The hot California sun kisses my bare legs as they hang out the window of Jacob's car, a beat up '67 Charger that he loves more than me, a fact we're both aware of. We're driving to Frosty Freeze, our daily trip for ice cream in a summer that feels like it's screeching towards its end even though it's just begun. I'm already late for work, but I don't care all that much, which is basically how I feel about most things.
I push the hair flying around my face out of the way, just in time to see him in the parking lot at Zuma beach.
His golden shoulders glisten with salty ocean water, his old denim cutoffs lay unbuttoned and hanging dangerously low around his hips. A white t-shirt sticks out of his back pocket, waiting to be put back on.
With his right hand he slings the yellow and blue surfboard easily under his arm, and with the left, he pulls Rosalie Hale's bikini clad body into his own.
I lick my lips and squeeze my thighs together, knowing that in just a few short hours, he'll be sitting across from me at dinner, eating whatever Renee makes from the helpful housewife advertisements she sees during The Carol Burnett Show.
He may be dating my step-sister, but it doesn't stop me from wishing he were mine.
"If I can't have you, I don't want nobody baby, if I can't have you." – Yvonne Elliman, "If I Can't Have You", Hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May, 1978
The transistor radio on the shelf inside the Tasty Dog is blaring disco while the smell of hot dogs and hamburgers being cooked on the greasy grill permeate my tanned skin like a bad tattoo. No amount of scrubbing ever seems to get rid of it. Other girls smell like coconut oil and pina coladas, while I walk around smelling like I rolled around in french fries.
My Vans stick to the concrete floor as I people watch and lean on the Formica counter of the open-air food shack I'm working in for the summer. The seagulls squawk nearby while they try to get pieces of discarded buns from the garbage can next to the picnic tables, and I frown at the spread of garbage some jerks left behind for me to clean up.
The shack is in a perfect location, right on the beach where I can see all the action. Sunbathing, surfing, who's making out with who. I'm right in the middle of the summer fun, even if I'm on the wrong side of the stall.
Plus, it's right next to Cullen's Surf Shop.
I watched Edward go in with his board just a few minutes ago, and as I'm waiting for him to reappear, Alice interrupts me from my stalking.
"Have you and Jake, you know, done it again?" she asks loudly, filling a cup with ice before dispensing Coke from the fountain.
"Alice, I'm not discussing that with you in public." I look at the woman at the counter who's pretending she didn't hear. Alice has issues with privacy and personal space. As in, she doesn't know what either of those things are.
"That means no." She grabs a straw and passes the drink to the freckled kid waiting with the woman.
"Whatever. At least I've done it. I don't see you running around losing your virginity." I watch as Alice straightens her green bikini top, which holds nothing since she's flat as a boy.
"You know I'm saving myself for Jasper."
"Alice, that's just—no. First of all, he's Mr. Whitlock and second, he's our teacher."
"Uh uh, not this year. He doesn't teach senior history."
The cook slaps his spatula on the pass repeatedly to get our attention, so I grab the burgers and fries and bring them to the window, announcing to whomever they belong to that they're ready. Two girls I know from school claim them, and I walk back to my Edward Cullen watch post.
"He said he thought I was perfect." Alice chews on her thumbnail, which is a terrible habit since they're already bitten down to the quick. She's got more pink nail polish in her stomach than I think is allowable by the FDA.
I sigh. "Alice, he said he thought you looked like a perfect Scarlett O'Hara. That's not the same thing."
"It's what he meant." She looks like she's about to cry so I put my arm around my friend.
"Maybe so Alice, but you cannot date a teacher."
"You don't understand these things, Bella. There's a connection between an actor and her director."
I bite my tongue, not wanting to hurt Alice's feelings. She really was a perfect Scarlett O'Hara in the year-end play, but her obsession with Mr. Whitlock has been going on two years now and I'm starting to worry. What was a simple crush has turned into something you read about ending badly in the National Enquirer.
"Why don't you go out with Paul? He likes you! He's always hanging around here, trying to talk to you." As I say this, I look around to make sure her stalker isn't there right now.
"I bet he's here for you, Bella. Not me. You have boobs." She pouts and looks at her chest, and I know exactly what will make her feel better.
"I do have pretty good boobs." I agree. "Why don't you and Angela come over tonight and we'll all hang out? We haven't done that since school ended. We'll grab some smokes and I'll pinch some of Renee's vodka."
Alice's face lights up and she agrees, before moving off to wipe up some spilled ketchup.
The sun is getting lower in the sky, painting everything and everyone in a nice golden pink California glow. Families have left for home and just the diehard surfers and teenagers with nothing better to do remain. Frisbees are flying, beers are being consumed, and the lifeguards are pulling in their gear.
I see Edward walking towards the shack, the sun setting behind him makes his coppery hair flame, and my pulse quickens. I do a mental inventory of my outfit–white shorts, blue t-shirt–and wish I had the guts to dress like Rosalie. Or like the girls over at the Burrito Box across the beach access road. The epitome of the California girl the Beach Boys made famous, Lauren and Jessica hold court amongst teenage boys and some not-so-teenage men. Blonde and tan and stacked, Alice and I have renamed it the Bimbo Box.
I'm standing at the open window next to the cash register pushing my self-proclaimed pretty good boobs out, waiting for him to approach and order. Our eyes meet as he walks closer and he quickly looks away, turning to the window Alice occupies. My heart sinks, but I'm not surprised. He never talks to me. I find it rude that he doesn't talk to the step-sister of his girlfriend. He probably sees me as just a kid, and Lord knows what Rosalie says about me. We get along for the most part, but she loves the fact that she's older. We're both only children, so she sometimes feels the need to treat me like the toddler sibling she never had.
I try to look busy as Alice waits on him. She's unaware of my crush so that saves me the embarrassment of her trying to "help" by saying or doing something mortifying, which she would absolutely do.
Out of the corner of my eye I watch as he leans back against the counter, looking out towards the surf, waiting on his food. Since he's not looking in my direction I take the chance and lust after him fully.
How someone can look like the embodiment of an erotic movie is beyond me, but that's what he is. He's all sex and confidence and aloofness. I see a hint of a hickie on his neck and picture Rosalie's fat lips sucking on the bit of skin I want to lick. She doesn't appreciate him. I heard her on the phone the other night with someone else after he left using her stupid baby voice and giggling like a pull-string doll.
His order is ready and I turn quickly before I'm caught, watching from behind the soft serve machine as he pulls some rumpled bills from his front pocket and hands them to Alice. He saunters away, not stopping to eat at a picnic table and I wonder if that's because of me, but that's giving me too much credit. He's probably already forgotten that I work here. Hell, he's probably already forgotten that I exist.
The cook tells Alice and me that was the last order, so we climb up on the counters to pull the metal gates down to close up the place for the night. As I'm pulling my side down, I keep my gaze on Edward through the gap, lowering myself while the outside view gets smaller and smaller, until my head hits the Formica and the metal hits the counter with a clang.
PB Fun Fact: When I was a kid, my mother considered The National Enquirer a credible news source and always shoved one in her cart at the store.
I'm so happy to be back with you all again!
This fic has been in the works for seven years. I started it, wrote three chapters, and then that man with the Manchu invaded my dreams and this was put on hold. I revisited it many, many times (sorry to my Carrie's for making them read it about ten times when I thought "now is the time!" even though it never was) before finally feeling like the time was right.
Thanks to The Lemonade Stand for sneaking this on Saturday, it's great that they still support us writers out here.
Big thanks goes to LayAtHomeMom this time around for double duty: she of course is always my fab pre-reader, but this time, she also made my banner! She is multi-talented!
Thanks also to Patrizia Adamo (MY PA!) for helping with the finicky sizing of the banner. She stepped in and helped out when Lay went on vacation and I had to figure out weird computer things.
And as always, last but certainly not least, my beta Carrie. She's amazing, she constantly cheers me on and encourages me, and works on my stuff when she's got kids and so much going on in her life. Like I said, she's read the first chaps of this thing multiple times until I was finally ready to continue it. Thank her for me finally getting it done. Love you, BB.
If there are any mistakes, they are all my fault as I never know when to leave things alone ;)