Reliving Fate, page 7
"Oh, Bella, you keep setting them up."
"Keep it up. What do I care? You obviously enjoy rejection."
"Please, you're clearly obsessed with me."
She tugs her wrist from my grip, but I hold on harder.
"I'm not obsessed with you. Maybe I'm just bored."
I grin. "Uh-huh."
"If you're going to be a twat, I'm really going home."
"I'll stop now." Because I really want you to come home with me.
Get it the fuck together.
Though I know this is a terrible idea, I can't cut her loose.
Maybe I'm the one who's obsessed. There is something about her that's addictive. She's stunning, and she has a body to die for. I want her more than I've ever wanted anyone before, and she just needs to sleep with me, so I can get her out of my system. The one thing I have going for me here is that I'm not close to anyone. That can't change. I can't have a weakness.
Against my better judgment, I take Bella back to my flat, and she looks around. My place is small, a tiny kitchen just big enough for a cooker, fridge, cupboard space, and two-seater table. My living room barely fits a three-seater sofa and TV, and my bedroom is only big enough for a double bed.
But it's clean and home, somewhere I can get away from everyone. I watch her look around, biting her lip. Taking a breath, I look away. I'm fucking desperate to kiss her. Usually, I would just go for it, but everything with Bella is different. We're both walking in the dark here.
"Your place is nice," she says, giving me a genuine smile that touches her eyes.
"There are shoeboxes bigger than my flat."
She grins at my exaggeration.
Don't kiss her.
"It's still nice. We have a lot of space at home, and it always seems so empty."
I clear my throat and force my gaze from her mouth to her eyes. "How many people live at home?"
Her eyes flick to me for a second before she looks away. "Four of us. Can I use your bathroom, please?"
"Yeah, sure. Just through there," I say, pointing to the door off the kitchen.
She can't get away fast enough and practically sprints to the bathroom.
All right, what the hell just happened?
One minute, she's fine and cocky, and the next, she's acting weird and rushing off.
Unless that's just her?
I've not even known her for a week yet.
Shit, not even seven days.
Why does it feel like so much longer?
Bella comes back out after a minute, and her eyes look red. Her smile doesn't cover the sadness, but she probably thinks I wouldn't notice, so I don't bring it up. It is bothering the shit out of me though. I want to know what's going through her head. I want to know why she's really here.
The more I see her, the more her secrecy bothers me.
"You good?" I ask.
"Yeah. I'm starving though. Can we order pizza?"
It's almost eleven p.m., but okay.
"Good pizza or shit pizza?"
"Oh, I wonder," she says sarcastically.
I roll my eyes. "The good place doesn't deliver."
She drops down on my sofa, getting herself comfortable. I should hate that.
"Ugh, shit pizza then."
"Really? You'd rather eat greasy pizza than get up off that fine arse of yours?"
Glaring off into the distance, she kicks off her shoes and tucks her feet under her legs. "I'm not moving, so unless you want to go, greasy pizza, it is."
"Yeah, okay. I can't be bothered either."
Ridiculously, I want to stay in with her. It bugs me that I can't read her. I'm not arrogant enough to think I know everything that goes on with everyone around here, but I'm not usually this crap at guessing a person. I can normally tell if a person's intentions are honourable or if they are a backstabbing wanker. Bella, on the other hand...nothing.
I don't exactly trust her, but I also don't not trust her. Certain things, I think I've cracked, and then she'll say or do something else, and I'm back to square one. I don't like that, especially with someone new.
How much trouble can one eighteen-year-old girl be though?
Bella reels off her ridiculous list of toppings, and I place our order. She's really going to regret suggesting this when she's hugging the toilet tomorrow, throwing up grease.
"So, I'm guessing you live alone? This is definitely a bachelor pad."
I've been living alone since I was fifteen, and there's no way I could share a place with anyone again.
"It's all mine," I reply, slumping down beside her.
"What do you do?" she asks.
"Sometimes, I work at a repair garage with Ellis."
"And the rest of the time?"
Of course she's pressing it.
"Organised fights are where I get most of my money from. The pay is decent, and I don't lose."
Her mouth falls open. "Rocco! That's dangerous."
"Did you miss the part where I said I don't lose?"
"No, but still, you could be hurt."
"Doesn't happen." Not seriously anyway. "So, I'm guessing you want to live alone?" I ask to change the subject.
She frowns before letting it go. "Oh my God, moving out and living alone would be a dream."
"Why? Are things really bad with your parents?"
She turns her nose up. "It's complicated, but let's just say, I'm not the favourite daughter. What about you? Where are your parents?"
"Like I said, my dad left when I was young. He's now dead, and my mum's dead."
Her mouth drops open. "Rocco, I'm sorry. What happened?"
Shrugging, I silently wish I'd brought beer in from the fridge. "She OD'd on crack."
I have never seen a person's eyes bulge so much as Bella's.
"I don't really know what to say to that."
"You don't need to say anything. She was a shitty mum and a shitty person all around. I'm better off without her."
I might sound harsh, but she was never there, not even when I was a kid. She didn't care if I was fed or if I was happy. All she cared about was fucking the next guy to get money for her drugs.
"Well, I'm sorry. You didn't deserve that."
"No one does, but we're not all born to rich parents in big houses."
Frowning, she fiddles with her sleeve. "We're not rich."
Wealthy then. She definitely has money. I can tell by her perfect hair, even when it's messy, and the quality of the things she wears. Plus, she's got a car to share with her sister.
"Whatever. It's cool. Anyway, I got over it a long time ago. Actually, I don't ever remember crying over her."
"She was still your mum."
"Only in the sense that she brought me into the world."
Bella looks down. I've never spoken about this, so I wasn't really sure how someone would react if I ever did. Bella looks out of her depth.
At least she understands a fraction of how she makes me feel.
"Are you ready to talk about something less awkward?" I ask, smirking at her.
Her shoulders sag in relief but not too much because she has good posture. Like a dancer. "Definitely!"
Oh God, is she a dancer? That would just about seal the deal.
"What do you do in your spare time? Besides come and pester me?"
She narrows her eyes. "Not much really. Netflix and music. I used to dance, but I gave that up last year."
Her hazel eyes glow. "Fuck off. And, yes, I did do fitness pole dancing in one of my classes."
"Why did you give it up?"
Why? That is so hot. I would give my right arm to watch her pole dance. Shit, this isn't helping me hold back from kissing the crap out of her.
"Wasn't feeling it anymore."
Her eyes glaze over, like she just metaphorically left the room. There's more to it, a real reason that she's holding back, but she's completely shut down, and from experience,
Damn, why do I keep thinking about her like she's going to be around forever?
In the inevitably short time we have together as friends, she might never tell me what happened to make her love of dance disappear.
"Yeah, I got bored of ballet, too," I joke, bringing her back.
She laughs and playfully smacks my arm. "Have I told you lately how funny you're not?"
"Yes. Are you going to take your top off or what?"
"Nice convo change...and, no." Her eyes linger on mine for a second too long, and she presses her lips together.
Yeah, I'm struggling, too.
She looks away and grabs the remote. "Let's find a film before I have to go home."
I can think of a few other things I'd rather be doing, but I go along with it. For the first time ever, I don't want to rush.
* * *
I wake up at the crack of dawn by some fucking annoying singing.
"Livvy," I growl.
She's in the shower, singing like she's being murdered.
She fucking might be in a minute.
Outside, birds are chirping along with her.
Jesus, does no one want me to sleep in?
Grabbing my phone, I send a quick message to Rocco because he's the only person on the planet who I like right now. He's also the only person on the planet I've liked so much in such a short space of time. I can't stop thinking about him.
I hate showers. I hate birds. I hate my sister.
I press Send and wait. His reply is almost instant, and just seeing his name on my screen makes my heart jump.
Why are you talking to me at 6 a.m.?
Oh, is it early? I hate everything!
Go back to sleep, Bella. You're even more impossible when you're tired.
I can't go back to sleep now.
Well, I fucking can! Message me in four hours.
I hit another reply when he doesn't message back.
I want to talk now!
I stare at my phone, willing him to message back faster. My texts with Rocco have become one of my favourite parts of the day. We were comfortable around each other straightaway. I'm still not totally comfortable around my family, and I've known them for eighteen years. He's about the only person who I message.
Yep, I'm a massive loser, and besides my twin, Rocco is the only one to WhatsApp me.
Let's get the tiny violins out.
Another minute passes by. I am totally watching the time tick by at the top of the screen.
It hits me. The bastard isn't going to reply.
That little shit has probably put his phone on silent and gone back to sleep. Now, I'm mad. I want to sleep again, but I can't because Cher's reject is still screeching her stupid head off in the bathroom.
I throw my cover off and hunt for something to wear. Most of my clothes are piled up on my cuddle chair, so I root through them for a pair of skinny jeans and an oversize T-shirt. That'll do. It's too early to think about outfits. I don't even bother to apply any makeup because I'd probably just poke myself in the eye right now.
Stumbling out of my room, still half-asleep, I go in search of coffee before I leave the house. Livvy is still in the shower.
How bloody dirty is she?
When I get in the kitchen, Dad is sitting at the breakfast bar, drinking coffee and looking through uni brochures.
"Morning. Coffee's in the pot."
I grunt, "Thanks."
Laughing, he properly looks up from checking out another uni I'm not going to. "Ah, I forgot you're not the morning one."
"Can you hear her?" I ask, pouring a large mug of coffee.
"I think the whole town can."
"She's too happy."
"Can you be too happy, Isabella?"
I take a sip of black coffee. Can I get this through an IV?
"At six in the morning, you can. At the risk of starting an argument, what are you looking at?"
"Nottingham University looks lovely. You were right to apply there. They have a good music programme."
Why, oh why, did I apply to any unis?
Well, I did it to shut Mum and Dad up when they were going on and on about my fucking future. Now, they're badgering me to go through with it.
"Have you made a decision yet?"
"Nope," I reply, sitting down next to him.
"Isabella, you don't have long left to decide."
Yep, and I plan on stringing this out until it's too late to accept my place. I don't want to go to uni yet.
"I'm not sure I want to accept if I get the grades, Dad. You and Mum need to let me decide what I want to do with my life."
His eyes cloud in disappointment, and it makes me feel like shit. I have to look away. If he knew the truth, he wouldn't care so much about what path I chose. He probably wouldn't even want me in the same house as him.
"I don't know how we're supposed to stand aside and watch you make a huge mistake."
"Please, you got pregnant with Celia when you and Mum were eighteen, and if you'd listened to your parents, then she wouldn't have been born. I promise you, I'll make a well-thought-out decision about what I feel is the best for me, and that's the best I can do. Okay?"
Dad grits his teeth. He has nothing to come back at me with because he knows I'm right. If he didn't follow his parents' demands, then he can't expect us to either.
"Anyway, I need to go. I'll see you later."
"Where are you going?" he asks.
I put my mug down and reply as I walk away, "Meeting a friend."
Dad doesn't really know who is or isn't my friend, so he doesn't question it. Livvy would know straightaway and be suspicious. Thank God she's now murdering Snow Patrol in the shower.
I take the keys to the 500 without clearing it with Livvy. She'll nag at me again, but I honestly don't give a shit. I care less than I did when she made a bloody schedule.
I laugh as I think of her schedule printed on glossy paper with colour blocks to indicate who got the car when. She didn't speak to me for a whole day after I laughed solidly for, like, five minutes. The girl is insane. We've never used her schedule.
She will chase me down if she catches me, so I get in the car, slam the door, and peel out of the drive. I wrench the gearstick into fourth and curse Livvy's choice of manual drive. All my fault, of course, because if I'd been at the family meeting--yeah, legit, a meeting--about it, then I could've had my say.
It doesn't take that long to get to Rocco's, but today, I'm extra impatient, so the drive is dragging. Finally, I pull up outside his place, cut the engine, and get out.
I might not be your biggest fan, 500, but please still be here when I leave.
Turning so that I can watch and make sure the car is locked, I spot a girl over on the opposite side of the road. She's maybe a little older than me and dressed in a mega-short denim skirt and a skimpy pink top that hovers above her belly button. Written across the boobs is the word Superstar. I don't think she's made it since her makeup is running down her face, and her hair is a ratty mess. She's a prostitute, and it looks like she's just on her way home.
Where is home?
She can't be older than twenty.
Surely, someone misses her?
My family might be a bit dysfunctional, and I might not fit, but I don't know what I would do without them.
I watch as she walks along the road before stopping and getting in the back of a blue car.
Okay, time to get inside.
Rocco is probably still asleep, so I'm really going to enjoy this. I jog to his door, hover above his doorbell, and then jam my finger in it.
After a few seconds of the constant ringing, I hear Rocco shout...something. It's hard to make out a word, but it sounds like a lot of swear words all strung together.
This is excellent.
After my rude awakening from Livvy
"All right, for fuck's sake!" he bellows as he rips the door open.
I remove my finger from the bell and smile. "Good morning, sunshine."
"Isabella," he growls, narrowing his eyes. "What are you doing here?"
"Duh, I came to see you." And your naked chest. Hello!
My eyes fall on that six-pack and slide down to the top of the V. Heat spreads through my body like wildfire.
Oh, wow. Wow. Wow. Wow!
Coming here this morning is the single best idea I've ever had. Ever. I'm instantly on fucking fire.
He clears his throat because my eyes are still way lower than his face. "Why, Bella?"
It's hard, really hard, but I force my gaze upward and smile. "I visit. We do that now."
His glare turns deadly, and I try to keep a straight face.
"We don't do that early in the fucking morning!"
"Are you going to invite me in or not?"
I roll my eyes and walk past him. He makes no move to stop me, like I thought he would.
"Do you have plans today?"
"Well, I was going to sleep in..."
"Me, too, but my sister, Livvy, didn't."
"I don't see why your sister getting up has to affect me," he grumbles, following me into the living room.
I sit on the sofa, and Rocco drops beside me. He's close. His naked arm is pressed against mine, and it feels electric. I glance up at him through my lashes, and he smirks. He definitely feels what I'm feeling.
I've told him I'm not jumping into bed with him, but kissing is different. But I don't know how much self-control I'll have once his mouth is on mine.
"Tell me about your family," I say to distract myself.
He stills and tilts his head to the side as he frowns, like he was expecting anything else than what just came out of my mouth. "Why?"
"Because you know about mine." Sort of.
"Really? You're not seven, Rocco, so don't be an evasive, childish dickhead. We're supposed to be able to talk about things. I want to know about your family. And, actually, how old are you?"
Sighing sharply, he leans his head back against the sofa. "I'm twenty-two. Grandparents are dead, same as my parents. No aunts, uncles, or siblings."
"Oh," I mutter.
Wow, I had to ask.
Everyone he had is gone.
"Rocco, I'm so sorry."
God, he's all alone.
He looks over. "Don't be sorry. There's nothing to miss, so don't give me that face."
I'm doing a face?
"Sorry," I mumble.
Oh God, was I giving him the same face people give me when they hear about Celia?
Other author's books:
- Broken SilenceSilenceThe CellarPlayers, Bumps and Cocktail SausagesLie to MeSilent NightReliving Fate
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