"Where are you?"
"I'm almost there."
"You said that an hour ago, Bella."
"I was lying."
"So what makes you think I believe you now?"
I walk into the pub, scanning the area for Edward and Emmett. Seconds pass before I spot them sitting at the bar, their backs to me.
"Believe it, Cullen. I can see you're wearing that stupid white oxford shirt you seem to love."
Edward turns around, phone still against his ear, and flips me off before hanging up. I make my way toward them, and Edward spins around on his stool, facing me.
"I don't know why you hate this shirt," he drawls, giving me a look.
"One, it's from J Crew. And two, you know I get hostile around collars." He actually looks pretty decent, but I refuse to tell him that.
"I bought it from Goodwill," he argues.
"A label's a label, homie. Shopping at Goodwill doesn't make you any less of a prep."
"You're the most difficult person I know," he deadpans, which genuinely makes me happy.
With my hand on his shoulder I say, "That's the nicest thing you've ever said to me." Realizing there aren't any open seats next to them, I say, "A gentleman would give up his stool for me."
He grins. "I thought you were a feminist. Besides, you're late."
I scoff, giving him a light shove. "It's barely after ten!"
"You're always late."
"This isn't even an official event. There was no set time for me to be here. You idiot."
"This is definitely an official thing," Emmett finally chimes in, keeping his eyes on the television mounted on the wall. "It's a let's get wasted because those Big Brother bitches turned me down thing."
Emmett got drunk one night and applied for Big Brother. He got pretty far in the interview process, and was even flown out to Los Angeles by the producers. But in the end got canned because he wasn't as thirsty or cunning as the rest of the contestants.
"I know you're bummed, Em," I say, trying my best to sound sympathetic, which only ends up as snark. "Your dream of being a reality TV star is dwindling by the day, huh?"
He ignores me. Which is probably for the best.
"Why're you late, anyway?" Edward asks, always nosy.
"I told you I had dinner plans."
His eyes cut to the TV, looking away. "Like romantic dinner plans?"
"No. Like with my friend, Kate."
"Kate?" Emmett repeats. "She visiting or what?"
"She actually just moved back."
"Do I know her?" Edward chimes in, facing me again.
He looks confused. "How are you friends with someone I don't know?"
"Well, she moved away before I even met you. And if you're trying to be a jerk with that comment somehow, then just… shut up."
Pleased with himself, he laughs, swigging his beer. "You're in a mood tonight."
"No, I'm not," I insist, grabbing the pint glass out of his hand and taking a long sip.
"By all means," he drawls.
I smile sweetly then return the glass. "Fine. I'll get my own. Something better than the crap you're drinking."
"You love this beer."
I do, it's true, but I still want to give him shit.
An hour passes and I'm a couple brews in when we decide to switch it up and go somewhere else. There's a venue a block away that often has live music on Saturday nights. I have a nice buzz going on, making me want to dance. A lot. To anything.
Our ratchet little threesome stumbles down the street, before shoving our way through the crowd to get in line at the bar. Edward buys three Rainiers and hands them to us before we find a spot near the side of the stage. The band playing tonight is kind of country, kind of bluesy, and I quickly find myself dancing in place to the music.
Edward stares down at me, smirking, before taking my beer out of my hand and setting it on a nearby table. He strides back over and I'm about to slap his chest for stealing my beer when he grabs my hand, pulling me against him.
"What's your deal, Cullen?"
"It's called dancing. I'm trying to save you from embarrassing yourself."
I try to protest at first, pointing out that I'm too good of a dancer and might show him up, but he doesn't listen to my joke, doesn't care, and keeps dancing. He pushes me away from him, keeping my hand in his, then pulls me back with a spin. I crash into his chest, but he doesn't stop. He starts moving us from side to side, so fast, and I can't stop laughing.
When the song comes to an end, he spins me, but doesn't stop. I'm a few too many turns in before I realize he's just being a dick and trying to make me dizzy.
I laugh, stumbling a bit when he let's go. "Asshole."
Edward grins, nodding over to where Emmett's standing with our beers. The band takes a break, and Em heads to the bar, announcing he'll buy us all shots if his card doesn't get declined.
I turn to Edward when we're alone. "I'm impressed by your dancing."
"Well, I'm not trying to impress you," he says, looking smug.
"Jesus, remind me to never compliment you again," I retort, scanning the area. "See anyone you like?"
When I look back over at him, his eyes are already on me. "No," he says, turning his attention to the crowd.
"Not even the blonde over there?"
He shrugs. "I'm not into blondes."
"No?" I don't know if this is true or not, but take his word.
He finishes his beer, tossing it in a nearby can. "Don't try to be my wingman. I'm not really feeling it tonight."
I'm about to give him shit and say he's never really feeling it, but I keep quiet, just in case he tries to prove me wrong.
My phone vibrates in my pocket and I pull it out, reading a text from Kate. Apparently her plans fell through and she wants to meet up. I let her know where we're at, and fifteen minutes later she finds Edward and me sitting outside.
"Hey-o," I greet.
"Hey! I'm glad you're out here, it's a little crowded in there." She sits across from us, face lighting up when she notices Edward. "Thanks for letting me meet up. Jared cancelled, so…" She smiles, eyes drifting toward Edward again.
"We're also here with Emmett," I say. "You remember him, right? I think he's either stuck in line or hitting on some poor soul."
Her eyes bounce from me, then back to Edward. "Yeah, I've met Emmett a few times."
I catch on and say, "Oh, this is Edward. He went to college with Emmett." I don't add the fact that Emmett was actually just on campus to use the bathroom, but he still likes to say he went to college.
They shake hands and exchange pleasantries.
"I heard a little about you during dinner," Kate says, fluffing her razor-sharp, strawberry-blonde hair.
"I'm sure all terrible things," he shoots back.
"What?" I feign shock. "Edward, I would never. You're so dear to me."
He laughs, narrowing his eyes. "Yeah, sure."
"So what do you do?" Kate begins.
Edward faces her again, leaning on the table with both elbows.
"Well. I'm still in grad school. I took two years off after graduating college."
"What are you studying?"
"That's cool." Kate nods, beaming. "Do you have something in mind when you're done?"
"Maybe. I graduate in December, but I'm not actually sure I'll be staying in Seattle after that."
"What?" I interrupt. "Why not?"
"I have to go where the jobs are. There's no guarantee I'll get one here."
"Then just apply to ones that are here," I tell him, like it's that easy.
"What, would you miss me?" he teases.
He breathes out a laugh through his nose before turning back to Kate. "I was thinking of maybe California. I have a friend who just got a job in LA."
"Oh, I just love that city," Kate says politely.
"Nobody actually likes LA," I argue, but I'm interrupted by Edward agreeing with her.
I watch his eyes linger a second too long on her face, and there's a beat of silence where I suddenly become uncomfortable. I might be a little drunk, and hovering that line where if I drink another beer or two I'll become upset for no reason. Sometimes that happens. I cry it out and fall asleep. But right now I can't really figure out why I'd be upset. No one's starting drama and no one stole my food, so I should be stellar.
"So what else do you like to do?" Kate asks, and for fuck's sake. This isn't a first date. I'm about to tell her that Edward isn't that interesting, but he goes into detail about all the things he loves to do. Hiking, dabbling in woodwork, blah blah blah. He answers all of her questions, eating up the attention. And I sit here, watching the two of them talk, hearing Kate tell him that what he's saying is so fascinating.
And something in the pit of my stomach ignites.
"There you are, you dicks," Emmett says, bounding toward the table. "I've been looking everywhere for you."
"Sorry," I mumble. "You remember Kate?"
"Yeah. What's up?" He lifts his chin toward her. "I got us tequila shots but I can't carry all of them. Also, I need to order another if you want one?" he asks, staring at Kate.
Her eyes drift toward Edward before she replies with an all-too-peppy, "Sure!"
"Come help me, Bella," Emmett demands.
"What? Why me?"
"Because I need help."
Slowly, I stand from the table and am on the verge of asking Edward if he wants to go instead. But then he asks Kate why she moved back to Seattle, and they're lost in conversation.
Hi. Are y'all sick of me yet?
Long story short: This has been in Google-doc-limbo since 2014. I've forced tons of people to read it over the years, and even though I insisted I wasn't going to go rogue and post yet, well... I lied. Clearly.
Thanks for reading, and I'll see y'all Friday for chapter 2!