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lion lamb

My Lessons In Life

The Inner Rantings of A Young Woman

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Finding Home - Chapter 3 - The Nerve
lion lamb

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Author's Note: Special thanks to Project Team Beta for helping me make this story even more fantastic. To my reviewers for last chapter, your words of encouragement mean everything to my writing. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Dedication: This chapter is dedicated to dreaming in black and white (for not forgetting about me even though I took six months to update), Angel in the air (here's a nice big tube of hydricortisone for you), and Mariana75 (thank god someone else feels the same way about that crap as I do).

Can you believe this world’s got the nerve to
Insist it won’t trade for a better one?
Can you believe this world’s
Yellow out in the dark, it wants to be left alone?
Can you believe this world would never have
Had a chance without us giving it blood?
Can you believe this world lacks the common
Courtesy to thank us all for the love?

- “The Nerve” by Mutemath

“God…damn…stupid-ass piece of…fucking…shit!” I made sure to punctuate my last curse by rising and kicking the side of my desk as hard as I could without risking damage to my new Blahniks. I could hear Eve carefully making her way to my door, no doubt wondering what had gotten a rise out of me this time.

Knock, knock. “Um, Alice, is everything ok?” Eve slowly poked her head through the opened the door and peeked inside. I straightened my skirt and tucked a few loose strands of hair behind my ears.

“Just peachy, except for the fact that technology seems to hate me today.” I turned my monitor around and motioned for Eve to come inside and look at the screen. She hesitantly crossed through the threshold of my office.

“What’s going on this time? Program freeze again?”

I flopped back down in my chair and reached for the phone. “I have no idea. It won’t connect to the internet and my new design program won’t load.” I punched in the numbers for our IT department. “Hello? Uh, yeah, it’s me again…no, I did not break it…no, I didn’t kick it this time either…if I knew what was wrong with it I wouldn’t be calling you…just come fix it!” I slammed down the phone and let out a grunt.

Eve sat down in the leather chair across from my desk and laughed. “Do you have any idea just how interesting you make this job?” I grinned, knowing exactly what she was referring to.

My family had been telling me this for years. Here I am, Alice Brandon Cullen Hale, four feet and ten inches tall, and ninety-five pounds soaking wet. I have short, spiky black hair that sticks out in all directions, but and I will be damned if it doesn't look stylish. My dark brown eyes burn brightly, often times with the most devious of intentions.

I’ve been called a pixie, a minx, and a bitch by those who have suffered my wrath after wronging those I love. I’m cool with that, so long as you don’t forget to call me a sister, wife, and daughter, too.

“Why don’t you take a break, Alice?” Eve asked. I returned me to my thoughts of destroying my computer and the balls of the IT guy who could never seem to fix it. “Go grab some coffee or something. Your project will still be here when you get back.”

My behavior was generally a lot less bitchy, but I remembered how this was the third time my work on this particular project had been interrupted due to “technical difficulties”. There would be plenty of time to play nice with the IT guys after everything was finished. May I would buy them all coffee and donuts one morning. Caffeine and sugar would guarantee their forgiveness. In the meantime I couldn’t argue with my secretary’s logic. “You’re right. It’s probably better if I’m not here when Bullwinkle arrives.”

Eve snickered at my new nickname for our computer geek. It was one of the less flagrant ones I had used this week. “I’ll call you if he manages to repair the damage before you get back.” I thanked her and put on my coat, slinging my bag over my shoulder before heading across the street for a nice, well deserved (for not blowing up the computer) mocha latte.

As I sat in the coffee shop trying not to think about anything related to my delayed project, I remembered something that had been tugging at the back of my brain. We had all gone to “The Lion’s Den” pub Monday as was our custom. But something had been off that night. I remembered Edward going to the bar for a beer and disappearing for quite some time. When he came back, he claimed that he didn’t feel well and decided to split.

Edward had been doing so well lately. I knew that he was still dealing with the emotional wreckage that the slut whose-name-I-refuse-to-utter had dumped on him, and he was slowly becoming himself again. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that Monday night had been a regression. It wasn’t like Edward to split like he did, even if he was feeling under the weather. I couldn’t help but think that something had crawled under his skin that he couldn’t quite shake.

I checked my watch before I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and quickly dialed Jasper’s number from memory. “Do you remember how Edward was acting Monday night?” I asked him when he answered.

“Hello, yes, and you’re lucky it’s my planning period,” he let out in a hurried breath.

“Duh, I know that. That’s why I called now instead of later.” Jasper sighed and let out a small chuckle over the phone. He knew better than to try and rationalize with me. After all, I always won.

“Yes, darling, I do remember how Edward was acting Monday night. What about it?” I could hear him shuffling papers about.

“Did I interrupt you grading or something—never mind, what do you think happened?”

I could practically hear Jasper scrunch his eyebrows together as he asked quizzically, “Happened? He said he didn’t feel well.”

I love my husband. I really do. But he can be such a fool sometimes. “Honey…saying you don’t feel well means that something has happened and you don’t wanna talk about it. It’s a cop-out.”

“Well, I’m so glad one of us knows this, because I assumed it meant he was ill.”

I let out a sigh of exasperation, knowing that I wasn’t going to get anywhere with Jasper. Opposites really do attract. While I wanted to get to the bottom of why Edward had bailed on us that night, Jasper was trying to get me to “respect his space,” as he likes to say. Nope, sorry, if I did that, I wouldn’t be me.

“Ok, baby, you’re right, I should just leave it alone,” I said, my voice dripping with sweetness. Jasper started to stutter into the phone. “In fact, I’m going to go back to work now. Love you and see you soon!” I could hear him saying, “But…Alice…don’t you dare…behave…Alice!” I giggled and hung up the phone, knowing that Jasper was well aware that I wasn’t going to let this be.

The rest of my day was spent trying to finish the project that had been delayed by my hunk-of-junk computer. Designing the interior of a ballroom for a charity gala isn’t as easy as it sounds. Sure, you could just throw up some streamers and have champagne fountains and finger foods, but that sort of design would not get a company the millions of dollars in donations it was hoping for. Instead, I was to be unleashed on this huge room with full creative license and no spending limit. God, I love my job.

I finished printing out my proposal and rough designs to drop off with my boss’ secretary when a little light bulb went off above my head. I remembered something else about Monday night. When Edward was leaving, he stopped at the door and looked off to the left. I saw him in my mind just staring off into what I thought was space for a few moments before squaring his shoulders and exiting the club.

What was he looking at? There hadn’t been anyone there we knew except Angela and the gang. Emmett and Rosalie worked with Ben and Angela Cheney. Sometimes all of us would get together and have dinner, inviting their friends Jessica Stanley and Mike Newton along, too. But, wasn’t there another…wait, that was it!

I grabbed my bag and coat, practically running out of my office. I stopped at Eve’s desk long enough to ask her to drop off my proposal for me before leaving then raced to the elevators. I had taken a cab to work that day because Jasper’s car was in the shop for its yearly inspection. Because it wasn’t quite yet five o’clock, there were only a few people standing on the street corner attempting to hail taxis. Within a few short minutes, I was sitting cozily in the back of a relatively clean yellow cab on my way home.

But before I arrived, I had some business to attend to. With my Blackberry grasped firmly in my hand, I searched for Angela’s number. That found, I was resolved to solve the mystery of the sulky big brother.

TEXT MESSAGE FROM ALICE TO ANGELA: Who was that Monday night?


Hi. Who was she? Brown hair, a bit taller than me…

Bella from high school.  Bella…that’s why.

As usual, you’re not making sense.  Where are you?

Work.  Come to my place when you get off.

Can Ben come, too?  We carpooled.  Sure. He can keep Jasper busy while we scheme.

This can’t be good…

When I reached the house, I was happy to notice that I had beat Jasper home. At least this way I wouldn’t have to worry about him trying to talk me out of anything before I even started. I took a quick shower, changing into a pair of stylish jeans and a powder pink baby doll blouse with my favorite strappy sandals. The cuter I looked, the easier my husband would be to tame.

While waiting for everyone to arrive, I ordered a few pizzas, knowing that Jasper would probably be too tired to cook for four people. No sooner had I grabbed a beer from the refrigerator and sat down at the kitchen table to go through the mail did Jasper walk through the door. He set his messenger bag down on the counter and came to give me a kiss.

“Oh no,” he groaned into my neck. Yup, he smelled it. I had dabbed on a little of his favorite perfume after showering. Jasper had come to associate that scent with me wanting something. The worst part was, once he inhaled my fragrant skin, he was unable to say no to whatever I proposed.

“Angela and Ben will be joining us for pizza soon,” I murmured against his soft lips.

“Whatever it is, I don’t want to know,” he said, deepening our kiss to prevent any further discussion.

“Really? You’re not even the least bit curious?”

Jasper leaned down, pressing his forehead to mine. “I know it has to do with the club, Monday night, Edward, and why he left. Somehow Angela has something to do with it. That’s all I want to know. The less I know, the less likely it will be that I’ll have to lie to Edward when he asks my why you’re meddling in his life again.”

I couldn’t really fault his logic. While Emmett could keep his mouth shut, Jasper had sort of an “open knowledge” policy. Plus, he couldn’t lie to save his soul. I think he was secretly glad I never asked him things like if a certain pair of jeans made me look fat.

Just then, there was a knock at the door. I bounced to answer it, my hand clasped firmly in Jasper’s, towing him behind me. Angela was standing on the other side next to the pizza delivery guy. Ben held our pizzas and was somewhat eagerly ushered in by Jasper who, at the sight of the pizza boxes, had suddenly started drooling.

“You invited us over, so we got the tab this time,” Angela told me as I took her coat.

“But I invited you over to plot.”

I saw a smile spread across Angela’s face. “And I think I have a good idea about what, too. Trust me, if this is about what I think it’s about, I’ll owe you for more than just two pizzas.”

“I haven’t the foggiest idea what you’re talking about.” We both let out a little laugh as we headed for the kitchen. Our men were already ravishing one of the pizzas. I grabbed Angela a beer and we sat down with them, talking about work and life in general. After a few slices, Jasper and Ben went into the living room to watch ESPN while I led Angela into the study.

“Shall we get down to business?” I asked, planting myself in the leather office chair that sat behind Jasper’s desk. Angela perched herself in an overstuffed armchair off to my right. She raised her eyebrows in an expressive that said, “Out with it.”

“My brother was staring at your friend Monday night.”

“Well, since you’re not totally bouncing off the walls, you must not know what I know,” Angela leaned forward and said conspiratorially.

She hesitated, building up the suspense she knew was killing me, until it dawned on me. “Bella was checking out Edward, too?” Angela nodded. “Maybe this won’t be as hard as I thought.”

“You wish, you little minx. I was talking to Henry before we all left. He’s the one who told me Bella was checking Edward out. Apparently he offered to introduce them, but she said she was talking a break from men for awhile.” Angela took a moment to explain Bella’s recent relationship meltdown to me.

I groaned and hung my head. “That explains why Edward left in a huff. He must have heard her.”

“Yeah, Henry said your brother did seem pretty down after that. But, why? I mean, has he even looked at a woman since…?”

“Nope.” I had to admit that Edward had started to worry me. It seemed almost unnatural for him to simply ignore the female species as he had been doing for so long. “I’ll bet he was waiting for that same pull he felt with the psycho.”

Angela laughed. “She doesn’t realize it, but Bella has that pull.” She paused and I motioned for her to continue.

We spent the next couple of hours talking about our respective halves of this puzzle. Angela told me all about Bella, where she came from, what she was like, her habits, desires, and dreams. Likewise, I filled her in on the inner mechanics of my dear brother. It didn’t take us long to realize that we were talking about two halves of a whole; Bella and Edward seemed to go together like Jasper and I, like Angela and Ben, like Emmett and Rosalie.

They were two broken-hearted creatures who wanted to move forward but were too afraid to do so. That is, without a little bit of encouragement. I smiled at Angela, who returned my grin with the same twinkle in her eyes that I knew my own now possessed.

Hmm, how did that song go again? Oh, yes.

I get by with a little help from my friends…

There you have it. Please send me your thoughts in a little review if you have a moment.  I respond to every review and I love hearing what you think! Also, in one of my reviews for Chapters 1 and 2, I had the question posed to me about why Bella basically freaked out when Jacob proposed taking their relationship to a new level. Mariana75 had a good point; Bella did run away both physically and emotionally. If anyone else was wondering about this, I promise you that I will be exploring this further in future chapters. Until next time...can't wait to hear from you!!! Lastly, I have another idea bouncing aroud in my head. I've written a prologue for it, but I don't want to post anything yet; I want to see if I can really make it go somewhere first. but if you're interested in reading what I have, hit me up in a review, PM, or email and I'll ship it your way. The only catch is you have to tell me what you think!

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Love your interpretation of Alice, which is great because A is one of my fav's. Her matchmaking espionage with Angela is fun and am enjoying the lighthearted tone between these two. [Also really enjoy Alice w/ Jasper here as well - am a canon girl all the way so all pairings are good!]

My paragraph on Bella and Jake got sucked into the ether somewhere [am actually on a getaway and using a different computer... hate technology... love technology, & so it goes], but I meant to respond to your A/N and say that I thought her reaction was a true one given the circumstances. You can only advance a relationship so far if you don't really have romantic inclinations toward the other person, imo. I sensed that both Bella and Jake were trying sincerely to make something work, but for Bella a key piece was missing. In the end it was actually fairer for Jake that Bella broke it off. He deserves a fulfilled relationship as much as she does. [Hope this opinion is ok -]

Will request your other idea [that you're bouncing around] when I get back to my regular computer... having trouble w/ email access, grrr.

Now on to 4! Thanks sincerely for posting your tale, it's very good!

I feel so special. You're away from home and still taking time to read my story and review each chapter. Thank you!

For the sake of some reviewers, I will be trying to explore the whole Jake thing in the future. But right now, I'm not too sure where things are going past chapter 5. Hopefully soemthing in my RL will inspire me soon! In the meantime, I have a couple of "short shots" I'm working on writing.

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