The rest of the year at school is pretty tame, thank God. Mike settles for glaring at me across a distance, and Jessica doesn’t want anything to do with me. Whatever secret Edward still has about her, it must be a good one. She won’t even let me apologize for what he did to her.
“Get away from me! Don’t talk to me. Don’t even look at me. Please.”
Jessica loses Bree as a friend and her popularity drops to zilch. Lauren and her tight sweaters change schools. Mike continues on as if nothing happened. For a week after Edward’s post on Facebook, Mike shows up at school in tight jeans to show what a liar Jessica is. I have no idea if he packed a little something extra down there, but it doesn’t look like he has a tiny dick. Not that I noticed, other than just the one and only time.
When I tell Edward about his post’s repercussions, he’s non-committal. But he does say that maybe Dad should have kept Mike locked up longer.
For my part, I resolve to keep my feelings of hurt and anger towards others under better wraps around him. Not that it’s necessary. After the Facebook thing, school settles into its regularly scheduled hours of boredom, and I’m more than okay with that.
My last art class of the year with Mr. Meyer is bittersweet. Unbeknownst to him, I asked Jasper to draw Mr. Meyer. Jasper shows only his back in the drawing, but there’s no mistaking the slim body and dark hair of our teacher standing at his easel drawing Mickey Mouse. It looks so cool. And then we all sign our names around the sketch and present it to him.
Mr. Meyer has to take off his glasses to wipe at his eyes. And then we’re all laughing and I’m pretending I’m not crying, too, because I’m going to miss him.
. . .
This summer, I get to learn how to drive. Dad tells Edward he’ll help with car payments if Edward shares the car with me.
“That’s not fair,” Edward says. “You didn’t make any car payments for me.”
“I pay for your insurance. Your food. The gas, the electric, the cable. And you live here for free.”
“So does Bella,” he says.
Dad puts his hands on his hips. “You get freedoms she doesn’t because you’re older and a boy. Do you want me to change that so you’re both the same?”
“Yes,” I say at the same time Edward says no.
When they look at me, I glower at them. “When I’m sixteen-and-a-half, I want to take some boy to dinner and movie in that car!”
Edward grins. “I’m a boy.”
“Me, too,” Dad says.
They think they’re funny.
It turns out driving isn’t so easy, though. I have a bad habit of hugging the curb, and almost get us T-boned when I turn left in front of an oncoming car.
“The light was green!” I insist.
“You can only turn in front of other cars when there’s a green arrow,” Dad says at my tears of frustration and anger. All I know is that the light was green. Trickery!
“It’s okay,” he says to calm us both down. “We’re still alive. We weren’t hit. We're still alive.”
“I’m gonna fail my test,” I say and put my head on the steering wheel.
His hand comes to rest on my shoulder. “No you won’t. You can parallel park like no one’s business.”
I have to laugh because that’s where most of my time has been spent—trying to learn how to park. I was horrible at it, so he made me do it again and again. I can’t drive straight in a through-lane, but I can probably out-park the average driver.
“I want a Smart car,” I tell him.
“Dream on,” he answers. “If I ever find you in one of those cars, I’ll tan your hide.”
“But, Dad,” I wail. “Small cars do better in a collision than an SUV. I saw a YouTube video about it.”
“You’re getting a truck,” he tells me. “A big one.”
. . .
Edward isn’t thrilled about sharing the car with me, but he keeps his grumbling mostly silent.
“This place is somewhere you can go really fast riding inside of it,” he says. “What am I?”
I give him a look. “Duh.”
“So we’re going to the store,” he says.
I tell him what we’re supposed to get. “Milk, bread, bologna, cookies.”
“And Coke. So do you know where we’re going?”
“Are you being retarded?”
“You’re at the wheel, Bella. There’s a big difference from being the driver than being the passenger.”
I roll my eyes and start the car.
“Did you check your side mirror?”
“I like this. Yes, Edward.”
“I’m going now.”
“Okay. Let’s go.”
I’m nervous about backing out of the driveway, so we go at a snail’s pace.
“I want to get back in time for dinner,” he tells me.
“Shut up. You’re supposed to be supportive.”
“I’m supportive of making it back home for dinner.”
“Since I’m cooking it, you’re just going to have to suffer with me.”
“Suffer is right.”
I brake hard and our heads hit the head rests.
He laughs. “Sorry. Can’t help it. I’ll shut up now.”
“That would be good.”
I don’t park straight in the parking lot space, but it’s good enough for Edward, so we continue our journey into Ralph’s. I grab a push cart, and Edward makes a sound of disapproval.
“We’re only getting a few things,” he tells me and grabs a hand cart.
“I thought you said I was in charge here.”
“In the car, you are,” he answers and heads for the deli section.
I sigh and follow him, wishing I’d asked him to stay in the dang car.
At the check-out is a young girl with twin gold braids. She can barely pay attention to what she’s doing because her big blue eyes are trained on Edward. He smiles at her, then turns to grin all evil-like at me.
As the bologna rolls up to the register, I plunk a couple of Hershey’s candy bars on the belt.
“You know just what I like, woman,” Edward says and slaps my butt. I stumble and yelp and the girl giggles. My face goes instantly hot.
“He’s always got his hands on my butt,” I tell her and her smile fades.
Then I giggle.
“You killed her crush,” he tells me on the way out.
“You killed my butt,” I say. “It still stings a bit.”
He looks goofy with that big grin on his face. “Want me to rub it all better?”
I feel evil, too. “Please.” And I stop and turn my back to him because I’m calling his bluff.
When he hesitates, I look over my shoulder at him. He’s got the bags in one of his hands and the other is just sort of hanging there.
“I can’t. Not here.”
I burst out laughing. “You mean if we weren’t here, you’d actually rub my butt?”
He shrugs and gives me one of his killer grins. “Maybe.”
And my face goes red hot again.
. . .
“You’ve got the cutest little figure,” Alice tells me. It’s late afternoon on a Sunday, and so she, Rose and I are catching a few rays.
“I do?” And I look down at my somewhat-tan body in the dark blue bikini with the white lace trim. It’s the prettiest one I’ve ever owned, certainly the most daring one.
“You do,” she says. “Your hips curve just so, and your boobs are the perfect size for your body. High and perky. I’m jealous.”
Rose wiggles her eyebrows. “Is there something we should know, Alice?”
Alice has the body of a runner, all toned and … she’s still really flat. But she looks good in the red baby doll tankini she’s wearing. I think it’s flirty. If Jasper was here, he’d probably fall to his knees. Jasper has a crush on Alice. I’m not sure when it developed, but it’s a serious case of puppy love. Alice is not thrilled.
“Now don’t get jealous, I’m in love with your boobs, too,” Alice tells Rose, who’s wearing a daring, shiny dark silver string bikini.
“These are for Emmett,” Rose says and fondles them. My mouth pops open and Rose laughs at me.
“You and Emmett? When did this happen?”
Rose lays back on her chair. Alice and I sit on mine sideways and face Rose.
“It hasn’t happened yet,” she says with a sigh. “But when he sees me in this, I predict great things are going to happen.”
She’s probably right. She looks like a bikini model with her long blond hair and tanned skin. Rose is probably the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen. How could Emmett resist?
“Emily has some competition,” Alice drawls and I gasp.
“You didn’t!” Rose points her finger at her. “Emmett wins hands-down, and you know it.”
“Yeah, but I’ve seen the way you look at Emily sometimes, girlfriend. She’s gonna get you yet.”
“She is not. I’m not interested in girls.”
“It’s okay to be bi. You’re young. You’ve got time to figure it out,” Alice tells her like Alice is some kind of expert, so we crack up.
Emily’s had a crush on Rose forever. I’m not sure what Alice means by Rose looking back at Emily, but whatever. She’s with Sam now, so why would she look at Rose?
We’re in the middle of a discussion about Seth and how he’s steadily dating some Korean girl when the boys show up. They’re unexpected. I thought that Emmett was at work, and Edward was home sleeping.
They’re all eyes as they take us in. Granted, we haven’t spent much time together at the pool this summer, but geeze. We haven’t changed that much.
Or, wait. Maybe the boys are looking at Rose. That would make sense.
“Movie night!” Emmett yells. “Let’s go see American Sniper.”
“I heard it’s a tear-jerker,” Alice says.
“So? Bring Kleenex.”
“It’s rated R. We’d have to bring my dad,” I told him with a laugh.
“Damn. So let’s stay here and watch an R rated movie instead.”
Rose stands and walks over to Emmett. “Why don’t you go put your swimsuit on and join us? Let’s play … chicken.”
Emmett seems bemused. “Okay.” He pulls his t-shirt over his head, then drops his hands to the button on his shorts.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Edward says. “What is this, a strip tease?”
“You next, Eddie,” Alice says and claps her hands.
Jasper, who still has yet to grow like his friends, looks ashamed and bashful.
“No strip teasing, please,” I say and hop into the water.
Later, we’re assembling into teams of two.
“Me and Alice against Edward and Bella,” Emmett says.
“No,” Edward says. “Jasper and Alice against me and Bella. The winners will face off against you and Rose.”
I would feel weird about climbing on Edward’s back. For some reason, I don’t want my boobs to touch his back. But he solves the problem by telling me to hook my legs over his shoulders, and then dips down under the water.
Now my crotch is against his upper back. That’s not much better, but at least we’re in water with friends and there’s stuff going on.
“Two minutes, you guys,” Emmett says. “First one to fall loses. Ready, set, go!”
Jasper is shorter than Edward, but Alice is taller than me. Plus, I think she’s stronger. No, as her fingers squeeze and bend mine, I know she’s stronger than me. But the fight is lost for them when Jasper loses his balance because Alice is too far forward.
I try to slip off of Edward’s shoulders, but he won’t let me go.
“Just stay up there,” he says.
“Won’t you get tired?” I ask.
“I’m good,” he says and drops under the water to my neck. He walks slowly across the pool bottom and bounces me against his back. Little tingles shoot through my body.
I squirm off of him and swim for the side of the pool. I pretend I have a leg cramp.
“Oh, come on, Bella,” Rose grumbles.
“You’d beat me anyway,” I tell her.
Edward just looks at me.
Later we’re ready to watch Annabelle and eat pizza. I make sure I sit beside Rose, but have to move when she wants Emmett to sit there. Jasper shakes his head slightly at me when I approach Alice and the love seat, and I sigh in defeat. So I’m sitting beside Edward in the other love seat when the movie begins.
He nudges me and gives me a questioning look. “Why do I get the feeling you’re avoiding me?” he asks lowly.
I sit my glass of Coke down on the floor between my feet. “I see you all the time at home. I wanted to sit with one of the girls.”
He laughs. “But Rose wants to sit with Emmett, and Jasper wants to sit with Alice. Poor Bella, stuck with me instead.”
“Oh, shut up and pass me a slice of pizza.”
Out of the corner of my eye, I see him watching me as a string of cheese hangs between me and the pizza. I have to pinch it off with my fingers and drop it into my mouth.
And he’s still looking.
And the movie’s starting.
I turn and give him a look, and his gaze swings to the TV.
The worst thing about a scary movie is how the people in it always seem to do the exact opposite thing someone who’d be concerned about actually surviving would do. The second worst thing is the sudden bam of music, which jolts my body into hyper drive. Before I know it, I’ve got my arms wrapped tightly around one of Edward’s.
He’s stiff at first, but relaxes when he realizes I’m not going to let go.
“Your boob is against my arm,” he whispers.
I release him instantly. He laughs and pulls me back.
“Don’t. I liked it.”
I don’t hear one word from the rest of the movie.
When it’s time to go home, I’m afraid to be alone with Edward in the car, so I say I’m going to spend the night with Alice.
“No, you’re not,” Edward tells me. “Let’s go.” And he hooks my arm and drags me up the stairs.
“Dad would let me stay,” I say and try to drag my feet. “All I have to do is call him.”
“It’s almost eleven. He’s in bed. You should have asked earlier.”
“You’re not the boss of me,” I say at the car.
He shoves me gently into the passenger seat. “Yes, I am.”
And when he’s at the wheel: “No, you’re not.”
He grabs my wrist and pulls me to him. “Yes, I am,” he whispers against my cheek.
. . .
Edwards riddle answer question for Bella, just in case you didn’t get it: a car.