The Twilight Twenty-Five
000ooo000ooo Fire and Rain ooo000ooo000
The luncheon back at Zar and Carmen’s’ house was a nightmare. I nodded and smiled, shook a ton of hands, and pretended like I remembered my husband at least mentioning people. Kate had helped me sneak into the kitchen to get an undisturbed bite to eat, but I’d been accosted by Garrett’s high school track coach as soon as I stepped foot back in the living room.
After a few hours, my feet hurt and my face was actually tired from smiling politely for so long. I was starting to clean up some abandoned cups and plates from the coffee table when I saw a gorgeous blond woman come through the front door as if she owned the place. I guessed she was a relative of some sort and didn’t pay her another thought as I started towards the kitchen.
She had other plans, however, and stepped right into my path.
I wobbled a little, stopping short, and tried not to drop any of Carmen’s dishes. I expected the woman to say something since she’d basically just made a beeline for me and cut me off, but she didn’t speak. She looked me up and down, making me uncomfortable.
I really didn’t know who she was and I started to feel like a bad host. “Can I help you? Zar and Carmen are in the kitchen if you’re looking for either of them.”
She flipped some of her long hair over her shoulder and her voice was icy when she finally spoke, “Yes, I’d like to see Carmen.”
“Well, then follow me.”
I was trying to be polite although everything about her set me on edge. Despite a beautiful appearance, she was an ugly woman.
Pushing through the kitchen door, I took the dishes to the sink where two of Carmen’s friends were cleaning up. I glanced over and saw Edward at the breakfast bar, his eyes narrowed at the woman behind me.
“Get out,” he growled. “How dare you?”
“Edward,” Carmen gasped as Kate loudly swore, “Shit.”
I put the dishes down and turned towards the altercation between Edward and the stranger. I felt Kate grasp my elbow and felt Tree’s hand on my back. I didn’t know what was going on, but I had apparently been spot on with my feelings about this woman.
Edward stood but Zar moved quickly, stepping in front of him and cutting him off.
“Irina, we thank you for what you’re trying to do, but a phone call would have been more appropriate.”
She opened her mouth to say something and Edward visibly tensed even more. Zar gave him a little headshake and spoke again.
“Not a word, young lady. You need to leave. I’ll show you out.”
He physically led her away and I looked around, trying to figure out what had just happened. It was all over in a matter of seconds and it seemed like as soon as I realized she was Garrett’s ex, the one that cheated on him and married someone else, she was gone.
I felt like a fish out of water, opening and closing my mouth for air, trying to breathe or come up with something to say. Edward was lightly banging his head on the breakfast bar and muttering curses under his breath while Carmen sat at the table shaking her head.
Kate finally broke the strange silence. “Wow, she’s still a psycho bitch.”
My eyes got wide and then I started laughing uncontrollably, I couldn’t stop myself. Then Kate started laughing and, after looking initially shocked, so did Carmen, Tree and Edward. Carmen’s friends were even laughing. That’s how Zar found us, wiping our eyes and giggling about nothing and everything.
It took me a second to realize that some of Garrett’s friends had followed Zar into the kitchen. Two couples who I’d met earlier in the day , Emmett and Rosalie along with Peter and Charlotte, had changed into more comfortable clothes and were carrying in some beer. They all had stunned expression on their faces as we tried to calm down.
“Irina was here?” Emmett looked at Edward in disbelief.
“Emmett, you just saw her.” Peter rolled his eyes.
“But what was she doing here?” Emmett continued, confused.
“Oh, for fucks sake. She was just stirring shit up. Give me a beer,” Edward groaned.
“Don’t be greedy,” Zar said with a tight laugh, taking the six pack from Emmett and offering it around. He twisted off the top of one and handed it to me.
Edward grabbed a beer then muttered something about changing clothes and left the room.
Carmen’s friends said goodbye while Garrett’s other friends were all talking with each other so I took a minute to try to ask Zar about the run in with Irina.
“What was that about?”
I knew about the break-up and that she’d been pretty heartless when it came to rubbing her happiness in Garrett’s face, but I felt like there was something I was missing.
Kate’s voice came from behind me before Zar could answer. “She’s jealous.”
“Of my dead husband?” I blurted, then apologized. “Sorry.”
Zar put an arm around me. “It’s okay. Well, she was jealous that you married Garrett, but now…she realizes she’ll never be a part of this family but she had to come and try to weasel herself in one more time.”
Carmen came over and pulled me into a big hug. “She knows she made a big mistake, honey, and now there’s no way she can apologize to him. Don’t you worry about her.”
“She wanted to do more than apologize.”
“Rose,” Carmen gave her a hard look and Rosalie murmured “sorry.”
I let out a deep sigh and held onto my mother-in-law for a second before stepping back. I still felt like there was more to the story with Irina for Kate to call her psycho but the conversation seemed to be over.
Kate and Tree said their goodbyes then, taking some leftovers that Carmen’s friends had packed. I heard them talking with Edward in the front room on their way out, then he came into the kitchen in jeans and a Forks High Athletics sweatshirt.
He handed me a Mariners fleece jacket. “We’re going out to one of Garrett’s favorite spots for a little bonfire. We’re just going to hang out and talk if you want to come.”
“Okay.” I nodded. It sounded good, just hanging out and not thinking. I hoped I could listen to their stories and turn off all of the questions that were going through my head for a while. “Do I have time to change?”
“Of course, I just didn’t know if you’d unpacked a jacket or anything. It’s kind of a walk, so tennis shoes or boots would be good.”
I nodded and went to change. When I made my way back to the kitchen, Edward was alone putting the ingredients for s’mores in a bag.
“Yeah. Where’d everyone go?”
“I think Zar and Carmen went to watch TV in their room. Everyone else headed out already. Emmett is kind of a fire bug so he wanted to get out there.” I snorted at that; of course he was. “Besides,” he joked, “I made him and Peter carry the beer.”
“Speaking of which, is beer good, or do you want something else?”
“Beer’s fine. I’d like a water for later, though.”
I still felt a little strange helping myself to things in Carmen’s house so I was relieved when he grabbed two bottles of water from the top of the refrigerator and added them to his bag.
He went into the living room and called up the stairs to tell Garrett’s parents we were heading out, then opened the sliding door to the backyard. “After you.”
We made our way to the treeline where Edward led us to a slightly overgrown path. The grass was trampled from recent use but it looked like before that the path hadn’t been used in a long time. It was wide enough for two or three people to comfortably walk next to each other but hidden by bushes at the edge of the yard so that you wouldn’t notice it if you didn’t know it was there.
Edward sighed loudly beside me as we walked.
“How long has it been since you walked down this path?” I had a feeling that memories of Garrett were almost as hard for him as they were for me.
He ran his hand through his hair, that was definitely a nervous habit for him, I’d seen him do it countless times over the last few days.
“I came out here last week before Carmen and Zar took us to the airport, but before that? Not since Garrett left for Italy.”
I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I knew he wasn’t ready to tell me more so I didn’t press him. The air was cool, the sun hidden by a cloudy sky, but the rain was gone. We walked slowly but comfortably through the woods until we came to a clearing and stood at the edge of a gorgeous meadow. Wildflowers dotted the grass and, while it looked like a great place to get away from everything, I could imagine baseball games and hidden forts in the trees. I could see why it was one of Garrett’s favorite places.
Emmett had started a bonfire in the corner of the field, just to the right of the path. The fire pit looked like it had been used often at one point. There was a ring of rocks around the actual fire and downed logs as well as a few stumps for seating. A giant wooden spool stood several feet away where Rosalie and Charlotte stood, using it as a makeshift bar.
“Come join us,” Charlotte called, motioning me towards them.
Edward smiled and walked towards Peter and Emmett who were standing by a wood pile, talking quietly.
Throughout the night they made me feel like a part of the group, including me in conversations and asking me to tell stories about Garrett and my time in Italy. It was nice. Much nicer than I imagined it would be. I wasn’t sure how much we’d have in common besides Garrett. Hours went by as we laughed, talked and cried a little. It felt good to just let go. No one cared if we laughed inappropriately or cried for no reason. It didn’t bother me that Emmett and Rosalie snuck into the woods for a few minutes of privacy.
We were all sad, but coming to terms with our grief, and I was thankful that they’d included me. I understood why these had been Garrett’s best friends and thought that maybe they could be my friends, too.
I was watching the fire and gazing out over the meadow when Rosalie and Charlotte came to stand on either side of me. The guys were talking about baseball and arguing over a call in the most recent Mariners game.
“God, I’m going to miss him. I mean, he hasn’t been here with us for two years, but I always thought he’d be back,” Charlotte said quietly, then chuckled. “If he was here he’d be in the middle of that telling Emmett he was full of shit.”
I laughed even though I felt a sharp pang of sadness, because she was right. He’d have been in the thick of it with his friends, laughing and carrying on.
Rose sighed. “Emmett’s been a wreck. He won’t admit it but I don’t think he’s slept a full night since he found out. It’s gonna be a hard year,” she put her arm around me and squeezed, “for all of us.”
As I sighed and leaned my head on Rosalie’s shoulder, it occurred to me then that these people might need me to get through this just as much as I was going to need them.
000ooo000ooo Fire and Rain ooo000ooo000