A/N: Sorry guys. I've got loads of excuses that you don't need to hear. Please accept my sincere apologies for taking so long to update. I hope there are a few of you who have stuck around. :)
Read the bottom A/N for some news … I just don't want to keep you waiting any longer for the meat.
"Bel-la. You really need to change out of that shirt. What if Edward saw you in it? You probably smell gross," Alice trilled as she skipped down the hallway. "I just saw Jacob in the parking lot. What did he want?" Alice didn't stop as she entered the open doorway, her back turned toward the interior of the apartment. "He had a waffle. I want a waffle. He also had a shit-eating grin on his face." She stopped to poke Bella in the chest, who was standing against the open door, smiling at her roommate. "What does he know that I don't?"
Edward stood motionless, watching as Alice continued to back into the apartment. It was too late when he realized she had no idea he was standing there.
Alice turned as she entered the foyer … and ran smack into Edward's chest.
Edward spoke over Alice's startled squeal. "Oh, Alice, I'm sorry. I thought you saw me standing here."
Alice's face, mere millimeters from the Superman logo on Edward's t-shirt, grew pink. Without moving, she spoke. "Bella, dearest, how many times must I ask you to tell me when we have company?" Edward could feel Alice's warm breath against his chest; he laughed.
"I really had no chance to say anything, Alice, since you wouldn't stop talking about how badly I smell and waffles." Bella tilted her head in mock-thoughtfulness. "Interesting train of thought."
Alice giggled. Edward marveled at the tiny girl's perpetual good nature. She threw her arms around him and squeezed. "Morning Edward." She looked up at him, without releasing her arms, then peeked back at Bella. "I approve."
Alice released her arms and continued into the kitchen. "I also smell bacon."
Edward ran his fingers through his hair. Alice approves? He looked at Bella for some sort of clarification, but she was already following Alice into the rest of the apartment. He turned and meandered toward the two girls, running a hand through his hair.
"You approve of what?" Edward heard Bella ask as he rounded the corner. Alice was perched on a bar stool, swinging her legs back and forth. Bella was pulling a plate from the cupboard.
"You guys, of course." Alice reached over and snagged a piece of bacon. She munched through a smile. "I'm guessing Jacob realized what was going on, which is what his shit-eating grin was about. It was only a matter of time until one of you made it," Alice paused, curling her fingers into air quotes, "'official.'" She went back to munching on her bacon.
Edward smiled tentatively. "How did you know, Alice, when neither of us really did until last night?"
Bella interjected before Alice could speak. "You'll learn not to question The Pixie, Edward." She winked and handed Alice a plate piled high with waffles. "So you're not mad, Al? That you weren't the first to," Bella paused, her fingers copying Alice's earlier gesture, "'officially' know?"
Alice shoved a forkful of waffle into her mouth and chewed before responding. "Nope," she said, "But you owe me. God I'm starving." She pointed her now empty fork at Edward. "You boys really need to go to the grocery store. Jasper had to go to work early today, so there wasn't time for a proper breakfast."
Edward looked at the clock on the stove. 10: 23 on Monday morning. Edward could hardly believe that he'd only met Bella at the beginning of the weekend. He'd never moved this fast in his life, with anything, particularly a relationship. He was a planner. He wrote outlines of outlines, notes and numerous rough drafts when doing work. He looked at maps, plugged directions into GPSs, researched routes and places before he went anywhere. Three days was hardly enough time to do the laundry properly; never in a million years would he have expected to fall so hard, so fast.
Edward looked at Bella as she leaned on the kitchen counter, trading playful verbal spars with Alice. He watched as she tucked a loose strand of her hair behind her ear, watched as her cheeks turned a slight shade of pink when Alice mentioned his absence at the apartment he shared with Jasper.
Edward laughed. Both girls turned and looked at him, quizzical looks on their faces. Edward ran a hand through his hair and smiled, turning his eyes away from both pairs staring at his face. There was no way he could explain where his mind had just gone at Alice's mention of last night. Not in this company.
Alice popped the last bit of the last waffle into her mouth and licked powdered sugar off her fingers. "Edward, my compliments to the chef." She jumped down off the stool and headed toward him. She put a hand on his chest and started pushing him toward the door. "Now, I am sorry to do this, but it's time for you to go home. We ladies have things to do before tonight."
"Wait, Alice, what …"
Bella moved to stand next to Edward. "Alice, what are you talking about? Edward doesn't have to leave."
Alice crossed her arms across her chest. Edward was amazed at the fire the tiny girl could conjure up. "Bella. There are things we need to discuss. There are things we need to prepare for. We cannot do this when Edward is here. Remember when I said you owed me? I was serious."
"What are we preparing for, Alice?"
"We're going out tonight. Dancing. Karaoke. The works. I'm in the mood for celebrating."
Edward mentally groaned. The last time he'd "gone dancing" he'd … ended up with a beautiful girl kissing him for no reason. Maybe "going dancing" wasn't such a bad thing.
Bella groaned out loud. "Alice …"
Alice smiled. "It'll be fun. We only have a few days until the semester starts. You don't have to work until Wednesday. Jasper gets off today at 5. Edward?" The tiny girl turned to face him, a pleading look in her eyes. "You're free tonight, right?"
The multitude of projects Edward was supposed to have taken care of over the weekend flashed through his mind. The papers that were due for the classes he took over the summer. The rent check that was due at the end of the week; he still had to get Jasper's share. He looked at the two girls, one nearly floating away with anticipation of his answer, the other biting her lip. If he was honest with himself, Edward was planning on spending as much time with Bella as he possibly could, for the rest of eternity, so he might as well go along with Alice's plan.
Edward took a deep breath and pushed his glasses up his nose, physically preparing himself for the flying frontal attack Alice considered a hug. "I am free, actually." Alice threw herself at him.
Bella blew a puff of breath out of a pout. "You didn't have to take my advice not to question her so literally."
After extricating himself from Alice, Edward reached for Bella's hand. "I have good memories of Alice-forced fun." He pulled his glasses from his face, leaned down and kissed Bella full on the mouth. Alice giggled in the background.
Edward pulled away after a moment. Bella's cheeks were flushed. Edward reached out and smoothed his thumb across one, continuing on a path toward her ear. He took a strand of hair between his fingers and twirled it. "Besides," he put his glasses back on. "There is a ton of stuff I should have been working on this weekend when I have been otherwise occupied." A flash of James' letter appeared in his mind, causing Edward to grimace.
Bella noticed his change in mood. "What is it Edward?"
Edward moved his lips into Bella's favorite crooked smile. "Nothing, love." He kissed her on the forehead before turning and heading into the living room to grab his things. He picked up the letter from where he'd dropped it the night before and shoved it into his bag before pulling the strap over his head.
He walked back toward the front door. Alice has disappeared down the hallway to her bedroom; strains of some popular dance song were wending their way from under her door.
Bella was cleaning the dishes from breakfast. Edward wrapped an arm around her waist and pulled her away from the sink. He placed his lips on hers, gently at first. Bella threw her arms around Edward's neck and returned the kiss, passionately. They pulled apart, slightly, and Bella said, "I'm going to miss you."
"It won't be long before we're together again. Kryptonite couldn't keep me away." Edward smiled, and turned and headed to the door. He turned once, before heading out. "I love you."
Bella grinned. "And I love you."
Edward closed the door and headed toward the parking lot. The good mood he'd been in dimmed slightly as he considered the letter in his bag. He dug out his cell phone, dialing the UDub library.
"Jazz, it's me. Are you busy?"
Jasper hit the send button on his phone and looked up at Edward, who was standing on the other side of the Reference desk. "It's done."
"Thanks, man. I appreciate it."
"I don't really like going behind Bella's back, but I think, in this case, it's necessary."
Edward ran a hand through his hair. He knew that it wasn't very adult of him to make a decision like this without Bella's input, but just thinking about James and the letter made him see red. "I know. I don't like it either. But I don't want to meet him in some back alley. The dude's scary. I just want to talk to him, anyway. I'd rather do it in public."
"Yeah, I know what you mean. It's a good thing Jacob's out for the count. Now that dude. He's a giant." Jasper flexed his arms. "It's a good thing I know Alice likes them on the skinnier side."
Edward laughed. 'I'm pretty sure you have nothing to worry about."
Jasper's phone played the opening lines of "You Are the Best Thing." Edward laughed again, loudly. Knowing Jasper had it as bad as he did made falling in love over a weekend not seem as crazy as it seemed from the outside. Edward opened a book sitting on the counter and began flipping through the pages. It was a slim volume on the legends of the local Quileute Native American tribe. He'd opened it to some story about "The Cold Ones" and had started skimming when he heard Jasper finish his conversation with Alice.
"She's pissed." Jasper put his phone in his pocket.
"I'm not surprised."
"Bella just told her about the letter. I'm pretty sure Alice has known something weird was going on with James for a while, though. That girl's got a sixth sense."
Edward thought about this morning, when Alice had just known about the new relationship. He shook his head. "You're right. She's going to invite him, though?"
"Yeah. I'm pretty sure she's going to be out for blood. I hope you see him before Al does."
Edward felt a vibrating coming from his bag. Opening the top flap, he dug around until he found his phone and pulled it out. He had a new text, from Bella.
Do you have the letter?
Edward was worried this would happen. But he needed to have it, to show Jasper. He hated even thinking about lying to Bella at a point this early in the relationship, but he figured bending the truth couldn't make things much worse.
Yeah, I guess I accidentally picked it up with the rest of my stuff this morning. Sorry love.
Edward thought for a second. He added:
I won't give it to Emmett, I promise. ;) Love you.
Jasper leaned back in his chair. "Bella?"
"Yeah," Edward sighed. "She's looking for the letter. I told her I have it by accident."
The phone in Edward's hand buzzed again.
OK. Please don't show anyone. Love you too. :D
"I'm sure she's cool with everything." Jasper stood up. "Bella's really relaxed; it takes a lot to rile her up." He waved the James' letter, which had been sitting on the desk, in the air. "I mean, anyone else would be calling their police detective brother before they got to the second paragraph."
"So you don't think I'm overreacting?"
Jasper handed Edward the letter. "Nah, man. I get it. And I'm behind you."
A wave of relief washed over Edward. He never quite appreciated his roommate's calming influence as much as he did at that moment.
A patron walked up to the desk and stood behind Edward. Jasper cleared his throat. "I'll see you back at the apartment. Alice wants us over at their place at 9."
"Sounds good." Edward walked toward the exit and his car at the curb. He was headed to the bank with the check he'd just gotten from Jasper, then home, to attempt to work on his papers before the night's event. They were sure to be yet again memorable.
Edward watched as Bella and Alice exited their apartment hallway. He was leaning on the side of his Volvo; Jasper stood off to the side. Edward smiled at the outfit Bella was wearing; it had obviously not been her choice. The heels she was wearing, however, certainly did make her legs seem like they were miles long. The image, tinged with memories of the previous night, made Edward smile even larger. He pushed himself off the car and headed toward the passenger side door.
Edward opened the door with a flourish. He barely even noticed Alice ad Jasper making out on the sidewalk. Bella's smile was radiant.
"Thank you sir. You look extremely dashing tonight, Mr. Kent."
Edward placed a kiss on her outstretched hand. He'd worn the royal blue button down specifically for Bella. And her silly nicknames.
He walked around the car, clearing his throat theatrically as he reached the driver's door. Alice pulled herself away from Jasper and bounced toward the back seat. Jasper just shrugged at his friend and went to the other side.
Edward put the car in reverse and drove toward the club. Alice had somehow wrangled five spots on the guest list of a brand new club's opening night. Edward hoped he wouldn't get her kicked off the list for life.
The three passengers made conversation about the upcoming school year as Edward drove. He added his opinion occasionally, when specifically asked, but otherwise stayed within his own mind, mulling over what he was going to say.
He pulled up to the curb in front of Roaring to let Bella, Alice and Jasper out.
Alice spoke up. "Edward, valet's included tonight."
Edward shrugged and put the car in neutral, pulling on the parking break. He got out and handed his keys to the valet, then followed the rest of the group toward the front door.
"Wow," Bella exclaimed as they walked in. It was nothing Edward had expected. They weren't in 2009 any longer. The décor of the club belied a speak-easy in the 1920s, complete with waitresses in flapper dresses and security guards in zoot suits.
"I told you this place was spectacular," Alice beamed.
They walked toward an open table and sat down. They ordered period drinks from the waitress and then turned their attention to the stage, where a lounge singer with striking red hair and a smoky voice was signing the hits of Jazz greats.
The atmosphere was relaxing, but Edward just couldn't get rid of the nervous tension that had only been getting worse all day.
Bella leaned toward his ear. "What's wrong Edward? You're not all here." She looked into his eyes and Edward felt a little better.
"Nothing my love, no worries." Edward kissed the side of her mouth and attempted a smile.
The waitress returned and placed their drinks on the table.
"Whoa. Check that out." Alice pointed toward the entrance of the club.
Edward turned and looked along with the rest of the party sitting at the table. James had just entered. His shoulder-length blond hair was gone; he'd shaved his head down to the scalp.
"Dude's not really helping the whole menacing psycho thing with that new Lex Luthor 'do." Jasper scoffed before talking a drag on his scotch and soda.
Bella, sitting to his left, turned and glared. "Who told you?" She pointed at Edward. "You?" She turned to Alice before he could answer. "And did you invite him here?"
Edward leaned in and took her hand. "Bella, I'm sorry. I had to tell Jasper. I needed another male perspective." Bella tried to pull away, but Edward kept his grip. "Love, the letter scared me." Bella stopped struggling. Edward took a hold of her chin and made her look into his eyes. "I just wanted to talk to James. To explain that we are together now. To let him know that leaving letters like this on your door isn't appropriate, now or ever. I know you think he's harmless. I don't."
Bella bit her lip. "I … I … " She took a deep breath and started again. "I don't like that you called him here without my knowledge. But we do need to discuss the letter. And I am glad you're here for when I do it."
Bella stood up and walked toward James. Edward waited, allowing them a bit of time. He gripped the seat of his chair so hard his hands started to leave imprints.
James stopped when Bella reached him. Edward couldn't hear the conversation, but he could see the glare in James's eyes turn from annoyance to hatred. Edward watched as Bella reached out a hand to touch James' shoulder.
James raised his arm and brushed her hand off, pushing past her small frame and nearly knocking her into a group of people at the bar. Edward stood up, and heard both Jasper and Alice's chairs scrape the ground behind him. Someone growled.
James covered the ground to Edward in seconds. Edward stood up straight. He couldn't overpower James in muscle, but he had the advantage in height. He was going to use anything he had.
When he spoke, James was oddly calm. "Bella tells me you have made a pass at her."
"More than a pass, I'd say. She's my girlfriend, James. And you need to leave her alone. She's. Not. Interested." Edward punctuated each word as though it were a sentence, attempting to drive the point home. "The only reason I'm not calling the cops and telling them about your little letter is because Bella asked me not to."
James laughed. It was an uncomfortable sound. Nothing about it suggested humor.
James sneered. "You're much too weak to do anything about it, Ed-ward." The way he drug out the syllables made it seem like an insult. "I was here first. Bella is mine."
"First of all, James. Bella is not property. She is her own person. If she happens to want to be with me, I am all the luckier for it. But she is not something to stake a claim on."
Edward's green eyes grew steely. "And secondly, while Clark Kent might be a pacifist," he reached up and pulled off his glasses, folded them and handed them to Bella, standing beside him. "Superman is most certainly not."
A chorus of gasps rang out and the room went silent.
Holy crap! Edward just punched James!
Good job Ed! That creep totally deserved it.
Holy crow. That should not be hot … but it totally was.
Edward rubbed his knuckles. He'd never punched someone before. Good thing he'd remembered to keep his thumb out, and aim for the soft tissue. He thanked the gods for the element of surprise.
James leaned against the table he'd fallen into when Edward's fist connected with his face. He rubbed his cheekbone, which was already turning pink. "That was not a smart move." He moved toward Edward, arm pulled back and ready to fly.
A figure moved to step between the two men.
"James. Get out of here. I told you I'm not interested. You're just going to have to deal."
"Bella, please …"
"No." Bella turned and pointed at Edward. "You, go sit back down. I'll deal with you in a minute." She turned back toward James. "If you want what's best for me, you will leave. And you will get over this infatuation you have with me, or we can't be friends anymore. I am sorry if I've lead you on, but that's all we can be. That's all that could have ever come from this. Friends."
James's mouth dropped open. Edward struggled to hold back the huge grin that was threatening to erupt. He turned and watched Bella return to the table. She sat down and took a hold of his hand, making an obvious point. She leaned over and kissed Edward on the mouth, lingering longer than she needed.
Edward opened his eyes and smiled. He turned and looked, but James had gone. Got the hint, finally. The hand Bella wasn't holding started throbbing, but it had definitely been worth it.
Jasper held up a hand for a high-five. Alice winked at him, obviously pleased at the turn of events. She raised a hand and called over the waitress. "Four flutes of champagne, please. We're celebrating."
Bella laughed, then leaned in toward Edward's ear. "I love you," she whispered, so only he could hear. "But if you ever, EVER, pull a stunt like that again, I will totally tell everyone about your secret identity." She pulled back and poked him in the chest, grinning.
A/N: This is the final installment of Bad Boys and Book Nerds. I know, it's *sadtimes* for me too. But know that all of your input and wonderful comments have absolutely made my year. I never expected to garner such a wonderful response when I started this "doodle" I'll continue to set foot in the world of fanfiction, so put me on your author alerts if you'd like to see what I have in store for you next.
Thanks to AHelm, my fantastic beta, for all she's done for me. I couldn't have done this without her.
As a thank you gift, I've made you all a present: The Bad Boys and Book Nerds Fanmix/Soundtrack. Check out my profile for the link.
Thanks again. Love to you all.