I shifted yet again, trying to get comfortable on the van's hard bench seat. My butt was already numb, so it should have been easier. We had been on the road for eight hours today already, and we were only just nearing the city limits of Seattle.
It was Embry's turn to drive, since Jake and Quil were usually the ones to take the night shifts. Seth lay curled up in the front seat, trying to huddle into his hooded sweatshirt since it was October and the heater on the van had crapped out a week ago. I could see a faint line of drool coming from one corner of his slack mouth. Quil was sprawled out in the middle bench seat, snoring loudly and occasionally kicking his feet.
Jake's head was in my lap while he, too, was zonked out. I turned to look out the window, eager to see Seattle, but mostly just wanting very badly to get out of the van. Even though I'd lived in Washington her whole life, and I'd been a million places while on tour with Jake's band, Wolf Runner, Seattle was still my favorite city.
Just then, Embry hit a bump on I-5, causing Jake to startle. He slowly sat up and looked around with a dazed expression on his face. The side of his hair that had been pressed to my lap was sticking straight up, while the other side lay perfectly shellacked on his head. Jake hardly ever let me play with his hair, unless it was the heat of the moment. I really didn't mind, though, seeing as how I would just end up with a bunch of sticky goop on my hands anyway. Jake's sleepy gaze turned to me and he smiled. He scooted next to me and threw his arm around my shoulders.
"Ready to rock Seattle?" He asked.
"Yeah, I guess. I just really want a shower, a decent meal, and I really want to see some of Seattle before we have to leave again," I responded.
"Yeah, I could totally go for a shower. This van is starting to smell like dirty ass and it's totally sick. I dunno about getting to see much of Seattle, but I'll know once we have the set schedule. We're supposed to be hooking up with Volterra once we get there, so I guess we'll just have to see how everything goes."
Volterra was another local hardcore band that was gaining popularity since their indie release started taking off on the charts. Wolf Runner's record label was interested in signing them, so they were going to invite them on tour with Jake's band to see how crowds responded. If it went well, they were going to be very lucky boys. Even though Wolf Runner was still relatively unknown in the mainstream media, they had gained a big underground following that would probably take off after the release of the movie they did a song for on the soundtrack. Volterra could probably expect the same success.
I had never met the guys in Volterra, but I knew that they had gotten together around the same time Jake's band started playing shows in and around Olympia. They were from Forks, while Jake's band was from the La Push reservation. My dad, Charlie, lived on the outskirts of the reservation because he liked the fishing out there. Jake and I graduated from high school a couple years ago, and we have been on tour ever since. Even though I wasn't in the band, I still went with them wherever they went. Most of the time, I helped load and unload the equipment or work the merch tables while the guys played. At twenty-one, I had already seen pretty much all the United States had to offer, and most of Canada too. I guess I was lucky to escape the boring dead-end jobs that plagued most early twenty-somethings I knew.
Jake was watching my face while I watched the road. We were getting closer to the venue. I saw a line of skinny kids with greasy black hair and tight pants starting to form outside. The show wouldn't even start for another three hours, but they were already out there freezing their butts off in anticipation. There were a couple other vans with trailers hooked up to them, similar to this van. Stickers and graffiti littered the walls and light posts surrounding the club. Embry drove in a couple circles and eventually found a spot close enough to the club to allow them to walk the rest of the way. Jake shoved Quil's feet off the seat, waking him up with a loud shout. Seth woke up at the same time, disrupted by Quil's loud grunt. Embry was already on the sidewalk, stretching his long legs and trying to get his hands to relax. He was the drummer, so he definitely needed the stretching.
I hopped out of the van, immediately wishing I had dug out my winter coat while we were at the truck stop earlier today. I shoved my hands deep into my Wolf Runner sweatshirt and grabbed my scarf, wrapping it around my neck while I walked over to Embry. "Thank god we're done driving for awhile, huh, Embry?" I asked.
"Yeah, I'm just ready to play and I definitely need a freaking shower. I smell like ass!" he said. I laughed and went around the side of the van to get Jake.
"C'mon, let's go find coffee. I need something hot and caffeinated," I told him. Jake grabbed my small hand in his big ham-sized fist and waved to the guys as we walked toward the corner. In Seattle, there were coffee places everywhere. We quickly found one and I got something to keep myself warm to wake me up. Driving all day in a car just made me feel lethargic and achy, and I was never comfortable enough to sleep. It was already hard for me to get enough rest in the hotels, but it was nearly impossible to get any sleep on the nights the band decided to drive straight through to the next gig. I was rarely asked to drive, mostly because I was a danger magnet and nobody wanted a delay to fix the van in case I managed to do something… like that time in Hartford. I shook my head at myself, laughing and cringing at the memory.
We made our way back to the venue, Jake helping me stay warm with his arm around my waist. I snuggled into his side, grateful for his endless supply of body heat. He dwarfed me completely, standing over a foot taller than me and outweighing me by at least a hundred pounds. I loved feeling delicate and female when I was with him, but sometimes I couldn't help but feel like the little woman when he was in one of his overbearing moods. Those moods were coming more often in the last couple of years, courtesy of us being on tour and Jake thinking that meant he was supposed to be my father and my boyfriend. I tried not to mind too much because I knew Jake's heart was made of gold. We'd been together since we were kids, it never occurred to me that things would ever change. I shrugged, thinking we'd probably end up married in the next few years… we'd probably even have a kid if he was ever done touring. I was just waiting for him to settle down, and then I knew he would be ready for the future.
We went inside, and after a quick kiss, Jake left me to go find the rest of the band. I made my way to the tables shoved haphazardly against the back wall facing the stage and sat down. The waiting had begun. Day in and day out, every city, every venue, I would sit and wait for Jake. I never expected anything else, but it did get very boring.
Then I saw them.
Walking into the club were five insanely beautiful people, all around my age. The tallest, beefiest one led the way. He had curly brown hair and muscles that strained the seams of his snug black t-shirt. His arms were corded with muscles and covered in tattoos. He had an excited gleam in his eye, and the smile on his face made him appear approachable. Behind him, holding his hand, was a breathtaking blonde with delicate features wearing a tight black t-shirt that said Volterra on it. I quickly scanned the rest of the group, trying not to stare. Following the blonde was another guy, also beautiful and golden-haired. He was tall and lanky, his hair messy enough to make me think he had just woken up. He was holding a tiny pixie tight to his side, smiling down at her. She had short black hair and beautiful porcelain skin. Her skin glowed, unlike my pale skin.
Following them was the most amazingly beautiful man I had ever laid eyes on. I've never seen hair that color. It was bronze, a deep, rich bronze. It looked carefully mussed; as if he had spent hours either fixing it in the mirror or running his hands through it in agitation. I couldn't see him very well from my seat, because he was angled behind the rest of the group, but I recognized the Wolf Runner t-shirt he was wearing because I had designed it myself.
I watched as they walked over to Jake's band and started shaking their hands. I didn't know if they were one of the bands playing tonight, but I did know that I hoped I wouldn't have to meet any of them. I was definitely too dirty, too plain, too boring to be introduced to such beautiful people who seemed to fill the room with their…beauty. Damn, I was starting to sound like an idiot even inside my own head. I really, really hoped that Jake wouldn't make me come meet these people.
"Hey Bella," Jake shouted, "come meet the band we're gonna be touring with!"
I groaned. My hair was hanging down my back, a little too oily to be considered lustrous. My clothes were in need of a Laundromat. I huddled into my hoodie, hoping I didn't stink like the rest of the guys. I always tried to wash up whenever we stopped for the day, whether it was by taking a shower or just washing as much of my body as I could in the bathroom sinks. Still, I probably smelled like a bunch of dirty boy armpits. I surreptitiously tried to sniff My shoulder while I dragged my feet toward the stage. All I could smell was the faint scent of my strawberry shampoo, so I hoped that meant I wasn't too ripe.
Finally, I was standing in front of Jake. He laughed at my disgruntled expression and laid his hand on the small of my back, turning me so she could meet Volterra. I could barely make eye contact; I felt like my face was on fire. My eyes burned from their magnificence. I was standing entirely too close. This must be why people aren't supposed to look directly at the sun, I mused.
"Er, hi… I'm Bella," I managed to get out.
The bodybuilder guy leading the band chuckled in a friendly way and reached out to pat my shoulder. "Nice to meet you, Bella! I guess we'll all be going on tour together, huh?" he said. "Anyway, my name's Emmett, this is my girlfriend Rosalie. That's Jasper, Rosie's brother, and my sister Alice… and this is my brother, Edward. Everyone's in the band, except Rosie, but she does our merch so she can come with us."
My gaze drifted nervously over each person as they were introduced. Rosalie looked slightly bored, Jasper was laughing at something Alice said, and Edward was looking around the club. My breath caught in my throat as I stared at him; he was even more amazing up close. I could see now that his eyes were a warm golden color. He seemed preoccupied, so I took the opportunity to look at him closely. His face
was immaculate, perfectly symmetrical as if an artist had carved him from stone with close attention to detail. His forehead was smooth and untroubled, his eyebrows had a slightly wicked arch, and his nose was perfectly straight. His cheekbones were high and chiseled; his jaw was squared very slightly. His mouth was sinful. His lips looked full and firm, and they were slightly pushed up at the sides as if he was amused. His smile grew wider and I gasped, my eyes snapping back up to his as I realized that I had been caught staring. I blushed again and he chuckled. I quickly averted my gaze and turned into Jake's arm, burying my face in his chest. I hated acting so meek, but something about Edward was just too much for me. I couldn't figure it out, but I immediately felt like something within me had shifted irrevocably.
Emmett was pushing the van as fast as it could go. I could see his foot pressed all the way to the floor on the accelerator. "Em, you know if you break this van, we won't have a van for the tour. The tour we're leaving for tonight," I emphasized.
"Aw, Eddie, you know we'll just buy another one after the show. Besides, we're gonna be late if I don't go fast!" he griped. Emmett didn't need any excuses to speed, none of us did, really. We were united in our love of anything fast or risky. Our parents didn't like it, but we did our best to be safe even while pulling stunts most people wouldn't dream of.
I looked back from the front seat to see Jasper looking uncomfortable with his long legs shoved behind Emmett's seat. He had his arms crossed over his chest and his head rested against the window while he tried to catch some sleep on our way to Seattle. In the seat behind him sat Alice and Rosalie, both chatting animatedly about their latest shopping trip. Alice was scheming to figure out how to escape before the show so she could go back to the store they were at the day before. Something told me she would find a way. Where there was an Alice, there was a shopping spree ready to happen. Rosalie was leaning back with her feet propped up behind Jasper's head. "Hey, Edward, do you think this Wolf Runner band will be cool? We've never met them. What if they are a bunch of assholes?" she asked.
I just shook my head. "I haven't met them personally, but I really dig their music. They might be cool, I guess we'll just have to wait and see. I'm sure if you don't like them Emmett will scare them all off. I doubt anyone's going to piss you off with Em around," I said.
I could see our bags shoved haphazardly into the very back of the van. Most of it belonged to Alice and Rosalie. You would think we were moving our entire household across the country based on the amount of clothing they felt they needed to pack. All us guys needed was a few outfits, we knew we would be doing our laundry on the road. The rest of our stuff was in the trailer with our equipment. I knew we would probably be leaving for the tour after the show tonight, but none of us was sure how long we would be gone. This was our first tour with our potential label; we'd only ever been on independent tours before. I felt nerves hitting my stomach all of a sudden. I relaxed back in my seat and closed my eyes. I tried to breathe deeply and remind myself that this was exactly what all of us had been hoping for since forming the band a few years ago.
We'd steadily gained in popularity with the local venues and thanks to the full-length we put out last year, we were finally getting the attention we were hoping for. We had a respectable fan base. I guess it helped that were all blessed with great genes, or so our fans kept telling us. I, for one, never really understood or cared why girls would get into a band just because they thought the guys in it were "hot." Besides all the screaming girls shamelessly ogling us guys, there was a big following of guys interested in
Alice. I frowned at some of the memories that cropped up at that thought. Guys hanging around outside clubs, trying to paw Alice after shows. Jasper, Emmett, and I have all had to step in repeatedly to get those hormonal bastards to leave her alone. Jasper kept a cool head, but you could always tell just how infuriating he found it to peel guys away from his girlfriend on a consistent basis. Rosalie always attracted insane amounts of attention as well. Emmett wasn't as mellow as Jasper, though. He was always ready and willing to throw a punch if anyone ever got out of line with his fiancée.
I sighed. My backside was getting numb from the seat. I was eager to get out and stretch my legs. I hated having to cram them into the van's limited legroom.
Finally, we hit Seattle and I watched out the window as we reached the club. I waited while everyone piled out of the van. I brought up the rear, not really noticing the frigid wind blowing through my hair and stinging my cheeks. I loved the bite in the air during the fall and winter months. I couldn't think of anything better than the first snow of the season.
We headed inside the club to meet the other band we were going on tour with. I had heard of them before our manager told us we'd be going on tour with them, and I really liked their music. I wore my Wolf Runner t-shirt in the hopes that they would see I respected them as musicians. We definitely wanted things to go smoothly over the course of the tour.
As soon as we walked in, I was hit with the smell of stale cigarette smoke and alcohol. I was familiar with this venue; I came to shows here a lot, especially in high school. The owner of the club had just sold it recently and changed the name. I was looking around to see if there were any other changes, and that's when I saw her.
She was reclining in a chair by one of the tables against the back wall. She was petite, probably a little under a foot shorter than I was. She had long brown hair that curled slightly as it fell over her back and shoulders. Her skin was delicate and pale; she looked tired and resigned. I wondered about that. Her eyes were too dark for me to see from where I was standing, but I could see her Wolf Runner sweatshirt. I wondered if she was in the band, or if she was just a fan. She was looking down at her feet when a slight blush crept across her cheeks. I felt the nerves in my stomach over the tour shift to nerves of an entirely different sort. I wanted to know her name. I wanted to hear her voice. I don't know what it was about her that got to me, but I just had to find out more about her.
I was distracted by Emmett greeting an enormous guy standing in front of the stage. He was surrounded by three other guys. They all had light brown skin and a couple of them had long black hair tied back in ponytails. I knew they were from La Push, so I assumed they were natives. I returned my eyes to the guy in front. He was about four inches taller than me, but he was heavily muscled and covered in tattoos. He wore the uniform of our type of music: black t-shirt, dark jeans, black and white Cons. I saw his hair was carefully combed into place. I didn't understand how some guys could wear so much crap in their hair. It looked really uncomfortable.
"Hey man," he greeted Emmett. They shook hands as he said, "I'm Jake. I'm the singer for Wolf Runner. This is Embry, he's the guitarist. That's Quil, he plays the bass. Seth is the drummer." As he pointed out his band mates, my eyes surreptitiously returned to the girl at the back of the club. Jake must have seen me look over, because he called for her to come over and meet us.
I felt my palms get sweaty, which was ridiculous. The stomach clenched as I watched her come closer. She looked nervous. I wondered if she was just intimidated by Emmett. He has that effect on people sometimes. I could tell by the way that Jake touched her they were together. I felt disappointment wash over me. I told myself to get it together; I'd only seen her once so how could I even feel envy? I didn't know her at all. I shifted my eyes around the club, trying to look at anything except her face. She was even more beautiful up close. I wanted to talk to her but with the way I was already reacting, I knew that was definitely a bad idea. I wasn't into messing with girls who were already taken.
When I was introduced to her, I brought my eyes back to look at her briefly. Her eyes were wide as she stared at me. I couldn't tell why she was staring, exactly, but she seemed mesmerized. I laughed, I couldn't help it. I guess I should be used to it by now but this girl's gaze was different. It made me feel hot. My skin prickled as her eyes roamed my face. I felt the heat rising up my back as I watched her, completely aware that I should look away but not willing to.
Finally, I became aware of my surroundings again. I smiled at Bella and quickly turned my attention to Alice and Jasper. I was definitely going to be staying away from her during the tour. The last thing I needed was drama or complications. This was my dream, and I wanted to see it happen.