Disclaimer- All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Note - Hi everyone! It has been a long, long time since I have last updated, and I apologize. I hope to finish this story within the next few months, or at least, within the year. My summer has been more busy than I had anticipated, but soon I will have more time and more muse to update. As to my other story, the sequel to Beauty and the Geek titled Reasons to be Missed will be a lesser priority. Thank you all for reading and reviewing!
*Challenge - If you are able to bring this story's number of reviews to 600 (currently it is at 558) before August 3rd at noon, then I will GARANTEE another chapter before August 7th!!! No more than two reviews per person, however, (that's cheating!) so tell your friends!
Elevators, Blackouts, and Strangers
Chapter 15- Close Encounters of the Dangerous Kind
Smacking down on the alarm button, I slumped out of bed and walked sleepily into the closet. Not really caring what I picked out, I grabbed a random black blouse and and skirt, adding my favorite white lace ballet flats for some difference in color. Feeling strangely brave for that hour of the morning, I searched the new jewelry drawer for a long, faux-pearl necklace that tied in an elegant knot forming a loop at the bottom, and a pair of earrings that were in the shape of black roses.
It was different, but somewhat...invigorating, feeling not pretty for a chance, but beautiful, or even...sexy. Dropping the ballet flats to the floor, I opted for a daring pair of black platform sandals that urged me closer. Knowing I would regret the choice later, I decided to ignore the other side of the argument against the deadly heels and go with my instinct.
After another strange feat – blow drying my hair and using a round brush to tame the unruly waves – I walked over to the kitchen, remembering that I had a trip to Starbucks to make. I heard another alarm beep in the room beside me, and seconds later the door creaked open.
"Huh? Oh. Morning Bella."
"So...are you going to call him or what?"
"Come on, you know who. Don't tell me you went through all that trouble to get that guy's number and you aren't going to call him."
Alice raked her fingers through her wild hair that seemed to extend straight out from her head as did that of Einstein, and she leaned against the door frame with her eyes still squinting against the light.
"Well it seemed like a better idea last night. Besides, I was heavily intoxicated..."
"You had a glass of wine...with food! You called the photographer your company hired for the next shoot, got the number of the guy who showed up with his interns last night, who dug for the number of his blond friend named...what was it? Anyway, got his number after convincing him you weren't a stalker or wanting to blackmail him or something, and then you didn't call him. Now I may not have the expert experience of you or Rosalie but I do know that you do not put in that much effort to do nothing."
"Oh come on, Bella. When can I count on you to be the logical one anymore? You're the one who was supposed to convince me not to do these ridiculous things, not myself! And why do I feel so much shorter??" Her eyes snaked down to my towering heels which I wobbled in when standing, and her eyes were lit with excitement.
"Bella! Well, look who is finally coming to her senses!"
"Yeah, yeah." I mocked, smiling. "I have to get to work. Call him!"
"Woo! Bella lookin' sexy! I guess it wouldn't have anything to do with, I don't know, a co-worker or something...?"
"Bye Alice." I said, giggling and blushing.
After walking to Starbucks and waiting for my drink, I got on the subway around the corner and held tightly onto the vertical bar leaning as far away as I could from the scary looking man clutching an old portable stereo. Sipping my coffee and keeping the strap of my bag high on my shoulder, I stepped off the subway, stumbling a bit after adjusting to my new, towering height, and made my way toward the New York Times building.
Once inside, I was greeted by a few co-workers and of course, the newest janitor in the building.
"Hey babe." Newton said, mustering up all the dignity he possibly could in his gray jumpsuit.
"Mike." I said, not stopping. He walked beside me as I struggled to keep a quick pace in the heels.
"So...I was wondering if sometime you'd like to..."
"No." I said firmly.
"But we could..."
"No." He stopped walking as I continued down the hall, leaving him stunned in his tracks.
"Alright. Well, I guess next time..." His voice drifted off as I neared my office, which of course, had a crowd of people gathering outside the door.
"Okay, everybody out!" I said with my arm pointed toward the outside of my office, and after a sigh the women, and select few men, slowly filed out of the room. Taking my seat at the swivel chair in front of my desk, I sat back and decided to enjoy the view outside my window.
With only the separation of the window between us, Jacob was squeegeeing the glass vigorously, his muscles rippling beneath his skin with the motions. His white tank top was nearly sheer with sweat that glistened in the sunlight, turning his russet skin golden in the rays' reflections. Wiping moisture off of his forehead, he took a few seconds to stretch out his long arms, casting the golden beams across his face and chest.
Smiling, almost childishly, I muttered to myself, more loudly than I had intended.
"Break me off a piece of that!" From outside the window, I saw his large ribcage shake with laughter as Jacob leaned over, his hands on his knees, buckling over in laughter. What could be so funny out there, I wondered? It wasn't until he made eye-contact with me that I knew he wasn't laughing at someone in the street or something he heard on TV last night.
"Did-did you...hear that?" I asked, flushing violently. When his brilliant smile widened even further I knew my answer. Burying my face in my hands, I heard a knock at the window. So he could see my humiliation, too. Which also meant he could see me. "Whatever happened to tinted windows and thick, soundproof glass?" I asked the empty surroundings around me.
"The windows are tinted, but when you get right up close you can see right through them...and no office buildings have soundproof glass above the seventh floor in New York City, Miss Swan." a husky, yet friendly voice answered me, muffled slightly by the traffic stories below. Looking out from between my hands, I saw him, leaning against the window, one hand holding onto the rail that kept him from plummeting to the sidewalk, his face as radiant as ever. We should start charging admission for women to see the building as they would a Chip and Dale's show.
"How do you know my name?"
"The more important question is how do you know mine." he retorted. "I hear you answer your phone – Bella Swan's office. See, I don't have an office.'
Still bewildered, I slowly gathered my nerves and replied that the ladies in my office somehow knew.
"Ah...yeah, that Mrs. Cope is a wild one."My eye widened in shock. "Relax" he said when he noticed my startled appearance. "I'm only joking. So...you want a piece of this, do you?" his lips curled into a dangerously seductive smile, sending goosebumps racing from my arms down to my spine.
"I-uh, I'm sorry about that." I scratched the back of my head, an excuse to look away for a moment.
"Don't be." Jacob winked. "Well, I gotta be going, you know, building to wash, but I'll see you around." Flashing another deliberate smile, he yanked on some sort of pulley, and dragged his mid-air cart to the left until he disappeared out of sight. Burying my head in my hands, I desperately wished that it were possible to vanish into thin air at a moment's will. Unfortunately, I knew that was not going to happen. To suffice, I hit my head a few times on my desk, and sat there for a while until I realized that I had work to do. I wasn't e entirely sure what kind of work it was, but there was something to be done, that I was sure of.
An hour of near-meaningless research later, Edward knocked at my door, walking I after I called for him to do so. There, in all his glory sitting on one of the chairs that faced my desk, he was. He still existed, not evaporating I to a worse version of himself, or worse, into no one at all. He was still a human, hard to believe yet true, and he was sitting on my chair.
"Is there something I can help you with, Edward?" I asked, pretending to look busy while typing away at my computer, him not knowing that all I was doing was updating my Facebook status.
"Well, yes actually. I was wondering if you'd like to go to dinner this weekend..." his voice continued to speak, but I was left breathless, speechless, floating in my only little world of Edward and a dinner date that I would no doubt accept. "...with me and my two brothers to a restaurant that I need to review. I decided that the Culinary Arts are sometimes overlooked. It's called New Moon, have you heard of it?"
"New Moon?Oh, yeah, ehm, I've uh, heard of it." I choked out while doing my absolute best to stifle my crippling disappointment. Work related. Not a date. Just to review a restaurant. Not even the two of us alone where we could pretend it was all for review when really he just didn't know how to ask me out, but no, with his two brothers.
"Yeah, you could bring your two roommates, Rosalie and...I'm sorry, what was the name of your other roommate? I completely forgot..."
"Hm? Oh, Alice. Rosalie and Alice."
"Alice? Hm, that's coincidence..."
"Oh, nothing. I probably saw something about an Alice on TV last night. Anyway, I was thinking that it would be a long-shot that you girls were free on a Saturday night, but if you are, would you like to join us? A sort of triple-date without the whole awkward date part?"
Go ahead, stab my heart. When you're done, feel free to tear apart and put it in the paper shredder next to the Xerox machine. Then, please, stomp on it as hard as you possibly can.
Instead, I replied with a solid "Sure, that would be great."
"Meet you there at seven?"
"Seven it is."
"Bye." I said meekly as he closed the door behind him. It was just an intuition, but I had a feeling my forehead was going to be awfully sore that day. Little did I know that it was going to be a lot worse on Saturday.
"What the hell am I supposed to wear!?" Alice shrieked as she ran around the apartment gathering various utensils of beauty and hygiene. "I can't wear blue because you are wearing blue, I can't wear black or red otherwise I'll match the restaurant, Rosalie is wearing pink..."
"Purple?" I suggested, tugging at my blue, ruffled halter top that fell over my denim-covered knees.
"I am not going for the Barney look, Bells."
"You won't look like Barney, you're not nearly tall enough." Alice stopped her hysterics, and rolled her eyes before racing back into the closet. I remained standing in front of the mirror that hung next to the door, fidgeting with my hair that even when straightened, overwhelmed my frame. The contrast between the mahogany color of my hair and pale white of my skin was near-blinding, and for a moment I contemplated a self-tanner. Shaking the notion from my mind, I strode slowly toward the couch, exhaling deeply, checking the clock on the microwave in the kitchen, wishing the butterflies in my stomach would take flight...or even just get hit by a damn taxi for all I cared.
"Quit pacing! It's making me nervous!" Rosalie said as she slid into her silver Jimmy Choos.
"I can't help it." I said, swinging my arms in front of and behind me.
"Bella!" she said, grabbing my arms and pinning them to my waist. "Repeat after me."
"...Are we really going to do this?"
"Repeat after me!"
"This is not a date." she said while I tried to look away. "Say it." she said again, forcing my face to hers.
"This is not a date." I repeated as ordered.
"Edward Cullen doesn't want to be anything more than my friend." I glared at her intently.
"Edward Cullen doesn't want to be anything more than my friend."
"I have absolutely nothing to be nervous about because nothing is going to happen between us!"
"Is this supposed to make me feel better?" I asked, insulted.
"No, it's supposed to keep the nerves away. Now say it!"
"Alright, alright, I get it."
"Good. Now chill out, for my sake, at least." I obeyed, reluctantly but fully, and sat in a huff on the couch while Rose tossed her hair around in the mirror. A few minutes later, Alice came out from the closet, wearing a silver, flowing dress that rippled around her knees and patent gray heels that brought her up to the height of the average American woman.
"What do you think?" she asked as she twirled in place.
"Smokin'!" Rose said, completed by a wolf whistle.
"You look amazing, Alice." I said standing, then wobbling in the stilettos she had strapped me in.
"Thanks! Let's get going then, shall we? Don't want to be late!"
Finally, I thought to myself. We piled into a cab, checked our appearances in our compact mirrors, and before we knew it we were just outside the restaurant, walking toward the hostess. We weren't sure whose name the reservation was under, but once we walked inside I heard a faint voice call my name.
Our eyes darted around the restaurant until they landed on a waving hand which was attached to Edward. Classy, as always, he wore a white, button-down shirt under a gray suit, his hair appeared to have been brushed but still stuck out in odd places. However, what struck me most was his smile, and how his eyes were lit up even in dim lighting.
Rosalie had her eyes on someone else, the large, muscular man that sat beside Edward, to be precise. Curly hair and brown-eyed, he looked somewhat childish, but strangely had a sense of practicality and allure about him at the same time. Within a moment, he too, was fixed on Rosalie. Of course, what man wouldn't be, a tall blond with nothing to hide and no reason to hide it.
Alice was a different story. She had frozen in place, her eyes wide and petrified. As we began to walk toward the table, she grabbed my arm and yanked me back, casting a look of confusion across Edward's face.
"Alice! What's wrong?" I asked, trying not to look as stupid as we did.
"It's him!!" she whispered on her tip-toes into my ear. "That's the guy! Jasper!"
"What?" I asked.
"And that's his brother! Emmett! The big guy with them!" Shock overwhelmed me.
"You mean Jasper, your Jasper, and the Emmett on the train...are Edward's brothers?" Panic resounded in my voice to the point when I could hardly recognize it. I was supposed to be the cool and collected one, damn it! And I intended to remain so! Of course, intentions aren't always what ends up happening. I was living proof.
"Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes to all of it!"
"I hate this craziness!" I said, hand on my forehead. "It's too much!" We looked up to see the three men staring blatantly at us, Emmett looking worried and amused while Jasper tried to hide his face behind his hand.
Rosalie looked at us, her face creased in confusion.
"Come on, you look like lunatics! Let's at least sit down while we hide our horrified looks of disgust, shall we?" she said, obviously not knowing what was going on.
We took our seats, sliding onto the red velvet cushions with fake smiles plastered on our faces. Alice and Jasper, ironically, ended up sitting across each other at the far end next to Emmett across from Rosalie, then me and Edward at the other end. They avoided each other's gazes at all costs, until I decided it was time for a group trip to the bathroom.
"Hey Edward." I said, trying too hard to be non-nonchalant. "Thank you again for the invite."
"Sure, no problem." he said, though obviously still worried. "Is everything alright here?"
"Uhh, yes. Of course it is!" I said, this time too excitedly, earning a look of humiliation from Rosalie. "It's just that uh, Alice forgot something."
"Oh? What did you forget? Can you re-trace your steps?" Edward said, encouragingly.
"Um, no, not exactly." I said for her, not expecting her to catch on quite yet. "Something...else."
The boys looked at each other, looking for answers in their eyes until finally, they found the one I had planted.
"Oh!" Edward said, flushing. "You ladies go right ahead and uh, take care of it." his brothers, along with Alice, blushed as well.
"Thanks for understanding." I said, standing. "Come on, girls." I said, walking behind a very pissed-off Rosalie toward the bathroom.
We stepped inside, and Rose locked the deadbolt on the door behind her, seeing no feet under the stalls.
"Would you two mind telling me WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?" she nearly shrieked.
"Jasper! It's JASPER!" Alice said, pointing to the locked door.
"WHAT?" Rosalie shrieked again.
"Shit." Emmett said, rubbing his forehead with his giant hand.
"What? If you have something against Bella just tell me now..." I said, fidgeting with my gray suit.
"That girl – in the silver dress, that was Alice."
"Alice? The Alice?" I asked.
"Yup." Emmett answered.
"Jazz, I am so sorry..."
"It's – it's alright, I guess. I'll stick around, but I don't know..."
"Just chill, Jasper." Emmett said. "Everything will be fine."
In the bathroom...
"This is going to be a disaster!" Alice cried. "It's Jasper! The guy I can't stop thinking about who stank up my work studio!"
"Just relax." I said. "Be cool."
"Yeah, just have a glass of wine, and you will feel a lot better." Rosalie suggested.
"You know? You're right!" Alice said, standing up taller. "I can do this! I mean, it's not like we're getting married or anything, right?
"Right! I'll just play it cool, maybe she'll see me now for who I really am." Jasper said with a touch of bravado in his voice.
"That's the idea!" Emmett said. "She doesn't stand a chance against you now that you're clean and not claustrophobic." Jasper glared. "Just have a beer and it'll loosen you up a bit, get your game going."
"Alright. Alright, alright, alright. How do I look?"
"Gorgeous! Now, let's walk!"
The three of us walked back to the table to find the guys collected and casual, as they had been when we had found them, and sat in our original seats just in time to take our drink order.
"Hi, can I get a glass of your house red?" Alice asked.
"Beer for me?" Jasper asked. Emmett and Edward ordered the same, Rosalie white wine, and I said that ice water would be fine for me.
"Oh! I can't believe I have been so rude, these are my two best friends, Alice, and Rosalie." They both said hi. Alice looked awkwardly at Jasper.
"And these are my brothers, Jasper, and Emmett." Emmett reached across the table for Rosalie's hand, bringing it to his lips in a gentlemanly way.
"Rosalie." he said with a devilish smirk.
"Emmett." Rose smiled. Jasper, however, went for a handshake. Looking at him appraisingly, Alice hesitantly touched her hand with his. At the same moment their eyes both widened and their breaths caught in their chests, both looking at each other with dazzled eyes. Maybe they had found something they remembered after all. The dreaded spark we all wish for and fear at the same time. At that moment, however, I envied it.
"Jasper." she said.
"Alice." he said.
Trying to lighten the intense mood, I said "Edward!" comically, and Edward did the same, but we both found ourselves ignored.
The drinks came, and the two lovers at the far end of the table looked down, returning to the state of neither looking at each other, or even allowing their existence to be known by themselves. Alice quickly gulped down her wine, and ordered another, and Jasper was dangerously closed to doing the same. I soon feared at how this evening would turn out.
"So, Emmett," I said, trying to spark a group conversation. "What pays the rent for you?"
"Sports medicine." he said, not taking his eyes off of Rosalie's batting eyes. "If you ever need anything looked at...you can trust me, I am a doctor." She ate it all up.
"Well, Doctor, I have had a pain in my lower back lately...would you be willing to take a look at it?"
"Anytime." he said. "Just as long as it's at your place." Jasper began to giggle next to him.
"Why?" Rose inquired.
"Well, I sort of have a neighbor problem."
"Oh, I see." she said, not asking anything more. "Well, my place it is..."
"Woah, wait a minute there. Only when Alice and I aren't home, please." I interjected.
"I second that." Alice said, halfway through her second glass. "Actually, I'll third that." she said, looking at the remaining drops. "Excuse me? Can I get another? Thanks." she said to a passing waitress, not caring if she was ours or not. I shook my head.
"I'd like to make a toast." Edward said. "To friendship."
'To friendship." We all chimed in, clinking our glass. Seeing Alice guzzle down her third drink and Rosalie and Emmett whispering in lower and lower tones, I decided to focus my attention to Edward, who looked worried as well.
"And they say your family is the only thing you can't choose.." he said jokingly, scratching his head.
"Well, they were definitely wrong. Whoever 'they' are." I laughed. "So, what are you going to order, Mr. Culinary Arts?"
"Well, they have a great Fillet Mignon and Beouf Bourgignon..."
"Whoopsie!" Alice said as Jasper turned her upside-down menu right-side up. "No wonder it was so hard to read, I thought I was crazy!" Jasper sighed, trying to help her order, seeing as the room was spinning too quickly for her. "Can I have another?" she asked the non-existent waitress, holding up her glass. "Can I?" she asked Jasper.
"Um, maybe we better stick with water." he said, confiscating the glass from her tiny hand.
"Aww, Jazzie. You're no fun...except on the subway that is, HA!" she laughed as she banged her fist on the table, rattling the silverware and glasses, then putting her hand over her mouth and laughing. "Ooopsies."
Jasper sighed. It really didn't take very much to get Alice drunk. An empty stomach, and a few quick Mer lots and she was hammered. Rosalie put her hand on Alice's shoulder, and yanked her back upright whenever she seemed to drift to either side.
"What is the best food to absorb alcohol?" she asked Emmett. He shrugged.
"Beats me. I just know how to deal with hangovers."
"Oh? What remedy?"
"Ah." she said. "You know, your voice sounds very familiar...but kind of different at the same time. God, I just can't place it..."
"Maybe from your sleep?" Emmett suggested.
"What?" Rosalie asked, confused.
"Because, baby, I am the man of your dreams." She could barely withhold her massive attack of giggles. Her heart melted like a hot knife through butter, just as Emmett had planned. His intentions were good, his smile sincere, and for once, maybe Rosalie had found the one person who was just like her.
"Smooth." I mouthed to him, visible only to the guys sitting across from me. Edward smiled his crooked smile, realizing I had his brother pegged. Emmett smiled somewhat smugly, but amiably, and Jasper concentrated on ordering food for Alice.
It seemed everyone at the table ordered some kind of red meat, even Rosalie, for whom anything other than salad or sushi was rare, and soon, our hungry stomachs were silenced with the on-come of food. Edward and I become enveloped in a hearty conversation, talking about work, life, and the correlation between the two. I was fascinated by the sheer way his lips moved when he spoke, then forced my eyes away from his lips, trying to stop the fantasies, then realizing my mistake when I found his eyes were even more deadly. That was when I noticed something odd, and became somewhat suspicious of Edward Cullen, and his brothers.
Alice was a mess. Jasper, however, like a parent, cut her food for her, and when she refused to eat, made subtle airplane noises audible only to our table, making her giggle and open wide. While she chewed, he ate for himself, until she would open her mouth again in her drunken stupor, waiting for another plane or train or some other mode of transportation to carry food into her mouth. While she ate, she would smile at him, in her own charming way, a feat only Alice could pull off when she could not even feed herself. Maybe this would even out their embarrassment?
When Alice wasn't looking, in her bliss of chewing whatever Jasper had fed to her, I whispered thank you to him. He simply smiled, and bowed his head. Something inside told me he was more than happy to help. There was something blissful about the scene, but I kept making excuses to talk to Emmett, Jasper, or my girlfriends, rather than Edward. He was not left out, of course, but I was beginning to think he was catching on. At one moment, we both froze, our eyes locking, and my cheeks burning with blood as I blushed. Looking away, I could feel his eyes were still on me. He knew. I knew. We both knew I was avoiding him, but only I knew why. My theory had become even clearer in my head, and soon I was convinced that I was not just seeing things. Every time I looked at Jasper and Emmett, it confirmed itself in my mind. Edward had lied, and I knew.
Rosalie was also playing detective, determined she knew Emmett from somewhere, but stopped questioning him so as not to appear stalker-like or creepy. Or both.
"God, I have had this one song stuck in my head all day..." Rosalie began but was interrupted by Emmett.
"Speaking of songs, Jasper knows the group 'Aqua'." Jasper glared. Alice laughed in hysterics.
"Aqua! They sing Barbie Girl, right Rose?" she said as Jasper tried to quiet her down, as she was nearly shouting. "I loooove that song!" she carried out the vowels while she swayed.
"I hate that song." Emmett said with passion.
"Every straight man hates that song." I said, looking at Rosalie, giggling at our inside joke, remembering how we had tortured Dickwad.
"No, I mean I really hate it. My neighbor problems involve that song." It couldn't be.. could it? It was too much of a coincidence.
"Really?" Rosalie asked, catching on. "How so?"
"This girl, she constantly plays that song so loud that there is no possible way that I could hear my own thoughts, even."
"You have thoughts?" Jasper asked.
"You know, Rosie," Alice said. "That sounds just like us! We looooove that song! Rosie plays it alllll the time..."
Slowly, Rosalie and Emmett looked at each other. They knew exactly who the other one was.
"Oh shit." I whispered to Edward.
"What the hell is going on here?" He whispered back.
"Duck." I said, shielding myself.
"Emmett?" Rosalie asked.
"Rosalie?" Emmett mocked.
"Dickwad!" she said, standing and screaming.
"Psycho Bitch!"he imitated.
"Psycho Bitch?" Jasper replied meekly.
"Ooopsies." Alice giggled.
"You!" Emmett pointed at Edward. "You set me up with Psycho Bitch?"
"How was I supposed to know she was Psycho Bitch?" Edward yelled back. Now the entire restaurant was staring.
"Don't call my friend a psycho or a bitch!" I screamed, smacking Edward on the face. He glared back at me, but I did not falter.
"YOU! YOU EGOTISTICAL SON OF A BITCH!" Rosalie screamed.
"PSYCHOTIC FREAK OF NATURE!" he screamed back.
"OH! I WON'T STAND FOR THIS! BELLA! I'M LEAVING! I'LL SEE YOU LATER! TAKE CARE OF ALICE!" she snatched her purse and stormed off in a tizzy, leaving Emmett fuming behind, but with a twinged of...was it regret?...in his eyes. He walked away, slowly, thanked Edward for dinner, and ran outside.
The four of us sat in silence, but not for long. Alice had stopped swaying, and we had mistaken that for a good thing. It turns out, sometimes food is not the best thing for a drunk girl. Alice looked around, then puked all over the floor, barely missing Jasper and myself. Sighing, Jasper offered to take her home in a cab, and I wrote down our address for him while respectfully telling him that sleepovers were not permitted. He agreed fully, and, as she passed out in his arms, he carried her out the door, and slid her into a cab outside, the sat beside her.
There we were. Edward and I, alone. The restaurant mopped up Alice's sick, and because Edward had to stay to finish the article, I was stuck behind with him. After a few minutes silence, I apologized to him.
"I am sorry for how this turned out." I said. "I thought this would be a good idea." Edward knew me better. He looked at me with an inquisitive eye, and began a careful interrogation.
"Sure you did." I glared.
"I really did."
"Then what were you whispering about when you first got here?" he asked.
"Alice realized who Jasper was."
"Then why, all of the sudden did you stop talking to me during dinner?" Dessert arrived. A fanciful puff pastry work of art.
"Why do you care?" I said harshly.
"Because I do!"
"Fine! Why did you lie about Emmett and Jasper being your brothers?"
"Just tell me. How is it that you and your brothers all have different hair color, eye color, and skin tones? None of you have any common traits, and Jasper even has a slight Southern twang!"
Edward sighed, and looked down into his hands, almost somberly, but with truthful eyes.
"We aren't biological brothers."
"Thank you." I said in a huff.
"We were adopted." I slumped in my chair.
"Oh." was the closest thing to an apology I could muster. He nodded to me in acceptance.
"When I was really young, my parents died. My aunt and uncle legally adopted me, there being no will from my parents. They knew how important it was for me to have a home, and when I said that I had always wanted a sibling they thought it was a great idea. They adopted Emmett and Jasper soon after. Jasper was older, and somewhat troubled as a young kid, raised in the south by an abusive parent. He is fine now, but we weren't sure at first if he would ever let himself be accepted by us, or society. That's why we don't look alike."
I looked into his eyes, full of stories, full of history, and pain in the midst of it all. I had, in fact, been to rash in judging his character, and found myself full of regret.
"Edward, I am so sorry, I had no idea." I finally said, breaking the silence.
"Don't be sorry." he said, but I knew in the tenor of his voice that the words were meaningless.
"No, I am sorry. Truly. This whole time we have been colleagues, I have constantly been forming my own conclusions about you and even your morals, but now I realize that I hardly even know you, and believing I knew you better than you knew yourself. I guess I just...got a little cocky."
Edward looked up at me, his eyes full of sincerity, and acceptance.
"We were kidding ourselves, weren't we?" he said.
"About thinking we could just forget about what happened. Something did happen, Bella, and we never talked about it."
"What's there to talk about? What happened happened, and it was great, but we're co-workers. It never works out well."
"Maybe that's just it." we looked each other dead-on in the eyes, for the first time, and were completely honest with on another. No games this time. No secrecy. Just two people, talking.
"So." I said.
"So." he repeated. "I think it might be best if we are just friends."
"I agree." I struggled to say. "Except for the 'just' part. We can be friends, as long as it's not 'just' friends." I feigned a smile. So did he.
"Friends." We shook on it, and sipped our drinks as we began to pick at our elaborate desserts. I wasn't hungry, not in the slightest, and was devastated beyond anything chocolate alone could soothe, but was determined to disguise the subtle quivers in my hands.
As our blank check arrived, and the owner of the restaurant came to the table to talk with us for a moment, Edward and I were deep into conversation about the sorts of things friends would talk about. He hailed me a cab, and sent me home with a friendly hug which felt so good I never wanted to let him go.
But I let him go as the cab drove away with me inside, leaving Edward waving to me from the crowded sidewalk. I twisted around in my seat, facing forward, and thought to myself, that maybe we could be friends. Just because we agreed not to be romantic interests did not mean that we had to be uncivilized. Besides, as the evening proved I hardly knew anything about him. Perhaps now that we talked about it we could leave it all behind us, and we could function like human beings.
This was the real turning point. For once we finally knew what the other was thinking, and we both came to the same conclusion. Friends. Permanently.