8: Cottage

The Twilight Twenty-Five
Prompt: #7/Cottage

000ooo000ooo Fire and Rain ooo000ooo000

I debated staying with Carmen and Zar or moving in with Charlie, but I decided that I needed my own space. When Alice finally called to say she was catching the first flight to Seattle, I knew that I needed to move some of my things to the cottage. Carmen swore it was fine that Alice stay at their house, and I knew she meant it, but it was time.

Emmett had given the car a tune-up in preparation for our return from Italy, so all I’d needed to do was call the insurance company. In no time, I was headed to Sea-tac to pick up my best friend. The drive was long, but I was glad to be busy; I was beginning to go stir crazy with nothing to do but think about my future. Well I had a purpose at least. All of that time alone in the car was a bit much, but I filled it with listening to a classic rock station. American music had been hard to find in Italy.

Alice’s flight must have arrived early because she ran over and pulled me into her arms as soon as I made it through the door.

“I’m so sorry, B. I’m sorry you lost him and I’m so sorry I couldn’t be here.”

“It’s alright. I understand. I’m glad you’re here now, though. I really missed you.”

“Well,” she stepped back and bit her lip, “I’m here for as long as you want me, for whatever you need.”

“What? Don’t you have to go back?” That was news. I thought she’d only be able to stay a few days.

She waved a hand. “My contract is up in a couple of weeks and I have plenty of vacation to use. I don’t think I’m going back, so really, I can stay as long as you want.”

“You may never leave,” I laughed.

“I can handle it.” She shrugged and grabbed the handle of a suitcase that was larger than she was.

She didn’t say anything more and I stared at her back as she walked towards the parking lot, wondering what it meant. Alice was all for being supportive of friends, but she hated cold and rainy weather. She had a life plan that involved a big city, her own business and a good man. I wasn’t sure how that was going to work out if she stayed in Forks while I became a crazy cat lady.

000ooo000ooo Fire and Rain ooo000ooo000

The following morning we sat on the floor in the living room sipping coffee and laughing at the empty wine bottles, and bags of chips and cookies that littered the floor. We’d definitely made up for lost time. We talked for hours, crying and laughing, then falling asleep on the air mattresses Carmen had loaned me.

The sound of a car in the driveway surprised me and I went to the window to see who it was. There was a large box truck that I didn’t recognize backed into the drive. However, when the driver stepped out, I knew exactly who it was. I would have recognized that copper colored hair anywhere, but I had no idea why he’d come over. The passenger came around the back of the truck and it still didn’t make any sense.

“Who is it?” Alice called as she scrambled to pick up our mess.

“Edward and Jasper.” My brows creased as Edward raised a hand and waved at me.

“Who?” she asked, as Jasper slid open the back of the truck, and Edward made his way toward the house.

“Garrett’s friends. Edward is the one who came to Italy with Kate, and Jasper is a lawyer.”

Edward politely knocked at the front door, and Alice ran to a bedroom to change clothes while I went to find out what was going on.

“Hi,” he smiled, his hands shoved into the pockets of a pair of ratty jeans. “So, based on the look on your face I’m going to guess Carmen didn’t say anything to you about me coming over?”

“Right,” I laughed, thankful he had a sense of humor.

“My mom’s an interior designer. She has a lot of furniture that she stores for displays and stuff. Carmen said you didn’t really have any furniture so I asked my mom if she could help you out.”

“You brought me furniture?”

“And some of the boxes from Carmen’s.”

“I don’t know…” I’d been planning on splurging on a couple of big pieces and then outfitting the rest in thrift store finds until I’d worked a few months. I didn’t want to spend too much until I knew what I was dealing with. “Is it expensive?”

He snorted. “It’s good stuff. Wait—she doesn’t want money for it. She did ask if you’d let her come over once you got settled to see if there was anything else you needed, which really translates into her moving things around. The cost is having to deal with that.”

I was still hesitant. Why were these people being so helpful?

Jasper came to the door with a box that I recognized as being shipped from Italy. “Morning, Bella. You want me to put this in one of the bedrooms?”

“Um, sure.” I pointed him to the guest room and looked back at Edward. “I feel kind of weird accepting this.”

“Please don’t make me tell her you said no. She’ll just send me back and make me try again.” He gave me an exaggerated pout.

Alice and Jasper came down the hall talking, clearly having introduced themselves already. She caught my eye and grinned.

“B, they brought you some furniture! Isn’t that awesome?” She turned to Edward but didn’t tone down her excitement. “Hi, you must be Edward. I’m Alice.”

He reached out to shake her hand but she squeezed him in a hug.

A couple of hours later we’d unloaded most of the truck, and I’d begun to unpack my kitchen items. Alice and Jasper had run into town for some groceries and sandwiches for lunch. Edward sat at my new table sipping water and eventually I took a break, joining him.

After a few minutes of comfortable silence, Edward started acting nervous, tapping his fingers on the table and jiggling his leg. It was really annoying.

I put a hand on his thigh. “Stop. What’s going on?”

He stopped bouncing his leg and ran his fingers through his hair. His eyes moved to the window for a second before he turned back towards me. “Do you want me to go through any of Garrett’s boxes? You know, so you don’t have to?”

“Maybe? But not today. I’m not going to empty those boxes yet.” I frowned a little, watching his leg start bouncing again. “Are you alright?”

“Yes—no. I just want to help you get settled in.”

That was bullshit. He was still feeling guilty and trying to pay some sort of penance.

“What happened between you and Garrett?”

“What? That’s not-”

“Just stop. What happened?”

He pulled at his hair before quickly rubbing at his eyes with the heels of his hands. Then he looked over at me like he was checking to see how serious I was.

I raised an eyebrow and waited.

Finally, he sighed. “I don’t know where to start.”

“The beginning usually works.”

“Thanks.” He rolled his eyes and took another deep breath, exhaling loudly. “I don’t really know how much you know about Irina and Jared, but what you probably don’t know is that when everything went down I was dating Jared’s step-sister Leah.”

“I didn’t know that, but okay.” I nodded. The possibilities for how his dating Leah could have interfered with his relationship with Garrett were endless. I couldn’t even guess how that had come between the two friends.

“Leah and I ran into each other one night in Port Angeles and hit it off. I didn’t realize Jared was her brother until we’d been dating for a few weeks; they don’t have the same last name so I didn’t even think about it. By the time I figured it out I was pretty into her, and everyone else liked her too, so it just became a non-issue. She knew that we’d had problems with Jared in the past, but that was normal. It was just a Forks, La Push rivalry thing.”

He shrugged, like the animosity between the locals and the tribe was no big deal. From what I’d heard it was a classic West Side Story type of conflict, and those situations never ended well.

“After a while Leah and Irina became friends because we were always double-dating with her and Garrett. The girls started spending time together without us, and we never really thought anything of it.

“You know we all went to college together, right—me, Emmett, Garrett and Jasper? Then Jasper went on to law school and Garrett stayed in Seattle to work on his Ph.D. while Em and I moved back up here. The last year or so, Garrett was living in Seattle four days a week and back at Carm and Zar’s for long weekends.

“I don’t really know when things changed, but at some point Leah started lying for Irina. She’d tell people the two of them were together when Irina was really with Jared. And then one weekend they ran off and got married. I never saw it coming. I let my best friend get blindsided by that bitch. She was cheating on him right under my nose and I never saw it.”

My heart hurt for him. “Edward, you couldn’t have known.”

He slapped his hand on the table, startling me. “Of course I could have. I should have. And when it all came down my first reaction was to defend Leah when everyone was calling her out. I couldn’t imagine that she would do that to him—to me. By the time I got my head on straight Garrett was gone.”

“You’re not to blame. Irina made her choices. So did Leah. Garrett never thought you were responsible. I don’t think I ever heard him talk about you in relation to their break-up. It was Irina that he held responsible. She’s the one who broke his heart, who let him down, not you.”

“I should have known. And I should have been there for him. He was my best friend and I fucked up. I thought when he came back that we could talk about it, that I could make it up to him.”

“You’re not listening, he never thought you did anything wrong. You told me the other day that I knew him better than anyone else, I’m telling you—he understood that you loved Leah and wanted to protect her. That’s just how Garrett was. You know that he would never hold a grudge like that. He told me you were his best friend. I never heard him say a bad word about you.

“Listen, we can argue about this until we’re blue in the face but we’re never going to agree without Garrett here to tell us how he really felt. It seems like you’ve sort of transferred your guilt to me, and you need to know that I forgive you. I don’t hold anything that happened back then against you. You have a clean slate with me. Well, that’s not really true because you’ve been one of the kindest most generous people I’ve ever met, helping get through this nightmare. So, I don’t know, your slate is sparkly or something, but it’s definitely not tarnished. Okay?”

He nodded though I knew he wasn’t convinced. “Where does that leave us?”

I felt the corner of my mouth lift. “I’m pretty sure it leaves me still trying to convince you that none of this was your fault.”

“Right,” Edward laughed, giving me a sad smile as we heard Jasper and Alice’s car in the driveway.

000ooo000ooo Fire and Rain ooo000ooo000

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