Subject/Email Header: Secrets and Lies Contest Entry
Summary: Thirteen years after the 'best night of her life,' Bella has an encounter with her first crush. Let's hope he doesn't affect her the same way he did back then.
Word Count: 8309
DISCLAIMER:The author does not own any publicly recognizable entities herein. No copyright infringement is intended.
'Keep it together' I tell myself, adjusting my blouse for what must be the thousandth time. 'They're just parents. It's not a big deal.'
As a first-year teacher, this will be my introduction to the whole 'Open House' thing. I vaguely remember going to a few of these events as a kid, but it has been so long since then that I'm not entirely sure what to expect. Not to mention the fact that I'm now on the other side of the equation. Needless to say, I'm intimidated.
Smoothing my skirt as an excuse to wipe the sweat from my hands, I tuck my hair behind my ears and square my shoulders. 'This is an idyllic position at an immensely sought-after school, and I am highly qualified for it. I have nothing to worry about tonight. This will be a piece of cake.'
Blowing a puff of air from between my pursed lips, I turn just in time to receive a tackle to the shins from a small person. Stumbling back, I reach down and steady the child against my legs before letting out an exasperated laugh.
"Well, hello, there!" Peering down, I can't help but smile when I see it's one of my more rambunctious students.
"Oh God," A decidedly male voice murmurs urgently. "I'm so sorry! Rose, sweetheart, let your teacher go."
"It's no bother," I sigh, patting little Rosalie's curls. Lips parted in a good-natured smile, I glance up – ready to explain that Rosalie's aggressive hugs are an everyday occurrence – but the words die on my lips.
The sight in front of me is so startling that my body experiences an unexpected jolt. That tiny seizure is followed by a flash of light that blots out my vision. The picture fades, and suddenly I'm no longer standing in my classroom. No – I'm transported back in time.
Back to a simple, easy time.
Back to when it all started.
Back to junior high…
"Did you see?" Angela whispers stealthily as I slide into my spot next to her at lunch. When I merely shrug in response, she sighs impatiently. "You have to have seen it! Everyone has!"
I just tuck into my sandwich as she continues to blab on. "They played it, like, every two hours, Bella! How could you have missed it? It was, like, everywhere."
"I just wasn't watching." I shrug, peeling the crust from the bread and scowling. My mom worked a late shift again last night, so I had to hang out at my neighbor's house until she got off. That meant setting the table, taking her yappy dog for a walk, and helping her grandson with his homework, all before doing mine. By the time I was done, the movie was already over. But Angela would never understand. She has fancy tutors to take care of her homework and a DVR as a safety net. It's so easy, being rich.
"But what's more important than this?" Angela whines, shaking her head and making her springy curls bounce. She's been talking about this Disney Channel original movie ever since she saw the preview weeks ago. Apparently, some boy band she's obsessed with is the star of it. Between babysitting, chores, and homework, I can't find the time or energy to care about things like that. "What's the point in having a best friend if they don't even like the things you like?"
I instantly recognize the forlorn look on her face. Knowing she's just moments from tears, I rush to subdue her. "I do!" I insist, stuffing my sandwich back into its plastic bag. Angela is my only friend, and well, I'm not exactly hungry for stale bread and dry cheese. "Can I come over tonight? I want to watch it with you."
"Sure," Angela grins, happy I'm finally showing interest. "I'll call my dad after lunch. I have it on DVR."
My lips pinch together as I nod. This is partially a way to subdue her and also a way to fill my stomach. If my lunch was any indication, dinner is sure to be sorely lacking. Angela's mom always cooks way too much for their family of three, which means I get to take home leftovers. You won't catch me complaining.
The empty pit in my stomach has nearly gnawed through my entire abdomen by the time Angela's mom picks us up from school in her shiny, red, Mercedes SUV.
"Hi, girls." She chirps, smiling at us through the rearview mirror as she navigates out of the parent loop. "How was school?"
"Boring." Angela pops her gum, rolling her eyes at me dramatically. She thinks her mom monopolizes car conversations. I think she actually wants to know how our day went. Angela rolls her eyes and scoffs when I tell her this. She's going through a rebellious phase. I can't relate – I'd never disrespect an adult, especially one as nice as Angela's mom.
"I made cookies!" Angela's mom calls after us as Angela practically drags me up the stairs to her room.
"Later!" Angela answers, slamming the door behind us with a bang. "Finally," she sighs, throwing herself down on her bed. "She's just so annoying!"
"I think she's nice," I reply, toeing off my shoes before plonking down at the foot of the bed. I wish my mom had time to make cookies. She's always busy, trying to get in extra shifts at the diner. I wish she didn't have to work so hard.
"Whatever." Angela rolls her eyes, leaning to grab her TV remote from her nightstand. "Come on, I'll put it on now."
I scramble onto the bed, leaning against the headboard as she fiddles with her DVR. Angela's family always has the most up-to-date technology before anyone else. Her dad is a big fan of TV. He even has one in his bathroom.
Angela whoops when the recording begins to play. I let out a discreet yawn as the opening credits drag on, but close my mouth with an audible snap when a different image fills the screen. The camera focuses on a sullen teenage boy, who peers into the sun with heavy brows.
My stomach does an uncomfortable twist at the sight.
I let out an unsteady breath as the scene unfolds, hands twisting the blanket underneath me as my eyes take in his stunning appearance. I've never had a crush before. And I've never seen a boy that's as cute as the one on the TV right now. If he's the reason why Angela is so obsessed, I now understand.
"That's Edward Masen." Angela clarifies, snapping her gum and leaning back on her pillows. "He's the best singer in the group. But, the other three are just as cute as he is. Are you even listening?"
"Yes," I reply automatically, eyes glued to the TV.
I roll the name around in my mind as the camera follows his trek through a tree-lined neighborhood and into the front of a school building. It's not a name I've heard before on a guy our age – I've mostly seen grandpas with that name – but it's fitting. Classic – like him. Thoroughly entranced by the movie, I don't even react when Angela nearly falls off the bed with a squeal as the other boys join Edward at school.
She's right – they are cute – but Edward is miles more adorable. I can hardly tear my eyes away. We sit and watch the movie together in silence, and when the final credits roll, Angela sighs and stretches her arms over her head in satisfaction.
"Now do you see what I mean?" She murmurs smugly.
"I guess," I shrug, portraying nonchalance despite my wildly racing heart. I'm not purposely being aloof. It's just ... I'm at a loss for words. The feelings swirling inside of me are alien, to say the least. It's hard enough for me to comprehend them, let alone voice them to someone else.
Angela scowls at my lack of gusto, but gets over it quickly. "I want some cookies," she chirps, popping her gum and rolling off the bed. Standing over me with her hands on her hips, she motions for me to join her. "C'mon, let's go eat before my mom literally dies."
A week later, I'm rushing to the K-Mart across the street with twenty dollars crumpled up in my fist. I've saved every dollar my neighbor gave me this week – even though I so desperately wanted to spend some on chips at lunch yesterday. But I have goals.
My first ever purchase, and the money goes straight to him. To Edward.
"Forks Four?" The cashier says, eyes smiling down at me as she rings me up. "My daughter loves them."
"Yeah," I grin, jittery because I can't wait to get that CD into my stereo. If Edward's singing in the movie is any indication, his band's music is going to be life-changing.
"Enjoy." The cashier murmurs, handing me the bag containing my newest obsession. Hands clammy and perma-smile in place, I clutch the CD to my chest as I duck out of the store. I nearly run home, I'm so excited.
My room fills with sound the moment I hit play on my CD player. Belly flat against my scratchy carpet and face cupped in my hand, I eagerly leaf through the little pamphlet that comes with the CD. It's filled with images of the boys. I'm breathless as I examine them all – overwhelmed by the dual stimulation of hearing Edward's voice and seeing his smiling, sometimes pouting, face. He has the most heartbreaking smile.
My ears consume the album, digesting every word that falls from Edward's lips. The lyrics are beautiful – magical even – although I'm not sure I fully comprehend the emotions behind them. I roll onto my back as the album repeats for a second time. The notes float around me, creating a cocoon of warmth, happiness, and excited infatuation. If this were a scene in a cartoon, I'd have little hearts swirling around my head.
My fingers tremble as they trace his face on the album cover. I know it's a little ridiculous, but … there's nothing I want more than to be the girl Edward's singing about.
"Don't look now." Angela murmurs, eyes wide as she gestures with them to a spot behind me. "But Mike Newton is coming this way."
"What?" I scoff, placing my sandwich on the plastic bag it came in just as Mike slides onto the seat beside me.
"Hey Angie, Bella." He mutters, a slow smile spreading across his face as he leans his folded arms onto the lunch table.
"Hi, Mike." Angela chirps as she flutters her lashes delicately. I could vomit. Angela turns into such a dimwit around guys. So much so, that she didn't even give him crap about calling her Angie. She hates it when people call her that.
"What's up?" He mutters around a sly smirk. Girls literally go crazy for that smile, and I don't get it. Maybe it's because I haven't gotten my period yet.
"Eating." Angela grins before cracking into a carrot stick. Mike's eyes predictably drop to her mouth. I can't help but snort into my carton of chocolate milk.
"What's funny?" He asks petulantly, rounding on me with a fake pout.
"None ya." I immediately respond, rolling my eyes as I pick my sandwich up again and take a wolfing bite. He just continues to stare, tongue peeking out between his front teeth. "What?" I bite back, mouth full of ham and cheese.
"What if I want it to?" He retorts, brows drawn close together as if he's struggling to hold back a fart. Gross – that can't be good for his health.
"Want it to, what?" Angela inquires, face all slack as if she can't believe what she's hearing.
"What if I want it to be my business?" Mike's nostrils flare as he spits out his sordid confession. I stare back at him, utterly confused.
"What the heck are you trying to say?" My brows rise in alarm as he takes my hand in his instead of answering me. "What do you think you're doing, weirdo?"
"Asking you out." He mutters, dropping my hand and putting his to his chest like a physical display of his hurt feelings.
"I'm sorry, I –" I start, but he cuts me off with a palm in the air.
"I've liked you since the second grade, Bella." Angela lets out a strangled gasp at his declaration, mouth gaping open like a fish. "I … this is the first time I've had the courage to … to ask you out."
"I'm sorry, I just…" I start, falling short in finding an appropriate response to his stilted proposition. How do you tell someone that's real that you can't date them because you're saving yourself for the lead singer of the world's most popular boy band. Yeah … I know … that'll go over so well.
"I already have a boyfriend." The lie bursts from my mouth like projectile word vomit. Mike's face instantly crumbles. In my imagination, he's sitting there drenched in lime-colored slime – the evidence of my deception. In reality, he tucks his chin to his chest and sighs.
"Who is it?" His voice is sad and small. I should feel bad for making him feel like this, but I don't. Last year, he kicked a ball into Ben Cheney's face in P.E. so hard it broke his nose. He claimed it was an accident, but never apologized. He sure did laugh about it, though. No – I don't feel bad about lying to Mike. If anything, I feel vindicated. It's this vindication that gives me the gall to keep going.
"You wouldn't know him." I shrug. "He's not from around here."
"Well, then, how'd you meet him?" Mike presses, mouth set into a grim line.
"Yeah, here I am wondering the same," Angela adds on, lips twisted to the side sourly as she glares at me hotly from across the table. "This is the first I've heard of any boyfriend, Bella."
"It's…" I start, fumbling for an explanation. "It's pretty new. He's my cousin's friend. He lives in California."
"Ooooh," Angela moans, fanning her face. "A Cali boy? Does he surf? That's so hot! Does he have any friends for me? Brothers?"
"Oh, um, yeah, I'll ask him. And … uh, yeah, he surfs, sure." My face must be bright red by now, with all of the questioning and dishonesty. This is the most I've ever lied in my life. I should feel ashamed, but … it actually feels great! I've never felt this exhilarated! Maybe I should start doing it more?
"What's his name?" Mike probes, jaw grinding grouchily.
"Masen." I spit out, feeling the chill of nerves creep into my vision as Angela tilts her head at me curiously.
"Hm," She hums thoughtfully, tapping a cotton-candy colored nail against her chin. "He sounds hot," she finally chirps, grinning from ear to ear. "You'll have to show me his page on Myspace."
My stomach plummets.
"He doesn't have one." I rush in, shrugging when her mouth falls open in shock.
"What is he, a hermit?"
"No." I laugh. Worse – he doesn't exist! "He just doesn't care about that stuff. Too busy, uh, surfing."
"Cool." Angela grins.
I let out a harsh breath of relief as she backs off. Thank God, that's over. That was simultaneously the most stressful and exciting moment of my life. I think I can go on living without lying again.
You know what I said about not lying ever again? Yeah, well, that didn't go as planned.
"I heard you have a boyfriend." Lauren Mallory drones in her slow, nasally voice. I'd never met someone that actively tries to sound dumb until Lauren moved here last year.
"Yeah." I shrug, not bothering to look up from my math book.
"I heard he lives in California." Lauren continues, voice now guttural as well as nasal. I don't know how she does it. She must produce a lot of phlegm, snorting all that snot into the back of her throat. The thought alone has me gagging.
"He does." I clarify, working through an equation easily.
"Where in California is he from?" She probes, leaning her weight onto her palm, which she settles on the edge of my desk. "Can I copy that after you're done?"
"Uh," My mind flounders for a proper response. I know Sacramento is the capital, so that's too obvious. So is Los Angeles. "Laguna Beach." I blurt, face flaming when I realize I've just given her the most obvious of answers. Everyone loves that show on MTV. The only people who live there are like … beautiful millionaires. Why would any of them be interested in me – plain, Midwest, Bella Swan?
The urge to vomit intensifies.
"Really?" Lauren says, emphasizing the vowels as her brows lift dramatically. "What school does he go to?"
If I wasn't screwed before, I am now. Lip trapped between my teeth, I take a deep breath before unloading another fib. "He's homeschooled."
"Weird." Lauren scowls. "He surfs?"
"Yeah," I mutter, swallowing as the deceit piles up. I mean, why stop now? "All the time."
"Wow," she smiles, eyes glinting sinisterly despite the pleasant set to her mouth. "You're so lucky."
"I guess," I shrug. "It's still pretty new. We'll see if it lasts."
I want to stage a breakup tomorrow, but then Mike will be back on me like white on rice. I need to milk this for as long as I can. Well, at least until Mike gets over his weird little crush. Then I can put an end to this farce of a relationship.
I just hope I can keep up with this little story I have going.
Having a boyfriend is great. Albeit, a fake one.
My favorite thing is using him as an excuse to skip out on activities that Angela would normally force me to attend.
"Spa day?" She'd asked last Friday.
"Um, well…" I'd started, and Angela immediately let out a dramatic sigh.
"It's Masen, isn't it?"
"I'm sorry." I rush to apologize, feeling immediately guilty for ditching her to talk on the phone with my fake boyfriend. "We just … don't get much time to talk. I mean, with all of his –"
"Surfing!" Angela finishes my sentence with a growl. "Yeah, I know. He's pretty much perfect – don't rub it in."
"Sheesh," I mutter dejectedly. "If you want me to cancel our phone date so I can go with you to the spa, I will. I just hate when you get like this."
"No," she scowls. "No, I know how much your weekend talks with him mean to you." She sighs, fisting the springy curls at her temples. "I'm sorry. I'm the worst. Forgive me?"
"Always." I smile, mentally picturing what her reaction would be if she knew the truth about Masen. Little does she know, my 'weekend talks' consist of me face down on my carpet singing along to Forks Four and fantasizing about my fake boyfriend, Edward Masen.
Forks Four released a new album. So, naturally, I blow all my savings buying it. I immediately put the CD into my stereo the moment I get home and throw myself across my bed. Head sufficiently cushioned by pillows, I examine the CD case – and all the new band pictures – as the first song loads.
The plastic slips from my fingers as the song begins, sending the CD case ricocheting off my face and onto the bed beside my head. My mouth falls open in alarm as the music flows over me, filling my head with fuzziness and my belly with warmth.
The song is by far the most pop-sounding song the band has released. Yet it is instantly my favorite. It's the … lyrics that get me. And the way they're delivered. I'm hypnotized as Edward practically growls the words, voice doing things to my body that I've never felt before.
If you want it to be good, girl,
Get yourself a …
My chest heaves as the chorus continues.
If you really want it good, girl,
Get yourself a …
Something about how he growls through the chorus has me squirming on my bed; eyes clenched shut against the heat that suddenly flares up everywhere. What the heck is wrong with me?
I'm breathless by the time the song is over, and I nearly trip over my own feet as I scramble across the room to skip the CD back to that song. CD sleeve clenched in my fist, I practically drool over the shot of a shirtless Edward that sits right next to the lyrics of this song.
My eyes close as the song slows, dipping into the most enthralling part. My lip disappears between my teeth as I imagine Edward standing in front of me, shirtless and snarling as he murmurs the next lyrics right to me.
These are things … your mama shouldn't know.
My thighs clench together as imaginary Edward takes a step forward and trails his hand down my arm. Goosebumps form on my real-life arm as my chest heaves.
These are things … I really wanna show.
Heat blooms in my lower belly as imaginary Edward's hand stops at my wrist. His eyes look me over slowly before he snarls out the next lines.
These are things … I wanna show you how!
So, won't you let me show you right now? Ooh, baby!
My real-life body jerks as imaginary Edward finishes his line and twists his hand around mine, lacing our fingers together tightly. Warmth spreads through my lower belly as I squirm and sigh through the ebbing embers that roll through me and then abruptly die.
What the heck was that?
Sitting up, I palm my wild hair away from my face and glance down at my crotch. Forehead wrinkled in confusion, I tug the damp fabric of my sleep shorts away from my skin in disgust. Did I just pee myself? That's fricking disgusting!
Scowling in shame, I dash into my bathroom and strip off my shorts and underwear quickly. The fluid that comes away on the toilet paper when I wipe is thick and clear – not exactly the consistency of pee.
Frowning, I flush the evidence and change into a fresh pair of shorts and panties. That was the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me. One minute, I was listening to Forks Four's new song, the next I was writhing on my mattress and peeing my pants.
What the heck is happening to me? Yesterday, I had a zit on my nose that was the size of Mt. Vesuvius. Today, I peed myself. If this is what being a teenager is like, I don't want any part of it.
"Happy Birthday!" Angela sings, looping her arm through mine and dragging me down the hall to her locker. "I brought your present. I just couldn't wait until tonight to see you open it."
"It's my present, and you couldn't wait? You're a loon."
"Sure," she shrugs, grinning as she thrusts a gift bag toward me. "Open it, please, before I hyperventilate and die."
"Okay, okay." I laugh, rifling through the tissue paper and pulling out a large card. "A card?" I scowl, "very creative."
"Oh, shut up!" She cries, pushing the thin cardboard toward me and bouncing on the balls of her feet eagerly. "Open it, please! You're killing me!"
"Fine," I mutter, flapping it open and peering inside. At first, I don't understand what I'm seeing. It's not until Angela wrenches the two, skinny, shiny slips of paper from the card that I realize exactly what she's gifted me.
"Are those?" I gasp, pulling her hand closer to my face to examine the small print on the tickets.
"Yes!" She squeals happily. "I know they're more of a present for me, but I couldn't resist! They announced a tour to celebrate their new album, and they're coming here of all places! I just had to get them! And since I bought them for your birthday, you'll have no choice but to take me with you! They're front row and everything!"
"Front row?" My numb lips work around the words that feel foreign in my mouth. I'm trying so hard right now not to freak out. Angela has no idea how … much this means to me. And front row? I'll be close enough to touch Edward!
My insides melt at that thought.
What if he doesn't just touch me? What if he kisses me?
My skin breaks out into a feverish blush as everything on my body tightens. Chest heaving, I fervently shake my head to rid myself of those thoughts. I can't – not right now. Everyone would notice if I peed my pants like that again.
"I know, right?" Angela beams, tugging me against her and bouncing excitedly through our hug.
"That must have been expensive." I frown despite the thunderous beat of my overly excited heart. "You shouldn't have spent that much on me."
"No, no," Angela waves me off flippantly. "My dad knows a guy. He does the sound work for them, or something. Whatever, anyway, we're going, and there's nothing you can do to get out of this. So, tell Masen that weekend is all mine!"
My stomach drops. Masen. Right. I'll be seeing him in person very soon.
"I thought your boyfriend was coming." Lauren glowers over the lip of her cup, eyelashes fluttering against bright blue eyeshadow. She needs to stop using those cheap glitter pallets from Claire's. Nobody looks good in them. But you won't catch me dead telling her that.
"He said he'd try." I shrug, pulling my fork through the soft remains of my birthday cake. Mom made a Funfetti one from the box. It was probably the best cake I've had in years. Not only because Funfetti is my guilty pleasure, but also because my mom made it. I think this is the first day she's had off in months.
"He must not like you that much." Lauren lifts her brows in challenge, smirking when I glare in response.
"He had a competition." I spit, defending the fake boyfriend who stood me up on my birthday. It's really no excuse. If Masen actually were real and was skipping my birthday party for a surfing competition, I'd adamantly agree with her. If you like someone, you make it happen. Whatever that means.
"In Laguna?" Lauren probes, lips pursed in a sour pout as she continues her obsessive questioning. I don't know why she cares so much. If she wants a boyfriend so bad, she should just go out and get one. Heck, I'm sure Mike's interested – me being taken and all!
"Yeah," I nod. "In Laguna. He surfs in competitions there all the time." I have no idea if there are surf competitions in Laguna Beach. I honestly don't care, either. I just want Lauren to get bored of interrogating me and go away. Who even invited her to my birthday party, anyway?
"Cool." She nods, lips pursed around a secret smile. "Well, I hope he wins. He better, if he's missing his girlfriend's birthday."
"Yeah, well, it's his passion, so…" I trail off, shrugging and smiling indulgently. "As long as he's happy, I'm happy."
"Ugh, vom." Angela grimaces, poking herself in the throat dramatically. "Shut up, already! Masen's not here so we can stop talking about him! Let's talk about next weekend and how Bella and I have FRONT ROW seats for the Forks Four concert!"
"So jealous." Lauren sulks, crossing her arms over her chest. "They're so hot, and you're going to get to see them up close!"
"I know, right?" Angela beams. "Bella doesn't even like them! I'm forcing her to go with me. She's even missing her weekend call with Maaaay-sen!"
"Wow," Lauren drawls. "You're such a good friend. I'll take those tickets off your hands if you'd rather sit around talking to some loser surfer all night."
"Uh, no!" Angela scoffs. "My dad got them for Bella's birthday, so Bella has to go with me. Sorry, Lauren, but you're just going to have to watch from the nosebleeds."
"I would." Lauren growls. "But the show is sold out."
"Oooh," Angela winces. "That sucks. Better luck next time! Maybe you can hang out at Bella's and talk to her loser surfer for her? Wouldn't that be a treat?"
Angela and Lauren hold each other's stares for a moment. Lauren's jaw twitches in spite. Angela's smile is beatific.
"I'm going home." Lauren mutters after a moment. "I'll see you guys in school."
"Whoa!" Jessica cries from beside me. "Angela, you freaking schooled her!"
"Yeah, well," Angela shrugs, grinning as she nudges me with her elbow. "That'll teach her to disrespect my best friend on her birthday!"
We all guffaw at her cheesy school pun.
"If I keel over and die, lift me up and throw my arm over when Jasper walks by. I just want to touch him once – even in death." Angela nods toward the barrier that separates us from the stage. There's only a foot of space left between us and where the boys will stand as they perform. That thought alone has my mouth going dry and my stomach warming.
Peeing my pants is inevitable.
"How much longer?" I ask, squirming in my seat as the lights dim.
"Ready to leave already?" Angela chuffs humorlessly. "You're in for a long night. We have to see two opening acts before the boys are on."
Scowling, I fall back into my seat. I should just fess up to Angela and tell her about my obsession with Edward and the band. But then she might realize the connection between Edward and 'Masen' and get pissed off at me for being dishonest.
This will just have to be my little secret.
The two opening acts take forever to finish. They're not bad, but I came here to be front row for Forks Four, not some random all-girl band and a little boy with a mohawk. I'm practically trembling with excitement when the lights dim once again, signifying the start of another performance.
Moments later, the room is filled with a wall of sound, and the stage lights up in blinding Technicolor. Beside me, Angela sways on her feet before jerking alive and emitting an ear-shattering scream as the boys emerge from little platforms that descend from the ceiling. My ears are ringing from the collective screams that erupt from around us by the time the first boy touches ground.
This is heaven and hell all at once.
When all four are safely onstage, the music starts up again and my ears are filled with the sinful sound of Edward's voice, live. Instantly, my body flares with feverish heat. Holy … I'm going to pee my pants multiple times.
I'm literally caught in a trance as the boys sing through the opening song, executing their choreography flawlessly. Trembling with unrestrained excitement and want, I lean heavily against the barrier and extend my hand whenever any of the guys pass by. When Edward does, I flap it earnestly, hoping to somehow capture his attention and lure him to me. The kiss fantasy is still very real.
I can't help but dance and sing along with the songs as the boys transition through them. They mix in old and new, hitting on the classics and bringing in the fresh chart toppers. I'm panting and sweaty by the time the opening chords to that song hit my ears.
Heart thundering, I grip the barrier in front of me with all of my might as I watch a sweaty Edward divest himself of his shirt, wipe it all over his glistening torso, and toss it out into the audience. It sails off in a direction that is nowhere near me, but I still feel the need to lunge that way just in case it has a second thought and decides to fling itself at me. Physics be damned.
Eyes back onstage, I watch as Edward rocks his hips as he really gets into the song. The sizzling burn that has been ever-present throughout the show crackles and bursts into a roar in my lower belly. Panting and singing breathlessly along, I lunge forward as he passes, desperate to feel his sweaty fingers slide against mine.
He walks by without a second glance and leans down to touch the hand of a girl a few feet away from me. She sags against the barrier as he moves on, still holding her hand to her face. I am immediately jealous.
"Get it like it could be,"
Emmett sings as he executes the choreography flawlessly.
Jasper echoes, rocking his hips sensuously.
"Yeah, like it should be."
James calls, voice raspy and warm.
"If you want it to be good, girl,
Get yourself a…"
The other three boys answer.
My stomach plummets when I hear the song slow, and my hand trembles in anticipation of my favorite part. Shutting my eyes, I sway slowly to the beat, hands clenched against my chest.
"Oh my God!" Angela screams beside me, grasping my upper arm and shaking me from my trance.
"What?" I start to say, but the words die on my lips when I see Edward squatting down on the stage in front of me. The world slows to a crawl as his lips part, and the beginning of the verse begins.
He sighs, eyes locked on mine as he sings.
"These are things … your mama shouldn't know."
My knees knock together as his eyes rack over me slowly. Wetting his lips with a soft-looking, pink tongue, he continues.
"These are things … I really wanna show."
Smiling slowly, he drops down into the space between the barrier and the stage before stalking toward me. Inches away from my trembling form, he pries my hand off the barrier railing and sings the next lines directly to me.
"These are things … I wanna show you how."
Palm to my cheek, he belts out the final lines merely inches from my face.
"So, won't you let me show you right now? Ooh, baby!"
Blinking through the shock, I'm slow to react and grapple at his arm as he backs away. Lips pulled into a sly smirk, his hand closes gently around my wrist and tugs my fingers free. I'm left there, skin tingling in the places he touched me, as a security guard helps boost him back onstage.
A girl behind me plows into my back. Her hands desperately clutch at my shoulders as she screams in my ear. "Oh my God! He TOUCHED you! He SANG to you!"
I can't help but smile as I palm my face. That was … not the kiss fantasy. It was so much better. Every part of me is slick – even my pants. I'm not sure if it's from sweat or pee and I don't care.
Today was the best day of my life.
"And he freaking sang right to Bella!" Angela cries. "I mean, not even like unintentionally. He got down off the stage and grabbed her freaking face! It was the hottest thing I've ever seen. I swear he was going to make out with her."
"I would have died." I gasp, half embarrassed, half tingling with want. This has been a rough year for my underwear.
"What did Masen say?" Lauren asks, materializing at my side. I shouldn't be surprised anymore. I should just expect it. She's always buzzing around like a pesky mosquito.
"He didn't care." I shrug, tugging the crust off my sandwich. It'sstale again today, but I'm still riding the high from this weekend, so I don't care. "He actually thinks it's awesome."
"How was his surf competition? I forgot to ask last week." She strokes her chin pensively as I screw my lips to the side and shrug.
"He did all right. I think he got, like, third place." Never first place. That's too flashy. It's sick that now I'm even strategic about my lies.
"Interesting." Lauren frowns. "Because I looked up the surf competitions in Laguna last week … and there was only one." She pauses, crossing her arms over her chest as she surveys my reaction. On the outside, I'm cool as a cucumber. I even raise my left eyebrow in challenge, urging her to continue her little expose. Internally, every alarm and whistle is going off at once. Needless to say, it's chaos.
"You said he got third place?" Lauren asks brows lifted high as she smiles. "That's funny, because there wasn't a single 'Masen' registered to surf in that competition. Or any in months. Looks like someone is lying to you or … maybe you're lying to us? Which one is it, Bel-lah?"
I scowl at her over-emphasis of my name. Not only is that annoying, but she's also doing it on purpose to goad me. Mentally, I'm stuck at a crossroads. I can disengage, and avoid causing more damage, or I can engage and possibly wipe the floor with her.
Although the latter is tempting … I clamp my mouth shut tight in order to avoid putting my foot in it further. But that just makes Lauren smile wider.
"Oh, are you embarrassed now?" Lauren smirks, watching me through smiling eyes. She really is enjoying this. "I think you made him up. I don't think you've ever had a boyfriend and I don't think you ever will. Edward Masen will be the last boy who ever touches you. So, you better savor the feeling, Loserella."
She starts to open her mouth to continue, but her words are cut off as Angela stands and abruptly stuffs her fist down Lauren's throat. With a startled cry, Lauren jerks her head back and palms her mouth.
"What the hell, Angela?" Lauren cries before suddenly leaning over and coughing. Her hand pulls away from her mouth, revealing a bloodstained tooth in her palm. "Oh my God!" She screeches. "Do you know how much it cost my parents to fix my teeth?"
"Not enough." Angela counters, skirting around the table and coming up on Lauren from behind. Hands hard around her shoulders, Angela tows Lauren off the bench beside me and spills her onto the cafeteria floor. "You're not welcome here, bitch." She snarls, hands poised haughtily on her hips. "And if you talk to my best friend like that again, I'll punch the rest of your cheap veneers clean out of your face."
The entire cafeteria erupts in hoots and hollers at Angela's proclamation, but then, just as soon quiets as our principal descends on the scene. "All right, ladies. Come with me." Dr. Banner mutters grumpily, motioning for Lauren and Angela to follow him outside.
"I'll see you later," Angela calls to me as she scoops up her bag and follows Dr. Banner from the room.
"Okay!" I call back, slumping in my seat and sighing. What the heck was that? I think the world is falling apart.
And I'm certain Edward is the cause.
"Is it true?" Angela asks as she slicks a fresh coat of pink polish over my bare fingernails.
Gnawing my lip, I shrug. "Yeah, it is."
"Wow." Angela sighs, wiping her nose with the back of her hand. "That was a heck of a story you made up there, Bell. I didn't think you had it in you."
"You're not mad?" I question, half relieved, half confused. This is definitely not the reaction I'd expected from Angela. She's all drama, drama, drama.
"I mean, yeah, I am. But, I'm also sad that you felt like you had to lie to everyone for so long. Lots of guys like you. You don't need to make someone up to have a boyfriend. You can have one in real life." Angela's brows draw together as she focuses on scraping the excess polish off the skin around my thumbnail. "Why did you do it, anyway?"
"Well," I start, pausing when I realize I don't really have an answer. "I didn't know what else to say to Mike to get him off my back. I figured a boyfriend would keep him at bay. And then … well, it just stuck. So, I kept going with it."
"You hate Mike that much?" Angela laughs. "God, this is so stupid. I don't know why you didn't tell me! I would have helped you come up with a way more convincing story."
"I think I did fine on my own." I scowl. "I had you all fooled for months."
"True." Angela nods, grinning and rolling her eyes. "So, Edward Masen, huh? I thought you didn't like Forks Four?"
"I never said that." I shrug, fanning my wet nails in hopes that the extra draft of air will encourage them to dry faster.
"You didn't have to! Every time I played their music your face said it all!"
"It wasn't that I didn't like them…" I sigh, "It's just … Edward's voice … and face … and, ugh! They just made me … feel things."
"Ha!" Angela guffaws. "Oh my God!" She falls back on her bed, legs kicking frantically in the air as she laughs. "You didn't hate them! Edward just made you horny!"
Growling in mock anger, I kick her thigh repeatedly until she falls onto the floor in a heap. "He didn't." I glare, nose wrinkling in disgust.
Barely holding back laughter, Angela sits up and props her head in her hand. Lips trembling with restraint, she quirks a brow at me in a way that says 'really?'
"Okay, okay," I laugh, falling back onto the bed. "He made me horny."
My body jerks again and my eyes blink away the fog that had previously blinded them. When they open, still standing in front of me is the reason I was sent back to junior high.
In the fucking flesh.
I want to swoon, but I'm a professional, so I need to play it cool. Plus, I've just stared at him and blinked for an uncomfortably long time while I took a mental trip down memory lane.
I'm pretty sure he knows that I know who he is.
"Rose," Edward repeats, pursing his lips around the words in a way that should be illegal. I shouldn't stare at him like this, but I can't help myself. He practically dropped off the face of the Earth when Forks Four broke up. There hasn't been a recent picture posted of him in years. And time has been fucking good to him.
His skin is soft, smooth, and practically ageless underneath the glasses that are perched sexily on his perfect nose. His lips are just as soft-looking and succulent as they were all those years ago when he cupped my face and told me via song that he'd like to fuck me in the middle of his concert. His hair is covered by a gray beanie, which is disappointing, but the rest of him is there on full, delicious display. He's wearing one of those wide, deep, V-neck shirts that guys with firm chests covered in sparse hair and tattoos often do. Did I mention the chest tattoos? And the arm tattoos? And the neck tattoos?
His legs are encased in olive green joggers that cling to every inch of him ... including the crotch area. Especially the crotch area. Feet aren't my thing, so I just shrug at his gray sneakers and dart my eyes back up to his crotch region. I can't make a single thing out in there, but my mind Photoshops on the faint outline of a penis. I imagine he has a hammer down there. I'd like to find out if my dreams match the reality.
"You must be Rose's teacher," Edward says, smiling softly as he extends his hand in greeting. A fire roars to life in my belly as our palms touch for the second time in my life. This time, I think it's better because I'm actually old enough now for him to fuck me.
"Yes," I smile, shaking his hand firmly as my tried-and-true kiss fantasy plays over in my mind. That shit never gets old. "I'm Ms. Swan. It's nice to meet you…" I purposely trail off, leaving space for him to supply his name. I already know it, of course, but I don't want to be awkward. Well, more awkward than I already am.
"Edward Masen," Edward replies, his face splitting into a radiant smile. "Rosalie's uncle."
"Oh," I say dumbly, looking on as he watches me mull over the information he just provided. I should know more about my students. I'm pretty sure Rosalie's mom is listed on her emergency contact card.
Why the hell is Edward here in her place?
Why am I mentally complaining about that?
"Hi!" Alice, the paraeducator who works primarily in my classroom, chirps, skirting around the corner and grinning from ear to ear. "Our first parent! Welcome to Open House!" Then, after spotting Rosalie ambling around the room, she shrieks in excitement. "Oh, you're Rose's dad! Oh my God, she's one of my favorite students!" Shaking his hand wildly, Alice bids us farewell before jogging over to Rose and scooping her up. Balancing her in her arms, Alice carries Rose over to the reading nook.
"I'll, uh, correct her later," I tell him, pursing my lips and crossing my arms uncomfortably over my chest. This is not how I imagined my first real meeting with Edward to go. Fuck, I never even thought there would ever BE a real meeting! I mean, it's been thirteen years since that fateful night. And yet, here I am, blowing it with awkwardness. Then again, I can't just stride up to him, palm his dick, and admit that I worship him.
"Look," Edward says suddenly, taking a step toward me and lowering his voice. "I've been out of the scene for a while, but I know my fan demographics." Pausing, Edward peers down at me intently before wetting his lips. My knees, naturally, clamp together as I just barely suppress a moan. Holy shit, he's fucking hot. "I hope I'm not reading this wrong … but I'd be happy to sign something for you if you'd like an autograph."
My face instantly heats in embarrassment. Shit. I've been found out. "Was I that obvious?" I say aloud when I only meant to ask myself via thought.
"Well," Edward starts, brows raised as he implies with a sheepish shrug that I was. He's unbelievably sexy and polite. I'm a fucking bumbling, stumbling teenager drooling and dry humping his leg. Well, maybe that's an exaggeration.
"I'm sorry," I say self-consciously. "It's just … Forks Four was my favorite band in junior high. I was honestly just shocked to see … well … you standing there in my classroom."
"Happens more than you'd think." He shrugs, grinning good-naturedly. "I avoid Starbucks and Whole Foods like the plague. They're full of millennials who are not above screaming and chasing me down the street."
Or tearing off your clothes in the middle of an elementary school, in my case.
Have I mentioned that I'm sick?
"Tough life." I quip, rolling my eyes. "But, yes, I do want your autograph. I'd have you sign a random sheet of paper, but I actually have something a little more meaningful at home."
"It's not your underwear, is it?" Edward asks, brows disappearing under his hat. "Shit, I shouldn't have asked my niece's teacher that. Are you going to get me thrown out? You should probably get me thrown out."
"No," I laugh, rolling my eyes. Wow, he's funnier than I thought he'd be. Here I was, thinking he was only a pretty face and a hot body. "It's actually front row tickets to Forks Four's Victory tour."
"Well, look at you, high roller." Edward grins. "Which one was it?"
"Which one, what?" I reply, brows pulled together in confusion.
"Which one of us did you have a crush on?" Edward teases, eyes glinting behind his glasses as he grins wolfishly.
"Uh, wha?" I sputter, face erupting in flames. There's no way I'm telling him that. Especially not when I'm surrounded by parents at my place of employment's back-to-school Open House. "I didn't … no."
"Right." Edward murmurs, smiling knowingly. "I'll tell you what." Then, producing a pink, glittery marker from the supply box at the squat table beside us, he grasps my hand and turns it over. "Let me know when you're ready for that autograph." Tingling all over, I watch raptly as he scrawls seven digits across the back of my hand. Thumb sliding from my wrist to my palm, he slowly withdraws his hand.
"Okay," I mumble dumbly, holding my newly decorated appendage against my chest like a bum-winged bird.
"Rose!" He calls out, grasping her little hand in his as she topples into his legs. "It was nice to meet you, Ms. Swan," Edward says, peering over his shoulder and not-so-subtly undressing me with his eyes. And then he's gone, ass bouncing away with an unmistakable swagger that screams sex, sex, sex.
"Do you know that guy?" Alice asks, peering at me curiously, as I straighten my blouse and take a deep, calming breath. "He looks familiar."
"No," I reply, tucking the hand with the glittery, pink numbers behind my back.
He's just the guy that single-handedly propelled my twelve-year-old ass into puberty.
No big deal.
Lyrics from "If You Want It To Be Good Girl" by Backstreet Boys.