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The Ripple Effect

Summary:
What if Bella’s parents never divorced & she was a normal girl. Best friends with Jacob Black for all her life & suddenly the Cullen’s moved to Forks. Everything is Alternate Universe, Romance, drama and friendships galore.


Notes:


6. Chapter 6: Puppy Torture

Rating 4.5/5   Word Count 5260   Review this Chapter

Chapter 6: Puppy Torture

Weekends are supposed to be a time for rest and relaxation, for a teenager they are a two-day reprieve from school to enjoy movies, the mall and a part-time job. Of course, for me nothing was normal, not anymore. How many seventeen year olds stay up until three am researching vampires? I was beyond obsessed; chasing Alice and Edward in my dreams. It was always the same one for the last few nights; it would start nicely, me in Edward’s arms and then he would run from me. As if being with me was wrong, forbidden, I would call for Alice but she would run too.

The idea of having my own truck couldn’t stop the dread, as I closed the door to my house on Monday morning. My heart beat erratically, as I sat in my new car waiting for it to warm up. I had called Angela last night, telling her I would pick her up this morning. We had worked out a schedule to take turns every other school day unless I had to work. It felt freeing as I waited for the engine to purr to a dull roar, before backing out of my drive and heading towards Angela's.

Alice hadn't returned any of my phone calls, and I was worried. After a weekend worth of research I was more confused than ever. Not even answering phones at the station could keep my mind off Edward. The Cullens, vampires. I shook my head, this was like one of my stories, but this was real. Edward did save me. He was super fast and lifted me as if I weighed nothing at all, stopping the mechanical bleachers with one hand. I had gone through the facts, they never ate, on sunny days, they missed school, their pale white skin was cold and hard to touch.

I shuddered, pulling to a stop in front of Angela's house. Playing with the radio, I tried to forget what happened on Friday. But I couldn't shake the dread of not talking with Alice, the amazement at the ease that our friendship had grown into. I didn't care what they were, I had decided this after another one of my bizarre dreams last night. I awoke to find my window open; when I was sure, it was closed before I fell asleep. My mind played tricks on me; I had called for Alice and Edward. I laughed at myself, but couldn't fall back asleep.

"This is great Bella."

I smirked, as Angela hoisted herself into my passenger seat, she wore a pair of cat ears on her head. I laughed roaring the engine as I slipped into first gear.

"It's something at least. Nice cat ears." My friend blushed as she checked her little costume before grinning.

“Thanks, took me all weekend to make them.” She was sarcastic and it eased the tension in the car. Leave it to a nice dry wit to make me feel at ease.

She smiled as I turned the radio on, Monster mash played and I groaned, ‘twenty-four more hours Bella.’

"Fifty years old and it still works."

We laughed, and I was glad for the distraction from Angela, for a while.

As usual, silly string and candy lay strewn all over the student parking lot. Some boys were messing with a ghost shaped piñata and I shook my head.

“Every year Ang, it’s the same thing.” I was scared of falling back into the mundane life that I had thought was past me.

“Yeah well, look one day you’ll leave Forks and go to New York City or something and be this great writer and all this,” she pointed to a few people wearing creepy masks, “will be a distant memory. Heck Bells, you might actually miss Forks.”

I smiled turning to my good friend; “I’ll miss you,” I sighed scanning the parking lot.

No silver Volvo, figures the Cullens would avoid Halloween. I gritted my teeth swinging my arm around Angela’s shoulders. I would rely on her optimism to get me through the day.

“Did you see Billy Travers’ car,” Mike jogged up to us, silly string all in his blonde locks. Mike of course loved all holidays, and Halloween was another excuse for his over exuberant personality to shine through.

“No why?” I turned mildly interested in what was wrong with the Senior’s vehicle. The Travers’ family was the third richest family in Forks, next to Lauren and now the Cullens.

The car was covered in multicolored silly string and a few boys were laughing.

“I wouldn’t leave that on there if I were you,” I commented as Mike frowned.

“I didn’t do it, why?”

I laughed shaking my head glancing at Angela before replying, she looked just as clueless.

“Because there’s a chemical in silly string that will strip the paint on his car. And I’d hate to be the one who did that to the Varsity Linebacker.”

Mike’s face dropped as he excused himself running over to a group of guys exchanging high fives. I laughed shaking my head.

“Is that true,” Angela asked.

“Yeah, you’d be surprised what you learn being best friends with a gear-head,” I smiled using the term lightly about Jake.

The day dragged, as I knew it would. The Cullens were nowhere in sight and everyone was either playing pranks on one another or chewing noisily on candy. The teachers completely gave up on any lessons and every class had a theme. We discussed the Witch trials in history; I was surprised that Salem MassachusettsConnecticut fifty years earlier. My teacher attributed the mass hysteria to bad bread, correlating the same hysterics all over Europe to a rotten batch of grain. got so much attention when witches had been hung and burned in

Gym was the worst, the memory of what happened kept flashing through my mind. I was annoyed at the situation; it had taken a good friend away. But I was also flustered, Edward was something magical, and for some unknown reason he had saved me. We were to watch another boring movie in gym; I sat in the corner using the light to write.

Study hall was the same droll, forty-five minutes of nothing. I sat alone as usual with no-one to stare at. I couldn’t even write anymore, all my inspiration was gone. When I finally met Angela after school, I felt relieved. I had made it through the day, and tonight would fly by.

“So has Mike said anything to you about Jessica,” she asked as I unlocked her side of the truck before making my way over to the driver’s side.

“No, why would he,” my friend shrugged, as she pulled herself into her seat.

“She was talking with me today in Math. I think Jess likes him still, or again,” I shrugged.

“I have no idea, besides what does she do pick and choose when she’s going to be friendly with us?”

Angela laughed nodding, “I know, but I feel bad it can’t be easy being friends with Lauren,” I sighed shaking my head.

“Her choice, not ours, who has been ignoring who?” It was spiteful to say, but I was annoyed at the way things were going in my life.

“So you were right, I asked Ben to go trick or treating with me tonight,” she changed the subject.

“And,” I asked trying to be a good friend, despite my grumpiness.

“And, he’s going to be at my house in a half an hour.”

I laughed as she slipped out of the car.

“Well fill me in tomorrow,” I waved as she blushed; already thinking about her night.

By the time I pulled into my driveway, Renee was already handing out candy to the younger neighbors. I was glad my Mother enjoyed Halloween so much; it gave me the night off to avoid it all together. I kissed her hello passing by a little ladybug and Spiderman, before sitting down noisily on the couch.

The only thing to look forward to on Halloween was TV. I don’t go for Charlie Brown and the Great Pumpkin Patch; but the 80’s cheese like a Chainsaw Massacre or Freddy Krueger film. I flicked through the channels quickly, trying to absolve any and all conflicted feelings. I willed the holiday to pass, as I grabbed the bowl of candy and snuggled into the couch.

Wednesday was the first day I had seen Alice all week. She slipped next to me just in time for the second bell to ring. She didn’t glance my way at all. She was dressed to perfection, she looked annoyed, a slight scowl on her face. I wondered if the scowl was directed at me. Was she angry that her brother saved my life? Had I put her family in jeopardy? Did she hate me now? My stomach sank as I looked at her.

“Hey,” I smiled hoping for some sort of reaction.

“Hey,” she answered, not warmly, not at all like herself.

Now I was annoyed, anger nipping away at my resolve. Was this the price for my life? If so this sucked.

For the rest of the week Biology was torturous, sometimes Alice would skip class. Other times, she would act as if we were nothing more than lab partners. Mike Newtown took the opportunity to talk with me to and from classes. I should have avoided him, played it cool like I had planed on. But the company, even that of Mike was welcomed. If he thought too much into it I would just have to set him straight, but this was better than walking alone.

As the day went by, I was amazed to have made it through the week, first Halloween and then Alice treating me like a leper. I was grateful for Mike and Angela; my life had somehow begun to revolve around Alice as a friend it was hard to break out of that comfort zone. Mike as usual, was leaning on our lab-table as Alice drifted into the class. I watched her from the corner of my eye; she seemed flustered, her jaw locked as if she had just had an argument. I wanted to ask her what was wrong, but Mike was there blocking my view.

“I heard it’s like the most blood used in any movie.”

I looked up at my friend.

“What?” he smiled tilting his head.

“Zombie Daze,” he laughed as if I was crazy. I narrowed my gaze at him.

“Have you ever seen ‘Buffy the vampire slayer,’ the movie?” I saw Alice tilt her head as I continued, “that has to be the most blood in any movie, there’s a pool of blood that the master emerges from when they bring him back to life.”

I loved the movie, but Mike just shrugged.

“Maybe we can watch it sometime,” he offered as the bell rang and I rolled my eyes.

“Please take your seat Mr. Newton,” the teacher saved me. Mike reluctantly walked away before winking, I shuddered gritting my teeth.

There you go again Bella. I had to open my big mouth and now Mike was going down the long slippery slope. This is what happens when you forget whom you are talking to. When a boy becomes just a friend and you don’t realize how he sees you... It was my curse; I had to bear with it.

Alice scooted out of class that Friday afternoon and I was sure my life would go back to the way it was with dread. Mike waited for me by the door as I headed to gym. He was about to ask me something, and my heart fell into my stomach as I was sure he’d pick up where he left off.

"You and Alice not friends anymore," he asked. I wasn't sure if there was a tinge of relief in his question, but I was glad to be wrong.

"I don't know she must have a lot on her mind right now." I shrugged, hoping he wouldn’t pry anymore than he already had.

There was a buzz in the air as we both looked up simultaneously, Edward and Alice stood in the hallway arguing. It was a quiet dispute, but enough that Jasper had his hand on her shoulder. Most people were avoiding the trio except Mike and I. Suddenly their eyes turned to us, noticing our gaze and the discussion ended. Edward was obviously annoyed and left Alice with Jasper, heading to gym class.

I had never seen them argue before. The Cullens and the Hales always seemed to be happy with one another. It was hard to imagine that they had disagreements. My imagination was running wild with the possibilities. Maybe I was the center of all the commotion. Maybe Alice thought Edward made a mistake, or maybe; and this thought brought a smile to my lips but maybe Alice wanted to talk with me. Maybe Edward was fighting with her to stay away. I shook my head, or maybe you are just not worth it Bella. I winced letting Mike walk me to gym, as I stayed silent.

Nothing had changed; Edward still ignored me all throughout class. I became more determined as the period went on that I was going to confront him in study hall. He would give me some sort of explanation, I was sure of it. I couldn’t just sit on the sidelines anymore and watch as my life went back to the way it was. Everything was different now, a plan formulated in my head as I walked up to the gym teacher.

After faking a stomachache, I was able to get to the last period of the day before Edward. I waited in anticipation my hands shaking and my heart beating triple time. He took his usual table in the corner, sitting gracefully as if the move was choreographed, his bag lightly landing in front of him. I stood waiting, pretending to read the bulletin board, as the tables filled up. Right before the warning bell rang; I took a deep breath and headed towards him. I put my bag down sitting at an appropriate length away from him. He froze, tensing up as I bore my gaze at him.

"You promised to explain," I whispered; worrying the teacher would catch me. Edward looked around the room scanning for eavesdroppers, before settling his eyes on mine. My heart leapt at the gaze, his topaz eyes staring intensely.

"What do you mean," he grinned, hoping to charm his way out of this discussion. It would have worked with every female in school, but not today and not with me.

I bit my lower lip, annoyed. I had to stay focused, ‘no getting lost in his beauty’ I told myself.

"What happened in gym," I retorted locking my jaw. Maybe if I thought of him as Mike or Tyler that would help.

His eyes scanned the room again, before he looked back down at his book.

"I don't think Mike likes that you're talking to me."

His eyes flickered on the table across the room and I turned annoyed. His comment caught me by surprise, but the mention of Mike helped my focus.

"It doesn't matter, Mike will get over it," I replied; annoyed with both boys at the moment.

He laughed, hoping to use Mike to change the subject.

"Be careful, he's trying to get up the nerve to ask you to the homecoming dance."

This got me flustered and he smiled wickedly, leaning close to me.

"What do you...Don't try to change the subject." He laughed at me leaning back in his seat as he thumbed his palm, rubbing the center of his hand. I wondered if it was a nervous habit.

"I'm not Bella, but you have to realize what people will think if you sit here with me."

I laughed shaking my head.

"I don't care what people think. I’m here because I want to get some sort of explanation from you. You know like you promised."

He dropped his book down on the table, it was the first time he seemed flustered.

"I saved you from being crushed, just thank me Bella," he seethed, whispering with his jaw clenched. He was beautiful even when he was angry.

"Thank you Edward," I stammered, amazed I was able to say it. The sound of his name coming from my mouth, sent my heart a flitter.

“Now he’s debating on whether to come over here and save you from the mean old Cullen,” he laughed; shaking his head as he pulled some items from his bag.

“And you know this how?” He perked an eyebrow, toying with me.

“I’m good at reading people,” he answered unraveling his IPod.

I rolled my eyes narrowing my gaze.

“But you’re not good at keeping promises.”

He looked away, I knew he was eyeing Mike’s table but I didn’t want to think about that. I would eventually have to deal with my friend, later.

“You’re not going to tell me are you?”

He gave me a stern nod and picked his book up as if it was the finality of our conversation. I heard him click his IPod to life and begin to ignore me. I kept talking anyway, hoping he could still hear me.

"You don't trust me?"

He didn't look up, but I continued.

"I won't say anything, I haven't said anything” I sighed, I couldn’t tell if he was listening to me at all, or if he could.

“I just miss, tell Alice I miss her."

I got up heading towards the teacher; I couldn't think of what to do, my eyes were threatening to tear. Following my first instinct, I asked for a bathroom pass before heading out into the hall.

I pushed the door open slowly, heading straight for a sink. While staring at my reflection, I grimaced. My eyes were red from rubbing the tears away. So, I washed my face a few more times before disappearing in a stall. After a moment, the door opened and two familiar voices began gossiping.

“And she couldn’t even come to my party,” Lauren hissed; as they them both headed to the mirrors.

“She’s really into volunteering and you know how parties aren’t her thing,” Jessica offered. I wondered if they were talking about me.

“She never even talks to us, like she’s above it all or something,” Lauren argued as Jessica sighed.

“Bella’s complicated, besides it’s not like she means anything by it.” My heart pounded in my chest. They were talking about me.

There were a few choices put in front of me; I could stay here and wait for them to leave, acting pathetic but maybe finding out more than I wanted to know. On the other hand, I could walk out there with my head held high, proving to Lauren how wrong she was. With a deep breath I walked out of the stall as both girls’ breath hitched. Lauren looked away as Jessica made a face. I smiled at the girl whom I used to be closer with.

“Hey Jess,” I laughed washing my hands.

“Bella,” she nodded looking to Lauren.

The most natural response was to pretend I had not heard a thing, that always seemed to work. Girls are a complicated sort; we could smile at the oddest times. We could sing when our hearts were broken, or laugh when we wanted to cry. I always attributed this quality, to the strength of our sex.

“How was the party Lauren,” I smiled, trying to kill her with kindness.

“Great, sorry you missed it,” she smirked back, willing to play the game.

I shrugged tilting my head slightly.

“Yeah, well, see you guys later,” I called before turning away; Lauren dropped the facade as I passed her, in the corner of my eye I could see she was fuming.

I had no idea that what I did or didn’t do affected Lauren so much. While I knew she liked Tyler and was having trouble snagging him; I never thought she cared if I came to one of her parties. She had stopped inviting me after a while, so I took the hint. I was also annoyed that she was making me out to be the guilty party in all this.

I groaned, shaking my head. Leave it to high school drama to keep my mind off my own personal life. I took a deep breath before walking back into study hall. This time I walked towards my usual table, which thankfully was empty. I knew if I wanted to stay sane, I had to ignore Edward until school let out. I could feel his gaze on me; it took all my strength not to look up. I was annoyed, angry that he wouldn’t tell me the truth, that Alice was ignoring me.

Mike was eager to come to my side as the bell rang, I wondered if Edward was watching, if this all amused him. Mike grabbed my book bag and studied my face. I wondered if my eyes were still red, if he could see the torment I was going through. If he did see how I felt, he made no mention of it as we walked out of class. Thankfully, Mike was quiet as we found our friends and walked out of school with them

As I crossed the parking lot, Ben and Angela walked side by side, while Mike trailed behind with me. We were almost to my car when I heard Mike say my name. I looked up my heart racing, turning past him I could see Alice get into Rosalie's red convertible. She was ignoring Edward, who waited for Emmett to get into the Volvo. Alice's eyes flickered my way and then to Edward, before she settled in the back seat with Jasper at her side.

“We might actually beat Compton this Saturday and that would be a surprise.” I nodded to Mike’s inane banter, as we meandered through the parking lot. Forks High vs. Compton High was our tradition rivals during the Homecoming game.

“You know Ben and Angela are going to the dance, no surprise there.” I smiled glancing at my friend walking slightly ahead of us, Ben at her side.

“Yeah, they’re great together, finally;” I laughed to myself digging my hands into my coat pockets. The days were getting colder.

"So Bella, about homecoming?"

I glanced up as Mike smiled; he looked awkward for an instant.

"I know you're not into dances, but I thought we could maybe go as friends or...?" I shrugged pestered by Mike, but even more annoyed that Edward was right. Why were boys always doing this, always trying to push a friendship to another level? Going to a dance together, really Mike? Moreover, how did Edward know?

The moment I thought his name, I looked over to the shiny silver Volvo. Edward stood motionless his eyes on the boy in front of me as if he could hear our conversation. I wondered if super hearing was another one of his, abilities. My first instinct was to say no, to shake my head and make any and every excuse to weasel out of the dance. But the idea of annoying Edward took over me. I wanted to test my theory, a slight smile played upon my lips.

"I would Mike, but I don't think Jessica would appreciate it. I think I'm just going to stay home," I was flirting, a light attempt at playing coy.

I knew the rebuke was not enough to sway Mike as he laughed shaking his head.

"Aw come on Bella, we'll go as friends?" His blue eyes pleaded and I laughed, he did have pretty eyes. They were light blue orbs, but nothing like the topaz beauties, I longed for. I groaned as the very idea of Edward sent shivers down my spine.

I opened my mouth to say no officially; but my eyes found Edward's and they looked focused, intent. My theory became more of a reality as I tore my gaze from his and raised my eyebrows to Mike.

"Let me think about it okay?"

Mike nodded, practically pumping his fist.

"Sure, think about it, let me know," he replied as if he were humoring me, as if my first answer was just a formality and the date was already set.

It was a cruel thing to do, either way if I said yes or no. I didn't think of Mike that way, plus he was on and off with Jessica who was sorta my friend. I would have to say no eventually, but the thought of Edward being vested in who I went to the dance with intrigued me.

“Oh and Mike?” He looked at me, expectant as if I had already made up my mind.

“Can you talk to Tyler, have him ask Lauren to the dance?” He smiled, as if I had sent him on a mission and he was a gallant knight.

“Yes, of course I’ll do my best,” he beamed as if I had just tossed a kerchief to him. I sighed annoyed at myself, before turning from Mike’s Jeep.

Angela was bursting with excitement when we closed the doors and my truck groaned to life. I looked in my rearview mirror; Edward was still leaning on his car, watching and waiting. His family looked annoyed and impatient but he was intent, focused on something. His eyes flickered to Mike and Ben who joked next to Mike’s Jeep before back to me.

“So you have to say yes Bella.”

I shook my head as Angela rubbed her hands together, eager for my heat to kick in.

“Say yes to what,” I asked feigning ignorance. My eyes were still on Edward’s, his head was cocked slightly as if he was listening to two conversations at once.

“To Mike, he just asked you to the homecoming dance. I know he has been working up the courage to ask you for weeks. And besides Ben and I are going.”

Angela loved to say Ben’s name and her voice took on a sweeter tone; it reminded me of Alice’s. I bit my bottom lip, as I put my car into reverse. I tried to ignore Edward, even though my window was a few feet away from him. He was still staring. Still listening I wondered.

“You just love to say Ben and I don’t you Ang,” I asked. It was unfair to throw my friend off this way. However, who said I was going to play fair.

I had a hard month, maybe even lost a friend. Besides, more and more I felt I was falling deeper and deeper in love with Edward Cullen. The more he pulled away from me the more I fell for him. He was mysterious, like a character in one of Anne Radcliffe’s novels. I sighed to myself, as Angela talked non-stop about what she was going to wear and how sweet Ben was.

“And my Dad even asked about him.” I smiled, happy for Angela.

“How about the twins,” I inquired, keeping up with the conversation.

“They love him too, he’s great with kids.” I shook my head, glad everything was going as planned for her. At least one of us should be blissful.

When we got to her house she smiled, I was a horrible friend, I only half listened. Waving, she turned lost in her own perfect life as my truck groaned into gear and I started home.

When I finally arrived at my house, I shut my car off. I didn’t want to go inside just yet, I stayed leaning on the headrest of my aging truck. I was lucky. I was alive. There was more to be thankful for, but the image of Edward made me scowl as I slammed the car door before heading into the house. Only one death defying incident in the last two months I thought to myself. Soon it would be winter and the snow and ice alone would keep my mind off the Cullens, or at least I hoped.

Every year was getting better; you didn’t live in Forks your whole life without getting used to the dampness under the leaves in the fall. Wet leaves could be more terrifying than ice, my other nemeses. I shuddered, thinking of winter approaching; my Mom had bought me special covers to go over my sneakers. They were rubber slips that had a metal spike on the edges. No-one laughed, when I took them off every winter and slipped them into my locker. My classmates knew I was a klutz, the broken bones dissipated as the years went on; but every precaution helped.

“There’s pizza on the counter Bells,” Charlie announced as I grabbed two slices and joined him at the couch.

“Where’s Mom?” I questioned noticing her absence.

“Yogalates,” he replied, having fun sounding out the word.

“Ah, you think she’s going to grow out of it?” Charlie laughed, shaking his head as he sipped his beer.

My father enjoyed his nights off, whenever he could get one. And football on a Friday night was golden in the Swan household.

“Not likely, she’s focused on this one Bells.” I smiled, finishing my first piece of pizza before taking a bite of my second.

“So, how are the Seahawks doing this year?” Charlie shrugged as the ESPN panel discussed their picks for number one in the NFC conference.

When I finished eating I slid closer to my Father, taking in his warmth as the second half of the game went on. I must have fallen asleep because when I awoke I was in bed. I guess my eagerness to go to sleep overtook my willingness to watch football with Charlie. When I tried to fluff my pillow, a hard plastic crack made me sit up. I looked down throwing the pillow to one side and saw the Debussy album. I winced trying to remember where I had last seen it.

My heart raced, had I never asked for it back from Edward? I looked around my room nothing was missing, or seemed out of place. I laughed to myself; this was getting to be too much. My real life and the fiction that I immersed myself in were beginning to blur. But I couldn’t help shake the feeling of comfort the past few nights. My dreams of Edward, I blushed at the thought, pulling the covers over my head.

You are mad at Edward. I said to myself. It was hard to be angry at such a beautiful creature. My heart thumped inside my chest and I knew it was impossible to go to sleep. What happened to my goal at the beginning of the year for no drama? Where had I gone wrong? I laughed thinking of the Cullens. Then I shrugged, leave it to me to get into death threatening situations.

I groaned thinking of a way to get out of the homecoming dance. Thanksgiving was coming up but that wasn’t a good enough excuse. Jacob’s birthday was next month; maybe he wouldn’t mind me using that as a reason. I sighed determined; Jacob would have offered his birthday for me. I laughed thinking of my best friend, I’d call him tomorrow. I snuggled under the covers and turned my IPod on as I heard Charlie counter one of Renee’s questions.