A/N: Oh, man. I'm watching Supernatural as we speak, and I'm DYING.
How are you?
"I'm fine. It's fine." This was the fifth time she'd said that since they walked away from the Royal Faire. With a huff, she veered off to the side of the path, letting the masses pass them by. She knew she was acting weird. Clearly, she wasn't going to be able to pretend nothing had happened. She made an effort to put an easy smile on her face. "Seriously. I just got jealous."
A chill went down her spine, and she looked at a random spot just over his shoulder. She'd been trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with her. There the truth went, slipping out before she'd had a chance to think about it.
She'd hated the sight of him with his arms wrapped around Heidi. She'd hated the way he grinned at her. She'd hated how clear it was that he was sharing that moment with her. It didn't make a single bit of sense, but it was how she felt.
"You were jealous?"
Her heart had picked up a sporadic rhythm and she'd broken out in a cold sweat. "Uh. Yeah, I mean…" She shifted her feet and rubbed the back of her neck. She laughed. The sound was thin. "I got intimidated." Now, she was finally able to meet his eyes for a few seconds. "You didn't tell me you could have been on Dancing with the Stars."
"Well, I couldn't. Because I'm not a star," he teased gently.
A smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. "You're really good. I mean, really good."
"Yeah, but I wasn't trying to intimidate you." He shrugged, looking sheepish. "I was showing off, which my sister is forever telling me is really obnoxious."
Bella shook her head. "No, it was great." It had been, too. At first, she'd been watching Edward and Heidi with eyes so wide they'd just about popped out of her head. For most of it, she'd been grinning like crazy. "It was just a silly moment of self-consciousness."
"You've got nothing to be self-conscious about," he said, touching her elbow briefly.
"I know." She rolled her shoulders, feeling ridiculous all the way around. "I just had a moment. You know, one of those times when I realize the day I met you, I got to see the lengths you went to for someone you love. And then I got to see you at your second job, trying to keep people safe. You've been trying to teach me to dance when all the while you're some kind of prodigy."
"Not a prodigy."
He touched her arm again, and Bella's breath caught in her throat as a thrill went through her. What in the hell? "Are you sure everything's okay?" he asked.
"Yeah. I was just being dumb," she told both of them.
Edward eyed her, as though he wasn't quite ready to let it go. Then, he nodded. "We have fast passes," he said.
"Big Thunder. Right." Bella brightened at that. Big Thunder Railroad—a railroad themed roller coaster—was one of her favorite rides in the park, and she told Edward so. "It used to be Matterhorn, but then they upgraded the Yeti." She shuddered. The Matterhorn was the park's tallest ride—the iconic mountain covered in snow where Tinkerbell started her "flight" during the fireworks show. It was another roller coaster ride, this one plagued by an abominable snow beast.
Edward snickered. "Are you saying you're scared of an animatronic Disney monster?"
"It's ugly, and it pops out at me." She glanced at him out of the side of her eyes and made a face. "What? Shut up."
"No, I get it. Traveling at relatively high rates of speed on a jerking bobsled through the semi-darkness with a monster roaring in your ear." He leaned down, making a low rumbling sound near her ear.
Bella shuddered, pulling away from him, though not for the reason he thought. That growl had vibrated beneath her skin, and she was only too aware of how close he'd been standing to her.
His chuckle turned into a wistful sigh. "I miss the seats. Remember? How you used to have to sit with your friend or your date in your lap?"
Bella didn't answer that one. She had a sudden image of sitting between his spread legs and his arms wrapping around her. She had a feeling she wouldn't have been so scared of the horrible yeti if the ride still had those seats.
"Do you have a secret?"
Bella started. "Wait. What?"
"I said, do you know any Disney secrets?"
"Oh." She laughed because she was being deranged. "Like what?"
"Let's see. Hmm." They stopped long enough to flash their passes in the fast pass line and continued down the queue, walking past all the poor suckers in the normal line. "Did you know there's a basketball court at the top of the Matterhorn?"
That broke the weird tension that had popped up around them. They spent the short stay in line—fast passes rocked socks—trying to outdo each other in secret Disney knowledge. Then, they argued about the best seat in the roller coaster rides. Bella was relieved. It was usually so easy to be around Edward. She was glad to see the stupid jealousy hadn't messed things up.
At least, she thought it hadn't. She thought that until they were sitting in their seats, and her whole side—the side so close to him—tingled. She flexed her fingers, gripping the safety bar in a tight hold because she had the strangest urge to grab his hand.
What in the ever loving hell was wrong with her?
"Are you okay?" Edward asked, looking bemused. "I thought you said you weren't scared of this one."
"I'm not," Bella snapped, defensive for no reason. She huffed out a breath, exasperated with herself.
A boom made her jump, and they both looked over in time to see a brilliant burst of red light up behind the Matterhorn. The fireworks show had started. Edward leaned forward a bit, right into her bubble space, and breathed a sigh near her ear. "Oh, wow," he said. "That's awesome."
It was. It was beautiful. The night was clear, the moon bright, and the fireworks over the fake-mountain made for a pretty picture. But that wasn't why her heart was pounding. That wasn't why her lips were pursed in an oh and chills chased down her spine.
She only needed eyes to know that Edward Cullen was attractive. Why the hell was she so awareof him right now?
The ride jerked to a start then, making her gasp. She'd totally missed the preamble—the warning to keep her arms and legs inside the cart and to enjoy "the wildest ride in the wilderness!" The fireworks cracked, adding to her startlement, and she gave a short shriek.
Beside her, Edward laughed and gave a whoop. Bella tried to catch her breath as they started the climb inside the faux-mine shaft. Edward leaned down. "Look. Hidden castle." He pointed to the rock formation above their heads, surreptitiously cut to look like the iconic Sleeping Beauty's castle.
"I knew that one," she said, sounding breathless to her own ears.
He needed to stop rumbling things in her ear. Christ, her nipples were hard. What the hell?
She didn't have time to think about it before the train was hurtling forward. Bella had never really thought about just how jerky a ride this was. Not until she was being slammed into Edward repeatedly. The train went around another bend, and Edward was thrown against her, squashing her body between him and the side of the car. All of it set to the steady cracks and booms of the fireworks going off in the background.
By the time they got off the ride, Bella was surprised her hair wasn't standing on end with all the static electricity racing through her. Why was this happening so suddenly?
Not so suddenly, a tiny voice in her head whispered.
She'd felt the thrill of his touch as far back as that day at the Coronado, when he'd taken her in his arms and danced to the music. At the time, she'd attributed the contented, giddy pleasure that had raced through her to the general atmosphere. It was a wedding, after all, and the music was romantic.
And his eyes had been so beautiful—a brilliant green to compliment his soft, gorgeous smile.
And she liked being around him. With him.
"I'm sorry," she said, knowing she was being quiet and weird.
"No, I get it."
Her step faltered. "You do?"
He shrugged. "Sure." He gave her a sympathetic smile. "I know the whole idea of all this was to replace some memories, but you have nine years of them." He huffed, looking around. "It's happened to me a few times today that I almost asked you if you remembered something and I realized it wasn't you; it was Kate."
Bella was quiet at that. Stunned.
She hadn't really been thinking about Jasper, but that would explain the guilt that was twisting her stomach in knots. That was annoying. And confusing.
It took her a few too many seconds to realize she'd gone silent again. "That's not why we're here," she said. "I mean, I guess it's part of why we're here. I don't want to lose this place because of him. But this is about us too. Our relationship. I mean…" Her face flushed hot. Why did she feel like a fumbling teenager? "Our friendship. Hanging out with you."
He flashed a grin, a huge one with teeth. "You mean you aren't using me for my body?"
"Hah." The sound came out a little more choked than she wanted. "What are you even talking about?"
"I mean, if you came here alone you'd just be sitting next to a stranger." He winked, and there was no good reason that should make her press her tongue to the roof of her mouth. "What did you think I was talking about?"
Rather than answer, Bella rolled her eyes.
"You want to start making our way out?" Edward asked.
"You mean in the insane mob that is Main Street after the fireworks show? Where two-thirds of the park decides they're the only ones who have the idea to leave and what you have is a mass of bodies pushing and shoving, with stroller wheels nipping at your ankles? Sure, that sounds like a good plan."
"You're mocking me, aren't you?"
Bella smiled sweetly. "Would I do that?"
The drive back down to San Diego was pleasant despite Bella's preoccupation with whatever was going on with her skin. It seemed to be in a constant state of flushing hot or tingling, especially when Edward got anywhere near her. Or when he smiled. Or when he talked about...well...anything. He was always so easy to talk to.
They were getting close to the city when his phone started to buzz. He ignored it at first, but then frowned when it was clear the caller wasn't going to take no for an answer.
"You want me to see who it is?" Bella asked.
Bella picked up his phone and read off the person who'd called three times now. "Benjamin Touma."
Edward scrunched up his face. "Shit. If he's calling right now, this can't be good. It's work related." He glanced around outside the windshield.
At this point on the 5 freeway, there weren't many places to pull off the road. There were no towns. There was Camp Pendleton base coming up soonish and the nuclear power plant, but other than that, there was nothing but hills and ocean.
"The viewpoint is coming up if you need to pull over," Bella said.
Edward made another face as the phone rang yet again, and he nodded. "Good call."
When the viewpoint came up in another mile, Edward pulled off and parked. He made a grab for the phone and flashed her an apologetic smile. "This won't take long. Sorry."
"Hey, I'm in no rush."
He connected the call then and started talking. Even though it was clearly business related, Bella felt strange eavesdropping. Besides, the tenor of his conversation didn't mesh well with the haze of her thoughts, or lack thereof. Truthfully, she'd been doing her best not to think. She wasn't at all sure she wanted to know what she was thinking.
Bella got out of the car and headed toward the edge of the pavement. It was late, well beyond sunset, but she could still see the line where the sand hit the ocean water. She saw the lights of the working ships out on the water, and a sense of calm that had eluded her all evening settled over her.
She was most at peace on the ocean. Or near it, she supposed. Across the distance, she could only hear the sounds of the highway behind her, but her memories conjured the steady crash of the waves against the beach. She breathed in deeply, raising her head as the cold sea breeze kissed her cheeks. She shivered.
"Yeah, I'll bet." Edward's voice behind her alerted her to his presence. He sounded annoyed, but not with her, of course. He stepped up behind her. "We gave him the report months ago. It's been almost a year, and he couldn't listen to us then. Now, when it's all falling apart, he's going to listen?"
She closed her eyes, shivering again as the sound of his voice rolled over her, through her. She'd stopped questioning by then why his voice seemed to resonate in her blood.
Her eyes opened again when she felt the weight of fabric on her shoulders. The chill of the evening lessened, and she looked behind her. Edward's face, locked in an irritated grimace at whatever was going on on the phone, smoothed out into a smile when he saw her. He cut a handsome picture—hair tousling in the wind and that smile on his face. He winked and stepped away, heading back to the car.
He'd only gotten out to drape something over her shoulders, she realized. A letterman's jacket to be precise, the colors faded and well-worn. She almost snorted. She could imagine him being captain of the whatever sports team. Hell, he'd probably been prom king too. She pulled the jacket tighter around her, both amused and stupidly smug about the imagery. There was some kind of poetry there.
Really? Was she about to get all tied up in symbology so old it had been featured on Happy Days? What was that, the seventies? Two decades before she was even born. And when had she become the wistful romantic?
And why in all hells was any part of her brain, however warped, even going there?
She looked back out at the ocean, snuggling deeper into his jacket, and let her thoughts drift away again. She imagined how cold the water would be, and what it looked like when the tide pulled out around the cliffs.
When he came back, she felt his presence before she heard him. Warmth spread through her. A different kind of warmth than the jacket provided, and her skin hummed—a vibration just beneath the surface.
"Hey," he said, coming up beside her. "Sorry about that."
"It's no problem," Bella said, still facing forward. "Duty calls and all that. Everything okay?"
"Naw. It's all going to crash and burn," he said easily. "But it'll keep until tomorrow now."
"Good." She probably should have moved, turned around to get back in the car, but the moment seemed big somehow. Too big. Pregnant with possibility and want she hadn't found the words in her head to articulate.
Beside her, Edward sighed. "Nights like tonight, when it's so clear, it would be great to have a job out on one of those ships." He tilted his chin at the distant ships on the horizon. "Hard work, but can you imagine? Taking one minute to look out. Do you ever think about how the view across the water, when you have your back to land, is exactly the same view as the dinosaurs saw?"
Bella would never know why that was the moment. Maybe it was just the wistfulness in his voice. She thought about the ocean too like that, how it was one of the most unchanged vistas. Unclaimable.
Or maybe it had nothing to do with his words. Maybe it was always going to happen, even if it hadn't been tonight.
Bella didn't know. She wasn't thinking. She took his hand, and when he turned toward her with questions in his eyes, she surged forward like a wave, pushing onto the balls of her feet as she kissed him. It was hardly more than a brush at first. He gasped. She sucked in a breath. Time stood still.
Then, she wrapped her arms around his neck, and he hooked an arm around her waist, his hand spread across her back as he pulled her up against him. They kissed again, noses tapping each other before they tilted their heads together. He sighed against her lips and she breathed him in. And they kissed again.
A/N: THE END.
Just kidding. Hehehhe.