Reliving Fate, page 23
"Isabella!" Livvy gasps.
My fucking idiotic girl rolls her eyes. "Clearly, I'm joking. But I can see the judgment, and it kinda sucks."
Fuck. Awkward doesn't even cut it.
I laugh even though there's nothing funny here. I want to bolt for the door. "Bella, baby, what're you doing?"
She shrugs and looks away.
I knew she didn't have the best relationship with her parents and sister, but I didn't think it was this bad.
Bella seems angry with them, and I have no idea why.
Erin puts my coffee in front of me.
"Thank you," I say, seriously considering pouring the whole thing over my head.
Why did I think this would be a good idea again?
I'm better off as a loner, but there was absolutely nothing I could do about Bella. She exploded into my life, and there is no way she's going anywhere, but I didn't have to involve more people.
"Thanks, Mum," Bella mutters, looking at her coffee like she's up for joining me in scalding my face. She bites her lip, avoiding everyone.
She's supposed to be the buffer, the person talking to everyone to prevent uncomfortable silences.
Step it up, Bella.
Karl clears his throat. "Are you hungry, Rocco? Erin makes a mean roast beef."
"Ew, did you really just use the word mean?" Livvy says, laughing at her dad.
Harry joins in and puts his arm around her. I feel like they should be wearing matching trousers and sweatshirts around their necks.
"Hey, I'm still young, I'll have you know."
"Roast beef is one of my favourites," I reply.
Erin smiles. "Good. Bella said you liked it, and I'm glad to hear she wasn't just having me on."
Why does Erin think Bella would lie about that?
Bella rolls her eyes and looks at me for help.
What the hell happened?
It's almost like Bella is a stranger here, too.
I want to know why.
Was it because of Celia's death?
Whatever it is, Bella seems almost uncomfortable around her family, and I want to help.
* * *
Bella gives her parents a tight, awkward smile and turns to me. "I'm going to show Rocco around in a minute." She gives me a side-glance and mouths, Drink up.
I do as I was told because I have a lot of questions, and she's going to answer them. Or I'm going to ask a lot, she's going to avoid, we'll argue, and then we'll have make-up sex.
I'm fine with either.
Actually, I prefer the latter.
We leave the living room, and Bella stops near the stairs to feed two fucking goldfish in a bowl on the windowsill. I didn't know she had fish.
"They yours?" I ask.
She nods while dropping a small amount of food into the water. "Uh-huh. Ben and Jerry."
Harry and Livvy hover close behind us. I don't look at them--my focus is on Bella--but I make sure I can see them in the corner of my eye. They're not going to do anything, but the part of me that knows the dangers of turning your back on someone needs them in sight.
"So, Rocco, are you at uni or..." Harry asks, knowing full fucking well I'm not.
"No, uni isn't for me." Mainly because I never finished high school, and universities are very judgmental over that shit. Plus, I'd hate it.
He nods his head. "That's a shame. We can't wait, right, Liv?"
Fuck me, this guy is boring.
Bella lifts her eyebrow, and, yeah, I know what she means. Harry's dull, a bit of a Mr Perfect. If Livvy weren't so similar to Harry, his future wife would cheat on him and lie about the paternity of their children.
"Harry and I are going in September. Hopefully, Bella will decide to go, too."
"God," she groans. "I'll fail at uni."
"No, you won't. Why do you think that?" I ask.
For someone so cocky, she doesn't have the healthiest opinion of herself.
Grinning, she shrugs. "Because I already can't be bothered to do the work."
I chuckle, despite suspecting there's a lot more to it than that. "Yeah, they don't like that. You can do it though, and you know that."
"Whatever. Let me give you the tour."
I look back at her parents still in the living room, whispering to each other. "Er..."
Erin looks up and smiles. "Go, please. We'll call you when lunch is ready."
Bella waves at her mum over her shoulder without looking back, and we head up the stairs. I have a feeling this tour is just going to be of her room.
I'm very okay with that.
"Okay, who has a roast for lunch?" I ask once we're upstairs.
"Ugh, my family when they're trying to impress."
"I wonder what they would've made if they'd known where I lived in advance."
Snorting, she rolls her eyes. "Cheese sandwich and possibly crisps if they were feeling generous."
"They hate me already, don't they?"
"They don't hate you. Even if they do, I really don't care."
Yeah, I know she doesn't.
We stop outside a door.
"This room is mine. Celia's is at the end."
"Which one we going in?"
She hesitates a second before replying, "Mine. I don't go in hers when they're home."
"They never go in."
"Are you not allowed?"
"They've never said not to. It's kind of an unspoken rule."
"That you break?"
She looks up and grins. "Yeah. Quite often actually."
Just like sneaking out and falling for a guy from the wrong side of the tracks. No wonder she thinks they prefer Livvy.
I walk into her room, and it's just as I imagined. Pale green walls, band posters everywhere, notebooks and sketchpads stacked on an overflowing desk, massive bed literally in the middle of the room.
"It's a thing you sleep in."
I stare at her. "Hilarious. Odd place for it."
"Yeah, I moved it out to paint and then kind of liked it. Mum and Livvy said it was ridiculous, so I kept it there."
I'm not surprised.
"Do you like it there?"
She narrows her eyes. "No, it's ridiculous."
Laughing, I shake my head. "You're impossible."
"So I've heard. We don't have long until lunch."
I step closer. "And what would you like to do while we wait?"
"Don't be coy, Rocco. It doesn't suit you."
I dig my fingers into her hips and pull her against me. Gasping, she hits my chest and runs her hands up my body and around my neck. I love how quickly she catches on.
"But what if my parents hear?" she whispers.
From the mischievous light in her eyes, it's obvious she doesn't give a shit about who hears.
"You'll have to exercise self-control and be quiet."
"I don't like being quiet."
"Believe me, I've noticed."
Someone knocks on Bella's door, and she pulls away from me, glaring.
"What?" she snaps.
"Can we come in?" Livvy asks.
Is she fucking serious?
I shake my head, but Bella's already taking a step back and telling them to come right in.
Livvy's smiling when she opens the door, and Harry follows her like a good little puppy dog. I wanted to make Bella come, not make small talk with her sister.
"Do you support a team?" Harry asks.
Shrugging, I sit on Bella's bed. "No, not really."
"Ah, Livvy and I are huge Manchester United fans."
We live nowhere near Manchester, but all right.
Livvy sits on Harry's lap once he's settled on Bella's desk chair.
Bella slumps down beside me.
"Bells hates football, too," Livvy says. "It's really is lovely to meet you, Rocco. My sister seems happy again."
When she said again, it fe
"I am in the room, Liv!" Bella exclaims.
"I know. I'm just saying, it's nice to see you happy, and I want nothing more than for you to move on and start living. Celia would have wanted that, too."
Bella tenses, dipping her head. If only Livvy knew just how much Bells hasn't moved on.
"Leave it, Olivia. I'm fine. I've always been fine."
"Hey, she's not attacking you," Harry cuts in.
I give him a look that people back home know means that they need to stop what they're doing or run fucking fast. Bella tucks herself into my side when I wrap my arm around her. I think I'd rather talk about football again.
"How long have you two been together?" I ask.
They act like it's been fifty years.
Livvy beams. "Four years."
"It seems like forever though, right, Liv?" Harry turns to us. "We have our differences, but we never really argue. Not for long anyway."
I laugh until I realise he's being serious. Bella rolls her eyes.
"Jesus, Bella picks a fight at least three times a day."
"I do not pick fights! It is not my fault that you're unreasonable."
Raising my eyebrow, I tilt my head her way. "Oh, come on. You love fighting."
"So do you."
Grinning, I dip my head and press against hers. "Maybe a little."
"I'm kinda wishing I hadn't let them in now," she whispers.
"I don't need to say I told you so."
Harry and Livvy can probably hear, but neither of us cares.
"Lunch!" Erin shouts from downstairs.
Livvy and Harry leave first, and I suddenly don't want to get up. Eating with her family and getting to know them seemed like a good idea, but now, I'm not sure. I don't do this shit.
Bella gets to her feet, and I force myself to follow.
What am I supposed to talk to them about? I can't tell them the truth about myself.
"Just keep smiling," Bella mutters, looking at me over her shoulder as we go downstairs.
That's hardly encouraging.
My girl leads me into the dining room, which is three times the size of my kitchen and living room, and we sit down. Bella's dad is already sitting at the head of the table, and her mum is fussing over serving plates of food that could feed about twenty people. Harry and Livvy are opposite me and Bella.
This scenario is a million miles away from anything I've ever experienced. The only time I eat at a table is if I go out with Bella or Ellis. My mum bought food but never served it.
"This all looks amazing," I say.
"I hope you enjoy it," Erin replies. "Dig in, please."
Bella reaches for the plate of sliced beef. She drops one on her plate and then a couple on mine. The rest of her family and Harry start helping themselves. I pick up the massive bowl of mashed potatoes.
This is all fucking weird.
"Where did you and Bella meet?"
"The cafe Nan and Grandad take us to," Bella says. She looks from her mum to me.
I'm sure as shit not going to correct her. Erin and Karl wouldn't like knowing the truth--that their daughter showed up in a rough part of town alone and at night.
Erin sits a little taller. "Have you met my parents, Rocco?"
"I haven't." Not properly anyway, we didn't speak at the cafe.
Bella takes the bowl of mash from me. "I was alone, Mum. You're not the last ones to meet him."
"What's your plan then, Rocco?" Livvy asks.
Bella rolls her eyes. "Livvy loves a plan."
"Right," I say. "No plan yet."
"Well, that's okay," Livvy says.
I know it is.
"You know, I so admire people who kind of go with the flow. Bella is like that. She's happy to take things as they come. I wish I were a little more like that."
I don't miss the look Harry gives her. The prick doesn't want Livvy to be more like Bella. I dare him to say it.
"Liv, you've planned your outfits for the rest of the week. You'd be lost without your lists," Bella says.
"You could do with planning a bit more, Isabella," Erin says.
Is this about her life after she's finished sixth form?
She's done with her exams and school. Soon she will get her A-Level results, and she will be forced to do something. I don't care what she decides, but her parents sure do.
"Yeah, yeah," Bella mutters, loading some vegetables onto her plate. "I'm going to stay at Nan and Grandad's tonight."
Erin raises her eyebrow. "Is that code for, I'm staying with Rocco?"
I pour some gravy over my plate and ignore Erin's comment.
Bella doesn't. "Are you saying you won't lose your shit if I stay at his?"
"Language, Isabella," Karl scolds. "We appreciate that you're eighteen, but tonight, you need to stay home."
I cut her a look that says, Shut up, and to my absolute shock, she does.
I'm not bothered if her parents don't like me, but it would be easier on Bella if they did. It's not unreasonable that they want to get to know me more before they're comfortable with their daughter being with me. Besides, she sneaks away to stay at mine anyway.
"You know why," Erin says quietly. She avoids looking Bella in the eye and instead cuts into a slice of beef.
I don't know why. Is anyone going to tell me?
Bella sighs. "Fine."
I carefully watch her, hoping this will be one of the rare occasions where I can read her. Nope.
Why can't she go out? She's a fucking adult!
The rest of lunch is awkward and seems to drag on forever. Bella barely says another word to her parents, and I spend the hour answering a few questions and desperately trying to think of things to say.
* * *
Rocco's car disappears out of sight, and I know, as soon as I go back inside, my family is going to say things. They don't think we're better than anyone else, but they definitely won't like that I'm with a bad boy.
I bet Mum calls him that at some point.
"Isabella, kitchen!" Dad shouts.
"What's up?" I ask, walking into the room and pretending like I don't know what's going on.
They're going to be shitty about him, and I'm already pissed off about it.
"Rocco seems like a nice person, love, and we know you like him, but I'm not sure he's right for you," Mum says.
"He doesn't really live near a brothel." I think.
"Isabella, be serious."
"Fine. You don't think he's right, but I'm eighteen, an adult, and it's not actually any of your business."
"You're our teenage daughter, living under our roof, so it's entirely our business," Dad chimes in.
"Well, there's nothing we can do about me being a teenager or your daughter, but I can move out."
Dad folds his arms. "And go where?"
Mum's eyes widen, knowing I'm bloody stubborn enough to do it if they force my hand. I might well be living in their house, but that doesn't give them the right to control who I'm with or be a dick to him.
"Let's all calm down a minute. Isabella, we're not telling you what you can or cannot do. We're merely raising an issue," Mum says.
"What's the issue with him then? Because he was perfectly polite, and he's never done anything wrong. Do you honestly think I would be with him if he didn't treat me right?"
"You've always liked a bad boy."
Ding, ding, ding.
"But you're not going to want one forever, and you have university to think of," Mum says.
"I don't want uni, Mum. I'm sure you know that by now. Rocco won't be influencing my decision either way, but just so you know, he's on your side of the argument. And I'm not going to listen to
Dad shakes his head. I know he's found it hard to deal with me growing up, so he pretty much leaves me to my own devices unless it's absolutely necessary.
God, I turn into a five-year-old when I'm around my family.
They make me angry most of the time. I don't remember being angry before Celia died, but after she was gone, everything inside me changed.
Do I blame my parents for her death, too? I certainly blame myself.
It wasn't their fault, but I can't help thinking that, if they'd just come inside with me...
"Where do you think you'll be if you don't go?" Dad asks.
"There are plenty of successful people who didn't go to uni. Do you really think Richard Branson is sitting on his private island right now, wishing he'd gone to Cambridge?"
"Don't have a dig at Cambridge just because Livvy is going there," Mum snaps.
Jesus, she's crazy.
"Oh my God. You know what I meant, and this has nothing to do with Liv."
"So, you're not jealous of--"
I click my fingers, effectively cutting her off. "Don't even go there. I'm really not jealous of her life. I want her to go to Cambridge and do whatever else she wants, but you have to stop comparing us. You have the same goals for us both, and it's unrealistic."
Stomping off, I head to my room.
I'm so done.
* * *
"Are you seeing Rocco again today?" Mum asks as I walk into the kitchen in the morning.
When I see her, my anger is renewed and burning in my stomach. She pushes a coffee toward me like it's a white flag.
She licks her lips. "I'm concerned; that's all."
I know what about, but if she's going to be difficult about me being with Rocco, she can bloody well come out and say it.
"His age. His lifestyle."
"He's four years older than me, and he fixes cars for a living."
Well, he kind of helps Ellis fix cars...when he's not fighting.
Best not to mention that.
"You're about to go to university."
Did we not have this conversation yesterday? Because I seem to remember telling her I'm not going. Does she have amnesia?
"I'm not going, Mum."
"Isabella," she huffs on an exasperated sigh. "You have to go to university. You're only eighteen. In a few months' or years' time, you might not be with Rocco, and you'll regret this decision."
I roll my eyes because this conversation is old. "Mum, seriously, my decision has nothing to do with Rocco. Before I even met him, I knew I wasn't going."
Her jaw tightens. She brushes her shiny hair over her shoulders. "You're making a huge mistake. What will you do?"
Other author's books:
- Broken SilenceSilenceThe CellarPlayers, Bumps and Cocktail SausagesLie to MeSilent NightReliving Fate
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