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Waste-of-time friendships

Bella seems to attract every queer person within a ten mile radius. Vampires, werewolves... She's seen it all. But what she's missing is a human friend. And of course, Bella wouldn't be Bella unless that person was strange and possibly dangerous, too. Mythical creature expertise doesn't always help with humans.

There are a few things to say about this story : Amelia often thinks about drugs, drinking, suicide, etc. Although the actual act is never shown in my story, I suggest you don't read on if those topics make you uneasy. It's nothing major, though. I would like to thank my beta, bloodredskies for editing my work. She went through each chapter for me, and has been a great help. And lastly, I'd like to remind everyone to review. It's honestly the best gift you can give to any author, and how else could I improve if I don't know what you're thinking? Just spare me a minute once you're done.

13. Another Storm

Rating 5/5   Word Count 3614   Review this Chapter

"Are you leaving somewhere?"

I grunted, and continued devouring my breakfast. An extra-strong coffee was needed to snap me out of my dreamy state after the sleepless night; my worries for the upcoming visit had deprived me of all rest.

"Now wait a second, young lady! I believe you're still under house arrest."

This time I groaned and rolled my eyes at his exclamation. My punishment had been extended after an oh-so-cheerful message from the principle had come in – due to my reckless driving, Mr. Greene had suspended me for the rest of the school year. Of course I hadn't minded much, not now that I had other issues to think about, but my father didn't seem to agree. "So what if I'm under house arrest? I want to see Bella. It hasn't bothered you before."

"Well, now it does." Hah. Lovely excuse.

I ignored his amusing expression of disbelief, and continued eating. "You'll have to drop me at the Cullens' by ten." I frowned at the thought of my unused rental car parked outside, rusting away with each new rainfall.

The airport wouldn't want it back, now. Not that they'd ever find me, thanks to the fake ID I'd stuck under their noses. Some people were just too easy to fool.

"No, no, Amelia. Now you'll listen to me. House arrest is a punishment. I've been going too easy on you, and now you seem to think that you have no limitations at all. But from this day on, you will take this seriously, you hear me?"

Unimpressed by his threats, I answered coolly, "What? Suddenly?"

"Uh… yeah." The argument had barely begun, and Jack was already surrendering. He honestly needed some parenting classes.

"Look, I'd drive there myself, but since I don't have my license…," I hinted, trying to use a gentle voice with Jack for just this once.

It didn't work. "No, forget it. That subject is not up for discussion."

Stupid police officers and their morals.

"Well, then. That's just too bad. You'll have to play the chauffeur for another month."

Jack looked like he was about to protest, when the loud buzz of the doorbell distracted him from me. He walked – or rather marched – to greet the unexpected visitor.

I could almost feel his mood shifting when he opened the door. His loud voice boomed through the living room into the kitchen. "Charlie! Bella! Come on in!"

My head snapped up at the sound of Bella's name. I quickly dropped the remainder of my bread on the plate, and scuttled over to see her.

Honey, you're acting ridiculous. She's just another teenager.

Bella's smile was untroubled as she saw me approach. "Hey, Amelia! Are you ready?"

Her words confused me. "For what?"

Bella laughed at my bewildered expression. "To visit the Cullens, remember? We'll go together. It would be unfair to make Jack bring you, again."

"Oh." I cheered up slightly at the thought of going with Bella. Jack was such a bore while driving.

Suddenly, a hand appeared on my shoulder, making me jump a few inches from the ground. "Hello, Amelia. How are you doing?"

I shoved Charlie's hand off and hissed, "I'm not doing drugs, I'm not driving recklessly, and I haven't had a drop of alcohol since our last meeting. Probably has something to do with the fact that I've been locked up at my own home for the last few weeks. Couldn't I raise charges? Or at least file a complaint?"

Charlie took a panicky step back. "Wow, Amelia, I'm sorry for asking…"

"Yeah, sure you are. It's better to stay ignorant about the darker side of life. You never know what reality you might wake up into if you ask me too many questions."

My sudden outburst quieted the room for a minute. While the men both shared baffled glances, I crossed my arms over my chest, and concentrated on calming my breathing.

I had never liked Charlie. He was an idiot to think that I'd be as open with him as I was with his daughter.

Funny how all the world seemed to believe that, now.

Bella regained her senses first. Shaking her head slightly, and then plastering a timid smile across her face, she mainly looked at my shoulder as she spoke. "Uh, well then. Let's leave the men alone."

When I didn't answer after a few seconds, Bella seemed to understand that I needed more time to even my temper, and exited the suddenly stuffed entrance room of the house. She left the door open by a crack.

I closed my eyes, and took yet another deep breath. I had to calm down before I could talk to Bella. I simply couldn't let my bad mood out on her – I had already seen the consequences of that mistake.

As I tried to ignore the voices screaming in my head, I couldn't help but hear Charlie regain his composure, as well. "I'm sorry if I offended you, Amelia."

I almost snapped at him. Almost.

But instead, I thought about the upcoming visit, and turned my back on him.

I was about to grab my jacket and follow Bella out through the door, when I heard Jack shout, "Hey, come back, young lady! You're under house arrest!"

My hesitation took no longer than a second; as soon as his words were out, I simply sniggered, took my long rain jacket off its hook at the entrance, and ran out of the house.

Bella was waiting for me behind the door, her eyebrows slightly furrowed. "You're still under house arrest? I didn't know that. I'm sorry; maybe we should postpone the visit until you're free again."

I rolled my eyes. "Seriously, do you think I'll ever be getting out of house arrest? Jack will keep punishing me until I move out. We can't delay the visit by that far – after all, you're leaving for college, right?"

We both abruptly fell silent at the last words. The images of the last fight flashed through my mind, reminding me of the mistake that had almost ruined my very first friendship.

Or not my very first, actually. I'd had another one once, years ago…

I inhaled sharply, pulling both me and Bella out of our thoughts. "Let's get going before Jack dashes outside and tries to chain me to the front door or something."

Bella looked concerned, but walked me to her truck, anyway.

The ride to the Cullens' was silent.

Once again, I felt the familiar, awkward feeling as I waited for her to start a conversation. That was her job in our rather strange friendship – if she wanted to do more than just sit around in the stillness, she had to be the one to begin with whatever topic crossed her mind.

Usually, I didn't have to wait long for her to talk. But this time, nothing was said at all.

Bella looked at the road the entire time, never swaying from the street we were driving on, but never fully averting her attention from her own thoughts either. Her face looked untroubled – was I the only one who felt the discomfort?

But her eyes were far away, not at all at the present moment.

Still, I waited for her to talk. And I waited in vain.

When we pulled over at the almost hidden driveway leading to the Cullen mansion, Bella finally broke the unbearable tension in the air. "So, we're nearly there. Are you ready?"

I didn't answer, but looked out of the window in response.

I was scared out of my mind. And of course, Bella saw it immediately.

But to my great surprise, she smiled at my uneasiness. "They're not mad, you know. Actually, most of them find the whole issue rather amusing. So don't worry."

"Yeah, right. I was about to shoot their son and brother. They have no reason at all to hate me. But you know what? I couldn't care less. I'm here in your favor. What they think doesn't matter."

I was practically lying through my teeth – in truth, I was petrified. The Cullens were the most intimidating people I knew, and I had a feeling they were excellent grudge holders. I was pretty sure that if they wanted somebody to suffer, they had their means to accomplish that.

Naturally, Bella saw through my pretenses, but like so many times before, didn't comment.

I got out of the car after her, feeling unusually feeble.

This is what friends do, darling. They make you WEAK.

But was being weak any worse than being alone?

She's leaving you, soon. Then you'll be alone AND weak. Do the math.

I couldn't think of an argument to throw back at myself.

But my thoughts were interrupted by the fear that was now blazing in my chest, consuming all my energy with its fiery flames. For the second time that day, I had to concentrate on my breathing, this time rather from dread than from anger.

If I had hated Edward Cullen before, I didn't know how to describe this new feeling. Loathing went pretty close.

I loathed him for making me feel afraid, for being the cause of all my trouble, and most of all for stealing my friend away from me – something I knew was happening, whether Bella was willing to talk about it or not. Edward was the most despicable character I had met in my entire existence, and I knew exactly what the main reason for that was.

I had let Bella too close, and with her, I had allowed Edward to enter my heart.

If only there was a way to fight them both out!

But now was not the time for scorn. If I didn't watch out, I might repeat the unforgivable misstep that had almost cost me my life.

So I let my thoughts fade out and pulled my fingers into fists as Bella opened the door without bothering to ring the doorbell.

"Hello. We're here." Bella hardly raised her voice, and I wondered if anyone could hear us at all. The house seemed vacant, as silent as it had during each of my other visits. I still couldn't quite understand how the Cullens managed to maintain such a level of quiet in their home – did they move around on tiptoe?

But even that would make some kind of noise. The Cullen household was soundless.

Even my own footsteps seemed to echo around the mansion, try as hard as I might to control my feet.

The silence had bothered me every time. And as usual, Bella wasn't troubled at all. She let the clattering of her feet ring through the rooms, not wondering about the hush that surrounded the home of her fiancé.

"Welcome back, Bella." I jumped at the sudden noise, twirling around to look at the staircase.

Edward Cullen stood there, walking down the steps in clear urgency. He didn't even glance at me as he strode past, only halting in front of Bella and then taking her into his arms. "You took long enough."

"We can't all drive irresponsibly. I actually like to abide the traffic rules, you know." The way she said this made me wonder if there was some joke I was missing, for the hundredth time since meeting Bella. Even Edward smiled at her words.

"Well, I'm glad you did. I'd hate to hear that you'd had an accident."

After giving Bella one last kiss on the forehead, the source of my trouble – along with anger, irritation and awe – turned to look at me. His face was carefully composed; a hard mask that betrayed none of his true emotions.

That was another part of him I despised so greatly. There was always a mask over his true colors.

He was a good actor, I must admit.

"Hello, Amelia. I'm glad you came." His tone was cloaked in his politeness, but I thought I sensed the trace of some actual emotion – displeasure, perhaps?

I knew he was still angry about my little stunt. And I knew he knew that I hadn't forgiven him for his flaws, either.

Flaws. Now that was a word I would never have thought to associate with the Cullens. But now, I saw the truth in that word – I had always described the Cullens as perfect, flawless, but in truth, they were far from that.

They only hid their faults and dark secrets. Their perfection was only another mask.

I was about to answer Edward in a tone of mocked civility, when I got a glimpse of Bella's expression.

Her features were twisted into worry, and she was gazing at me in alarm. Of course she could see the hostility still present in my posture, and was waiting for me to ruin the new opportunity.

To ruin everything, like I usually did.

So Bella still hadn't gotten rid of that prejudice? A new determination swelled up in me.

This time, I would do it right.

"Hello," I answered, not entirely courteously as I perhaps should have, but definitely unusually politely for me. Bella's relieved sigh wasn't concealed.

Edward nodded once, and then swiftly turned to look at the staircase. I let my eyes follow his.

And on the top of the flight of steps, three figures were staring down at us.

I recognized Alice, Jasper, and Emmett immediately.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Bella's smile spread wide. "Have you been spying on us?"

"Nah, not that much." Alice bounced down the stairs – faster than I would ever have thought possible – and only stopped to give Bella a hug and a light kiss on the cheek. "You haven't done anything interesting yet. Honestly, could you try to add action into this visit? A short hello isn't doing the job."

Alice spoke the last part to Edward, who glared back at her with vigor. Ever so slightly, I noticed him shake his head.

"So, welcome back to the Cullens, Amelia." Emmett and Jasper had appeared at the foot of the stairs, the latter hanging back while Emmett approached me viciously.

Viciously was a bit of an understatement. Emmett flexed his impressive muscles as he stepped forward, an unreadable expression on his face. His brawny figure made my breath hitch in my throat.

So this was it. The final hour had arrived. Bella had been lying when she'd said they weren't angry – perhaps even intentionally. Maybe she was part of the plot to lure me into the house, so they could all murder me in peace.

That's the second time you think of murder while around Bella! Please, do you really think the Cullens are THAT dangerous? Why is your heart thudding at an alarmingly fast pace?

The natural reflex would have been to turn around and run. But of course, my mind was incapable of sensible reaction.

I only began to stutter. "H-hello."

Emmett, along with everyone else in the room, noticed my fear.

I didn't know quite what I'd been expecting Emmett to do. I recalled something about murdering me, but I wasn't quite sure if that was what he truly intended. But certainly, some screaming on my part had to be part of his retribution.

But what I didn't guess was that he would suddenly burst into a roar of laughter.

"So you tried to shoot my little brother? And even pulled down the trigger?" It was difficult to understand what he was saying between the hoots. I took a step back, bewildered that anyone should react this way to the fact that someone had tried to kill their brother. I glanced at Bella, unsure of how to respond.

Unlike everyone else in the room, she wasn't trying to hold back her laughter. Her mouth was pulled down in an unmistakable grimace.

She caught my eye when I look over at her, and tried to rearrange her features, to no avail. Beside her, Edward smiled slightly at his family's hilarity, but didn't look even faintly amused. "Hilarious, Emmett. Is this how much I mean to you?"

"But… she… tried… to… kill… you!" Emmett clutched his stomach.

"We don't get to experience that every day," Alice added, barely holding back her own amusement. "Well done, Amelia. Not everyone has the guts to do that. My dear brother here sure needed the lesson."

Not only was I thoroughly confused, but shocked by the calm manner by which they embraced the fact that I had nearly caused the death of their little brother. Any normal family would have called the cops long ago.

But what had I thought before? The Cullens were madmen. And the current circumstances sure strengthened that suspicion.

"Actually, I didn't think it was very funny at all, Alice," Bella said, walking over to the white couch in the living room. Sinking onto the sofa, she gestured me to join her. "Edward could have been hurt."

Her words should have spread a wave of sincerity through the room, but instead they caused an even loader burst of hilarity. Alice giggled as she slouched onto the couch beside Bella, and Edward rolled his eyes to himself, also joining her side.

I slowly stepped over to the group, noticing the wide distance Jasper kept between us as he, too, joined the family on the couch.

The atmosphere gradually calmed down as I felt a strange wave of peace flood through me. I may have jumped to some bizarre conclusions, but the whole family seemed to be experiencing the same calming feeling simultaneously as we sat on the couch in silence.

"You're a strange person, Amelia," Alice suddenly remarked, looking at me as she spoke. "But please, please, please – you can do whatever you want to Edward, but just be a little more careful while Bella's around."

"I agree. I forgive you for your behavior, but I'd very much appreciate it if you could keep away from guns or any other dangerous weapons around Bella. That's mostly what I'm worried about," Edward spoke to me, abruptly completely sincere as he gazed into my eyes with his dark golden ones. Beside him, Bella rolled her eyes.

I let out an exasperated sigh. "It's not Bella I have a problem with. You know that."

I was proud of myself. I hadn't thought I'd have the nerve to pick a fight with him in front of his whole menacing family.

"I know that better than you think."

"I highly doubt that."

"You do just that." While my tone had slipped into cold resentment, his remained frustratingly tranquil.

This, of course, only aggravated me more. "What's your problem anyway? Do you honestly think you're so much smarter than the rest of us? You don't know everything."

"Not everything, but certainly much more than you could ever even dream of. Now please, Amelia, let's not fight."

"You don't know what I'm thinking." Though all the alarm bells in my head were ringing, I had no desire to leave this battle unfinished.

Edward's expression shifted barely noticeably. "Don't I?"

His sudden amusement made me jump to my feet. "You don't know anything! All you ever do is act! You play the same role every day, from hour to hour, and never let anyone see who you really are. Bella deserves so much better!"

I waited for Edward to answer, but instead he closed his eyes, an expression of utter sadness melting his hard features. He didn't battle any longer.

No, Edward didn't argue further, but that didn't stop Bella from cutting in. She, too, jumped to her feet while speaking. "Amelia! How could you say that?"

"It's true." My tone was still hard, and my expression fierce. "How do you do it? I don't understand how you can waste day after day with these frauds."

I was faintly aware of the rest of the Cullens staring at me in disbelief.

Bella eyes went to slits. "There it is again! Your attitude. You always start being rude when you're in front of many people. Like with Charlie, earlier today. You're suddenly a completely different person! It's your insecurity shining through. It's easier to be unfriendly and cold than nice when you're nervous."

"How dare you judge me like that? You don't know me!"

"No, I don't! Because you won't let me!"

I stormed away from her.

But before I could reach the door, her suddenly gentle voice made me stop. "You don't have to leave. We can talk this through, too, you know. It would spare us a lot of trouble."

I didn't move, my breath catching in my throat.

"You can either run away from your problems now and regret it in five minutes, or you can stay here and talk about it. It's your choice."

She was right – it was my choice.

And I came to my decision immediately.