this is the reunion chapter. let's see how belle (over)reacts to a blast from her past...
Belle pulled the sunglasses from her head and shielded her eyes with them as they walked through the doors and into the outside dining area of the intimate indoor/outdoor cafÃ©. It was fairly peaceful, and she found it refreshing to find such a place in L.A. She stopped and tilted her head towards the sky to see the white puffy clouds dance over the pale blue canvas.
"David's over there," Patrick said, disrupting her thoughts by grabbing her arm lightly to guide her to the table. Her contented mood quickly shifted as she frowned and pulled her arm out of his grip to walk in front of him.
"You know you didn't have to come here," Belle told him, with her level of irritancy evident in her tone as she took a seat next to David.
"I'm hungry, and besides, I'd like to meet these people as well," Patrick countered, taking a seat on the other side of her.
He was past being discouraged with her attitude. He thought she would attempt to let up on her cynicism and attempt to be civil, but she didn't show any intention of doing so in the near future. He tried telling himself that maybe she needed more time, but he wasn't sure how much more of her he could handle without exploding. The verbal attacks were beginning to wear thin on his temperament.
The waiter was instantly at their table, handing out drink menus.
"I'll have a lattÃ©," Patrick said before the waiter handed him the menu. He nodded his head and wrote on the little pad before turning his attention to David.
"I'll have a glass of Pinot Grigio, any brand. I'm not picky," David ordered in his thick British accent.
"I think I'll have the same," Belle said, closing her drink menu and handing it back to the waiter. She smiled at him and looked at Patrick, waiting for him to object. He kept his mouth closed. He was perceptive enough to know when she was trying to bait him into an argument.
She turned her attention to David. "So, tell me more about this public relations company," She requested, crossing one leg over the other and gliding her body to face his.
"I'm only here as a friend, Anabelle. I really know nothing, as I only talked with them for a minute, but I do know you'll be working with mostly women," He explained.
"Fantastic," She replied sarcastically, picking at her cuticles.
"One of them said she knows you,"
"What's her name?" Belle asked, her question lacking curiosity.
"Lisa...?" He paused when she raised her eyebrows. "No, that's not it. Maybe it's Allison... yes, Allison,"
"Don't know any Allison's," She said shortly, leaning back into her chair. David seemed to be dismayed by her peevishness, and Patrick gave him a sympathetic smile.
"So, David, are you staying in L.A. until after the movie makes it's debut?"
"I don't think I could stay any longer than that. This place never sleeps and that's completely against everything I believe in," David replied with a chuckle.
Belle was bored with the conversation, so she scanned the restaurant. It was mostly vacant, except for an older couple, who were sitting in a back corner. She drifted her eyes away from them and was met with the sight of two girls walking directly towards her table. Great, just what I need. An encounter with Patrick's bimbo fans, she thought slouching further down into her seat.
She peered at them through the corner of her eye, noticing a tall blonde with her straight hair contouring her face perfectly. A short brunette was walking close to her, but lagging behind enough so that she couldn't really make her out. The blonde was wearing chocolate-colored gaucho pants and a light green tunic. She was flawlessly "L.A.", with her casual flip-flops adorning her perfectly pedicured toes.
They were making great haste toward their table and Belle sighed, nudged Patrick and pulled the bill of her conductor hat down. If one of them talked to her she was sure she'd pounce on them. She felt Patrick shuffle nervously, obviously wanting to avoid the confrontation as well. Belle's hand was frozen on the bill, trying to shield her eyes. She heard the pair stop and tried to pretend like she hadn't noticed.
"Hey, sorry we're-" She heard one of them begin, put was quickly interrupted by the other feminine voice.
"Patrick?" The voice asked, the surprise obvious in her voice.
"Yea, um, I'd be happy to sign something-" Patrick paused for a second before doing a double take. "Wait..." Patrick quickly jogged his memory. "Holy shit...Elise...?"
Belle shifted her eyes towards Patrick, who was wearing a bright smile on his face. Belle pulled her hand back as the brunette pulled out a chair and took a seat, the blonde quickly following suit.
"I'm Allison," The blonde said, poking her hand towards Belle, who was in a daze as she offered Allison her hand but kept her eyes on the brunette.
"Wow, Patrick. How've you been?"
"Pretty good, how have you been? You look good, ugh... I mean, it's been a while..." He replied, with nervousness in his voice.
"Well, thanks. I'm sorry we're late, Allison takes forever to get ready," Elise apologized, pealing her eyes away from Patrick. David nodded his head in understanding and she turned her attention back to Patrick when she heard his voice again.
"You are here for this...um, meeting?"
"Yea, I actually went to college, got a degree, and a job. Crazy huh?" She laughed.
"Not so much that you actually went to school, but the fact that you didn't get kicked out," He replied with a laugh. She playfully shoved his shoulder and threw a remark back at him.
Belle watched the pair talk as if they were, well... best friends. She examined Elise, noticing she had lost a considerable amount of weight since their adolescence, but she could tell Elise was struggling to keep it off.
Her short legs were adorned in a simple pair of jeans, and a plain black cotton tank top adorned her upper body. Elise was far from model thin, but she had definitely improved her appearance in the past nine years. Her skin was a soft pale color, except for her rosy cheeks, which Belle was sure were adorned in blush. Belle's eyes scanned over her face, from her chapped lips to her less-than-perfectly groomed eyebrows. It's not that Elise wasn't attractive, but her carelessness prevented her from being anything above "noticeable".
"How are your parents doing?" Patrick asked, uncrossing his legs and leaning closer to her.
"Well, you know Dad, he's busy golfing and making connections. Mom finally found her calling; she works with Taylor Marketing and Public Relations,"
"So that's why you're here?"
"Basically. Um, Allison's Dad owns the company, and we kind of opened a small branch of it,"
Taking the cue, Allison reached across the table to shake hands with Patrick. He smiled politely at her and shook her hand.
Belle crossed her arms over her chest and leaned in to the table as well.
"Belle," Elise said simply to acknowledge her presence.
A silence fell onto the table, making the atmosphere almost unbearable.
"So, how do you guys know each other?" David asked, pulling his chair closer to the table to rest his elbows on it.
"Elise was our neighbor back in Glenview. Um, our parents are friends. Mainly our fathers, they used to play guitar together when we were younger. But they moved when we were..." Patrick paused to jog his memory.
"Thirteen," Elise completed for him.
"Thirteen, yea, um, they moved to California. So it's been a while,"
"Yea, I'm surprised that you still remember her," Belle said, sitting up and reaching for her wine glass. A faint blush rose to his face. "But I suppose you never forget your first kiss," She finished, placing the cup to her lips and sipping from it. Patrick let out a nervous laugh and Elise glared at her as she reached in her purse to grab a cigarette.
The waiter came in at that moment to take orders.
He looked at Elise first. "I'll have a...small garden salad with vinaigrette," She said, as if she were forcing the words out of her mouth. So she is starving herself, Belle thought quietly.
"And I will have...hmm, the spinach and artichoke dip for an appetizer..." Belle took her eyes off the menu and smiled innocently at Patrick, who was giving her his infamous "don't be a bitch" look. She shrugged it off before continuing. "...and the stuffed tortellini with spinach and garlic sauce... heavy garlic sauce," She finished, and he brought his hand over to pinch her arm.
"Ow, why did you do that?" She asked loudly. Everyone at the table looked their way and Patrick put on a charming smile.
When they were through ordering Belle sat back in her seat and examined the worried look on Allison's face, as Elise lit up another cigarette and took a long drag off of it.
"You know that's going to kill you..." Belle commented almost under her breath.
"Well, what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, right Belle?" Elise threw back as she leaned on the arm rest of her chair.
Belle looked offended for a moment before sitting back. The two of them were deeply engaged in a staring contest, shooting daggers at each other with their eyes. Patrick cleared his throat loudly, trying to come up with something to say.
"So do you have any experience under your belt?" He asked, directing his soft voice to Allison, who perked up and placed a smile on her lips. "I mean, would you be under the supervision of your father's company?" He asked, thankful to get out of the cloud of awkward that had fogged the table.
"The thing about what Elise and I are doing is that it's very personal. We have but three clients between the two of us, so we're pretty much always available, and anyone in this business can tell you it's very important to have that connection. And since, well, Elise has a background with, ugh, with your family, well, it would be almost perfect for Belle to work with us. But to answer your question, yes, we have senior executives to fall back on,"
"I don't think this situation will come along again," David said, nudging Belle.
"You do have a point, David. I mean, what are the odds that another one of my Dad's best friend's daughter can provide me with this service?"
"Your facetiousness is quickly breeching annoying, Belle," Patrick said through clenched teeth.
"Listen, I know you don't like me, and I'm not going to pretend to be your best friend. I do, however, think we would be perfect P.R. for you. If you don't want to work with me I-"
"Now why wouldn't I want to work with you?" Belle asked sarcastically, grabbing for her glass of wine again.
"This is fucking stupid. Do whatever you want," Elise huffed, standing up to leave the table. "It was nice seeing you again, Patrick. Send your parents my love," She said, pushing in her chair and turning around.
"You aren't going to stay? You'll miss your fantastic garden salad," Belle mocked scornfully.
Elise through up her middle finger and she continued walking. Allison looked nervously between the two, and caught Patrick's gaze.
He glared at Belle before standing up to follow Elise, jogging a bit to catch up with her. She continued walking when he caught up to her, until she walked out of the front door and he gently grabbed her arm.
"When did she turn into such a bitch?" Elise groaned, rubbing her temples with her fingers.
"She's just, well...She's been the same way with everyone if that offers any condolence," Patrick said nervously. He gave Elise a half smile when she dropped her hand.
"You still make up excuses for her," Elise pointed out. They stood there quietly for a second and Elise followed his grip with her eyes until he noticed his hand was still on her upper arm. He blushed and dropped his hand quickly.
"You know there is no way I'm going to let her work with anyone else now, don't you?" He question with a smirk on his face.
"I'm not a gluten for punishment, Patrick," She said and watched as he pointed his head towards the door.
"Let's just see if we can figure something out. If worse comes to worse, she'll just work with Allison and you won't have to deal with her," He said, nudging her gently with his elbow.
She threw her hands up in mock surrender. "I'm only doing this because of our parents," She said, stopping right before he re-entered.
He looked down at her and chewed on his bottom lip. "That's good enough for me,"
"We landed the deal!" Allison squealed excitedly as they got into Elise's car.
"Excuse me if I don't share your enthusiasm, but the only reason she even agreed to this was so that she could make my life miserable," Elise said, putting the car in drive and focusing on the road.
"Don't piss on my parade, okay? I'm really excited. This is my chance to show my father that my college education wasn't a complete waste. And besides, we'll probably be seeing more of her brother..."
"Do you want me to punch you?"
"With a voice like that, you know he's good in bed. And it's not like you would even notice if he sucked anyway," Allison laughed at her own joke.
"You get one more free shot at making fun of my non-existent sex life, and after that I'm going to spit in your hair," Elise threatened.
"Your vagina is going to start plotting revenge on you if you continue to neglect it,"
Elise curled her nose up in disgust and laughed.
"You aren't even going to deny that as fact, are you?" Allison asked with a playful laugh.
"Suck it Trebeck,"*
"I wonder if she still sleeps with her Ken doll," Belle joked when they pulled onto the road leading up to Pete's house. He had tried to drown out her negativity the whole ride home, but every time he turned up the music, she'd turn it down just to bash Elise again.
He continued to drown her out as they pulled into the driveway and he got out of the car. He needed to put as much space between them as possible.
"Do you remember when she started her period the night she stayed over? We woke up and I thought she had sacrificed a-"
"Okay! That's enough! You've done nothing but talk shit about her since we got into the car, and it's really getting old," Patrick said, slipping off his shoes at the front door and walking further into the house.
Belle's footsteps were close behind him, and she jogged to get in front of him and stand with her hands on her hips. "Are you standing up for her?"
"Well someone has to. She's not here to do it herself," He replied, taking a deep breath and closing his eyes to concentrate on cooling down.
"Well, childhood love never dies, does it?"
"Just fucking stop already," He said, jutting his foot out to step around her. She moved with him and put a hand on his chest to stop him.
"Are you going to tell Greta about your little girlfriend showing up?"
"I'm telling you right fucking now Belle, one more remark and I swear to God-"
"Are you going to hit me again?" Belle bit her lip and raised her eyebrows, as if she were daring him to.
"Go upstairs," He said with his jaw clenched so tight that he was sure his teeth would be sore in the morning.
"I'm not a fucking child, you can't tell me what to-"
"GO UPSTAIRS!" He screamed, clenching his hands into fists.
"What are you going to do if I don't?" She challenged, stepping closer to him.
"You know what? I don't deserve this shit!! You've been a fucking bitch, and I'm done! I can't fucking do it anymore!" He screamed, his frustration making his voice crack.
"Good, because I'm getting my own place," She finished, leaving him to stand there dumbfounded as she made her way upstairs.
He was half tempted to follow her...but he found himself loosing the energy to fight with her anymore.
* Completely random, I know. But I've been watching way too much old school SNL, and I felt compelled to add it in here.
Authors Note: Ask and you shall receive, Katy...
Okay, so no weird time changes in this one. My brain isn't function well enough to do that.
I guess I just want feedback on Elise's character. Do you want to slap the cigarette out of her dirty mouth? Or do you want to make sweet monkey love to her? I'm sure there is a happy medium between the two, but i can't put that into words.