Two days later Rosalie had just left Bella at her morning class with a wink that made Bella seem equal parts flustered and pleased when her phone began to vibrate in her pocket.
“This is she,” she said in her usual clipped tone, ignoring the condemning look she got from a teacher as she passed.
“Hello, Ms. Hale. This is Antonio with Aston Martin Las Vegas. I’m calling to let you know that your car has arrived.”
Rosalie had gotten halfway to the back fence, the one that could easily be scaled because it wasn’t in any classroom’s line of sight, when she remembered her recent absences.
There were moments when their plan, a plan she supported, became hard to stick to. This was one of them. At that moment, she didn’t want to be a high school girl.
“Damn it,” she grumbled and started toward class.
There was no way she would be staying in school while her new baby sat waiting for her, however. Within twenty minutes she was on her way to the parking lot, having moaned in a low voice to her very male teacher about menstrual cramps. It was a sensation she didn’t remember at all from her human life but was an excuse she heard from the other female students constantly. He had looked revolted, following every cliché imaginable and had let her go the nurse. She had instead skipped the nurse and started toward the lot. She had wanted to run since it would be quicker, but she knew from experience that once you hit the desert all coverage vanished. So she slid into her M3 in the parking lot.
She started the car and paused. Bella would be curious where she had gone. She closed her eyes and thought very deliberately, “I’m leaving for the day. I’m going on a quick trip. I’ll be back.” Alice should pick that up.
It was roughly twenty hours to Vegas.
Smirking to herself, she pulled out of the empty parking lot.
She’d make it in seven.
“Rose! What are you doing here? Something wrong at school?”
She just shook her head, stopping on the stairs that Esme had been descending to kiss her cheek.
The look of shock on Esme’s face made her wonder if she needed to do that more often.
Hand on her cheek, Esme eyed her. “Things going better with Bella?”
Rosalie just shrugged.
“Ah.” Esme nodded. “New car.”
She gave a snarl of happiness, running upstairs to change. She wasn’t going to walk into an Aston Martin dealership looking like a teenager. She picked a simple black Alice Olivia dress and pulled it on as well as new heels. She grabbed her Saint Laurent trench and started back down the stairs.
“My M3 as getting old,” she offered as she passed Esme. “Don’t wait up.”
“Where are you going?”
“Don’t get pulled over!” Rosalie heard from behind her as she fled out the door.
After stopping at a rental for a one-way rental, she started on the road. She didn’t make it in seven. She hadn’t anticipated the traffic load as she got into the city, and there was no avoiding that. It was torture, but after nine hours she was finally pulling into the dealership.
She glanced out of the windshield as she parked, a little nervous. While spring seemed to be taking its sweet time in Forks, in Vegas they had already moved into summer. The sun shone down right and hot, radiating in waves off of the concrete. There wasn’t a single cloud in the sky.
“Fuck,” she mumbled. There were a solid fifty feet from the parking lot to the front doors. There was no way she could walk that distance, and even less of a chance she wouldn’t be seen. She glanced around and made up her mind. Reversing out of her spot, she pulled up instead directly in front of the doors, half on the sidewalk. It was an obvious no parking zone, she had to imagine so cars could be pulled out for their customers. Still, that meant she only had a few steps before she was covered.
She glanced around. “The things we have to fucking do,” she mumbled as she climbed over the driver’s seat and to the passenger side that would let her out in the shade.
She pulled herself out with as much dignity as she could, her back haughtily straight, her chin high.
“Miss! I’m sorry, excuse me miss. You can’t park—”
Rosalie ignored the man a few feet away and stepped into the office.
Her heels clicked on the marble flooring, her jacket swayed in exactly the right tailored way. She had pulled up her hair into a tight side chignon and hadn’t taken her sunglasses off. She looked the part, that was for sure.
The man behind the desk looked up and stared.
She stepped forward, pleased with the sound, and gave him a tight and impersonal smile. “Hale. Here for a pickup.”
“Miss,” the exasperated voice came from behind her. “Miss, as I was trying to say, you can’t park—” She held up the rental keys, letting them dangle off of her finger. The man’s words cut off in surprise.
“Are you not returning my rental anyway?” She asked, finally pulling off her sunglasses and leveling him with a gaze.
“Oh.” He blinked, tentatively taking the keys. “I mean, I’ll have to speak to my boss, but—”
“Is this not Aston Martin? Did I not spend enough money here to warrant a favor?” She snapped the words at him, doing her best to sound like her old self. It made her wince internally, she didn’t like being this stuck up anymore, but she had no idea how else she would get the rental car returned.
“Oh, um…” the man glanced at his colleague behind the desk, who still looked like he had been struck dumb and was simply staring at Rosalie. “I suppose you’re correct. All right, right away, I’ll get this taken care of for you.”
“Mmm.” Rosalie hummed as he stumbled backward. She watched him go first to an important-looking man in a well-tailored suit and then get into the car.
Guilt made her snap a little harsher than she meant to when she turned back to the desk. “Sometime today, please?”
He jumped and his fingers began to clack against the keys.
She stood waiting for a few moments before the strong purr of a car sounded and began to come closer.
Oh, if that was hers then she made the right choice. Chills of delight broke across her skin.
“If you will just follow me, please.” He stood looking a little more dignified and a little less like her face was enough to make him swoon. He held a door open and Rosalie clicked through it.
“Oooh.” She let out the moan completely involuntarily. Had she thought the love she felt in her mate bond was strong? This car, sleek, angular, the perfect shade of grey. She moaned a little again.
“That’s a hell of a car, isn’t it?”
She couldn’t help but notice with a small amount of vain pleasure that while he spoke of the car, it was she that he was looking at.
She just purred in response, taking in her new baby.
She felt a warmth from beside her and glanced at him. He had flushed at her sound, the look on his face as though his pants had suddenly grown too tight.
“Does it meet your satisfaction?”
Leaning forward she ran a single finger over the body from hood to tail. “Oh, it does.”
“Good. Come with me and we will get some formalities out of the way.” He offered her his elbow wistfully.
“In a moment.”
A plan was beginning in her head as she bit her lip. Her eyes flicked to the clock on the wall. It was rounding on six. Traffic out of Vegas was less difficult to handle in the evening. Had she waited until she had gotten out of school, she never would have made it. Thank god she hadn’t. Still, if she made the drive back in the same amount of time, then everything would line up perfectly.
With her name in her mind like a caress, Rosalie carefully placed her hand just on the inside of the crook of his elbow and let him lead her.
The formalities were always the worst part of buying a car from a dealership instead of building a car yourself or buying from a car collector. Mainly because as a tall, beautiful, woman, it was very difficult to get out of the extended warranty that meant she could have all the top class mechanical help she needed. She never needed it. She could always do it better. As soon as she got a new car, she learned how to fix it herself. Were Aston’s specifically difficult, as they required a whole unique set of tools, of course. But it was an intriguing challenge. When she finally assured them for what felt like the fiftieth time that no, she didn’t need it, the office manager offered her his hand as though she was unable to get up from the chair on her own. “With those done, Ms. Hale.” He offered his hand, keys dangling.
A shiver up her spine she took them. “Pleasure doing business with you, gentlemen.”
Her new car was indeed exactly where she had pulled up the now gone rental, facing the opposite direction she saw with relief. She wouldn’t need to find a way to get in without the sun becoming a problem.
She opened the door and slid in with a groan. It felt like sex and she had to admit, when she turned over the ignition and found that the sound she had earlier was her new baby, she felt a very real physical pleasure.
“It’s good to meet you,” she crooned, running a sultry hand over the steering wheel. “Ooooh yes,” she sighed as she pulled out of the lot.
As soon as she could with a happy laugh, she opened the car up on the freeway, tearing down the road as if it were made for her and her new car.
It was rounding on four in the morning when she turned onto the drive. Excitement and pride bubbling, she clicked open the garage, pleased to see a small crowd of people.
“Oooooh, babe!” Emmett cried, his hands going up to his head to hold it. “You didn’t tell me it was going to look like this!”
She parked and stepped from the car like a proud parent presenting her newborn.
“Edward isn’t going to like this,” Esme laughed a little. “This is going to be your everyday car?”
She just hummed, not caring much about what Edward thought when he came back, if he did. She had other issues if Edward came back.
After admiring the car some more with her family, giving it a quick wash to get the bugs off, she headed inside to begin her plans.
It was very early when she stepped inside the local grocery for the second time in many years. The store had a very different attitude and flavor to it this time. Instead of people bustling around, and glancing at her in surprise as if they had assumed she only shopping in the fancier stores outside of town, it was sleepy. The cashiers leaned heavily over their counters, coffee in hand and bleary-eyed. She had to admit, she liked it this way a lot more.
“Ms. Hale.” An older man with a red tag that read manager said, his eyes still red shot. “You’re up early today.”
“I need to do some shopping before school.”
“I see that. Anything I can help you find?”
She declined as politely as she could. She had plenty of time.
Her grin was slightly mischievous as she went through the store slowly. The internet had been very helpful that morning, telling her exactly what she should get. She picked out a loaf of bread from the bakery department, fruit, cheese, chips, a roll of salami that smelled abhorrent, and a bar of chocolate.
“Ahhh,” the manager laughed, stepping up again.
Rosalie glared, officially not loving the attention.
“I think you might have heard the forecast wrong this morning, dear. It’s supposed to be dark and rainy.”
“Oh no,” she cried, pretending to care. “That’s horrible!” She didn’t bother to say what she was thinking, that if you drove fast enough and far enough, there was always sun to be found.
Back home, she threw a blanket into the trunk and paused to look up at the sky. The sun had fully come up and the others in her family had set off for school. It was true, she could see no let-up to the rain that day. That didn’t dampen her excitement.
Double-checking her clothes, a simple tee shirt and a pair of jeans, all that were very flattering, she got in the car and headed toward the school.
She arrived at the perfect time. The bell rang to release first period just as she was pulling up to the curb, a clear no parking zone, and hopped out. She took a deep breath and she was off, hidden under an umbrella because it was really raining.
She rounded the corner and saw Bella down the hallway looking thunderous. It was clear to see why. Bella was drenched from head to toe.
“What happened to you?”
Bella gave a snarl that was very reminiscent to her vampire friends, her teeth gnashed together as she spoke. “Mike pushed me out into the rain. He thought it was funny. But my boot couldn’t handle it and I fell.”
Rose frowned. Teenage flirting, it never made sense to her. Leaning in so she was close to Bella’s ear she whispered, “Want me to bite him for you?”
Bella’s whole body gave a visible shiver, though she couldn’t be sure it was her fault or the rain that did it.
Bella beamed, laughing a little and it made Rose’s insides warm. Her hand moved without her permission, just needing to touch Bella after a smile like that. It ran up Bella’s forearm before closing on her bicep.
“Come with me.” She said, giving a little pull.
“What?” Bella’s eyes blew wide, glancing toward the classroom where she had been heading. “But I have Chem. I’m going to be la—”
“Come – with – me,” she said in an evenly measured voice, her eyes insisting.
“Errr, okay.” Stumbling a little over her own feet, Rose was impressed when Bella followed. Sometimes it blew her away how much Bella had left their history in the past and wasn’t at all made nervous by the fact that she was, well, a creature from horror novels.
Excited like a child, she pulled Bella perhaps a little too fast, making the ever clumsy girl even more clumsy.
In the illegal spot she had left it, she had to admit she was presenting it, a beautiful newly bought treasure offered to her mate.
Bella stared as Rose walked to her new baby and gave it a loving caress.
“Okay, I don’t know anything about cars but even I can tell that this is a good one. Is it new?”
“Just got it last night,” Rose smirked.
“Oooh, this is where you went, isn’t it? Alice told me you left but didn’t say to where.”
Rosalie frowned. She wasn’t sure what was wrong, but as she spoke, Bella’s face was turning red, her body coiling tightly.
She followed her gaze and realized that Bella was watching her hand lovingly caress the car.
She gave a sudden start, her eyes going back to Rosalie’s face, but her coloring only getting brighter.
Immensely pleased, Rosalie opened the passenger side. “Want a ride?”
It wasn’t until Bella was in the car that Rose realized that Bella was soaking wet. She blinked as she pulled out of the lot, surprised with herself. She wouldn’t have let Emmett get in unless he was clean with fresh clothes. The things that happened with Bella were so strange.
“Are you cold?”
Bella’s head shook, her jaw clattering.
Rose snorted and clicked on the heater on full blast. With another press of a button, she turned the passenger seat warmer on. Bella immediately sighed, sinking in. “Thank you.”
“You’re going to get me in trouble, you know.”
“Hmm?” Rose asked, her head too filled with how nice Bella’s scent was in this new car that was only hers was. Had she ever had her in an area so contained before?
Rose gave her a wicked grin. “And who says that I didn’t give you an alibi?”
Bella’s mouth dropped open. “What did you do?”
“I called and said I was Renee.”
“And they bought that?” She asked, incredulous.
She just smiled back. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched as Bella sank in a little more, sighing.
Bella just hummed.
“Good,” Rose said more to herself than to Bella.
The drive fell into a comfortable silence as they headed off the freeway and onto a small country road. Bella watched out the window, and though Rose had given her no explanation, she didn’t seem to mind where they were going.
The rain slowly began to lessen, the steady patterning on the roof and windows turning from a musical rhythm to slow and unsteady drops.
“You know, when you said a ride, I thought you mean around the block or something. Where are we going?”
“On a picnic.”
A single eyebrow went up, Bella looking intrigued. “You go on picnics?”
She shrugged and said something so true lately that it was almost funny. “I do a lot of things these days that I never thought I would.”
Bella’s head settled back against her seat, eyes trained on her. “Don’t you have any human things you used to do that you like to do now?”
Rose watched her turn in her seat, her eyes intense. She really wanted to know. Somehow that made Rosalie both nervous and flattered all at once. She gave her a long look, thinking, watching the curves in the road without having to keep her full attention on it.
Bella’s eyes flicked to the road a few times, looking a little nervous but Rose was pleased that she didn’t comment.
“I still like to shop. For just about anything, really.”
Bella’s laugh was rich. “I could have guessed that.”
Rose smiled, a little embarrassed.
“What?” Rose asked when Bella trailed off.
“I don’t know, that seems like something you would say to fit your ‘Rosalie Hale’ persona.”
Rose stared, shocked.
“Is there anything that you like to do just because you like to do it? Not because it looks good or it’s something you should say?”
“Wha... I don’t... I...” Rosalie stumbled, thrown off course. Bella didn’t back down though, her look shrewd as Rosalie stumbled.
Bella looked like she hadn’t expected that answer, and liked that fact. “Movies? Really?”
“Is that not a good enough hobby?” She snapped, peevish.
“No, no!” Bella cried, sitting up a little. “Just unexpected.”
Rosalie deflated a little, taking a deep breath. Her fingers tapped on her car steering wheel, turning them at a rural stop sign. “Just before my human life ended, I went to the movies with my best friend and saw Virtue.” She said, unwilling to speak and share and even more unwilling not to. “I was amazed,” she admitted with a small smile. “Movies with actual voices were still so new, and that was the first time I saw Carole Lombard.” She gave Bella a side glance and saw she was still watching. Flattered and a bit bemused, she continued. “I was entranced by her. She was beautiful.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen her movies.”
Rose glanced at her with a soft smile. “I’ll show you.” For some reason that made Bella’s cheeks pink.
“You will, huh?”
Rose nodded once. “I will.”
Bella’s cheeks went pinker, a pleased little smile on her lips. “Okay. So tell me about Carole.”
“I spend the first years of my new life in those darkened theaters. It was an escape from the things that I couldn’t escape. The passion for film never died.”
“So you’ve always known you liked women?”
Rose jerked. If she had been a human, she thought she might have driven them off the road in her surprise. “What do you mean?”
“What do you mean, what do I mean? You said that Carole Lombard was the reason you fell in love with movies. You just said she was beautiful, right? And, um, there’s, um…” Bella squirmed a little in her seat.
“And you, you mean?”
A little reluctantly shy, Bella nodded.
She turned onto a side road, considering it. What it came down to, she thought, was that she had never thought about it. She was the perfect specimen of heterosexuality. All she had wanted when she was young was to be married, to have a husband, and to create a few babies. In her new life, she had always been with her big bear of a man, a perfect male physically. Women had just never occurred to her. But if she thought about it, she had thought that they were generally prettier than men before. The shape of their bodies, their clothing, even their scent, both skin and blood smelled better than men. And yet… “No.” She finally said. “No, this is new for me.”
Bella nodded, looking out the window. “Yeah, me too.”
“Do you think you’re a lesbian?”
Bella startled, the word apparently a shock to her. “A les- no, no, I don’t think I’m a lesbian. But uh… I did notice you first. It was you and Edward, you were the two I noticed first.”
Rosalie nodded. “Interesting.”
Rosalie studied a sign on the side of the street, clearing her throat once. “I don’t know.” And she didn’t. Was it possible to learn you were a lesbian after years of enjoying sex with men? Was it possible to enjoy sex with men and still be a lesbian? She continuously found small things about her past that made her wonder, and yet… she couldn’t be sure. “I don’t know,” she mumbled again.
Silence fell, both lost in thought. It was strange, she supposed, to discuss a sudden desire for women with the woman you suddenly desired. At least it was when nothing had been cemented with said person, not even whether or not you desired them.
As if she knew what Rose was thinking, Bella glance at her and then away quickly, her cheeks still that pleasant shade of pink that Rose knew she would be able to feel if she touched her cheek.
“So what do you do at night?”
She snorted amusement. “What is this, Rosalie trivia time?”
“I just mean, err, I mean, I don’t know anything about you. Edward said you all have different things you do at night and I know about your family, and some of your background because your current family told me, but you…”
Rose sighed. “I haven’t been very nice to you, have I?” She was noticing a theme in Bella’s recent comments.
Bella just shrugged.
“Well. I do spend a lot of time watching movies. I’ve also gone to night school far more than my siblings, other than Edward that is. I have degrees in electrical engineering, business, and astrophysics. Those fields are always evolving so there’s always more to study. There’s always more to learn. To top it off, I did go to medical school, at least most of medical school. So I often read under that subject. It helps Carlisle stay updated in a field that moves so fast and in a town where change is slow coming.” She risked a glance at Bella, curious about what she thought of all of this.
What she saw on Bella’s face surprised her. She looked as if she were in heaven. It made her feel warm to see the interest. In fact, she felt warm in general these days. They were friends. There was no more arguing that. They were spending time together. The bond felt more like pleasure these days than a discomfort, something that she could choose to bask in or ignore if needed.
“So you’re a doctor trapped in high school?” Bella asked incredulously.
Rosalie laughed. “Not quite. I didn’t begin my residency, nor did I graduate, but otherwise, yes.”
“I don’t know if I could stand it.” Bella shook her head. “Do you do anything for fun other than the cars?”
“This is fun.”
Bella’s mouth opened and her pink cheeks deepened, beginning in her neck and throat and moving up.
“Movies are fun too. – What, they are!” She insisted when Bella rolled her eyes. “They’re portals. They can take you anywhere, let you be anything. They give you friends, or sometimes even family if the movie is good enough. Also experiences that you’ll never have, even if it’s just for two hours.”
“Is there such thing for you?”
“Experiences you’ll never have. You’re going to live forever, right? There’s always time.”
“Maybe, but also maybe not.”
“Movies let you visit times that have passed.”
She smiled a little. “Yes, exactly.” She was pleased that Bella understood. Emmett hadn’t exactly been confused by the concept, but he also hadn’t fully cared. Emmett was somebody who lived in the now and who never felt the need for outside company. He didn’t befriend movie characters as she did, he didn’t need to visit worlds he had once known first hand.
Beside her, Bella shifted in her seat, her throat clearing and Rose felt something warm touch her hand. She froze, not breathing. When she drove, she did so with a hand on either the shifter or in the rare case where a car didn’t come with a manual option, on the center console. Her hand had been there, on the Aston’s gear shift, perched lazily and now Bella had reached out, as gently as she could, and was touching her hand. Slowly she began to draw shapes on the back of it. Elated and nervous, she slowly turned her hand over and caught Bella’s in her own.
Their fingers slid together, interlacing.
It was such a silly juvenile thing to be excited about, and yet Rosalie couldn’t stop herself from grinning like a fool.
Bella, who had been sitting up in her seat anxiously, settled back again, her eyes cautiously on Rosalie’s face.
Rose held it firmly, trying to make up for some of her nerves herself.
“Is... is this okay, Rose?”
She didn’t like the wry fear in Bella’s voice. “Bella,” she sighed, squeezing her hand a little tighter. “Sweethe—” she cut herself off, biting back the nickname. “I don’t want your blood, Bella.”
“No! No, no, I mean, because… I don’t know. Because, you know.”
Her eyebrows furrowed as she tried to understand that. Because you know? She glanced at Bella’s waiting face. She did have her own version of ‘you know’. Her hand closed a little tighter on Bella’s. They were alone, in a warm and comfortable environment. She took a deep breath of the air, smelling Bella, smelling the rain they had left behind, the sun now waiting outside. This was the perfect time to finally give in and to tell her. It couldn’t be more perfect. Only, she glanced at Bella and saw that she was biting her lip just a little, her eyes twinkling. She was looking down at their hands as if she couldn’t believe they were touching in this way.
Because you know...
‘You know’ wasn’t a bad thing.
‘You know’ was something very good even.
“We’re almost there.” The words just floated out of her as if they had been exactly what she had meant to say.
She turned onto another dirt paved road, entering the gate for the farm.
Bella was holding her hand. She was doing it and looking like she was happy about it.
Not right now.
“Um…” Bella frowned as the old farmhouse approached at the end of the long dusty unpaved road.
Rose couldn’t blame her. It wasn’t a beautiful old house, not by a long shot. It looked like a scene from the dust bowl. The house was huge and had a lot of potential – at least as far as Rose had noticed the time she had walked through its condemned halls. However, there were boards over the windows and door as well as a bright yellow sign on the front that would warn anyone that the building was condemned. It had a beaten and worn look about it, the wood no longer rich but instead, the sun had sucked them of their color.
She had found this house one day on a run from Forks to Calgary and had fallen in love. There was nothing significant about the place except for one thing. On either side of the house stretching for miles and miles were fields of wheat. It danced softly in the breeze, shimmering like gold. It was everywhere, going right up to the house in the years since the farm had been abandoned, leaving only a small area that had once been a front lawn where a huge old tree stood, a single old wooden swing hanging from it.
“Wow.” Bella sighed, seeming to understand the magic of this place. “It’s beautiful.”
Rose just smiled and opened the door. The wheat fields were dusty, her new baby would need a bath after this, but it was worth it. Warmth hit her as soon as she was free of the car. She sighed, turning her face up to meet the sun, taking in the warmth.
She missed the sun often. It was so rare that Forks got any sun. It wrapped her in memories of her human life, sitting on her balcony, walking through the park, picking fruit from vendors. It was the only time she felt human.
“Will you be cold?” she asked, closing the door and heading around the back for their provisions. She picked up the blanket and spread it just beside the golden field. “Bella? Will you be cold?” She looked up, confused as to why Bella hadn’t answered. “Bella?”
Bella hadn’t moved from her spot just beside the car, not even a step. Her eyes were slightly unfocused and she swayed a little, almost as if she were close to fainting. “Bella!” She was at her side in a second, her arms out, ready to catch her or soothe her however she could. “What is it? What’s wrong?”
Bella blinked once, but her eyes did not clear. “I’ve never seen you in the sunlight before.”
“What?” Rose asked, not understanding.
Bella didn’t answer, just looked into her face.
Rose stared back at Bella, taking that in. Once again, it didn’t sound the same as how people usually said it to her.
Carefully Bella reached up and touched her cheek, the warmth making Rose want to shiver.
The thing was, looking at Bella, she knew that Bella was too. Yes, she had known that before, but she had never seen Bella in the sun either. The sun was caught in her hair, making it not brown but suddenly and startlingly auburn. Her skin, so pale in the grey light of Forks, was rich and creamy here, almost porcelain. Her eyes, which were always so richly brown, were so warm, and the sun on her skin made her scent bloom, filling her headily with its rich scent.
She looked at Bella there in the sun and was unsurprised and yet amazed so see that she was dimming the beauty of the sun, of the fields around her, making them seem boring in the sunlight.
“You’re beautiful, too, you know.”
Her voice had hardly been above a whisper and yet Bella flinched, her eyes dropping. “I’m not. Not in comparison to you. It’s – ugh, it’s dumb to even say—”
Bella’s words cut off suddenly when Rose reached out and took her hands, giving them a firm squeeze.
“Don’t do that.”
Bella’s eyes flicked up, studying her face.
Rose worried just a bit that she might have hurt her feelings, but Bella didn’t look hurt. In fact, she looked… flattered. She watched as a volley of emotions passed across Bella’s face, most Rose wasn’t sure of, but a few like pleasure and bashfulness she knew well.
Bella twitched a little, her hands still caught in Rosalie’s, but she smiled ever so slightly. “Nothing, I just… at least I understand what that look you get sometimes is now.”
Rosalie laughed, fighting the urge to pull her into her and wrap her arms around her. Maybe Bella really would take it well, she had taken everything better than Rose had expected.
Bella looked down at their hands which had intertwined together as if she wasn’t sure and so Rose let go, taking a step back.
But this was new.
Bella was still trying this on.
It wasn’t the time.
“So. Are you cold?”
“A little,” Bella admitted so Rose went to the trunk and also pulled out a sweater she had stashed there, just in case.
“Are you hungry?”
Looking shy again, Bella smiled. “A little.”
“Good.” She settled on the blanket, still enjoying the sun on her skin, and began to pull items out of her bag. She set up the fruit with a small little cutting board and a knife, the cheese likewise as well as the meat.
“Rose, this is way too much for one person.”
“Sit down. Eat something.”
Eyes rolling, Bella sat on the blanket with some effort, eyeing the food.
As if nervous Bella reached out for the bread and smelled it.
“Does it smell good?”
Bella nodded, ripping off a chunk.
“I got to the store early this morning when they were just putting the bread out fresh.”
Bella hummed, but she only picked at the soft center of the bread, self-conscious.
Rosalie let her gaze move, looking out over the field of wheat, enjoying the way the blades caught the light. Behind her, she heard Bella begin to eat in earnest and had to hide her smile.
She watched the blades wave, seeing the tiny bugs that lived in it, the gentle dust that billowed and fell when the light breeze made them move.
She glanced back in time to see Bella put a little goat cheese on a pear and take a bite. Bella sighed, looking as if she relished the taste. It made Rose a little envious. She wanted to taste whatever Bella was tasting. She wanted to taste it in the way she was. The smell of the pear was almost pleasant, she had to admit. It was fresh, juicy, if not a little too sweet, but the cheese didn’t smell good at all.
“What does it taste like?”
Bella’s eyes flew wide, unaware that she had been watched and coughed a little, nearly choking. Her hand came up to her mouth, hiding it as she chewed and swallowed what looked like too quickly.
“Do you remember what things taste like?”
She just shook her head. It was funny, and something she would share with almost no one, but while she clung to the idea of life, something that rightfully should have been hers, she really couldn’t remember it all of that well. Some things better than others, for example, her memories of morning coffee with the sun she remembered better than her daily routine. Overall, however, the memories that were not cared for had begun to fade long ago.
Chewing slowly, Bella’s eyebrows furrowed. “It’s bitter, I guess.”
“Bitter?” she asked, startled. “But your face looked like you had been enjoying it.”
“Yeah,” Bella laughed a little at whatever was on Rose’s face. “The cheese is bitter and tangy, but the pear is soft and sweet. It’s not a bad bitter. It’s a good bitter.”
“You can’t have both sweet and bitter at the same time.”
That only made Bella laugh harder. “Yes you can, you dumb vampire.”
Rose snarled a little, but it was more playful than angry. It would have been impossible to be angry at that moment, not with the look of amusement on Bella’s face. “One taste doesn’t ruin the other?”
“No.” She shook her head thoughtfully, swallowing the mouthful. “It’s more like they complement one another.” She put a little more cheese on some pear and took another bite. “What would it taste like to you?” She asked after she had swallowed. “Edward once compared human food to dirt?”
“I wouldn’t say that exactly, as much as it’s just gross. The flavors aren’t right. I think it would be like if someone handed you a bouquet of roses and then asked you to eat them. The pear smells like perfume. The cheese smells like animal waste.”
“Can you digest it?”
“No. I would eventually have to sick it up.”
“Wow.” Bella nodded, finishing up the last bite. “So, are you going to push me?”
Confused by the sudden change in topic, Rosalie blinked at her, not understanding at all. She felt like she was a step behind Bella constantly this afternoon.
Rosalie offered her hand and pulled her to her feet. She didn’t protest until she understood where she was being pushed. Her eyes rolled, her scoff dry. “What are we, five?”
Bella didn’t answer, only pushed her a little more.
“It’s dirty!” she whined but Bella only laughed, her warm hands on Rose’s waist. The swing have a worrisome creak when she sat and Rosalie winced, waiting to be spilled into the dirt.
Bella crossed to behind her and pushed gently, but Rose didn’t move. She watched as Bella laughed, her eyes on Bella’s face. Giving the swing a little shake by the ropes, Bella leaned in. “You gotta pick up your feet.”
Rose did, still not looking away from Bella.
“Come on, old lady. I know this is high tech compared to when you were young, but you have to know how this works.”
That finally snapped Rose out of her reverie. “Old lady? Did you just call me an old lady?”
“Yup, I did.”
She could hear the amused pride in Bella’s voice as she scoffed, her mouth dropping open in mock horror. “Excuse me, but I am forever nineteen.”
“Still older than me.”
Rosalie glared over her shoulder, the sting of whatever she was going to say lost as she watched a breeze catch Bella’s hair. She scoffed again because she wasn’t sure her mouth would work right.
So pretty, her mind thought, weak under the realization of how true it was.
Bella pushed a little harder and Rose automatically pumped her legs.
“Are you having fun?” She asked dryly. “Are you having fun pushing me on the swing, Bella?”
“Are you, now?”
She chuckled. She was making fun of Bella, yes, but there was something much like glee in her too… almost as if she were happy. Almost as if she was happy that Bella was there with her. It was such a simple feeling that she couldn’t reconcile it. The stupid grin on her face was so large, however, that it couldn’t be denied. She was happy.
“You know if you wanted we could stop on the way home and get some coloring sticks and paper.”
“Coloring sticks?” Bella laughed loudly, her face alight. She bent over, snorting. “You – you - you mean crayons?”
“What?” Rose frowned over her shoulder, confused as to why Bella was laughing so hard that she was bent double.
“Oh my god,” Bella gasped out. “Okay, you can never give me a hard time when I call you old.”
“Coloring sticks!” Rosalie insisted. She didn’t understand the joke and it made her a little grumpy. “The little colored sticks of wax kids use to draw.”
“Yeah. Yeah, totally called crayons now.”
She scowled for a long moment before she exploded. “Well, how should I know? I haven’t come in contact with them since they were called coloring sticks! Oh, shut up!”
Laughing, Bella stumbled around her, stopping the swing with the ropes.
Rose did her best to keep her glare in place. How was she supposed to know? When was the last time she had dealt with a child? Never. Not really ever in her human life, and not once after. Her eyes narrowed as Bella looked down at her, her face suddenly unsettled.
“What is it? Some other term I’m using incorrectly? Do I have wrinkles? I swear to god, Bella, if you tell me I have wrinkles I will leave you here and you will have to walk home!”
Bella took a deep breath, her hands reaching forward to cover Rosalie’s on the swing.
Rose looked at them, startled. Bella had touched her so many times that day. A flutter of pleasure began in her stomach. “Bella, wh—”
But then Bella, beautiful brown eyes nervous, leaned forward and very gently placed the tiniest of kisses on her lips.
It was their first kiss since the very enjoyable one on Rose’s bed, but more than anything else it was the first time that Bella had initiated anything between them.
Rosalie’s breath caught and she froze on the swing like a statue, her lips unresponsive, her mind suddenly quiet.
Immediately Bella started to pull away, her face horrified. “I’m sorry!”
Before she could move far at all, a huge, ridiculous grin split across Rosalie’s face. It was so big, so goofy, that she couldn’t help but to turn her face, hiding it in her own shoulder like a silly little lovesick human girl.
Bella’s face changed when she saw that. The nerves left, instead replaced by a semi-hidden flicker of something that Rosalie didn’t recognize. Carefully Bella’s finger lifted Rosalie’s chin.
She waited, still not breathing, pressure in her chest as she waited to see if she was about to be kissed again.
Instead, she seemed to grow shy. So hand on Rose’s shoulder, she turned again and began to push her.
They took turns on the swing for a while, both laughing and teasing because it was time to head back, else worry Chief Swan.
They didn’t talk much on the way home, but when Rose put her hand on the gear shift Bella reached over and took it again.
There was no goodbye kiss when Rose dropped her off, but still, she felt as though she was glowing from the inside out as she drove the short distance back to her house.
She was all but dancing as she strode into the house into Alice and Jasper sitting on the living room couch.
Jasper was holding her hand while Alice stared at nothing, her eyes unfocused, clearly in the middle of a vision. Mildly, she wondered if it was at all about her.
Jasper smiled a little at her smile. “Have fun?”
“I did,” she admitted as she curled up on the couch.
“Have you thought about telling Bella yet?”
The smile faded quickly. She didn’t want the memory of the day ruined by guilt didn’t want to think about what she had to tell Bella. She rose again from the couch, heading up to her room to change into her dirty mechanic clothes.
She didn’t want to remember that this… was what it was, not after Bella had kissed her so gently that afternoon.
Her feet on the stairs suddenly stopped as a horrible thought occurred to her. Could Bella have kissed her because she was a vampire and Bella had just seen her in the sunlight for the first time?
Her breath left her body in a gust as if she had been punched in the stomach.
How could she know if anything between them was real when she was a vampire and Bella was a human? She was designed to attract Bella.
She scowled, all the pleasure of the day gone.
She hated that thought. She truly hated it.