Inspired by various Lana Del Rey songs and too much Law & Order.
Audrey Hepburn-obsessed, sixteen-year-old, pretty Isabella and suit-wearing, competitive, twenty-seven-year-old, lawyer Edward. Their worlds meet and spiral down, down, down with a few twists, turns, and loops along the way.
Don't read if age gaps upset you. (;
CHAPTER ONE- Isabella
I'm very simple, despite what they say about me in school.
I live by shoes and grace and Audrey Hepburn.
I live by elegance long lost and famous poise.
I am an old Hollywood starlet: tall and curvy, with retro waves of mahogany hair. I'm red lipstick. I'm fifties glamour and sixties chic. It's how I move and breathe and function.
But some people don't understand it.
Only Rose, who lives by a similar code: sleazy glamour and smudged eyeliner and hangovers and parties and looking model-ready through it all.
She's my best friend, I suppose, when I'm here in this uniform wearing hell.
It's why I can be completely honest with her when she asks, "Excited for summer?"
I roll my eyes. "Excited to spend time with my mother and her new twenty-seven year old boyfriend? Not particularly." I'm sitting on my bed, legs crossed, procrastinating the packing I have to finish before tonight.
"What's his story?" Rose inquires, blowing cigarette smoke out of our dormitory window—her usual nighttime ritual.
"From money. His father is Dr. Cullen, a famous surgeon. His mother is an interior decorator—a good one. She does houses for the who's-who in New York. And the young Mr. Cullen my mother finds herself in a relationship with graduated from Yale—with honors. And is now the youngest Assistant DA in New York City. So he's ambitious. And if I know my mother—good-looking." I find my own pack of cigarettes while Rose whistles.
"I have no clue how you know all that, darlin'."
"I have connections," I say, winking slowly and lighting my smoke.
"Well, at least you say he'll be cute. He'll be eye candy for the summer."
I shrug, wrapping my right arm across my chest and smoking with my left. I let gray clouds whisper over my lips, into the night outside the window.
"Come on. It won't be so bad. Think about it: hot older guy. And you know he wears a suit. Oh, Lord," Rose says, swooning dramatically, laying her accent on thick. "He wears a fucking suit, Isabella Swan. That's so sexy."
I tilt my head, debating, and I smile just a little.
"I expect all details," Rose announces. "I'll need the escape. Country club parties and forced, endless meetings with Wendell the Thirds, and golf. Go ahead and shoot me now. Do me the favor."
I roll my eyes and smear out the flame on my cigarette. I turn towards my bed and my slammed open luggage, clothes scattered over the sheets. "Oh, the burden of having money."
"Shut up." Rose kicks playfully at my butt. "You have money, too."
"I'm hardly a Hale," I reply, gathering the different fabrics up and folding them. Neat, neat, neat because I am not wrinkles and unkempt clothes. I'm looking polished all the time, even when it's going to the gas station.
"You don't want to be a Hale. Our family isn't at all what it's cracked up to be."
"You should write a tell-all book. You'd get on the Times Best Seller List, easy," I murmur softly, walking over to the closet and gathering more things.
"Writing is your thing, Queenie Isabella. Not mine."
"I'll write it for you," I say, smiling over at her.
Rose grins, tossing messy waves of gold over her shoulder. With her long legs crossed Indian style on her bed, with her cigarette in one hand, with her signature smirk, she's the front cover of the next edition of Vogue. "We'd get sued by my parents."
"I could get Mommy's new boyfriend to be our defense."
Rose laughs, throwing her head back.
I keep packing, and she keeps smoking, and we start talking about plans. Futures. Things we'll do. Places we'll go. The kind of girls we will be—beautiful, wild, young. The kind we are now, only more so, not restricted by the controlling environment that is called Forks Prep School or Public School or Teenage Years in general.
And finally, the dread I've felt twisting in my stomach the past two months over going home fades, and I remember it's summer and summer means long days by the pool and doing nothing and dreaming without interruption.
As I stare into the tiny shared closet of my dorm room, I whisper, quietly, "'Some people dream of having a big swimming pool. With me, it's closets.'"
And I let that be that.
Home isn't really home.
It's a big estate place in light brown that's a house—not a home.
We've only lived here for a year, and nine months out of the year, I've been in Pennsylvania, in hell. So it's not my home. It's all Renee's, anyway. It's all antique furniture and restored pieces and art that cost more than a car. That's her.
But Carmen is mine, in a way.
When she opens the door for me, her face breaks into the sunniest of smiles, white teeth so bright against smooth caramel skin. She grabs me into a hug that smells like roses, and I hug her back so tightly I think I must hurt her.
But it's been exactly nine months since I was last hugged. Rose isn't much into physical affection unless it involves a boy. But I crave it as much as I do chocolate covered strawberries.
"Isabel," she hums in her Spanish accent that's like a song. I used to copy her speech patterns because I thought everything she said was magical, musical. "Sweet Isabel! I haven't seen you in so long, nena."
I smile into her waves of soft brown hair. "I know. I've missed you."
"As I've missed you," she murmurs, pulling away to kiss my cheek. Her hand finds mine and she pulls me inside the towering foyer Renee has already redecorated. "Where are your things?"
"They're bringing them in," I say, nodding to the car driver lugging in my suitcases. I pull at the scarf around my head, loosening it as I drift further into the house, into the sitting room with all its window walls facing the pool.
The furniture is different. So are the Oriental rugs. All because I know my mother and she changed some of the paintings in the room and decided the current décor didn't match with the new art.
"It looks different," I say.
Carmen drifts past me, cutting a look. "Yes, your mother has been very busy."
"And when you say my mother has been very busy, you mean Eliziar and his brothers have been very busy moving everything for her," I reply.
Carmen and I share smiles, but she doesn't comment. She can't, for fear of her job. It makes me feel so terribly lonely.
"Is the pool ready?" I inquire before I can dwell.
"Of course. Senora Swan made sure it was before you came home. She knows how much you enjoy it," Carmen says, fluffing up a few pillows on the couch.
I nod and pull my scarf off, letting the silk slide through my fingers comfortingly as I move around the big room, eyeing all the new, heavy-looking, dark pieces of furniture and décor we have.
I hate feeling like the house is a museum.
"Have you met Mr. Cullen yet, Carmen?" I ask, leaning down to eye a strange looking snow globe.
"Yes, I have. He's a nice boy," she replies, surprising me a bit. Most of the men Renee dates or marries; Carmen stays quiet about them—which only means one thing. "Very handsome."
I glance over at her and she grins playfully. I smile back. "Is he?"
"Oh, yes. Your mother did good this time." Carmen nods and fluffs more pillows.
"Hm." I tilt my head, pull the clips I have out of my hair and let the waves tumble down. "Does it seem serious? Between Mom and Mr. Cullen?"
"It's only been three months."
"That's not too short of a time, when it comes to Renee," I say with a tone that adds, And you know it.
Carmen sighs and straightens and smoothes out her blue maid's skirt. "She's very enamored with him."
My fingers skim a new-to-me oak table. There's no dust because Carmen is the best and Renee is a neat freak. "And is Mr. Cullen feeling the same way?"
Carmen stares at me, big brown eyes fringed with to-kill-for long lashes. She sighs again and says, "Mr. Cullen is only twenty-seven."
"Which is a polite way of saying Mr. Cullen isn't ready to tie the knot," I conclude and then roll my eyes. "I don't know why she's gone for someone so young this time. If she wants marriage, she has to go for an old one on death's doorstep."
Carmen laughs. "Isabel, stop."
"Well, it's true," I say, smiling a little at her as I walk over to the French doors and look out at the glistening pool.
"Where do you want these, ma'am?"
I turn to the car driver loaded down with my things, and I smile graciously. "Thank you, Tom, but I can take them up."
"It's my job, ma'am—"
"Don't worry about it. It will be our little secret," I murmur, walking over and helping him unload the things at the foot of the curving stairs.
"If you're sure."
"I am. Thank you."
He nods and leaves us, and then I turn to Carmen, pick up the bag I know has my bathing suits, and smile. "Want to take a dip with me?"
Carmen declines to swim with me this time (not with the chance my mother will walk in any moment), but she helps me pick out a bathing suit—a white one-piece that hugs my curves and is all old-school glam.
I dive into the water.
It's freezing cold, like it always is, no matter how hot it grows outside, and I love it. I cut through the water like a knife, all the way down to the bottom of the pool where my whole world is sparkling blue and burning lungs. And just when I think I'll explode without air, I float back up to the surface and suck in a big, delicious breath.
Carmen sits on one of the many pool chairs, right on the edge, so she can dart up and look busy if Renee comes in. And she asks me about school, about boys.
I lie to her, mostly. I say I had a wonderful time, that I had two boyfriends and they got in a fight over me—but it wasn't too dramatic. It was just right. That's what she wants to hear, anyway.
"This Rose girl. Is she your best friend?" Carmen inquires, tilting her face up to the sun, soaking it in.
I float on the surface of the water, staring up into the Heaven blue sky. "Yes. At school."
"Do you like her as much as Alice?"
"Hardly," I scoff and then drop back down into the water before swimming over the edge, by Carmen. "Have you heard from Alice?"
"She's called a few times, begging and then threatening for your phone number at school." Carmen smirks, amused by the things I can only imagine Alice said.
"And Renee wouldn't have it, would she?" I murmur, resting my arms on the pool's ledge, folding them on top of each other.
"No." Carmen sighs. "Your mother said she'd distract you."
I put my chin on my arms and roll my eyes.
And then the doorbell rings, echoing through the house, all the way into our courtyard.
Carmen leaps up. "I'll be back."
"Okay." As she disappears into the house, I push off the wall and twist and dive under the water again, dropping to the gritty floor and crossing my legs Indian style. Closing my eyes, holding my breath, slowing my heart.
But the screaming in my lungs soon becomes too strong to ignore, and I have to drift back up, just as Carmen is reappearing, with someone else in tow.
A tall someone wearing a fucking suit, as Rose had said. Except I didn't expect the dark suit to look quite so good, nor did I expect the man to look quite so young or quite so handsome.
The man that can only be Mr. Cullen is smiling easily, his hand stuffed in his pockets carelessly, the suit jacket puffed up around his wrists. His tie is loose, pulled at. His bronze hair is short in the back, around the ears, but long in the front, where it's in a messy wave over his forehead, like an old movie star, and I take one look at the strands and I just know he's constantly pushing it out of his eyes. His jewel green eyes.
He's beautiful. I'm in love with the way he looks, the way he holds himself, the way he moves as he follows Carmen out onto the patio—confident and slow.
"Isabella," Carmen murmurs, only looking mildly discomforted at having to introduce us. "Meet Edward Cullen. Mr. Cullen, meet Miss Isabella Swan."
Then the phone inside the house is ringing, and Carmen is huffing and cursing in Spanish, and saying, "Excuse me, please," before darting back into the house before anyone else can blink.
And then Edward Cullen glances down at me and smiles politely. "Nice to meet you."
I stare up at him for a moment, my face coolly indifferent, before I offer a small, barely-curving smile. Then I point to the towels stacked on the rack and ask, my voice sugar-sweet, "Would you mind?"
Mr. Cullen looks over, eyebrows arching, and immediately goes to get me one, just like I knew he would, because he's been raised as a gentleman, hold-the-door-open-for-the-lady kind of guy. "Here," he says, handing the white fluffy thing to me.
"Thank you," I murmur and slowly ascend the pool steps. I'm relieved I'm wearing this bathing suit out of all my others. It shows the best of my curves, and when I peep out of the corner of my eye, I see Sweet, Handsome Mr. Cullen's own eyes dance quickly away, to his feet.
I smile a little and lay the towel out over the pool chair before sitting down, on the edge, crossing my legs daintily. "So you're my mother's new boyfriend?"
Mr. Cullen, to his credit, doesn't look one bit uncomfortable. He's still smiling, although it's taken on a slightly more smug tone. It's what they call a smirk—a crooked one, at that. "I am."
I nod, pretending to debate. I purse my lips and everything. "I see. Do you usually find yourself dating women my mother's age?" I then inquire, arching my brows ever so slightly.
His smile is Old Hollywood. "No, I can't say that I usually do. Your mother is…she's a really lovely woman."
"Is the money she's worth also lovely?" I ask, my barely-curving-smile reappearing as I twirl my ankle—just a little.
Edward's surprised by my bluntness, but he's all class as he smiles again and shakes his head. "I'm a Cullen, Miss Swan. If you do your research, you'll see I hardly need your mom's money." His green eyes narrow. A bit playful, a bit not, and he's not afraid to show it. "I hope that wasn't an accusation."
I smile and tilt my head back and forth briefly, pretending to debate. "Hardly. I wouldn't dare accuse a lawyer, of all things. It was merely a simple, curious question."
Edward's smirk is aggressive and attractive all at once as he crosses his arms over his chest and leans his side against the French doors. "Oh, I see."
I find my pack of cigarettes on the table and draw one out, place it between my lips, light it. "I've already done my research on you, if you must know. I guess when my mother said she had a twenty-seven year old boyfriend, it does raise some red flags."
Edward nods and smirks still. "I'm sure it would," he replies and in the same breath jerks his chin towards my cigarette and asks, "Your mother know you smoke?"
I arch my brows slowly. "No. Are you going to tell her?"
He grins, and it squints his eyes, wrinkles the corners, makes the emerald irises turn into sparkling summer green. He looks away as he does it, and he's movie perfect, old school class. My heart might actually kind of flutter. "Just a simple, curious question, Miss Swan."
I stare at him, and he smiles at me, and I smile back, and I feel myself slipping.
"That was Mrs. Swan," Carmen announces, reappearing, and I get jerked out of whatever spell I've been drowning in.
"What did mother dearest want, Carmen?" I inquire, looking away from Edward and his dangerous smirks and messy hair.
"She's going to be held up at the museum. She wanted to apologize to you, Isabel, for not being here to greet you. And she wanted to apologize to you, Mr. Cullen, for not making dinner. But I was informed to proceed with the food as planned."
"Oh, that's fine, Carmen," Edward says, voice all smooth and deep and honeyed. "I don't want to put you out. I'll just go back to my place."
I almost leap up to protest, but Carmen does it for me, saving me my dignity. "No, no, Mr. Cullen. Mrs. Swan wanted you to stay. You can get to know Isabel, she said." Carmen smiles warmly.
And Edward's eyes flicker back to me, almost begrudgingly, but I pretend not to notice as I scoot back on the pool chair, lounging and tilting my head towards the sun, closing my eyes.
I hear Mr. Cullen say, slowly, "If that's what Mrs. Swan wants."
This is gonna be set in New York, by the way, although Renee and Bella are originally from Forks. The Hollywood references are just due to Bella's fascination with old movies and starlets. (;
I might kinda be totally amazing if maybe someone might like to review. It'd totally make my night. And I'd be forever grateful. (; Thank you for reading so far!