Hello, all! My vacation time is winding down and I spent some time writing this chapter. Hope everybody enjoys it.
I wanted to thank whoever nominated this story for the Indie awards. It didn't make it, but it still means so much to me just to know that people care about this story. I'm thankful for every single reader and reviewer I have.
Anyways, on to the chapter.
"Thank God it's Friday," Alice lamented as we all sat down to lunch. Everyone nodded in agreement; the teachers had been trying to get in as many projects and tests, it seemed, since the holiday break was approaching soon.
"Amen to that," Edward sighed, rubbing tiredly at his face.
"Praise the Lord!" Emmett crowed, making his voice high pitched and adding in a southern accent. I chuckled, spearing some of my salad and shoveling it into my mouth.
"Just one more week," Rosalie added, leaning her head against Emmett's bulky shoulder.
I glanced around at our group, noticing how tired and weary we all looked. School was really kicking everybody's ass right now.
"Did you do that research paper for bio yet?" Edward asked from where he was seated across from me. I dropped my fork at his question. I had totally forgotten about the paper.
"Shit! That completely slipped my mind. When is it due?"
"Tuesday," Edward answered. I slumped in my seat.
"Guess I know what I'll be doing this weekend," I grumbled, completely annoyed with myself. How had I forgotten about it?
"It's not that hard," Edward tried to offer some comfort.
"Says the science geek," I scoffed.
"Well, how about I help you?" He offered. "Mine's already done."
"You'd do that?" I asked, a smiling finding its way to my face. My paper would be so much easier to write with Edward helping me.
"Sure. I'll come over Sunday," he shrugged his shoulders, picking up his slice of pizza.
The two weeks since that snow day had proved to be very good for Edward and I. It was almost as if the past few months hadn't even happened. It was a bit startling how easily we became friends, how carefree I was when we would hang out, how easy it was to talk to him. It was almost like I had known him my whole life.
His unexplained silence in the beginning was still that; unexplained. I hadn't brought it up and neither had he. I didn't want to disrupt the easygoing friendship we had forged.
Probably a stupid move.
Ugh. Okay. So I knew that ignoring his jackass behavior probably wasn't the smartest thing. But my head and my heart just couldn't compromise.
"Oh!" Alice's head suddenly shot up and we all looked towards her.
"Alice?" Jasper nudged her shoulder.
"I know what we should do this weekend!" Alice announced, turning to smile at everyone.
"No," Edward groaned, closing his eyes.
"Holiday shopping!" Alice practically sang. All the boys groaned in unison.
"What, no groan from Bella?" Alice asked, cocking an eyebrow at me. Alice had taken me on plenty of shopping excursions, however unwillingly. I didn't like spending my days in malls and made my opinions very clear to Alice. Didn't mean I was exempt from going.
This time, however, I actually didn't mind.
"Nope, no groan. I actually need to do some Christmas shopping."
"Bella," Edward sighed. "You were our last resort."
I eyed the boys, giggling. They all looked as if I had just flushed their goldfish.
"Sorry," I shrugged, popping a crouton into my mouth and smirking at Edward. He made a face back at me, making me giggle once more.
The bell rang and we all moved to grab our garbage, before slinging backpacks over our shoulders and heading out the cafeteria doors.
"So, we'll go tomorrow," Alice declared. "Everybody be ready at-"
"If it's before ten in the morning Alice so help me God…" Edward seethed, sending a death stare Alice's way. She pouted but relented.
"Fine!" Alice huffed. "How about ten thirty? I'll be generous since it's the holidays."
"How very thoughtful of you," Edward grumbled sarcastically.
"Suck it up, Cullen," Alice shot back, sticking her tongue out before heading off with Jasper.
Edward and I made our way to biology and shuffled our way to our lab table in the back.
"I can't believe you agreed to go holiday shopping with Alice," Edward lamented, laying his head on the desk. I laughed, pulling out my notebook.
"I haven't found the time to go Christmas shopping yet and she obviously wants to go. How could I say no?"
"Easy. You say no," he shot back, but a smile tugged on his lips.
"You do realize that we very well may be sleeping at the mall," he continued. "You've seen Alice on regular shopping trips and Christmas is her favorite time of year. Add those two things together and you have one tiny girl who can't be stopped when unleashed on holiday sales."
I chuckled, shrugging my shoulders. Like he had said on our snow day, Alice will be Alice.
"Whatever," I waved him off, looking up at Mr. Banner as he began the lecture for the day.
"Fine," Edward shot back. "But don't come crying to me when she's forcing you into clothes you know you'll never wear."
Although a definite possibility, I still tried to act calm. I simply shrugged my shoulders again, knowing it would frustrate him. I knew I had done a good job when I heard a harsh sigh come from beside me. I worked to stifle my giggles.
"You're impossible," he muttered, pulling his hood on before laying his head down in his arms and drifting off to sleep.
"Bella, your friends are here!" Charlie yelled from downstairs. I had figured as much when I heard a tiny rapping on the door moments before, but I was still half asleep and didn't have the drive to go downstairs and open the door.
Too many times I had found myself in this situation since moving to Forks; nine in the morning on a Saturday, preparing for a full day of shopping. I had gotten better at waking myself up and being able to prepare mentally for what was to come.
"Little Bella, come on!" I could hear Emmett shouting from downstairs and quickly grabbed my things, racing downstairs and fast as I could without falling flat on my face. I had a tiny house and Emmett was a big guy. I didn't want him to break anything.
"I'm surprised you don't have work today, Charlie," Alice was saying as approached the group standing in my little living room.
"Yeah, well, I got a bit of time off," Charlie replied, shrugging his shoulders.
"Was it really necessary for everybody to come in?" I asked, sweeping my gaze across the group.
"Completely necessary," Emmett answered from behind me. I turned to see him with the bucket of leftover fried chicken that Charlie and I had got for dinner on Thursday, chomping away at what was left.
"What?" He asked through a mouth full of chicken, noticing that was I gaping at him like a fish. I looked back to Charlie, who seemed mildly amused, before sighing and shaking my head.
"Nothing. Let's go."
I watched as they all filed out of the house, before turning and noticing that Edward was standing at the mantle, eyeing the pictures set up there.
"Edward?" I called out, moving towards him. He spun around and smiled.
"You were one cute baby, Bells," he commented, pointing at a picture of a seven month old me on my stomach in this very living room, chewing on a shoe. My blush flared up as Charlie chuckled, noticing the picture as well.
"That she was. But she had a thing for chewing on stuff. Anything was near her, she'd grab it and put it right in her mouth," Charlie commented casually. Edward's eyes were positively sparkling with mischief, probably letting his mind wander to those dirty places. Why did everything turn into a dirty joke with him?
"Okay, see you later Dad," I waved, grabbing Edward's hand and pulling him out of the house. As soon as the door was shut behind us, Edward was cracking up.
"That was great!" Edward exclaimed, leaning against the house. I huffed, crossing my arms in annoyance.
"You have the mentality of a five year old," I grumbled.
"What happened?" Jasper asked, glancing between the two of us. We must have been an interesting sight. Edward grinning like the Cheshire cat and me blushing and pissed off.
"Nothing," Edward replied, finally calming down. We made our way over to everybody else who was standing in the driveway.
"Okay, how about this," Alice suggested, looking over at the two cars they had taken. I could see Emmett's Jeep and Edward's Volvo parked on the street in front of my house.
"Rose, Jasper, and I will go with Emmett in the Jeep. Bella, you can go with Edward in the Volvo."
"Fine by me," I agreed, excitement growing within me at the prospect of me and Edward alone in his car for the hour ride up to Port Angeles.
"Alright!" Alice clapped her hands together and I saw Rosalie rolls her eyes. "So, we'll meet up at the mall. Call us when you get there."
I hopped into the passenger seat of the Volvo as Edward slid into the driver's seat. I was momentarily taken off guard; his scent was everywhere. I mean, sure, it was his car and so obviously it would smell like him. But, everything about Edward set me off and his all encompassing scent was no exception.
Edward started the car, grinning to himself as it purred to life. Men and their cars. I would never understand the fascination.
"You have your iPod with you?" Edward turned to me and asked. I nodded, reaching into my bag and producing my black classic iPod. Edward pulled out one identical to mine from the center console then turned back to me.
"Good, because I want to play a game," he told me, smiling. I cocked an eyebrow at him.
"What kind of game?" I asked curiously. He turned to plug in his iPod to the speakers, before explaining.
"We come up with a category and then we each choose a song for that category. It will make the ride go faster," he shrugged, scrolling through his iPod as we pulled out onto the road.
"What's the first category?" I asked, turning on my own iPod and readying myself for choosing a song.
"How about best pump up song?" He suggested. "You know, the one song that makes you wanna go out and fight crime and shit like that."
I already knew what I would choose so I sat back and waited for what Edward's choice would be.
I laughed as the opening of "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor blared through the speakers.
"Typical," I commented. Edward laughed before bobbing his head to the beat, singing along ridiculously. Caught up in it, I found myself singing along too. Edward actually had a pretty good voice, although I shouldn't have been surprised. His regular speaking voice was smooth as silk, why would his singing voice be any different?
I chose "Livin' On a Prayer" by Bon Jovi, which Edward completely supported. He started moving around in his seats, doing little dance moves and making me laugh my head off.
"You choose the next category," Edward offered. "You can go first this time."
I tapped my chin, trying to think of something.
"How about guilty pleasure?" I suggested, knowing exactly what I would pick and feeling a bit embarrassed about it. However, I wanted to know what Edward's guilty pleasure was. He nodded enthusiastically I searched around for the song before I hit play.
"Circus" by Britney Spears started playing and Edward laughed, looking over and cocking an eyebrow at me.
"Don't even try to pretend you don't have any Britney on your iPod, Cullen," I shot at him. He shook his head, turning his iPod towards me. I leaned over to see "Toxic" by Britney Spears highlighted.
"I was thinking about going for Britney but now I'm going to do something else," Edward said, glancing back and forth from the iPod to the road as he drove. I didn't feel nervous; Edward seemed to be a very capable driver. Fast, but safe.
Edward went for "La La" by Ashlee Simpson, which I didn't see coming at all. But, I shouldn't have been surprised. I had found it in the time since Edward and I had become friends that he had quite a perverted mind. He enjoyed being dirty.
Dirty Edward. Oh, yummmm.
"My turn," Edward declared when Ashlee Simpson faded away. "Best love song."
I actually had an entire playlist of love songs on my iPod and headed straight for it. Edward had already made his selection and turned it on.
"Aw, I love this song," I sighed. Edward had chosen "Have I Told You Lately" by Van Morrison. His unique voice floated around me, and I couldn't help but let myself imagine Edward singing this for me. God, I'm such a girl.
I put on "Smother Me" by The Used, and found myself doing the same exact thing. Picturing Edward sitting at a piano, playing and singing this song for me only.
"Bella?" I heard Edward call, snapping me back into reality. I realized the song had ended and it was my turn to pick a category. I had already thought of one.
"Best song to do a striptease to," I stated, my cheeks turning pink. I wasn't as comfortable with the dirty stuff as Edward was.
"Oh, good one," Edward nodded appreciatively.
I turned on "Pour Some Sugar On Me" by Def Leppard, not your typical dirty rap song, but still one that I had always pictured to be a good song to seductively strip to.
"So, this is the song you'll dance to when you strip?" Edward asked, looking towards me and wiggling his eyebrows. I rolled my eyes, but could still feel that blush painting my cheeks.
Edward chose "What's Your Fantasy" by Ludacris, a much more typical choice.
We went through 80's songs, corny love songs, and dirty songs. It was an incredibly fun game and I was glad that Edward had suggested it.
"Alright, one more," Edward said as "The Bad Touch" by The Bloodhound Gang came to a close. I thought about it before suggesting the last category.
"How about that one song you always listen to when you're in a melancholy mood. Depressing yet comforting at the same time."
I put on "Into the Mystic" by Van Morrison, and Edward nodded in appreciation. We both had discovered we shared a love for Van Morrison. We stayed silent as the music drifted around us, and I felt myself relaxing into my seat.
When the song ended, I grabbed my iPod and shut it off, throwing it into my bag. Edward put on the last song and I listened to it as we made our way through downtown Port Angeles, towards the mall.
"The Weepies?" I asked, wanting to make sure I got it right. Edward hummed and nodded.
"World Spins Madly On," he clarified. "I love this song."
Woke up and wished that I was dead
With an aching in my head
I lay motionless in bed
I thought of you and where you'd gone
And let the world spin madly on
Edward sang along softly, not at all like before. This really was the perfect song for a melancholy mood.
Everything that I said I'd do
Like make the world brand new
And take the time for you
I just got lost and slept right through the dawn
And the world spins madly on
"Do you have this CD?" I asked Edward. He nodded. "Can I borrow it?"
He looked over at me and smiled.
I let the day go by
I always say goodbye
I watch the stars from my window sill
The whole world is moving and I'm standing still
I closed my eyes and let the sounds of the music and Edward singing wash over me.
Woke up and wished that I was dead
With an aching in my head
I lay motionless in bed
The night is here and the day is gone
And the world spins madly on
I thought of you and where you'd gone
And the world spins madly on
"That was a great song," I murmured, opening my eyes and registering that we were already parked in the mall parking lot. Edward nodded, unplugging his iPod and putting it back into the center console.
"Time to shop!" Edward announced with fake enthusiasm. I groaned and unbuckled myself before exiting the car.
"Hey guys!" I heard Alice call out. I turned to see everybody walking towards us and waved. Alice trotted up to me and looped her arm through mine, smiling brightly.
"Ready to shop?" She asked, her eyes dancing. I chuckled and nodded, suddenly finding myself being tugged towards the entrance to the mall, the sounds of laughter behind us at my bewildered expression.
"Alice, please, can we get some lunch?" Emmett pleaded, lugging around Rosalie's bags. We had been at the mall for three hours already and had managed to hit three major department stores. Rosalie and Alice had managed to acquire many bags, while I still only had one.
Crazy ass shoppers.
The boys had been following, grumbling about wanting to go to the video game store. They were so stereotypically male that it killed me sometimes. Jasper and Emmett had been roped into carrying Alice and Rosalie's bags already. When I jokingly suggested that Edward take mine, he flipped me off.
"Alright, Emmett," Alice sighed, looking longingly at a sale that was just down the way. Rosalie and I both got on either side of Alice, grabbing an arm and towing her towards the food court. I myself was starving; I hadn't eaten any breakfast this morning. The smells of greasy mall food was wafting our way, eliciting a loud grumble from my empty stomach. I tried to pick up the pace, almost in a trance by the promise of food.
We finally reached an empty table and set all our things down. Jasper stayed at the table to guard everything while we went off to get food. Alice headed over to Subway to get sandwiches for her and Jasper, Emmett went to get a slice of pizza, Rosalie decided on Chinese food, and I made a beeline for McDonald's. Good ole McDonald's.
"Good choice," I heard from beside me as I got on line. Edward winked at me as I turned to acknowledge him.
"What are you getting?" He asked. I looked up at the menu, trying to decide.
"I think I'm going to go with a Big Mac, large fries, and a Coke," I rattled off. I turned to see Edward looking at me incredulously.
"Damn, girl, you can eat," he commented, acting like he was actually shocked.
"Yeah, so what? I'm hungry."
"You'd be surprised how many girls wouldn't even sit in the same room with a Big Mac, let alone eat one," he replied. I shrugged my shoulders.
"I like to eat," I stated simply. He smiled, tugging at the end of my hair lightly.
Edward and I made our way back to the table, where the rest of our friends had already congregated, after we had gotten our food. My tray barely hit the table before I attacked the burger and fries I had ordered.
A silence settled over the table for a few moments and I glanced up curiously. Everybody was looking towards me, either shock or amusement playing on their faces.
"What?" I asked around a bite of my glorious Big Mac. Emmett burst out into laughter.
"For such a little girl, you sure can eat," Jasper said, grinning at me as he took another bite of his sandwich. I sighed harshly, putting my burger down.
"Why is it so shocking that I eat?" I practically growled. Everybody laughed.
"It's not so much that you were eating, Bella, it was more like you resembled a ravenous wolf descending on their prey while you did it," Rosalie explained. My blush appeared on my cheeks but I ignored it, picking up my Big Mac and taking another bite.
"Did you honestly get a Happy Meal, Edward?" Jasper asked, glancing at Edward and his little bag that held a tiny cheeseburger, a small pouch of fries, and the mini sized drink it came with. Edward shrugged, reaching in for some fries.
"I wanted the toy," he replied, as if that were the most normal thing in the world. He pulled out the plastic bag containing his toy, eyes gleaming.
"Power Rangers? No way!" Emmett shouted out, leaning over the table to snatch the tiny plastic toy away.
"It's the newer ones," Jasper commented, looking over at the little action figure that Emmett was cradling. The boys seemed to be way too into the little action figure, while Alice and Rosalie had glanced at it, smiled, and turned away.
"Aren't you guys a little old to be playing with Power Rangers?" I asked, popping some fries into my mouth. Emmett turned to me, looking as if I had told him his Xbox blew up.
"Hell no, little Bella," he practically reprimanded me.
"Power Rangers was our thing when we were little," Jasper explained, patting Emmett's shoulder. "It's kind of how we all met."
"Oh, cool," I replied, bobbing my head.
"Yeah, we were such losers when we were little," Rosalie joked. "Always playing Power Rangers at recess. Of course, we always got the guys to play some more girly things when we had play dates."
"Oh, really?" I replied, glancing at the boys. Jasper and Edward groaned, sinking into their seats. Emmett, however, shrugged his broad shoulders and continued eating.
"You wouldn't believe the things we got them to play for us. Dress up was the most frequent game," Alice said, a twinkle in her eye. "Esme has loads of pictures; we'll show you later."
"You really don't have to do that, Alice," Edward grumbled, snatching his Power Rangers toy back from Emmett and plopping it back into the bag. Alice simply laughed, returning to her lunch.
After we were all well fed, Alice ushered us back into shopping. The afternoon proved more successful for me, since I got most of my Christmas shopping done. All I needed was a gift for Emmett and I would be set.
"Ooh, let's stop in here!" Alice announced, heading towards a very pink looking store. Glancing up at the name, I groaned to myself. Victoria's Secret. Of course she would be dragging us all in there. Alice had no shame.
"My favorite," Emmett chuckled, wrapping his arm around Rosalie's waist and leading her in. I followed after, wondering if Alice would let me off the hook and I could just go find Emmett's present instead.
Pondering that for a second, I waved off the thought. This was Alice, for crying out loud. No way would she ever let me off the hook.
Jasper and Edward were leaning against a podium where a mannequin rested as Alice darted around the racks, searching for sizes. Rosalie and Emmett were nowhere in sight; I figured they had already ventured further into the store.
"Bella, leave your things with the boys and come on!" Alice instructed, bending down to search through a drawer of bras. I shuffled over to Edward and Jasper, putting my bags down by Alice's.
"Happy shopping!" Edward teased, reaching up to ruffle my hair. A chill flew down my spine at the contact and I could barely manage a smile, so entranced by the feeling. Edward Cullen certainly didn't know the power he held over me.
"Bella, I've found some stuff that's perfect for you," Alice announced, dancing over to my side. She held up a set of bra and panties. They were midnight blue boy shorts with a matching bra and I liked them instantly.
"Good choice, Alice," I praised, grabbing them from her. She beamed at me.
"I also see some stuff over there," Alice pointed further into the store, "that I think would look great on you. Let's go, boys."
Jasper gathered up Alice's bag and then mine, through I tried to protest, and followed after Alice. I glanced towards Edward to see a faraway look in his eyes, brows furrowed.
"Hey, anybody home?" I waved a hand in front of his face. He startled for a second, before glancing down and then back up at me.
"What?" He asked, confused. I rolled my eyes.
"You coming?" I gestured to where Alice and Jasper had relocated. He looked surprised for a second, glancing back down again at something and then nodded.
"Yeah, sorry. Just spaced out a little there."
I joined Alice once more as she pranced around the store, able to find things perfect for me effortlessly. I wished I could shop like her. Probably why I didn't like shopping was that I could never find anything half way decent.
"Now, go try these on," Alice told me, ushering me into a changing room. I tried on everything that Alice had shoved at me and, unsurprisingly, I liked it all. However, trying to budget my money, I settled on the midnight blue panties and bra, a red set that was almost identical, and a comfy blue and white striped bra. Satisfied, I went to purchase.
"I'm so proud, Bella," Alice said with glee as we left Victoria's Secret. "When I first started taking you shopping, you were so clueless. Now, you've blossomed into a truly experienced shopper!"
I rolled my eyes but smiled back at her.
"Okay," Rose said as we stopped at a fountain. "Who needs to do what still?"
"I need to get a Christmas present for my mom," Alice stated, rifling through her bags. "And then I need to get some shoes to go with my new dress that I got for New Years."
"I'll go with you," Rose offered. "I need to get something for my Grandma."
"Well, I wanna stop into the video game store," Emmett decided. Jasper seconded that, so they sauntered off in that direction.
"Bella?" Alice asked. "You want to come with us or stay with Edward?"
"Actually," I replied. "I need to hit one more store and then I kind of wanted to stop at that book store downtown."
"How about this," Edward said, coming up from behind me. "We'll go to the store and then we'll leave and head to the book store. We drove here together anyways."
Alice nodded at this, gave me a kiss on the cheek goodbye and then dragged Rosalie away, who turned to wave at the two of us.
I yawned as I turned to talk to Edward and he laughed.
"Yeah, a day of holiday shopping with Alice will do that to you," he teased. I smirked at him then headed into the direction of the store I needed.
"So, where are we going?" Edward asked, jogging to catch up with me.
I led us in the direction of Spencer's, knowing I could find something dirty but funny for Emmett there. After leaving a thoroughly confused Edward outside of the store, I made my way in. I immediately spied something that I knew Emmett would like, and swiftly purchased it.
"What was that all about?" Edward questioned as I came out of the store.
"Doesn't matter," I replied cryptically, knowing it would bug him.
"Come on." Yup. Mission accomplished.
"Oh, get over it. Now, let's get out of here and do some real shopping," I said. Edward shook his head, but smiled slightly and offered me his arm. I looped my hand through the crook of his elbow and we were off.
"I think she's checking me out," Edward whispered to me, crouching behind the shelves and peering through. I snorted, not looking up from the novel I was flipping through.
We had been in the book store for a half hour and from the minute we set foot inside, Edward had been convinced that the lady at the front desk was stalking him throughout the store. I wasn't sure whether I agreed with his assessment of the hippie looking, gray haired woman at the front. However, it was rather entertaining to watch him weave his way through the bookshelves, darting away from her supposedly inappropriate glances.
"Don't flatter yourself, pal," I muttered, putting back the book and selecting a new one. Edward whipped his head around to glare at me.
"This isn't my ego talking, little girl, I actually think the weird cat lady has the hots for me," Edward insisted. I giggled at his serious expression, causing him to pout once again.
"Okay, here we go," I murmured to myself, eyeing a section marked classical. I headed towards it, sensing Edward following close behind.
"I pegged you for a classics junkie," Edward commented as I lovingly ran my hand across the spines of the worn books sitting on the shelves. I turned to him, quirking an eyebrow.
"How'd you know? I don't recall ever revealing my strange obsession with Bronte or Austen."
"But you do, don't you?" He asked, smirking in a way that meant he already knew the answer.
"Whatever, you know what?" I replied, placing my hands on my hips. "I'm not ashamed of it. These books set the premise for authors today. Take Shakespeare for instance. Basically every plot for every book or movie, it all comes from him."
I finished my little rant and huffed at Edward, as he continued to smirk at me. I got my chance to laugh at him though, as the crazy hippie lady breezed past him from behind. He yelped and jumped about a foot in the air, eyes wide and startled. I clutched at my stomach, trying to hold in my incessant giggles.
"She pinched my ass!" He practically squealed. This got me laughing even harder, and I could see a few people poking their heads around the shelves, trying to see where the noise was coming from. I tried to calm down, knowing this was not proper book store etiquette.
"Glad to see you care," Edward pouted. "I've never felt so violated."
"Alright, alright," I replied, once my laughter subsided. "Maybe she does have a thing for you. We'll be out of here soon, I promise, I just wanna look through these."
Edward nodded and I turned back to my book hunt. I picked out a book by Oscar Wilde and opened to the middle, reveling in the crack of the spine and inhaling the wonderful scent that was coming off of the pages.
"Are you…smelling that book?" I heard Edward whisper just behind me. I turned my head and jumped; he was so close I could smell his shampoo. I was frozen for a moment, entranced by his scent, until he turned to me and smirked again.
"Yes," I answered, squaring my shoulders. "Classics have a smell all their own. It's like worn leather and pages that have been turned so many times and the ink…"
I trailed off as I saw Edward giving me a weird look.
"What?" I asked, holding the book to my chest. He shook his head, a soft smile on his lips.
"You, Bella Swan, are unlike any other."
My cheeks turned a light pink at his comment but I rolled my eyes and turned back to my book hunt.
"How are we doing over here?" I heard from an unknown voice a while later. I looked up to see Edward's admirer standing by us, raking her eyes up and down Edward's body. My chest constricted slightly, in what I readily recognized as jealousy.
Stop that. He's not yours, you can't be jealous. Plus, he's absolutely disgusted by this lady.
Shaking my head slightly to clear my thoughts, I turned to see Edward, who was slowly inching backwards towards a book shelf.
"We're good," I answered, moving closer to the two. I handed out two books that I had selected.
"I was actually just about to purchase these," I addressed her, waving the books in her face so she would take her creepy stare off of Edward. She turned towards me, her eyes tightening, but plucked the books from my hand.
"Right this way," she said, turning her back on me and winking at Edward.
"Can we please just leave?" He whispered to me, desperately.
"I'm just gonna buy those two books and then we'll leave, I promise."
Edward and I followed the woman up front, where she rang me up. Edward stood half behind me the entire time, cowering in fright, and I once again had to work to suppress the laughter that was bubbling up within me.
"There you go," the lady said, handing me my books and receipt. "Now, don't be a stranger."
She said the last part to Edward, leaning over the desk and trying in vain to put a seductive look on her face.
"Sure thing," Edward said quickly, before grabbing my hand and darting out of the store. We flew around the block to where Edward had parked his car and I collapsed against it in laughter.
"Never fucking taking you there ever again," Edward grumbled, though a smile adorned his lips. I wiped at my eyes, trying to calm down.
"That was fantastic," I finally sighed, smiling at Edward. He rolled his eyes but continued to smile.
"We should probably start heading back," Edward commented, glancing at his watch. I nodded and we hopped into his car, buckling ourselves in.
Edward let me pick the music on the ride home and we sat in companionable silence.
"What do you miss most about Phoenix?" Edward suddenly asked quietly. I looked over at him but he was still staring straight ahead at the road.
"I don't know if I could pick just one thing," I started off slowly, thinking back to the place that I had called home for most of my life. "I loved mostly everything about Phoenix."
"Can you tell me about it?" Edward replied, shifting his eyes over to me before refocusing on the road. I sighed and settled back into my seat.
"Well, it was hot all the time. Polar opposite of here, really. I could get away with wearing shorts in the dead of winter. I miss that, but I'm also excited to experience the typical winter with snow."
"We'll have to do all those stupid snow activities that we all did when we were little," Edward commented, smiling. I nodded, smiling as well. I always used to wish for snow days in Arizona when I was little.
"Phoenix was so different from here. Here it's beautiful because of the green and the trees and all that. But in Phoenix, it's the desert and the cactus and the bowl shaped sky that kinda seems to never end. It's warm there, and not just because of the temperature. There's something comforting in the color brown. For me, at least, it's the color of home."
Edward nodded once more, still never taking his eyes off the road.
"Is that what you miss most?" He asked. "All that stuff you just said?"
I mulled it over for a second, then shrugged my shoulders.
"I guess. I miss a lot. It was home, you know?"
Edward nodded, then finally turned to look at me.
"Well, I'm glad you're here," he said, looking me in the eye, before turning his eyes back to the road.
"I'm glad too," I answered quietly, trying to conceal my wide smile.
My hand tapped the pen against the counter incessantly as I sat in Bella's kitchen. I had come to help her with her bio research paper and we had gotten most of it done. She was finishing up on her laptop right now, so I had nothing to do but let my mind wander.
And wander it did.
To say I regretted being Bella Swan's friend would be such a complete fucking lie. This girl who had seemed so fascinating on the surface actually had so much more layers for me to uncover as I got to know her better and better. The unique way in which her mind worked and how she'd always catch me off guard never failed to amaze me. She was seriously unlike anybody I had ever met before.
And, fuck, but the girl was gorgeous.
I glanced up to see her working on her paper, a cute little pucker above her eyebrows as she concentrated. Her shiny brown hair was up in a messy bun and a pencil was shoved in between her full pink lips as she chewed on the end. She was petite, but she wasn't scary skinny. She had curves in all the right places and that did not go unnoticed by the male population at Forks High School. Those fuckers had been after her since day one, but of course Bella didn't know it. She didn't understand that being in popular demand for a school assignment, or being asked if she needed a ride somewhere, or even just being smiled at in the hallways meant "Hey, I'm being nice, now will you fuck me?"
I swear to God, let any of those fuckers even think about putting their hands anywhere near-
And that's where I had to stop and take a step back. Because what the hell was I doing thinking about Bella that way? She was funny and smart and beautiful and 100 percent not mine.
She couldn't be mine. I'd fuck her up.
Bella deserved someone nice and normal and that someone was certainly not me. So, I'd just have to satisfy myself by being her friend.
After my little talk with Jasper on that snow day, I'd decided that there really couldn't be any harm in being Bella's friend, so long as I didn't get so invested. I mean, we were all graduating in June. Everybody would be off in different directions and the next time I would see Bella Swan would probably be our ten year anniversary.
I sighed, thinking about it, which caused Bella to look up.
"Are you bored?" She asked, scrutinizing me. I shook my head, because truthfully, I wasn't. Bella's frown deepened.
"You're bored. I'm sorry, I can finish this up later," she said, hastily saving her work and shutting down her laptop before bounding from her chair. I watched with wide eyes as she did this, still not moving from my seat.
"Do you want something to eat?" Bella asked me, moving to the refrigerator and opening it. I finally stood up at this point, and reached out to grab her arm.
"Bella, you made me a sandwich when I got here. Chill out," I chuckled. I dropped her arm and she stepped back from the fridge, closing it up. She blew at a piece of hair that was in front of her face, then crossed her arms and looked around, a calculating look on her face.
So fucking adorable.
"Well, what do you want to do?" She asked, looking at me. I shrugged my shoulders.
"We could watch a movie," she offered. I agreed to this, content to do anything.
"My DVD's are upstairs, come on," she said, turning to run up the stairs. I glanced around for a moment, expecting her cop daddy to appear as if from nowhere and catch me dashing up the stairs into his daughter's bedroom.
No such thing happened, so I followed Bella's lead upstairs.
"What kind of movie are you up for?" I could hear Bella yelling from her room on the left as I stepped into the tiny hallway.
"Whatever. You pick," I answered, reaching her doorway and leaning against it, letting my eyes wander around.
Her room was small, which wasn't very surprising. Every thing about this house was somewhat small. Her bed was at the center of one of the walls, facing out into the room. It was big and covered in a purple comforter. It looked rumpled, like she had simply thrown it over her bed instead of making it. That was fine, though. I couldn't remember the last time I made my bed.
"Edward, sweetie, be sure to make your bed!" My mother yelled from down in the kitchen, as I got myself ready for school.
I shook my head, trying to rid myself of the memories.
"How about Anchorman?" Bella said, holding up the movie.
"Sounds good to me," I replied, still looking around her room. I stepped in and continued to glance around.
Her desk was absolutely cluttered with school work, textbooks, papers, the works. A large window on the far wall was obscured by a large tree, it's branches practically grazing the glass.
I noted that her room wasn't exactly clean, but it wasn't messy either. It looked lived in, if anything. Her closet was closed, but I could see a shirt sleeve poking out from underneath the door. Poor girl, Alice must be stockpiling her with clothes for the year.
Bella was kneeling on the ground by a shelf next to her desk. It was full of books and movies, randomly scattered about. She stood up and came to stand by me.
"The DVD player is downstairs," she mentioned, and for the first time I realized that she might be uncomfortable with me in her room. I quickly did an about-face and headed back out the door. I heard her pause for a second before following me back downstairs.
"Do you want popcorn?" Bella asked, getting the movie set up as I sat down on the couch.
"Sure," I replied, feeling the lumps in the sofa. I eyed the big recliner on the other side, appreciating it for what it was. A man's chair, and that man was Charlie Swan. My butt would not be graced with its presence today.
Bella flitted over to the kitchen, popping a bag of popcorn. My eyes once again wandered and I caught a glimpse of the baby pictures I had seen yesterday.
I chuckled, thinking of Bella's face when her dad had made the comment about her not keeping anything out of her mouth.
Yesterday had been a good day. Playing music with Bella in the car had been one of my favorite parts. Although we already knew it, we both had really similar taste in music. And yesterday was probably the first time I had ever truly enjoyed myself while shopping with Alice. Even though I almost died in Victoria's Secret.
"Good choice, Alice," Bella smiled, grabbing those damn midnight blue bra and panties from Alice's grasp. She held them up and instantly my mind was swarmed with visions of Bella, covered in the pieces of lace, laid out on my bed, whispering my name in my ear…
That was hard. But then we got out of there and I got to spend some more time with Bella. Even though part of the time I was being harassed by the fucking creepy spinster in the front, I really liked being in the book store with Bella. It was her domain, and she looked so damn happy running her hands along the books, picking them up and reading little parts, coming across her favorite books. She even smelled the damn things, and I couldn't find it in me to be weirded out.
And hearing her talk about Phoenix. It made me a little sad, to hear how much she did love the place. She must really miss it, judging by how she was talking about it. But she did say she was glad she came here.
I almost asked her about her mom, but then chickened out. I knew she would talk about her if I asked, but I wasn't sure I wanted to bring that subject up. We hadn't talked about my mom at all yet, though apparently she knew. I figured that bringing up her mom would bring up mine and that was not at all something I wanted to talk about.
"I got us some Coke's," Bella announced, making her way back into the room with a bowl full of popcorn and two cans of soda. I made room on the couch and she set the bowl down on the table, before plopping down next to me and handing me a can. She reached out and grabbed a few kernels of popcorn, throwing them into her mouth before pressing play on the remote and settling back into the couch.
I didn't pay much attention to the movie; it's been said that I have the attention span of a goldfish, so sitting still for two hours has never been my strong suit. I let my eyes wander, taking in again the place where Bella lived. The room we were in seemed like it didn't see much of Bella. The recliner, the fish themed décor, the fact that the TV was on the sports channel when Bella turned it on was a clear indicator that this was more of her father's domain.
Her room was clearly where Bella spent most of her time. I never pegged her for being a messy person, nor did I think she was a neat freak. It was more organized in a way that only Bella could understand. Better than my room, which looked like a war zone if anything.
Occasionally, Bella giggled beside me, effectively grasping my attention. Her laughter was enticing, calming and exciting me all at once. The macho voice inside me wondered where my balls had gone. Contemplating a girl's laugh? Very unlike myself. But the bigger part of me told masculine Edward to fuck off.
I remembered hearing Bella laughing after we went sledding. The feel of her warm body underneath me had aroused some, uh, interesting reactions within me. Then we were flying down the hill, then actually flying after we hit the bump, then landing in the cold snow. I had thought she was hurt at first but then she burst out laughing, making her tiny body bounce on top of mine and bringing back the horny motherfucker from before.
We finished the movie and started cleaning up the snacks. Just as Bella started rinsing out the popcorn bowl, I heard the front door open, followed by the ominous clomping of heavy boots coming towards us.
"Hey, dad!" Bella yelled out, not faltering in her washing of the dishes. I, on the other hand, was panicking. Did he know I was here? Was I allowed to be here, alone, with his daughter? Did the guy have his gun? Should I address him as Mr. Swan or Sir or Officer Swan or Chief Swan?
"For the love of God, Edward, chill out," Bella said, rolling her eyes as she caught my panicked expression.
"Um, hello? The guy has a gun!" I hissed under my breath, stiffening as her dad entered the room.
He wasn't a huge man, he only had a couple inches on me, and he wasn't a heavyweight champion or anything. But there's something about the gun holster on his hip that made him seem eight feet tall.
He looked taken off guard by the fact that I was standing in his kitchen, but not exactly murderous. He squinted his eyes at me then looked to Bella, who was finishing up the dishes.
"Hi," he muttered. "What're you doing here, Edward?"
Not mad. Just curious. We're good, this is good. Fuck, can't he just get rid of the gun so I can stop acting like a baby? Act your age, Cullen. He won't shoot you. You guys weren't doing anything wrong.
"Edward came over to help me with a bio paper and then we watched a movie," Bella answered for me, moving swiftly around the room and grabbing food items out of the refrigerator. Charlie seemed placated, shrugging before moving back into the hallway to discard his boots and jacket and that god awful gun.
"You blew that wildly out of proportion," Bella sighed, with a small smile on her face. "I could see you freaking out that entire time. Like my dad would waste a bullet on your scrawny ass."
I stood stock still for a minute before I pounced.
"Scrawny ass, eh?" I repeated, storming over to her and grabbing her sides, tickling her. She thrashed but I just held her tighter.
"I was just joking!" She managed to choke out around her laughter. I just tickled her harder.
"That was a very mean joke. I happen to know plenty of people who think I have a fantastic ass." I finally let her go and she breathed heavily for a second.
"Like Tanya?" Bella muttered, looking up at me and raising her eyebrows. I heaved a sigh and crossed my arms.
"Am I never going to hear the end of that?" I huffed in annoyance. Bella simply shrugged her shoulders, turning back to whatever she was doing before I attacked.
"You're welcome to stay for dinner if you want," Bella offered just as the Chief stepped back in. I saw the reluctance in his eyes and realized he probably just wanted some time with his daughter.
"Thanks, but I got some homework I have to finish. I'll see you in school tomorrow, Bells."
I got into my car and headed home, trying to think of what I could do for the rest of the night. Perhaps, pay Alice and Esme a little visit.
I got home and was both surprised and annoyed to see that Carlisle's car was in the driveway. I parked, glancing at the sleek black Mercedes sitting innocently in front of the house, before making my way through the front door. The lights were on in the kitchen and I headed that way, finding Carlisle talking softly on the phone. I dumped my keys and phone on the counter, making a loud entrance so he would know I was there. He spun around, eyes widening a little, before turning back around and quickly ending his phone call.
"Hello, Edward," my father greeted me, looking for all the world like this was a normal occurrence. I smirked back but said nothing. Carlisle faltered a bit, running his hands through his perfectly coiffed hair.
"Carlisle," I finally said back, going to the refrigerator and opening it, rummaging through its contents.
"Where were you?" He asked from behind me.
"Out," I answered, trying to decide if the cream cheese in the fridge was edible. One sniff of the container said no. I tossed it back in.
"Edward," Carlisle sighed, apparently ready to give me the "I'm your father, you must respect me" spiel. I spun around before he could start.
"Why are you here?" Carlisle arched an eyebrow at that one.
"I live here," he responded, clearly wondering what I had been smoking today. I shrugged at what he said, turning back towards the fridge.
"You're going to have to fend for yourself for dinner," he said, as if that isn't how it was every single fucking night. "I have a business dinner in Port Angeles tonight. I'll probably be back pretty late."
"Whatever. Just remember to balloon your baboon before you tune her poon."
I left him after that little gem, grabbing an orange, my keys, and my phone, returning back to my car. The inside of the Volvo was still warm from the heater, since I had only been in the house for a few minutes.
Pulling up in front of Alice's house a few minutes later, I was happy to see that lights were on inside, meaning at least one of them was home. Judging by the cars in the driveway, it looked like both of them were home.
"Honey, I'm home!" I yelled as I stepped into the house, using the key that was under their mat. Breaking and entering wasn't exactly a concern in Forks.
"Edward?" I heard Alice call out, before she popped her head around the bend. She smiled and ran up to give me a hug.
"What's up?" She asked, glancing at me strangely. I shrugged and led the way into the kitchen.
"I was bored. And hungry."
"Oh, so you figured you'd come here and steal my food?" Alice exclaimed teasingly, crossing her arms. "I don't think so, pal."
I grabbed a roll from the bread basket and ripped off a piece, popping it into my mouth and smiling cheekily at her. Alice simply rolled her eyes and we retreated up to her room.
"Where's Esme?" I asked as I picked up a pair of boxers, presumably Jasper's, and shot them at Alice's head. She snatched them off her head and threw them right back at me, laughing.
"She's in her room," Alice finally answered. At that moment, the woman in question popped her head into the room.
"I thought I heard you, Edward," she said, smiling at us.
"He came to raid our kitchen," Alice commented, rolling her eyes.
"In that case, how about I leave some money for a pizza?" Esme suggested, reaching into her purse. It was then that I realized she was dressed up, looking like she was leaving.
"Where you going all dolled up?" I teased. Esme rolled her eyes, handing Alice some cash.
"Dinner with a potential client in Port Angeles," Esme replied, closing up her purse and reaching out to straighten her skirt. "Alice, honey, I'll probably be back pretty late so don't wait up."
"Hey, Carlisle's gonna be in Port Angeles tonight. If you see him, send my love," I said sarcastically, earning a laugh from Alice.
"Sure thing," Esme replied, sighing.
Esme headed off to Port Angeles while Alice and I ordered our pizza. We fought over what toppings to get, then decided to just go with cheese because we clearly couldn't agree on a single topping. She wanted to be adventurous with fruit and shit, while I just wanted some meat.
"So, how was your day?" Alice asked around a mouthful of pizza. I shrugged, biting into mine as well.
"I helped Bella with her paper and almost got shot by the chief," I mentioned. Alice snorted, shaking her head.
"Bella texted me about that a little while ago. Said you were almost shitting your pants because her dad had the gun in his holster. She said he didn't even touch it, but you were convinced he wanted to shoot you."
I huffed indignantly, finishing my slice. Girls told each other everything the second after it happened. Couldn't tell them anything.
"So, what did you and little Bella do all day, hmm?" Alice asked, making suggestive eyes at me.
"Worked on her paper. Watched a movie. Fuck, Alice, don't get all pervy on me."
"You know," Alice said thoughtfully as I wolfed down my third slice. "You two would make an adorable couple."
"Don't think so," I mumbled, not liking at all where her train of thought was taking us.
"You totally would, though," Alice continued, not noticing my stiff posture. "She puts up with you and you can't tell me that you don't think she's pretty. She's insanely nice and funny and you guys practically share the same brain when it comes to music."
I sat back in my chair, trying to tune out Alice's rant. I couldn't let myself think this way.
"Not gonna happen, Alice, so just forget about it," I replied when she was done.
"Why the hell not?" Alice replied, huffing and crossing her arms, looking at me expectantly.
"Because. Now shut up about it. Please."
She looked at me strangely, as if trying to crack a code, but came up empty. She huffed again but let it drop, and we each focused back on our pizza. It was tense for a moment, but then Alice got a text from Jasper which effectively brightened her mood. We spent the evening just chilling, going through old things in Alice's room and laughing over old pictures. As far as Sunday nights went, it wasn't half bad.
I drove home that night in a good mood, and found the house empty. Walking through the quiet dark rooms, I felt something strange welling within me.
I could remember a time when it wasn't so quiet in this house. When there was a certain type of warmness present that was lost now. When I'd sit with my mom at the piano, run to my dad when he got home from work, sit down and have dinner together as a family.
Standing in the empty living room, devoid of any family or warmth or love, I marveled at just how much had changed. And how little I had to show for it.
Approaching the piano, which was played very sparsely these days, I brushed my fingers along the keys. My mother had loved the piano. She taught me how to play herself. It was our thing.
I sat down on the bench, hearing it creak. I hit some notes, making sure it was tuned, before closing my eyes.
I thought of everything. Of my life, my friends, music, driving, cold, rain, forest, school, textbooks, pencils, Esme, Jasper, Carlisle, Emmett, Rosalie, Alice, Bella.
I began to play.
That little music game was something we used to play at camp while we were hanging out, trying to get to know our bunk mates. It's pretty fun.
I'm working on the next chapter as we speak, and I'll probably get that one out quicker than this one. Hopefully.
Okay, well, until next time. REVIEW REVIEW REVIEW.