Chapter 17 ~ The Game
It was far too quiet in my house that night. I lived in a peaceful neighborhood anyway — that was part of why I loved the place — but there's quiet and then there's completely, deathly still. Not a cricket sounded in my back garden.
Despite all the wine and all the tears, I couldn't sleep. I would close my eyes for a few minutes and then they would startle open and a new thought would inhabit my brain, making rest of any meaningful kind an impossibility. At three in the morning I finally got out of bed, ran five miles on my treadmill and took a hot shower. While that did indeed wear my body out, it didn't make sleep any easier to come by. I left for work well before six.
I buried myself in financial statements for a few hours, saying hello to the team as they trickled in at a more reasonable time. Jessica came in to check on me first thing, and brought with her a toasted sesame bagel with extra cream cheese. God bless her.
I was lucky for two reasons. One, Edward was not going to be in the office until Friday. Two, I had several monthly summation reports I needed to complete, which left me alone in my office, all-consumed by Excel spreadsheets and accounts receivable aging reports. I turned off my brain and just worked on autopilot all day. I found it funny that the part of my job I'd always hated the most was all of a sudden my emotional savior.
I left the office for lunch—something I didn't do often, but since I'd neglected to bring any food from home, a necessity. When I came back at about two o'clock, I walked into my office to find a huge bouquet of flowers on my desk—tulips. Some were red, some yellow, some were variegated. There must have been three dozen of them, in total.
Under normal circumstances, I would have been filled with joy and flattered. They were lovely and I am a girl, after all. I love flowers. I was not in the mood to receive them that day, however.
"Ooh," I heard Angela's voice following me into my office and I turned around to smile at her. "Either someone's been a very good girl or someone's been a very bad boy."
We both looked at the flowers.
"The latter," I said. I could hear the bitterness in my voice. "You want 'em?"
He jaw dropped open as she sat down. "That bad a boy, huh?"
I sighed and sat down across from her. "Let's just say there are not enough tulips in the world to make this better."
"Hmm ... You want to talk about it or would you rather I give you some good news to cheer you up?"
"Oh! Good news, please."
Angela always had a way of making me smile and feel better about whatever situation I was in. It wasn't what she said, precisely, or even how she said it. There was just something about her that never ceased to cheer me.
"Well ... hold onto your stockings, woman."
I waited. I didn't hold onto my stockings, or anything for that matter, but she paused for several moments and I almost throttled her before she finally spilled the beans.
"James is no longer working here."
I couldn't help the startled breath that escaped my lips, nor the huge smile that came over them.
She nodded excitedly, a smile lighting up her own face. "Yep. Apparently, he took last week off as vacation time, then he came in yesterday only to drop off his badge and give them his letter of resignation and he walked right out the door. No notice or anything. I came over to talk to you about it, but you'd left."
"Yes, I left early yesterday. Anyway—I can't believe this!"
"Oh, that's not all. You won't believe this."
She sat silent for another several seconds before I couldn't take it any longer.
"Are you trying to drive me crazy with anticipation or what, Ang?"
She chuckled. "He went to work for Wicked Comp!"
I gasped. "With Victoria?"
Angela was doing a very good impression of a bobble-head doll.
I sat back in my chair, astounded. "You know, they were out together when he and Edward got into that fight."
"Yes, I know. I mean, I don't know if anything is going on between them." She raised her eyebrows suggestively. "I only know that she stole him away from us."
I raised a hand. "Hey. As far as I'm concerned, they deserve each other."
"So come out for a drink with Ben and me tonight," she said. "We'll toast a good riddance to bad trash."
"Sounds good.” I grinned. “I could certainly use a drink."
She stood from her chair. "Molto Bene? Six thirty?"
I gasped. "Well, if we're going there I'm eating some bread."
"Well, of course. That goes without saying." Molto Bene had the best garlic bread on the planet.
I made Angela take the tulips with her as she left my office. I never even bothered to look for a card. I didn't want to read it.
My week went by blessedly fast, all things considered. Knowing James was gone and I wouldn't be bothered by him again made what might have otherwise been a horrible week a bit brighter. I only wished I could talk to Edward about it and share my glee. I did have a three-way call with Alice & Rose, to fill them in.
I worked out a lot, pouring all of my frustration and pain into my treadmill and lifting weights until I thought my arms might fall off. I needed the workout both for my mental and my physical health, but the extra arm work had the added benefit of making it easy to beg off playing softball come Saturday, since my arms were extremely sore by then.
I heard through the proverbial grapevine that Edward didn't come into work on Friday. It shouldn't have made a difference to me one way or the other, but I couldn't help but imagine him getting his apartment ready for La Perla Bimbo, as I had lovingly begun to refer to her in my head. The thought made me alternately angry and distraught and I ended up taking my bad mood out on Jack Berber. Not that the man didn't deserve every bit of my wrath, just on principal, but my actions still made me feel unprofessional and I ended up apologizing to him as he stared at me, gape-mouthed.
I guess he wasn't used to hearing apologies from me.
I left work a bit early on Friday and paid a visit to my OBGYN. Though Edward had told me he hadn't slept with anyone since we'd gotten together, apparently he'd at least had unprotected sex with La Perla Bimbo not long before we met. God knew what else he did then. That knowledge made me uneasy about our slip-up sans condom in San Francisco. After the blood test and the obligatory exam, I was told I should have my results in about a week.
At ten o'clock on the nose Saturday morning, I found myself pulling up to the park at which Rosalie was throwing herself a birthday party. I pulled my supplies out of the bed of my truck: a blanket to sit on, extra sunscreen, Rosalie's gift (three vintage vinyl records by The Animals, Cream and MC5) and a small cooler filled with Mike's Hard Lemonade. Rosalie loved the stuff.
I chatted with Emmett while I spread my blanket out on the grass next to the baseball diamond and Rose talked with her other friends. There were several people milling about and getting warmed up for the game. Most of them were Rosalie's friends from work, many of whom I only saw once each year, at these games. Alice and Jasper were in the crowd, as well.
"Any more grief from that guy?" Emmett asked.
I smiled at him. He was really a nice-looking man, with dimples one could swim in, but I realized upon this closer look that he was quite a bit older than Rose. Hell, he was probably older than I. Assuming I judged correctly, I'd put his age at about 42 or 43, which would make him approximately ten years older than Rose.
The irony of the situation was not lost on me. Not once had Rose ever mentioned having a problem with the man's age or struggling with whether she should date him because of it. I also reckoned that they didn't get any strange looks when they went out in public with one another. It was commonplace, after all, for a man to be with a woman ten years his junior.
"Actually, not at all. I haven't even seen him since the fight. I found out this week that he quit his job, even."
"Well, that must be a relief."
I nodded as Rose walked over, along with a guy I recognized from the previous year's game. I remembered that his name was Truman for two reasons: One, I just thought that was a really cool name and two, I'd been extremely attracted to him when we met. Of course, I wasn't as attracted to his lovely wife, with her thick, bouncy hair and legs that seemed to be longer than my entire body.
"Hey, Bella!" Rose hugged me and I handed over her gift and the cooler full of booze, at which she laughed.
"Do you remember Truman?" She motioned toward the dark-haired, tall man to her left and I smiled.
"Of course. Hi, Truman. It's good to see you again."
Oh, yes. I'd forgotten about The Voice. He had a panty-dropping voice, to be sure; deep and smooth as silk. The man really should have opened a phone sex business instead of studying the law.
He smiled and, even wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap, I thought he looked remarkably like Gabriel Byrne. Under normal circumstances, this would have made my heart flutter like a schoolgirl's. On this day, it made me think of Miller's Crossing, which of course made me think of Edward.
Rosalie pulled Emmett toward the pitching mound, rather abruptly leaving me alone with Truman. I glanced at him and smiled, self-consciously. I wasn't sure what her game was in rather obviously throwing us together like that, but I wasn't all that pleased about it.
"So how have you been, Bella? Or do you prefer Isabella?"
"I prefer Bella. Thanks for asking. I've been well. You?" I have never been good at making small talk.
"I'm good ... I'm ... you know ... it's been a weird year."
"Oh?" I raised an eyebrow at him. "How so?"
He took off the sunglasses he'd been wearing and I was startled by his deep, blue eyes. He had a few crows feet around them, just enough to give his face character. Very Gabriel Byrne.
"Oh, I'm just ... I'm getting a divorce."
"Oh, I'm sorry." I said.
"It was a long time coming, really.” He shrugged. “Anyway, I didn't mean to just blurt it out like that. I just wanted you to know." He fidgeted a bit and nervously put his sunglasses back on. "You know, so you don't wonder why Diane's not here this year."
I smiled, trying to make him feel at ease. "Yes, I understand the feeling. It's always awkward at first, when people are asking where your spouse is."
"Yes, you're divorced as well, right?"
"Well, almost. It will be final next month, actually. But we've been separated for three years, so I've had more time to get used to it. And I don't really get that question anymore."
We chuckled together and he shuffled his feet a little. I looked down at them and let my eyes scan his shorts-clad legs in doing so. They were nice. Strong and long. Not overly hairy.
"Um ... are you playing this year?" As he wore sunglasses, it was hard to tell, but I could have sworn he was ogling my chest as he asked.
I chuckled again. "Not this year. I think I've done enough damage at these games to last a lifetime."
He laughed and the sound made me smile even more. "I remember."
"Yes, my softball skills are kind of hard to forget."
His laughter trailed to a soft smile as he continued to look at me. "Actually, Bella, you are hard to forget."
My breath caught and I blushed as he continued to smile down at me.
"Well," he said finally, breaking me out of my stupidity-induced coma. He nodded toward the field. "I guess I'd better get out there. Talk to you later?"
"Sure," I said, still somewhat dazed. I watched as he jogged out onto the field.
I shook my head and turned, meaning to sit down on my blanket, but hesitated as I watched Jasper walk toward me. He and Alice had been talking to some people who looked only vaguely familiar to me and she lagged behind to continue that conversation as he made his way toward me. He had a somewhat wary look on his face as he stopped in front of me.
"Hi," he said softly, wiping his hand on his shirt.
"Hi." I smiled at him, somewhat shyly, and raised a hand in greeting.
He ducked his head a bit and peered at me. "Are we still friends?"
I smiled and reached to bring him in for a hug.
"Jasper, of course we're still friends." I felt myself choking up and swallowed that nonsense back. This was a party, after all, for Rosalie.
He huffed a sigh of air into my hair and returned my hug enthusiastically. And let me just say, the man gave good hug. I felt comforted and warm and ... peaceful. He was smiling as we pulled away from each other and Alice walked over, almost bouncing.
"Hey, watch those hands, Bella. That's my man."
She wrapped her arms around his waist and he put his around her shoulders, kissing her on top of the head as she smiled. They made me smile, as well.
I sat down on the blanket I had spread out and Alice plopped herself down next to me, watching Jasper as he walked toward the field.
"Damn," she said, practically drooling. "I will never get tired of watching that man walk away."
I giggled with her.
"You're not playing?" I asked.
"No. I just got these new sneakers and I don't want them getting all dirty." She stretched out a leg to model them for me and I nodded.
"Cute," I said.
We watched as the crowd of people separated into two teams, one of them taking the field.
"I have some news," she said as she crossed her legs beneath her. I looked at her, waiting.
"Jasper is moving in with me."
I gasped. "Oh my God! Alice!" I reached over to hug her as best I could, considering our sitting positions. "That's great! Boy, you don't waste any time, do you?"
"It just made sense. He's always there anyway. And there was no way I was moving into his place." She visibly shuddered and I laughed. Alice was very particular about her surroundings. Everything had to be neat, tidy, clean and color-coordinated or she just felt out of sorts.
"Does Rose know?" I asked.
She nodded. "I told her on Monday when we came to see you. I just ... you know, you had so much to deal with."
"You didn't want to ruin my depression with your good news?"
She laughed, softly. "Well, not exactly..."
I shook my head. "This is really great news, Alice. I'm very happy for both of you. I think you may have actually found a guy who deserves you."
She looked out onto the field and smiled when she found him playing short-stop.
"Yeah. I do, too."
We sat and watched the game for a while, cheering for our friends and laughing when Emmett and Jasper, both going for a pop fly, ran into each other and ended up on their butts. After the obligatory three outs were achieved and the teams switched places on the field, Truman picked up a bat and looked over at me, a smile on his face. I smiled back, nervously, and gave him a little wave.
It was all very weird. Yes, he was attractive and had this happened at last year's game, I would have felt elated and excited. This year, though ... well, the timing was just really bad. I wondered why Rose seemed to have pushed us together like that. She had to have known I wasn't going to be able to keep her friend entertained in the way he apparently desired.
I turned toward Alice and she had a worried look on her face.
"How are you doing? I mean ... with everything?"
I shrugged and looked back to the game. "You know. I'm not great. But I'm trying not to think about that today, since we're here for Rosalie."
"True," she said, and we were silent for a few minutes. Truman hit a double and then Rose was up to bat. She struck out and spent a good thirty-seconds yelling at her friend Doug, who was serving as umpire, over the injustice inherent in her striking out on her own birthday. I had just stopped laughing at the exhibition when Alice started to speak again.
"Bella, since it's just the two of us right now, can I tell you something? I mean, I know some things that I think you should know."
"What, did Jasper tell you something?"
She nodded again and I sighed.
"I don't know, Alice. I mean, should I even really be privy to what he tells his friend? I think I probably know what I need to know in order to figure out what I'm going to do next, anyway."
"Have you made that decision?"
"Well ... I think so, yes ... I just don't know that I can trust him, Alice. And I can't be with someone I can't trust. No matter how..." I stopped talking because my voice cracked. I was thankful I had sunglasses on.
She put her hand on top of mine, on the blanket.
"See, I think you need to know this, Bella, so I'm gonna tell you."
I didn't even look at her. I watched the game and tried not to cry while she spoke.
"I know you love Edward and I know he loves you and I think that's all that really matters."
I chuckled bitterly at her naïveté, but she forged ahead. "Bella, that woman from Chicago is not staying with Edward this weekend. He got her a hotel room, downtown."
"Huh." That was all I said, but I couldn't deny the feeling of relief that washed over me at her words. Of course, the bimbo could pull out her La Perla undies at a hotel just as easily as she could at his place, but at least he was obviously trying to keep her at a distance.
"There's more," she said and I looked at her. "Edward's been talking to Jasper a lot this week—like a lot. He's called almost every night and Jasper's talked to him for a long time each night ... Did you know that this Heidi woman—well, that Edward doesn't even have any proof that she's pregnant to begin with, let alone that it's his kid?"
"Huh?" I was taken aback, to say the least.
She nodded. "Jasper says that—well apparently, when he went back to Chicago, Edward tried to tell this woman about you and that's when she told him she was pregnant. He was shocked, of course. He asked her if she was sure the baby was his and she said it was and acted all offended. But he doesn't know, Bella. I mean sure, they obviously they had sex, but they hardly even dated that long before he moved out here. I guess the timing is right, but still—Edward was seeing other people and thought she was, too. It was obviously just really casual between them, although maybe she was more into him than he was her ... Anyway, when Jasper described to me what happened?" She shook her head. "I don't know. I mean, I've known girls to do some crazy stuff to try and trap guys, you know? Stuff that makes you ashamed to be a woman. It sounds to me like he saw her to tell her that he was seeing someone new, in California, and she freaked out and—well, I for one don't even think she's pregnant. Or if she is, she's after his family's money. Or maybe she just really wants to be with Edward, at any cost."
I stared at her. I don't know why, but I hadn't even thought to ask him about these details. I guess I'd just assumed he knew or he had proof of some sort. Not that the pregnancy was the only issue between us, but Alice was starting to make me think about the matter in a new way.
"Anyway, Edward ... well, sorry, but I think he was really stupid about this." She smiled and sighed. "I guess I understand. He probably panicked when he heard the word pregnant, like most guys would. But he didn't think about it clearly, logically. Anyway, Jasper — with my help, of course — talked to Edward about all of this and so, well, Edward is taking her to a doctor today. In fact, I gave him the name and number of mine. He wants them to get a pregnancy test while she's here and then find out how long they have to wait to prove paternity."
I stared ahead of me and muttered another "Huh" as her words sunk in.
The teams had switched places on the field again and Truman was playing first base. I watched as he reached to catch a ball thrown high over his head, his already long body stretched out even more. His T-shirt lifted and I could see the slightest rippling of muscles on his side. He was obviously quite attractive, but I just wanted to see Edward out there, getting all dirty and sweaty. And running. And laughing. And rolling around in the grass with me, afterward, getting me all dirty and sweaty.
I sighed and lay back on the blanket. Alice turned a bit so she could still see my face. I was really trying to hold it together, but it was much easier to do that when I wasn't actually discussing anything Edward-related.
"Here's the thing, Alice. I mean, obviously the pregnancy is a big deal. But the truth is that's not the biggest deal. I mean it sucks and if this kid turns out to be his it will continue to suck pretty much forever. I don't know much about La Perla Bimbo, but from the sound of her message and assuming Edward told me the truth ... well, needless to say, she obviously wants a lot more from him than he is willing to give. And his letting her come out here this weekend ... well, it's good that he's taking her to the doctor, but that wasn't the plan, initially. It's like he just let her call all the shots. When would that stop, you know? I totally understand him wanting to be there for his child and that's how it should be—I'd be appalled if he didn't want that. But with this woman? It could just be a big pile of shit that we'd have to wade through from here to friggin' eternity."
I sighed again. "But ultimately, I think that's all stuff we could have worked through ... if he'd been honest with me about it. But he wasn't. I probably wouldn't even know now, except I overheard her message."
I put an arm over my eyes as I continued. "I believe that Edward loves me. I do. I believe there is nothing between him and this woman and I believe that they didn't have sex when he went back there and he's not having sex with her as we speak. It's not that I think he cheated on me." I pulled my arm away and looked up at her face. "But he lied to me, Alice. Like, I just keep thinking back over all of these conversations we've had, all these opportunities he had to come clean. And he chose not to. More than that, Alice, he was really good at it. Like, he needs to get an Oscar for his performance. If I had that weight on my shoulders—knowing I had gotten some girl pregnant and my life could blow up at any moment ... well, there is just no way I could have acted as cool as he has all of these weeks ... That's just really scary to me."
She sighed and lay down next to me. "I know. I get it ... I just can't help but feel bad for him, Bell, now that I've heard more of his side. I mean yes, he's acted very badly and I wouldn't blame you if you can't trust him again. But it sucks. Cuz I know he loves you and he was just really, really scared." She paused and chuckled. "And stupid. Very, very stupid."
"I guess.” I sighed again. “Anyway can we change the subject?"
"Sure!" she said, sitting up and abruptly cheerful. "Keep Halloween night open."
"Why?" My hands shielded the sun from my eyes as I looked up at her. "What's going on?"
"Jasper and I are having a party. A costume party and if you don't dress up, you can't come."
I sat up. "I love Halloween. I'll dress up." Then it hit me and I lost my smile. "Well ... Edward will be there though, I'm sure."
She sighed. "It's not like we can't invite him, Bella. He's Jasper's friend."
"Of course. I know that." I looked out at the game, not really watching.
Halloween was three weeks away, anyway. They say when you break up with someone, the amount of time it takes to get over them is equivalent to half the amount of time you were together. Although it may have felt like Edward and I had been together for a very long time, in reality it had only been a matter of weeks. Logically, then, by Halloween whatever emotional roller-coaster my decision led me on would be well on its way toward completion.
The game ended about an hour later and Emmett manned the barbecue as we all sat around eating various picnic-type foods and watched as Rosalie opened her presents. Truman sat close to Alice, Jasper and I and we talked quite a bit. Though he seemed fairly serious by nature, he was quick to laugh. He worked as a Public Defender for the city of Los Angeles, which was a job I certainly did not envy.
"That must be pretty ... stressful, I would imagine." I said, tearing off a piece of the cold fried chicken breast in front of me and popping it in my mouth.
"It can be, certainly. But I find that the rewards outweigh the stress."
"What do you like best about your job?" I was glad I had sunglasses on after I asked. Once it was out of my mouth, I recalled Edward having asked me that same question and my eyes misted over. I picked at my chicken and rephrased my query. "Um ... what is most rewarding?"
"Defending people who have no other options for their defense due to their financial situation is a wonderful thing, really. It evens out the playing field. I'm good at what I do and I like knowing that these people have the best defense possible, even though they can't afford the likes of a Johnny Cochran."
He smiled at me and I couldn't help but smile in return. I was impressed by his passion and his desire to stand up for the underdog.
"Have you ever, you know, had to defend someone you knew was guilty?"
He shook his head. "I don't really go there. I believe implicitly in what my clients tell me. I don't allow myself to think otherwise because I don't have a choice but to defend them to the best of my ability. If I thought they were guilty, I wouldn't be able to do that."
"Wow. I don't know how you can manage that. I think I'd constantly be second-guessing both my client and myself."
"Maybe it's something I've trained myself to do. I have been doing it for fifteen years." He paused, taking a drink from the water bottle he'd had sitting between his thighs. "Quite a while ago, very early in my career, I had to defend a kid on a murder charge. That was the only time I just knew, in my gut, that the guy was guilty. But I couldn't get him to admit it to me."
"What happened?" I was fascinated. It was like watching an episode of Law and Order playing out right in front of me or something.
"That was the very first case I lost," he said. "And I didn't mind one bit." He smiled and took a bite of the turkey burger he was eating.
We sat in silence for a moment and I took that moment to again admire his handsome face. He had taken his ball cap off and while his hair was messy and smooshed from having been under it for so long, I liked his hair a lot. It was black and straight, with just the slightest bit of grey at the temples.
"Of course, my tendency to believe in the honesty of others has bitten me in the ass on occasion," he said.
"How so?" I asked, although my thoughts again went to my own situation; to my belief in Edward.
"Well ... my wife, for one. My ex-wife." He looked over at me. "She cheated on me. A lot, apparently."
"I'm sorry.” I sighed. “I know how that feels."
He raised his eyebrows at me and I nodded, sympathetically. "My ex-husband cheated on me, as well."
"What kind of idiot would cheat on you?" Truman shook his head.
I smiled, shyly. "Well, I might ask you the same question."
He smiled at me for several moments and shifted toward me. "Bella–"
"Hey, guys," Jasper said, interrupting us. "We're gonna get going." He and Alice stood up and I followed them.
I gave Alice a hug, saying goodbye, and turned to Jasper. "Congratulations on your new living arrangement," I said, giving him a squeeze.
He chuckled. "Thanks. She told you about the Halloween party, right?"
"It will also serve as sort of our 'coming out' party."
I raised an eyebrow and looked up at him, our arms still around one another. "You're finally coming out of the closet, Jasper?"
"Ha-ha." He rolled his eyes as I giggled.
As others began to pack up their belongings and move toward their vehicles, I turned to do the same.
"Guess I may as well hit the road too," I said to Truman.
He helped me fold my blanket and I said my good-byes to Emmett and Rose, wishing her a happy birthday and telling her to keep the cooler until she sees me again.
"Thanks again for the records," she said. "I know just what we're doing when we get home." She winked up at Emmett, who had his arm around her.
I held up a hand. "I really don't want to know."
They walked toward Emmett's car and I turned to Truman.
"It was really nice talking to you today," I said. "Hopefully, it won't be another year before we have the opportunity again."
"Well ... Bella..."
He looked nervous and my insides turned to stone as I anticipated what was coming. I knew I shouldn't have said what I'd just said, even as it came out of my mouth. What was I supposed to say now to this nice, extremely attractive guy when he asked what I knew he was going to ask?
"Would you like to go to brunch with me tomorrow? There's a really nice place by the water here. I haven't been for a couple of years and ... well, I'd really like to take you." He smiled and when I hesitated, he added, as an enticement, "All you can drink champagne..."
I chuckled, shyly, and looked at the ground.
"I'd like to go, Truman..."
He ducked down and looked up under my face, to catch my eye. "But?"
I looked up and watched as he straightened his posture.
"It's just that ... well, I–"
"Oh." His face fell a little, before he recovered. "You're seeing someone."
"I—well, honestly...” I fidgeted on my feet. “I'm not sure about that. I mean, I was seeing someone, but..."
He smiled again as I lost all sense of verbiage.
"How about this?" he ventured. "Honestly, I don't know that I'm really ready to date yet, anyway. Why don't we just go as friends? Just hang out, drink a lot of champagne and get to know each other a little better. No pressure."
"No pressure, huh?" I smiled, but was looking at my feet. When I looked up at him, he was smiling too, a hopeful look on his face.
"Can I meet you there?" I asked.
His smile widened. "Eleven good for you?"
I figured there was no harm in meeting him for brunch. He was a nice guy, after all ... man, I corrected myself. He was actually a man. And how nice it would be to spend the day with a grown up—someone who had his priorities in order and who cared about things beyond those taking place in his front room.
Truman explained where the restaurant was and began to walk me to my truck. He made a silly joke on the way and I laughed, my hand in front of my mouth. As I pulled my hand away and looked forward again, I saw him standing there. Edward. He leaned against my truck, his arms crossed in front of him, watching as we walked toward him.
I stopped in my tracks and Truman halted beside me.
"What's wrong?" he asked, a concerned look on his face.
I hesitated a moment before looking up at him.
"Truman ... I think I should finish this walk on my own."
"Huh?" He appeared mystified.
"Well ... remember I said I had been seeing someone"?
He nodded and I nodded my own head in Edward's direction.
"That's him over there."
Truman looked toward my truck. "Oh. Well," he looked down at me again, the same concerned look on his face. "You're not seeing him anymore, right?"
I shook my head. "I'm not. But it's ... sticky. I'd rather not ... you know, I'd just rather not..."
He nodded as if he understood, though just how he could understand the situation was beyond me, since it wasn't exactly clear to me. He handed over my blanket, which he had been carrying.
"Okay, no problem," he said. "I'll see you tomorrow, right?"
I smiled, relief washing over me. "Eleven o'clock."
"Eleven o'clock," he echoed. "See you, Bella." He smiled again before he turned to walk away. I really liked the way his eyes wrinkled a little when he smiled.
My own smile quickly faded as I turned to resume walking toward my truck. Edward and I eyed each other as I got closer.
"Boy, you sure work fast, don't you?"
I was inches away from slapping that snide smirk off his face. Instead, I simply glared at him.
"What are you doing here?" I asked, ignoring his implication and moving around the front of my truck toward the driver's side. He followed me.
"What do you think I'm doing here? I came to talk to you, but apparently you've already moved on."
I rolled my eyes and threw the blanket through my door so it landed on the passenger seat.
"Don't be an ass, Edward."
"Who is he?" His hand was on the door, holding it open.
I squared my shoulders and faced him. "Not that it's any of your business, but he's a friend of Rosalie’s. We are at her birthday party, remember?"
"Yeah, well, it looked to me like he wants to be your friend."
I didn't even bother to explain. Who I became friends with was none of his business anymore. I stood in silence, my hands on my hips.
"Aren't you even going to bother to deny it?"
"Why should I, Edward? By the way, how's your little girlfriend—Heidi, was it?"
I knew I was being petty. I was beyond caring.
"Fuck, Bella! She's not–" His face turned red with anger and I thought he might punch my truck or something. Instead, he pulled himself away from the truck entirely. "You know what? It doesn't even matter. Forget I ever came here."
"Gladly," I shot over my shoulder as I got into the truck and pulled the door closed behind me. I turned the key in the ignition and I watched him stalk away, toward the Volvo parked on the other side of the street.
Thankfully, I made it around the corner before I started to cry.