Reliving Fate, page 13
"Do you want to talk about it?" I ask.
She shakes her head. "I would really rather not. Can we just eat, please?"
After looking out the window, she turns to me and asks, "Why did we come so far out? Are you scared we'll be seen?"
"People have seen us together dozens of times. Get out of the car. I'm starving."
I want to talk about her family. I want to know more about the sister who died, but I don't want to push her. It's not like I don't understand what it's like to not want to talk about your past. I don't exactly start my conversations with, Hey, my mum overdosed.
Bella gets out and follows me into the restaurant. It's not posh here, but it's definitely a few hundred steps up from the cafes we've eaten at before. We're seated straightaway at a table in the corner.
"This place is nice," she says.
The server takes our drink order and gives us some time to look over the menu.
"You sound surprised."
Rolling her eyes, she laughs. "Well, I'm used to you taking me to greasy dives."
Everything is different now.
I want to spend more time with her. I want to treat her like--
Oh God, don't even think about wanting her to be your girlfriend.
"We can get back in the car and--"
"No," she says, kicking me under the table. "I like it here. I like this."
"What're you getting?" I ask her before this conversation goes somewhere I'm not ready for.
She purses her lips and hums. "The barbeque chicken sandwich sounds good. Do you know if it is?"
I shrug. "Never been here before."
"Really? Why did you decide to come here then?"
"Ellis once mentioned it and said the food was decent."
"Ah, you want to take me to decent places," she teases.
"I'm not a complete wanker, Bella."
"No," she says, shaking her head. "Not a complete one."
"I'm real close to dragging you out of here."
She wiggles her eyebrows. "Oh, yeah?"
"Not what I had in mind, but I'm open to suggestions."
"I bet you are," she says dryly.
We place our food order--her going for the sandwich and me a big, fat steak.
She narrows her eyes and stirs her Coke with the straw. "You've already asked if I wanted to talk about it, and I said no."
I love how she knows what I'm going to say before I say it.
"All right, I'm sorry. If you ever want to, I'm here."
With a small smile, she dips her head. "Thank you."
The whole weight of the world is on her shoulders, so I hope she does talk to me someday.
* * *
Rocco is mad at me.
But then, when isn't he mad at me?
We had such a lovely time last weekend at the restaurant and, you know, the sex we had before and after. This last week, he has been messaging me more and more. It's because I told him that Celia is dead. Thank fuck I didn't let any details slip. I have to be more careful.
It's Friday night, and I'm back at his house. Being with him is addictive, and as much as I know I should put some distance between us now that I've spilled more than I wanted to, I can't actually make myself leave. Talking to him is the best part of my day. I already miss Celia more than I can ever say; I'm not ready to miss Rocco, too.
He paces from the small kitchen into the even smaller living room, and I sit back on the sofa and sip his beer, which probably isn't the best start to making nice again. I'm not sure what I've done this time, but I have no doubt, I'll find out soon enough.
"Soooo," I say, "want to share why you're in pace mode?"
He stops for a second to glare in my direction before picking up the pacing again.
I guess that's a no.
"Are you mad at me because I didn't come here last night? I told you I couldn't get away."
"No," he snaps.
"Are you mad at me because I wouldn't watch your fight?"
"Because I have better hair than you?"
This time, he stops again and looks at me like I just started stuffing Cheerios up my nose.
"I'm not mad at you, Isabella, okay?"
The use of my full name says otherwise, buster.
"Then, what's going on? Because this behaviour isn't normal, even for you, Rocky."
"I don't box. I street fight, so drop the Rocky shit. And I really don't think you have any place, lecturing me on normal behaviour. Who's Adam?"
"Look, I personally don't give a flying fuck who's shagging who and if they're single. But I don't like being lied to, Isabella."
Did we just enter the twilight zone?
Shoving off the sofa, I slam his beer on the coffee table and glare. "Who the hell do you think you are? I never lied to you about being single, not that you ever asked. Adam is a sort of friend, and we've only spent time together to revise. One, why don't you grow a damn pair and ask me rather than pacing the flat, being a miserable shit? And, two, how do you know Adam?"
I've been faithful to you, you fucking idiot!
His jaw tightens. "He's not your boyfriend?"
"No! Again, how do you know him?"
"I followed you."
"I'm sorry. You what?"
"I. Followed. You," he says slower, like I didn't hear and not because I'm stunned at the creeper in him.
Seriously, how have I not killed him by now?
I'm too shocked and too pissed off to speak. Inside, I'm burning with anger. My fists clench, and my jaw locks.
How dare he follow me. And how the hell did I not notice?
"Rocco!" My voice is about a million octaves too high.
Sighing, he sits down, and I follow. We've never really had a deep conversation, not for long, but his stalking of me is bound to be about as personal as you can get.
"I know next to nothing about you, Bella. You come here a lot, but you're not always here, if you know what I mean, and besides arguing and some pretty intense sex, I get nothing. You don't talk about what happened with your sister. All I know about your parents is that they're protective, and they want you to go to uni. Maybe this fucking place has made me paranoid, but I like to know who the fuck is in my bed and my life!"
"All right, that makes no sense when all you've ever had is one-night stands."
I'm not buying that bullshit. He couldn't care less who he was shagging as long as he got off. Before me, I hope anyway. We've not said we're exclusive, but we both know we are.
"You know what I'm getting at. If you're hanging around here regularly, then I need to know who you are."
"Isabella Hastings. Student at Ickworth Grammar School. Short. Twin. There. Happy?"
"Not really. I knew all that before, and I don't like not being able to figure something out."
"What do you want to know?" I ask, knowing I'll have to lie if he asks the wrong questions.
Running his hands over his face, he shakes his head. "I don't know. There's just...something."
"Oh, right," I say sarcastically.
"Something about you that I can't put my finger on."
"Everyone has secrets, Rocco."
"It's not that."
"Then, what is it?"
Laughing, he shrugs. "I dunno."
Fuck, this is so unhelpful.
"I'm not really sure what you want from me right now."
"You're not the only one, Bella. It's driving me crazy."
"My favourite colour is orange. I love Chinese food. My favourite film is and always will be Jurassic Park."
Rocco laughs. "Really?"
"It's a classic. I challenge you to find someone who doesn't like it."
"Have you not watched it?"
"Once, a long time ago."
"Once? You've only seen it once?" I ask
"You want sex?"
I roll my eyes and get my iPad out of my bag. "No, I want you to watch this. Come on."
"We're watching a movie on that tiny screen?"
"Unless you have the DVD..."
He gives me a flat look and shuffles over to my side of the sofa. Slinging one arm over the back, he leans closer. His side is plastered against mine, and for the first time since I arrived, he relaxes.
I don't want to be one of those obvs-he-loves-me girls--and, yes, I heard those words being spewed from a twat's mouth at my school--but I have a feeling that his obsession with knowing me and his inappropriate stalking aren't about checking me out. Rocco's made it clear that he doesn't do the commitment thing, but his actions speak of the contrary.
"You have Jurassic Park on iTunes," he states in the most judgmental tone I've ever heard. "You're such a geek."
I don't even care.
"Yep, get used to it," I reply as I hit play.
"I can't believe I'm fucking watching this. Aren't dinosaurs for kids?"
"You have no soul."
He snorts. "Don't I know it?"
Wincing, I open my mouth to apologise, but he shakes his head. Damn, I'm stupid. Rocco has such a low opinion of himself, and I hate feeding into it because I happen to think a hell of a lot about him. Although it's ridiculous because I've known him only a couple of months, he's pretty much the only guy I really trust.
There's something about him, too.
"You can't follow me again."
"Yeah, I know. I'm sorry. That was a mistake."
His apology is all I need. He knows it was wrong, so we're cool.
I snuggle into his side and enjoy the feeling of being safe. He and his place make me feel at home, like I'm supposed to be here. This really isn't a smart idea.
The film starts, and Rocco sighs sharply, but I know he's just acting bored. Even if he's genuinely bored, I don't give a damn. He's watching this, and we're spending proper time together that isn't out on the streets where I have an ulterior motive or in bed where I can't even form a coherent thought.
"How could you ever think a park with dinosaurs was a good idea?" he says two minutes into the film as he kicks his feet up on the coffee table.
I've not seen him this chilled out--ever. It's nice, and I'm totally picturing us as a couple right now.
"It's a fabulous idea. The problems stem from having one employee in charge of all the little things--you know, like the security of the park."
"So, you think it's fucking stupid, too?" he asks, smirking and nuzzling my neck. "We could do something that's not stupid right now."
My slut body arches to give him better access. "Rocco," I say, laughing and pushing him away, "stop." Stop has never meant carry on to me before. "Okay, fine, don't stop."
I shove him away, but he grips me around the waist and takes me with him. We end up lying on the sofa with him below. I can tell that he likes the position as much as I do.
The iPad is somewhere on the floor now, but I don't care as we begin attacking each other's clothes.
* * *
I hate exams.
To my right, Livvy is powering through the A-Level English Literature paper, and I'm looking at it like it's written in Latin. If I don't pass my A-Levels, I have no chance of going to uni. Now, I don't want to, but, you know, I want the option next year.
This is stuff I know, too. Reading, escaping to another place, is my vice. I actually like the English class, but my mind has shut down, and all I can think about is Hugo.
I read Celia's diary again this morning. It was such a stupid idea because I knew the outcome would be me stressing about it, and I need to concentrate right now.
If I could just be tested on obsessive behaviour and throwing your education down the toilet, that would be ace, and I'd get all As.
The clock above Mr Branson's head ticks by. Eleven minutes have passed, and so far, all I have written is my name.
I can't fail. My parents can't afford for me to repeat the year. The school won't offer a scholarship for a repeat of year twelve, and eighteen grand is a lot of money. I doubt I'll even be allowed to come back if they did pay full price. Failures don't look good on a private school's stats.
Maybe I can pretend I'm sick, so they'll let me take it later. But I doubt I'll find Hugo and solve Celia's murder in the next few days, so it's pointless to delay the inevitable.
I read the first question again and zone in on what I'm supposed to be doing.
It takes a lot more effort than usual, but I finally manage to finish the exam and on time. Hopefully, I didn't fail.
"Front row can leave first. Everyone else remain seated until it's your turn," Mr Branson orders, pushing his frameless glasses further up his nose.
Waiting for my turn is torture, but it's worth the relief I feel when we're finally outside the gym.
Livvy is all smiles when she looks at me over her shoulder. She links her arm under her friend's as they chat.
Girls still do that linking thing at seventeen and eighteen? I thought it died off mid-teens.
"How did you do?" she asks, pulling her friend to a stop so that she can talk to me.
I shrug. My future in picking up litter on the street is pretty secure. "We'll see. What about you?"
"It went really well," she replies. "I'm sure you did fine. You're way more academic than me."
Of course she did fine. If she gets anything below an A, I'll be shocked. If I get anything above a C, I think everyone will be shocked. And I'm not necessarily more academic than her. I'm just fortunate that a certain amount of smarts comes naturally. The person marking my exam might not agree.
"Good. Cambridge is looking great then."
She suddenly looks terrified. "Oh God, I hope so."
"You'll get the results for sure, Liv. There is no way you're not going to Cambridge. Don't stress; you've got this," I say.
Smiling, she lets go of her friend and gives me a hug that's only awkward for one of us--that one being me.
"Thanks, Bells. You always know how to make me feel better."
I take a small step back, aware that she's still too close to me. "Are you coming home with me now or..."
"Yeah, I'm coming. I'll see you guys tomorrow," she says, hugging her friends.
I don't know why I find hugging friends so weird. And the way they get all overly vocal when they see each other. OMG, it's been, like, three minutes since I last saw you.
Who fucking cares?
Actually, maybe I do know why I find it so weird. I'm not equipped to be around people, especially when I have to talk to them. My tolerance for bullshit is permanently on low.
I give her friends a weak smile and leave with my sister.
"So, you don't think you did well?" she asks.
"Not well enough. I'll be ecstatic if I get a C."
Actually, I'll be shocked if I did that well.
"You're underestimating yourself, Bella. You've never had to try very hard to get good grades. You're incredibly intelligent without even trying."
She's only saying that because she doesn't know what I get up to when I go to Nana and Grandad's. Intelligent, that is not.
"I guess I'll find out soon enough."
More importantly, Mum and Dad will. When they made the decision to send us to private school, I promised myself that I wouldn't mess around, and even though I haven't, I've let something get in the way. If I fail, I'm going to owe them a lot of money. Even with the scholarships, they've still paid a crapload, plus extracurricular activities, uniforms, and trips on top of fees.
"You'll be fine," she replies. "Are you doing anything tonight?"
"No plans. Want to watch a movie?" I fin
It's rare we spend much time together. When we're getting along though, it's nice to plan something.
Her brown eyes widen in surprise because I've suggested we spend time together. "Sure...your choice."
"Thank God! I don't think I can sit through Dear John again."
"It's a classic," she argues.
"How is it a classic? Psycho is a classic."
She laughs. "I think your movie choice says a lot about you."
She is absolutely right.
"Yours, too," I reply. I think I'd rather be crazy than romantic.
"My movie choices aren't concerning though, Bella. That's the difference between us."
There is absolutely more than one difference between us.
"Fine. How about we watch...Magic Mike?" I suggest, wiggling my eyebrows, identical to hers. "You know you can't say no to that."
Livvy grins, and it's like looking in a mirror. We do have a similar about-to-be-perverted smile.
"I'm in. Good pick, Bells!"
We head along the path toward home. Parking at school is usually nonexistent, so unless it's pissing down, we don't use the car, as it only takes a few minutes. I don't mind walking, but walking and getting wet is a no.
My phone pings with a WhatsApp message. Not many people text me, so Livvy eyes me as I dig my phone out of my bag. She doesn't know about Rocco.
Ellis wants you to come to a BBQ tomorrow.
Ellis wants me to. Not Rocco, too? I tap back a quick reply.
"Everything okay?" Livvy asks, her voice heavy with suspicion. She's looking at me far too closely.
You have the same face. Fuck off!
"Yep, everything's fine."
There's no way I'm going to tell her about Rocco yet. She'll want to know everything about him, down to the damn deodorant he uses, and I can't tell her how we met or where he's from.
She doesn't know everything. No one does.
Livvy is Miss Safe and would flip if she knew I was sneaking out and walking the streets at night. Then, she'd tell our parents.
"Okay," she says, clearly annoyed that I'm not telling her who the text was from.
She overshares, and I share the bare minimum.
"Are you all right, Bells?"
"You've been more distracted than usual."
"In case you forgot, we have our exams."
She narrows her eyes. "It's not that, and you know it. We've all grown used to the fact that we have no idea what's going on in your head, but it's getting worse. We were super close until..."
"Until Celia died," I finished.
When we were younger, we did everything together. We could waste hours playing Barbies. Well, Livvy would play, and I'd be the evil villain who pulled their heads off, but we still did it together. When Celia died, it stopped. By the time Livvy dealt with what'd happened, I was lost, and we didn't play anymore. Since then, we coexist but never really spend quality time together. Unless you count sitting in a room, being silent, and watching TV. I don't.