What's Love? Ch 8
Seeing the Washington state sign brings back the memories I have been running from since turning sixteen. It isn’t until I get outside of Seattle that I have to stop and get myself under control. I can feel myself beginning to hyperventilate. Distracting myself, I call the venue on Alice’s list where she wants to have the wedding reception and ceremony. I can’t help but smile at the location she wants.
“Forks Marriott,” a nasal, girlish voice greets me.
“Hello, I need to speak with the hotel manager please.” I use my most professional voice. I can’t believe my luck on this. A few years ago, I did a security program that combined with customer service and the Marriott was one of the few hotel chains that bid and won. In the contract, I had been quite conniving and added a clause that I get to use the special banquet rooms whenever I need to, at any location.
“Can I ask who is calling?” she asks, clearly aggravated.
“Bella Swan.” I maintain my professional tone.
“Okay, one moment,” she maintains her snooty tone.
I stay on hold for just a few moments before I hear the masculine voice on the other end of the line.
“Hello, Ms. Swan, I am Ken Rodgers, the manager of the Forks Marriott. What can I do for you today?” His voice is smooth and rich.
“Hi, Ken, I can call you Ken, right?”
“Yes, Ma'am.” I can almost hear his smile on the other end.
“Good, now listen. I need you to look up your contracts from the main office of yours. The contract will be in my name. In that contract, it states I can use the fine establishments of Marriott International for whatever I please. I want to use your grand ballroom on October eleventh for a wedding ceremony and reception.” I keep my tone very light, yet very professional. It's a persona I hate, but one I've had to utilize to adapt and survive.
“Ms. Swan, it will take me a few hours to confirm this contract and make sure the date is open,” he replies in a tight voice.
Exasperated, I completely drop my professional tone. “I know for a fact that day is open, you think I would call and ask this and not know if the day is open? Listen, I know you head honchos all get the imperative emails. I know you know of the contract I speak of. But for shits and giggles, I will give you two hours to call me back to confirm everything is in order. If by some mistake, you don’t call me back within that time frame, let’s just say the phone call you get from Aro won’t be a good one, okay?”
“Uh…” I can hear the fearful uncertainty in his tone.
“Thought so, speak to you soon.” I hang up with him just like that. I smile; the panic attack that I was starting to experience is gone. I feel good enough to start my drive into Seattle.
It isn’t long before I get the call confirming everything. I give him Alice and Jasper’s info so they can confirm the caterer, florist, and musicians. I’m sure they will be more than surprised that everything from catering to the bar is completely covered and they will have someone to do the decorations. It pays to do what I do, and know who I know sometimes.
I don’t feel panic set in again until I see the sign for Port Angeles. I have to pull over. I’m only two hours away from Forks and I am hyperventilating into a paper bag in the middle of nowhere. How could I seriously think I could move home? Knowing what I need to do to get through this, I do what I have done in the past to survive the pain. I shut that part of me down and think of the tasks at hand.
I need to drive, I must call Jasper. I must go to Jasper’s home. I must get ahold of a contractor and interior designers.
I breathe in through my nose and put the car back into drive. It doesn’t feel like any time has passed before I find myself in Forks.
10 years ago
Twelve days I have been in this group home, and seventeen days since I have been taken away from my own home.
I room with the foul-smelling girl who doesn’t know how to clean up after herself. There are about 20 kids here, a mix of girls and boys. Ages range from 12 to 17. The adults rotate in three shifts with 2 adults per shift. Only a few take interest in us. Jasper enrolled back into school, ironically it was Port Angeles High, the one he had to leave for three days.
Jasper and I sometimes talk, but I don’t want him to lose his reputation and placement among his peers here. He doesn’t seem to care; as he said, the popularity was temporary but the connection between us was something that would last for a long time. I was not sure what he meant, but I was rather glad he still wanted a relationship.
The dynamic here was much like high school, according to Jasper. I had to research his meaning and recalled some things from when I was in the library of Forks High. There are cliques and social circles that occur. It would be very fascinating if I wasn’t at the bottom of the social queue because I was smart and didn’t fit into the terms that they related to.
The others tended to wait until I was alone to gang up and beat on me. I used what knowledge I had in defense, but when it was just me against four other girls, it tended to be more difficult. They were trying to steal my laptop, but that was the one thing I would ultimately die over before letting them take it. They usually were hitting and kicking me for a good ten minutes before someone stepped in to stop them. It was usually an adult or Jasper, though the last time a girl Jasper's age named Angela helped me out.
Paul checked in with me last week to see how I was adjusting and to let me know my court dates. Those were coming up fast and I was not really prepared to go in front of a judge. He wanted me to start going to counseling to help me through what happened to me, and to also prepare me for testifying. I wanted to argue, but today I found myself in the back of his vehicle and on my way to a counselor that was just a few minutes away from the group home. Since he was overseeing my case he had to set everything up for me initially, and then after that I could start coming to my appointments on my own.
Arriving in silence, I watched him grab the paper work from the receptionist. He shuffled through them and explained the confidentiality clause that stated that he wouldn't know what we talked about unless I threatened my life or some else’s.
Finally, after an eternity, I went to start my session with Mike. He seemed nice, like he really wanted to help me. I just didn’t feel that I needed it.
“Do you like being called Isabella, or do you like being called by a nickname?” he asked.
I was sure he could see the shock on my face; he was the first person to ask. “My dad called me Bella,” I whispered.
“I think, if you don’t mind, that I will call you Bella. You know, in Italian, Bella means-”
“Beautiful, yes. I have studied Italian, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, and have time to be proficient in sign language as well.” I kept my eyes to the ground.
“That is very impressive. I wish I had the ambition to learn more than Italian and English. But to be fair, my mother speaks in Italian ninety percent of the time, so it was almost my first language.”
I hummed in response.
“I am not going to make you talk about the elephant in the room. Paul wrote about what he wants; for you to be prepared for court. I know you will do just fine. You have adjusted considerably after everything that has occurred in your life. At least that is what you want everyone to think, yes?”
I finally met his eyes. I didn’t respond, but I was astounded that he had come to that conclusion.
“I have been doing this for so many years I can tell when someone is adapting to survive. You are a child prodigy but you are still a fourteen year old girl that wants love. That wants acceptance.” He leaned towards me with his hands clasped together, keeping his eyes connected to mine.
“I can see the walls you are building. The fake personalities you are developing. I am not going to push you for anything. I am just going to be here when you are ready.”
The session ended on that note, with the promise of seeing me next week on Paul’s persistence.
“You know, I was thinking about placing you in a permanent home. I think it would be easier for you with the court case and going to counseling. I also know that you are having some issues with the kids at the home,” he rambled.
“I like it at the group home.”
“Pack your bag, I have a place I’m taking you.” His voice was final.
I felt so angry. “Why? I’m doing just fine where I am.”
“Bella, I can’t allow you to get beat up on a daily basis.” I could hear the strain in his voice.
When we arrived at the home, he followed me in to help me grab my things.
“What’s going on?” Jasper asked as he came up to us.
“He’s taking me away,” I could feel myself about to lose it.
“Here,” he grabbed my phone and added his number to it. “Call or text me anytime.” Then he embraced me. I felt weird about it, but returned it nonetheless.
The drive to the new place was unpleasant, mostly because I was not happy. The house we arrived to was ten minutes outside of Port Angeles and twenty minutes from the counselor’s office. It was a very secluded house; the driveway could almost be missed because of the trees that lined it. It was about a mile down the driveway from the road. The house was white, reminding me of the horror movie Amityville. I only knew about it because Jasper spoke of it and I had to look it up.
There was already a greeting crew on the porch, an adult male, adult female, and two teen girls that were probably a year apart from each other. The family all shared light-colored hair, and an all-American look. It gave me the creeps.
Paul walked with me up to the house and introduced me to the Denali’s. They had gracious smiles and tried to make me feel welcome, but I felt the opposite and wanted to be back in the group home.