Prompt: #8/Department Store
A/N: Thanks so much for reading. I hope you’re still enjoying the story and I’ll see you back here as soon as I can. Updates might be quicker and un-betad as I try to cram 10 chapters in 23 days. We’ll see. Thanks to SydneyGen and Seastarr08 for taking this ride with me. I couldn’t do it without them.
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I think Alice knew that I hadn’t really been sick after the football game, but we never talked about it.
When I made my way out of the bedroom the following morning I found Edward asleep on one couch and Alice and Jasper tangled together on the loveseat. I stood in the hallway for a few seconds, my eyes drawn to the way Alice’s hand rested over Jasper’s heart, rising and falling with each breath. Edward mumbled something, drawing my attention to him.
I watched as he absently scratched his chest and rolled over. I felt a sudden jolt of awareness of the major difference in front of me. Edward was alone. Just as alone as I was. How could I have been so insensitive? I cried on his shoulder about not wanting to be alone and never considered that he might have felt the same. He’d had a few dates, but from all I’d heard he’d been single since his break-up with Leah. He’d lost his best friend too. How could I have lost sight of that?
First Alice and now this. When had I become so oblivious to the people around me? This wasn’t me. I was a good friend. I looked out for people. I put their needs in front of mine. I enjoyed it. It made me happy to help others. Losing Garrett had turned me so far into myself that I’d become someone else, and I didn’t like it.
I looked over to the couch to see Alice looking at me with her eyes full of concern. I was so tired of being looked at like that, but I understood. I wasn’t okay. I hadn’t been okay, and I was the only one who hadn’t known it.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered, as my eyes filled with tears. “I’m so sorry.”
She stood and quickly came over to hug me. “Oh, sweetie, don’t apologize. It’s okay.”
“No, it’s not. It’s not okay. I’ve been selfish, and I’m sorry. I’m happy for you and Jasper. I’m glad that you’ve found someone. I just don’t know how to mesh that with everything else I’m feeling.”
“I know, and you haven’t been selfish. You’re mourning. You’re still not thinking clearly, but you’re starting to.”
“I want to feel better. I want to be me.”
“You will be. You’ll just be a little different. You’ve been through some huge changes lately. Even if Garrett were still here you’d be different. But you’ll always be my best friend. You know that, right?”
I nodded and sniffed, wiping my eyes, then grinned at her. “Ditto.”
She snorted and covered her mouth trying not to wake Jasper or Edward. “Come on, let’s go into town and get some doughnuts. Jasper’s back is going to be killing him when he wakes up. I at least owe him a chocolate filled doughnut.”
I laughed but glanced at the other sleeping body in the living room. “I don’t know what Edward likes.”
“Raspberry,” his rough voice came from where his face was buried under a pillow. “And coffee.”
“Lots of coffee,” Jasper echoed him.
Alice walked over and gave him a kiss on the cheek before we headed into Forks for a dozen doughnuts and gas station cappuccino.
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That morning when we sat around my dining table eating doughnuts, I also realized that I hadn’t spent nearly enough time with Charlie since I’d moved to Forks. We’d seen each other a few times, but neither of us had made any great efforts to get together.
If I’d learned anything from losing Garrett, it should have been not to take anyone for granted and I’d been doing a poor job of that. I picked up the phone and, with one call, made a standing date to have dinner with my father once a week. I spent Thanksgiving in my little cottage with Charlie, Alice and Jasper and felt like I was beginning to come out of a fog.
Garrett had been gone almost six months and, even though I missed him every day, I realized that I was surviving without him. More than surviving, I was living. Whether I realized it or not, every day I got a little farther away from my life with him.
Life fell into an easy pattern of working, fixing up the bookstore, and helping Alice combine her life with Jasper’s. Furniture was moved into storage while new pieces were brought in. Books were sorted and seating areas designed. The master suite was repainted and the bathtub replaced. The kitchen was updated, though I had no idea who planned to cook in it.
It was normal for the six of us, Alice and Jasper, Rose and Emmett, and Edward and I, to spend an entire weekend working together on some project. Sometimes Charlotte and Peter helped out too, when she wasn’t miserable with morning sickness that seemed to last all day.
It wasn’t on purpose, but they kept me so busy that I didn’t have time to think about the approaching holidays. I knew that they would sneak up on me but was shocked to find myself rushing around in the department store like a madwoman on Christmas Eve. I had a list, but half of the things I considered buying for people were sold out.
I was contemplating buying everyone a fruit basket when I felt someone standing close behind me. I tensed at first, but relaxed when I recognized Edward’s cologne.
“You can’t buy that for Carmen and Zar.”
I snorted. “Why? Is that what you got them?”
He laughed. “No, I was just teasing. I get them a gift certificate for those Omaha Steaks every year. Then Zar buys extra, and we all grill out together so it’s sort of a present for me too.”
“That’s kind of lame.”
“It’s a tradition.” He shrugged. “Who are you shopping for?”
“Who am I not shopping for? That’s the better question. I was so busy with school and helping Alice get ready for the engagement party this weekend that I haven’t shopped for anyone.”
“Ouch. Okay, let’s get started.” He made a bridge with his hands, turning them inside out and cracking his knuckles. “Who’s first?”
I gaped at him. Was he seriously going to help me Christmas shop? On Christmas Eve?
“What? I probably know them better than you anyway, except for Alice.” When I was still too stunned to answer he simply took over. “Okay, we’ll start with Kate. She likes to read and do Sudoku puzzles.”
He started walking towards the media section and looked back over his shoulder at me. I finally snapped out of my haze and followed behind him. Ten minutes later he was debating what scent of lotion Rose would like, wrinkling his nose after sniffing each of several bottles.
“You don’t have to do this,” I laughed. “I can finish my shopping. I guess I just needed a push to get started, so thanks for that.”
“What? No, I’m having fun. We should do this every year.” He grinned at me, then made a particularly funny face while smelling another bottle of lotion and set it down with a cough.
I laughed him and smiled as I grabbed a vanilla scented bath set.
“Give that to me.” He took the gift set as I juggled the items in my arms. “We need one of those big shopping bags. Do you need wrapping paper too?” He made his way to a nearby check-out counter and started tucking things into a large bag.
I grinned as I watched him, and suddenly I realized how much fun I was having. With Edward. Just the two of us. My stomach felt…bubbly, not queasy, as he struggled to untangle the handles to the shopping bag. God, he was cute. Oh God, what was I thinking?
“Ugh, finally,” he muttered, putting the bag over his shoulder. “So? Do you need wrapping paper too?”
He ran his hand through his hair and nodded but the move he’d made a hundred times looked totally different. This time my brain dissected everything—the flex of his biceps, the pull of his shirt across his chest, the size of his hand and the length of his fingers. And the bubbles in my stomach began to churn. I could not think these things about Edward. I shouldn’t think them about anyone, but definitely not him. Or wait, if I felt an attraction to anyone maybe it should be him? I was confused and disgusted with myself and I couldn’t stop looking at him.
“Are you okay?”
My eyes snapped to his. “What?” I wanted to erase the moment and go back to being totally comfortable with him again.
“I just asked if you’d thought of anything for Jasper, because I saw a cool belt buckle that reminded me of him, but I’ve already got his gift.”
“Oh, okay. That’s a great idea.”
“Alright then, come on.”
He walked away and I tried not to look at his ass.
I tried but didn’t succeed.
Oh God, was there some kind of hell for widows who looked at the ass of their dead husband’s best friend? Because I was going there. Fast.
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