|Once in a Blue Moon by Autumn Song
Author: Jukeboxcontest PM
Love is rare, even more so in New York. It can happen when you least expect it and for single, soon to be forty, Carlisle love comes to him in the shape of the new librarian, Isabella.Rated: Fiction M - English - Carlisle & Bella - Words: 8,846 - Reviews: 11 - Favs: 23 - Follows: 7 - Published: 03-01-11 - id: 6789246
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: Once in a Blue Moon
The Jukebox contest
Song Choice: Blue Moon, Billie Holiday
Word count: 8,455
Pairing: Carlisle and Bella
Summary: Love is rare, even more so in New York. It can happen when you least expect it and for single, soon to be forty, Carlisle love comes to him in the shape of the new librarian, Isabella. They become friends but friendships can be misunderstood when both friends secretly love each other.
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight, its characters or the musical genius that is Blue Moon.
I had long since abandoned the idea of being greeted when I got home by anyone other than my dog, Gatsby. Every day I came home to an empty place with dark woods floors and great moldings then one day my neighbor gave me a puppy. Lonely women get cats; lonely men get ass Monday through Saturday and a dog to walk on Sunday. Pearls of wisdom he had…nothing but pearls. But once my puppy settled in he kept me company and would bound up to greet me like a long lost friend.
Today was no different. The jingle of my keys set off the jovial barks from behind the door and as soon as I crossed the threshold, he pounced, licking my face happily wagging his tail.
"Alright," I laughed, scratching behind his ears, "I love you too buddy, how about some dinner?"
At the sound of dinner, he ran to the kitchen, his paws padding on the wood floor. I had no choice but to follow him. When I got to the kitchen, he was panting and waiting by the stove like one of those ceramic decorative dogs. Shaking my head at his cool and collected act, I went about preparing my pasta. I liked to cook and now, after many years of trial and error, I had learned how to cook for one. When both of us were served, me at the table and him beside me on the floor, we ate dinner, together like always.
Yup, just a man and his dog.
Gatsby ate with gusto, spilling more kibble on the floor than he ate but my mind was far from me, lost somewhere back on 10th street. My fortieth birthday was at the end of the month and it had me taking stock of my life. For the most part, I was happy. I had done well for myself, worked hard and made a respectable living teaching eleventh grade literature. I had nice things, a sizeable nest egg, a car, and a brownstone in the West Village, a dog, friends and family. Obviously I had many things to be thankful for, I was fortunate enough to have a vocation in life, a purpose, which to be honest not many people had. To an outsider it would seem I had everything a person could hope for…except someone to a love.
I had family of course, fair amount of it scattered from New Haven to Manhattan. I had a brother that in California but he's an ass and only tolerable in small obligated holiday doses. My parents were still married after fifty-two years—a rare feat in of itself—and fell deeper in love with each passing year. The thing was that they were all part of something else, a more intimate entity. They had children and spouses and while I loved them, all very much being with them left me feeling like an envious third wheel. The third wheel everyone feels bad for and tries to set up with anyone in a skirt. My mom, sweet crazy mom never failed to invite me for dinner on Saturday nights. She claimed it was a reinstatement of family dinner but it was really, because she could not stand the thought of me alone on date night. I'm not sure what was worse, the pity invite or the actual loneliness.
Thanks mom for reminding me of the crushing silence waiting for me.
How I came to be nearly forty and live a life of loneliness was, truthfully, a mystery. I would like to blame it all on my ex Jennifer but that would be a cop-out. We were in love once, back when we first met. I had it all planned out, buy a place together, get married, have two children and dog, movie nights on Friday and church on Sunday. It seemed like a dream. Once day she left me with nothing but an empty brownstone and a note explaining that she didn't want the life I did. It did break my heart back then but it was eons ago and none of that relationship chaos had anything to do with now, or even a few years ago. I was an attractive man, not to be egotistical but I did own a mirror, I had kind bright blue and had a few threads of grey but it was experience not old age. I was fit and intelligent. I had many things to offer the opposite sex yet here I was.
At times, it depressed me. I wanted so much more. I craved love, companionship, and the knowledge that I didn't have to face the world alone, that whether I needed someone to talk to or simply someone to hold that I would find that support. I desired a partner in life but no one was quite right for me and as love continued to elude me I convinced myself that Patchin Place number six, Gatsby and the satisfaction of molding young minds was all I needed. It worked for a little while but now I was turning forty and the lie didn't stick.
Forty, it was a milestone and I'd have no one to share it with.
The next morning I was in my classroom looking over my lesson plan for the day when a friend of mine walked in breathless, his eyes wide and olive complexion flushed.
"Morning Eli, drink too much coffee this morning?"
"Carlisle, have you seen her? Tell me you've seen her." Puzzled I asked whom he was talking about and he shook his head impatiently. "The new librarian! She looks old enough to be a student here but Carlisle...que belleza de mujer. You really haven't seen her yet?"
For some reason Eleazar was excited over Mrs. Cope replacement, he always lapsed into Spanish when excited. "No, I haven't but if she's that young Eli, what is the point in getting as excited as you are? You're a married man, or do I have to remind you, old friend."
He scoffed, "I wasn't looking with eyes for me Carlisle. I was looking for you. Besides young girls love older men these days, it like there's something in the water. You need someone, pushing forty Carlisle; it's time to settle down."
I glared at him before going back to the lesson plan. I didn't need to be told, I knew well enough how old I was turning. "Don't you need to get to class? The bell's going to ring any second."
"Alright, the big Four-O is a sore subject; I've made a mental note. I'll go but make your way down there at some point today, you won't be sorry. She's perfect for you."
"Really? Perfect? You don't say?"
"Don't be sarcastic; it's unbecoming of you Carlisle."
The bell rang as he left and through the open door, I could hear the students finished their conversations, rushing through crowded hallways, yelling to one another about this and that. The music of this daily occurrence never failed to bring a smile to my face. Eli's words were forgotten when my class was seated, I took roll and reached behind me to get my tattered but beloved book.
"Good Morning class. Please pass up your homework and we'll get started." Groans filled the classroom as papers were passed up the rows and down to the right where Michael places the work on my desk. It was a thin pile for a class of thirty. "I see not many of you did your homework, this is a mighty thin pile people. I hope you know this means zeros for those of you who didn't do the assignment.
"Today we are going to start one of the greatest novels of the twentieth century, and in my opinion one of the greatest novels ever penned, The Great Gatsby. If you did your homework, you'll know that this novel takes place after the First World War, an interesting time in our history. Fitzgerald presents a realistic picture of American life in the 1920's. The economy was booming. Prohibition was making bootleggers rich, everyone wanted in on the green, and these characters are no different. We're dealing with greed, money, betrayal, death, superficial people, a lack of moral fiber and love—"
"Is it a love story Mr. Cullen, like Romeo and Juliet? That movie was soo romantic." She looked up at me dreamingly.
"No Jessica, it's not. And I think that Romeo and Juliet was a play before Leonardo DiCaprio became a Montague. Now, everyone has their books?" Most of the class pulled out their copy but Jessica, whom I assumed was pretending not to have her book so she could borrow mine. She did this with every novel we read. "Jessica you must have your book tomorrow. I'll lend you mine for today but it's very dear to me so, it's only for today."
"Sure thing Mr. Cullen."
I nearly groaned out loud at the flirtatious smile the girl was giving me. It was normal to have innocent school crushes but Jessica was past innocent. "Everyone read the first chapter while I go and borrow a copy from the library. Be good, please. I'll be right back."
As soon as I walked out of the classroom, I heard the explosion of chattering and smirked. Kids will be kids, I thought to myself was I walked briskly down the hall. I had forgotten about the new "perfect" librarian until the moment I saw her sitting at the desk.
Perfect she was. She was the loveliest creature I had ever laid eyes on, a peaches and cream complexion with ripe berry lips and softly wavy brown hair. Then as if sensing that I was watching her, she looked at me. For a moment, I was speechless at sight of her angelic face and brown eyes to rival Elizabeth Bennett's. My tongue lay limp in my mouth and my heart raced. The girl truly was gorgeous and sadly, looked entirely too young for me.
"May I help you, Mr…I'm sorry. I'm new here and I haven't met everyone yet I know I haven't met you yet. I mean I would remember that…I mean that I would remember you." She flushed a deeper shade of pink when she realized what she was saying. It was quite endearing and damn adorable to watch her flail for words but I decided to come to her rescue sooner rather than later.
"No, we haven't met yet. I'm Mr. Cullen, I teach Literature down the hall." I told her in a voice that sounded far more composed that I felt.
She held out a shaky hand and introduced herself but I didn't hear her. I was too enthralled; the small hand she offered fit mine so well it was all I could concentrate on. Warmth radiated up my arm and across my chest, surely this was not normal. Blushing once more, she asked how she could help me and instantly my mind flew to the gutter. The ways this girl could help me were endless but instead of revealing my perverted thoughts I simply asked her for the book I needed. In moments, she retrieved it, giving me a spectacular view of her trim body in a body hugging grey skirt, heels and red cardigan. She handed me the book, once again touching my hand with her warm fingers longer than necessary.
Those hands would feel divine on other, more sensitive parts. The image of her stroking length of my thighs, or back with the blade of her finger was a tempting one. Reluctantly, I banished the thought and thanked her for the book.
"It was my pleasure…and my job. I love this book. 'I've been drunk for about a week now, and I thought it might sober me up to sit in a library.'" She quoted in the soft hushed voice of a librarian. I arched a brow at her and, intending to tease in hopes of seeing that delicious blush, asked if she often found herself drunk and in need of a library to sober up in. As I had hoped, she blushed again and I only imagined what it would be like to feel her warm checks on my skin. "I…I…No, Mr. Cullen, I was…just…"
A jolt of electricity shot through my body when she pronounced my surname and quickly decided that it wanted to hear it again, and perhaps a bit more breathless.
"I was just quoting an owl faced man," she said finally moving aside and revealing the nameplate on her right.
"I know, I was only teasing you, Miss Swan. Well, I should get back to my class before they get too comfortable…or loud. It was a pleasure to meet you."
She nodded, smiling nervously and wished me a good day.
I taught the rest of the day in a haze, stumbling over words and salting my coffee in the teachers' lounge, all because of the enchanting Miss Swan. She had me so twisted up even Gatsby noticed change. He eyed me when I got home and continued watching as I sat in my library listening to the same old records, picturing her here among my books. Never had I had such a reaction to a stranger and so quickly.
I didn't know what it was but I liked it, a lot more than I should.
The very next morning I went to the library under the guise of needing a book and found her on the floor picking up the spilled contents of her purse. Her hair fell like a curtain around her face, the curls bouncing as she reached for things. Naturally, I rushed to help her and when we were finished I asked if she'd like to lunch with me.
"Yes. I would love to…I mean I don't know anyone and I don't have any friends yet. Thank you Mr. Cullen."
Friends, inwardly I frowned at the word, just what I needed. "Call me Carlisle, Miss Swan, please."
"Carlisle, you have the perfect James Bond name… Cullen, Carlisle Cullen." She blushed and I all but groaned. My name sounded good on her lips and the Bond reference was a turn on.
"Well, it's only fair that you call me Bella."
Bella. A lovely name for a lovely girl.
"Ok, Bella, see you at lunch."
We had lunch that day and agreed to have lunch the next day as well, because we were friends. It was better than nothing; at least it's what I told myself.
Over the next few weeks, Bella and I got to know each other. Occasionally I would spend my free period in the library and other times she'd visit me in my classroom. An easy friendship formed. We talked, about books mostly but sometimes we'd touch on personal things. She twenty-three and from a town too tiny to find on the map, craving diversity she came to New York for school and decided to stay. Her parents were divorced but they were amicable and happy with prospective spouses. She loved black and white films, British literature, and distressing furniture. I drank in every detail she gave me, discerning a few things for myself, and in turn, I told her about my life. How I was born and raised in New York, a lover of jazz and pizza, why I loved teaching and Gatsby—the dog not the bootlegger. Our daily forty-five minutes never seemed to be enough; at least they weren't enough for me.
For all the conversations we had had, never did we talk about love. I don't mean a deep philosophical discussion whether love is an emotion or simply a chemical reaction or whether it exists at all but the possibility of love, between the two of us. I wasn't completely inept; she liked me or was, if only, physically attracted to me. There were times when her eyes would linger on my mouth or times when her face would flush whenever our hands would touch accidently but I saw no inclination of a deeper attraction. I was attracted to her in the purest sense of the word. I wanted her, not merely to make love to but in every way. Each day that I feigned satisfaction in only friendship the ache to call her my own grew sharper, the urge to taste her lips stronger but I didn't push. I gave her what she seemed to want—a friend.
Eleazar found it all very amusing and insisted that she was "hot for a teacher" but I disagreed. We shared a taste in music, books and a love for William Greenberg Bakery's Black and White cookie but what we did not share was the desire to be more than what we were. It seemed to always happen that way. One day, Bella changed on me and it came as an utter shock.
It was Friday, a very busy and wet Friday. Mountains of papers were stacked on my desk—how I had let it get so out of hand I had no clue—and I had yet to write the final, yet alone the study guide so I decided to work through both my free period and lunch, which mean I would not see Bella before the weekend. It pained me to do it but I hardly had a choice.
"So, it'll be alright if I don't eat lunch with you today Bella? I'm swamped and I need to get these things done today."
She nodded biting her bottom lip while she scanned book after book. The habit drove me insane, I could think of nothing but taking her lip between mine to taste, suck…bite. God, it was utterly arousing.
"Yes, its fine...Carlisle." Her mouth said that it was fine but her face said different. She looked crestfallen and avoided my eyes. I apologized once more and promised her a Black and White cookie but her sweet smile never showed.
The whole day went by without a single word from Bella and it didn't sit right with me, in fact, it sat heavy in my stomach. I felt cheated of my daily dose before the weekend sans Bella. Come two forty I was in a foul mood and the piles were exactly as they had been in the morning, only now they had the appearance of being worked on. I had no other choice but to stay late. It was a loss to on one, it wasn't as if anyone other than Gatsby was waiting for me and I had already asked my neighbor to feed him.
With Billie Holiday playing and the rain pouring, I sat in my classroom and worked, every so often indulging in a daydream or two starring a certain brunette. I wasn't sure how much time had passed—it was slightly darker outside and some piles had vanished all together—but my hand was starting to cramp. My students' papers on Gatsby were hemorrhaging and my red pen was not up to the editing task. Remembering a phone call I had ignored from my mom earlier I pulled out my cell and called her because I had never been fond of scoldings, much less now at nearly forty.
On the third ring, she answered. "Carlisle honey, I was beginning to think that you had forgotten your mother. I was telling your father, James, I've forgotten what our son looks like. What does he sound like? Quick break out the home movies."
"That's right mom, lay on the guilt nice and thick," I laughed, tossing the useless pen in the trash. "I been busy all day, papers to grade, minds to fill but I decided to take a break from my noble work and call you back mom."
"How nice of you, dear. I just wanted to talk about this birthday of yours. You've been ignoring it and its next Friday. I've been planning a nice party with some of your friends and, you know my friend from church? Kerry? Well, she has a daughter and she's dying—"
There I cut her off. "Mom please, I don't want a party. I don't want to meet this daughter of your friend from church. I hate being set up, you know that."
I could almost hear her eyebrows rising. "Carlisle, honey, love doesn't come around like Mondays. Love is rare, only once in a blue moon does it strike."
"You make love sound like lighting mother." I murmured though I knew she was past listening to me.
"Do you have any idea the odds are of finding the right kind of girl in New York? They are astronomical! Do you want another Jennifer? You needed to be open son, or else more years will pass you by. I don't want to hurt you but you've wasted time and you're not getting any younger. How do you know that this girl can't be the right girl for you?"
For not wanting to hurt me, she did a hell of a good job. I sighed, my eyes fixed in the library's direction and stomach churning. "Because, I think I already found that girl but…it's complicated."
"What? Who? When? Where? Do I know her? Is she pretty? Is she smart? Oh, will you bring her to dinner to meet us? Finally, I get grandbabies! Tell me about her Carlisle, why do you tease your mother this way?"
"Mom, didn't you hear me. I said it was complicated."
"Life is complicated Carlisle, you can't just give up. What is it, does she have a boyfriend, a husband…kids? It's so rare to find a woman without kids these days. Oh, tell me she's not a student."
"No, she's not a student mother…she's—" A knock at my door interrupted me mid thought. "Listen, I have to go but I'll call you later."
"Carlisle, are you in there? May I come in?" A familiar sweet voice called from the hall. Oh God, how I loved when she said my name.
"No, Carlisle William Cullen you are not going to hang up on me."
"Mom, I have to go. Sorry, love you, bye."
Quickly shutting the phone and tossing it on the desk, I got up to open the door for her, happy to see her but Bella's appearance startled me. She was drenched and shivering and her eyes bore traces of tears. Ushering her inside the warm classroom I searched her body for any obvious signs of injury and luckily, I found none.
"Bella, what happened?" I asked, sitting myself beside her.
"I love this song." I nodded, not at all concerned with the song, and asked again, what had happened. "Blue Moon…It's a beautiful song. Do you think it could really happen that way? I mean…do you think l—love could just happen when you least expect it?"
"Bella," I snapped anxiously, "forgive my language but fuck the song. What happened?"
She sighed, "My car isn't starting, and I left my rain jacket in the library—I checked already, it's locked. My cell is dead so I can't call…anyone. I tripped twice and scraped my knee and I…It's been an awful day." Her eyes filled with tears but she blinked them back, a pink blush spreading across her wet face.
"I'm sorry about your knee; want me to look at it? I've got a first aid kit." She shook her head, sniffling, from the cold or from tears I wasn't sure. "I can't do anything about your car or your day but I can take you home. Bella, please don't cry. Why didn't you come find me as sooner, before you got drenched? You could have caught your death out there." She shrugged and looked down at her lap. "Let me pack up my things and we'll leave, alright?"
Again, she nodded without looking at me. I wondered what I had done to make her suddenly so withdrawn but went about gathering my things. When I was all packed up I wrapped Bella in my rain coat, ignoring her protests. She was shivering so badly already the last thing she needed was to get wet again. The trek out to the car was an interesting one; the rain had turned to unforgiving hail, pelting us. Once or twice she slipped. Each time I caught her, and each time she blushed and pulled away swiftly with a quiet thank you. When we passed a red beat up Chevy truck I saw her glare at it. I chuckled, even drenched she was adorable.
"Thank you for doing this Carlisle…it's really nice of you." Bella murmured once we pulled out of the school lot.
"No worries Bella, it's what friends do." I wanted to kick myself the moment the word left my lips but Bella said nothing and turned to look out the window.
As we drove I realized that she hadn't told me where she lived and when I asked she answered in as little words possible. Despite her coldness toward me, I was glad to know she lived so close, right above the Italian Bistro Ciao Bella I loved so much. When I pulled up to her place I shut off the car and searched my mind for anything that would keep her in the car, by my side longer. Food, perhaps we could get food. Friends ate together, right? But then again, she was dripping wet and dinning in sodden clothes would not be wise. I could walk her up.
Yes, that was a brilliant idea.
"Thanks again…I'll just leave now." Her eyes were red once more and a strong urge to pull her close and comfort her washed over me. Her day must have been horrendous.
"Wait, I'll walk you up. No, don't bother arguing with me, I'm walking you to your door."
"It's what friends do right?" Bella added deadpan.
My stomach dropped at her lack of emotion. I opened my mouth to speak but she had already gotten out of the car and I rushed to catch up with her. Among the scent of tomatoes and garlic bread Bella and I awkwardly climbed the stairs in silence, an icy sadness settling in between us both. A thousand words, confessions and proclamations of love danced on my tongue but I said nothing.
At her door Bella paused, keys in hand, she looked like she wanted to say something but could find the right words. What ever thought ran through her mind warmed her cheeks once more and this time I decided to indulge myself and find out what it felt like.
Gently I cupped her cheek, tracing its petal softness with the pad of my thumb. Her eyes slid closed as she leaned into my touch and soon my other hand joined the first, gently caressing her face. Her lips looked inviting but instead of kissing them, I ran my thumb over the ripe bottom lip. She sighed and opened her eyes.
"You're shivering, Bella." I breathed, enjoying the feel of her skin under my palm.
"Carlisle…is that …really what I am to you?" She whispered tears evident in her voice. "Am I just your… friend? Because I sort of thought…"
I froze and hesitated and it cost me greatly.
"Don't answer that, I understand…its fine."
Beautiful brown eyes shifted away from mine and to the ground in embarrassment. I was stunned, stupid and for some unearthly reason words would not form themselves.
What was wrong with me?
Abruptly she pulled away leaving my hands empty, muttering to herself about the stupidity of asking such a question, of course she was just a friend to me. How could she ever be more? My heart ached for her and at the same time, it rejoiced that she felt more for me. Because her fingers were cold, she struggled to put the key in the lock several times. Gently slipping them from her delicate fingers I opened the door myself, hoping to atone for my stupidity and perhaps, to buy more time.
When I turned to face her tears plainly glistened in her eyes coupled with sad resignation. Removing my jacket she handed it back and stepped inside, "Thank you for the ride home and the jacket."
What is wrong with you? Speak you moron!
"You don't have to say anything. I'm sorry; I shouldn't have put you in that position. I understand. It's cold and you're double-parked. Have a nice weekend."
She closed the door fast before I could wise up but not before the first tear fell. I drove home knowing that I had been the cause of that tear and possibly many more. I felt physically ill to have caused pain so unnecessarily; one word would have made a difference. I had been anticipating, dreaming of the moment when she'd show signs of wanting more. I had planned to be debonair, eloquent, tell her that she was my first thought when I woke up and the last one before I surrendered to slumber. Hell, I had planned on actually speaking.
Now, all was lost.
Gatsby greeted me at door per usual but his grey eyes asked questions. Gently scratching his ears I said the words out loud for the first time and it hurt all the more echoing off the vacant hall.
"I ruined my chance with her."
The weekend passed dolefully, the weather acting as the perfect pair to my mood. I sat in my library listening to a tried and true favorite, relishing in the soothing and haunting voice of the only other person I could think of who felt the pain I felt. The weekly dinner invitation was respectfully rejected and replace with more Billie and Jack. I wasn't one for drinking but when I did it was always Jack, good old number 7.
Monday showed its face and it was just as stormy as the weekend had been. All my classes that day watched a film, as a treat. I saw nothing of Bella throughout the day, not at lunch or in the halls, not in the faculty lounge or the Library. It wasn't until the end of the day that I saw her, dressed in a black skirt boots and a jacket, slipping into Eleazar's car. I hurt me that she had not thought to ask me for ride. There was very little I wouldn't do for her.
Tuesday I sulked, spending the day without a word from her. Again, I searched for her but came up empty and frustrated. My students were busy outlining the study guide I had passed out and I was stuck with the monotonous task of reviewing material with them. It was a slow day and as it dragged I felt the urge to simply pop in a film. Why couldn't I be a lazy teacher? Again, I saw her climb into Eleazar's car, looking pale and tired but just a beautiful as always.
By Thursday, I took to locking myself in my classroom during both my free period and lunch. I'd play Billie Holiday and lay on the desk. Bella was making a conscious effort to avoid me and I wasn't going to intrude. She was making it clear that I was not welcomed in her company anymore. Leaving work that day I ran into Bella.
"Bella," I chocked. "Can we please tal—"
"I have to go, Carlisle."
As she retreated, I threw my briefcase down on the pavement and yelled in frustration. "Fuck!"
That night was not a good one... far too much Jack and far too little Bella. Was this what my life was meant to be, a series of hallow days and depressingly frigid nights. Was this my fate? I fervently prayed not. I slept poorly, my dreams riddled with images of wasting away year after year while Bella married a man who had the balls to tell her how much she meant to him.
Friday came on dark wings, even more so because it was my fortieth birthday.
Oh, time you wicked harpy.
I suffered through phone calls throughout the day from my family wishing me a Happy Birthday and it took some effort not to hang up on my brother when he played Chopin's Funeral March. Asshole. Luckily, only Eleazar and the principal knew it was my birthday at school so there was no chance of an impromptu faculty birthday celebration in the teacher's lounge. No party hats, or cake or noisemakers, just the way I wanted it. Again, my classes were studying but this time it was independent study, so I was free to read and answer the occasional question that arose. Because we functioned on a block schedule, I had my least favorite batch of students at the end of the day. What, teachers have favorites; it's a mark of a good one not to let it show.
"Mr. Cullen, are feeling alright? You've been looking kinda sad lately."
"I'm fine Jessica, will you please get out your notes and study."
I had to answer more questions in this class than all my others combined. Jessica called me to her little group of cackling friends more than necessary. When class ended, I dismissed them and ran to the men's room to escape Jessica's pointless inquiries. Unfortunately my brilliant evasion plan didn't work, there she was, in the front row and on my desk was a Black and White cookie and a garish pink card. I sighed; Bella would never give me such a card. Not that she would give me a birthday card anyway.
"Mr. Cullen Happy Birthday," Jessica mock whispered once I sat down. "Like the card?"
"Yes, thank you. Shouldn't you get going?"
"Nope, I have nowhere to be this afternoon. Mr. Cullen, do you like Miss Swan? I saw her earlier and I was just wondering what she was doing in here."
"That is none of your concern Miss Stanley." I snapped, restraining my temper. This child needed mind her own business.
Wait, when was Bella in my classroom? I wanted to ask but Jessica was already rambling.
"It's just that she can't be much older than me, two years tops and I figured that if you like her than maybe—"
"Jessica that is highly inappropriate. I will not discuss what you are hinting at. The nature of my relationship with Miss Swan is none of your concern. We are friends and colleagues, nothing more. Do you understand me? Now, I suggest you run along home, now."
Her eyes were not fixed on me but on the door to my right and I followed her gaze and instantly regretted my words. There was Bella, in a deep blue dress and tears.
"I'm sorry…I was just…leaving." She couldn't get away any quicker if she tried.
Leaving Jessica in her state of shock I ran after her down the hall, calling her name, "Bella. Isabella, please stop."
"Just leave me alone, please." She didn't turn but kept on running. She was surprisingly fast in her little red heels.
"No, Bella, we need to talk. I'm sorry, please. You've been avoiding me all week."
As soon as I closed in on her she ducked into the one place I could not follow, the ladies room. I pleaded with her, begged her to come out but to no avail. It was only when I put my ear to the door that I remembered that this particular bathroom had two exits, one in this wing and the other in the neighboring wing. She was gone.
In a slow and beaten gait, I went back to my classroom. On my desk was the garish pink card and cookie, Jessica's subtle seduction looking back at me. Angrily I tossed both the card and the cookie, got my things and went home, alone.
Happy Birthday to me.
Hours later, I was sitting in my library listening to music. Gatsby was chewing away at a milk bone and I had a book in my lap, open and unread. Again, I had missed a chance. Bella had come to me, perhaps to talk and I blew it. How many chances would I be given? Something told me this was the last one. As if the music would drown out my thoughts, I turned the volume up.
You saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own.
You knew just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer
For someone I really could care for.
The volume wasn't helping; the words spoke to me like a narration of my life thus far. Taunting me with images of Bella and I and all the things I had let get away from me. It was absurd to be so utterly consumed by a young woman I had not know for more than a month but absurd or not, I was. This week had been tortuous; I would imagine this intense longing was something a kin to a smoker going cold turkey or a fat kid forbidden cake. It hurt and there was no cure, no remedy but Bella. Gatsby walked out of the room, respectfully leaving me to my misery in solitude.
And then there suddenly appeared before me,
The only one my arms will ever hold
I heard somebody whisper, "Please adore me."
And when I looked,
The moon had turned to gold.
Bella, she had appeared suddenly, out of the blue she came into my life, injected herself into every aspect of me so it was impossible to envision another. I wondered if this was what Bella had meant when she questioned me in my classroom. Did she feel then the lyrics as I felt them now? Did she feel for me as I felt for her?
"I mean…do you think l—love could just happen when you least expect it?"
Of course she did, her feelings had been plain enough had it not been for my own doubt. Only now did I recall the quiver in her voice, the stain on her cheeks as she looked up at me that day. Eleazar had told me all along, called me a blind fool. He was right. She was young and shy by nature; it made sense now that she would lean on friendship in fear of rejection but she had put it quite plainly then and there and I ignored it. How stupid I had been to let past insecurities intrude. Never, for a moment did I consider that perhaps she felt just as intensely I did.
Rushing down the hall, I thanked divine intervention for my lack of Jack and grabbed my car keys from the bowl. Gatsby was standing by the door and I called out to him, telling him I was going to get my girl. He barked what I assumed was Good Luck.
As fast as I could in Friday traffic I rushed to Bella's place, the familiar scent of tomatoes and garlic bread wafting through my senses. Much to my luck I did not have to double park this time—double parking on a New York Friday night, in the rain…yeah, not the best of ideas.
With little care to my well-being, I hoped out of the car and ran up the slick steps, hoping all the way up that she was home. I knocked four times, making sure that they were loud, manly knocks, clearly capable of being heard though ear phones or the loud blue tunes I heard coming from the other side.
Time stood still as I heard her unlatch the locks and open the door. It was a credit to her kindness that she didn't slam the door in my face. She looked me and waited her eyes red and glassy, her lips swollen from where she had no doubt been gnawing at it.
"Bella, I've be the world's largest ass." She opened her mouth to speak but I stopped her, "Please let me finish and I've been planning this all the way over here."
She nodded and I noticed her fingers nervously toying with the hem of her shirt, desperately trying to find modestly. It was no use; her shirt was short and threadbare, exposing her enticing collarbones and one supple shoulder. Her slender legs were bare up to mid-thigh and her feet in thick woolen socks. She was the picture of natural beauty and oblivious seduction. Momentarily I lost my train of thought.
Luckily, I found it before she could notice my ogling.
"What you heard this afternoon could not be further from the truth. I want so much more than lunch and snips of conversations in passing, much more than a colleague at work. I know what I said…or what I failed to say last Friday hurt you but you caught me off guard. It has been a long time since I felt anything resembling that way I feel about you and I didn't think you'd return my affections. I froze and I'm sorry but I haven't been able to think of anyone or anything else since I met you. I don't want to think of anyone or anything else."
"It's true, as crazy and sudden as this is, I love you. I know in my heart that I do and there is no possibility of it changing. You asked me if it was possible, for love to happen so swiftly, so unexpectedly and I can honestly say, yes. It can, it has. One day I was alone, resigned to living a life of isolation but then…you appeared, like everything I had ever prayed for. I adore you, Isabella"
She was shocked but a smile played at her lips. "You love me?"
"Yes, very much."
"I love you too."
"Thank God." I breathed, closing the space between us.
Sinking my hands into her hair I kissed her, soft and tender, taking her plump bottom lip between mine gently taking it into my mouth. Tentatively she kissed back, opening her lips slightly as her hands grazed my waist. Soon pent up passion got the better of the both of us. Her hands snaked around my waist, gripping my back, pulling me flush against her, moaning between breaths. Bella's reactions were driving me out of my mind as our bodies touched, everywhere, finally finding their true purpose. Deepening the kiss my lips moved against her hot and hungry, my tongue swiping along her tempting lip before plunging it into her warm mouth. Together our tongues stroked and pleasured, tasted each other.
I only realized that we were inside when I heard the door slam behind us. Bella, my once sweet, shy and innocent librarian, pushed me roughly against the door, her mouth trailing away from my mouth and down my neck, nibbling and sucking.
"God, that feels…ughh." My hands gripped her waist, helping her grind herself on me. Forming words was difficult when she took my ear lobe her mouth, even more so when she pressed her nimble body against my aching erection.
"I know. It feels perfect, Carlisle." She whispered, stepping away from me. "I've wanted to do this for a long time."
"So have I Bella, my love. So have I." At my words, she pulled her shirt off and stood before me in nothing but miles of milky skin and blue boy shorts. My mouth went dry as I took in the sumptuous curves of her ruby tipped breasts and indent of her little waist. Stepping forward I caressed her hips, tenderly dropping kisses to shoulder and neck, laving at her ear as she had done to me.
"You are the most gorgeous woman I have ever laid eyes on, Isabella." My lips found her collarbone, sucked at the hollow of her throat before drifting down her sternum. Nuzzling against her breast, I breathed in her fragrant skin before taking her stiff nipple in my mouth.
"Ummm," I moaned, her skin tasted delicious.
"Carlisle," Bella whimpered, her fingers threading through my hair, nails scratching at my scalp with a pleasurable pressure.
Her body trembled and tiny moans escaped her mouth while I moved from one nipple to the other, showing it the attention and love it deserved. I took my time, savored the gift she was offering me, eager to show her how much I adored her.
Tugging on one pink bud both hands slipped into her tiny panties, kneading the firm flesh of her ass. It was too much for my Bella. "Oh, God…I want you Carlisle."
"I'm yours Bella."
Breathless and gloriously disheveled she lead me to the couch where she laid back, urging me to join her. Slipping off my jacket and shirt, I kneeled between her parted thighs, her words echoing in my head. She wanted me. Bella reached for me, fondling my chest and ribs, eliciting fervent moans from me as she found and toyed with my nipple. Without waiting or warning, she unbuckled my jeans, sliding them along with my boxer briefs down my thighs and releasing my engorged cock to her hot gaze. She seemed pleased with me and licked her lips hungrily.
Hissing at her blatant yearning I tugged on her lacy panties eager to see all of her and because in all fairness, they needed to go. They were keeping us from what we needed. Tossing the undergarment aside, I looked at her beautiful sex for the first time, admiring its swollen and glistening beauty. I wanted to bend down a kiss her sweet clit, spend hours between her legs. Her tiny hand wrapped around my cock at the same time that I reached out to touch her.
"Is this for me Carlisle?" Her eyes bored into mine, her hand working my shaft as if she had touched me for years. Every never ending sizzled as she slowly stroked, up and down, up and down. Touching me aroused her as much as it aroused me. I could see it in her face, felt it as she grew hotter, wetter.
Gently I slid a finger inside her and moaned. Bella was everything I had imagined. Her velvet walls clung to the digit as my thumb swirled around the sensitive bundle above, drenching my fingers. "Is this for me sweet girl?"
She whimpered letting go of my cock and throwing her head back. I smiled, knowing that I could bring her such pleasure. Kissing down her body, I replace my thumb with my tongue, flicking her clit in time with my unhurried thrusts.
"Carlisle please…don't make me wait anymore. I need you. I want you. I love…you."
The desperation in her voice was all the convincing I needed, there would be plenty of time for drawing out pleasure later. Hitching her legs over my hips, I looked her in the eyes and asked if she was sure. I needed to know that this was truly what she wanted, lord know I'd never wanted anything more.
With deliberate care I sank into her, breathing hard as she welcomed me, urge me deeper until finally I could go no further. Bella was biting her lip so hard I was sure she'd draw blood. Concerned I leaned down to kiss her lips chastely, asking her if she was alright.
"Yes, just…give me a moment."
I nodded and rested my head in the crook of her neck, my hand running the length of her side hoping to calm her. After a few second I felt her hips move against mine and began rocking and grinding my pelvis, each time going deeper, harder, taking us closer to the peak. Bella's every sound played in my ear, her breath washing over me as she worked with me, below me and soon I felt her body began to tremble. Her grip on me tightened and the heat I sank into intensified pulling me along with her. She and I were close, right on the edge of pure bliss.
"Bella," I panted, thrusting powerfully. "Sweetheart, I'm close."
"I know….so am I…Oh god."
By some miracle I was able to hold off while she came, relishing in the spasms of pleasure that washed over her body, pussy and along my cock. It felt heavenly and tortuous, a delicious test of endurance and will but I held firm watching the love of my life orgasm. Her cheeks tinged pink, her body covered in a thin sheen of sweat, her berry nipple matching her lips perfect as she whispered my name. It was a sight I'd never forget.
"Carlisle…Carlisle, oh god," she shuttered and gripped my arms.
"Bella…God I can't wait much longer. Where Bella, tell me where." I was staring to shake, the tingling sensation was climbing up my spine, stomach and balls and me when asked to cum against her I lost it.
A man can only take so much. Gently but swiftly I withdrew and came against her sex, trembling in the onslaught of the most gripping orgasm of my life.
As I calmed down, I felt her rub her hand along my cheek, her skin rasping against stubble. Opening my eyes, I saw her below me, smiling in the afterglow of our loving making.
"Happy Birthday, Carlisle."
"It is now, Bella."
After cleaning up I grabbed an afghan folded on a nearby chair and covered us both. Lying on the couch together we talked quietly about nothing in particular and watching the rain beat against the fogged up windows. I looked around, loving that the small apartment was like the girl in my arms-warm and quite beautiful. Books were scattered on tables along with trinkets from her past and pictures of people she loved. It must be a lovely place to live.
I smiled at Hitchcock's Rear Window movie poster. I adored that film, owned it and wondered if she's like to watch it. I was contemplating asking her to come home with me when she spoke.
"So, what happens now?" She asked, repositioning herself on my chest, her fingers tangling in the hair she found there.
I groaned, satisfied and filled with love for the gorgeous creature on top of me. "Well," I teased, my fingers tracing her spine, "Bella, now we get married, and of course the baby carriage comes next."
Her fingers froze and her heart hammered against my skin. I raced to explain that I was merely joking, that while I did want those things I didn't expect them so soon in our relationship but she silenced me with a searing kiss.
"I'd love that Carlisle." Bella whispered her bottom lip between her teeth as she grinned shyly.
I studied her for a long moment, trying to discern her sincerity. I found nothing but naked truth in her lovely brown eyes. Without saying a word, I wrapped her legs around my waist and carried the both of us into her bedroom.
That night and well into the morning I made love to Bella ardently, knowing that I was no longer alone.
Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own