eighteen.”
“Even better,” she sighed, smiling my way as she leaned against the wall. She flicked an ash to the ground. “She’s legal, so she could haul ass if she needed to.”
“She won’t. She plays him better than my brother and I do, and he lets her. His beef isn’t with her.”
Tanya shook her head back and forth, a smile playing on her face before she took the last drag on her cigarette. “Again, I can’t imagine you doing anything to warrant that much yelling.”
I huffed a laugh. “I don’t have to do anything.”
The sound of a car door caught our attention, and I smiled at the sight of Bella with her hood up on her sweatshirt as she ran across the parking lot. I caught her just as she made it underneath the awning, losing her footing in a puddle.
“Whoa,” I said through a laugh as she gripped my shirt, and I glanced over her head to Jasper, who was right behind her. “Thought you guys were helping Renee?” I asked, and he merely smiled and shook his head.
“We’re done,” Bella mumbled into my neck as I held her close, but she shivered in my arms. “I wanted to see you.”
“I hate that you drove in this,” I muttered without thinking.
Bella pulled back, pushing her hood away from her beautiful face, her brow furrowing a little. “I’m okay, and it was just across campus, baby. Promise.” Her body shuddered again as she hugged me close one more time. “I’m sorry that scares you, though.”
“Pretty girl, come inside,” I whispered in her ear. “I’ll make you something warm.”
You’re warm,” she said through an adorable giggle, nuzzling my ear.
I laughed, wrapping an arm around her and lifting her up inside the back door. “In you get. Take that off and put this one on.” I grabbed my own sweatshirt that was hanging in the back.
Bella nodded, doing as I asked, and we all went out front. The place was still quiet, though Tanya was letting Jasper know what we’d done for the day. I quickly made Bella a hot chocolate as she pulled herself up on the front counter. Something about her in my hoodie made me crazy, but I focused on making sure she didn’t catch a chill.
“Here, Bella, drink this,” I said, handing her the cup. I started to back away, but her legs locked around my waist. She sipped the drink, smiling at it, but then reached up to push her fingers through my hair. “What?” I asked at her wrinkled brow.
“What happened? Your eyes look…sad.”
I shook my head. “Dad called just before you pulled in.” I sighed but smiled at her worried face. “I told him about Thanksgiving. And he assured me I was coming home for Christmas break.”
“Mmm,” she hummed, pursing her lips. “I don’t want you to go.”
Her pout might have been the cutest thing I’d ever seen, so I couldn’t help but hold her closer. “Bella…”
“I know you have to go, but I don’t have to like it,” she told me firmly, still wearing that sweet pout. “I just… I have a…a…funny feeling about you going. That’s all.”
Shaking my head, I kissed her – because I could and because she was so damned hard to resist. “I’ll be fine, pretty girl,” I vowed to her. “And you know I’d never… I’m yours, Bella.”
She tsked at me. “I trust you, handsome. I don’t like your father.”
Smiling, I kissed her again. “We’ve got time to talk about it. Okay?”
“Yeah. But I’m glad you’re here for Thanksgiving. You’re coming to my house for that. Promise me.”
Chuckling, I stepped back, saluting her. “Yes, ma’am.”
~oOo~
“I think it’s safe to say her crush on you is over.” Bella’s lips were at my ear as we started to pack up our things in the library.
My head shot up to watch Angela with Ben, and they looked cozy, happy. Our Physics project was completed and had been turned in earlier that day, but I had a feeling Ben would end up in the library more often than he used to be. Angela glanced up, her cheeks reddening, and then went back to Ben.
“Okay, maybe not completely over, but somewhat…diminished?” Bella amended with a giggle.
I rolled my eyes to her, raising up my eyebrows. “I don’t care.”
Bella buried her snorting laugh into my upper arm, which made me smile and shake my head. “Did you ever care about girls and crushes, or were you always so oblivious?”
Grimacing, I slid my laptop into my backpack and zipped it up. “It was…better if I didn’t care, Bella,” I stated, standing up and shouldering her bag and mine. “Let’s just put it that way.”
Bella stayed quiet all the way to my dorm, which was on the way to her car. I was staying the weekend at the Swan house in order to help Renee out with the art show on Saturday with Bella and then ride to work with Jasper to close Sunset Roast. My bag was packed, but I needed to throw a few more things in it.
As usual, the first two floors were a beehive of activity, though I noticed a few sets of male eyes land on Bella. Her hand was firmly in mine, though, and she didn’t seem to pay much of it any attention, which made me chuckle.
“You know,” I started, unlocking my room, but paused before opening the door. “I could ask you the same question, Bella.” She tried to look innocent, but I merely shook my head. “Don’t even…”
Her grin was adorable as she shrugged a shoulder. “Let me into your room, Edward. I’ll answer your question. I’ve been dying to get in here.”
Laughing, I pushed the door open, gesturing for her go on in. “Casa de Cullen-Cheney.”
I had no idea what made her so damned excited. Ben and I were tidy, and we weren’t part of the party scene, so there wasn’t much to see, except furniture and beds. Though, it was the latter that made me nervous. Bella gazed around as I set our stuff down for a moment, and she smiled at Ben’s side of the room, with his video game and sci-fi movie posters. My side wasn’t as decorated, but she immediately caught sight of the handful of framed pictures I had on my overloaded bookshelf.
Some were as recent as the last time Emmett was home from UW, so it was the three of us hanging out in my room. There were some that were older, some of just Alice and me being silly, and one of Emmett and Rose. But the one that Bella actually picked up was a picture of my mother and me. It had been the summer before the wreck. Alice had taken it, and my mother was laughing and happy…and so was I, as I looked at it over Bella’s shoulder.
“Oh, God,” she whispered, looking up at me. “You really do look just like her.”
Smiling, I nodded and shoved my hands in my front pockets.
“She was beautiful.”
“She was…inside and out, actually,” I agreed softly. “A very kind spirit. Always.”
Bella set the frame back in the exact same place, turning to face me. “Also like you.”
Smirking, I shook my head, but I shrugged again. “I don’t know about that. She wanted us to always be kind. Alice is very excitable, and Emmett is extremely outgoing – both the complete opposite of me – so she tried to teach us all how to be polite. Just…nice to each other and other people. She always told us to be honest, even if it seemed like the hard thing to do. I try to remember those things.”
“Those are excellent things to remember, Edward,” she stated, glancing around again. “I owe you an answer, don’t I?”
Shaking my head, I said, “Not if you don’t want to.”
“You never answered mine, though,” she teased a little.
Deciding to get it over with, I said, “I forced my…my…obliviousness, Bella. It was easier to pretend no one noticed.” I gripped my hair for a second, licking my lips. “I… There was a girl before the car wreck that I liked. She…she was quiet, shy like me, but it wasn’t as debilitating then as it is now. Before the wreck, there were a bunch of us who just got along, hung out, whatever. But after the wreck, I was out of school for a bit, and when I got back, they…she… I thought she started to like me, but…”
Bella cupped my face. “She was…morbidly curious.”
“Yeah, and then…being such a small town, kids started to hear from their parents – parents who worked at the hospital, or the police department, and hell, even the tow-truck driver – they started spreading rumors. Some of it was…foul; some of it was not far from the truth. I just…I just shut up.”
I shrugged again, grimacing a little at how that may have sounded, but it was the truth. I reached for my packed bag, setting it on my bed in order to add my bathroom stuff.
“Anyway,” I sighed, not looking Bella’s way, “they started to make fun of or pick on me because I wouldn’t say anything. Some… Some of them…they called me a murderer or whatever.”
“No!” she hissed, and I looked out of the bathroom at her incredulous expression. When I nodded, she growled out, “Assholes.”
“It was to get a reaction, pretty girl,” I said through a chuckle. “Nothing more. And back then, I’d already come to terms with it being my fault.”
She shook her head. “Not your fault, Edward.”
I sighed deeply, dropping my bathroom stuff into the bag and zipping it up. “That’s harder to hear when I’ve heard the opposite – believed the opposite – for so long.” I set the duffel by our backpacks and then sat down on the edge of the bed.
“It’s easier to accept the bad than the good?” she asked, smirking a little when I laughed once and nodded. She came to stand between my legs, reaching up to run her fingers through my hair, something I was becoming truly addicted to, something I found calmed me when nothing else could. “My turn, I guess.”
Grimacing, I set my hands on her waist, shaking my head slowly. “Do I want to hear this, Bella? I’m… I’m not good with hearing about you and other guys. I… Jealousy is new to me.”
She smiled, cupping my face to bring my gaze up to hers. “There’s not much to tell, baby.” She laughed a little. “I was…incredibly shy up to about two years ago. Working at the coffee shop kinda pushed that all away. Being homeschooled didn’t give me a lot of social options, but there were homeschool activities and events. I met a few people that way. But you want me to answer the same questions… Did I notice…or do I notice guys or whatever? No. I don’t. Or at least, I don’t acknowledge them. I don’t flirt for the sake of flirting, and I’m pretty damn picky. Plus, once I started my freshman year, I kept seeing this…gorgeous thing in my library…”
I chuckled, shaking my head.
“It’s true, Edward. This time, it was me doing the crushing. My Library Guy is hot, but I found out he’s pretty damn awesome, too.”
When I whispered thank you to her, she kissed me again.
I studied her face, seeing that she was being sincere, but I just needed to know one thing. “Are you…” I swallowed nervously. “You seem more…experienced than me, though. I just…”
Her smile was glorious and sweet and completely warm, not teasing at all, and she brought my lips to hers, kissing me softly before whispering against them. “You said you didn’t want to hear about some things.”
“Just…” I exhaled roughly through my nose, frowning a little. “Just…the Cliffs Notes version.”
She laughed, nodding. “Fine, sweetie. There was a guy…well over a year ago. He was friends with Jasper. Peter was his name. We did a lot of things, except for the one big thing. He went off to Miami for a job and met his fiancée, Charlotte. The end. No broken hearts, no tears, and I adore Charlotte, so…” She shrugged a shoulder. “Then you came along, Edward. That’s it. Not all that big of deal. No drama; no grand, romantic gestures – not even candlelight…not that I need any of that.”
Grinning, I nodded. “Okay.”
There was something oddly comforting about knowing we were on the same page, after a certain point, anyway. She leaned into me, setting her elbows on my shoulders, and I couldn’t help but wrap my arms around her.
Gazing up at her, I sighed at just how beautiful she was, which came spilling out of my mouth.
“You’re so beautiful, Bella,” I whispered in awe.
“I’d say you were bullshitting me, except you’ve never lied to me,” she countered, and then her lips were on mine.
She took my breath away in every way possible. I held her close, and it took everything I had not to pull her to my lap. When she pulled back, I licked my lips just to keep the taste of her.
“You ready for our sleepover?” She gave me a half smile that reminded me of Jasper a bit, and I snorted into a soft laugh.
“Yes, ma’am.”
She stepped out of my arms, holding a hand out for me to take. “Good, because we’ll pretty much have the house to ourselves. Jasper’s working, Mom and Dad are at some sort of school dinner thing, and Aunt Jane won’t bug us; she’ll probably stay in the guest house. We can do whatever we want.”
I laughed nervously, raking a hand through my hair. “And what do you want?”
She gaped at me. “I want to finish our book, Edward! Damn, we’re only a couple chapters in. I wanna know what happens.”
I raised an eyebrow at her. “Bella, it’s not Sherlock Holmes; there’s no mystery as to how it’s gonna go.”
Bella’s adorably loud bark of laughter was the best sound I’d heard yet. She grinned, biting down on her bottom lip as she tugged my hand.

“Exactly!”



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