The Consequence of Miracles
This story comes with a very strong content warning. If you're not okay with dark adult themes, I'd say maybe don't read it. Nothing graphic.
For some, youth and innocence eases away in a lazy march of days and nights, an indefinable series of happy or sick little moments. Seemingly grave secrets among friends, the obligatory first sips of stolen, lukewarm beer leading to cheap brown booze on the weekends; slippery fingers practicing and learning, turning to skill then know-how then wanting. There are sweet, heart-pounding declarations and crass words that arouse and useless fears that keep you up at night.
You have no idea that your worries are insipid and stupid, however, until they are put into horrifying perspective. And that, I think, is how childhood often comes to a sad little end- eagerly, we push it out fist first in favor of the rush of seedy nights and questionable decisions. We call it boredom or sophistication or the need for more and right now, never realizing we are losing a certain magic that belongs only to youth, never understanding that once we push it away, it doesn't come back.
I think that's the way it goes, anyway. Unless you are an unlucky one, when youth doesn't float or slip from your all too-willing and open fingers. For the unlucky ones, it goes like this: you are on that same track that all youth forges through at reckless speeds, coasting along in waves of hilarious moments and shimmering, sparkling light, but the laws of inertia- the fundamental rules of a physical existence that you never bothered to pay much attention to- bombard and shove and all of it- the laughter, the light, the innocence- it all goes away in an single instant; a moment so full of impact and specificity that it has a time and a date.
For me, anyway, it has a time and a date.
June 3, 2008
I was bent over the kitchen sink, the warm water running. I used my mom's threadbare dishcloth to scrub the red # 4 from my right cheek and the initials EC from my left, practically rubbing them raw in my haste while keeping one eye on the clock above the microwave.
"Slow down, Bella. It'll be his birthday for the rest of the day," my mom laughed, her hair windblown, her cheeks sun-kissed from sitting in the bleachers all day, just as I had been. Just like all of Forks had been.
"Where you off to, anyway?" my dad asked, his head poking in the fridge.
"It's his sixteenth birthday," I replied, as if this were somehow an answer to the question.
"I know that. The whole damned town knows that," my dad muttered, emerging from the fridge with a loaf of Roman Meal and a bottle of beer. "I think they declared it a bank holiday. Did we even get mail today?"
"Stop it, Dad," I said, digging through my big, crocheted bag for a tube of Chapstick. "You sound jealous." My mom took the bread from his hands and lay it on the counter, a small smile on her face.
"More like knowledgeable," he amended with a single nod of his head before swatting lightly at my hair. "I wasn't born yesterday, Bella. No drinking out there, especially if he's driving around. You call home for a ride."
"Dad, it's not even like that. We're-"
"He's sixteen today, remember?"
"Just say 'okay, dad. Best dad in the world, most handsomest Dad, ever, I will do exactly as you say,'" he intoned, twisting the top from his beer. He waggled his jaw over the rim from side to side, making his mustache dance and mock like he had done for as long as I can remember.
"Okay, Best Dad Ever," I said, my voice taking sarcasm to new heights of teendom.
"You forgot most handsomest," my mom chided, pointing a mustard-covered knife in our direction.
"I'm not saying that. Goodbye," I scoffed, but my dad dodged and stood in front of me.
"Home by eleven."
"O'clock. And look, in a former life, I was a boy, believe it or not. I do know things."
"Like what?" I asked. "How to match your loafers with your Dockers?"
"Like. what it's like to be sixteen with a new license on a beautiful spring day after winning the biggest ball game of my life on my birthday and then going to pick up the coolest girl in the world."
I almost blushed at the compliment. "Thanks, Dad."
"And having a penis. I know about having a penis and then going to pick up the coolest girl in the world. So don't you go and get carried away, now."
"Dad, you didn't play baseball. And your birthday is in December."
"But I was the coolest girl in the world," my mom called out. I turned to fix her with narrowed, disgusted eyes and tried to hold in my laughter as she cut the crusts off of my dad's sandwich. She held it out to him and he swaggered over, grabbing it and taking an exaggerated, over-large bite. He chewed thoughtfully before turning to look at me again.
"Hey, I played take-no-shit dodgeball in Loser PE. It makes no difference, I was still a boy with a penis, and your mother here was still the coolest girl in school. And now, here we are," he said significantly, waving his sandwich in a wild circle to include all three of us. "That just goes to show you it all always comes down to one thing."
"Goodbye," I said with a shudder before he could articulate what the one thing was. I already knew anyway; I had been read the teenage pregnancy riot act every time I went out since that first night Edward had thumped a little too hard on the screen door and a startled Charlie and Renee watched helplessly as I rushed out the door with a breathless "hi", my bright red face and happy eyes studiously avoiding the stunned looks of my parents.
"Hell of a game, though," my dad called to my back, and I just knew he was doing that practice bat swing he does constantly, sandwich included."That kid is one helluva ballplayer."
Here is the sickest and most deceiving part about everything that came before midnight that day: for the first time in my averagely charmed life, I was grateful to simply be.
I waited on the curb in the late afternoon sun, swinging my bag around my feet and smiling at nothing but my own shadow and the deceiving calm of the air around me. I knew it then but now I know it with sharp, jarring clarity: when the sun starts its meandering path toward eventual darkness is when deviant and devious possibilities come out to play, and you never know what mischief there might be to discover.
It was the first time I can recall pausing and thinking things are perfect. It was one of those sunshine blue days when the music should be loud and everything, everything is so sublime that you can't help but smile and know for sure you are a lucky one. Later, I would wonder if I hadn't jinxed lives just for pausing and recognizing my own happiness.
Edward pulled up, the radio blaring a Johnny Cash CD I'd stolen from my dad ages ago. There was mud on the rims of his used pickup, a blue beast of a truck that used to sit on blocks in his backyard, barring the times he not-so-secretly took it out to tear up the back roads of our small town. He'd been driving sans license for at least a year now.
He leaned over to open the door from the inside and peered up at me, dark, damp hair drying in every direction due to the open windows, eyes lit with victory and the post-celebration on his mind. He looked me over from top to bottom without moving his head, a slow, mischievous smile transforming him from a handsome boy into the suggestion of something that would devastate me and other girls and probably a lot of boys for decades to come.
"Well if it isn't the star pitcher of Forks High," I said with fake apathy, hauling myself up into the truck. I put a hand to my forehead. "Don't you have fans to appease or something? What are you doing here?"
"I heard you put out," he replied, making his gum crackle with a flourish and chomping his mouth shut into a deceptively sweet smile before shifting the truck into drive.
"Yeah, well. Only for boys in white tights."
"They aren't tights," he said for what was probably the hundredth time in the past eighteen months. He yanked on my ponytail before taking off.
I scooted over and kissed his cheek, then his neck. When I moved up to his ear I could feel his smile, the bristle on his jaw moving against my chin with the motion of it. He turned to catch my lips once before gently palming my entire face and pushing me back into the seat. We were always physical then, always with the touching or the pushing or the shoving or the grabbing and pulling; kids on the edge of play and sex, I suppose, all of that energy and the constant need to be touching and feeling.
I put my feet on the dash and looked over at him.
"Really. Congratulations. Champ."
"Say it. Say I win everything," he said, poking me in the ribs. "Say I'm best."
"I saw you almost drop that ball at the top of the sixth."
In a flash his long arm reached over, grabbing my thigh, doing that terrible squeezing tickle thing, making me yelp and cackle.
"Say I'm best," he demanded again, leaning forward, his torso halfway over the wheel, keeping up with my lopping thigh. "Say it or you'll never get this pretty leg back."
"You're the best," I shriek-laughed. He let go of my leg with a satisfied smile. "At sucking."
"Why you gotta be so mean?" he groaned. "All I do, day in, day out is think of you, and this is how you repay me?"
"You think of how to get into my pants, Cullen."
"Oh, right." He turned and grinned at me, his eyes making an obvious path from my face down to my lap.
"Stop it, pitcher, or I'll break that arm," I drawled, readjusting my ponytail as he laughed. He snapped his gum again and turned to face the road.
"No baseball talk. Tell me something you're good at," he insisted. I faced the window with my smile, thinking up something good for this particular, familiar game. "You'd be a good ballerina."
"Very funny," I said, turning to flick his ear.
"Well, you smell too good to be a lady of the night. How about a mermaid siren on legs?"
"Throwing knives in the circus?"
"And at birthday boys."
"Not all birthday boys."
"This boy?" he asked, pointing at himself.
"You'd be good at collecting quarters from laundromat machines. That's a skill."
"You're so dumb right now."
"I don't think anyone will pay you to insult nice birthday boys."
"I'll do that pro bono, pal."
"You could be mine," he said seriously. He reached to let one finger drag over the very faded initials I had tried to scrub off of my cheek.
"Always that," I said.
"You know. All this baseball stuff…you know I'd follow you anyway and anywhere, right?"
"What if I went to Siberia?"
"Me, too," he said, then turned to me, kind of serious. "People in this town find one thing to focus on, and I get it. I get that people want to be excited about something, but to me, it's not everything. What I mean is... don't feel like what you want isn't just as important. Because it is."
"To who?" I laughed.
"I'm weeks away from sixteen. I don't want to do anything with my life yet. Not in that big, organized adult way."
"You will someday. And I'll want you to."
"You're welcome. We gotta make a stop," he said, abruptly ending the serious talk. We never could talk about real things for too long without someone making a snide remark or the whole conversation devolving into kissing, not in those days. After yanking the visor down, he pulled on the hat he kept on the dash, settling it on his head with a few rough jerks. Peering into the lighted mirror, he licked both thumbs and slicked down his sideburns, all while still driving. Without seeming to see where he was going, he neatly palmed the wheel and turned at the next dusty road and right up to Joe's Stop-and-Shop. I knew the drill. I wait in the car and Edward goes in with a sheepish smile and a simple "yessir" and "thank you, sir," as Joe quickly and illegally rings him up for a couple of cases of beer or a fifth of booze and asks about the next game or his plans for the draft in a few years.
I whistled at him while he loped up to the store. He turned around, grinning at me over his shoulder from underneath the fraying brim of his hat. I kicked my shoes off and I let one leg hang out the window. Leaning back, I fiddled with the radio while I waited in the blink-inducing afternoon sun, playing with his shades and the radio.
Just as I was feeling a trickle of sweat slide down between my breasts, Edward swung the door open. He had an 18-er of beer in one hand and a grip of Red Vines in the other. Before I could so much as tweet at him again he became inundated by his adoring masses. He smiled politely at Mr. and Mrs. Cope, boosters of Forks High since their own kid had graduated back in the eighties. I could see them gesticulating, Mr. Cope mimicking that same baseball thwock that everyone seemed to do around Edward ever since he turned thirteen. That thwock attracted Mrs. Clearwater, who stopped, I presume, to congratulate him. And that led to a couple of mom-looking types with a couple of kids in a wagon and then some old guy with overalls was there and some freshman girls and- I smiled at Edward, his good nature shining through in the easy smile he gave to every single person who wanted to talk to him. No one was less impressed by his own talent and good fortune than Edward Cullen. As I watched him keep talking, keep smiling, keep everyone happy- I also watched as he began to inch his way to the truck. He threw me a "help me the hell out" pleading look but I just grinned and wriggled my fingertips.
Three more people joined the fray before I showed some mercy on him. It had absolutely nothing at all to do with the fact that one of those people was Tanya Denali, a senior. Two weeks ago she was applying lip gloss and Oxycontin in the bathroom when I overheard her tell her friends she wanted to "ride number 4 raw." So, when she trotted up, I decided to save Edward from his over-adoring fan base.
"We can't have that back seat celebration if you don't get in the truck, Loverrrr!" I called out. Everyone paused and looked over at my foolish grin, at me, Bella Swan, the probably-bad-influence.
"Does your mother know you talk like that?" Mrs. Clearwater hollered back, her disapproval clear while the old guy in overalls glared at me. I ignored them both and reached out my arms to Edward, who was walking toward me now, silently laughing his ass off.
"You're such an asshole," he laughed, heaving the beer between us on the bench seat.
"What do those people even say to you?" I asked, still reclined, my hand joining my foot out the window to catch the breeze as he pulled out.
"Good job, great game, heard about that scout, Forks sure is proud, don't have too much fun, Edward," he intoned, cocking his head to the side as he continued to tick off his answers. "Ya oughta cut loose sometime, Edward, come by and play catch with little Pete sometime. What're you batting these days, son? Looking good out there, kid, real fine, who's the sex-pot with the big mouth you always got hanging around with you?"
"Shut up," I laughed. "No one says that. Are you attracting a cougar fan base, or what?" I asked. "What's with the moms? And the old guy, for that matter?"
"Shit, I don't know. Like I said, it gives people something to do. Something to talk about. They're all at every game. I've even seen that old guy at practice a couple times," he said. He revved the engine, glancing in the rear view. "You see Em back there yet?" His eyes narrowed as he looked around, suddenly intent. It was an thing we always did, at least since Emmett got his license legally. He might get in trouble for racing around the mostly deserted dust roads, but no one was going to arrest the town golden boy who happened to hang around with the sheriff's daughter.
"He's totally gonna ambush us. He'll be down one of the dead end streets, waiting," I said wisely, keeping my eyes peeled, determined to spot Emmett or Jessica's cars first, so we'd have another win at an impromptu-not-so-impromptu race. "You really wouldn't pick Emmett for the patient type, but he'll be there. Waiting. Watching. Planning."
"He is a devious little shit, isn't he?" Edward agreed, cracking a grin and flicking the brim of his hat upward with a muffled thwack from his fingers.
We sped around the corner and I sat up in the seat, waving an arm out the window once I'd spied Emmett in his own truck with Rosalie at his side. He peeled out next to us, followed a little too closely for comfort by Mike, Jasper and Jess, the three of them piled in her green Honda.
Jess revved the engine behind us and Edward spit his gum out the window and laughed, making his own engine growl; I looked up as we sped along and saw a banner across the Bus Boy Diner- CONGRATULATIONS FORKS TIGERS! GIVE 'EM HELL #4! He always did, too. Edward had pitched no-hitters to three of their starting batters that afternoon, all senior guys taking hell from a sophomore with an arm like a cannon and the concentrated precision of a pro.
"I don't think this is what your mom meant by being safe," I said, hanging on to the dashboard, bracing myself with my feet. It never once occurred to me to be worried, but then in those days- it wouldn't have.
Edward switched gears, glancing in the rear view mirror at the line of our friends behind us. He was swerving a bit, kicking up dust and making it a bad idea to try and pass us. I laughed in delight when I glanced over my shoulder and saw Emmett shouting what I'm sure were terribly creative curses, complete with his trademark wild gesticulations.
Baseball bats and other sports equipment rattled and banged around in the cab. Edward's mischievous, bright eyes swung to the right, and we both saw it. The huge, muddy field, just off the road. The one that no respectable ball player would ever refer to as an actual field.
"No!" I shrieked. I felt a raucous giggle erupt in my chest and it was all I could do to stifle it, bracing myself tighter, my stomach knotting with anticipation and glee. "Don't!"
"Hang on, Swan," he murmured, looking over his shoulder, chuckling at our friends behind us. We spun out off the road and onto the field. It was too wet, heavy mud splattering inside the windows as we twirled and the wheels spun. The beer clanked onto the floor as I careened into him, my mouth open with screaming laughter and he held his arm out, yanking me into a half embrace, holding me closer, one hand still on the wheel. "You're okay," he said, "I gotcha."
Jess spun out and squealed into the field beside us, Jasper's entire upper body hanging out the passenger window. I was amazed his bright red sunglasses stayed on his face, the way he was flopping around, his crazed smile going absolutely manic as he pointed a water gun filled with God knows what at us, those sunglasses covering the dilated pupils from whatever the hell he had ingested after the game. Jasper is hyper-everything: hyper-active, hyper-addictive, hyper-sexual, hyper-alive. In one of his more serious moments, Edward had once said it'll kill him someday, long before the rest of us. That you can't live with that kind of reckless regard for life while insisting that all you were doing was living life to its fullest capacity, as Jasper often said. I can distinctly remember being startled and saddened by Edward's declaration, that he himself might be holding something back from everyone, from me.
By the mutual agreement of a bunch of kids up to no-good, we pulled up in a patch of dry grass and exited our vehicles, us girls and Jasper anxiously swiping bits of mud off our clothes and faces. Emmett walked up and neatly scooped a handful of the stuff in his big palm, giving Jasper a good game as strode over to the "field."
"Shit just went beyond bromance," Rose said, absently braiding the end of her hair, beer can wedged between her thighs. Rose, Jess and I had been in the back of Edward's truck, drinking, watching the boys mess around and talk smack in the field, playing a makeshift game of drunk baseball, no rules or skill appreciated, commented on, or allowed.
Jasper had picked Edward up from behind, shaking him around in some kind of violent bear hug while Edward wielded a mitt threateningly over his head.
"Yo, watch that pitching arm!" I shouted from the truck in a fair imitation of Coach Gibson, who only said those words to Edward anytime he saw him outside of practice, doing things he shouldn't be doing.
"Mind your business," Edward yelled back at me. He dodged to the side when Jasper released him and Emmett came in for a tackle, because that's what you do in drunken field baseball, I guess.
Em and Edward had been playing together since Little League and on through middle and high school. They had somehow grown into the foul-mouthed, hot-tempered catcher and the quiet and quick pitcher, a seemingly little team inside of a bigger one. I once mentioned that they'd have to go to the same college to make sure that they became such a unit that recruiters wouldn't even notice that they weren't two individual people. Their camaraderie was legendary, their silent signals to each other a mystery to everyone but Emmett and Edward. Jasper and Mike didn't have the grades or sobriety to stay on the team, but they were dedicated, professional hecklers at every game. And even though it pained him to admit it, Jasper could out-hit Emmett every time. They weren't allowed to go to the batting cages together without supervision.
"So, I saw a text on his phone from that skank that works at Pretzel Palace," Jess said, narrowing her eyes at Mike, who was the drunkenly swaying short-stop.
"What did it say?" I asked.
"Nothing. It was of her non-existent boobs."
"Gross. Are you kidding?" Rose snorted.
"No, dude. I'm ready to kick his neck in," Jess said, tossing her empty into the truck bed behind us. It clanged against bats or other cans, I didn't know which.
"Did you freak out on him?" I asked, grinning at the slur in my own voice.
"I can't. He'll know I looked through his phone, Bella," Jessica said like it was a duh situation, and it kind of was. This wasn't exactly breaking news out of the Jessica/Mike camp.
"Didn't the last one work at the mall, too?" Rose asked, amused, her nose wrinkling as she blew hair out of her face.
"Sunglass Hut," Jessica confirmed with a nod. She shaded her brow with the blade of her hand and narrowed her eyes at her drunken short stop cheater boyfriend, who was trying to toss his glove in the air and catch it behind his back. He looked over at us and started waving goofily, this ridiculous smile on his face. Jess rolled her eyes, silently pleading with the heavens to save her from her relationship, or maybe just herself.
"You need to dump him. Like, yesterday," I slurred, my eyes unfocused as I tried to stare down the barrel neck of my beer.
"I know. I know. But... I dunno. He didn't respond to the boobs text. And besides, I texted Cheney a picture of my boobs like, the week before, so."
"Jess!" Rose shouted at the same time I disgustedly yelled, " Ben Cheney?"
"What?" she asked, incredulous and oblivious.
"Seek professional help," Rosalie said, waving her hand dismissively. She looked out at the boys, smirking as she yelled out, "McCarty, my mom says to get me to bed early!"
"If mom insists!" he shouted back, swinging his pelvis in her direction, the bat behind his back. He swung it neatly and let go, narrowly and obliviously missing beaning Mike in the gut.
Rosalie howled with laughter and stood, holding her arms out as she waited for him to jog over to her. She hopped on his back when he got close enough and he hoisted her up high, his hands groping behind him to squeeze the backs of her thighs. They had started having sex a few months ago and since then, they always took off at least a half hour before Rose's curfew. Their departure heralded the end of the game, and the others made their way over to Edward's truck, chucking baseball paraphernalia and more empties to join the other stuff in the back.
"Wassyer mom doing tonight?" Jasper asked Edward, stumbling up, those stupid sunglasses still on despite the near absolute dark. He slung an arm around each me and Edward, his words clear, as ever, despite his inebriation.
"You smell like salami and hooker sex," I told him, ducking out from under his arm.
"No threeway then?" Jasper asked with mock dejection while Jess tugged him away by the back of his shirt and shoved him in the backseat of her car. He held his arms out in supplication, but Jess was surprisingly strong when it came to wrangling him. She had appointed herself his watchdog back in the seventh grade when he had gotten himself sick off of cigars pilfered from her dad's stash. You'd think they were siblings, the way they were always squabbling with each other.
"If he pukes, I'm not cleaning it out this time," Jess said, slamming the door on Jasper's laughing face while Mike hauled himself into the passenger seat.
Edward and I watched the last of the headlights trail off, the Honda and Emmett's truck skidding out onto the street with a final holler from Em, making Edward shake his head and laugh under his breath. He came to stand between my legs which were dangling from my perch on the back of his truck.
He bowed his head and rested on my chest. I scratched lightly down the back of his sweaty neck while humming Happy Birthday. He pulled on the hem of my shirt and I looked up at the sky, wrapping my legs around him.
"Take me home?" I murmured.
"Yeah," he whispered, stepping back, lifting me from the truck with him.
"But maybe stay for awhile?" I added softly. He stopped short, looking at me from his periphery with narrowed eyes.
"Are you propositioning me?"
"No. Yes. No. I dunno, I just don't want to say goodnight yet. And if it turns into the best birthday of your life, well. Bonus."
"If I sneak in there and your dad shoots me, I totally expect you to push my wheelchair around for life or write the best eulogy ever for me."
"'Here lies Edward. He looked great in tights and his tongue was more talented than his pitching arm. Amen.'"
"Oh man, I'm so happy you see there's more to me than athletic ability," he said, walking around the truck. He heaved the door open and flashed me his easy grin.
"Number one fan, remember?" I said, waggling my eyebrows and pointing to my chest.
Barely even breathing, we crept in the backdoor of my house. The kitchen light was on, one of those constants dependable parents always do, set too dim to really see anything. I'd have to step into my parents' room to let them know I was home, but sneaking Edward in after curfew was old hat. We were careful, but not scared to hell like we were when we first started doing this.
"Don't track in any dirt," I whisper-hissed. He gestured down at his shoes, caked with mud and baseball dust, though I could still see where I had written my initials on the rubber toe shells. He looked up at me with wide, sarcastic eyes. "Okay, whatever," I said, starting the climb up the stairs, Edward right at my heels, taking each step with me, perfectly in synch to sound like only one set of footfalls.
I ushered him into my room before poking my head into my parents' room, suppressing a sigh of relief that they were both already sleeping soundly.
"Shh." My hiss was delicate as I put my finger over my puckered lips. Edward grinned and opened his mouth, like he'd scream.
I shoved him back onto the bed and lifted his arm so I could scurry underneath and smell him. Summertime boy with dust and the humid air, his plain gray pocket Hanes was damp from him and remnants of me and the greasy food we had at the diner earlier, right after the game.
"Everyone says you're gonna go all the way with baseball," I told him.
"Everyone says," Edward repeated, tucking my head under his chin.
"Is that what you want?" I asked.
"I want to go all the way with you," he said, pulling back and crossing his eyes at me.
"You have no chance with me," I retorted, but that was a whisper and a lie. I couldn't take my eyes or my hands off of him.
"You think I'm cute. I know you do. I heard you tell Jess you'd lemme hit it."
"That was like, last year. I've matured since then. Besides, it is an accepted truth that Edward Cullen is hot. It is known, and I'm hardly the only one who has claimed that they'd let you hit it. So. Can we let it go yet?"
"No, tell me again how hot I am," he said, lying back on my pillows.
"Edward, Edward, Edward," I sighed, poking him between the ribs. "That was before I found out you were a complete loser douchebag." I kneeled next to him and put a thigh on either side of his hips.
"You're so sweet to me," he said, tapping at my thighs before looking up and catching the necklace around my neck, giving it a tug. "It'll always be this way, you know." His mouth quirked up in one corner and I felt all warm and goopy inside at the fondness in his voice.
"What?" I demanded. "What will always be this way?" I knew the answer, but I wanted to hear it, wanted to trip all over him and his words, like always.
"Me and you. Whatever happens with baseball-" His smile relaxed slightly, his brow furrowing as he seemed to think about how to finish that sentence. I leaned down and hooked my finger in the necklace he wore, pulling lightly, mimicking his movements, letting the scratchiness of the hemp or whatever it was tickle my skin.
"But you want it? To play ball, right? Edward?" He paused and then blew out a breath.
"Yes. I want it," he finally said.
"Good. Because I really do enjoy the way you fill out those white tights," I giggled, falling forward.
He grabbed the pillow from behind his head and walloped the side of my face with it, making my laughter that much harder to keep quiet.
He rolled us over and pinned my hands above my head and as his hips swayed, I heard his shoes plunk to the floor.
It reminded me of dancing really slow in the Forks High gym, or even more, after the dance, when he twirled and whirled me, our feet bare out in the parking lot of the high school.
"I want it, but I want something more permanent, too," Edward said, looking down at me and right into my eyes. "I could blow my shoulder out tomorrow and it'd all just be over."
"Do you worry about that?" I whispered.
"No. Sometimes. I mean...what can you do?" he asked with a sideways smile.
"Have a Plan B?" I asked, running my fingers down his shoulder blades.
"You're the plan, B," he grinned, then ran a finger between my breasts. "I don't know, I just...I love to play ball, I do. I'll do it my whole life, God willing. It just seems like a cool bonus that someone would like, pay me to do it. If I get the chance-"
"I think it's safe to say you will," I cut in. There had been talk of the draft for awhile now, and everyone from the mayor to the coach to my father said that by next year, he'd be scouted for sure. They were already watching him. Everyone was always watching him.
"But anything could happen. What if I don't? And sometimes it's like...all anyone really even sees about me is baseball. I haven't had a conversation with my dad in the last four years that didn't revolve around baseball."
I thought on that, and it threw me for a loop.
I always figured that Edward and his dad had a great relationship. They were always horsing around, jabbing at each other...but then, I guess, I don't believe I could recall a conversation between them that didn't somehow relate back to the future, the past, the present and baseball.
What was really crazy is that Edward and I very rarely spoke of baseball.
"Baseball is boring as hell," I pronounced.
"So boring," Edward said, snaking down my body. "So boring, you show up and sit right behind the dugout at every game."
"I toldja, I like the way-"
He gasped out loud and looked up at me with a wicked smile.
"They are not-" He poked me on the right side. "-tights." Then the left.
"Panty hose?" I offered, and he dove on top of me, caging me then kissing me into quiet submission. I felt his hard-on against my leg, that part of him that was so...boy.
"Can I keep doing this?" he whispered, rubbing in the same spot.
I nodded my head an emphatic yes. I watched through half-open lids as his eyes rolled back before closing. He seemed to be feeling the same exact type of good that I was.
He met my gaze with an encouraging smile, his cheeks flushed like after a game or a few beers, and for what we were doing, for the act, it was almost shocking how innocent he looked.
It was just so earnest.
"God," he gasped, his open mouth on mine, the two of us rocking with the cantering motion of his hips. "Can I just...?"
"What...what?" I whispered, my voice hoarse, following his mouth as it moved away from mine, my mind in a haze. There was a bunch of shuffling of fabric and I beamed a smile into the near dark; one of those nights, then.
Edward bit down on his lip and rolled on top of me again, his pants down to his thighs, my underwear shifted to the side.
This could happen. In one quick move, this could be happening.
I could be having sex.
Your whole life, up until that point, anyway, you think that it's going to be this thing that looms and looms until you just know it's the right time, and when it is the right time, you will have a plan all ready to go.
You will know it's going to be that day; you'll wake up in the morning and know that tonight is the night. You've got supplies carefully hidden away, friends knowing what to say in the event of parental questioning as to your whereabouts. Prophylactics. Pamphlets.
But in reality, it isn't like that. Not for me and Edward, anyway. What happens in reality is you make fun of his baseball tights and he tells you that maybe he's a little scared and the next thing you know, you just really, really want to love. Or at the very least, not stop.
"Should we..." I started, and Edward held himself up, his fists on either side of my head, breathing hard, his eyes screwed shut.
"Do you want to? Or..." His sentence trailed off into heavy breaths.
"If I said no, would you be mad?" I asked.
"No," he said quickly. "Not for longer than a few minutes, anyway." He opened his eyes and gave me his slow grin, and it made me so damned glad knowing that even if we didn't, we could. And would, eventually.
Edward lifted his hips away from me and ruffled the top of my hair before bowing his head to kiss my chin with a sigh.
"I didn't say no," I said, wrapping my legs around his back just as he was going to roll over.
"You're kind of killing me," he groaned, then brushed his open mouth against mine.
"Don't. Don't be killed," I said, smiling, bringing him back down.
"Why not?" he whispered.
"Because. If you're killed we can't...do this," I said, suddenly shy, my eyes darting down to where we were naked.
And then his pants started vibrating.
Edward groaned and I laughed quietly while he rolled off of me, awkwardly, his pants still binding his legs together at the ankles.
He reached into the back pocket for his phone, which was flashing MOM.
I giggled while Edward answered with one hand and struggled to get his pants up with the other.
"Hey, Ma... Yeah, yeah. No, go ahead, lock up. I'll be home by twelve...yeah, love you, too," he said quietly, looking at me from the corner of his eye.
"Why do you get a midnight curfew?" I demanded once he hung up.
"I'm sure I don't know. It's totally useless. All the bad girls have to be in by eleven, anyway," he said, tugging on my shirt before rolling off the bed.
"I'm a very good girl," I said, draping over the bed, watching him hop on one foot to get his shoe on.
"You lead me into temptation," he said. "But I'm cool with it."
I let my head dangle off the side of the bed and stuck my tongue out, staring at him upside down.
"I can't wait for tomorrow," Edward said, cocking his head sideways to see me straight.
"You got practice?"
"Batting cages 'til noon."
"Maybe if you're lucky, I'll be around when you're done."
"Pfft. You'll be the lucky one. I'll be wearing my tights," Edward said, picking up the snow globe on my desk and tossing it in the air before catching it with one hand.
"Hah! Told you they were tights!" I whisper-shouted.
"I gotta go," Edward said, waving me off. "I've got Em's mitt in my car. I'mma drop it off before I head home."
"Don't catch trouble," I sang, and he reached over and pulled the sheets up over my head.
"You're trouble." He pressed his thumb on my nose. By the time I got untangled from the sheets to retaliate, he was at the window. He gave me that roguish grin of his, the one he always flashed while at my window before he took a leap.
I fell asleep with a smile on my face, completely clueless to the fact that letting him leap out would be the regret of my life.
This story is already complete. You needn't worry that you will be left hanging.
I will update this every day until it's done.