A/N: Yep, I'm back. I've been a busy little bee over on Twilighted working on the iFic project (check it out, it's epic. Fanfiction straight to your iPod!). Special thanks to Bethaboo, both for getting me involved in the word challenges that helped me get this chapter written, and for betaing it for me. 333
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight, and Dan Millman, Lionsgate, et. al. own "Peaceful Warrior," a film that the plot of this story was inspired by, and is very loosely based on. I own nothing.
A hour and a half later I crawled back into bed with the intention of going back to sleep but found myself too restless and excited to sleep. Edward showing up on my balcony was the best surprise ever, and I couldn't wait to see him again later that night. I kept replaying our last few moments over and over in my mind during my futile effort to go back to sleep.
I didn't want to risk waking Alice and Charlie on my way back into the house so I'd insisted on going back in through the window, which proved to be much harder than I'd thought. Climbing down the tree had been easy enough because I'd had Edward beneath me to help me down and make sure I didn't hurt myself. Climbing up the tree was a different story. I lost my footing so many times I was lucky that Edward had such a strong upper body to keep pulling me up.
Between the two of us we managed to get me onto the balcony relatively unscathed. I'd leaned forward, wiping excess bark from my sleep pants when Edward took a step toward me. Slowly I straightened, and the intensity of his gaze made my breath catch in my throat. Once again I felt intoxicated by his proximity, his very presence drawing me in.
"If I'm going to be on my best behavior, I should wait until our 'official' first date before I kiss you again. Traditionally speaking, that is," he said, taking another step forward so I now had my back pressed up against the cold siding wall.
"Well... so far it doesn't really seem like traditional is our style." My heart was pounding so hard I could feel it threatening to break free of my ribcage. "What if I don't want you on your best behavior?" I breathed.
His lips turned up into a beautiful crooked smile and he leaned in to me, resting his forearm against the wall behind me. "How about a compromise? All you have to do is just stay very still. Don't move." His voice was husky as he ran his finger down my jaw, cupping it. He dipped his head, brushing his lips against mine in the barest of kisses.
"A mini-kiss for the end of our mini-date," he whispered as he pulled away. I couldn't say anything, afraid that any attempt to speak would result in me launching myself at him in a way that was sure to be most unattractive. I looked up into his eyes and instead exhaled deeply and forced myself to keep my back pressed against the wall.
"Goodbye, Bella." Edward took my hand and pressed a soft kiss against my palm before backing away, toward the railing and the tree.
"Bye, Edward," I whispered.
Eventually I gave up trying to go back to sleep and made my way downstairs to see if anyone was awake. I found Alice in the kitchen eating breakfast.
"Good morning sleepyhead!" she chirped between spoonfuls of Cheerios. "I was going to let you sleep in for another half hour before I woke you. We're going shopping for an outfit for your date with Edward tonight."
I groaned as I took a banana from the bowl of fruit on the counter and began peeling it. "Alice, the department stores don't even open until eight and the rest of them open even later than that!"
"All the more reason to get there early. We need all the time we can get."
"Great..." I rolled my eyes and gazed forlornly at the tile floor as I ate my banana. I couldn't wait to see Edward again but I was not looking forward to this outfit-hunting-extravaganza.
"Are you wearing mascara?" Alice asked suddenly and I mentally cursed myself for putting it on before I left with Edward this morning. It was the only bit of makeup I was wearing, and yet Alice still somehow managed to notice it. Her eyes narrowed at me as I met her gaze cautiously. "How long have you been up? Have you been somewhere?" she demanded, jumping to her feet.
I couldn't fight the smile creeping across my face. "Edward took me out for a surprise breakfast picnic this morning at sunrise," I said sheepishly.
"He did what?! Oh, Bella I'm so happy for you!" Alice exclaimed, launching herself at me and throwing her arms around my neck. "Please tell me you wore something nicer than that," she said sternly as she pulled away and surveyed my sleepwear ensemble.
"I wanted to, but he wouldn't let me change," I explained. "I only put on the mascara because it was already in the bathroom."
Alice grabbed my wrists and forcibly sat me down at the table before sitting across from me. "Okay, details! Don't you dare leave anything out!"
I told her about how Edward had startled and confused the hell out of me by showing up at my window bright and early this morning. I gave her all the details of the mini-date, as promised, and even told her about his idea for the mini-kiss at the end.
"I tried to go back to sleep, but how could I after that? I can't stop thinking about him," I sighed, slumping down into my chair.
By the end of my story, Alice was leaning forward with her elbows on the table, her chin resting in her hands with a dreamlike expression on her face. "Oh, Bella, that's just so romantic..."
I started grinning again. I couldn't help it.
"So you guys are still going on your real date tonight, right? It's been over a week since I've gone shopping and my credit card is aching to be swiped," Alice said, her voice hopeful.
"Yes Alice, you still get to take me shopping," I said, patting her hand sympathetically.
Her face lit up in a huge smile.
We got to the mall shortly after the department stores opened. I could see why Alice wanted to get an early start. The stores were so much easier to navigate with less people. It made the whole trip a little less painful.
"Come on, Bella... you seriously have NO idea where he's taking you tonight?" Alice said, frustration showing in her voice. I shook my head. "How was we supposed to know what to look for if we don't know the dress code?" she whined.
"Well... wherever he's taking me, I know we're going on his motorcycle. So I guess that should narrow it down a little. I need to be able to get onto it without accidentally flashing him in the process," I laughed.
"Can't you just call him?" she said, gesturing to my phone.
"Alice, I am not going to bother him if he's taking a nap. We can figure this out on our own," I insisted.
"He's probably just as wired and excited as you are..." she muttered, disappearing between two racks of clothing.
A half hour later, Alice had vetoed every article of clothing I'd picked out, so I just decided to sit in my changing room and wait for her to bring me things to try on. I was leaning my head against the wall and staring at my phone, internally debating whether I should just concede and call Edward when a shrill voice came from the other side of the door.
"Bella, I have a solution!" Alice squealed.
I opened the door to let her in. "Dare I ask?" I said suspiciously.
"We're going to get you an outfit for every possible scenario," she announced proudly.
I groaned. "Hell, no. Not every possible scenario. That is too much and I don't even have room in my closet for that much crap."
Alice stuck her bottom lip out in a pout. "Fine, then. We'll just get you something for the basic possible scenarios. Casual, business casual, dressy... do you think he'll take you someplace really elegant on a first date? Because we can probably find really fancy dresses if we look hard enough."
"Alice, I highly doubt it," I said, drawing the line. If I let her keep thinking along those lines I'd end up going home with a highly expensive gown on top of everything else.
"Don't worry, Bella. I'll make sure all your bases are covered!" she said excitedly before disappearing again.
This was going to be a long shopping trip. I had a feeling I wouldn't have any trouble getting back to sleep once this was over.
Two hours before Edward was supposed to pick me up, I was standing in front of my bed, with three outfits laid out on my comforter. One casual, one fitting what Alice had called "business casual", and a little black cocktail dress. I crossed my arms over my chest and glanced back and forth between them all, trying to decide what to do. Should I chance it with the cocktail dress or the jeans, or should I opt for middle of the road outfit, and hope that I wouldn't be too overdressed or underdressed wherever we went?
Sighing in defeat, I texted Edward.
I'm not sure what to wear. Can I at least get some clue to help me pick out an appropriate outfit?
A minute later my phone vibrated in my hand.
Something nice. I'm taking you someplace romantic.
See you soon.
Well, that eliminated the jeans. I was still debating between the other two outfits when Alice bounded into the room.
"Bella, you're still not showered?! Get a move on!" She barked at me.
"Alice, I can't decide..." I whined. I quickly filled her in on the text he'd sent me.
"Wear the dress," Alice said immediately.
"Definitely. That dress was amazing on you, and if he's taking you somewhere romantic, you'll want to look your best." She said the last part in a sing-song voice.
"Can you help me?" I pleaded.
"Of course, silly. Now go get in the shower and I'll get all your accessories ready."
Between the two of us, we got me put together in record time. My hair fell in loose curls to my shoulders, and my makeup had been expertly applied by Alice. The dress was sleeveless, and fell freely to my knees. I had a little satin jacket to keep me from getting cold. Mercifully, Alice had let me wear ballet flats instead of heels.
"I should have worn pants," I sighed, exasperated as I paced the living room waiting for Edward. "If something happens to us I'll probably lose a leg without it being protected by something."
"Relax, Bella. You look great. I don't know much about motorcycles, but I'm sure Edward knows what he's doing. You probably aren't going too far, and you'll get to cling to him the entire time," she said in a dreamlike voice.
Thank goodness Charlie was working late tonight. He would certainly have words to say about this.
I was already nervous about this motorcycle ride and I still wasn't sure I was alright with compromising my safety for the sake of vanity. However, as I opened my mouth to argue, the doorbell rang and I froze.
"Oh god, I'm gonna throw up... you get the door," I said, disappearing into the kitchen to hide.
"Don't you dare, Bella! You'll have to reapply your lipstick!" she yelled after me.
Getting a glass from the cupboard I shakily poured myself a glass of water as I tried to force my heart rate to slow. Hearing Edward's silky voice in the other room, I knew my time to freak out was over. I took a sip of the water, inhaled deeply and exited the kitchen, setting the glass down on my way out.
He was absolutely stunning. His muscular form was dressing in black slacks and a lovely forest green dress shirt. He was even wearing a tie.
"Wow..." I breathed, unable to articulate anything more intelligent.
"Bella," he said, handing me a small bouquet of roses. "You look absolutely beautiful."
I accepted the roses, putting my face in them and inhaling deeply. Their sweet scent assaulted my nose and instantly I felt calmer. "Thank you," I said with a small smile.
Alice clapped her hands together excitedly. "You two kids have fun! I'll take care of these for you, Bella," she said, taking the roses from me.
As the flowers left my hand, Edward held something else to me. I looked at it quizzically before I realized what it was. A motorcycle helmet.
"Oh, do not tell me you mean for Bella to put that on her head!" Alice said, stamping her foot. "It'll ruin her hair completely!"
"Safety first," he said to her with an impish grin.
Alice stuck out her lip. "Fine. Hold on a second," she said disappearing into her room. She emerged a second later with a scarf. "Tie this around your head. Maybe the damage from the helmet will be less severe."
I chuckled and tied the scarf over my head to protect my curls from the big bad helmet.
"If you were really worried about my safety, you wouldn't take me out on that death trap," I said with a laugh.
"Relax, Bella. I am a very good driver, and I promise I'm not taking you too far," he said with a lopsided grin. "Don't you trust me, Bella?"
Well, when he put it that way, what else could I say?
I nodded. "Of course I trust you."
"Then let's go," he said, taking my hand and pulling me close to him. He laid a soft kiss on my cheek before turning toward the door.
"Goodnight, Alice. I promise I'll bring her home safe and sound," he said, holding out his hand to shake hers.
Alice beamed at him and ignored his outstretched hand, going straight in for a hug instead. "You'd better. This is the police chief's daughter you're taking out, son. I won't hesitate to tell him where you live."
Edward chuckled heartily as he led me toward the door. I waved sheepishly at Alice.
"Don't worry, I won't wait up!" she called as we disappeared into the warm summer night.
I was struggling with adjusting the strap on my helmet when I finally let Edward help me. When he was finished, the helmet sat almost comfortably on my head. He held out his hand for me to use to steady myself as I climbed onto the motorcycle.
"Thank you," I said, managing to keep my dignity secure as I tucked my dress around my legs.
Edward slipped on his own helmet and climbed on in front of me. He turned his head to look at me, and even through the tinted plastic I could see him grinning.
"You'd better hold on tight," he said.
I took a deep breath as he revved the engine, securing my arms around his chest and tightly as I could, pressing my front up against his back. I thought I felt him shiver as we took off down the street.
"Oh, God..." I groaned, as my surroundings whizzed past me faster than I was used to without the safety and protection of thousands of pounds of metal around me.
"Edward turned his head slightly, but kept his eyes on the road. "Are you alright back there?" he called.
"I'm fine," I lied. I pressed myself tighter against his back and I could feel him shaking with laughter. I decided to close my eyes and rest my head against hi. Maybe I wouldn't feel so nauseous if I couldn't see everything going by so quickly.
Closing my eyes helped me block out the rest of the world enough to relax, and actually enjoy the position I was in. Even through the leather of his jacket I could smell him, that same, subtle scent I'd smelled in the hallway of the arena that was all male, and purely Edward.
It felt like as soon as I was completely relaxed, Edward was slowing to a stop. I opened my eyes to see us in a parking lot, illuminated under the pale yellow light of a security lamp. Looking past Edward, I saw the dark blue night waters of the Seattle coast only a few paces past the guard rail.
Edward climbed off of the bike, taking off his helmet and setting it into the saddlebag. He held out his hands to help me off, and I happily took them, unsure of how steady my footing would be. Gently lifting the helmet from my head, he traced the line of my jaw with his index finger.
"Are you alright, Bella?" he asked again.
"I'm feeling better now. That was actually... nicer than I imagined it would be," I said with a shy smile.
His intense green eyes gazed down at me. "I admit I may have had ulterior motives in choosing the bike as our mode of transportation tonight. I wanted to impress you, but I also wanted an excuse to hold onto me for an extended length of time."
My cheeks flushed. As if I needed a real excuse. I would gladly hold onto him for as long as he'd let me.
I looked around the parking lot, trying to figure out where we were.
"Edward, is this where we're eating?"
The corners of his mouth twitched in a small smile as he shook his head. His hands gently gripped my shoulders and turned me around so my back was to him and I was facing the moonlit ocean, where a large, elegant looking cruise ship sat majestically on the water at the end of a long wooden pier.
My eyes widened. "Edward...?"
I felt his warm breath tickle my ear, sending a small shiver down my spine.
"That is where we're eating," he whispered.