A/N: Okay, so here's the deal.
I'm stating up front that I don't have a timeline for this one. My other stories take priority, plus first trimester pregnancy brain is making it REALLY FRICKEN DIFFICULT to write. These chapters, which were originally donated to a compilation, are burning a hole in my pocket.
And, I'm going to be honest, I've been dying to hit 100 stories, you know, because.
So, if you don't mind waiting, dig in! I'll have chapter 2 posted within the week. Otherwise, hold off until this starts posting on the regular.
"Aren't weddings supposed to be a good place to meet people?"
Bella snickered. "I think the theory is that a wedding is a good place to get laid because—"
"Love is in the air?" Jessica suggested.
"Sure. Love. That's what we'll call it." At her friend's look, she sighed. "What, Jess, come on. If you hook up with someone at a wedding, it's not because you fell in love at first sight, at least not with the guy. It's because you fell in love at first sight with all this." She gestured around them. "The hearts. The flowers. The slow-dance music and those staring into each other's souls." Bella tilted her head at the bride and groom, smiling fondly as they spun around the dance floor, obviously head-over-heels for each other.
Turning back to Jessica, she smiled. "You get swept up in the romance, and you're an easy target."
"Anything's possible. A wedding is as good a place as any to meet the love of your life. Better than a lot of places," Jess said with a shrug. "But all things considered, it's not like I'd be disappointed with a good wedding hook-up story."
"It'd be a good addition to your collection."
Jess narrowed her eyes. "Are you calling me a slut?"
"Nope." Bella laughed. "I don't believe in that word, and you know it. I'm saying you've hooked up with some interesting people."
"Damn straight. I'm going to be that old lady with a million stories about the things and people I've done."
"I'll drink to that." Bella lifted her wine glass, and Jess clinked.
"So, who's your target?" Jess asked, her eyes scanning the crowd over the rim of her glass.
"You know me better than that. I don't go out with the intention of seducing someone."
"Except that one time," Jess mused.
Bella sighed, her eyes darting toward the bride and groom and away. "Yeah. That one time, and look how that turned out."
Jess looked at her with concern. "Bella, you don't have feelings for Jasper, right?"
"No," Bella said quickly. And it was true. It had all worked out really well. Some years ago, she'd had a bit of a crush on Jasper Whitlock. It was enough of a distraction that she'd gone as far as plotting with her best friend, Alice. They'd hung out at a restaurant Bella knew—from conversation—that Jasper frequented. When he came in, they called him over to sit at their table.
"He's a great guy, but we didn't have that kind of chemistry," Bella said. "He and Alice did. That's all there is to it. It's not like I feel he's the one that got away. I'm just being silly. It's just…" She struggled to find the right words.
"This could have been your happy ending?" Jess asked, looking around them.
Bella hesitated only one or two beats before she snorted. "As if. Do you know how much this wedding costs? My happily ever after wouldn't include throwing a really expensive party."
Jess chortled. "But if it was a Vegas wedding?"
"Oh, yeah. Maybe then." She sighed, putting on a faux dramatic look of woe. "It could have been me. It could have been me."
Their laughter was interrupted as an attractive man wandered up to their table, startling Jess as he leaned down close to her ear with a silky, "Hello there."
Less than a minute later, after "Crowley, Tyler Crowley," had ascertained they weren't there together together, he'd asked Jess for a dance. Bella watched, amused as Jess surreptitiously adjusted her bust line before she followed him out onto the dance floor.
Alone now, Bella slumped a bit. It wasn't depression or loneliness. As far as she was concerned, singlehood did her nothing but good. And maybe it was that restless mentality that made weddings difficult. Bella was a sucker for a good love story, but weddings just didn't do it for her.
"You look lonely, pretty girl."
Bella didn't look up for a few beats. Girl. Well, that was novel.
When the man dropped into the seat across from her, Bella chanced a glance up. She arched an eyebrow, giving him a once over. Not horrible. Blond. Mildly attractive.
But before she could decide if she wanted to engage, he reached out and touched a thumb to her lips. "You look like you have a mouth that would do what I tell it."
For two seconds, Bella just stared, double and triple checking that he'd actually said what he'd just said. "Really?" she asked, because… yeah, really? This was a wedding reception, not a bar.
Of course, it was a wedding reception with an open bar...
"Don't be scared, baby. I got what you need."
Oh, hell no. Bella stood up. She had to remind herself she was at a wedding. Alice deserved the perfect night she'd planned for so long. Bella wasn't about to make a scene just because this idiot deserved a kick to the nuts. "You know, I have somewhere to be."
He caught her around the waist, pulling her into him when she tried to walk away from the table. "Hey, don't run away, pretty girl."
Bella smiled sweetly. "Buddy—".
"Michael." Bella yanked her hand out of his grip. "I said, I have somewhere to be."
She walked away before he could say anything, heading who knew where. She didn't have to go to the bathroom, but she wasn't above going there to get away from the grabby asshole.
Not knowing where the hell she was going, Bella powered out one door, and then another. Then, suddenly, she was outside.
And not alone.
A man was out in the alley as she pushed through the backdoor. His head snapped up, a cigarette dangling from his mouth, caught in the act of trying to light it. He stood up, as if at attention, and she recognized him.
"You're with the band," she said, letting the door close behind her.
He was handsome, his dapper black suit incongruous with his rocker-style messy, bronze-colored hair. He looked at her cautiously, bringing the cigarette down to his side. He shrugged easily, a sexy smile playing at the corner of his mouth. "Yeah. I play guitar." He nodded at the instrument, resting against the wall.
"You're good," she said, taking another step toward him. "Guitar was better than the singer anyway."
He snorted. "Yeah. I keep telling them I can sing and play the guitar, but they don't listen." He shrugged.
"You sing?" Bella asked, honestly impressed. The guy played the hell out of a guitar. It seemed unfair that he'd be good at singing too.
"Oh, my love, my darling
I've hungered for your touch
A long, lonely time
Time goes by so slowly
And time can do so much
Are you still mine?"
Bella shivered. His voice was deep and resonant. "That's beautiful. A perfect wedding song."
He hummed, his eyes flicking down and then meeting hers again. "You mind?" He gestured with his cigarette.
No. Not a cigarette. A joint.
She grinned. "No. I don't mind. I'm kind of jealous. It's been ages."
He kept his eyes on her as he lit the joint and breathed in and out in a long gust. He cocked his head, a slow, easy smile spreading over his face. "Shotgun?"
A shiver went through her. The atmosphere seemed filled with static, and the air was hotter than she expected. "You sure?"
He took a long drag, his eyes never leaving hers. "Come here," he said, curling his fingers at her.
She grinned. He was younger, but that was no surprise. Maybe mid-twenties. She shivered again, anticipating the thrill. She stepped toward him.
When he was close, he reached out, curling an arm around her waist. He brought her close. His eyes were brilliant green and she found herself mesmerized. Electricity zipped down her spine. "You sure?" he asked.
"Hit me," she said.
Keeping her curled in one arm, he raised his free hand to his mouth. His eyes still locked on hers, he wrapped his lips around the joint and inhaled. As he lowered the joint to his waist, he bent his head toward her.
His lips brushed hers for the barest hint of a second as she opened her mouth to him. He breathed out, sending a long stream of smoke into her. Her eyes fluttered closed, and she inhaled sweet smoke, hot from his mouth. She lingered, holding the smoke in her mouth a long moment before she breathed it in.
"God, that's good," she murmured. Her lips were still so close to his she could feel his heat.
"You like that?" His voice was low and rough. She could feel the vibration of it against her lips.
"Mhmm." Pulling back just enough, he raised the joint to his lips and took another pull from his joint. "You want another?"
She hadn't opened her eyes. She felt his hands warm on hers, pushing her gently so her back came up against the wall. This time, when he bent his head, his lips were firm on hers. He breathed smoke out, and she breathed him in with it. Her head spun. "Oh, yeah."
He groaned, and his hips bucked against her. That move changed the flavor of the atmosphere. She'd had a few drinks, and the smoke clouded her thoughts. Maybe that was why it was so easy to wrap her arms around his neck. He pressed forward, his blow back turning into a genuine kiss. His tongue touched hers, and she tasted the bitter marijuana mixed with something else.
His taste did nothing to help her state of intoxication. She was dizzy with him, and that was probably why she hitched her leg up, brushing it against his even as their kisses became more urgent. His hands were on her, running up and down her sides, sending a different kind of high through her.
What the hell was happening here, a tiny voice in her head asked, but most of her didn't care. She was buzzing off alcohol, the joint, and the way his mouth felt on hers. And his hands… Hell. Even the way he first caressed and then cupped her ass, bringing her closer against him. He didn't grab, didn't bring her down off her high by mauling her.
This felt good. Damn good, and Bella wasn't the type to deny herself a good experience.
Just as suddenly as this makeout session had begun, the man groaned into her mouth. He pulled away from her, though his hands remained at her hips, keeping their bodies together even as he turned his head to the side. His eyes were screwed tightly shut.
She ran her fingers through his hair. No product. It was so soft. "You okay?"
He laughed. Such a charming sound. He opened his eyes and looked at her. "Sorry. It's just… It feels kind of rude to kiss you like that when I don't even know your name."
It was such a sweet thing to say that she had to grin. She scratched her fingers through the hairs at the nape of his neck, watching the way it made him shiver. "I'm Bella."
His lips pulled up at the corner in a roguish grin. "I'm Edward."
She nodded, running her fingertips up and down his spine now. She could feel his length brushing against her—a hard bulge straining against his nicely pressed pants. That did things to her too. "You think we know each other well enough now?" she teased.
His cheeks flushed, but his half-cocked grin only deepened. "You want another hit?"
She'd almost forgotten about the joint. She shook her head. "I want you."
He groaned as their mouths met again, and he pushed her up against the wall. His hand brushed down her side until he cupped it around the back of her knee. He tugged, hitching her leg up around his waist so he could push against her.
Yeah. Maybe she liked weddings better than she thought.
A/N: Mina—who is my chief enabler—convinced me to post this, so blame her!
And also check out the banner she made. Gorgeous.
Thanks too to Packy, MoH, Songster, and Eleanor as always!
Next update in about a week. After that, who knows. My brain often works better amidst chaos.