Title: Hardly Polite
Author: Meritstocracy (aka Lena)
Summary: Bella and Edward. AU/AH. He was her boyfriend's jaded older brother who didn't believe in love. She was younger than him by eleven years and impossibly naive. The last thing they were supposed to do was fall for each other.
Disclaimer: Roses are red, violets are blue, I do not own, so please do not sue!
A/N and Explanation: Basically, Bella skipped a grade and so she's a college freshman even though she's seventeen. She is basically a "good girl" who has never strayed from the rules. She enters her first ever relationship with a boy named Andrew (Masen), aged 19, whom she has been seeing for about five months, and he's a perfect gentleman- polite and courteous and all that jazz. Edward is Andrew's older brother and best friend who is twenty eight years old, but he's a bit of a cynic when it comes to love and women and all- he's not very sociable or chummy with outsiders. He has a tough exterior. So basically, not only is Bella in a perfect relationship with Edward's brother, Edward's also 11 years older than her and plus, they pretty much think they hate each other, only it gets... complicated. Basically another take on the whole "forbidden love" thing cause who doesn't love that? Also, this is my first fanfic ever, and I'm only sixteen- I'm pretty conscientious when it comes to grammar and spelling, but I slip sometimes and don't hesitate to point that out to me!! I also need a beta, I think. I don't really know how this works... Oh and let's pretend for a moment that it snows on occasion in Seattle. I know it probably doesn't actually, but it does in my warped imagination. Just because.
Bella could remember a number of occasions in past five months on which Andrew had mentioned that he lived off-campus with the mysterious disappearing act that was his older brother and best friend, but she never imagined that Andrew and his brother could afford to live in downtown Seattle, much less Park Place. Whenever they went out on dates, which was becoming increasingly often lately, Andrew always insisted on picking her up at her dorm room and always with a dozen red roses in hand. He never offered to bring her to his place, and Bella never asked.
It wasn't that she wasn't trusting or comfortable enough with the relationship to go home with Andrew - in fact, far from it. Bella couldn't imagine that there was a luckier woman in the world: Andrew was unbearably sweet, enviably smart, unwaveringly devoted, wonderfully polite, and completely beautiful. It was just that Bella was terribly inexperienced when it came to relationships, and she didn't want to push her luck with her first serious boyfriend.
"Please tell me you're just pulling my leg," Bella breathed out finally, "Please tell me that you don't actually live at Park Place and that you're just testing me."
"Bella," Andrew smiled at her, the edges of his warm gray eyes crinkling as he slipped a hand into hers, "You know I would never pull something like that on you."
Another wide-eyed "Wow," was all Bella could manage at the moment. Here she was, standing outside of the elegantly illuminated Park Place on a lightly snowing Seattle evening, hand in hand with the most impossibly perfect boyfriend a girl could ask for. She almost pinched herself make sure she wasn't dreaming.
"Are you upset, Bella? I'm so sorry I never mentioned it to you before, I know I should have."
Bella shook her head out of her stupor to smile at Andrew's anxious expression.
"Yes, Andrew, I am extremely disappointed in you," she said with a playful shove to his arm with her free hand.
Andrew's nervous expression softened immediately, and he pulled her a little closer to him.
"I just don't know if we can work past this," Bella continued, "Trust is such a big thing, you know, and I'm afraid you might have just all my trust. I really don't think I'm ever going to be able to trust another word out of your mouth."
Andrew leaned his face down to hers with a sweet smile on his lips.
"Bella..." he said, raising a finger to her lips to quiet her rambling.
Bella smiled sweetly back and tightened her grip. She tilted her head up to rest her forehead on his.
"I love you, Bella" Andrew said suddenly.
Bella nearly squealed out loud - surely now this had to be a dream. She had convinced herself for some time now that someone as perfect as Andrew could never possibly be interested in someone as boring and quiet as herself, and everyday, she woke up half-expecting Andrew to dump her at a moment's notice for something more in his league.
It was nearly a scream.
Bella flushed red with happiness and embarrassment. She had never been in love before, but Andrew was so perfect that she didn't see how any girl could even help falling in love with him.
"I love you, too, Andrew," Bella whispered back breathlessly.
The smiles on both their faces were almost sickeningly sweet as they gazed at each other. Small snowflakes descended slowly around their heads as passersby looked on amusedly at the young couple's complete obliviousness of their surroundings.
"So I have to warn you, Bella, about my brother," Andrew spoke up in the elevator as he clutched Bella's hand and shook his beautiful dusty blond hair free of snowflakes.
Bella instantly tensed. She didn't know much about Andrew's brother, Edward, except that Andrew considered him his best friend in the world. Despite this, however, she had a strange and inexplicable feeling that they wouldn't get along as well as she hoped.
"Edward's honestly the greatest guy I know and the best brother I could ever ask for, but... he's a bit of a recluse. He doesn't talk much in front of people he's never met before, and when he does, it's easy to take him the wrong way."
"Oh... I see," Bella said, obviously nervous.
Andrew sensed her apparent trepidation and squeezed her hand.
"Don't be nervous... He's going to love you. There's nothing to be worried about. You're the prettiest girl in the world."
Andrew whispered the last part close to Bella's ear so as to not attract attention from the others in the elevator, and Bella flushed with the compliment.
"You're such a liar," she said back, trying to appear calm and unnerved.
"That's a pretty mighty accusation, Miss Swan," Andrew retorted before running his fingers along her jaw and swooping in for a soft, polite kiss.
Bella tried to ignore her nervousness but Andrew remained unconvinced.
"You're still nervous," he stated bluntly, pulling away suddenly.
Bella let out an exasperated sigh.
"It's just... I don't know... He's your older brother, you know? You respect him so much and I just... I really... want him to like me," Bella squeaked the last part.
"Oh, Bella," Andrew chuckled, "You don't have to worry about that."
"I don't even deserve you," Bella blurted, "You're... you're so wonderful, Andrew. Any girl would kill to have such a perfect boyfriend, and the fact you're with boring old inexperienced me... It - it doesn't even make sense! It's been more than five months and I still can't wrap my head around it!"
Andrew swiftly covered her mouth with his hand before she could even finish.
"None of this nonsense, Bella. I won't have any of it. If anything, Edward will think that I don't deserve you."
"Andrew... Sometimes I have a feeling you don't see the world as rationally as you should," Bella said, her stomach dropping suddenly with a strange lurch that couldn't be explained by the smoothness of the elevator.
Never in her seventeen and a half years of existence did Bella feel as on edge as she did at that moment riding the elevator up to meet Edward Masen.
"Edward?" Andrew called out as soon as he kicked the door shut and flicked on the hallway lights.
Bella resisted the urge to gasp at the impeccable marble decorating theme that came unquestionably from the touch of Andrew.
"Hmm... Maybe he went out," Andrew mused half to himself as he unwound his cashmere scarf, "He does this sometimes."
"Maybe he's asleep?" Bella offered as she unwound her own scarf, which was almost ratty in comparison to Andrew's.
"Nah, Edward doesn't sleep much. He's a bit of an insomniac... C'mon," Andrew tugged on Bella's hand, leading her into the living room.
The living room, as Bella discovered, was equally dark as the foyer had been before Andrew had flicked on the muted lighting, but Bella was better able to admire the beautiful Seattle skyline offered by the floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall glass wall. She could clearly see the Space Needle looming in the distance, and she was enraptured by the view.
"Oh," she exclaimed.
"You like it?" Andrew asked.
"Are you kidding me? It's too beautiful for words."
"I'm glad, then... Well, sit down, make yourself at home. I'll go get you something to drink... What would you like?" Andrew called out as he stepped into the kitchen across the hall.
"Oh, umm... some water would be fine," Bella called back.
Bella slowly unbuttoned her heavy blue coat and stepped closer to the glass wall, reveling in the beauty of the darkness and silence. She could indistinctly hear Andrew in the kitchen searching for glasses, but the sound was muted enough to not penetrate her thoughts. She laughed to herself at how nervous she had been ust five minutes ago at the prospect of meeting Andrew's older brother. Now, however, knowing that only Andrew was with her, she was completely calm.
Vaguely, Bella felt annoyance and even anger that Andrew's brother had caused her so much worry and grief but didn't even have the common decency to show up, especially since this meeting had been planned for more than a week. It was almost unfathomable to her how inconsiderate Andrew's brother was, especially when she considered how polite Andrew was himself.
Most of all, however, Bella didn't liked her emotions to be toyed with in such a volatile manner; she liked to know what she was getting herself into. Andrew made Bella feel completely safe and at ease, but the mere thought of his brother Edward made Bella out of her element, and she despised the feeling.
An impossibly velvety voice was suddenly in Bella's ear shooting tingling sensations all along her spine and across her back, and Bella couldn't help but suck in a sharp intake of breath in shock.
In the split second that it took for her to react, hundreds of thoughts ran through her head, the first of which being the realization that the voice in her ear was most definitely, definitely not that of her perfect boyfriend Andrew. Where Andrew's voice was candid and open, this one was guarded; where Andrew's was light, this one was thick and heavy with emotion; where Andrew's was smooth, this one held a hoarse, almost rasping quality that changed with each syllable.
Bella's head spun with dizzying emotions.
The number of times Bella had felt confused and genuinely stupefied in her life could probably be counted on one hand, but Bella was utterly confused and unbalanced at this moment, and she hated it. Bella was anything if not polite, and this irritation at a stranger was completely uncharacteristic for her.
"So you finally decided you show up," Bella almost spat out, spinning on her heel before she could remember her manners and characteristic politeness.
"I mean - sorry, I didn't mean it like that," Bella blurt out quickly, trying to rectify her sudden and inexplicable outburst of annoyance.
Her eyes shot to her feet before she could even catch a glimpse of Edward. At least he did have the decency show up, she thought, he didn't do anything wrong. She stared at her shoes for a few moments, waiting for Edward to make some sort of reply. Only he didn't.
"You must be Edward," Bella began tentatively, her words coming out in uneven spews, "Andrew's told me so much about you. I'm Bella Swan. It's nice to finally meet..."
Bella stuck out her hand awkwardly but trailed off, having finally mustering the courage to look up at Edward.
Even in the darkness, Bella could make out the sharp definition of his chiseled jaw, the distinct slant of his Grecian nose, the angular swerve of his lips. Everything about his face was defined by lines and angles, curves and tangents, contours and parallels. It was impossibly geometric, impossibly precise.
Bella couldn't have said for certain whether or not she considered the image before her beautiful. Edward Masen's face certainly didn't match any preconceived notion Bella had ever formed regarding male beauty because Edward Masen's face didn't match any notion Bella had ever formed at all. He was simply unlike anything she had ever seen, and she didn't know what to make of it. His face wasn't unattractive, she was smart enough to discern that much, but he was far too dissimilar, far too severe in every aspect, to be earn the title of "beautiful" or "gorgeous".
"...you?" Bella managed to finish after the pause, her hand still jutting from her side at an odd angle.
To her surprise, Edward didn't take her hand, but only looked at her intently with a dark look in his eyes that seemed to signify annoyance. Bella instantly recoiled, horrified that she might have done something wrong. Be amiable, be amiable, she told herself frantically, crack a joke... Get him to at least say something. Does he even talk?! Is he deaf? Dumb? Mute?
"Er, let me guess. You're deathly afraid of germs?" Bella asked, motioning slightly to Edward's hands, which rested loosely in his pockets.
Now he just looked bored.
Edward scoffed as he rolled his eyes slightly. Bella's could feel her mortification grow. What had she done so horribly wrong? Surely now Andrew's opinion of her would be sullied, tarnished, damaged beyond repair, if she couldn't even manage to carry a conversation with his brother without generating anger and annoyance.
"No. I just don't do the whole fake gestures of courteousness thing. It's not my deal."
Bella was so shocked by the bluntness of his answer that she physically took a step back. Her mortification, while still great, began to turn to irritation. Fake? Who did Edward Masen think he was? Oh right, Bella remembered, he's your boyfriend's older brother. Make an effort here, Bella.
"Right. Well I'm... really really sorry."
"Sure you are," Edward chuckled darkly, settling back onto a couch.
It was certain now. Bella had never been so confused in her life.
"I'm..." Bella paused. She had been about to say "I'm sorry" but stopped herself.
"I mean... I don't know what I've done to offend you?" Bella corrected, the hesitation apparent in her voice.
Edward simply chuckled darkly again, taking a swig from a bottle in his hand. He didn't look at her, but instead simply stared out the window, giving Bella a better look at the outline of his profile in the dark.
"You've already got yourself the guy," Edward explained, sarcasm dripping from his husky voice, "No need to suck up to his family now."
"Sucking... up?" Bella squeaked. "I'm not... You don't understand. I'm not... sucking up. I'm just- "
The words rolled of Edward's tongue smoothly as he cut her off.
"Trying to impress me with your wit and charm? Hmmm... I have to say I'm not impressed."
"I was going to say 'being polite.' I'm just being polite," Bella defended herself, feeling less and less uncertain and more and more annoyed.
Edward laughed now, a dark kind of laugh that made Bella feel as if she had no idea what was really going on.
"Being polite? Ah, yes, the way to every man's heart."
"My mother raised me to show good manners to everyone."
"Well I repeat, I'm not impressed."
With this, Edward finally turned his head to face Bella, and his gaze burned so harsh that Bella was no longer certain as to what they were actually talking about. She managed to tear her gaze from him as she felt her cheeks burn with both humiliation and anger. Never before in her life had she been so reproached for something so seemingly harmless and friendly as a handshake. The feeling of anger was utterly unfamiliar to Bella, never having roused much ire in her life, but she could feel the emotion rising steadily over the course of the conversation. Edward's last comment was so full of condescension that Bella felt a strange type of angry confidence swell inside her.
"Funny I didn't figure it'd take much to impress you. Blonde hair, two legs, and a half decent rack is all you'd need, right?"
The words flew out of Bella's mouth before she even realized she was saying them, and she didn't even think she had it in her to say something like that. She didn't have much time to revel in her newfound confidence, however, before mortification sunk in again, and she clapped her hand over her mouth in horror.
Edward's face, once an indifferent mask of boredom and annoyance, turned to a look of surprise before he quickly masked his emotions once more. Bella twisted her body away, unable to face Edward after her sudden outburst.
Luckily for Bella, Andrew entered promptly with an array of different drinks in his hands. He breezed pass both of them as if nothing was wrong, not sensing the obvious tension between Bella and Edward, and began to set the drinks down on the coffee table.
"Edward! Hey, I thought you had left. You have to stop walking around the house at night with all the lights off, you'll start to creep Bella out. Bella, I know you said you wanted water, but you're always going on about how much you like soda so I brought you some of these new... "
Andrew rambled on in the light and charming manner that only he possessed, and the sweet, endearing quality of Andrew's voice gave Bella the courage to turn towards the two brothers. As she plastered a smile on her face, she couldn't help but notice, even in the dark, that Edward's gaze had changed from one of obvious disdain to one much more difficult to decipher. His green eyes glittered with some indescribable emotion that Bella could not, for the life of her, understand, but she wrote it off as a furious emotion so great that it a simple glare would not suffice.
If Bella had only let her gaze linger even a moment longer, she would have noted that Edward's eyes did indeed hold a great deal of emotions, but anger and irritation were not among those present.
A/N: Blehhhh, lame I know. At least lemme know just how bad it was though by clicking the Review button! Flame me enough times and I'll be good enough to take it down, hehe... Seriously though I've never written a fanfiction before so I have no way of judging how good/bad my writing is. Lemme know your honest opinion. I'm open to suggestions too. (Edited to add: Thank you so much guys for the response! I honestly expected about 6 reviews at best, so thank you guys sssooo much for reviewing and also being honest. I really appreciated all of your suggestions and I read over the last part and decided that it was a bit stupid and rushed, so I edited out a couple lines. Thank you again so much!)