The next morning Rosalie waited just on the school grounds, not on her phone this time. She wasn’t hiding that she was waiting. She wasn’t sure if this was the right thing to do. Was this too much? When Bella had said time together, how much had she meant? Was this pressure again? She didn’t want to add pressure to Bella’s life. She didn’t want to be something negative.
Having realized that Emmett had been right and she had been her usual pushy self, totally not thinking about Bella’s side of things, she had become mortified of it happening again. How did one stop themselves from being themselves? How did she not barrel in, all hands on deck, and take Bella as her own when all she wanted was more? She had spent long hours the night before thinking of kissing Bella again, her body growing warm and insistent. She wanted more. So how did she stop herself?
She cleared her throat, shifting and feeling a little self-conscious. It was as if they knew she was having a moment of self-doubt. Was it her clothes? The problem was they were giggling but not exactly speaking so she could figure it out.
She glanced down at her outfit. All right, she had spent a little more time on it than normal, yes, but it wasn’t weird. Her form-fitting white cotton tee shirt with a deep V neck was tucked cleanly into a pair of black designer high waist jeans. She had on her usual black heels with the red bottoms, and a large pair of sunglasses. Nothing was amiss. She had thought she looked great and Emmett had told her so before they had left that morning.
Still, the girls standing a few feet away were alternating between looking at her and looking at one another and bursting into laughter.
Her jaw tightened, glaring at the girls which was completely ineffective since it was unseen behind her very dark sunglasses.
The truck rumbled up and Bella gave a little wave from her driver’s seat as she passed. Rosalie smiled a little, trying to hide her flood of relief. Bella didn’t look put out that Rosalie was waiting.
The girls had fallen silent as Bella pulled into a parking spot, but the moment she joined her on the curb with an easy ‘hey’ they broke into fits of laughter again.
Rosalie breathed deeply through her nose, stifling the impulse to smash their faces.
“What, are you trying to make it clear that you’re not only beautiful but also a woman of mystery? It’s not even sunny out. I think it’s going to rain.”
That caught Rosalie’s attention enough that she stopped noticing the girls. Smiling a little, she asked, “Did you just call me beautiful?”
Bella’s cheeks went red.
They turned, starting toward the Quad, the sound of the girls completely forgotten to Rosalie.
“I mean, you are.”
Rose smirked, pleased and waited until her face had settled into its usual mask to slip off her sunglasses and put them in her purse.
Bella glanced up at her out of the corner of her eye, smiling a little too.
“Just wait until you see me naked,” Rosalie mumbled to herself.
There was a strange choking noise and Rosalie had to turn before she realized that Bella had stopped moving. Bella’s face looked as though she had something very large and painful stuck in her throat.
Confused for a moment, she reviewed what had happened. Oh no! Her mouth dropped open in horror. It had been a sweet moment between the two of them and she had ruined it!
“Oh my god, Bella, I’m so sorry!” she took the two steps that brought her back to Bella’s side, unsure what to say or do.
Bella’s throat bobbed.
“Bella, I’m so, god, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to say that out loud!”
Bella didn’t respond, only stared at Rosalie, her heart hammering so loudly that Rosalie couldn’t hear anything else.
Did she hate the idea?
Pressure! Pressure, damn it! Her mind shouted insults at her as she slowly reached out and touched Bella’s arm.
“Come on, let’s head to class,” she said softly, annoyed with herself.
God damn it!
Over the next few days, Rosalie saw the same behavior from that group of girls again and again, and she started to understand.
People watched them wherever they went. They whispered behind their hands, they stared, they laughed. The response to her sudden friendship with Bella was clear and school-wide.
Within three days, Rosalie had realized something else. The school was reacting even more strongly now than it had when Bella had begun spending time with Edward. They were freaking out, even.
She doubted very highly that people thought they were dating. They weren’t, as far as Rosalie knew. Bella’s reaction to Rosalie’s comment had cemented that in her mind. Even if the school wanted to, they couldn’t think they were dating. She and Bella had done nothing in school or outside of school that could give people that impression. Rosalie hadn’t even seen Bella outside of school, much to her annoyance. She thought there might be some small-town America splash if they did ever end up dating. As far as Rosalie knew, there was no existing gay couple in town, or if there were then they had avoided being noticed.
The most stunning thing to Rosalie was that just like before, over those three days Rose quickly came to realize that Bella had no idea that she was pulling yet another kind of notoriety.
It all reminded Rose so much of her first days in Forks, high school famous for something she wasn’t even aware of.
Rosalie’s first weeks in Forks the year before had been very distinct. New girls… new people weren’t all so common, and the boys had responded in spades. The moment she had begun walking the halls, the boys had started to walk around like fluffed up birds, all trying to prove how macho they were. New colognes had begun to be worn within days, new haircuts had appeared. This wasn’t from all the boys, but it had been enough that walking through the halls had been like walking through a swamp of Axe body spray and Old Spice.
There had been many date invitations, and even more nice guys who wanted to be her friend, sure that there would be more between them later, and even one girl who had thought that maybe she understood the secret to Rose’s affections.
Rosalie had been annoyed by all of it. She hadn’t wanted any of it. She knew she gave off a certain look, she knew that her ‘superpower’ as Alice had sometimes teased, was to make people fall to their knees to worship her beauty. Bur she hadn’t asked for that, and by then, she had long stopped appreciating the response.
There had been a group of girls who had thought that Rosalie fit with them. She had seen where they were coming from. She had always been rude. She had rejected everyone who had ever asked her out. They were all caddy bitches and Rosalie had appreciated that about them, yet she still had no interest. At first, they had thought her insistence that they could fuck off had been more caddy-clique-y goodness and they had loved her all the more. Once they had realized she meant business, their attitudes had changed and the rumors had begun to circulate.
It hadn’t taken long for the word to spread: Rosalie Hale was a bitch, she didn’t want to be friends, and above all, she was dating her foster brother so she as a disgusting freak.
Though the typical rumors flew that she had blown this boy at the movies or that this boy had fingered her behind the bleachers, people generally had decided that she was someone to stay away from and that served Rosalie just fine.
When Bella had arrived the same ritual had started again. The Axe body spray had come back out, the Old Spice, the haircuts, but just like Rose, she had been treated with excitement and then caution as she had so quickly fallen in with Edward.
People had envied her then or envied him. High school girls seemed to love the thing that Rosalie found the most obnoxious about him, his brooding nature. She had heard the term ‘dreamboat’ more than once.
Now, with Bella spending her time with Rose, her friends seemed afraid of her.
She couldn’t help that. It was just her nature.
By the end of the week, she and Bella had fallen into a sort of routine. Rose had tried, she really had, not to follow in Edward’s footsteps with her time with Bella. She wanted it to resemble him in absolutely no way. It was already bad enough that she had begun their time together by walking her to class. The very last thing she wanted to do was, like Edward, whisk Bella off to their own private table. It had felt ridiculous when Edward had done it, though maybe Rosalie had just been jealous, she could admit that. However, after a few days of sitting with her siblings and trying to talk to Bella with all of them looking at her like cats that ate the canary, it began to feel invasive. She knew there was no getting away from them, even from across the cafeteria. They would hear their conversations no matter where they were in the room, but it made her feel better. She had tried to find somewhere else they could be during the lunch period, an open classroom, an outdoor table, but with little luck. She had finally given in and lead Bella to a somewhat quiet table in the back.
The change had only made the school more interested and had only made Bella’s friends more attentive; Mike, Rose thought, because he thought Bella was available, and Jessica because she thought that Jessica could smell gossip and was trying to sniff it out.
“No,” Bella insisted, “it’s not the same and it’s definitely not better. There are people at movie theaters. Annoying loud people. Have you ever noticed how loud a silent movie theater is between the popcorn and the candy wrappers? No way. It’s better to wait until the movie comes out and then rent it.”
Rosalie laughed a little. “Yes, but you were never part of movie theaters how they used to be. They were in these old grand opera houses. There were always these beautiful old velvet curtains that were blood red. There was always gold work in the ceilings and walls made to look like beautiful designs, or perhaps leaves and trees, or tiny cherubs. It was beautiful. People would dress up in their best to socialize beforehand.” She smiled a little as she remembered and looked down at Bella. “What?”
Bella smiled a little and shook her head. “Nothing. I think that’s just the most you’ve ever said at one time.”
Rosalie scoffed and tossed her hair over her shoulder.
“Leave it to you to love the blood-red curtains too.”
That made Rosalie laugh, honestly laugh. It was amazing to her how easy it could be with Bella to throw back her head and to full-bellied laugh at something she would have before found offensive.
Bella beamed at her, pleased to have made Rosalie laugh.
“Do I not talk to you enough?”
“No,” Bella admitted, chewing her cheek. “It’s more that you’re um, a woman of few words.”
Still smiling, and trying hard not to watch Bella too intensely, she changed the subject back to the previous. “Have you ever had a movie theater for yourself?”
“Does that actually happen?”
“It does,” Rose assured her. “Then there’s no one eating popcorn or making loud noises and the theatre is dark. You can do anything in there and no one would notice.”
As she had hoped, Bella’s ears and throat went pink, making her smirk. She had agreed to respect Bella’s wishes to simply spend time together, but these little moments of embarrassment were worth their weight in gold to her.
Across the cafeteria, a group of three boys got up and dumped their trays, watching the two of them closely as they passed.
Rosalie gave them a dead-eye as they went.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been to a movie theater like that. In Phoenix, the theaters were always full at times when I could go.”
Behind them, the boys were laughing and pushing one another. As Rose watched, a black-haired boy shoved Mike forward. Mike tipped, nearly falling over. He glared at them, fixing his hair so it stood up in screaming spikes and waved them off, grumbling “all right, all right, all right.”
“Uh oh, here comes your puppy.”
“What?” Bella looked up just in time for Mike to give her a little wave, his stupid puppy face so hopeful with his broad grin. “Oh.” Bella frowned at him and returned the wave with caution.
He really was Rose’s least favorite of Bella’s friends. He reminded her so much of a fly, always buzzing around their heads, too much like a lovesick puppy.
“What up, Bells!” He beamed at her, reaching out as if he was going to was for a high five, only to grow awkward and instead kind of shake her hand. “Heh,” he chuckled, his hands going into his pockets. His eyes darted to Rosalie once and then twice. With a nervous clear of his throat, he nodded at Rose. “Errr, Rosalie.”
She only stared back, her face impassive. “Puppy.”
His eyebrows furrowed into confusion. “Err, right. Well, uh, I’ll see you in class, right, Bells?”
Bella nodded, slowly chewing a bite of her sandwich. “Every day. We have the same classes together every day.”
“Right.” He gave a forced laugh. “That’s true. Um, cool. I’ll, err, see you.”
Smirking, Rosalie gave a sarcastic little wave of her fingers. “Bye, puppy.”
Mike stumbled a little, seemingly all the more confused.
“Oh my god, you have to stop calling him that!”
“But it’s such an apt description,” Rosalie insisted defensively.
She laughed, her worry eliminated by the fact that there was a small smile on Bella’s lips. “Come on. It’s going to take you the rest of lunch to get to your class.”
She just shrugged, unapologetic and cleared their trays. She held the door open for Bella as she hobbled to it, her smirk only making Bella glare. “I told you.”
“Shut – ack!”
If Rosalie hadn’t been so centered on Bella’s face, enjoying the look on it, she might have been prepared for the boy that barreled into Bella. Instead, he hit her like a linebacker, apparently not having noticed the person stepping from the cafeteria and Bella’s crutches slipped out from under her.
She had just enough time to think, ‘fuck, how do I do this and make it look human’ before she yelped and grabbed. She pretended to trip trying to catch her broken friend. Instead, she fell with controlled ease, her legs slipping under Bella, her arms a cage around her so that she fell into her lap, caught and settled as lightly as she could. There was a sharp snapping noise as her left heel broke, and Bella let out a small cry of pain.
Rosalie stared, both she and Bella froze, Bella’s heartbeat hard, Rosalie’s mouth dry as Bella came to settle in Rosalie’s lap. Her strong arms were solid around Bella, her hands on Bella’s small waist. She could feel the tenderness of the skin there, could feel the soft fabric of her teeshirt under her fingers. Rosalie’s fingers flexed, balling lightly in Bella’s shirt, wishing desperately she could push it away and feel that warmth that radiated first hand.
Less than five seconds had passed since Bella had begun to fall, and yet to Rosalie, it felt so much longer. She couldn’t look away. This was so much of what she wanted, so much of what she needed. Reflexively her arms tightened and Bella, given little choice, leaned in closer, her warmth covering Rosalie’s torso.
Internally she groaned with relish
Laughter still on his face, the boy was slowly turning, about to mutter an empty apology when he saw who he had run into. Instantly his eyes went wide as saucers. They flicked up once Rosalie beside her and he blanched. “I’m so sorry, Bella, I’m so sorry! I didn’t see you! I didn’t see you at all! I’m such an idiot.”
His blather popped the bubble that Rosalie found herself in and she snarled, her lips curling back in fury. “You idiot! Are you blind?”
The hallway, which had already fallen still as he had tumbled into Bella, went quiet as a church, but Rosalie didn’t care, her fury too large. She carefully lifted Bella, doing her best to show some strain and rose to her feet.
Her voice wasn’t raised it betrayed little of the fury she felt in its stiff aristocratic neutrality. “Be thankful I caught her, idiot otherwise your stupidity could have had much further reaching consequences.”
Horrified, the boy just stammered.
“Learn how to navigate in a crowded stairwell, else I will have to teach you, and no one wants that!”
The boy’s mouth dropped open, but she didn’t wait for his reply. She just carefully took Bella’s elbow and started down the corridor.
“I’m sorry!” He called back, his voice shaking a bit.
“You know, that was a perfect example of why people think you’re scary.” Bella laughed, her voice a little too breathy to sound normal.
“I am scary,” Rosalie snipped, giving her a feral grin.
“Oh, right, I forgot.”
“Are you hurt, Bella?”
They hadn’t even made it to the door yet when puppy dog Mike came barreling up, his loud cries interrupting them. “Bella! Bella! Are you okay? Are you—”
“Excuse me—” Rosalie snipped, about done with the boys around them at that moment, “—but we were speaking!”
Taken aback, Mike stumbled, seeming shocked that anyone could be so rude. It made her want to show him exactly what rude actually looked like.
She glared as he approached, frustrated that he had asked the question before she had been able to find out herself. She was agitated, her skin sensitive, and she refused to believe it was because she had held Bella in her arms for the first time since the kisses. She wanted to scream, she wanted to cry, she wanted to rub herself over Bella and moan.
God damn it. She bit off the purr that she hadn’t realized she had made when Bella sent her a questioning glance.
Her hands balled into fists, growling a little.
“Yeah, I’m fine, Mike, thanks.”
“You sure, ‘cuz that looked brutal.”
“Yeah, I’m okay. I’ll see you in class.” Bella urged him off, sending Rosalie another glance.
“Err, right, yeah. Okay, but um, uh…”
“Spit it out, puppy!”
“Err right, can I talk to you for a second? Maybe? Um, please?”
Rosalie blinked down at him, confused. “Me?”
“Uh, yeah?” He said, sounding not so sure himself.
“I’ll be over there.” Bella nodded toward a bench.
Rosalie stared at her, caught off guard. Was she really expected to sit and have a talk with this annoying boy? There were limits to her patience. There was only so much she could take!
“I’ll see you in a second,” Bella smirked.
Rosalie’s eyes narrowed. She knew exactly how much Rosalie didn’t want to do this.
They waited together, Rosalie glancing at Mike in distaste, for Bella to make her way and sit down. Her brow creased as she did. She knew that Bella would play it off, but the near fall had hurt her leg no matter how much Rosalie had tried to catch her.
Looking distinctly wary, Mike jerked his head back the way she and Bella had just come. “Can we – err – over here.”
“What do you want, puppy?”
“Okay, why do you keep calling me that?” Mike turned on her, his chest puffing, trying to make himself a more intimidating presence. Or perhaps, Rosalie wondered, trying to prove that he wasn’t scared to talk to the infamous bitch Rosalie Hale.
“Because it’s what you are, a human puppy.”
His brows creased. “Well. People like puppies, right?”
Rosalie sighed. “What do you want, Mike?”
Shuffling a little in a way that made her want to hold him still, he cleared his throat. “Yeah, so, uh, you and Bella are friends now.”
She pinched the bridge of her nose. “Was there a question there?”
“Um. Are… you?”
“You could say that.”
“But like, err, like how long? Since Edward left? ‘Cuz like, I know a lot of us have been wondering when he’s coming back, you know?”
“No?” Mike asked, glancing around as if somehow that would help him understand the response. “No what?”
“Just. No, Mike.” She wasn’t doing this. She was getting a glimmer of where this was going, and she thought that if it did she would fucking sacrifice him. She might break her own rule and drain him dry just to shut him up.
Her lips pulled back in distaste. No. She didn’t want his blood in her.
Her eyes snapped to him, caught. “This conversation. Can you get to the damned point?”
“Okay, right.” He jumped a little like she had pricked him with a needle. “Well, I guess I was trying to ask if Bella is single now.” The look on her face sent him stumbling. “I know that he’s your brother and everything. That’s why I thought I should ask, because like —”
“Walk away, Mike.”
“Walk away before I end your miserable existence!” she growled, jealous and infuriated.
“But like, I was just —”
Rosalie had already turned, pushing the doors they had come through open when a hand fell on her arm.
Her response was almost instinctual, was almost bad enough to put them in a situation they would have to fix. She wanted to rip it off. She wanted to reach across herself and give a yank, pulling it clean off.
She froze, her eyes closed, reminding herself of all the reasons why it would be bad to do that.
“Get – your hand – off – of me – now.”
“Come on, please?”
Do not be possessive, do not be possessive, do not—
She spun around fast, the snarl in her throat only just contained. “You don’t stand a chance with her, understand. I won’t let you anywhere near her. Don’t even try.”
“Why do you dislike me so much?” He cried.
She just snarled and twirled to get away from him.
Too many. There were too many that wanted her mate when she couldn’t even have her mate.
Her broken heel made her walk awkward as she stomped.
She felt a little better the moment she stepped outside and into the grey sunlight. She had always known he was interested, so this wasn’t a surprise.
Yet, she wanted to hurt something.
She swallowed, doing her best to hide what she was feeling.
Was it right to be so jealous? She had kissed Bella. She had been near her. Mike hadn’t. So why did she feel this jealous?
“Did you see that tomorrow is supposed to be sunny?” Bella asked as she sat beside her.
“Is it?” She clipped, crossing her legs primly and working hard not to turn into a vampire statue. She bounced her foot with effort, still seething.
“What’s wrong? What did Mike want?”
She chuckled once. I want you. I want you so much, her mind screamed. “He wanted me to put in a good word for him with you.” She forced a bright smile onto her face, pushing away every other feeling.
“I told him I wouldn’t.”
Bella eyed her, silent but fidgeting.
“Don’t worry, I left him walking and talking.”
Bella almost smiled.
Rosalie couldn’t look at her, and so instead she looked out across the quad, feeling Bella’s eyes on her. The tension in her stomach only grew as Bella remained silent.
“So, it’s supposed to be sunny tomorrow, huh?”
“You didn’t know?” Bella asked, her head ticking to the side.
Reluctantly she looked at Bella. She could see something in her eyes, something that looked so much like a question, but whatever the question was, she wasn’t sure of it. “I did,” she admitted. “Carlisle is going to call us out of school after third period.”
“What do you guys do if the sun comes sooner?”
She sighed, looking out at the sea of students. “It took a while, but you can tell when it’s coming. I got caught once. I ended up hiding inside an empty building for hours because the sun came out unexpectedly after a storm. Now, we just excuse ourselves or ditch if we need to get away. It helps that Alice can usually see when the sun will be out strongly enough that we need to worry. Once in the eighties —” Rosalie laughed, her words stopping as she looked down at Bella. The smile on Bella’s face told her that she was right. Bella had gotten her talking in the hopes of helping her push away her anger. And it had worked. Quickly even. Amazed, she shook her head a little and continued. “I told a woman that I was wearing glitter based lotion. It wasn’t sunny, I don’t think anything could fool people in that situation, but it wasn’t quite overcast enough. She said that I glowed.”
She glanced down at Bella wryly. “What?”
She shook her head. “You don’t talk about stuff like this very often.”
Bella shook her head, looking anxious for more.
“That’s twice now you’ve pointed that out. You know you don’t talk about yourself much either.”
Bella considered this. “What do you want to know?”
Rosalie’s smile was slow and warm. “It’s okay. The best part of getting to know someone is getting to know them.”
“Finding these things out for yourself?”
They shared a smile.
“What will Carlisle say when he calls?”
Rose paused, chuckling as she admitted, “I don’t know. Hiking. Sometimes that we have to go see our social workers.”
“Mmm, of course. Because if we were actually adopted as recently as last year then we may have those.”
“Oh. Right.” Bella laughed.
Out of habit, Rosalie shifted in her seat and her arm brushed Bella’s. The static felt up her arm made her hum. Bella was looking out at the other people around them and didn’t notice her gaze as Rosalie took in every inch of her face. This was so nice. Did she want to kiss her senseless? Yes. But this, the sitting, the talking, the feeling, it was all so much better than she had ever thought she would get to feel. Especially after that conversation with Mike. How had Bella known to do that? Even Rose wouldn’t have known that was what she needed to calm down again.
She hadn’t realized she had closed her eyes, simply breathing in the scent of Bella, feeling that gentle feeling of the mate bond washing over her so much like the waves of the ocean. She opened them and smiled a little. Bella had leaned in close as if waiting for her to tell her a secret. The desire to kiss her was always there, always, but it was rare for Bella to ever lean into her like this. Before she allowed herself to think, she reached out and gently, feather-light, ran a finger across Bella’s jaw, from ear to chin.
Bella’s eyes fluttered and then closed. She breathed out a deep sigh, her heart rate picking up pace.
She had thought that she might pull away, still tangled in her confusion and she could see some confusion in Bella’s eyes. She could also see something else.
Delicately, not stopping to think, Rosalie gently cupped Bella’s face, marveling at her warmth, at the way Bella’s scent wrapped around her. She leaned in, her lips gently parted.
Above them, a football went flying.
“I got it!” One of the school football players yelled and dived, catching the ball just before he hit the ground.
Rose blinked, snapping out of the trace she felt looking into Bella’s eyes.
Bella blinked a little, leaning forward and yet somehow to the side, pressing her arm into Rosalie’s.
It made Rosalie smile a little as she leaned back, releasing Bella’s face.
Should she apologize? She had been caught up in her desire, unable to stop herself but that was exactly what she was supposed to be stopping herself from doing.
“So then, are you going to ask me out on a date?”
If she hadn’t seen Bella’s lips move she would have thought she had heard things. She gaped, her mouth hanging open in a very unladylike manner.
She had thought this before, but suddenly it felt so much truer. The girl that she had thought she was in the beginning, the wallflower was just not who Bella was.
The smirk that came to her lips was joyous, if not a little playfully cocky. She leaned in closer.
Bella’s heartbeat instantly picked up from a trot to a full gallop.
She loved that. So sexy.
The breath that Bella let out was a little broken, a little weighty as Rosalie bent, her lips close enough again to kiss her.
Bella’s eyes fluttered and then closed in anticipation.
A long pull of desire settled into Rosalie’s belly, making her smile larger. “I guess I should think about doing that.”
The breath blew from Bella in a puff as Rosalie leaned back. She flopped back on the bench, her body going limp as her hands went to cover her face, laughing.
The bell went off with a loud buzz, breaking into their shared laughter.
She looked at Rose, her head shaking and Rose beamed back. “I guess I had better go.”
“Don’t worry, I’m sure you’re about to have a lot of fun.”
“What?” Bella cried, worry in her voice.
“Nothing. I’ll see you later.” She rose and started toward her class. She hadn’t even gotten ten feet away when Jessica, who had been lurking in the shadows, was beside Bella, hissing words like a cat.
“Oh my god, Bella, so like, I don’t want to spread gossip or anything but people are totally saying that you’re dating Edward Cullen’s sister now and I just saw you! You almost kissed her!”
Over her shoulder, she gave Bella an innocent smile.
Bella, in return, glared fire at her.
“Oh my god, are you gay now? I have so many questions!”
Unable to stop it, Rose let out a bellow of a laugh, not minding at all that other students looked at her like she was crazy.