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The Mythical Creature's Guide to Living in the Modern World (11/23)

 

"It was you who made me understand that under the dullness there are things so
fine and sensitive and delicate that even those I most cared for in my other life look cheap in comparison.
I don't know how to explain myself […] but it seems as if I'd never before understood with how much that is
hard and shabby and base the most exquisite pleasures may be paid."

Countess Ellen Olenska in Emma Wharton's The Age of Innocence


Chapter Eleven, Mu

Against every concept of common sense, I was winning. Which was to say, I had somehow managed to land on Park Place and all for railroads, and the Crystal Ball only had a handful of properties. Even Bella had more. But I had all the money, and her property was mortgaged, and there was the scent of Italian food drifting from the kitchen, and it would be all mine while Jake was out running patrol and Seth was back at La Push, trying to do our laundry.

They had asked me, naturally, to do it, because I was the girl and apparently girls did these sorts of things for her brother and the boy everyone thought she was dating. I told them, quite emphatically, that if they wanted clean clothes so god-damn much, to stop getting them dirty in the first place.

"That'll be $450, Madam Zeroni."

"It's Alice, mutt."

"And I still don't care... though it does look like you don't have enough cash... I'll take Oriental Avenue off your hands, if you want." She flung the "deed" at me so hard it cut my palm where I caught it. "That was just plain rude. Did they not teach you any fucking manners in the asylum?" I had come to know entirely too much over the last couple of weeks about the vampires. And, while I may have knitted and played monopoly with them, that didn't mean I wouldn't insult them about their pasts.

"Leah," Bella tried to mediate. I didn't care for it. I mean, not only did she choose an Undead American over a warm-blooded mammal like Jake, but she was letting her own father think she was dying of a tropical disease in Atlanta, allowing said father to try to work his way into my mother's pants with his sorrow. Siblings in our parents fucking us over we may be, I would never, ever, be the buddy she seemed to think was. Still, she looked from me to her demon child, who was sitting adjacent to her, as if I was some stupid infant to be reasoned with. Said child was two-weeks old, looked closer to six months, could read at a college level and talk at the same when she so chose, and owned all the red and orange properties. I fought back the desire to point out that I was twenty-one, she was nineteen, and I'd graduated high school without any help at all from bloodsuckers who'd spent their eternal lives acing the same classes over and over.

So instead I said sugar-crystals-on-my-tongue sweetly back, "Isabella?"

"Don't curse in front of Renesmee please."

I almost let myself say, "Don't give your kid a name people will beat her up for," but I actually kinda liked the half-human freak and didn't want her to think I was being rude to her. So instead, "Oh, yuh, of cusse Mistress, sorrie Mistress. Leah won't ebeh do it again, Mistress. Wudd you like me t'brigg you your tea 'n cakes now, Mistress?"

She rolled her eyes – a human gesture that wasn't forced with her, or done based off of intense algorithmic calculations into what looked the most human – and handed her daughter the dice. "No, that'll be fine."

We continued to play for another half-hour, Sargent Pepper watching what I was told was a Malay-language news show in the background while the others were reading or knitting or whatnot, before there was a knock at the door.

I looked up, surprised. This hadn't happened before. Never. We all looked towards Alice, who shook her head and told us it must be a wolf, because she'd seen no one coming. I prepared myself for the worst, possibly ending with me explaining to Charlie why I'd murdered my ex in the Cullen's living room. The room did need colour, but not that badly... So imagine all our surprise when it was Charlie who was standing there, not a pack come to attack and destroy the Lock Ness Monster.

Crap.

No one really knew what to say – after all, they were supposed to be at CDC, at dying Bella's bedside, not watching her play monopoly with her daughter and her mortal enemy – so I spoke up. "Hey, Charlie. What brings you here?"

Instead of answering like a normal person (this must be were Bella got it from), "You too Leah?"

"Me too what?"

Charlie looked behind him, and I did too, rather curious to see who Edward was giving the evil eye. Jake was standing there, hands in his pockets, looking only slightly sheepish. "Jacob Isaiah Black," I hissed, jumping up from the game, not caring what pieces I knocked over, "tell me you didn't."

He shrugged as he moved further into the room, dragging Charlie with him. One of the vampires, thinking clearly, muted the Singapore Morning News. "I did."

"We have to go," I called back to the vampires as I started pulling my stupid, idiotic, brain-dead Alpha out the door, "btw, Nessie can have my properties and money."

As soon as we were out the door and in the yard, I let go of his hand and spun on him, standing so close that the finger I shook at him occasionally hit his nose. "What on God's green earth did you think you were doing, Black?" I shouted at him. "I mean, what part of secret fucking identity do you not understand? You could've-"

He grabbed my finger and lowered it after it hit his nose a third time. He didn't let go, just held it real tight between us as he said, "Charlie didn't deserve to be left out there hanging, not ever knowing what happened to his daughter."

"What happened to his daughter is that she chose to run off with a vampire rather then deal life like the rest of us!"

"I know that!" he yelled right back. I'd not been this close to him since the other night, where we'd fallen asleep on each other. Neither of us had addressed it. We'd not talked about the rumours I'd let start about the two of us either. Or about the fact that Carlisle has been drawing my blood like every day for like two weeks in attempt to track something in my blood that he won't tell me about because it'll mess up his children's bet (Rosalie and Emmett are each on it as well, with Christmas from the later and New Years for the former), whatever it was. "But he deserves to know she's not dying."

"Only because she's already dead!"

"Well, duh – but that's not his fault."

"I-" I started, then stepped back, unable to be that close to him. I didn't know what was wrong with me. I'd known Jake for ages. We were friends. He was kinder to me then most of the other wolves had been in the old pack. He smelled amazingly nice, and was a drool-worthy sight as both man and wolf. But I couldn't deny that I found myself wanting to spend time around him, or that, for all my complaining, I'd fallen asleep in his arms while we were both minimally clothed and blanketed. Weakly now, "Why did you tell him? What exactly did you tell him?" My voice grew loud again, and the venom of my anger was undeniable. "You were supposed to be patrolling, not making a God-damned social call." And quietly again, as if my vocal cords were on a roller coaster. "I thought you said you were over Bella Swan."

"I am," he said calmly. "I told you that. Ages ago. Your memory's going, old woman."

Icily now, "I. Am. Twenty-one. That is not old. Just old enough to see how idiotic you are." I spun on my feet and marched into the woods, pulling off my clothes and letting them fall where they landed. I phased mid-step and hit the ground running. And fuming.

I was only angry because he was being stupid. He'd left without telling me, leaving our land unprotected. Sam's pack (I needed to think of a better name for them then that. The La Push Gang? What would that make us though, the Vampire's Puppies?) could have come and tried to attack us. And since it was just me and the Cullens here while Seth was on the Rez doing the laundry, it would have just been us fighting, and they might've hurt Nessie. Or Esme, who never hurt anybody. Or Alice. Hell, I think I'd have been angry if they'd hurt Rosalie too. But anyway. It was irresponsible. He was supposed to be the Alpha! He couldn't just run off like that. Not without telling me. If he had to do something, even as idiotic as telling Charlie who knew exactly what, he could have at least told me so I could have run his patrol.

And why did he have to got and tell Charlie anyway. Yeah, it might stop him moping, for a while, but once he found out she was a vampire, who knew what shoes would fall from the damned Closet of Fate, which liked to plunk her hiking boots on my head? He'd still be sad. Or angry. Or start hanging around. Or disown her, which would break her icy little heart. Or, worse, want to become one too, which would break Mom's. I couldn't let Jake's mistake ruin Mom's happiness, not even if it was with the bitch's dad. If he could just think these things ahead...!

And he'd said he was long over the latest Mrs. Cullen. He said they were just friends. Betraying your tribe's ancient, fur-ridden secret to an outsider just so he could hang with his fanged daughter was not something you did for people who you were over. I wouldn't do squat for Sam. Other then maybe put flowers on his mom's grave – Mrs. Uley was amazing – but that wasn't anywhere near the amazing level of stupidity Jake had risen to this time.

He's only seventeen the annoying part of my brain urged, the part that I'm sure had caused me to dream of rainbow-coloured wolves and thought he smelled nice.

He's the Alpha. The Chief of the Quiluetes. He can't be making mistakes like this.

If it's a mistake the annoying part said back to me. I didn't think it could get worse, but apparently my brain was insisting on being a bitch to itself. That's why you have to help him.

Why fucking me? 'Cause I'm the girl? 'Cause being a werewolf ruined my life and I've no other use for it? 'Cause its either that or lifetimes of monopoly with Ms Icy-Hot and her demon child?

'Cause you can, it insisted. Stupid brain. Why couldn't it just ignore me, like everybody else in the world does? I'd be happy then, if I didn't have to think about how much life sucked. I really think I would be.

Chapter Twelve.