Reliving fate, p.14

Reliving Fate, page 14

 

Reliving Fate
 


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  We did that nails thing, but I mostly sat quietly, feeling like a third wheel.

  "Well...yeah, until she died. I don't want that to affect us. I mean, I understand that it affects every aspect of your life when you lose someone, but can we please try and get back to how things were?"

  "Sure. You got a magic wand?"

  "Bella, I'm being serious. If you don't want things to change though..."

  "No, sorry. I do. I don't know how to change things."

  "Talking is always a good start."

  "Erm, all right," I say. "What do you want to talk about?"

  This is weird. So very, very weird.

  She smiles and flicks her dark hair behind her shoulder, like she's about to get serious. "The message. Do I know him?"

  Fuck's sake.

  "No, you don't know him. I know you want to talk more, and that's...doable, I guess, but can we not talk about this particular subject? Please!"

  Pouting, she shakes her head. "We're teenage girls, Bells. We're supposed to have these particular conversations. It's like the subject."

  "Well, I'm not your typical teenage girl, Liv."

  "Oh, we're all aware of that. You said you'd try, so I'm holding you to it."

  "Fine. Again, no, you don't know him, he's not my boyfriend, and, no, you can't meet him." Like, ever.

  "Early days. I get it. I didn't want anyone to meet Harry when we were first talking."

  Unfortunately for me, I go to school with the little wanker, too.

  "It's not like that with him. We're...friends, and that's all it'll ever be." Lie.

  "Uh-huh," she teases in a voice that makes me want to trip her up. "Doesn't seem like it."

  I'm not sure Rocco is the type to have a proper girlfriend. He's a bit of a loner, and I don't get the impression that he likes having ties to people or places. He doesn't want anything in his life that he can't walk away from in a second, and I want someone permanent.

  Sometimes, when we're together, it feels like a lot more than a friends-with-benefits arrangement. I don't want to get my hopes up though because I'm starting to really, really like him. If he stopped wanting to see me, it would hurt. A lot.

  If he's just a very nice chapter or paragraph in my life, depending on how long he wants to hang out with me, then I'm going to enjoy it.

  "We're friends," I repeat. "Now, let's go perv on Channing Tatum."

  "Ooh, yeah! I'll just call Harry first and let him know I'll be over a little later."

  "Have fun with that," I mutter, widening my eyes.

  "Bella," she chastises, "he's not as bad as you think."

  I hold my hands up.

  While she calls Harry, I send Rocco another message.

  This weekend needs to hurry up.

  Horny, are ya?

  I roll my eyes at his reply. Obviously, that's what he thought I meant.

  Channing is about to take care of that.

  Who the fuck is that???

  Oh, yeah, oops.

  Rocco doesn't really know many current actors or movies.

  Tatum. The actor. Livvy and I are going to watch Magic Mike. I'll have to bring the DVD over.

  Don't bother. Sounds shit, and you'll be too busy sitting on my lap to watch anything.

  Shaking my head, I laugh and put my phone away.

  I miss him.

  Yeah, the end of us is definitely going to hurt.

  TWENTY-ONE

  * * *

  ROCCO

  I still don't know why Bella keeps coming here as often as she can. We hang out, have a lot of sex, and walk around seemingly aimlessly. She doesn't seem to be bored yet.

  Shouldn't she have woken up and realised that she could do better by now?

  It doesn't make sense. Not that I'm complaining. I can't get enough of her.

  I'm an exciting person, but I'm not sure how long I can make that excitement last for her.

  I've felt her and tasted her now, and that's usually about the point when I walk away. I'm not walking. Bella is different. I'm not stupid enough to believe that she's different in a happily-ever-after way, but there's something that keeps me going back for more. And more. And more. Neither of us can help ourselves.

  It's almost eleven o'clock on Friday, and I'm at the river with Ellis and a few others. Bella is coming tomorrow--tonight, she's studying--and I kind of just want to go to bed now because there seems to be no point in being anywhere.

  "Your girlfriend's back then," Faith says, stepping in front of me and giving me a knowing smile.

  I jump slightly at her sudden appearance.

  Did she say girlfriend?

  Bella.

  I turn and see the beautiful brunette walking toward me from the road. She's wearing black skinny jeans and a plain white fitted T-shirt. Simple but--fuck me--it's effective. She's a day early, but I have never been so relieved to see anyone before.

  A smile touches her lips as she makes her way over to me, which I return. How can I not? Bella is stunning. Her eyes are big and warm and completely fixed on me.

  "Hi," she says, stopping so close to me that I can feel her breath.

  She tilts her head, and I just want to grab her and haul her off to my flat.

  "Hey. What're you doing here?" I whisper breathlessly.

  Her eyes narrow. "Same thing as you," she replies.

  I doubt that very much. I'm here because there's nowhere better; she has plenty of better options. She's here to do something specific...and not just me. It pisses me off when she lies.

  "Right. Wanna head to my place?" I ask. "We might as well skip ahead." Please, let's skip ahead.

  Having her here around drug dealers, druggies, prostitutes, loan sharks, and fuck knows what else has me on edge.

  I'm always ready to fight and defend myself, but Bella brings a weakness in me that I didn't know was possible.

  "And what makes you think I came to sleep with you, Rocco?"

  I laugh and dip my head. We're now only an inch apart.

  "Because we've been at it like rabbits on ecstasy."

  "Yeah, I get it," she snaps, slapping my chest. "So, last weekend, Ellis mentioned a fight at the scrapyard tomorrow."

  My jaw tightens. Fucking Ellis.

  "And?"

  "And I want to watch."

  No, she doesn't.

  I raise my eyebrow as a few things settle into place. There's something at the scrapyard she wants to see. Or someone. Since the first fight, she's actively avoided The White Rabbit on a Friday night, and now that the fight's been moved, she's suddenly all over it.

  Maybe her reaction to the fight and the location and the people there will give me another clue.

  "Okay," I reply, "we'll go."

  "You weren't going to go anyway?"

  Grabbing a beer from the cooler beside me, I pop the lid and hand it to her. "Nope. Fights between Lonny and Hugo never last long. Waste of time."

  Her eyes widen, and she stiffens. Her reaction tells me a lot. I just need to figure out which one of them she is looking for.

  They're both about ten to fifteen years older than her and have lived here their entire lives, so I have no idea how she would know either of them. But I want to know. I want her to unravel and spill every last secret.

  I'm pathetic.

  "Well, if it doesn't last long, I guess we'll have time to do something else after." Her voice is uneven and low.

  The mention of one--or both--of them has left her shaken. After the fight, I'll be taking her home and not for the reason I usually do.

  "What time does it start?" she whispers.

  "Midnight," I reply.

  She purses her lips. The fight is over twenty-four hours away, and it's clear that she wants it to be sooner. Fights in the day tend to attract unwanted attention.

  Bella's mind has only ever been half here, but right now, she's completely somewhere else.

  "You okay?" I ask. "You look pale."

  "I'm fine." She breaks a smile and takes a sip
of beer. "So, why are fights between Hugo and Lonny always over so soon? They both crap?"

  "No, they're both good."

  "They beat you?"

  I give her a flat look. "They're not that good, Bella."

  She rolls her eyes and relaxes. I have about a quarter of her attention.

  "Of course not. You're practically Rocky."

  "Sweetheart, you need to give up the boxer thing. I'm much better than a man with padded gloves."

  "I'm kinda thinking it'd still hurt."

  Lifting one shoulder, I reply, "No doubt it would, but there's something more real about fighting with all you have on you. I don't see the point in protection or weapons."

  She deadpans. "You don't see the point in protection?"

  "Rubbers, yes. Knives and guns, no."

  "You enjoy fighting, don't you? It's not just for money."

  I don't know why, but admitting that I do to Bella leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. "No, I don't just do it for money." I love the power. I love walking into a ring surrounded by people, knowing I'm going to win and the other guy is going to lose.

  "You don't ever think about what could happen to you when you're fighting? You could be seriously hurt, killed even. I read about this guy who was killed with one punch to the head."

  "If people stopped to think about everything that could go wrong, no one would do anything."

  She tilts her bottle in my direction. "Not the point. This is dangerous, Rocco. One bad punch, and you could be dead."

  "It's hardly like I'm going to come up with the cure to cancer," I reply.

  Her face falls, and she lowers her beer, like it's suddenly too heavy for her to hold. "So, that means your life is disposable? You don't have to just do something, like cure an illness, to be worthy of having a long, happy life."

  God, I love how idealistic she is.

  I might not be a murderer, but I'm definitely not a good guy.

  "I hope you always have that opinion, Bella."

  "I hope, one day, you change yours."

  I laugh and sip my beer. There's not much chance of that unless I end up winning the lottery...and I don't even play it.

  Bella looks over the other guys. She's here more and more, but she still doesn't really interact with many people, mostly just Ellis and me. Occasionally, she'll engage in conversation with Faith but not often.

  "You want to head over there?" I ask.

  We're standing off to the side with the beer cooler, and everyone else is now around the fire.

  "Nah, I'm good here. Want to sit?" she asks.

  Good. I don't really want her with them anyway even if Ellis is there, too.

  I drop to the floor and kick my feet out in front of me. She joins me.

  The river ripples gently in front of us, and Bella stares at the water as it touches the shore with the wind. She tries so hard to look calm and peaceful, but I can see the panic and urgency lurking under the surface.

  "I can't believe I used to go in the water as a kid. It's disgusting," I say.

  Bella turns her nose up. "Yeah, you're gross. I won't even go in the sea."

  "Why not?"

  "It's full of pee and whale sperm."

  Laughing, I turn my body to face hers. "You have a unique way of looking at the world."

  She shrugs and leans against my side. "So do you."

  "I call it as it is."

  "So do I."

  Yeah, maybe we're similar in that way, but that's about it.

  "Why did no one stop you from getting in the dirty, pissy water then?" she asks.

  My arm hooks around her shoulders, seemingly of its own accord.

  What the fuck is that? Why did I do that? We're not in my flat now.

  She settles in closer, and I take a deep breath.

  Shit. I don't want anyone to know she's my weakness.

  They probably all know anyway. Faith has called her my girlfriend.

  "Everyone did it. There were no parents around. We all hung out on the streets and by the river from a young age. I don't remember the last time I had to follow rules set by an adult."

  She sighs. "Sounds fun. Growing up, I had a lot of rules and restrictions. They're still trying to enforce them."

  "You have parents who care. Don't ever underestimate how amazing that actually is."

  "I guess," she replies. Her mind is elsewhere.

  "What's wrong? What else happened when you were younger? Or is it about your sister?"

  Blinking up at me, she stills. "What makes you think something else happened?"

  "Bella, I felt the walls go up just then. Something bad happened, other than your older sister dying, and that's why your parents are strict with you."

  She licks her lips and drops her eyes. When she glances back up, they're filled with tears. "There's nothing else. It's just...everything changed when Celia was killed. I was only six, but in that moment, my childhood ended. There was no innocence left, and my parents couldn't pretend the world was perfect anymore. The hood had been lifted, and I saw everything for what it was. My parents became so overprotective that I could barely breathe. Even now, I can pretty much only sleep over at my grandparents' house, nowhere else."

  "Killed? God, Bella, I'm sorry she died," I say, pulling her tighter against my side until her body relaxes again. "What happened to her?"

  She looks away, and the walls go higher. "Can we not talk about it, please?"

  "Yeah, sure." I don't want to push, so I'll be patient and wait until she's ready to tell me.

  Please talk to me sometime.

  I don't know what it's like to have siblings, but I can imagine how hard losing one would be.

  It's the absolute wrong time, but I lean down and kiss her. She tastes like beer and chocolate.

  Kissing Bella is like free-falling. Every fucking time. I can't get enough of her.

  She moans and twists her body until her chest is pressed against mine.

  We're still not close enough.

  Gripping her firm arse, I haul her onto my lap. She smiles against my lips, and her fingers find their way to my hair. I love it when she tugs deeper into the kiss.

  Everyone is still around, but right now, I don't care.

  TWENTY-TWO

  * * *

  BELLA

  I wake up beside Rocco, and it's officially another one of my favourite mornings ever. The weekends are so much better than weekdays and not just because there's no school revision sessions. Every time I'm here, it gets harder and harder to leave.

  Right now, my parents think I'm at my grandparents' again, and while it could so easily go very wrong if they called, I can't bring myself to care. If Rocco and I want to do this more often--and that will be a big, fat yes--then I have to tell my family I'm with him. Livvy sleeps at Harry's, so they can't kick up a fuss.

  Ha! Of course they can kick up a fuss. And they will.

  It's not like I have to ask permission to be out anymore. I'm a bloody adult! Not that they'll see it like that. They'll focus on the fact that they don't know exactly where I am and freak that something could be wrong.

  I could be killed, like Celia was.

  Rocco's still sleeping, his arm resting across my waist and his leg thrown over mine.

  Ah, I'm fucking crazy about him.

  "Morning!" I yell.

  Rocco jumps and bolts up, gripping the quilt and shouting, "Fuck! Jesus Christ, Bella!" His eyes are wide and alert, like he's looking out for a man with a gun.

  I double over, laughing and replaying it in my head over and over. "Oh my God, your face just then!" Biting my bottom lip, I try to stop myself from laughing.

  What did he think was going on?

  He looks mad. Real mad. His eyes narrow, and his nostrils flare. Closing his eyes, he chants, "You like her, you like her, you like her. She's good in bed. You like her, and she's good in bed."

  I throw my arms above my head and lie there, watching him struggle in not retaliating. I'd give anything to hear what he
's actually thinking. As juvenile as it might be, I really love to argue with him.

  "I'm sorry. I couldn't resist."

  His eyes narrow further until I can barely see them anymore. "What the fuck is wrong with you, Isabella?" he growls. "My first instinct is to fight. You are so fucking lucky I didn't hurt you!" Shoving the cover off him, he gets out of bed and storms out of the room. "You're fucking insane!"

  I can't help laughing again. It's funny, even more so after his little rant. Rocco would never hurt me. I wasn't worried about that at all when I decided to wake him up in the best way...for me.

  "Payback is going to be a bitch!" he shouts from either the living room or kitchen.

  "Bring it..." Oh. I want to use his surname here, but I don't know it. Shit, how can I not know that? I'm sleeping with a man, and I don't know his surname!

  Wow, Livvy is the together twin, and I'm the slutty twin.

  "Rocco, what's your surname?" I call out, sitting up to look for my clothes. I'm pretty sure we made it to the bedroom before our clothes were off.

  "I'm not telling you any-fucking-thing you want today. Get out of bed. I'm making coffee." His flat is so small that you don't have to shout to be heard in different rooms. But he is.

  Angry Rocco is sexy Rocco.

  "Why does you making coffee require me getting up?"

  "Because you woke me up, and if you want a caffeine hit, you've gotta get up. I'm not bringing it to you, Cinderella."

  I'm not even getting into the whole Cinderella-was-the-servant thing; he wouldn't get it.

  "But I don't want to get up yet, Rocco."

  This is backfiring.

  "Well, I'm not bringing it in after you almost gave me a heart attack, so get your arse out of bed!"

  Damn it.

  "Fine!"

  If I'd known he wouldn't bring it to me, I wouldn't have scared him.

  Ha! Yes, I would have.

  I roll to the end of the bed and get up. He'd better make a really, really big cup of coffee.

  What time is it?

  Before I go find him, I check my phone.

  Ew. It's not even eight in the morning yet. On a Saturday.

  "Why is it so early?" I ask, walking out of the bedroom and into the kitchen.

 
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