Habitat for love
Edward is running, broken from a past relationship. Bella is searching, trying to find a place where she truly belongs. Both feeling pessimistic and jaded, they head to a third-world country to volunteer their time. Will the place they travel to escape be the place they truly find happiness?
Disclaimer: No copyright infringment intended. The characters belong to SM. all the plot are belong to us.
3. Chapter 3
Rating 5/5 Word Count 7138 Review this Chapter
Looking out the dusty window, Bella studiously observed her new surroundings as they traveled further and further out of the city. She was surprised to find that there were a number of American fast food restaurants surrounding the immediate airport area, though she supposed she shouldn't have been too shocked, having just gratefully downed a delicious order of cheeseburger and fries. She actually thought that the food was almost better than it was back in the U.S. It had not been all unceremoniously slopped together like it had been made in a processed rush, but actually looked like it had been put together with some thought and the expectation that someone planned on eating it.
To Bella, city life in Honduras did not appear to be too much different than city life in America. Aside from the fact that the people looked different, appearance wise, because of the nationality differences, everything else about them seemed the same. If not for the bright green landscape, Bella could have easily fooled herself into thinking that they were still back in Florida. That thought stopped short as she noticed a little car whipping around the side of their bus between them and the sidewalk. It was completely disregarding the fact that their bus was in the closest lane to said sidewalk as it wildly zoomed past them. Before she knew it, the little car strategically cut in front of them and continued on its way. It happened so quickly that Bella was almost unsure that what she witnessed had just actually happened.
"Oh my gosh! Jazz! Did you just see that? Those people are gonna get themselves killed driving around like that," she exclaimed.
A young man in a seat just across the aisle from them casually laughed as he said, "You'll get used to it. The people here appear to drive like maniacs compared to us Americans, but somehow they all seem to follow the same crazy set of rules. I have never seen anyone get in wreck in the many years I have been visiting this country. It will become second nature to you after a while. If you think that is crazy, try to make sure you take a good look inside of a bus next time we drive past one, especially once we get out of the city."
Bella and Jasper gave a small smile to their fellow traveler before resuming their conversation. As Jasper comforted Bella, she leaned back in her seat muttering, "I sure hope I get used to it, or I'm going to end up having a heart attack before we even get to our next stop. And why in the world would I want to look at people inside a bus? I don't want to look like a crazy American more than I already feel like one."
Soon enough they had made it through the crazy traffic of the crowded city, and were traveling through the mountainous terrain. As the bus bounced along, she relaxed her head against Jasper's shoulder thinking how the country here was really was beautiful. She could see far and wide as they traveled through the mountains and into the countryside.
Jasper nudged Bella to look out the window again. She was surprised to see there were houses built all along the side of the mountains. The houses near and around the city looked like they probably belonged to people who were wealthier, probably associated with Honduran politics or government. Bella vaguely remembered reading somewhere that approximately 5% or less of the people in this country owned more than 90% of the wealth. She supposed on this trip she would be learning more about how the other 95% of the population with less than 10% of the wealth lived.
About thirty minutes outside of the city she realized they were coming up on one of the busses the guy across from them had spoken about. She tried hard not to look in and be nosy, but she knew that she was just too curious to stop herself from doing so. As they slowly passed the other bus she noticed a number of passengers, just as you would expect to see traveling on a bus, and, "Chickens? Are there seriously people carrying live chickens on the city bus?" Bella sat up straighter peering through the windows now, not caring how obviously nosy she was being.
The man across the aisle from them started laughing heartily as he turned to them saying, "I told you to look inside the bus. I saw you trying hard not to, but aren't you glad you did? Welcome to Honduras...I'm sorry but I didn't catch your name before. I'm Ben and this is my girlfriend Angela." As he reached his hand out to shake theirs, he continued laughing.
Bella and Jasper took turns shaking their hands and introducing themselves to their bus mates.
"You are in for an interesting cultural experience, but it will be a wonderful one. I still remember the first time I came here. I was in shock at almost every turn, but now I'm past the shock part and have fallen in love with this entire country. Can you believe one year I actually took the public bus and ended up with a chicken in my lap as well?" Ben exclaimed while shaking his head in disbelief.
Bella just stared at him in shock while Jasper jumped in saying, "Wow, Bella thought we were traveling in style on this bus. It's nice to have people who can help the newbies adjust to the cultural changes here, I am sure we are going to experience plenty of them."
By this time Bella had recovered from culture shock and stated, "It's going to take me a while to adjust because I am completely out of my element here. But I'm looking forward to learning more about this new and different culture. Sign me up for all of it, except for the ‘love' experience. I want my name crossed off that list. I'm pretty sure I won't be finding love of any sort here."
Ben quickly replied, "You never know Bella, I found two kinds of love here. Love for the culture and the love of my life." His face shining with pride as he wrapped his arm around Angela's shoulder and lovingly beamed at her.
Unsure how to respond to that, Bella just nodded and turned her head, staring back out the window. They all lapsed into a comfortable silence as they traveled down the country roads.
As the bus continued to bounce along, Bella and Jasper began to discuss about her plans to move closer to Charlie. She wasn't feeling nervous, which surprised Jasper as much as herself. It didn't take long for them to realize that her absence of anxiety must mean she was making the right decision. Bella loved both her parents dearly but both she and Jasper had to admit that much of her anxiety was a direct result of Renee's flightiness and general lack of responsibility. As the back of the bus bounced along roughly, Bella found herself leaning more and more into Jasper's side, despite the general roughness of the terrain, she was able to fall into a peaceful sleep.
It wasn't long before Bella was being jostled awake by a pillow that was not staying still like it was supposed to.
"Jasper, stop moving. I'm trying to sleep and I was comfortable," Bella grumbled.
"Well, if you had been paying attention to this brand new country that we have never before visited instead of sleeping your way through the travel, you would realize that we are stopping for a restroom and snack break." Jasper's word cut through the fog in Bella's head as she registered the important words, ‘restroom' and ‘snack'.
"Fine, fine, I'll get up." Bella rubbed her eyes trying to orient herself to her surroundings.
As Bella looked out the window she saw a number of little children surrounding the bus who appeared to be trying to sell food and drinks. Just as her thoughts were wandering about what the circumstances must have been that led to these children needing to be out on the streets selling these things, she was interrupted by Alberto.
"I know it can be hard not to give these kids money, but if you give to one, you will have to give to them all. Just tell them no thank you, and make your way up to the cantina. The restrooms are around the back, and most importantly remember, do not flush the toilet paper," Alberto chuckled as he turned around and exited the bus.
As everyone began to disembark, Bella noticed that the bus carrying Alice and her family had pulled up alongside them. She had also realized quickly that she really needed to use the restroom, so she decided she would hurry and do that, then try to say hi to Alice before they all got back on their busses.
As they stepped off the bus, Jasper informed her that he would meet her back around by the snack stand when they were done.
Bella was surprised that the bathrooms were as nice as they were. As she went to the restroom, she kept chanting to herself silently ‘Do not put the toilet paper in the toilet. Put it in the trash can'.
Trying not to think about how weird, and well, how kind of gross that was, she successfully placed the toilet paper in the trash can. She washed her hands, and made her way out of the restroom to look for either Jasper or Alice.
As she turned the corner she looked around quickly spotting them both standing together off to the side and started to make her way over to them.
"Hey, there you guys are..." her voice quickly trailed off as she felt like she had just entered the Twilight Zone.
The site before her was something she never expected to see, but she had no doubt what was going on. It was as if the moment Alice and Jasper had seen each other they froze in their own personal bubble. The world and the people in it continued to rotate around them, but they were unaware that such a pivotal, life-changing moment had just occurred.
Alice and Jasper, for their part, were completely lost in the moment. They had forgotten where they were as they became lost in one another's eyes. They were broken from their trance as they heard someone call their names. They slowly turned to the voice that had interrupted this monumental moment.
Bella slowly looked from her old friend to her new friend as they appeared to be recognizing the world around them. Alice and Jasper suddenly began to shuffle, looking a little uncomfortable as they realized the display they had just put on for all those around them to witness.
"So, I see you two have met," Bella accursedly announced as she took the final step to stand next to them. She eyed Jasper curiously, never having seen him looking so intense.
Jasper appeared unsure how to respond as his brain was working in slow motion. He was so caught up in the previous moment, unable to truly explain what had just happened. The only part he was sure of was that the moment itself was significant.
Alice recovered first, "Well, not officially, but I'm assuming this is...Jasper, did you say?"
"Yes, Alice. This is my very best friend Jasper. Jazz, this is Alice Cullen. The one I have been talking to online for the past year." Bella nodded toward each of them.
Jasper slowly reached out to take Alice's hand in his own. He looked directly into her eyes as he stated, "It is so nice to meet you ma'am."
Alice blushed and actually had to turn her head away slightly as she was overwhelmed by the emotion she could see flooding his eyes. She only managed to shyly reply, "I'm Alice."
Bella could not believe her eyes as she watched what was occurring. What happened to the hyper, over-enthusiastic girl she had met on the plane? She had never imagined she would see a quiet, subdued Alice. Leave it to Jasper to be the one person who could balance out Alice's energy with his calm.
It appeared Alice and Jasper had been sucked back into their private bubble. Bella briefly wondered what this was going to mean for her ‘moving forward' trip. She could almost see her close companionship with Jasper slipping away before her eyes, and the thought scared her so badly that she quickly brushed it aside before panic set in. .
"Jasper, if you are going to get anything to drink before we get back on the bus, we need to do it now. Otherwise they are going to leave us stuck at this banana stand all alone. And between you and me, that is not something I need right now." Bella's voice trailed off as she looked at the chaos around her.
As Jasper came to, he shook his head, as though that would somehow help him clear the fog from it.
"Well, Alice, it was very nice to meet you. I look forward to getting to know you better," he stated as he smiled softly at her.
Alice nodded gently as she looked at him through her eyelashes. Still at a loss for words she quietly turned and walked back towards her bus, having said nothing at all to Bella.
After Jasper officially recovered from his trance, he turned to Bella and smiled. He casually threw his arm around her and said, "Let's grab a drink and blow this popsicle stand."
When they pulled up to the rest-stop, Edward was more than ready to get off of the bus to clear his mind for a few minutes. It had been an awkward couple of hours, he felt as if he did not belong there. He had been sitting next to Alice the entire bus ride and she was still ignoring him. All around him he could hear the happy people talking and commiserating, apparently many people already knew one another. The rest of his family sat towards the front of the bus, but he decided that was probably for the best that he gave a bit of distance between them, as he didn't want to put a damper on their good moods. He knew he needed to find a way to dig himself out of this funk, but up to this point had currently been failing miserably.
Edward made quick work of using the restroom and grabbing a drink. Talking to no one, he immediately hopped back on the bus to gain a few moments of serenity before everyone else got back on.
As he took a swig of his Coke, he slumped against the dusty window. Looking out into the sea of people, his eye naturally went to looking for his family, in particular Alice, who tended to befriend strangers and get lost in crowds. As he observed everyone standing around between the two buses, he was a bit taken aback by what he saw.
He noticed two individuals staring intently at one another. To him, it looked as if they were looking into and reading one another's souls. It was only after realizing that the people weren't moving an inch that he looked closer. One of the two people involved was not the person he ever expected to see.
Alice and ...was it Jasper? They were staring at one another. No, he corrected himself; they were staring at one another intently. It was as if the world had stopped explicitly for them, just to enjoy this moment in time. He felt like he should look away, but he just couldn't. He had never seen his sister be quiet for this long, unless she was angry, like she currently was at him. The two of them together looked absolutely ridiculous. He was as tall as she was short and she was as raven haired as he was blonde.
Edward was not sure what was going to happen next between the two, but decided something needed to happen to break the trance they appeared to be stuck in. He was about to get up and do it himself when someone else beat him to it. As if that someone had read his mind at that very moment, a girl, no a woman, walked up to the entranced couple. Edward took in her appearance as she approached, looking awkward and shuffling her feet breaking them out of their bubble.
He found himself wishing he were able to hear what was being said. For one, he could not believe that it appeared Alice was at a loss for words, staring all doe-eyed at the blonde-haired boy. Alice never sat still for anyone, except their mother Esme, and occasionally their father could get her to quiet down but it was never long before she was up and bouncing around them all again.
Suddenly, he felt his over-protective big brother part of him begin to take over. Wanting to intervene, knowing that something pivotal was taking place he tried to convince himself that he was just watching out for his sister. To any other by-stander it would look like a group of three people having a conversation among themselves. But he had seen Alice and Jasper before the other girl walked up to them and had felt compelled to go out there now and confront the three of them together.
He managed to restrain himself as he continued to watch the interaction. He actually felt a little bad for Bella. She looked like a third wheel standing there being ignored by the other two. Nice, Edward thought, as he remembered that Alice had told him that Jasper was Bella's closest friend. He thought about it for a moment longer and concluded that if that was the way this Jasper treated his friends, and more importantly, how he treated women, he truly did not want him associating with Alice.
Before Edward could react and actually do something, the encounter was over. Alice wandered her way back to her seat next to Edward. He could tell she was still in a trance as she lightly sat down with an easy smile on her face. She put her headphones back on and with her eyes closed she leaned her head back against the seat without saying a word of acknowledgment.
Still in shock at Alice's silence, he muttered to himself, "Well, maybe miracles do happen in Honduras." He looked back out the window trying to find the other two but didn't. He tried to look for just Jasper, who was so tall and blonde that he would be sure to stick out in the crowd, whereas the plain little mouse he was with seemed to blend into the background everywhere she went. When he didn't spot either of them in the crowd he could only assume that they were already on the other bus. He made a mental note to find out what exactly Jasper had said to Alice to get her to keep quiet.
A few hours after they left the rest stop Alberto announced that they had entered the area surrounding Catcamas and would be arriving at the camp shortly. As Bella looked out the window it appeared to her that they were passing by villages just on the outside of the city. The roads were even bumpier than they had been travelling towards Catacamas, and she found it difficult to keep herself still. She felt like a pogo stick bouncing up and down and unable to control her body movement.
If she thought the apartment she lived in during college was small, it was nothing compared to the housing they passed as they headed into the city. Each little shack seemed smaller than the next, appearing very worn and tattered.
Soon they hit the city limits turning onto a rare paved road. They passed one light in town that appeared to represent what would have been a "yellow" light in the states as everyone slowed as they approached it but continued to move on without stopping.
As they turned onto a small road, Alberto stated that everyone should place their stuff down on a bunk bed, then meet in the kitchen area for brief orientation over dinner before winding down for the night.
The bus came to a stop; Bella looked out, wondering where the camp was supposed to be. As she looked out to her left, there were a number of men sitting outside of what appeared to be a junkyard, staring up at the bus with amused smiles on their faces. There were a number of malnourished looking dogs roaming around and rummaging along the sides of the road, she assumed looking for food. Who do those dogs belong to, she thought to herself.
She looked up ahead outside the right side of the bus and saw a small sign outside of a fenced area that read "Catacamas missions camp". She assumed that must have been the all encompassing name they chose, since a number of volunteer groups stayed together at the same camp.
Alberto got off the bus to unlock the gate as people shot up excitedly and started filing off the bus. As they made their way into camp Bella noticed there were a number of parked trucks, a number of doors along the left side of the space and a little house up ahead the right. She and Jasper had no idea where they were going, but decided to follow the masses.
They walked along the sidewalk to the left and soon the girls began to file into a room. Bella looked at Jasper, reluctant to part ways in such an unfamiliar setting, but he just gave her a small smile and nudge, stating "I will see you in the kitchen soon. I'm starving!", before turning and following the rest of the men and boys to their room.
Bella peered into the large common room, where they were a number of bunk beds aligned against walls on the side. Since it appeared there were no restrooms in the room, she decided to take one of the beds closest to the door in case she needed to make a quick exit during the middle of the night.
Without waiting around to see who her bunkmates would be, since she had no luggage to unpack, she decided to follow a group of girls who stated they were heading to the kitchen, which was evidently attached to their room. She walked through the door sitting down in the first seat she found, nervously taking in her surroundings.
People quickly began to file into the plastic chairs placed at the old wooden tables in the dining area, and began socializing as if they had all had been long-time friends. Bella quickly began to feel out of place until a familiar face grabbed her by the hand and said "Pizza for dinner! Yes!" Alberto and another man walked in carrying a number of pizzas, which they plopped down on the table just in time for everyone to dive in and begin eating.
As soon as people started to appear settled with mouths full of food, Alberto took the time to orient everyone to the layout of the camp. Bella was half listening as she looked around the room, examining the people with whom she would be spending the next month with. So many of the people she looked at appeared comfortable, as if this were their home. Bella wondered if she would ever begin to feel even a fraction of the comfort in this country as these people appeared to feel.
Alberto continued talking about plans for the breakfast and lunch meals, evidently they would be having lots of peanut butter and jelly, as Bella spotted Alice and her family seated at a table in the opposite corner. She recognized everyone whose faces she had seen, and almost found herself breathless as she matched the face with the man whose back had been facing her at the airport earlier. She would recognize that hair anywhere. He was beautiful. There was simply no other way to describe him. As if he knew someone were looking his way, he turned his face in her direction, Bella quickly looked down, hoping he hadn't realized she had been staring at him.
Bella tried her best to continue to appear composed as Alberto explained that they would all find their group work assignments in the kitchen in the morning, but that they were free for the rest of the evening to hang out or get ready for bed, as they would be leaving around 7:30 in the morning for their work sites, which, according the mumblings occurring around her, was a "late" start.
As everyone began to disperse, Jasper turned to Bella, saying "Put on your hard hat, looks like we are in for a wild ride. This is going to be so much fun!"
Bella stood against the wall of the little bathroom building, waiting for Jasper to arrive with what was going to be her pajamas and clothes for the night. She crossed her arms in front of her staring at the beautiful garden that separated the bathroom building from the sleeping quarters. She stared in wonder at the bright colors splashed carelessly against the deep greens. There was a small trail made of little stones and although the area was small, she felt compelled to walk down into it. She crossed over the concrete walkway stepping down the four small steps leading into the garden area. The minute her foot hit the stones on the walkway she felt like she had stepped back into time. She felt childlike and carefree. The stress of day to day life melting away from her had her feeling almost giddy as she walked from plant to plant, inspecting each carefully. She made a mental note to ask their host about the various kinds of flowers and plants. She walked over to one particularly bright orange flower and studied it carefully. She touched it lightly as she realized that it looked similar to a feather duster and she immediately thought of a little fairy flitting about the small garden, dusting pollen from each separate flower and spreading it among others. She closed her eyes smiling as she took in a breath of the unpolluted air. She could just picture a little fairy world, filled with all sorts of magical creatures keeping up the garden. She must have giggled to herself because the next sound she heard was Jasper's voice directly behind her. Not having heard him approach, she jumped when she heard his voice.
"Did the flower tell you a good joke or something?" he asked as he closed the last space between them.
"Very funny Jazz. I just was daydreaming. Isn't this beautiful?" Bella gestured her hand all around her.
"It is. And you make it more beautiful Bella, never doubt that." Jasper reached an arm around her and gave his friend a squeeze.
"I can't believe I have to ask for your clothes Jazz. Do you want me to wash anything? I am going to need to wash my underclothes for tomorrow so, if you need anything let me know. One of the girls said that the washboard area is right over there." Bella made a careless gesture with her hand.
"No, I'm good." Jasper walked over and sat down on the top concrete step and patted the step below him. Bella gratefully walked over and sat down between his long legs and leaned back into him, the stress leaving her body as he crushed her body between his legs in a playful manner. "I checked with Alberto and he said there were no signs of your luggage Bells. You can always borrow whatever you need to from me until we can get to a store though okay?"
"Thanks Jazz. This sucks but I can deal. The best I can hope for is that they end up on someone who really needs them. Although with the way I packed, I feel sorry for the person who thinks they took a suitcase full of nice clothes." Bella laughed and Jasper gave her a quick shove with his hand.
"Poor people dress better than you sometimes Bella. Honestly, they'll probably find it and come looking for you to donate clothes to you." The two of them started laughing unaware that Alice had creeped up behind them.
"Can I join you two?" She asked in a shy voice, which caught Bella completely off guard. She looked surprised, not realizing that Alice might have a quiet side after all.
"Sure Kiddo, cop a squat." Jasper said as he patted the concrete beside him as Bella turned her head and rested her chin on his knee. She looked up at Alice.
"So, your whole family is here then?" Bella asked, tying to strike up a comfortable conversation.
"Yeah, we all came. My dad, Carlisle, and my brother, Edward, are both doctors. My oldest brother is the one who keeps following around a pregnant woman, that's his wife Rosalie. He treats her like she made of glass sometimes so just ignore him. And then there's my mom, Esme. You'll like them, I swear! They aren't like snobby or anything like that I promise." Alice seemed nervous as she defended her family.
"Of course not. We never thought that for a second did we Bells?" Jasper nudged Bella with his knee to prompt her answer.
Bella stumbled over her words but recovered quickly. "Of course not. So, Alice, what part of Washington are you from? My dad lives out there and we're going to spend some time with him after this trip is over." Bella leaned over and relaxed more into Jasper's leg embrace.
"Oh, um, it's a really small town near the coast. You've probably never heard of it...Forks?" Alice said and glanced up at Bella's gasp of surprise.
"Forks? Washington Forks?" Bella straightened up and her mouth dropped open at the mention of the tiny town her father briefly lived in before he moved to Sequim to be closer to the county seat of Port Angeles.
"You've heard of it?" Alice couldn't keep the excitement from creeping into her voice and Bella backed down.
"Oh yeah," Bella said as she shrank back down from Alice's high-pitched voice. "My dad used to live there before he moved to Sequim. I've been there a few times but not since I was little. He moved from there to Sequim to be closer to his job." Bella left out exactly what Charlie did, knowing that nothing could possibly match up to Alice Cullen's dad being a doctor.
"That's great news though! You'll be so close by! I wonder if my dad knew him? What's his name Bella?" Alice shifted and leaned so close that Bella backed up against Jasper's opposite leg to give herself more personal space.
"Oh, um, It's Charlie...I doubt he'd know him, he's been gone from Forks for years now." Bella fiddled with an edge of the clothing pile Jasper gave her and realized that she was losing daylight and should be getting on with her task, namely having to wash out her current clothing in order to have fresh clothes for tomorrow. "I should really go wash out my clothes. You guys hanging out here for awhile?"
"Um, yeah, sure I'm all unpacked so I'm good...Alice?" Jasper looked down at the slip of a woman sitting next to him.
"Sure, I can stick around, I am all unpacked as well." She smiled up at Jasper, the white of her teeth sharply contrasting the black of her hair.
"Niiiice, everyone gets to unpack except me." The snide comment came from Bella's mouth before she could help it and Jasper's arm instinctively went around Bella's shoulder.
"Why didn't you unpack? Do you want some help?" Alice offered.
"Bella has nothing to unpack Alice, the airport lost her luggage." Jasper's arm shifted but his hand remained on Bella's back, rubbing gentle, calming circles on it.
Bella took a breath and sighed. She smiled gratefully at Jasper and then looked over at Alice as the girl started talking. "You know Bella, I've got some clothes that might..." Alice let her voice trail off as the three of them stood and she now realized that there was no way Bella would possibly fit into Alice's tiny clothing.
"Thanks Alice, but spending our time here, stuffed into your clothing? I'd probably look like a sausage link!" The three of them laughed as they stood and altogether made their way to the bathroom for Bella to change.
She left them outside as she went into the tiny building that housed the three bathroom stalls and three shower stalls. The men's side was separated from the women's by a wall that had screening at the top so ventilation and noises were clear from one side to the other. She heard someone in the men's side brushing their teeth and gargling and she snickered at how unfair it was that the ladies had to listen to the men and all their gross bodily noises that rather than hide, they seemed openly proud of sharing. As she stripped off her clothing she sent up a note of grateful thanks that it was gargling she heard from the men's side and not something far worse.
Exiting the bathroom a few minutes later, Bella saw that there were now three people waiting for her. She cautiously approached the well made up woman who was talking animatedly with Alice and Jasper. Even in casual clothing, the woman looked graceful and elegant. Bella, standing in Jasper's old sweatpants and t-shirt felt gross. She balled up her clothing and held it in front of herself to hide Jasper's old Metallica t-shirt from a concert he had gone to years ago. The three of them turned as she came up to them.
"Hi?" Bella asked shyly, now recognizing Alice's mom from being one of the beautiful people.
"Bella! This is my mom!" Alice's exuberance made Bella jump slightly dropping the pile of clothing she was holding. Her cheeks flamed as she noticed Alice's mother bend down to pick them up before any of the others could.
"Alice, really! Stop scaring people like that. You made her drop the rags she was carrying." Esme had the clothing in her hands before she straightened back up. As she handed them back to Bella she smiled. "Oh, you like Metallica as well? My oldest son Emmett is a big fan of them, I think he even has that shirt too. It's a little loud for my taste, but boys will be boys. I didn't think they had many girls for fans." Esme smiled warmly having no idea just how hurtful her words were to Bella until she noticed the tears fall at the corners of her eyes.
Jasper moved toward Bella who was trying her best to keep her composure but failing as she stood with her arms crossed over herself protectively and defensively. She licked her lips before she began to speak.
"How do you do Mrs. Cullen, it's nice to meet you." Bella said with as much dignity as she could. "These clothes aren't mine, they're Jasper's. Those clothes however are mine." Bella pointed briefly at the small pile of clothing that Esme was still holding and had referred to as ‘rags'. Tears of humiliation and shame filled Bella's eyes as she reached for the clothes.
"Oh dear! I apologize Bella, with the sunlight fading, I didn't see them properly, of course I can tell that now." Esme handed them back gently. "Please just call me Esme dear." The woman's face showed genuine concern and Bella immediately felt worse knowing that she was the one that put the furrow in Esme's brow causing her beautiful face to look less than perfect.
"It's okay." Bella reached over for her clothing taking them from the woman. She did her best to drape them over her arm hiding her bra and panties by putting her clothes on top of them.
"Esme, the airport lost Bella's luggage so she is stuck wearing my clothes until they're found." Jasper casually patted Bella's shoulder.
"Oh dear, how awful!" Esme's voice was full of genuine sympathy as she looked up and down Bella's outfit. "I don't think we are the same size, but I could ask Rosalie if she has anything..." Esme tried to be helpful but turned her head when she heard a slap.
Alice was standing with her hand against her forehead dramatically. "Mom, Rose is pregnant! Bella's not that fat!" Alice's hand flew from her forehead to her mouth as she realized her own faux pas. "Bella I'm so sorry, I never meant that!" Alice's words were lost on Bella's ears as Esme broke into the conversation again.
"I never said that she was fat Alice, I was just thinking that something more feminine would be better, no matter how much bigger it would be." Esme crossed her own arms in front of her as silence finally hung in the air between the four of them.
"I better go wash these out so I can look more presentable tomorrow." Bella held up her arm that had her clothing draped across it turning to go to the laundry room that she was shown on the brief tour earlier.
"Bella wait, I want you to meet my father and brother Edward." Bella heard Alice's voice trail off as she made her way across the concrete to the small laundry area but kept walking, the tears falling freely as she remembered all the insults, however unintentional. Clearly, Alice's family did not live in the same realm as she was, and her desire to be used as an object to hurl insults at was zero, no matter how unintentional those insults were.
While she hovered over the washboard, she let her tears mix in with her sweat. She hated feeling this way and mentally calculated the days until she could leave. Realizing that this was still her first day, and that she still had a duty to fulfill, she scrubbed harder, as if scrubbing the day away from her clothing she could also scrub it away from her mind.
Edward watched the odd interaction from the hammock he was sitting in on the porch. Alice, Jasper, his mother, and that Bella girl were talking on the path between the "dorm" rooms and the bathrooms. He was upset that Alice seemed to be so dazzled by this Jasper kid as she looked at him like he was the sunshine after a hurricane, or something like that, when it was obvious that he had a thing going on with that...girl, he was travelling with. I mean, she was wearing his clothes right now for goodness sakes! Marking her territory much, he thought to himself.
He was thinking to himself about how he was going to have to have a real talk with Alice about being careful, which he knew he would have to approach carefully, seeing as she was already mad at him, when all of a sudden the Bella girl looked like she was about to cry and hurried off, but Jasper did not follow after her. Instead, he continued talking with Alice and his mother. He decided he was going to have to get to the bottom of this, as he picked himself up off the hammock and made his way towards the group of people standing in front of him.
"Jasper, I am so sorry, I didn't mean any of that, it all came out so wrong." Alice face showed how upset she was as she shook her head to emphasize her point as they watched Bella's retreating back.
"It's okay Alice, Bella is just a very quiet person. What we would normally take as a not big deal, a simple slip of the tongue, she takes it straight to her heart." Jasper jammed his hands in his pockets leaning against the wall of the white building.
"Why is she like that dear? I don't understand?" Esme's face first showed concern and then turned into happiness as she saw her younger son emerge from the building. As she waved for him to join the small group, she again made eye contact with Jasper to wait for his response.
"Bella's just lost. She's just like the rest of us, trying to find our way in the world. Where we fit in and what our next step is. I am sure you've felt that way at some point as well Alice." Jasper smiled down at Alice as she nodded her head in agreement.
Alice glanced at her brother as he joined them.
"Jasper Hale, I'd like you to meet my brother, Dr. Edward Cullen. Edward, this is my friend Jasper." Alice smiled at Jasper as he straightened up and pushed himself away from the wall holding out his hand to her brother.
"Nice to meet you." Jasper said with a short nod of his head as Edward returned his greeting.
"So, you're one of Alice's new friends?" Edward said with a smirk as he looked around. It was Jasper who spoke up before Alice could even open her mouth.
"Yeah, I guess you could say that." Jasper stated, as she smiled down at Alice.
"Well, I will be seeing you around. Guess I should be getting ready for a long day tomorrow. It was nice to meet you....Jasper," Edward stated as he turned and walked away, but Jasper could read him, and could tell he didn't mean it. He decided then and there that he would have to look out for Edward Cullen.