The Twilight Twenty-Five
000ooo000ooo Fire and Rain ooo000ooo000
After the memorial I spent several days hiding in the guest room at Carmen’s house. There were things I needed to think about and decisions that I had to make before I could move forward. Did I want to stay in Forks? Move into the cottage? Where else could I go? Certainly not to Florida with my mother. She hadn’t even called me. So I made lists—things to do, documents to file, pros and cons of staying in Forks. I filled half of a notebook and still hadn’t come any closer to making any of the decisions I needed to.
Carmen checked in on me now and then, letting me know when lunch was ready and leaving me a plate if I missed dinner. She knew that I wasn’t just wallowing in depression and let me work through things, or at least attempt to work through them, on my own.
On the fourth day, she knocked on the door to the guest room and reminded me that I needed to meet with their lawyer. I wasn’t looking forward to going, but I hadn’t forgotten.
A few hours later I found myself in a small cafe in Port Angeles staring at my food. I’d ordered soup and a sandwich for lunch, but I couldn’t seem to make myself eat it. After meeting with Jasper, who was both Garrett’s friend and lawyer, I’d wandered into the restaurant to allow myself some time to think before I had to drive back to Forks. I couldn’t quite assimilate everything I’d learned. A life-insurance policy. A Volkswagen convertible. The small savings account we shared. Those things I could deal with. They were expected. But the much, much larger savings he’d inherited from his father and a sealed letter from Garrett, which I had no idea when I’d ever be prepared to read—those were a shock. And while I was still trying to get my head around those details, Jasper mentioned a deed for property and annual taxes.
I’d just blinked at him unable to comprehend what he was telling me until he explained. Christ, I could hardly breathe when I thought about it. Garrett owned the meadow where we’d held the bonfire the night of the memorial. Carmen and Zar gave it to him when he graduated from college. Suddenly it was mine. I didn’t want it—I didn’t know what to do with it. Any of it. How could I benefit from losing him like this? It all felt wrong.
Looking up I saw Rosalie standing next to my table looking concerned.
“Are you alright?”
I hadn’t realized I was crying, but my eyes were full of tears and I wiped even more from my face.
“Rose, hi. I’m-” I shook my head. I wanted to say I was fine, but it was clear that I wasn’t. She seemed like the kind of woman who wouldn’t let me lie to her anyway, so I sighed and pointed to the chair across from me. I laughed a little at how ridiculous it all was. “I don’t know what I am.”
She settled into her seat before quickly rifling through her purse until she pulled out a package of Kleenex and handed it to me.
“Sweetie, I’m so sorry. Do you need to talk? Is there someone I can call? Something I can do?”
I let out a deep breath. “Just sit with me for a minute?”
The waitress came by and Rosalie ordered an iced tea. When it arrived, she made a production of pouring several sugar into it. I counted five packets as I watched her meticulous process – adding the sugar, stirring, then sipping until the drink met her satisfaction.
“Would you like some tea with your sugar?”
It was out of my mouth before I could stop myself. I looked at Rose in shock. Sure, she was kind to me at the bonfire, but we didn’t know each other very well at all. What I’d said wasn’t too outrageous, but still, I wasn’t sure that we were the type of friends to throw out sarcastic barbs yet.
She looked at me for a second, like she couldn’t believe I’d said it either, then she started to laugh. Loudly. So I did too.
“Jesus,” she said when she was finally calming down. “You do that a lot, don’t you, put your foot in your mouth? I mean, I heard you the other day when you asked Kate if Irina was jealous of your dead husband. That was funny.”
“Oh, God. Yeah, sometimes things just come out.” I sighed, then laughed a little, remembering other times when my mouth moved faster than my brain. “I’ve made my friend Alice spit out her drink on more than one occasion.”
“I can imagine. Speaking of your friends…I was surprised that none of them made it to the memorial. It all happened kind of fast, but I expected to see more of your friends and family.”
“Well, aside from Charlie and Billy Black, who you know, Alice is about all I have. My mom isn’t really in my life. I had friends in college, but when you leave for two years, and have inconsistent internet connections and outrageous international call rates, it’s hard to keep in touch.”
She nodded in agreement. “But where’s Alice? You’ve talked, right?”
“Actually, no. She works on a cruise ship. I think she’s on her way back from Fiji. She won’t be in port until next weekend. I emailed her and I’m sure she’ll be here as soon as she can.”
“Wow. I’m sorry, you just seem so calm about it. I can’t imagine coming here not really knowing anyone. And under your circumstances? Shit. You are one strong lady.”
“I’m not. Not really. I don’t know what I would have done without Kate and Edward, and now Zar and Carmen.” I shook my head. “Alice will be on the first flight out. You know how Edward said Garrett was like a brother? Alice is like that for me. She’d move heaven and earth to help me. I knew she was out to sea so I didn’t even send her a message until yesterday. She’d have made herself crazy because she couldn’t be here. She’s the kind of friend you can go months without talking to and then pick up your last conversation like no time has passed.”
“I’m looking forward to meeting her.” Rose sipped her tea and looked around for a minute before bringing her eyes back to me. “Why are you in Port Angeles? Shit, did you see Jasper today? I didn’t even realize…How was it?”
I should have been surprised that she figured it out, but then everyone in Forks seemed to know so much about each other it didn’t really shock me. I shrugged and swirled the ice cubes in my water glass, thinking about what to say. “Did you know they gave Garrett the deed to the meadow when he graduated from U-dub?”
“Oh hell, I forgot. Yeah.” She smiled sadly and chuckled a little. “So you inherited a fire pit and some wild flowers?”
I snorted. I really liked Rose.
“Oh wait—and the money from his dad?” Her eyes were wide. “Did you even know about that?”
I shook my head. “I didn’t know about any of it. Does everyone else know?”
“No,” she said quickly, “I don’t think so. Emmett and Edward knew because he used it to pay for college. Garrett wouldn’t touch it for anything else. He always said it was for his family.”
That made sense. And it made me feel a lot better. Since I’d spoken with Jasper I’d been wondering why Garrett and I had lived in a tiny apartment on a tight budget when he had so much money put away.
“Bella, I know it’s all been sort of a whirlwind, but what are you going to do? Are you going to stay in Forks? Or go somewhere else, back to Italy or something?”
“That’s what I’ve been sitting here thinking about, among other things. But I can’t come up with any answers.” I looked down and rubbed the handle of my butter knife with my thumb. “I feel like a broken record, I just keep wondering ‘what am I going to do?’ but I can’t seem to make any decisions.”
“Do you want me to tell you what I think you should do, or just tell you it will all work out?”
I raised my eyes to hers and could tell how serious she was. I should have been able to figure it out on my own, but I’d been trying for days with no luck. She had a look in her eye, I couldn’t tell if it was confidence or resolve, but it made me want to hear what she had to say.
“Tell me what you think.”
“I think you should stay here. Where else can you go? You said Alice works on a cruise ship and going to live near your mom isn’t an option. Your family is here: Charlie, Carmen, Zar—all of us—Emmett and me, Char and Peter. You’re stuck with us now. So stay, take advantage of having some support. Go on a cruise with Alice if you need to, but come back and start over in Forks with us. We’re one big dysfunctional family. We’ll smother you and fight with each other and let you make mistakes. It will be epic.”
I sighed and tried to think about how great that sounded. “What if I can’t get over him here?”
She raised an eyebrow. “What if you can? You’re not even thirty. I know you can’t even think about it right now, but the odds of you meeting someone and getting married again are good-”
“No. I can’t think about that.”
“I know you can’t. I’m not telling you to go on a date next week, or even next month, but you’re not the one who died, okay? You can’t give up on life.”
I didn’t say anything. I couldn’t. I wanted to say I would never want anyone else again. I felt like I wouldn’t. But she was right. I just couldn’t see how or when I’d would get to that point.
“It won’t be easy. And it might be hard for his family if you move on but look at Carmen and Zar. She got remarried. You can’t give up.”
“I just don’t even know where to start,” I sighed, feeling defeated.
“You start,” she said, putting her hand over mine and squeezing, “by getting out of bed every morning and doing something productive, even if it’s just one thing. And when you feel like you can’t, you call me, or Carmen, or Kate, or Alice and we’ll talk you through it.”
I tried to smile. “One day at a time?”
She rolled her eyes. “Right, and in a month I’ll give you a poker chip or something like you’re in AA.”
“I was serious.”
“So was I. Now, let’s get out of here.”
She dug around in her giant purse for her wallet and threw some money on the table before standing up. The look she gave me said she wasn’t taking no for an answer, so I swallowed the lump in my throat and stood.
“Good. There’s a white sale at JC Penney and you have a cottage to furnish.”
I let out a deep breath and felt my shoulders sag a little in relief. “I guess I do.”
“You guess you do?” she said over her shoulder, shaking her head and laughing as she headed for the door. “You need to learn the phrase, ‘yes, Rosalie.’ Emmett can teach you.”
000ooo000ooo Fire and Rain ooo000ooo000