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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.

14. Guard of her Secret

Rating 4/5   Word Count 2443   Review this Chapter

I turned around slowly, painfully, worrying about what I might find on the other side of the room.

Both Bella and Edward were on their feet, the latter resting his hand on her shoulder, rubbing tiny circles on the bone there. His eyes were on Bella, concerned, while she gazed at me.

Her face still hid traces of our prior battle, but there was more to it now.

Sadness and regret radiated off her heart-shattering expression.

I bit my lip and cast my eyes down, waiting for her to begin, as usual.

But she didn't.

I don't know just how long I waited. It may have been ten seconds or minutes; my mind was too preoccupied to count the ticks audible from my large watch. Either way, I waited for an agonizingly long while, always sure that Bella would begin the inevitable round of apologies as she usually did. We had both known each other long enough to know that I wouldn't be the one to commence.

When the silence grew awkward, I couldn't help but glance up.

Bella had closed her eyes; her eyebrows pulled together, and she was biting her lip down with much more intensity than I had. She was concentrating very hard on something, while the rest of the Cullens only glanced from her to me, wondering what exactly to do in a situation like this.

Edward had grown slightly hectic, rubbing the circles on her shoulder faster and faster as we waited. All traces of anger were gone from his beautiful features.

That's when I panicked.

Bella wasn't going to apologize, not this time. She had something more in store for me, and all I could do was helplessly wait for her to choose my fate.

That's one of the few things I hated about her. I absolutely despised the level of power she had on me.

But my thoughts were proved wrong, once again, when she still hadn't opened her eyes after a couple of minutes. My mind raked for the right answer, growing ever wilder as it did.

And that's when it hit me.

Bella wasn't beginning this time, because she knew it was no use. She could force me to apologize a hundred times, but I would never truly learn from my mistakes.

Not unless it was I who had to make the painful first step.

I drew a deep breath, not accustomed to handling situations such as these. I was at utter loss of words.

"Well, I… I suppose I wanted to tell you… that I'm sorry. Again."

This time I closed me eyes, and waited for her to continue what I had started. I waited for her to say the words that would recover the day.

But Bella sighed, and then continued with completely different words than I'd imagined. "Amelia. Let's go outside to talk, all right?" She finally opened her eyes, and threw each Cullen a meaningful look. "No listening."

Alice was the first to stand up. She gave both Bella and me a small smile before ascending the stairs to her room. Jasper followed soon after, a tortured expression on his face.

I wondered what that was all about.

Eventually, Emmett stood up and left the room, nodding slightly in Bella's direction as he did so. The room was now vacant, apart from us and the gorgeous man that liked to call himself Bella's fiancé.

She stepped around him and walked towards me, Edward's alert eyes catching every movement as she did. This time, however, he didn't reach out for her as she circled the motionless man next to her.

"Come." Judging by her timid tone, Bella's mind seemed to be back in the present. She made an attempt to smile at my quivering shape, but the result resembled nothing like the warm beam she usually threw at me. Bella looked rather afraid as she led the way to the door, never touching me as I followed.

When we reached the door, however, she turned around to look at her fiancé before moving outside, keeping her right hand on the frame.

"Please don't listen."

I turned around, too, and found Edward grimacing at Bella's words. He stared back into her eyes deeply, clearly trying to communicate something he didn't want me to know.

Bella shook her head. "I mean it. I'll be fine."

Edward closed his eyes and bit his lip down, but nodded in defeat. His tense posture never slackened.

Bella continued staring at him for a few seconds - whether to make sure he wouldn't spy on us or to ensure that he was fine with her choice, I couldn't tell – and then let out a tiny sigh and stepped outside into the gray, rainy afternoon at Forks.

I followed half-reluctantly.

Bella didn't stop as soon as I thought she would. I'd expected her to sit down near the path that led to the back door of the house where the ground was dry and even, but instead she continued to lead me through the field, always further into the woods. We had long passed the first trees of the thick forest when Bella finally slowed down, and turned around to face me.

Even if she was worried about the eager ears of her family, wasn't she being a little paranoid?

But my own thoughts were only a faint echo in my head when I saw Bella lean against a mossy tree in the northern jungle. Her face still held the same expression of desolation.

After she'd looked me deep in the eye for a few seconds, I couldn't take it anymore and turned my head away from her prying stare.

She sighed at the gesture, and from the corner of my eye, I saw her face turn away from me, too. Bella bit her lip down before beginning to speak.

"We can't be friends when there's all these unsolved issues between us."

I closed my eyes, fidgeting nervously with my fingers as I waited for the final goodbye.

"It's impossible. Every time we make up after a fight, another one follows soon after. It's eating both our energy."

I should have known that I'd be too much for her to handle. Nobody could endure my mood swings and twisted personality, not even Bella Swan.

My fingers began to tremble, and I clenched them tightly into fists to prevent Bella from seeing my despair.

"It's time to come clean. Both of us."

"Goodbye, Amelia Betch. It was horrible to know you." I gritted my teeth.

"I can start, if you wish. But I don't know just what you'd like to hear, so you'll have to ask questions." Bella's voice was tiny, barely above a whisper. Her eyebrows furrowed, leaving an intensified worried look on her face.

But all the signs of her discomfort just slipped right passed my eyes; my mind was too busy processing what my ears had just heard.

I opened my eyelids and stared at Bella, letting the disbelief flood my expression. "You… don't want to tell me to leave? This isn't goodbye?"

Bella smiled with thin lips, tense with the obscure worry. "I can't say I'm surprised you thought that. 'Goodbye' seems to be the only thing that enters your mind when you're worried that I'm angry."

"But… I kind of deserve it," I admitted, letting my gaze drop to the ground again. It was pointless – I would never understand the depths of Bella's mind.

"I'll give you that." The humor in Bella's voice was strained. "But I'm not giving up on you. Not yet, anyway."

She grimaced with those last words, and I could swear I saw her eyes water.

I shoved that fact aside for the moment, and concentrated on the words that had thrown me out of balance. "So… you want us to… talk?"

Bella blinked twice – perhaps to hide the tears that had nearly flowed over – and nodded. "And since you don't like to tell the truth, I'll go first."

I assessed the sudden turn of the situation.

So Bella wanted us to talk, to be completely honest with each other for the first time in our rather short friendship. For the first time, she was willing to confess the secret that had bugged me from the very beginning.

Of course, the curiosity flared up in me the instant I thought of what she might say. All the possibilities that had clogged my mind up until that moment could now find proof, and perhaps confirmation. The thought of hearing her secret caused my heart to speed up, and a dose of adrenaline to spread through my veins, an excitement that both pleased and confused me.

But what was the price? If Bella was going to let me into her mind, she would expect the same in return.

I would have to talk about my secret, too.

Was hearing her truth really worth digging up those painful memories?

I drew a deep breath. The answer was obvious.

"Fine. But you have to tell the whole truth."

Bella only bit her lip down harder, and seemed to ignore my request. Her head turned to look at the sky. "Your questions?"

"Why do you tolerate me?"

My choice for the first question seemed to startle her, but soon a light smile played on her lips, lightening her expression up immediately. "Because I'm insane. You won't find anyone who'd contradict that."

I chuckled along with her, thanking some invisible force for loosening up the stern mood. I wasn't completely satisfied with her answer, but figured it was the best I would get.

After all, I already knew how bizarre Bella's logic was.

Once we'd quieted, I took advantage of the now slightly less tense atmosphere, and shot the next question. "What's the secret you try so hard to keep?"

My sudden change to the most sinister topic made Bella's smile fade fast. She bit her lip down again, scanning the trees in the background.

I waited for her answer. It never came.

Patience had never been a strength of mine. "You promised."

My words made Bella squeeze her eyes tightly shut, but this time she opened her lips to respond to my burning question.

Her reply didn't gratify me the slightest. "Look, I said I'd be honest. And to be completely, utterly truthful, I have to say I can't answer that question. I'm sorry, but I really can't." She opened her eyes to evaluate the look on my face. I was pretty sure she didn't like what she saw there, because she continued hastily before I could protest. "It's not my secret. I can't tell you what you want to know when I'm not supposed to know, either."

Ignoring her expression that was pleading me to move to another topic, I pressed for more. "What do you mean? Why aren't you supposed to know? Do they know you know?"

"They?" Bella shot back, startled at my knowledge.

"Well… you're talking about the Cullens, right? The whole secretive thing revolves around them."

Bella drew in a sharp breath and went pale; white to the point that I was afraid she'd turned into a ghost. She shook her head slightly, trying to recover from whatever shock I'd given her.

"So that's why…"

I puckered my eyebrows, letting Bella know that I wanted an explanation. She glanced up at me, and continued in a tiny, scared voice, "That's why Edward has been so strange about the whole thing. He knew you suspected… And I've been an idiot not to have understood…"

My eyes widened, a wave of terror washing through me. "They know I suspect something?"

I wasn't quite sure why the news had affected me so heftily. But something about the Cullens made my blood curl and my every hair stand on end.

I couldn't be sure, of course, but being on their bad side had to be very unhealthy.

My petrified expression alarmed Bella. "They won't hurt you!"

I was surprised to see that she'd picked up the reason of my fear so quickly.

It's called experience. I bet she's had to say that before.

As I waited for my heartbeat to slow, Bella began talking again. "I'm sorry, Amelia, but I still can't tell you anything. It's all quite complicated –"

"– And I have the time," I cut in, angered again by her reserved manner.

"Yes, but that isn't really relevant here. As I was going to say, the whole issue is complicated and it's not my call to decide whether to tell you or not. I'd love to tell you, but… but…"

I sneered, amused by the agonized expression on her face. "But what? It would be too much for me to stomach?"

I had meant it as a joke, but Bella glanced up, letting me know how I'd unintentionally hit the core of her concern.

Too much for Amelia Betch to handle. Now THAT is one hell of a secret.

I considered that for a minute.

Bella seemed serious enough. Nothing in her manner made me believe she was playing a joke and mocking me. The fear in her eyes was real.

"I'm sorry. Please let it drop." Her voice was desperate.

I closed my eyes and sighed.

"Does college have something to do with this… secret?"

"Yes." It was only a whisper.

I could feel that I'd reached her limits. Bella would reveal nothing more.

I let out another sigh. "Fine. My turn, then."

Bella opened her eyes in a flash. "What? Just like that? Usually you're much more persistent."

I tried to smile, but failed. My disappointment was pulling down the edges of my lips too strongly. "And you're always this guarded."

Bella grinned, almost reaching out to embrace me. I pulled away before she got too near, not being in the mood to break my habits.

She understood, and drew back.

"So, your turn, then," she nearly smiled as she repeated my previous words.

"Yeah. My turn." I took a deep breath, focusing only on my heartbeat.

This was going to hurt.