|Dancing Toward The Sun
Author: bornonhalloween PM
"I am his Rock; he is my Sun." A Twifictionalized retelling of the true-life tiny dancer who found everything she needed in a single smile. Prologue to Dancing Toward The Sun, written for the Stand Up 4 Katalina compilation.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance - Bella & Edward - Chapters: 2 - Words: 15,919 - Reviews: 84 - Favs: 60 - Follows: 62 - Updated: 01-01-13 - Published: 10-03-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8578285
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: The preface (previous chapter) explains everything you need to know before reading this story. Please know that what you are about to read is a fictionalized but largely factual account of a beautiful friend who co-authored this story. This being a true story, the ending is very much out of the authors' control. I respectfully request that you please keep in mind that Katalina is able to view any reviews you might post here or on facebook, though she may be unable to reply.
DANCING TOWARD THE SUN
by Katalina Roseph and bornonhalloween
Dedication (Written by KR): This is dedicated to my soul mate. The man who lit my world with one brilliant smile. My heart knew at that instant it was he I would live my life with—forever and a day. He brought me sunshine when the days were overcast and lifted me higher than I thought I could ever go. We lived this crazy life of loving, caring, sadness and despair. We lived through what some would consider impossible to overcome but our love stood strong through the years—our lifetime. My friend, my lover, my husband, a father to our children, a brother, an uncle, a son, a man. I needed to tell our story and how destiny drove our meeting for the first time. It is a love story. True and pure. Some names and places have been changed for obvious reasons. ;) I wish for everyone to find their soul mate and to live a life as full as you can; squeeze all you can from it because you never know when it's time to say goodbye... I Love You, Mr. K…forever and a day...
The moment when the leading edge of the Sun itself appears to "rise" above the horizon,
though it is actually the Earth's motion that causes the Sun to appear. (from Wikipedia)
Roaring thunder pulls into our driveway at seven o'clock on the dot, and a shiver rolls up my spine.
"What the heck is that?" my protective father moans. His is an entirely different type of shiver—fast car equals fast boy.
I should expect no different from the man who fished his tomboy of a sixteen-year-old daughter from her first school dance after only an hour, muttering the whole while about how school was "serious business" and how good Catholic girls don't stay out late socializing with members of the opposite sex. Six years later, I'm still the same "good girl" apparently.
Hoping to appease him, I invoke the sacred. "He's Italian."
I peek out the window at the sleek, black racecar in the driveway, and it strikes me that agreeing to go out on a date with my friend from work was a damn fine idea. It had been Jacob and Bella for so long. Jacob, my former hulk of a dance buddy, who'd left Southie a few years back to "try it out for a while" on the West Coast, only to return six months later with a loud rapping on my door at 3:30 a.m., insisting he loved me and could no longer stay away. My friends had been cajoling me for weeks now to go out with someone else, anyone else, and Eric certainly fit the bill—cute, genuine, and Italian.
My father gives me a long, pained stare. "You better behave like a lady," he admonishes me.
I respect and worship my parents, whose own passionate love story solidified my earliest belief in true one-and-only love, but their "family values" often felt like shackles growing up.
Loosen the reins, I will him, butterfly wings beating madly inside me against the bars of their cage.
Eric knocks on the door, and resigned acceptance settles over my father. "What should I tell Jacob if he calls?" Dad asks, siding with the devil he doesn't know over the one he does.
"Tell him I have a date."
I watch my father's lips curl into a smile as I twist the doorknob and greet said date.
"Hey, Bella," Eric grins, walking me to the passenger door and pulling it open. He settles me inside and closes the door, but instead of rounding the car to the driver's side, he opens the back door and climbs in.
What the hell? I wonder, completely stupefied. I twist back around and startle when I notice for the first time that Eric and I are not alone on this very odd date; there's someone behind the wheel. The odd just got a whole lot odder.
A quiet, breathless, "Hi," issues from this person who appears to be our chauffeur, though the idea is beyond ludicrous. I've watched enough movies to know that chauffeurs do not wear knit caps or sport shoulder-length hair. Then again, they also don't drive racecars or frequent my neighborhood, generally speaking.
"Hi," I whisper back.
By the time I've taken in his beautiful copper-streaked hair and the gorgeous hazel eyes staring cautiously back at me from behind black-rimmed glasses, I'm already captivated. I probably don't also need to be dazzled by his blinding smile…but I sure as hell am.
From that moment on, his smile is my very own Sun, and it sets off every cheesy romantic idea ever tucked away inside me. Having grown up on a steady diet of Cinderella—not to mention The Life and Times of Charlie and Rosalie Swan—that is a whole mess of ideas.
You are a goner, Bella Swan. This is it. He is the one.
We pull up to a house and Eric—whom I'd entirely forgotten—gets out and walks to the door. Now that we're alone, I finally get up the nerve to ask Smiley his name.
"Where are we, Edward?"
"We're picking up Angela."
I feel as if I'm playing a game with ever-shifting rules. "Who's Angela?"
Edward's smile grows brighter with his amusement. "Eric's girlfriend for the last two years. Did you not know?"
"No, I did not know," I protest. "I thought I had a date with him!"
Edward chuckles and shakes his head. "What a jerk!"
I hadn't realized it until just this moment. "Is he?"
"Yeah. I'll tell you later."
I sit quietly for the rest of the ride, my nerves completely jangled from the effort of trying not to drown in that mouth.
We arrive at my favorite dance club and order a round of drinks. My supposed date and his girlfriend are playing kissy-face at the table, and it's all kinds of awkward.
"Would you like to dance?" Edward suggests.
Has Eric clued him into the fact that I live to dance, that any man who can give me a decent spin on the dance floor scores an extra million bonus points?
"Yes!" I hop up and follow him onto the dance floor, my favorite escape, the place where my own butterflies are "free to fly"—thank you for recording my personal theme song, Elton John.
Edward towers over my 5'1" frame by at least a foot, and he has to be twice my weight—which from my vantage point seems to be solid muscle. Once he gets going on the dance floor, it's clear this guy can bust a move. The music seeps into my bones, and I'm happy and free and flirty and…
All of a sudden, he leans forward and plants one on my lips!
My good-girl Catholic upbringing rears its head, and I pull back and slap him soundly across the face.
"How dare you?" I protest outwardly. My insides, however, are singing quite a different refrain, a tune along the lines of, "That was soooo good. Do it again!"
"I'm sorry," he apologizes immediately. "Can we sit down and talk?" He leads me back to the table, and I follow him in a daze.
"What kind of girl do you think I am?" I manage indignation.
"I'm sorry, Bella. Eric told me…"
"Eric told you what?" I cross my arms and feel my hackles rise.
Edward slumps back in his chair. "He said, 'You gotta go out with this girl I work with. She's single…you're single…and she's easy.'"
Edward shrugs. "I told you he was a jerk. Look, he was just trying to help. I broke up with my girlfriend recently."
He grins sheepishly, those perfect white teeth glistening. "She was …also Italian."
"Got a thing for Italian girls, do you?" I can't help but smile upon learning his weakness.
He turns the full measure of his hazel eyes on me, and my anger with Eric softens a bit. Eric's an ass, to be sure, but if I get Edward out of the deal, how can I hold a grudge?
"I've always liked Italian girls. They have the most expressive eyes…and they're honest."
"Honest, huh?" Now it's my turn to feel sheepish.
His eyebrows lift and he waits. Shit.
"I'm kind of…engaged."
"What?" He sits up straight as an arrow in his chair. "What are you doing out?"
I sip at my beer and struggle for the words. "My…fiancé," I begin, the word sticking in my mouth, "is useless."
I don't know this boy yet, and I'm not about to launch into a diatribe about my supposed future husband, an idea so far from my intentions I can no longer even imagine it. Truth is, Jacob is never around, and when he does come to call, he's not the same boy I once loved. Sitting here with Edward, I realize something else: Jacob has never come close to inspiring the melty goodness spreading throughout my body right now, stolen kiss notwithstanding.
Edward seems to sense my reluctance to go into detail. "Are you breaking it off then?"
"Next time I see him," I say with a certainty I've never felt before. "If I ever see him again."
We share a cautious smile, then launch into a long conversation about music. We talk away the night over the loud music, holding our heads close together at the table, his lips occasionally tickling my ear and mine returning the favor.
Late into the night, we discover we'd both been to the same free concert in Provincetown the previous summer.
"That's awesome," he grins. "Maybe we saw each other."
I laugh lightly at his romantic notion. "Oh sure. In and among the thousands in attendance. What did you drive?" P-town was all about the ride.
"We were in a van with 'The Tax Man' scrawled on the side."
"OHMYGOD! I SAW you! You were that smile. You were hanging out the window. I WAVED AT YOU!"
I flash back to the perfectly vivid moment where I saw Edward for the very first time. His beautiful smile penetrated me, and I'd thought to myself, "Why can't I meet someone like him instead of this drugged-out, wasted body next to me?" I can hardly believe that the universe has granted us a second chance to connect.
He chuckles at my enthusiasm. With that smile, he'd probably gotten waved at a thousand times that day.
Just the same, he politely asks, "You did? What were you driving?"
"We were in a van my dad painted. He's done some corporate logos, even some design work for Disney. Anyway, he painted this picture of a van driving through the country."
"I REMEMBER you!" he exclaims. "Was that the guy you're engaged to?" Edward's nose crinkles as if a piece of Limburger cheese has passed by our table.
"Yeah," I sigh.
"I remember wishing I was with you instead of him."
His eyes click to mine and hold them there, savoring the connection and the cosmic coincidence.
If not for Eric's whining that he and Angela needed to get home, I don't think either of us would let this night come to a close. Edward drops them off first, leaving just the two of us in his sexy, rumbly car.
As he drives me home, we laugh again reminiscing about how the night began with my decoy date. This time, it's Edward who joins me on my front stoop.
Angling his considerable frame over me, he plants his palm against the doorjamb and leans down, meeting me eye to eye. "Can I call you?"
I desperately want to spend more time with him, but not while I've still got the Jacob monkey on my back.
"Let me take care of this first," I answer.
"What are you doing tomorrow?" he pushes, a tiny smirk playing at the corner of his mouth.
I smile, but I don't answer.
"Bella, you're gonna find out that I'm kind of persistent." I take his words as a promise, and they wrap around me like a warm blanket.
"Is that good or bad?" I tease.
Sexy smile. "That depends."
His body is close to mine, his breath warm on my face. He isn't easy to resist.
He must sense my conflict and pushes off the door. Luckily my back is against something solid and firm when the swoon overtakes me.
"I'm not gonna try and kiss you," he assures me, leaving me both relieved and devastated.
"G'night, Edward. Thank you for a wonderful sort-of date."
Safely inside my home, I melt into a puddle of goo and thank the moon and the stars for letting me borrow the Sun.
Ten minutes later, the phone rings. I answer quickly so it doesn't wake my parents.
"Edward, where are you?"
Muffled laughter. "In a phone booth."
I will myself not to squeal into the mouthpiece. "How did you get my number?"
"I got it from Eric. I'm really entranced by you, and I really need to see you again. What are you doing tomorrow?"
I don't know how I find the strength to play it cool, but I do what I have to do. "Edward, take the weekend, let me do my thing and we'll reconnect. If this thing between us is meant to be, it will happen."
Please, God, let it happen.
The next morning, he calls again. "What are you doing today?" he pushes, as if it weren't the third time he's asked.
"I'm going bowling with my girlfriends."
"Have you talked to him yet?"
Considering I just woke up, no. "Not yet."
"Okay. Have fun bowling."
I hang up the phone with a huge smile on my face. Persistent he is.
"There's a guy over there. He keeps staring at us," Alice says, her curious little eyes darting over my shoulder and back.
I freeze. I just know. "Don't tell me…"
I spin around slowly, and there he is. Smiling. That damn mouth that clearly owns me already.
And now, he begins walking toward us.
I narrow my eyes and try to contain my glee. "How the heck did you know where we were going?"
"I called your house and asked your mom."
Mom. God bless her. She thinks this is the "nice Italian boy" from work.
"Aren't you going to introduce your friend?" Jessica calls over my shoulder.
Edward smiles and shrugs, knowing he's won. Truth is, I've won, too. Because as much as I know he's checking me out every time I bowl, I am so totally checking out his cute little butt, too.
After a few games, we head out to the parking lot and discover that Alice's car has a big puddle of oil pooled under the chassis. Edward crouches down and gives the undercarriage a once-over. "Wow. This is not drivable."
"And just how do you know this?" she challenges, her little arms crossed over her chest.
"I drive racecars," he answers matter-of-factly. "What you've got here is a blown gasket."
Alice's face drops, but Edward quickly reassures her. "No worries, I can fix it in about an hour. I just need to go down to the garage and get an oil filter. Why don't you girls go back in and bowl some more while I take care of this?"
My heart fills with gratitude and affection for this guy, who has—in short order—inserted himself directly into my life and made himself indispensable. I'm certain he sees the worshipful expression on my face before I turn away.
Alice echoes my thoughts as we giggle our way back inside. "You better keep him around."
An hour later, true to his word, Edward has Alice's car purring like a kitten, and he's won himself three more fans.
"Can I drive you home?" he asks me, as the girls pile into the other car.
"You better. You need to come meet my mom because she thinks she was talking to someone else."
"Sure," he chuckles, opening my door and tucking me into his passenger seat.
"You drive racecars?"
He flicks the key in the ignition and taps the gas pedal a few times, revving the engine and drawing my gaze to the muscles flexing in his right thigh. Edward waits patiently while my eyes drift back up to his seductive grin.
I check to make sure I haven't liquefied.
"Did you not notice my ride last night?" Edward shakes his head and chuckles. "Girls."
"Sure, but I didn't know you were some kind of mechanical savant, too."
He slaps the gear shift into reverse while pumping the clutch and gas with his powerful legs. With a sly little smirk, he jerks the car into first, throwing me back against the seat. The engine purrs beneath us as he waits to pull out into traffic; when he does so, it's with the same vigilance he exhibited last night. My heart races along with the engine, but I feel safe with him.
"I refurbish cars."
"Oh. For a living?"
His eyes stay focused on the road ahead. "Nope, for fun. By the time I was sixteen, I'd rebuilt over thirty cars."
He glances over at me briefly and smiles at my slack-jawed expression. "How on earth did you manage all that?"
"My mom helped me with the legalities. She'd sign for 'em and drive 'em home," he grins, making me wonder exactly how old he was when he drove for the very first time. "Then when I was finished, she'd help me with the resale. She also managed to hide everything from my dad."
"Yeah. I was her favorite, so..."
My gut twists.
"You've lost her recently then?"
Living through my own mother's ongoing battle with cancer, I certainly understand how it feels to confront a parent's death.
"So what do you do for a living?"
"I build aerodynamic parts for ships and planes."
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. I was hoping you were smart."
He turns and shines his brilliant smile on me.
Please be persistent, Edward Cullen.
I'm practically breathless when we pull into the driveway this time. I literally do not know if I can hold off much longer from crawling into the guy's lap.
He opens my door and escorts me into the house.
"Mom? I want you to meet someone," I call out. My mother comes from the kitchen with a huge shit-eating grin on her face. "Mom, this is Edward."
"Nice to meet you, Mrs. Swan," Edward says.
"You too, Edward, and thank you for getting Bella at the bowling alley."
"Getting me?" Mom smirks and I look warily back at Edward. "Just what do you two have going on?"
My mother dips behind my back and presses her hand up to her mouth theatrically, "I never liked Jacob anyway."
Edward chuckles, and I realize the two have been in cahoots.
"Come in," Mom urges, pulling him by the elbow. "Take your coat off and stay a while, Edward."
Edward shakes his head. "Sorry, I really can't."
"Whattsa matter? Did someone steal your coat when you were little?"
"What? No," Edward laughs.
"Well, this is a good thing. I can fill up your pockets then," Mom says, slipping two of her homemade chocolate chip cookies into his coat pocket.
Before he can thank her, she pinches his cheek. "You're a good boy, Edward. You come back again." With that, she returns to the kitchen to finish dinner.
Later that day, I summon the courage to call Jacob. "I need to talk to you."
"Sure," he answers. "What's up?"
"I went out with this guy…we had a good time."
"Good for you."
"Good for me? So, you'd be okay if he wanted to take me out?"
"Sure, you won't be waiting around for me to take you out any more."
"If that's how you feel…" I am perplexed but definitely not disappointed.
"That's how I feel."
Dad rolls his eyes and gives me a long-suffering look as the telltale growl of Edward's car races toward the house. My heart bounces out of my chest like one of my father's animated cartoon characters.
"He's not Italian," Dad gripes.
"No, but he likes Italian girls," I tease mercilessly.
"Basta, Carlito!" Mom whacks him on the chest and Dad looks comically wounded.
"Can you two please behave? I'm trying to make a good impression here," I warn them, walking backwards toward the door.
"Never mind," Mom says, holding up two cookies. "I've got him wrapped around my pinkie."
Edward knocks on the door, and when I open it, I realize it's the first time I've actually expected him. Being forewarned does not prevent my breath from catching in my chest when he smiles at me, and his glasses don't hide the way he glances appreciatively down my see-through top and skin-tight jeans.
"Hi." Soft, sexy, swoonworthy.
"Hi." You are not going to make it, Bella.
A loud throat clearing brings me back down to earth. "Sorry, Dad, this is Edward."
Edward takes Dad's hand and looks him right in the eye. "Mr. Swan, very nice to meet you."
"How fast does that car go?" Dad quizzes him, still clasping his hand tightly.
"When I open her up on the track?" Poor, misguided Edward thinks Dad's gearing up for a macho man-to-man car talk with him.
"No, when my daughter's inside," he grumbles.
Edward chuckles and holds up his hands in surrender. "Just the speed limit, sir. Not a mile more."
Dad glares at him a little longer before letting go. "All right then."
"Here, Edward. Don't mind him," Mom placates, stuffing the cookies into his pocket, much to Edward's delight.
I can't even speak until we're three blocks away from my house. "Oh my God, that was hideous." I cover my face with both hands.
"They're awesome," he answers. "Hey…"
I peek through my fingers and he's giving me that look again—the one that makes me feel like I don't have a shred of clothing on.
"I thought you told me we were just going to this concert as friends."
"I don't have any friends who dress like that."
He looks adorably hot and bothered, and it makes me feel instantly better.
We find a safe spot for the car in one of the North End lots and join the throngs pushing toward the Garden. Edward loops his arm around my back as we ascend the crowded escalator to our seats. Walking through the memorabilia-lined corridors upstairs, Edward takes my hand in his. I feel the approving eyes of Celtics and Bruins Hall-of-Famers smiling back at us from behind glass frames and oversized jerseys.
Pink Floyd is probably unforgettable, but what I will remember about tonight is how lost I feel in Edward's eyes. Every single time he smiles at me, I hunger to feel those lips on mine.
"Bathroom break?" I yell between numbers.
Edward nods, takes me protectively by the hand, and dutifully walks me to the bathroom entrance—calling it a Ladies' Room would constitute extreme exaggeration. The large, concrete opening with a line snaking down the hall is most definitely not the most romantic place, but he accurately recognizes my lust nonetheless.
"I'm not going to kiss you," he promises-slash-tortures me anew, adding that wicked smile just for fun. His eyes travel once again to my transparent top, and I hear exactly what he hasn't said—"But one day, I am going to have you."
We get back to our seats, and his hand moves in circles along my lower back as we sway and sing along to the music. I am an absolute mess just trying to keep from hopping the barrier between our seats.
If I'd had even one little kiss, maybe I wouldn't be so obsessed with the way his worn-out jeans hug his baby-maker area so snugly, and maybe I wouldn't have been caught looking—on more than one occasion. Frankly, staring only makes me all the more nervous that all of that might not fit inside my tiny frame, but boy, am I eager to find out! As the final notes of The Wall vibrate off the parquet flooring, I am as wet as the Nile River.
"I know this place for a nightcap and a slice. You game?"
"Sure." Anything to make the night last.
Edward leads me through the bar to the pool tables in the back. Clearly "this place" is somewhere he hangs out with his buddies on a regular basis, and several of them come over to greet us. Edward keeps me close to his side, which is exactly where I want to be.
"How about a game of pool?"
"I don't really play."
His eyes light up. "Great. I'll teach you."
Edward breaks with a loud CRACK! Balls scatter everywhere and a striped one falls into the side pocket. Edward picks up the chalk cube and twists it over the end of his stick while he slowly paces around the table, calculating his choices—the engineer hard at work. I watch in utter fascination.
"I'm stripes, so I have to hit them all in and then I can go for the eight ball. If I hit the eight ball in before all the stripes are cleared, I lose the game."
"Okay, so I'm dots?"
A couple of his friends chuckle with him. "Yeah, you're dots."
"But the eight-ball isn't striped."
"So why do you have to hit it in?"
He is clearly amused. "It's neutral."
"But it's a dot."
"She's got a point there, E," interjects one of his buddies.
"I know it looks like a dot," he continues to explain patiently, "but it's not really a stripe or a dot."
"That's really dumb. Why didn't they just give it a different design then?"
He crosses one ankle over the other and leans on his cue. "What would you suggest?"
I shrug. It's obvious. "How about both—a black ball with a white stripe around it?"
"I think you got a live one there, Eddie," they tease.
He just stands there and lights up the room with that smile. "Can we play pool now, please?"
"Be my guest." I step away from the table and observe, entranced by the way he locks onto his target and stretches his upper body along the table. I want to fit myself between those arms and press my cheek to his tee-shirt. Edward's eyes blaze with intensity, and the lights hanging just inches from his head accent the bronze streaks in his hair, casting him in an otherworldly glow.
I soon discover that a pool cue sliding through Edward's skilled fingers is almost as erotic as a gear shift moving beneath his palm. I don't even notice when he finally misses.
"Okay." Mimicking his motions, I move slowly around the table. Then I remember to pick up the chalk and spin it around the tip. His eyes follow my every move, and it's starting to get a bit hot in here. The five ball is close to the side pocket, so I pick that as my target and hunker down over the table, lining up my stick with the cue ball and my target. Edward clears his throat and moves quickly to my side.
"Need some help?"
"Sure," I answer, because I am nobody's fool.
Edward sets his cue down and covers my hands with his. He lines up his body behind mine and speaks quietly into my ear. "Here, just practice this motion," he says seductively, sliding the cue forward and back.
He smells so good.
He feels so good pressed against my back.
All I'd have to do is just turn my head and…
"Ready?" His voice oozes with suggestion.
"Yes," I answer breathlessly, releasing the cue and knocking the five to the opposite end of the table.
Edward drops his forehead to my shoulder blades and chuckles. "Oops."
We manage to tease and torment each other through that game and two more before deciding we really should call it a night. Edward manages to quiet the engine so we don't wake my parents.
True to his word, there's no good-night kiss, not even a peck.
"Can I see you tomorrow?" he asks instead.
"What did you have in mind?" As if it matters. The answer is yes, yes, yes.
"A picnic…and maybe some tennis?"
It's one of those muggy summer days in Boston, where the hot, thick air feels like a wet fur collar around your neck. I'm grateful Dad's not home when Edward picks me up on his motorcycle for our date. Edward pulls away from my house skillfully, and I hold on to the sexy man in front of me for all I'm worth.
If the interior of his racecar excited me (and it did), the feel of his motorcycle between my thighs is a whole new level of eroticism I've never previously encountered. My tiny denim shorts offer little in the way of a barrier, which is all good by me. The powerful engine purrs between my legs, and the heady scents of the potent machinery—burnt tires and gasoline fumes—fill my lungs.
We don't last more than twenty minutes on the tennis court before agreeing that the picnic sounds like a much better idea.
"Can I take you to my favorite ice cream place?" We Bostonians are notorious for our ice cream consumption; custard stands are a dime a dozen.
Curious to learn Edward's favorite and eager to get back on that bike, I answer, "Sure."
It strikes me as odd that the ride to "get an ice cream" takes far longer than I'd expected, but I'm certainly not complaining. I know I've never been happier in my life. Truth be told, I'm a little disappointed when the motorcycle finally slows to a stop at a Dairy Queen in the state of Vermont. I could've stayed on the back of that bike forever.
He offers me a hand down while he tugs off his helmet. There's that big, sexy smile I've already come to regard as my version of the Sun.
"So, the ice cream is really good here then?" I tease.
"It's the best."
I order my standard, chocolate dip, and Edward orders a vanilla "creamy." When I look at him funny, he explains it was his grandma's favorite, and that's what she used to call it.
We walk our cones over to an empty picnic table and tease each other relentlessly, licking and slurping at those cones like they're lovers. He even pulls the old, "You've got some on your lip" routine on me, reaching in with his thumb to "help out." Cheesy, but effective.
When a drop of my ice cream "accidentally" lands at the opening of my v-neck halter top, his eyes follow the drip hungrily as it slides out of sight. My eyes are naughty, too. What he's packing doesn't fit any more comfortably into this pair of jeans than the ones he wore last night.
We feel a raindrop. Soon, it's followed by a few more.
"Shit," he says. "Let's go."
We giggle together over our predicament and climb onto his bike. It pours the entire way back, and the engine vibrates between my legs, drenching me everywhere the rain can't reach. We stumble through the door of his bachelor pad in our wet clothing.
Edward puts on a Pink Floyd CD and presses the repeat button. Every moment of our time together has been foreplay up till now. A girl can only take so much.
He steps toward me and I see that his striking hazel eyes are now flecked with black. He rakes his fingers through my hair and bends to nuzzle his nose behind my ear.
"Mmm, Bella, what is this smell? It's been driving me crazy."
His lips play along the base of my throat.
"Nothing. Shampoo," I mumble.
"Jesus, it's ridiculous how good you smell."
"You smell good, too," I answer, nestling my face where it naturally fits, just under his arm.
"I'm gonna kiss you now."
"Oh, thank God."
After what feels like an infinity of wanting that smile for my very own, Edward finally lowers his mouth to mine. He's gentle at first, tasting, caressing me with his tongue. I'm dizzy and giddy and I don't have a speck of a shadow of doubt that he's my one.
Still mostly joined at the lips, we peel off our wet clothing. Our hands and eyes are everywhere, getting to know each other's bodies as if our very lives depend on it. He's perfect—just exactly as I'd imagined and dreamed.
We've been teasing each other nonstop since our very first hello, and when Edward's skin meets mine, it's pure joy. We join together eagerly, yet we take our time exploring and pleasing each other. Edward is a sweet and generous lover, and he gives me my first orgasm ever and follows it up with another and another. We learn that we fit together like two pieces of a sublime puzzle, and he moves inside me all night, tumbling from one joining right into the next.
Two days later, we emerge from our blissful bubble and rejoin civilization.
"I'm really sorry, Bella, but this vacation with my buddies was planned a long time ago."
"You better not forget me."
"Pfft, as if I could stop thinking about you for five minutes."
"Well, just in case…" I reach into my bag and pull out seven letters, one for every day we'll be apart. His eyes dance with questions. "Open one each morning."
Edward pulls me into his arms and gives me another taste of those delicious lips that have become my new addiction.
While he's gone, I distract myself with work, friends, all the things I've been neglecting in the week that Edward and I have been dating. When I hear the familiar thunderous engine in the drive, I rush to open the door and practically jump him when he gets out of his car.
"I missed you too, hon," he laughs, breathing me into his lungs.
I burrow under his arm and settle into my new happy place. "Not as much as I missed you."
"Wanna bet?" he replies, cupping my cheek and kissing me tenderly. "I have something for you."
"Ooh, something from Vermont. Is it maple syrup or a teddy bear?" I speculate, looking over his shoulder into the back seat.
"Oh, crap. Did you want a teddy bear?"
He looks pained, and I poke him in the belly. "No. I just wanted you back."
He gets all embarrassed and cute and reaches inside his coat pocket.
"You're gonna give me cookie crumbs?"
"Not on purpose," he grins, "but there may be a couple kind of stuck…"
He has me so curious now.
"Okay, so…" he hedges, holding some papers in his hand.
"What did you do, Edward?"
He hands me a stack of envelopes. "Can you not open these in front of me?"
"Well, you just got home. I'm not going to leave you to open these. And I'm sure as shit not gonna wait, so…no!"
Edward laughs. "Fine."
I open the first envelope, and inside, lyrics to Stairway to Heaven are written out by hand, each line in a different color ink. Scattered randomly around the words are doodles of my eyes and my smile.
"Wow. This is incredibly sweet. Thank you." I stand on my tiptoes and kiss him.
I tear open the next envelope and find that it's a continuation of the song and more doodles.
"I may have gotten a little stuck on your eyes…and your mouth," he explains.
"I think this may be the sweetest thing anyone's ever done for me," I tell him, lifting the remaining envelopes. "More of the same?"
"Oh, Edward. Thank you."
Later that night, long after we make love and he goes home, I lift the lid of my hope chest and gingerly place the envelopes inside.
Every generation has its make-out spots, with colorful names such as "Inspiration Point" and "Lovers' Lane." For us, Boston Harbor was our back yard, and Drumlin Meadow was our very own slice of heaven. Romantic guy that he is, Edward pretty quickly figured out that bringing me to the meadow on his enormous traveling vibrator would earn him a really nice roll in the grass—not that I wouldn't gladly have done the same had we arrived on the "T." Still, when he shows up at my house one Saturday with a blanket and a cooler strapped onto his bike, my own motor could rival his Harley.
"Another 'picnic,' Edward?" I tease, air quoting the word with a raised eyebrow. "More of Grandma's favorites?"
"Let's keep Gran out of this one, shall we?" he responds. The gleam in his eyes turns my legs to jelly as I throw one over the back of his seat and reach for Edward's hips. As he winds our way to the highway, I concentrate on the wind in my face and the sun at our backs. Edward kicks the bike into high gear after we merge onto 3A heading south. Knowing Edward's joy for riding, he might be taking us to the Cape for the afternoon, but we turn off just after Duxbury instead. The cycle grumbles and spits as he pulls into the parking lot.
"That was a short trip! I thought maybe you were taking me to P-town to relive our first wave."
Edward lifts me off the bike and unstraps my helmet. "Getting there is only half the fun, hon," he says with a wink.
He stuffs the blanket under one arm and grabs the cooler, leaving his other hand free to hold mine. "Been here before?" he asks me.
"Just with friends, for a day of Frisbee and football and gin-and-tonics in water bottles."
He seems to be walking with purpose. "Did you know this whole thing used to be an island? The colonists dammed it up so they could grow hay in the salt marshes."
"It's amazing the land has remained untouched for all this time," I remark.
"Remember those carriage roads we passed? At one time, there was a whole development planned. Luckily, the homes were never built and the neighbors formed together after that to make sure it stays conservation land. How about right here?" he says, stopping suddenly and setting down the cooler in a beautiful clearing in the meadow. There are other people milling around, but the place is huge and our little spot feels private once we've fluffed out the blanked and settled among the tall grass.
Edward stretches out along the blanket and reaches for me. I slip between his arms and press my mouth to his. The air around us holds the first crisp of the New England autumn, but Edward's lips are warm and delicious. We kiss and laugh and roll around, and he makes me feel happy and wanted and dizzy. Pretty soon, the only way to judge which way is up is by the wisps of clouds overhead. We rest contentedly, side by side and flat on our backs, our joined hands lying between us on the blanket.
"The skyline is beautiful from here," I comment.
"Do you realize Boston is only fifteen miles away?"
Looking out across the harbor, I start to giggle.
Edward's head turns on the blanket and he smiles at me expectantly. "Yes?"
"I was just thinking about how my parents always used to joke about 'watching the submarine races' when they were first dating. It took me until I was about twelve to finally ask how they could see the submarines."
He chuckles. "They don't do it anymore?"
"Knowing them, they probably still do."
"Well, I'm never going to stop bringing you here."
Edward makes good on his promise and brings me back to the meadow a couple weeks later. We head straight to "our spot," and the warmth of our beautiful new ritual overtakes both of us. Soon, he's moving on top of me and his hand is up my shirt and we're not really focused on keeping quiet.
"Bella? Is that you?"
Edward freezes as I peek around his head to identify the voice. Good Lord, of all the places in the world, my father's brother—my godfather, of all people—had to be walking through this meadow at just this moment?
"Uncle Aro…um…what are you doing here?"
Edward retracts his hand from inside my bra as tactfully as he can and makes sure I'm decent before he rolls off me and squints up at one of my all-time favorite relatives.
Uncle Aro chuckles warmly. "I live about three miles from here, remember? I take a stroll through here every Saturday."
Note to self: no more nooky-nooky on Saturdays in the meadow. "Oh yeah, I forgot."
"Mmhmm," he responds, switching his gaze to Edward, "and you must be the reason for my niece's amnesia?"
Edward hops to his feet and offers his hand. "I guess so," he answers good-naturedly. "Edward Cullen, sir. Very nice to meet you."
"Pleasure's all mine. Okay you two…as you were." Uncle Aro gives us a friendly wink and continues on his way.
"You heard the man," Edward growls, jumping back on top of me and pinning me against the ground with his warm, eager body.
Later, propped up on our sides with our picnic between us, I thank Edward for bringing me to the meadow. "There's something about this place that just feels like us."
Edward waggles his eyebrows and goofs, "Yes, I agree, and I love feeling your drumlins, baby."
"Thanks for keeping it real, Edward."
"Hey, any time," he smiles, popping a grape into his mouth.
"Edward, I hope this doesn't sound morbid, but I'm having the strong sense that this is where I'm meant to be…as in, for all eternity."
Edward pushes aside the food and wraps me up in his arms once again. I fit myself into that perfect niche made just for me. "Not without taking me with you," he answers, tiny puffs of air blowing across my hair.
"Edward, you're a brave man," my father says with a mix of admiration and disbelief. "Any guy who would voluntarily attend a wedding of this crazy clan…has to be out of his everloving gourd."
"Oh, Charlie," Mom chides.
"Thanks, Dad, way to sell it."
"Why wouldn't I go?" Edward pipes up. "I get to see Bella in her party dress."
"And I get to see you in a suit and tie," I say, adding a wink.
Not surprisingly, the reality of three hundred cousins, aunts, and uncles to meet and greet, including a whole generation of cheek pinchers—without the benefit of chocolate chip cookies, I might add—does prove to be a lot, even for a man as miraculously supportive as Edward. I look over at one point, and I swear I see a bruise sprouting on his dark pink cheek, poor guy.
We finally get through the receiving line, wishing my cousin and his bride well, when Edward leans down and puts his lips to my ear, "You know what? I need a break. Come outside with me."
"Are you sure you don't want to meet my Great-Uncle Ignacio?" I tease.
I follow him outside, maybe sneaking a peek at the way his slacks cup his cute butt, and he leads me to a quiet spot away from third cousins once removed and other assorted distractions. Our hands are joined between us.
"So what do you think?" he asks.
My stomach flips over, and I know. I've just heard my marriage proposal.
"What do you think?"
He grins at me; I grin at him.
"You like that feeling?"
Hell yes. "I do," I answer.
The time that marks the beginning of the twilight before sunrise.
It is recognized by the presence of weak sunlight, while the Sun itself is still below the horizon.
I became a dancer on the day I was born. If that sounds odd, let me explain. The doctor injured me during delivery, and I was completely paralyzed on my right side. The specialists told my parents not to lose hope; Children's Hospital in Boston had a special kind of therapy, and I might be able to regain the use of my ruined body.
My mom was my guardian angel. There was only one problem—the guardian angel had no driver's license nor was there a fairy godmother in sight to wave her wand over a pumpkin and some mice to conjure us up a coach. Nevertheless, from the time I was one week old, my mother and I would take a taxi once a week for my physical therapy appointments, and dance was part of that therapy. Astoundingly, after ten years of therapy, I regained 98% use of my muscles, and up until recently, my body has never let me down again.
While I studied ballet, jazz, hip-hop and tap, I also became the son my father (one of nine brothers) never had, excelling in baseball, softball, and football. My older sister with her penchant for all things frilly and pink was not going to fulfill that need. That fell to me, the flat-chested tomboy more comfortable in dungarees and boots than dresses and bows.
Mom must've sensed that there was a little girl inside there somewhere because she took great care to fill my little girl dreams with visions of a handsome prince who'd one day whisk away his love. Life was my stage, and my visions of beauty revolved around dancing for the pure enjoyment of others. Little did I know then that my visions would be fulfilled when my prince swept me off my feet with his very first smile.
Growing up in a strict Catholic household, my sister and I spent our days cooking, sewing, dancing and laughing. We were happy—I was happy—and then, puberty kicked in. That short hour I'd spent at the dance before Dad fetched me home had triggered something within me. Boys would look at me at school and call my house late into the night, only to be interrupted and promptly disconnected by an eavesdropping parent. My teenage hormones raged and made me burn to explore my new desires. But life isn't always about what you want.
Mom became sick. She was in and out of the hospital. A blood drive was launched in her name, and she received over one hundred pints of blood one summer. Thankfully, she stabilized.
Dad became quiet.
My sister became distant.
I became confused.
Jake came back into my life when I needed somebody, and we had a whirlwind romance, getting engaged three months later. Months passed; I was feeling nothing. Then, long stretches of time passed between seeing each other or even talking. My head was spinning. This was my prince? Why didn't I feel the thrills and chills I'd been promised as a little girl? I needed my mother, but she was sick all the time—eight years of "treatment" where her body was poisoned with toxic chemicals and her spirit was filled with false hope.
I continued to dance with fervor and traveled with professional troupes. I earned my degree in fashion design and sewed for famous design houses. I had a tight circle of friends who were like my own brothers and sisters. We were a group who believed in grasping at every dream. If we weren't hiking around the country, we were hitting the clubs dancing and singing.
But things started changing; scary things began happening. My cherished friends were getting caught up in drug raids and near-overdoses. I dressed their wounds when they got into fights, pulled needles out of their arms when they passed out. They began calling me "Florence Nightingale," but I couldn't save them all. We adopted my best friend, but we couldn't give her the one thing she desperately wanted—her family's love—and in the end, she couldn't go on living.
Jacob was slipping up more and more, and we fell out of step.
I lost myself in my music and my dancing. It was my serenity. My thoughts disappeared; my worries melted away.
The day that Eric came to my door, I was frozen in the twilight just before sunrise. That black racecar must've been the horizon, and Edward was—and always will be—my Sun.
Derived from the Latin aequus (equal) and nox (night)
because night and day have approximately equal length.
"Here we go, little girl," my father coaches, starting us down the aisle of the cavernous church.
I hold my breath the entire way, locking my eyes on my beautiful groom and not the three hundred and fifty spectators watching my every step. As we get closer, I start to see that something isn't quite right at the front of the church, and when I reach my Sunshine, my eyes pop right out of my bridal veil. There, waiting for me with the biggest shit-eating grin on his face, is my Edward, handsome as all get-out in his tux and sporting a big wad of white tape at both sides of his glasses.
"What the hell happened?" I whisper, linking my arm through his.
"Later," he mouths.
I'm completely distracted through my own wedding ceremony, but Edward gives nothing away. He's the model groom, until the priest calls for Edward to place the ring on my finger.
As planned, Edward pulls the solitaire engagement ring from my hand and fits it between the two parts of the wedding band. All systems are go, the diamonds line up in the shape of a butterfly, and everything is right with the Universe—until Edward can't get the rings to snap together.
The priest waits patiently at first, but once it's pretty clear the blessed union of precious stones is not going to happen, he leans toward Edward and asks, "Are you sure you have the right girl?"
Now that our awkward moment has been announced to all in attendance, we move my engagement ring to the other hand, and the broken butterfly comes to rest in its rightful place.
"How did we not practice this?" Edward wonders aloud later in the limo.
I grin at him. "I don't know. Maybe we thought you could handle it?"
"Very nice, Mrs. Cullen." I have to admit he does look adorable all bent over the delicate jewelry with those broken glasses.
"Ready to tell me why I just married Urkel?"
He looks up from his task. "Oh, uh…you know that new couch we used to have?"
"Used to?" I had a feeling that hosting the bachelor party in our newly painted, newly furnished apartment wasn't the brightest idea he and his friends ever had.
"See, Emmett decided to do a pig pile, and everyone jumped on me while I was lying on the new couch…"
I cross my arms and twist my upper body in the limo seat so I can give him my most scornful look. It isn't easy with him looking so suave and just-married and all. And those ridiculous glasses.
"Yeah, well that kind of broke in half, and my glasses got busted in the process," he blurts all in one long, nervous breath.
I lift an eyebrow. "Anything else?"
He gives me his best hangdog expression. "We smashed the bottle of Chianti."
"The four-foot bottle from the North End that my dad's buddies gave us?"
"Sorry, but hey, on the bright side? I got your rings to work. Still want me?" he asks, offering the rings hopefully.
I set my hand onto his waiting palm. "Forever and a day."
All through the 350-person receiving line, Edward takes the expected ribbing, the idea of the engineer who couldn't manage to fit together his own wife's wedding band just too rich for every guest not to exploit. Just when Edward seems to be immune to the teasing, Uncle Aro steps in to give me his very special godfather blessing. With a giant smirk, he wraps his arms around me and my handsome groom. Aro places his mouth in between our heads and murmurs, "It's so nice to see you both again…upright." Smacking a loud kiss on each of our cheeks before moving on, Uncle Aro leaves the two of us blushing over our secrets.
Our honeymoon cruise to Disney and the Caribbean is a two-week trek, the last day of which I mostly see Edward's well-defined tush as he bends over the railing vomiting. I'm not unsympathetic to his cause, the combination of too much drinking the night before and the rocking of the ship, but that doesn't stop me from taking roughly fifty pictures of his cute butt and later captioning them, "This was our honeymoon," in the wedding album.
The honeymoon also results in a wedding night pregnancy, which sadly ends in a late-term miscarriage. My mother is there to comfort me and hold my hand and tell me to try again. And we do. Again and again and again.
Two things are certain: Edward and I are really good at getting me pregnant, and my body is woefully inadequate at sustaining new life.
Our first year of marriage is an oasis. On our first anniversary, I give Edward a card with Cinderella and Prince Charming on the front. Inside it reads, "You were the one I read about, you were the one I was waiting for."
I scrawl an additional message inside: "You were in the dreams I dreamed of since I was a little girl and when I saw your smile, I knew—My Prince Charming has come for me."
Mom battles her cancer for two more years, continuing to love all of us fiercely through it all. We visit frequently. I hold her hand and she pats my head, murmuring about my "angel hair." There's always a special twinkle in Mom's eye for my Sunshine, and she never fails to fill his pocket with cookies.
When she passes, Edward takes it hard, feeling as though he's lost his mother all over again. We wrap ourselves around each other and hold on tight, comforting and receiving comfort all at once. Our shared sadness shoots roots deep underground and the sapling that is our relationship sprouts a thick layer of bark.
Without question, Mom's death hits Dad hardest of all. High school sweethearts, they'd walked to school together every day, my dad protecting her from several paces back. With his one true heart gone, he simply has no will to live. He spends his nights pacing the house, calling out for his Rosalina. When he gets truly desperate, he calls our house and leaves his phone off the hook, lulling himself with the sounds of life while Edward and I regard our end of the conversation with a sad resignation.
"What's this, Dad?" I ask during one of our frequent visits home. Edward and I are standing in the center of the living room and scanning the house in disbelief. Every item has a label on it.
"I wanted you girls to know who gets what."
"Bella. I know exactly when I'm gonna die, and it is going to be soon. I don't want you and your sister to have to worry about anything."
Eerily, Dad is right on target with his prediction. Edward and I make our final visit, my hand clasped tightly in his. "Don't be sad, kids. I'm grateful; I'm gonna go see your Mom now."
Six months after Mom left this earth, Dad leaves us, too.
We grieve once again, and sometimes it feels like we never stopped. We console each other with tender caresses that often become feverish lovemaking sessions, our passion for each other defying death to destroy us.
The next few years are a tornado of darkness for everyone around us, it seems. Eric overdoses and Angela cuts too deep and loses her life. Jake ends up driving his van through three storefronts and just misses piercing his skull with a beam. Edward's younger brother, having become the caretaker to their despondent father, calls one night to say that he and his wife returned from their nightly walk to find the house a pile of cinders and their father dead.
While everything spins out of control around us, I keep dancing. Edward and I learn how to hold each other up. Our sex is fierce and needy. There are times we cry from the first kiss right through our shared release. We soothe each other's battered souls and find peace in our renewed promise to die together and nourish the earth with our cremated remains.
The doctors at Women's Lying-In Hospital finally resolve the puzzle of my repeated miscarriages, and with weekly hormone injections, I am finally able to carry to full-term and deliver our beautiful baby girl. Two more miscarriages and two years later, we have a son. All told, my body survives seven miscarriages over the years, but we have our perfect family.
Edward's childhood friends are frequent visitors in our home. Jasper, best man at our wedding, has an eye for the ladies, but he's all talk. I love to tease him about growing into a dirty old man. He and Edward are two peas in a pod. As we stand rooted to the center like a thick oak tree, Jasper's girlfriends come and go, until he finally settles down, marries, and has two sons.
There's never a dull moment when big, goofball Emmett comes by. Always the daredevil, he seems to spend all his free brain cells thinking up extreme stunts. "I wonder if you'd get hurt if you jump out of a moving car!" You will and he does. One day we're out driving with him, and he spies an outfit in a storefront window. "I bet my girl would like that dress!" He runs into the store and pulls the outfit right off the mannequin.
He's a big bear of a guy, but when he talks about his daughter, you can see that he's a big softie. "Best thing I ever did, having that girl," he says to anyone who will pay attention. When Emmett gets strung out and sick, Edward and I hunker down together while another friend slips away.
I'd be hard pressed to say the good equals the bad during these years of our marriage, but they coexist at least, and we survive. We become one organism. We read each other's thoughts and finish each other's sentences. He is my sunshine and I am his rock.
The moment when the Sun crosses the meridian and is at its highest elevation in the sky.
We finally feel the blackness lifting around us, and with no family to hold us in Massachusetts, we pack up our babies and move to New Hampshire. Mt. Washington Valley is a lovely place to raise a family if you don't mind shoveling in excess of one hundred inches of snow from your driveway every winter.
The years in New Hampshire are good to us. Our children have a wonderful childhood in the country. I teach elementary school and open my own dance studio right along the school bus route. We stretch our arms again and broaden our circle of friends. We have gratifying work; the kids have school and social lives; we all have each other. Every Christmas, we gather with friends and they play our song for us—Sea of Love by Robert Plant and the Honey Drippers—and look on as we snuggle together on the dance floor. "I wanna tell you just how much I love you…"
Edward and I never fail to talk and giggle and reconnect with each other during the work week, but come the weekends, we've always taken my father's advice to heart: Make sure you set aside a date night. Friday nights, Edward always takes me out, and if I'm lucky, there is heavy machinery involved.
Nothing gets to me quite like watching my quiet guy subdue the savage power of one of his racecars as he speeds around the track. Though I'm high up in the bleachers, I can easily imagine the glimmer in those hazel eyes as he pushes the car faster and faster, flexing his powerful legs to work the pedals and moving his talented hands over the steering wheel and the gear shift.
I never tire of the life-affirming force of his motorcycle beneath us. The pure sense of freedom of rumbling along the open road turns me to mush every time, and my husband damn well knows it. He loves the way I bury my face in his leather jacket, wrap my little arms around his middle and scoot forward so my thighs press into his. When we can't handle the sheer eroticism of the steel and leather for one more moment, we just pull over wherever we are and have crazy, raw motorcycle sex.
Of all his machines, the airplane is easily my favorite. Flying with my sexy aerodynamic engineer is a heady feeling that easily eclipses all the rest. He lifts me into the cockpit and straps me in, and as he coaxes the nose of the plane toward the heavens, my senses fill at once with adventure and peace. I am with my own personal Sun, just the two of us riding the clouds and heading for the horizon.
With or without rumbly machines, speed, and altitude, Edward and I never lack for passion. So many times we can't wait till we make it home, case in point, the bus ride home from the company outing to Lake Winnipesaukee. All Edward has to do is give me that look and the next thing I know, my head is in his lap. He wraps his coat around my shoulders and no one seems to be the wiser.
Then there's the time Edward at least has the good sense to pull into a parking lot, but gets so distracted he forgets to put the car into gear. Our happy times are interrupted by a SMACK as the car rolls backward right into a dumpster! I get a lot of great mileage out of that one, teasing my racecar driver relentlessly for his mad skills.
It becomes a joke with our neighbors that we're always being caught in the act—doing it in the hot tub or the swimming pool or up against our bedroom window.
The first pool table we bought was our Christmas gift to each other during our second year of marriage. We put it together with our own hands, and I stretched that felt in all the right places, one of the perks of my background in fashion design. Since then, we've had a pool table in each subsequent home, and it's still anyone's guess who'll win. Edward's a whiz with the pool stick, but he's a guy, so he's highly distractible. As for me? I'm focused; if I'm playing pool, I'm gonna get those balls in the pockets.
"Remember when I first taught you to play?" he grins, spinning me back in time to that first date.
"Remember when I beat you later that night?" Of course, he remembers. I never let him forget.
"Yeah, that see-through blouse was real fair." He pulls down two cues from the rack and hands me the shorter one.
"Can you see through this?"
I draw his attention to my chest and his tongue slowly sweeps along his lower lip. Inside those familiar eyes, hazel makes way for splotches of black. "I'll break," he says, chalking up the tip and folding his body over the table. He pokes the cue ball into the tight triangle and balls scatter in every direction.
"Nothing went in," I remark.
He smirks. "Your turn."
"Want some help?" he teases as I roam around the table taking in my options.
"As a matter of fact, I could use a bridge right here."
"Allow me," he answers, swiftly placing his hand in the middle of the table and forming a support for my cue. I wriggle myself between his hips and the table and lift my right leg over the bumper.
Edward groans behind me, slides his free hand up the back of my thigh and squeezes.
I raise a brow. "It's part of the stabilization mechanism," he answers with a perfectly straight face.
"Is it now?"
He nods earnestly.
I roll my eyes and set my cue across his fingers. He nuzzles his nose into my hair, making it impossible for me to concentrate.
"Mmm, what are you wearing, Bella?"
I wiggle my ass and snuggle deeper against his chest. "Eau de shampoo, just like always."
"Well, it's making me crazy."
I giggle. "So what else is new?"
His hand slides up the back of my tee-shirt and he unhooks my bra.
"I'm trying to concentrate here."
"So concentrate," he answers, undeterred.
I can see that it's only going to get harder—and speaking of which, yeah—so I slide the stick backwards and then quickly forwards, and just when I'm meant to make contact with the cue, his hand slides under the cup of my bra and meets my bare flesh.
"Hey! You're playing dirty pool!"
He snorts. "I'm trying!" Clearly. Both hands are now inside my shirt and his lips have found their way to my neck.
"You are so bad, Edward Cullen."
"Be bad with me?"
As if I could ever resist him. Setting aside my cue stick, I turn in his arms and kiss him full on. He smiles brilliantly the moment he realizes he's conquered me once again. He hoists me onto the table and crawls right on top of me, pushing the balls out of our way as we do our best imitation of two crabs mating on the beach.
I manage to shimmy out of my pants and he does the same. "You better keep your shirt on, B. I don't want you getting felt burn."
As he pushes into me, he slips one hand under my bottom to keep me from rubbing against the table. I'm wild for him, trapping him between my legs and yanking his chest down against me. He's frenzied and careful all at once, and I know he's recalling that first time at the pool hall and all the tension bottled up inside us. We crash together again and again. Lying together afterwards, I marvel that the table held up.
"I may have to re-level it tomorrow," he says, his voice muffled in the crook of my neck.
"I guess it's your turn," I joke as we untangle ourselves.
He lifts me carefully from the table and helps me to my feet. While we pull on our pants, I survey the wreckage. Cues and chalk are strewn across the felt, and the balls are pushed to the edges.
"Hey," I call out, "I won!"
He zips up and regards the table. "How do you figure?"
"You knocked the cue ball in!"
Our life in New Hampshire is idyllic, but once the kids are out of school and seeking real careers, we know it is no longer viable for us to stay in our isolated little bubble. Every summer we've taken a cross-country trek with the kids, eventually covering every state and ending up in California to visit with Edward's sister. When she learns that we're ready for a change, she coaxes us out to the West Coast, even insisting on finding us a rental house to get us started. We pack up the clan and move across the country to California, and we start over again. Together.
Early elementary certification prerequisites being what they are in the great state of California, teaching is no longer an option for me. Undeterred, I find a new place to hang my shingle, and I do what I do best—dance. Meanwhile, Edward gets the itch that "men of a certain age" tend to get, that urge to be his own boss. It blossoms until it reaches the point where it's do or die, but naturally he worries about our future.
"You've got to at least try," I urge him.
"What if it doesn't work out?"
"We go on." If there's one thing we know how to do, it's go on.
Despite his best efforts, the business goes belly-up, and we get behind financially. That Christmas, the sheriff comes to our door to inform us we have thirty days before we'll be forced out of our home. We have nowhere to go, no family to rely upon for refuge. Our only chance is to declare bankruptcy, so we hire ourselves a lawyer, and we wait.
The outlook is bleak, and we find ourselves in each other's arms more often than not, our roots firmly entrenched and interwoven.
It's during this dark time that a friend gives me a copy of a book about a clan of "vegetarian" vampires. I read it hungrily and devour the three sequels as well.
"Why are you reading about a bunch of vampires?" Edward finally asks, amused by my latest obsession.
"It's really not about the vampires. It's a love story."
He grins and shakes his head. "Well, I'm happy you've found something that makes you so happy."
"You make me happy, you goof."
Desperate for more of this escape, I find myself searching the internet for anything and everything I can find about the books and the characters. One day, I happen upon a phenomenon called fanfiction, and as I click my way inside the site, I fall into a fantasy world the likes of which I have never known. An infinity of possibility offers itself on a silver platter; I am a starving girl invited to the buffet of my life. I dip my toe, set my search parameters, select a story, and start to read. It doesn't take long before I know exactly where to go for quality recommendations. There's a whole world here I previously knew nothing about: blogs and Facebook groups and communities.
The fanfiction stories fill my heart and sing to my soul; I write to the authors who touch me with their characters and plot lines, and they write back. New friendships are forged across lines of nationality, religion, race, age, and sexual preference. Before long, I'm sharing bits and pieces of myself, connecting with virtual strangers in ways I can't connect with my friends around the corner.
Edward regards my obsession with a benevolent disinterest, looking over my shoulder as he passes by.
"Reading your stories again?" he asks, shaking his head and smiling.
Little by little, he starts to catch on that having a wife who reads oh-let's-just-call-it "motivational" material on a regular basis might be to his advantage. Our Saturday evening baths become shared reading sessions, he and I passing some of my favorite stories back and forth over the bubbles.
Ever adventuresome and newly inspired, Edward and I decided to give shower sex one more try.
"Oof!" I giggle uncontrollably as Edward trips over his shorts and boxers. Amid snorts and grunts and moans, we make it to the shower and have a good old time soaping each other up.
When things start to get a bit more intense, he laments, "This never works for us, Bella. You're too short."
"I know." I step onto the bench seat. "How's this?"
"That's no good—you're too tall now."
Just when I am beginning to feel like Alice in Wonderland, Shazam! Brainstorm! "Hang on, I'll be right back!" I run out and grab my pointe shoes, quickly lace them up, and hop in the shower where Edward is waiting for me all wet and drippy, that damn smile on his face.
"So how do you like me now?"
"Ooh sweetie, that's just right," he groans out.
His back flattened against the glass door, he pulls me up, he pushes me down, and it's clear my solution is a keeper.
"Holy Shit! HOLD ON!" he yells, and my hands go flailing about, trying to get a handle on something sturdier than his hair. With my added height, the top of the shower door is the perfect anchor, and I loop my fingers over the frame.
When I first feel the track of the doors bow outward, my eyes grow wide with terror. My darling husband is so lost in the moment, with all that thrusting, pumping, and grinding, he mistakenly thinks I'm "there," and he …well, he persists.
There comes a loud BAM! and the track and the doors completely let go, ripping clear out of the wall and sending us flying across the floor on a ramp of slippery, wet glass. Laughing hysterically, I crawl over his body to what I assume will be safety. Not so easily diverted, he shimmies along underneath me on his back until we reach the rug. I don't know how, but Edward somehow musters the strength to pull us both off the floor together—as in, TOGETHER—and we proceed to the comfort and safety of our bed, where we continue our marathon, laughing the entire time.
The anticipation of the judge's decision looms large, coloring every day with a curtain of grey. Edward takes a new job; I dance faster. Finally, at long last, the news that we've been waiting for arrives. We've won our battle! We can keep our home with a manageable repayment schedule.
The sun crests once again, and the joy seeps back into our lives bit by bit.
Our two little birdies set out from the nest to make their own way in the world. Our daughter, a skilled artist with a voracious intellectual curiosity, finds her place in the Arts. Her brother shares my sense of adventure and his father's skill with all things mechanical, and he steps out into the work force with a sense of purpose and direction.
Sitting quietly with Edward one night over dinner, a remarkable sense of calm settles over me.
"What?" he smiles.
"Our kids…we did good, E."
Edward clasps my hand and pulls it into his lap. "Yeah, we did."
The Sun appears to have reached its highest altitude in the sky above the horizon.
Derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), the seasonal movement of the Sun's path comes to a stop before reversing direction.
On our anniversary, we go to Malibu, our tradition since moving to California. Every moment together is bliss—until I twist my knee swimming. Being a dancer, a silent alarm sounds deep in my gut, and I make it a point to get checked out once we get home.
I wake up with no voice the day of my doctor's appointment. My sciatica is acting up, and I have swelling in my neck and face, which is odd, but the symptoms seem to be holdovers from the whooping cough I'm just getting over. The doc listens to my back and sends me straight to radiology for a CAT scan of my upper body. That's when I know: this is not gonna be good.
Edward is standing next to me in our kitchen when the doctor phones thirty minutes later. "I'm sending you to an oncologist," he says.
"Okay." I hang up the phone and look into the eyes I've loved for a lifetime.
"So what is it?" he asks.
"I'm gonna die."
"Don't screw around," he warns, fear gripping him like a vice.
"I'm not. It's time."
"Bella, I'm serious."
He pulls me into his arms and drops his cheek to my shoulder. I wrap my tiny self around my gentle, sweet sunshine and pour my comfort into him.
The time between sunset and dusk, during which sunlight scattering in the upper atmosphere illuminates the lower atmosphere,
and the surface of the earth is neither completely lit nor completely dark.
Every night and every morning Edward and I write a note to each other. We've never missed a day in all our years together, though now it's often an email from work in the morning, rather than the handwritten notes.
It's often as simple as "I love you" or "Forever and a day...xo."
I have always kept myself in shape and have been incredibly healthy, which is one reason the doctor believes the cancer was able to hide for so long. In my head, I'm in a good place and will take what fate has dealt. I've done incredible things in my life, have lived, loved, and laughed hard. I've had my share of the dark days, too, which is why I have lived the way I have.
Thankfully, Edward and I are united in the decision to make the most of the time we have left together. He's working through the stages of grief, and when he gets to the anger, it's always on our kids' behalf.
"It's not supposed to be this way. I swore I would never leave my kids without their parents."
"Well then, you can't go anywhere, hon."
"I'm not. I promise. I'm going to be there for them."
"That's all I need to know."
Most of the time, however, Edward is just sad. He can't let me go. How will I get through the dark days to come without my Sunshine?
We'll never give up our weekends together, but we have a new routine on the weeknights now.
The second he comes through the door, he wraps me up in his arms.
We sit together at the dinner table, holding hands through the entire meal.
His beautiful hazel eyes, fixed with LASIK surgery so the black-rimmed glasses are a distant memory, are watery all the time.
When I can't take it anymore, I curl up in his lap and he hooks his chin over my shoulder. We sit quietly like this for a bit, and then I blow raspberries and poke him in the belly button because I have to see his smile. My Sun.
If you're thinking, Poor Bella. Poor Edward. Their story doesn't have a happily ever after, you'd be wrong.
He and I found each other in this crazy life. I know how it feels to love with all my heart.
I'm his Rock and he's my Sun, my Prince Charming, my One-and-Only.
A lifetime of dark days couldn't deprive us of each other, and neither will cancer.
We agreed long ago that we'd both be cremated when the end comes, our ashes feeding the earth so that our souls will nurture new growth. Like every young couple in love (I suppose), we always fantasized we'd leave this earth together, but it's looking now as though I'm going to have to leave my Sunshine behind, though my spirit will ever be mingled with his.
After my body gives out, Edward will scatter half of me on the beach in Malibu—the place we've come to love as our home—while my sister will return the other half to our meadow. One day, Edward will take a trip back to Boston. He'll walk through Drumlin Meadow and say to himself, "You've grown some beautiful flowers today, love."
When Edward's time comes, I'll spread our blanket in the grass for him so he'll know exactly where to find me. He'll lie down beside me and pull me in close, tucking me into that place under his arm where my head fits just so. I'll sigh and breathe him into my soul.
"How are the kids?" I'll ask him.
"They're real good. They're all set now."
I'll caress his beautiful face, look into those hazel eyes one last time, and say, "Rest now, my sweet, sweet Sunshine. Stay with me now."
He'll answer just like always, "Forever and a day."
A/N (KR): This story is a true account of how I met my love. Some things are 'enhanced' and some names have been changed but the body of the story is true. I approached BornonHalloween some time ago and asked if she could write my story. I had reviewed her works and found similarities to my own life that sparked something in her to ask me to write. "No!" I told her, "I have no writing abilities. I can beta with the best but...write for me Born, please?" Time did pass and then life has that funny way of tossing you a curve in your otherwise comfy life. Born—my birth date and hers are very close and she lives where I was born; she's kin, she's a deep-seated friend in my life for the past few years. She heard my cry for help and she in turn started an enormous outpouring of the fandom to contribute to SU2C...all with just one little text. And now, through emails, phone calls, and messaging, we together wrote my story. For that she will forever be that angel that sits at my side. Eternally grateful that our paths crossed. I Love You, Born xo
A/N (Born): In addition to collaborating with Katalina on this labor of love, there are two other people who came together to make this happen just so. Our lovely beta and my new friend chayasara was endlessly generous, supportive, and loving with her suggestions and her time. She was instrumental in blending our two writing voices into one, and any mistakes left in here are due to my obstinacy, not her ignorance. The gorgeous banner was crafted by the even more gorgeous Betti Gefecht, whom I've quickly come to know and love through this project.
As one final grace note, after the compilation was published I received a beautiful note from "Mr. K" along with his own personal donation to our SU4K team at Stand Up 2 Cancer. I'll share a snippet here, because everyone who participated in any way should share in his gratitude: "As a personal note her current health is better than it has been for some time, and though the radiation may be the scientific reason, I believe this compilation combined with a lot of love to be at least be equally responsible. Forever grateful, Mr. K"
If you'd like to leave a message of encouragement or love for Katalina, please visit the StandUp4Katalina page on Facebook. Thank you all, and may 2013 be a year of good health, great joy, and more stories! XXX ~BOH