Bella had had it. Really. She had made it clear--crystal clear--that she didn't like shopping.
Utterly loathed it.
And that damnable pixie was trying to drag her out...AGAIN! She had two days, two measly days to figure out a way to get the out of control shopaholic to just leave her and her comfy jeans alone.
She ran outside, before she angrily broke something in the house. Esme and Edward would forgive her, but she couldn't deal with the pitying looks she would get from them. Anyway, how did Esme get out of these horrifying shopping trips? Ever since Bella was able to go out in public, Alice would drag her out shopping for hours upon tedious hours of two-handed retail therapy. And she thought it was bad shopping with her when she was a human.
She sprinted all the way to the river, only to run into Leah. It was obvious to Bella that she had only just phased, a simple, thin sundress thrown on her lithe body. Bella threw herself down on the riverbank and heaved a heavy sigh as she looked up at the leaden sky above her and tried to keep from shrieking in frustration.
"Troubles in vamp land?" Leah snorted.
"Sort of. I'll give you one word--shopping." By the way she uttered it, you would have thought she spit out the worst curse word in the history of humanity. It was one of the things Leah completely saw eye-to-eye with Bella about.
"I would do almost anything to never have to shop with Alice again." Bella flopped her pale arm over her eyes in disgust.
"Anything?" Leah looked like a shark, ready to hit its prey.
Bella caught the tone, and lifted her arm to look at her sometimes friend suspiciously. "What?"
"If I get Alice to back off, you have to talk Edward into letting me borrow the Vanquish for a week."
"His Vanquish?" Bella chewed her lip, a habit carried over from her human days. She didn't care if it meant she had to talk to Rosalie and help find him a new one for Christmas, if it meant she got out of the incessant shopping trips.
"Deal. What's your plan?"
"Beeeellllllaaaa!!!!" Alice's voice rang through the otherwise quiet house.
"You don't need to yell, Alice, I can hear you just fine now, remember?"
"What did you just do? I can't see our shopping trip! I was there, in my favorite shop, about to choose between a lavender silk top, and a cranberry one, and it just DISAPPEARED!" The short haired girl popped into the living room where Bella had been reading an early copy of Ivanhoe.
Bella laughed to herself before answering. "Oh, that. Leah just called to ask if she could go with us. I said sure--if she could keep up with you."
"Leah? Anti-shopper wolf girl? You'd think the way they phase, she'd want to shop for more clothes! It's about time! Oh, just think, I've got all of us to shop for now!" She hopped in place, clasping her hands together, a sparkle in her tawny eyes. "This will be so fun! Just wait!"
Bella smirked, "Oh, I'm sure it will be!" If Alice thought her response out of character, she didn't show it. She was too busy thinking about what would look best on Leah.
The next overcast day found the three women cruising down the freeway in Edward's Volvo. Alice bemoaned not taking her beloved Porsche, but knew she would never be able to fit all her shopping and the two passengers in it. Heck, she wasn't even sure she could fit someone in the tiny excuse of a backseat, much less her bags.
Leah was quiet in the back seat, simply looking out the window into the grey morning. Bella was buried in her e-book reader, a gift from Edward, ignoring the passing scenery from the passenger seat. Last Alice checked, she was reading The Dubliners, but as quick as Bella now read, she might already have moved onto Dorian Gray.
It wasn't long before Alice pulled up a side street to her favorite boutique. "This is that shop with the cranberry or lavender tops, Bella!" she squealed as she shut and locked the car door.
Bella shared a smirk with Leah behind Alice's back and followed her into the shop.
"The shirts were just....here..." Alice looked around in confusion. "They were right here!" She scanned the shop, and found a saleswoman. "Excuse me," she said with a smile, "I was here a few days ago, and you had the most exquisite lavender blouse, and cranberry top...where did you move them?"
"They were lovely, weren't they? Unfortunately, we sold out of them yesterday."
Alice looked shocked.
Before Alice could throw a temper tantrum in front of a human, Bella spoke up, "Thank you, miss."
Alice muttered, “but I really wanted those tops; how could this happen!?"
"Well, we could always go home--" Bella suggested.
"Oh no, you don't! You agreed to go shopping, and we're going shopping!" Alice huffed and moved toward another sales rack.
"This looks nice." Alice pulled a summer dress off the rack. Alice's expression fogged over, a common occurrence when shopping, as that was how she 'tried on' the clothes. After a few seconds, her eyes cleared, and she grimaced.
"What is it, Alice?" Bella only just managed to keep the smugness out of her voice.
"I can't see what it will look like on!"
"So, try it on like every other normal being on the planet." Bella smirked.
"But what if it's ugly?" the shopaholic whined.
Leah laughed. "Then don't buy it, pipsqueak."
Alice glared at her friends; well, okay friend and well, something.
"Fine." She went back to the racks, flustering at how she had to look at each piece, on each rack.
"How do people put up with this?!" she muttered loudly. Finally, with an armload of clothes, she headed to the changing rooms.
The first dress fit nicely enough, but the next pair of pants, "Oh my God! Who are these made for? An Amazon? I'd have to cut a full foot off the bottom to see my shoes!" Bella and Leah exchanged amused glances. It was about two-thirds the way through that the coup de grace hit.
"Bellaaaaa! I'm FAT! Look at me!!" Alice opened the changing room door just enough to let Bella peak in. Alice had put on a lovely halter top in a warm peach print. The shirring over the chest gave her a bit more...curves there, but the blouse bottom did indeed make Alice look as though she might be expecting.
Bella lost her smirk at the look of Alice's venom filled eyes. Thoughts of torturing Alice all day with Leah's gift of blocking Alice's gift drifted away in the face of her friend's honest distress.
"Get changed, Alice, we'll wait out here." Bella sighed then shared a look with Leah.
Leah smirked, shaking her fingers as though she were holding a set of keys. Bella smiled and nodded. Leah quietly said, "Call me when it's time," and headed out the shop door.
Bella let out a breath, and headed back to the changing area. She could hear Alice sniffling, and the movement of clothing and hangers.
"Alice?" Bella waited a moment, knowing it was unlikely she'd get an answer. "I'm sorry; It was a dirty trick."
Another sniff. "It was!"
"I want you to remember this though, Alice. This is how normal people shop. I don't LIKE it. I hate the frustration, and even now, I hate feeling like I can't do the clothing justice. And never mind actually finding things I like."
Alice stepped out of the cubicle, a pitifully small pile of keepers over her arm. A very subdued Alice answered, "I get it."
"Alice, don't be like that. I love you! You're my sister AND my best friend." Bella looked sharply at the morose girl and spoke firmly. "But I don't want to be bullied into going shopping with you EVERY time you get the itch."
"We can still do the Paris fashion week?"
"Paris or Rome or New York...I'm not doing all three in the same season ever again." THAT was something she'd wished had been done as a human, so it would be a foggy memory in the back of her brain rather than a clear cut image of misery emblazoned in her vampiric brain.
"Can I still buy you clothes?"
"PLEASE! If you do, it's that much less I'll have to go out and do myself!"
"And I can bring Renesmee if she wants to go?"
Bella just laughed. "I'm a vampire, not an ogre, Alice! I don't want to take your fun away, but that's just it...for me it's NOT fun."
Alice's gaze went unfocused for a moment, and then cleared up. "Oh! Bella! I just saw the most amazing boots for you!"
Once a shopaholic, always a shopaholic.
But at least she didn't have to go shopping anymore.
Now to figure out how to get Edward to release his beloved Vanquish for a week.
"Alice?" she asked, wheedling. "I might need something to tempt that husband of mine..."
Her sister grinned evilly. "I know JUST the thing!"