No one is staring at you,I promised myself.No one is staring at you. No one is
staring at you.
But, because I couldn't lie convincingly even to myself, I had to check.
As I sat waiting for one of t

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I turned, and then wished I hadn't.
Two men stood beside a fancy SUV with brand-new kayaks tied to the top. Neither
of them was looking at me; they both were staring at the car.
Personally, I didn't get it. But then, I was just proud I could distinguish between
the symbols for Toyota, Ford, and Chevy. This car was glossy black, sleek, and
pretty, but it was still just a car to me.
"I'm sorry to bother you, but could you tell me what kind of car you're driving?"
the tall one asked.
"Urn, a Mercedes, right?"
"Yes," the man said politely while his shorter friend rolled his eyes at my answer.
"I know. But I was wondering, is that... are you driving a Mercedes Guardian?"
The man said the name with reverence. I had a feeling this guy would get along
well with Edward Cullen, my... my fiance (there really was no getting around that
truth with the wedding just days away). "They aren't supposed to be available in
Europe yet," the man went on, "let alone here."
While his eyes traced the contours of my car – it didn't look much different from
any other Mercedes sedan to me, but what did I know? – I briefly contemplated
my issues with words like fiance, wedding, husband, etc.
I just couldn't put it together in my head.
On the one hand, I had been raised to cringe at the very thought of poofy white
dresses and bouquets. But more than that, I just couldn't reconcile a staid, respectable,
dull concept like husband with my concept of Edward. It was like casting an archangel as an accountant; I couldn't visualize him in any commonplace
Like always, as soon as I started thinking about Edward I was caught up in a
dizzy spin of fantasies. The stranger had to clear his throat to get my attention; he
was still waiting for an answer about the car's make and model.
"I don't know," I told him honestly.
"Do you mind if I take a picture with it?"
It took me a second to process that. "Really? You want to take a picture with the
"Sure – nobody is going to believe me if I don't get proof."
"Urn. Okay. Fine."
I swiftly put away the nozzle and crept into the front seat to hide while the enthusiast
dug a huge professional-looking camera out of his backpack. He and his
friend took turns posing by the hood, and then they went to take pictures at the
back end.
"I miss my truck," I whimpered to myself.
Very, very convenient – too convenient – that my truck would wheeze its last
wheeze just weeks after Edward and I had agreed to our lopsided compromise,
one detail of which was that he be allowed to replace my truck when it passed on.
Edward swore it was only to be expected; my truck had lived a long, full life and
then expired of natural causes. According to him. And, of course, I had no way to verify his story or to try to raise my truck from the dead on my own. My favorite
mechanic –
I stopped that thought cold, refusing to let it come to a conclusion. Instead, I listened
to the men's voices outside, muted by the car walls.
"... went at it with a flamethrower in the online video. Didn't even pucker the
"Of course not. You could roll a tank over this baby. Not much of a market for
one over here. Designed for Middle East diplomats, arms dealers, and drug lords
"Think she's something?" the short one asked in a softer voice. I ducked my head,
cheeks flaming.
"Huh," the tall one said. "Maybe. Can't imagine what you'd need missile-proof
glass and four thousand pounds of body armor for around here. Must be headed
somewhere more hazardous."
Body armor. Four thousand pounds of body armor. And missile-proof glass?
Nice. What had happened to good old-fashioned bulletproof?
Well, at least this made some sense – if you had a twisted sense of humor.
It wasn't like I hadn't expected Edward to take advantage of our deal, to weight it
on his side so that he could give so much more than he would receive. I'd agreed
that he could replace my truck when it needed replacing, not expecting that moment
to come quite so soon, of course. When I'd been forced to admit that the
truck had become no more than a still-life tribute to classic Chevys on my curb, I
knew his idea of a replacement was probably going to embarrass me. Make me the focus of stares and whispers. I'd been right about that part. But even in my
darkest imaginings I had not foreseen that he would get me two cars.
The "before" car and the "after" car, he'd explained when I'd flipped out.
This was just the "before" car. He'd told me it was a loaner and promised that he
was returning it after the wedding. It all had made absolutely no sense to me. Until
Ha ha. Because I was so fragilely human, so accident-prone, so much a victim to
my own dangerous bad luck, apparently I needed a tank-resistant car to keep me
safe. Hilarious. I was sure he and his brothers had enjoyed the joke quite a bit
behind my back.
Or maybe, just maybe,a small voice whispered in my head,it's not a joke, silly.
Maybe he's really that worried about you. This wouldn't be the first time he's
gone a little overboard trying to protect you.
I sighed.
I hadn't seen the "after" car yet. It was hidden under a sheet in the deepest corner
of the Cullens' garage. I knew most people would have peeked by now, but I
really didn't want to know.
Probably no body armor on that car – because I wouldn't need it after the honeymoon.
Virtual indestructibility was just one of the many perks I was looking
forward to. The best parts about being a Cullen were not expensive cars and impressive
credit cards.
"Hey," the tall man called, cupping his hands to the glass in an effort to peer in.
"We're done now. Thanks a lot!"