Chapter 2: Mirror Mirror Off the Wall

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Chapter 2: Mirror Mirror Off the Wall

Messaggio  spuffy il Gio 30 Ago 2012, 22:08

Bella

I walked down the street with Esme until we reached the brightly lit parking lot that housed her
slate grey Mercedes, shining and glinting in the halogen glare of the street lights.
I hugged her tightly before saying goodnight. It was almost like having a mother again.
Almost, but not quite.
“I’ll see you Friday,” I smiled at her and she nodded, touching my cheek, a tender gesture that
makes me want to break down and cry, while reminding me of how little physical contact I have had
recently and how much I crave it.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to drive you to your place? It would only take a minute,” she
offered, maternally hopeful.
“No, no, I’d like the walk,” I assured her, “I have pepper spray.”
She smiled and laughed, her honey eyes betraying the concern over my revelation, “Of course you
do.”
“Drive safe,” I adjusted my bag on my shoulder with the intention of heading toward my apartment.
The walk was only about fifteen minutes if I took my sweet old time.
“Are you sure you don’t want to come with me? We could watch a movie, Carlisle is working a
double, you could stay in the guest room and I could drive you to the university on the way to the
bookstore in the morning,” her tone was gentle but her eyes were begging, Esme was too perceptive for
her own good.
She didn't pry, although I knew she was aware that there was something going on in my life that I
wasn't sharing with her. Even though she had only known me for the better part of a month I felt
somehow guilty for keeping my past to myself. As though I owed her for taking me under her wing and
giving me a job, which I did if I was honest with myself. Which I rarely was these days.
I was angry with myself for being so transparent.
Renee had always told me I was like an open book.
Easy to read.
I had to look away.
“Thanks for the offer but I’m tired, I just want my bed tonight,” I smiled, but I knew it looked as
forced as it felt.
“Okay Bella, night darlin’,” she squeezed my hand reluctantly, intuitively aware that she should let
it go for now and headed to her car.
As soon as the engine to her Mercedes came to life I pulled my iPod out of my bag and set it to
something loud and heavy, staring straight ahead and walking quickly down the street with purpose and
confidence I didn’t feel, pepper spray in hand.
I took no chances.
I headed into the lobby of the building and smiled at Marcus, the security guard who was sitting at
the front desk of the up-scale apartment I had moved into a month ago. It was a beautiful building with
an eclectic mix of inhabitants from what I could tell. I kept odd hours so I had yet to meet anyone but
my neighbour, a blond and unnervingly beautiful, if not seemingly cold woman, named Rosalie who
wore deadly looking heels and a guy named Mike who apparently lived with his friend on the ground
floor and bartended nearby.
“Ms. Swan, how are you this evening?” Marcus smiled at me as I walked through the door.
“Just fine Marcus, I brought you a treat,” I returned the smile and pulled a World War II History
book out of my bag and passed it to him.
12
His smile grew impossibly larger and I made a mental note to bring him books more often just so I
could see that smile.
Once inside my apartment the anxiety crept in like a dark shadow curling itself around my throat
and suffocating me. I made my way quickly to the bathroom and opened the medicine cabinet with
shaking hands, grabbing for the bottle of pills. I managed to pry it open after three tries and downed
two Lorazepam, sinking to the floor and breathing deeply until they took effect.
Twenty blissful minutes later I decided I would go to the club a couple of blocks away where Mike
might be working for a few shots of vodka since I didn’t keep booze in my house as of yet. Maybe I
would even dance. I pranced by Marcus who just smiled at me curiously, not seeing the dilated pupils,
just the lazy and slightly stupid grin. The bouncer carded me at the door and gave me a speculative look
since I was a twenty-one year old girl coming to a club by herself, and I was wearing a hoodie.
Obviously this was not a well thought out plan.
He let me in with a shrug, so I assumed I wasn’t breaking any dress code violations with my lack of
visible skin.
Mike, who had the personality of a golden retriever, had told me today to stop by anytime and
tonight just happened to be the perfect night. Not only was it my birthday but today had been my first
shift at Esme's quaint little bookstore, Twilight. She had offered me the job on the weekend since I had
been coming in there pretty much every day for the past three weeks, rooting through the boxes of
books in storage for the ones I liked, not to mention first and rare editions, organizing them and then
secretly shelving them when she wasn’t looking. I wasn't sure it if was pity that prompted the offer or a
genuine need for help, but the boxes of untouched books in the basement made me hopeful it was the
latter and I was desperate for some human contact. Esme seemed safe.
And then I had seen him.
Oh. My. God.
His face was so. . . pretty?
I’m sure he would be pissed to hear that word used to describe him, even if it was only in my mind,
but it was true. The shock of copper coloured hair, the pale skin that peeked out through the maze of
tattoos covering the bare expanse of exposed skin thanks to his short sleeved t-shirt. His sleek, well
muscled arms a canvas of ink, his history laid bare for everyone to see. There was a lick of vine or fire
or something I wasn’t close enough to inspect that slithered across his neck up to his ear, a place I was
just dying to lick.
And then there were the piercings.
The captive bead ring in the eyebrow, the Viperbites that pierced the left side of his bottom lip, the
Industrial barbell slanting through the cartilage of the top of his ear, in one side and out the other, not to
mention the helix, lobe and tragus rings.
I wonder where else he had piercings on that beautiful body.
I had been hiding behind the shelves with a pile of books clutched in my hands watching this
dangerous specimen whose name was apparently Edward and seemed to know Esme quite intimately
seeing as he kissed her cheek. After he had gone into the coffee shop I skittered out from my hiding
spot to ask Esme if I could take home the books I was clutching to me fiercely, and possibly get a
closer look at this beautiful man although it was the last thing on earth I should be doing. I peered
furtively through the wide double doors and caught a glimpse of him standing at the counter, his hand
passing through the unruly hair perched on top of his head like a glorious auburn nest.
I tried to remain focused on Esme when he passed back through the bookstore but when he had
walked by me I could actually feel his physical presence like an embrace. I couldn't help but peek at
him again as he was walking out the door and I watched his perfectly sculpted ass as he crossed the
street to the tattoo shop I had been eyeing since the day I moved into this area.
Was it an omen?
I felt stupid for even thinking it.
I was leagues apart from someone that pretty and dangerous and I couldn’t afford to want anyone
anyway. I shoved my blazing longing for the ink and steel man back down where I couldn’t reach it,
smothering it and feeling the embers smoulder and fizzle out.
Mostly.
Not really.
I was thankful that I was scheduled to work at Twilight on Wednesday and Friday evenings,
Saturday afternoon and alternate Sundays. I didn’t need the money but I did need the outlet. I hated
spending time alone in my house and working alleviated the solitude.
I hated being alone at all and that was all I ever was anymore. Even when I was surrounded by
bodies I felt the absence of human connection in my life.
I was solitary.
Deservedly so.
Except at the bookstore with Esme.
I allowed myself that, even though I shouldn’t.
I sauntered up to the bar, shedding my hoodie and long sleeve shirt, leaving me in a plain black tank
top.
“Hi Mike,” I waved at him and he grinned at me. His short hair was slicked back with far too much
gel and he looked like he had been spending a lot of time either in the sun or a tanning bed. His face
was youthful, as though he had never really lost the baby fat as a teenager and continued to look
slightly more childlike then man. I might have thought he was passably cute if I hadn't seen the ink and
steel god earlier today.
“Bella! I didn’t expect to see you here. Are you with friends?”
I shook my head as I shoved my hoodie in my bag and pulled out my wallet, “Three shots of Vodka,
unless you want to do one with me, then make it four,” I grinned at him.
Mike didn’t need to know that I didn’t have friends. Other than Esme, who was also my employer
so I wasn’t even sure that actually counted.
Mike smiled again and set four shot glasses on the bar and pulled out the good vodka, which was
acceptable but not great. We toasted on the first shot and then I downed the rest of them, barely pausing
to breathe.
“You want to leave your stuff with me behind the bar?” Mike asked with a smile I assumed was
supposed to be open and friendly but looked more calculated than I liked.
“Sure, thanks, I’m not staying long,” I replied, not wanting to give him the wrong idea.
I was not available and I had nothing to give, even if I was.
I just wanted to dance to a couple of songs while I waited for the vodka to kick in, then I would go
home to bed, try to sleep through the nightmares and the fear and the anxiety.
I smiled as Calm Like a Bomb blasted out through the speakers. Jake never used to let me listen to
this music when he was around, not that it was a problem anymore since he was gone. It was too
aggressive for him. I moved through the crowd of bodies, swaying to the heavy beat. The meds were
relaxing me and combined with the vodka I was much more fluid in my movements, my inherent
clumsiness dissipating in the haze of drugs and alcohol.
The dance floor was humid and I pulled my hair off my neck and gathered it into a ponytail with
the elastic that was secured around my wrist.
The song wasn’t even halfway through when some loser decided to grind his dick on my ass.
Really, what is that all about? At what point is it acceptable to rub your erection on someone whose
name you don’t even know? I smiled with what I hope is menace in my medicated and slightly buzzed
state, shaking my head no but the idiot couldn’t take a hint. I just wanted to dance. I wanted to
celebrate my goddamn shitty birthday by myself and the asshole was making it difficult. I turned
around to see the sneer on his face and without even thinking I punched him in the throat.
The rage I felt was overwhelming. It took every fibre of my being not to hit him again, to punch
him in the face and watch the blood pour out of his nose because the first punch had felt so good. My
anger shocked and terrified me, mostly because it also excited me.
It was the most I had felt in seven long months.
Apparently I’m much stronger than I thought. He backed off, choking and sputtering as he moved
away from me. I went back to dancing, vaguely aware of the song change. Things started to get a little
fuzzy as the adrenaline rush wore off and the effects of the vodka set in fully. I wasn't much a drinker
so it didn't take an obscene quantity of alcohol to affect me. I took that as my cue to get my stuff from
Mike and leave.
“Going already?” he looked a little disappointed.
“Uh, yeah, I’ve got class early tomorrow, I just wanted a little nightcap,” I smiled as he passed me
my bag, “Thanks.”
“No problem, see you around I guess,” he half smiled at me, as his fingers grazed the back of my
hand. It felt wrong, off, unpleasant even.
I nodded and waved as I walked toward the exit, pulling my hoodie back on while I tried to shake
the unease that passed through me from his touch.
God I hoped I could sleep tonight.
I stumbled into my apartment and bypassed the bathroom, heading straight for my bed, shedding
clothes like a snake as I went. I pulled back the sheets and slid beneath them, pulling a pillow over my
head and hugging another to my body.
I debated whether or not I should take a Valium but thought that the current cocktail of Lorazepam
and vodka should be sufficient.
It was.
I slept, but not peacefully.
“Babe, I’m just gonna go see my dad for a minute to make sure he’s okay?” Jake patted my arm.
I was drinking a glass of champagne, eating the complementary cheese and froo-froo crackers they
provided in first class. I was tired from not sleeping the previous night, or the previous week, or month.
I just wanted to take a nap.
“Okay Jakey, I’m just going to catch a little snooze,” I downed the rest of the champagne as he
kissed my forehead and made his way down the aisle to the coach section of the plane.
I closed my eyes. I could do this. I would marry this man because we were best friends. I had
known him almost my entire life, we were meant to be together.
The choking feeling rose in my throat but I pushed it back. I shoved all the fears and trepidation
aside and took a few deep cleansing breaths. The affects of the alcohol, coupled with the Gravol I had
taken for the motion sickness worked wonders and I was sleeping peacefully in minutes.
Thunderously loud noises shocked me awake. I was disoriented. I looked around me and realized
that Jake was not beside me. How long had I been out? Minutes? Longer? The seatbelt sign was
flashing and the captain of the plane was talking about turbulence and breathing apparatuses.
What the hell was going on?
I buckled myself in, twisting in my seat to look for Jake. Where was he?
Suddenly the lights flickered and the plane dropped, slamming my body upward against the
restraint at my waist. I may have peed myself a bit from the jarring force. I felt the blush of
embarrassment colour my cheeks from my inability to control my damn bladder.
The plane dropped again.
“Jake?” I screamed, twisting wildly, panic overriding every other emotion making me completely
forget my shame at practically peeing my pants on a plane. I contemplated getting up to look for him
before the plane gave another violent heave.
My eyes met the passenger on the other side of the aisle. He was older, a business man from the
look of the well tailored suit and the classily dressed woman beside me. They were gripping each
other’s hands tightly. The man looked at me as several emotions flickered across his face before grief
settled in his eyes.
He turned to his wife and told her how much he loved her.
I woke up screaming bloody murder, covered in sweat, the tank top I was wearing and my sheets
soaked through. The sobs welled up in my throat as I beat back the images trying to swim to the surface
in my head. My jaw locked, teeth grinding as I gripped my hair in my hands and yanked on it as if the
action would serve to eradicate the memories forged into dreams while I continued to scream.
All I could see was the tortured expression on that man’s face. The pity, the fear, the grief as the
plane spun and plummeted.
When my voice cracked and gave out from the strain of screaming for so long I crawled out of bed,
glancing at the clock on my way to the bathroom, it was five in the morning. At least I could justify
getting up.
I had no idea how long I had been screaming like that.
I really hoped the walls in this place were sound proof or the neighbours would think I was being
tortured or that I was insane.
Both were not far from the truth.
I turned on the shower as hot as it would go and climbed in, sinking into the tub, letting the spray
pelt across my back, burning away the guilt and the pain and the sadness. I sat there, sobbing until the
water ran cold.
Shivering I wrapped a towel around myself, opened the medicine cabinet and chewed two bitter
pills before numbly making my way back to the bedroom.
I pulled on a t-shirt and a pair of jeans that were too loose on me.
I was losing weight, still.
I looked at myself in the mirror and saw the ugliness there; it pushed its way from the inside out,
tainting me and taunting me.
My hands balled into fists and the same unbridled rage as last night a coursed through me, venom
running through my veins. Before I could even process what I was doing I slammed my fists over and
over into the mirror until all of the glass was shattered in a million fragments and strewn across the
bedroom floor. My hands were bleeding and I could see shards of glass peeking out from red wounds.
I welcomed the pain.
I deserved it.
I spent the next hour picking splinters of glass out of my hands and then proceeded to use the first
aid kit under the bathroom sink to stitch up the worst of the cuts with shaking hands and unfocused
eyes, using super glue on the more superficial ones that I knew from experience wouldn’t heal properly
otherwise.
Ironically enough I had gotten over my fear of blood seven months ago.
After disinfecting my hands thoroughly and enjoying the burn of the peroxide more than I should I
wrapped my hands in gauze and cleaned up the glass on the bedroom floor, grateful for cold hardwood
rather than carpet. I could see my reflection framed in splatters of blood.
Once I had finished my self-imposed punishment I popped a couple of Tylenol which would hardly
dull the pain and grabbed my bag, heading out the door to my car.
Another day.
I would make it through because tomorrow was Friday and I would work.
Because Esme needed my help and I needed her so that I wouldn’t be alone, at least for a little
while.
Because it would make the time pass faster and slightly less painfully.
And maybe I would see him again.
Just a glimpse of the copper hair and the artwork arms.
Something beautiful to look at in this ugly world.




spuffy
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