|Last Tango in Forks
Author: AwesomeSauce76 PM
Bella Swan has spent a lifetime putting everyone else's needs before her own. Could a chance encounter with a mysterious stranger begin to change all of that? AU/AHRated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Angst - Bella & Edward - Chapters: 33 - Words: 189,639 - Reviews: 15,923 - Favs: 8,186 - Follows: 5,574 - Updated: 01-12-13 - Published: 04-23-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5918985
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Alright people, this is my first journey into the world of AU/AH. I hope you enjoy!
To any of my readers who followed me here from Blood & Lust, I'd like to shout an enormous THANK YOU. I hope you aren't let down.
And for those of you who are new to my writing, I hope that you enjoy it enough to come back again!
This is loosely inspired by the classic 70s erotic film Last Tango in Paris, if you hadn't already guessed by the title. While I have used certain plot points here and there, they are in no way the exact same story.*
*however, there WILL be butter. ;-)
Disclaimer: I don't own anything related to Twilight, no matter how much I like to fantasize about owning Edward.
Do I know you from somewhere?
Why do you leave me wanting more?
Why do all the things I say
Sound like the stupid things I've said before?
Put your hand on my skin.
"Skin" ~ Madonna
"No Dad, I really don't feel like fish again tonight. Why don't you clean it and throw it in the freezer? I'll cook it this weekend."
The pretty brunette rolled her eyes, growing tired of having the same conversation at least once a week. She tapped her pen impatiently on her desk, glancing furtively around her work station as she listened to the voice on the other end. She hated drawing attention to herself, and getting caught arguing about dinner with her father while at work always embarrassed her. Just then a loud beep sounded, and she was happy to see that the front desk was paging her.
"Hold on a sec, Dad... other line." She left him rambling on about the shelf life of Rainbow Trout and quickly switched lines, hoping for an excuse to get off the phone. "Yes?"
"You have a chart up, Bella," a female voice replied with a short, clipped tone.
"Thanks, Jess. I'll be right there."
"Don't be too long, you know how much Victoria hates for this family to wait." A click signaled that the receptionist had already hung up, leaving Bella to frown at the phone.
That's why I said I'd be right there, bitch.
Remembering that her father was still holding, she sighed loudly before pressing the flashing button. "Listen, Charlie, I need to go. I've got a patient. I'm going to the gym after work, so I'll figure out something else to make when I get home. I should be there no later than six." She set the receiver back in its cradle before he could interrupt her again. Bella loved her father very much, but there were times when he worked her last nerve.
She made her way quickly from the nurses station to the front office, wondering who had gotten Jessica's panties in a twist. There was only a small group of families in town that Dr. Wylde ever cared about waiting too long, so Bella could never resist trying to guess who it was whenever another one came in. Was it the Judge's wife? The Mayor's sister?
God, I hope not. Every time she's here I have to listen to a whole new round of excuses for why she needs another STD test and free samples of Plan B.
When she reached the different racks where the charts were stacked in order of doctor and appointment time, the bright red sticker on the corner of the chart jumped out at her. It didn't actually have anything printed on it, just a blank red sticker, but it was the unmistakable code in the office for VIP.
Needing two hands to lift the thick chart, Bella flipped it open to reveal whose ass she was supposed to start kissing. Pucker up, baby. It's time to bow down to...
Rosalie Cullen. Oh... no wonder!
Rosalie Cullen was something of a local celebrity, even if the trashy romance paperbacks that she wrote made the elderly people in town shake their heads in disapproval. She was still trying to get her name out there, but she had already sold enough to make a living from it. Bella had bought all four of them as soon as they'd hit the bookstore and devoured them immediately upon arriving home. The girl wrote excellent smut.
However, that's not what put that little red sticker on her chart. Rosalie had achieved red sticker status over twelve years ago on the day she married Carlisle Cullen's son. Carlisle Cullen was the Head of Cardiology at Forks Community Hospital, and Dr. Victoria Wylde never missed an opportunity to brown nose.
Bella propped open the door to the waiting room with her hip, searching with her eyes until they landed on a strikingly beautiful blonde woman who was talking quietly with her head bent towards someone seated next to her. "Rosalie?" The woman in question stopped and looked up, smiling brightly. She stood eagerly, motioning for the tiny woman beside her to follow.
"That was fast!" she exclaimed once the door closed behind them. "How have you been, Bella?"
"Oh, you know... same old, same old." It never failed to amaze her that someone as well-known as Rosalie Cullen actually bothered to remember her name. Since talking about herself always made her feel awkward, Bella quickly deflected the attention back to the patient. "C'mon, let's get you weighed."
"Ugh, do we have to?" Rosalie pretended to pout as she kicked off her shoes and stood on the large scale. As Bella watched the digital readout and noted the result in her chart, the small woman who had been all but forgotten behind them finally spoke up.
"Jeez, Rose, why don't you take off all your clothes? I'm sure you could deduct at least a pound or two for that sweater alone." Her snarky comment was followed by a playful giggle.
"Hey, shut it! I need all the help I can get right now." She turned back to her favorite nurse and made a grave face. "OK Bella, what's the damage?"
Easily falling into Rosalie's dry sense of humor, Bella frowned. "Two pounds since last month's visit. If you keep this up we'll need to get a bigger scale."
"I know." Rosalie tried to hold her dour expression, but she couldn't keep the radiant smile from breaking out across her face. "Isn't it glorious?"
Bella smiled back, ushering the two women into an exam room. While she checked Rosalie's temperature with a digital thermometer in her ear, the tiny woman sitting off to the side cleared her throat loudly.
"I'm sorry, Bella," Rosalie said, finally taking the hint. "This is Alice, my husband's sister. She was kind enough to keep me company today since Emmett is out of town until tomorrow."
"I thought football season was over, like, two weeks ago?" While Bella was uncomfortable talking about herself, she was actually quite good at getting others to open up. Besides, Rosalie loved to talk, especially about her husband.
"It was, but the team needs to stay in shape during the off season, not to mention the other clients he takes on during the rest of the year. He's stuck in California right now looking at a torn Rotator Cuff."
Emmett Cullen was a Physical Therapist for the Seattle Seahawks. When a knee injury had permanently benched him before his freshman year of college was over, he combined his love of sports and a familial inclination for medicine to find the best of both worlds. He and Rosalie had been college sweethearts, and they had gotten married about thirty seconds after graduation. After moving around the country for a few years, he was thrilled when he had finally been able to land the position he'd wanted more than anything, always hoping to stay close to his home town. They lived in Seattle year-round now, but happily made the three hour drive home to Forks as often as possible.
Bella turned her attention to the newcomer with the spiky black hair while she checked Rosalie's blood pressure. "So, Alice, I don't remember seeing you in here before. You aren't a patient of Dr. Wylde's? I thought all of the Cullen women came here." The town of Forks, Washington was small, and Bella worked at the largest private OB/GYN around. They had also recently added a young Pediatrician to the staff, which nearly doubled their clientele. It didn't hurt that Dr. James Dubois was extremely easy on the eyes; the rate of mysteriously sick toddlers had skyrocketed over the last few months.
"No, just my mom and Rosalie here. I don't get back to town as often as she does, so I have a doctor in Seattle." Alice's husband Jasper owned his own construction company in the city, and Alice was becoming quite sought after herself as a freelance interior designer.
"Really, Alice, you only go for your annual exam. There's no reason you can't make it here once a year." Rosalie looked back to Bella. "I've been trying to get her to switch. Dr. Wylde is worth the trip."
"Well, I'm sure she'd love to hear that," Bella smiled. She sat down at the small table and made a few more notes in Rosalie's chart. "OK, how have you been feeling?"
"Great! Really great. Better than I thought I'd be."
"No more morning sickness?
"No, not for weeks now."
"Are you having any trouble with your Lovenox injections?" Bella scribbled on the sheet as she spoke, never looking up from the paper.
"No, that's old hat now. There's still some bruising once in a while, but I'm getting the hang of it."
"How many weeks is it now?"
"Fourteen," Rosalie replied, before adding quietly, "I've never made it past ten before." Bella looked up in time to see her wipe a small tear from the corner of her eye. "I'm scared. I've been holding my breath for so long now. I'm afraid to relax and make any plans."
Bella couldn't stop herself from leaning forward and covering Rose's hand with her own. "I don't blame you for worrying, but fourteen weeks is a very good sign. And this is the first time we've tried the injections. They are supposed to greatly increase the possibility of a full term pregnancy for women with your condition."
"It's just so damn frustrating!" She was crying freely now. "It's so hard to keep from getting bitter whenever I see so many women having an easy time of it. Don't even get me started on that fucking show 16 and Pregnant!" Bella handed her a tissue and she wiped her eyes. "I can't ever just be happy about it. Every time I conceive I have to wonder how long it will be before my body decides to starve it off."
Bella wrapped her arms around her and hugged her tightly. "I'd tell you to just be positive, but I think if someone told me that I'd slap them." Rosalie laughed through another sob before pulling away and composing herself.
"Thank you. I hate hearing that, too." She wiped her eyes again. "I'm sorry, Bella. My damn hormones are all over the place, lately. I cry at the drop of a hat."
"Hey, I'm around pregnant women all day. It's an occupational hazard."
"It doesn't help that we have the added stress of a funeral this week," Alice said. "That's why I'm back home for a few days. It was a tragic loss, and everyone in our family is a bit shaken up right now."
"Oh no, I'm so sorry," Bella offered, hoping that she sounded sincere, because people rarely did when they said that. She wondered who had died, but felt it would be prying if she asked.
"I was actually eager to join Rose today when she asked me. We both needed a few hours away from the madness that our house is becoming." She looked at Bella and smirked. "How pathetic is it when a trip to the Gyno sounds like a vacation?"
"Hey! This is not just some run of the mill pap smear!" Rosalie feigned offense. "This is a baby check up!"
"Yes, dear." They both broke out laughing before Alice turned back to Bella and explained. "I promised her I'd play Emmett's stand in today. That is totally how he would blow her off."
Bella was happy to see that the mood had lightened again, even if only for a little while. Walking towards the door, she smiled back at the two women. "Alright, I'm all done here, so Dr. Wylde should be in to see you shortly."
"Take care, Bella," Rosalie called after her as she left the room.
While she was putting the chart in the slot on the front of the door, she heard Alice's voice again. "OK, you were right. She's amazing. Damn, now I guess I have to switch doctors."
"Pay up," she heard Rosalie mumble. Bella smiled to herself as she walked back to the nurses station, wondering what it might have been like to have a sister.
"Hey, Bella?" a familiar voice cut through her musings. She looked up to see the friendly face of Angela Webber staring back at her. "Would you be able to give me a hand with my next patient? I have to give him a booster shot and the little shit's a kicker."
"Sure, but aren't his parents here to help?"
Angela rolled her eyes. "Sure they are. But it's Mike and Lauren Newton. You do the math." Bella didn't know them personally, but Angela had filled her in on the local gossip over the years. Mike Newton's parents owned the only decent sporting goods store in town, and he had recently taken it over. From what she had heard, he had grown up as a spoiled brat, gone on to marry another spoiled brat, and was successfully raising a brand new one.
"Didn't you say that Jessica used to date him in high school?"
"God, yes. She always acted like he wasn't good enough for her, but ever since he got the store she's been moping around here like he's the one that got away."
"No wonder she's been such a bitch today," Bella grumbled under her breath.
"I know, right?" Angela chuckled as they made their way to the other side of the office where the children were seen.
"If Asshole, Jr. is such a kicker, why don't you leave him for James? The kids love him." Dr. Dubois had made it clear on his first day there that he didn't expect them to call him doctor. He had told the nurses that they were all the same in the trenches, and their job was just as important as his. Bella had correctly assumed that it was simply a ploy to get in the pants of as many employees as possible, and from the rumors floating around he had been fairly successful.
"Believe me, I'd love to, but James and Dr. Wylde are off having another long lunch." She actually made the air quotes as she said the words.
"What?" Bella gasped.
"You didn't know James and her were fucking?"
"Huh? Well, no, I didn't, but that's not really surprising. She's always been the town cougar. I knew it wouldn't be long when I saw how much younger he was." James was still in his early 30s and looked even younger, while Victoria was a cosmetically enhanced 45. "No, what's completely pissing me off right now is that I have a red chart up, and she's off polishing his knob."
"Shit! Forget Asshole, Jr. and go page her right now. If she gets here and sees that—"
"She's gonna have a baby cow, right here on the new carpet," Bella finished.
"Exactly. Now go!" Just then the back door opened, and a throaty laugh could be heard down the hall. "Oh, thank God, that's her."
"Thank you again for lunch, Dr. Dubois. It was very... enlightening." Bella walked quickly towards the flirty, purring banter. She rounded the corner just in time to see an attractive red head with unruly curls lean in and brush something off the shoulder of a rugged blond man with bright blue eyes. Was that a leaf? I don't even want to know.
He saw her coming towards them and wiped the smile off his face, all business once again. "Yes, well, don't mention it, Dr. Wylde. It's just my way of saying... uh, thank you... for helping me get settled in around here."
"Excuse me, Doctor?" The red head straightened up quickly and turned around. There was no confusion over who was being spoken to, since unlike James, Victoria expected to be addressed by her title. She had worked hard her entire life and paid tens of thousands of dollars to be able to earn that title. Bella didn't mind; she actually preferred the honesty. She would happily take Victoria's blatant pride over James's false modesty any day.
"Yes, Bella?" She absentmindedly reached up and smoothed her hair back, mentally getting back into gear for work. Bella ignored the small blades of grass that fell to the floor. What the hell? It's January! Where the hell were they?
"I just wanted to make sure that you knew there was a red chart up in Room 4."
"Oh! How long?" She glanced down at her watch that cost more than Bella made in a year.
"Less than five minutes."
Victoria wasted no time, shoving her coat and purse in Bella's hands. "Be a dear and stick those in my office, would you?"
"Sure thing." When she started to pass her, Bella noticed a small green leaf sticking out of the back of her hair. "Hold on..." Knowing that Victoria would be mortified if any patients saw her so disheveled, Bella bit the bullet and plucked the offending leaf from her hair.
Victoria blushed, but recovered quickly. "Thanks... we had lunch at the new greenhouse in the park. I must have brushed against a branch." And with that she was gone, off to impress another red sticker.
"Whew, I'm so glad they showed up when they did," Angela said a few minutes later when Bella had returned to her desk. "James jumped in just in time for Asshole, Jr. to kick him square in the nuts."
"No!" Bella gasped.
"Yeah, he's in the lounge with an icepack. He'll probably need a few minutes."
"Poor guy. At least he got to use it one last time before it broke."
"Oh, I'm sure he'll pull through; it's his reason to live." They shared a laugh for a minute before Angela remembered something. "Hey, what are you doing tonight?"
"Gym. Then home."
"Bella, that's what you do almost every night! You never go out. Why don't you come out with me and Ben later? We're going to grab a few drinks."
"I can't. It's a weeknight. I really need to get home and make dinner. Maybe some other time, though." But they both knew that there would never be another time. Angela had been asking her for years to hang out, but there was always some reason not to.
A few hours later found Bella driving downtown in her massive old pickup truck towards the gym. As she watched the now familiar landmarks go by, she let her mind wander back to Angela's invitation.
It wasn't that Bella didn't like her; Angela was the sweetest person she'd ever met since she'd moved to town three years ago. However, almost a straight year of having no time to herself while nursing her father back to health after a gunshot wound, combined with being a naturally shy person to begin with, had left Bella almost completely antisocial.
The funny thing about it was that she was desperate for something different in her life, a change of pace. She wanted to get out and live for once. Her father had healed up and returned to work on the police force some time back, but he was so happy to have someone at home helping him with his day to day activities that he tended to play up how helpless he was, knowing that Bella was a sucker for helping people. It had worked for a while, but she was beginning to get annoyed with him. Charlie got everything he wanted, while Bella disappeared deeper inside herself.
As she pulled into a parking space, she thought about the fact that even though this time of day was precious to her, she didn't really care about going to the gym every day. She wasn't some vapid hardbody that lived to feel the burn, but it provided her with a few short hours of alone time and allowed her to work out her frustrations physically. Actually, there was nothing she loved more than popping in her earbuds and losing herself in the music on her iPod, but whenever she tried to do that at home Charlie would inevitably hunt her down and need her to do something.
Grabbing her bag from the seat next to her, Bella locked the doors and made her way towards the gym. The Forks Fitness Center was in the middle of a long strip of businesses. To the left of the gym was an accountant's office, already working late to get ready for tax season, and to the right was a place that Bella always liked to walk by: Mrs. Cope's Dance Studio.
The first time she'd seen it she had laughed for nearly ten minutes straight, wondering how on earth an old-fashioned dance studio stayed in business in such a small town. Even if everyone who lived in Forks decided to learn the Fox Trot, Bella had figured that they would have to run out of customers within a year; but somehow it seemed to be thriving.
From what Bella had heard, Mrs. Cope used to work at the high school office a long time ago, but after she retired she spent a year remodeling the old dance studio that hadn't been in business since the early 80s. The rumors were that she had been quite the dancer back in her youth, and had been the first one to cry when she heard about it closing. Now she spent her afternoons teaching little girls how to tap dance and elderly couples how to mambo. She was in Heaven.
Passing the storefront, Bella peeked in the window like she did every day, smiling as she watched the current class of seventy-somethings shuffle along. Right before she reached the end of the building she saw something that made her stop in her tracks. There, smack dab in the middle of the window, was a sign that hadn't been there yesterday.
APARTMENT FOR RENT
She blinked a few times, wondering why she couldn't move her feet. After a full thirty seconds Bella finally forced herself to keep walking, right through the gym door and straight into the locker room.
She changed out of her scrubs quickly, throwing on her capri-length black sport pants and one of her favorite concert tees, a dark blue shirt that said Too Many Dicks On The Dance Floor across the front repeatedly in rainbow letters. Making her way into the weight room, Bella signed for an open treadmill and popped in her earbuds, scrolling through her playlists until she found the one labeled Workout Songs. She adjusted the settings on the treadmill for her target heart rate and incline, and within seconds she was humming along with the music as she ran.
Hey, Dirty... Baby I got your money
Sadly, the song wasn't even over yet before the image of the sign in the window was flashing in her mind. Bella shook her head to clear her thoughts and hit the skip button on her iPod, hoping that another tune might distract her more.
It takes two to make a thing go right
It takes two to make it outta sight
She smiled widely and started running faster, thinking that she had finally managed to focus. She was wrong. By the second verse she was wondering what the rent might be for an apartment downtown and how fast it would go. Decent apartments were hard to come by in a town so small; people kept them until death and then willed them to their family. At least that's how it felt to Bella. She'd been wanting to get the hell out of her father's house for a long time.
I wonder if they allow animals—Dammit! What's wrong with me? Why can't I concentrate? Bella turned off the treadmill, knowing with absolute certainty that if both Ol' Dirty Bastard and Rob Base couldn't get her in the mood, then nothing would.
She stomped back to the locker room and grabbed her bag, tossing the iPod in before zipping it closed and heading outside to her truck. She rarely changed again before heading home, and she didn't see the point of it now since she hadn't even broken a sweat tonight. However, she did see the point of her jacket as soon as she stepped outside and was reminded that it was late January.
She opened the passenger door and set her bag on the seat, fishing her jacket out and throwing it on. When she glanced back over her shoulder as she slid her arm in the sleeve, she was facing the sign once again.
There's no harm in just asking about it, right? With a decisive nod, Bella slammed the door shut and went inside the dance studio before she lost her nerve. The office just inside the front door was empty, so she walked down the hall until she heard what sounded almost like Latin music combined with a French accordion. She followed the beat farther down the hall until she found a door that was propped open with a large chalkboard on the floor that read Ballroom Dance tonight, 5 to 7.
She stuck her head in the door and peeked around the corner, surprised to find that the elderly dance troupe she'd seen earlier had been replaced by younger couples ranging from their late thirties to their early sixties. They were paired up and dancing in tight formations, arms raised high as the ladies twisted and slithered against the men. Bella was amazed to find it rather... erotic. The couples were arranged around the room in a large circle, and standing in the middle was a statuesque woman with unnaturally red hair piled high on her head. She was wielding a large, elegant walking stick that she held with both hands, tapping it into the floor in time with the beat of the music and nodding her head as each couple passed her.
"Good... good... watch your frame..." She was smiling until one of the women tripped over her own feet and stumbled. CRACK! The end of her stick came crashing down so loudly that it echoed over the music. "People! May I remind you that you were the ones who begged me to teach the Tango this year? There is a reason that it is the very last dance that I teach in class... if I think you're ready, that is. You have shown promise this far, but at the rate you are learning, this is going to take us weeks!" She frowned at each couple, completely ignoring the exotic music in the background as she sighed deeply and continued. "The word tango is derived from the Latin word tangere... to touch. It began as a pantomime of communication between a prostitute and her suitor. It is filled with powerful emotions and suggestive gyrations. We are talking vertical sex here, people!"
The flustered instructor looked up just then, catching sight of Bella across the room. She held up one finger to her and addressed the couples again. "Alright, I'll be back in a moment, class. Keep working
at it." She stepped through the circle and made her way across the floor, stopping at the stereo first to repeat the song. "If this song ends before I'm back, you're going to start the whole thing over again." She turned to Bella. "Come!" she barked, sweeping through the door in a grand exit.
They walked into the hall together, far enough away from the door so that they could hear each other. Bella was taken back by how extremely tall and graceful the woman seemed, as well as how much older she appeared close up. The thick makeup she had slathered on did nothing to hide the deep wrinkles and laugh lines on her face. Rather than being repulsed, Bella was in awe of how much living this woman must have done.
"Sorry about that, dear." She smiled warmly down at her and held out her hand. Bella shook it timidly. "I'm Mrs. Cope. Were you interested in signing up for a class?"
"Uh... no. Actually, I was wondering about the sign in your window. The apartment?"
"Oh! Yes, certainly."
"If it's still available, I was hoping that I might be able to schedule a time to look at it."
Mrs. Cope looked at her watch and thought for a moment. "Well, I'm going to be stuck here for a while. If you don't mind viewing it by yourself, I could give you the key and you could take a look at it right now."
"Oh, that would be great!" Bella couldn't keep the enthusiasm out of her voice.
"Well, come with me back to the office for a minute. I'll grab the key for you." They walked together down the hall, making pleasant small talk. Bella enjoyed the steady click click click of her walking stick as she tapped it out of habit.
Mrs. Cope motioned for Bella to follow her into the small office, sitting down at a desk against the wall. She opened the center drawer and started rifling through stacks of loose papers while Bella let her eyes wander around the cluttered room, letting them land on the many stacks of CDs in the corner. She had music from all over the world, for every kind of dance you could imagine.
"Where in the—?" Mrs. Cope mumbled to herself. "It was here earlier. What on earth did I do with that key?" She looked back at Bella as if she had the answer. "Wait a minute... that nice young man."
"Yes... there was a lovely young man who stopped in to look at it earlier. I forgot that I gave him the key. But that was hours ago! I've been so busy that I didn't realize he never brought it back down."
"Should you be concerned?" If Bella ended up taking the apartment, she didn't want some psycho out there with a key to her place.
"Oh heavens, no! I'm sure that he just set it down up there and forgot all about it. I'll just grab my spare key. If you see the other one laying around up there, just be a dear and bring it back down with you. If it's not there, don't worry, I'll get the locks changed if I have to." She looked back at the giant mess that was her desk. "Now... where the hell is my spare key?"
"Really, if it's too much trouble right now I can come back."
"Oh, don't be silly! You're here now. I think it's just... I remember!" Mrs. Cope unlocked a small desk safe in her bottom drawer and pulled out another key. She relocked the safe and shut the drawer, standing to usher Bella into the hall. "You know, this key has come in handy before. The last tenant hadn't been seen for days and he wasn't answering his phone. When he didn't answer the door, either, I finally had to use this to open it up. Poor thing." She made a sign of the cross over her chest.
Bella turned instantly pale. "You mean he died up there?"
"No, hon, nothing quite that bad." She reached out and patted her arm. "But Mr. Banner had a terrible stroke. When I found him, he was face down on the floor. Nobody knows how long he was there. I tried to hold onto his place for him for as long as possible, but the doctors say he won't be coming home. He's in hospice care now." She looked very sad for a moment. "I used to work with him many years ago. He was a teacher at the school. It just breaks my heart to see someone so intelligent brought low like that. He can't even talk now."
Now it was Bella's turn to pat her on the arm. She couldn't fathom what it would be like to go from being a fully functioning human being one day to being trapped inside your own mind for the rest of your life. Sometimes the human mind terrified her. That was why she could never bring herself to work at a nursing home; the thought of being around so many patients with dementia made her want to cry.
"Well, come on. Let me show you where to go." Mrs. Cope led her all the way down the hallway, past the door to the dance studio, until they reached the rear exit. "Now, you can access the apartment from back here," she said, opening the large door. "There's a parking lot on the other side of the alley behind here that all the tenants along the strip use. Most of the stores have at least one apartment upstairs, but some of them are lived in by the owners." She pointed to another door next to them. "This door here leads upstairs. The key will unlock it if you need it, but it's usually not locked up until nighttime. It's just up at the top of the stairs. If you have any questions come and find me, okay?"
"Thank you so much, Mrs. Cope. I really appreciate it. I'm sorry to have disturbed your class."
"It's no problem, sweetie. I needed a break from those guys anyway, before I started smacking them with my stick." They shared a final laugh before parting ways, each one going into a different door.
Bella walked up the dark stairway clutching the key in her hand. At the top of the stairs there was a long skinny hallway, and at the end of the hall was one lonely door on the left-hand side. Bella took a deep breath and stepped forward, bringing the key to the lock.
The door pushed wide open as soon as she touched it.
Dude, what the fuck? They just left it unlocked? She walked in slowly, looking from side to side in the empty room. It was dark and gloomy, but that could have been due to the fact that the sun had already started setting. Bella reached over and flipped the light switch. Nothing. Great. Mrs. Cope had failed to mention that the electricity had been cut off already.
Deciding that she needed to make the most of the dwindling sunlight so that she could see the room, she slipped the key into her jacket pocket and wandered around looking for windows. There was a small one above the sink in the kitchen that helped brighten things a bit when she opened the blinds. Not bad. Not good, but not bad. There was a little bathroom with a shower and what looked to be one bedroom on the other side of the living room.
As she entered the dark room, she instantly noticed how warm it was. Guess there's nothing wrong with the heat. She slipped her jacket off and dropped it to the floor, stopping to flip the switch in there as well, just to make sure. Damn. Frustrated, she fumbled her way through the darkness until she reached the other side of the room where the large window was. It had an ancient roll up blind, and when she pulled on it the entire thing snapped up quickly, shooting dust all over her.
"Shit!" she yelled, sputtering and coughing as she brushed herself off. When she had finally composed herself, she slowly turned around the room, taking it in.
And that's when she screamed.
Sitting on the floor facing her, right on the other side of the door she had just entered, was a man. He made no move to get up at her outburst; he simply looked up at her as if he'd only now realized that she was in the room.
"Who the fuck are you?" Bella gasped, praying that she wasn't about to become the first in a string of brutal rape/slayings to terrorize the Pacific Northwest. She was just about to yell at him again when she actually managed to look at him.
He was leaning back against the wall with his knees hugged close to his chest, wearing a white dress shirt that was unbuttoned a few times at the collar and what looked like designer jeans that had been artificially distressed; Bella knew that there was no way jeans that clean could have so many holes in them. His hair, which looked like some exotic mixture of bronze and copper, was sticking out in every direction as if he'd been shoving his hands in it repeatedly. His cheekbones and jawline were so chiseled that it almost hurt to look at them, the thick growth of stubble only serving to enhance their beauty.
Bella moved her eyes up slowly, hovering on the most luscious pair of full, pouty lips she had ever seen in her life. They looked soft and pink, and she couldn't help but wonder how they would feel against her own or how they might taste. Continuing upward, she took in his long, straight nose before finally landing on a sight that made her breath catch in her throat.
Piercing jade eyes stared back at her, surrounded by longer lashes than any man had the right to possess. They were swollen and red, and it was obvious that he had been crying. She had never felt like more of an intruder than she did in that moment, but she couldn't tear her eyes away.
He looked tragic... and broken... and heartbreakingly beautiful.
Bella suddenly remembered Mrs. Cope mentioning the lovely young man who had taken the other key. Well, if that isn't the understatement of the fucking century!
"I'm sorry," she whispered after managing to find her voice. "I didn't know anyone was still up here. Mrs. Cope said she thought you had left." He said nothing, but continued to stare at her as if he could see into her soul. Feeling the need to fill the awkward silence, Bella began rambling about whatever came to her mind. "Were you thinking of taking the apartment?" She glanced around the room. "It's a bit of a dump, to be honest, but it has potential."
When he still didn't answer, she walked back into the kitchen, hoping to give him a moment to collect himself. It wouldn't stop her mouth, though, which made no sense to her because she spent most of her time avoiding contact with everyone. "These cabinets aren't too bad," she called out, opening and closing doors. "There's not much counter space, though."
She went back into the living room and began critiquing the space, wondering to herself the entire time why she couldn't just shut the fuck up. Because you want to hear him speak to you. You want to know if his voice is as beautiful as the rest of him. Spinning around slowly, she pointed out what furniture might look good where, and nearly jumped when she turned back around to find that he was standing in the bedroom doorway watching her.
"Any idea what she's charging for this place?" Bella whispered. Christ, he's tall. "I sort of... forgot to ask." She blushed deeply, once again unable to look away from him. He simply stared back at her, and when he blinked again she saw a fresh set of tears slide down his cheeks.
Knowing that she had seen, he spun around and went back into the bedroom. Worried that she'd somehow embarrassed him, she followed after him.
Bella crossed the room and propped herself on the window ledge. "Listen... I'm sure you'd love for me to get the hell out of here. Even if you don't want the place, it's obvious that you need some privacy." He grimaced in response to her words but maintained eye contact. "Are you alright?" After what felt like minutes he shook his head slowly. "It's just that... I would feel terrible if I left here and didn't at least try to help." She tried to smile but it felt odd under his scrutiny. After a long pause she took a deep breath and bit the bullet. "Is there anything I can do for you?"
"Yes," he choked out. Although his voice sounded raw to Bella as if he'd been screaming, she wasn't surprised to hear the musical perfection behind it.
"What can I do?" She didn't notice that she had stopped breathing until she needed to speak.
He moved then, slowly walking towards her like a wildcat stalking its prey. The closer he got to her, the more she could feel something growing and tingling, as if an electric current was shooting between their bodies. He didn't stop until he was right in front of her with his arms on each side of the window, effectively caging her in. He even smells beautiful.
He looked deep into her eyes for almost a minute, allowing the electricity to build between them to a breaking point.
"You can let me fuck you," he whispered.
Alright, everyone, be gentle with me!
I'd really love to know what you thought of this. I've had this story scurrying around my brain for months now; I hope that you are enjoying it so far!
Now, on to the music... I am going to be making MANY different playlists for this fic. They are all going to be actual playlists that the characters have on their ipods. After a new one gets mentioned, I am going to post a link. Now, all the songs on them may not get mentioned in the fic, but I thought it would be fun for you to be able to shuffle through their ipods and see what they like!
Be sure to check out my author page for the links!! (and don't forget to click that review button!)