LONG TIME NO SEE BUT FINALLY THE NEXT CHAPTER IS HERE! I cannot apologize enough so to make up for it I made this chapter extra long. I feel like I'm on a roll so as you read this I am writing the next chapter!
Thanks a million to my beta Felineyx!
"We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year," the song ended with an excellent three-part harmony. The old lady was smiling ear to ear the entire time. I couldn't help but feel good inside, seeing each of the families respond so well to our singing. I never thought it would mean that much. Jessica grabbed the wrapped box at the top of our rolling cart and handed it gingerly to her.
"Merry Christmas! Have a nice evening!" She greeted her, a little over-enthusiastically.
"Thank you girls," she chuckled. "You all have very lovely voices." I could see that Lauren was counting the seconds till the door closed. After a sweet farewell from the old woman, Lauren whipped around swiftly rolling her eyes and shooting disgusted looks.
"This is so lame. Good thing we're almost done," she whined, walking slightly ahead of Jessica and me. I wasn't a big fan of Lauren. Back in the third grade a boy she liked tried to hold my hand and ever since then she's despised me.
I gladly ignored her complaints as I scanned the list, looking for the next house we would deliver and sing for.
Weather in Fort Lauderdale around this time of year was nice. I wasn't very used to the cold but the change felt lovely in small doses. The sun had already set and you could smell dinner coming from many of the houses we walked by. This was something we did yearly for choir. Part of our fundraising money goes to buying toys and clothes for some of the families in the not so wealthy areas of town and singing Christmas carols for them. I was regretting not wearing comfy sweat pants, because tight skinny jeans were becoming really hard to walk in. A rough breeze made me shiver all the way down to my spine. I pulled my pea coat tighter around me.
This week was…different. I didn't know if that was necessarily a good thing however. What bothered me the most was the entire time I was just counting down the seconds for something to go wrong, but nothing. It was amazing just how much of a difference it made being around Edward. I can't help but be happy when I'm around him. I'm always anxious to see him, have class with him, sit with him at lunch… I knew this would only last so long. I mean, Edward and I couldn't be anything…more could we? This I decided after Monday and the stupid almost-fight. In a way, I didn't think I was good enough for him. Our worlds were two very different spheres with different expectations. He was everything I could ask for…I think. I was still new at this and I felt undeniably embarrassed and childish for not knowing any better. I however, was everything he would grow to hate. My life was too complicated. I'm too complicated. Over time he probably won't even want to be my friend because I'll drive him insane. I knew deep down inside this was the truth, but I was still in denial on that part. How could something that makes you feel so carefree and normal, make you forget every concept and rulebook you've ever followed? What were the rules and what were my boundaries? I didn't know if I should be scared. But how could I when this felt so right?
Jessica and Lauren were babbling on about winter formal. I stiffly dug my hands in my pockets. This would be a long night. I don't know why Ms. Peltz thought it would be funny to stick me with these bimbos.
I felt a routine in the making, one that I had no complaints about, but how would I react if for some reason that routine just stopped? What the hell was I even talking about, I don't own him. The week had been driving me nuts with these stupid thoughts. I shook my head attempting to rid my mind of the ridiculous jumble. The saying, "in your dreams," suddenly came to mind.
408. I chanted in my head, as my eyes scanned the mailboxes ahead. It was difficult to see with no light but I could barely make out that we were approaching 404. From far up ahead, I could hear the high-pitched laughter of children. I had to admit I had a soft spot when it came to kids and I'm not ashamed to admit I'd rather spend a day of tree house and hide and go seek rather than go to the mall, ANY day. How I wished my childhood could have been more like that. If I do recall it mostly considered me cuddled up next to a fireplace reading books and being read to by some different nanny every week. There was no laughing, no running around. There was no life. For the most part I felt alone, but not alone in my heart. My mother had told me ever since I was little that God was always with me and watching over me. The cold wind blew into my eyes, which cast a tear down my cheek. I laughed to myself at my reaction as I wiped my sleeve across my face. I looked up to see that the girls were several feet ahead of me.
"Hey guys! The last one should be this house at the end!" Jessica motioned her hands up into the air.
"Thank God! I cannot WAIT to go home. This place reeks of…well…poor people," she snickered. Lauren giggled along with her and her infantile joke. My nose automatically wrinkled in annoyance. She's not as funny as she thinks she is.
The faint sight of Christmas lights was glowing from our last destination. Suddenly the girls were jogging as the cart they were pulling shook violently behind them. They hurriedly walked up the stoop and knocked on the door. Whatever, I didn't care if they wouldn't bother waiting for me. They just wanted to get it over with. I turned my attention to the two little girls that were circling around a small stump playfully. They were both beautiful blonde toddlers, from what I could tell. Looking up at the house, I was surprised to see that it wasn't as shabby as the others. Looking at it more closely I decided it really wasn't bad looking at all. It was small but it had this strange retro trapezoid shape that I couldn't help but smile at its strange architecture. One window held a reef with little red lights flashing on the green pines. To the left I could see that the owner was just putting the lights up. Another figure loomed below him. Getting a closer I realized it was another little girl, with maybe…brunette hair. She was tugging roughly at the bottom of the man's jeans as she whined while jumping up and down. Dang that girl was strong. In the background I heard the faint start of Jessica and Lauren singing. I would live if I didn't get to sing with them for the last house. I stood in my place marvelling at the house and getting lost in my own thoughts till a muffled moan and a large crash brought me back to earth. I jumped back a little startled.
I shuffled to my feet as fast as I could. Cassandra's brown eyes widened in fear as I inched my way slowly toward her. A sly smile swept across her face as she took off to my left.
"You can't catch me Eddie!" She yelped. I took off after her in a slow motion run.
"Oh really? You'd better run Princess because the Loch Ness monster is coming after you!" I said in a deep voice. She giggled as she rounded the bushes. I sped up slightly till I was a mere foot behind her. With one big step I swooped her up into the air with my hand picking her up by her sides.
"ACKK! YOU GOT ME!" She giggled as I waved her in the air in swinging motions. After a few minutes of her begging to be let down I set her down softly on the grass and patted her on the head.
"You okay Princess?" I asked her. She flattened out her skirt a little and muttered some kind of complaint. Her arms crossed her chest as she pouted sourly.
"Hah…is someone angry?" I teased. She looked away from me but her expression suddenly changed. Her stiff glance relaxed into a smile. Turning back to lean in towards me she motioned for me to come closer to her. I got down on my knees as she moved to whisper something in my ear.
"There's a pretty lady staring at you," she whispered. What in the world was she talking about, I thought as I shifted my head to the direction she was pointing. I couldn't help but smile. There was an angel on my sidewalk.
"So what's with us running into each other like this all time? Are you stalking me?" Bella asked playfully.
"Um excuse me, but who's standing in whose front lawn?" I retorted. She made a cute sour face as she made her way towards me. "Have you come for your routinely evening visit?" I continued. She threw her head back and laughed mockingly.
"Sure, that's exactly why I'm here. Loser," she said.
"Well I guess you're caught then huh?" I teased back. She contemplated that for a second.
"Well, since I'm caught, I guess I should just go," she answered. I could feel my heart accelerate slightly as she turned around to leave.
"Wait, don't go!" I said grabbing her arm to stop her. She whipped back around smiling widely.
"I was just kidding, no need to cry Eddie," She laughed, releasing her arm from my grasp. I recoiled slightly feeling a little stupid for my reaction. She wasn't looking at me any longer but at Cass.
She made her way over to where Cassandra was still sitting. "Hey honey, what's your name?" She asked crouching in front of Cass. Cass's expression immediately lit up at being personally addressed. She was such an attention hog.
"My names Cassandra, age five," she said proudly. I couldn't help but sigh. Bella's beauty was beyond any words I could use to describe it. Her hair fluttered softly in the wind blowing it out of her face. You could clearly see her glassy brown eyes filled with curiosity as she spoke to Cass. My palms were sweaty once again, just as they have been this whole week. Ridiculous.
"BELLA!" A high-pitched voice screeched. For some reason that voice seemed very familiar. I turned to where the voice had come from. Crap. The persistent Barbie dolls. It was too late to hide because the blonde one had already spotted me. "Edward!" The tall blonde one screeched again. "What in the world are you doing here!" She asked as she skipped over to my side and snaked her bony arm around my waist. I tried my best to hold in my disgust. Bella's face immediately fell as she looked down. I wasn't sure what was wrong but I didn't want to ask her in front of them. Lauren continued playfully slapping my chest which was starting to feel very unpleasant. Bella stood quietly looking away. Realization suddenly hit me, is she jealous? I couldn't help but smile at the thought.
I have never felt more passionate about punching Lauren in the face than at this very moment. That would be two in one month. Great. I have a likely future of becoming a hit man. I could skin that bony little arm of hers till she screams blood murder and shove it down her throat. Some unknown force finally pulled me out of my sick fantasy. What the hell was I thinking? Violent much Bella? I tried to get it together avoiding Edward and their glances. I dared to look back up. He was smiling! But before I could fume even more, he slyly removed himself out of Lauren's death grip. Her face fell slightly but she didn't let it discourage her. She settled for hanging onto his arm instead.
"Well, Lauren I live here," he answered in a as-if-it-isn't-obvious tone. Lauren seemed a little taken aback by this. Of course she figured a good-looking guy like Edward had to be rich too right? Well, too bad honey. He isn't the richest guy in town. I wonder if she'll back off now. Not that she deserves him anyways. She's too shallow and stupid. Could Edward really like a girl like her?
"Oh…Cool. So like I'm having birthday party tomorrow and it would be the ultimate present if you would come," she said batting her eyes like a dumb ass. Edward started to blush.
"Um…is Bella going?" He asked. My mouth opened slightly in shock. What the hell was he doing? No way in hell would I go anywhere with that bimbo willingly! Let alone to her house where she would be ogling him and I would be forced to watch.
"Ehhhh yeah Bella is going actually," Lauren stuttered. She eyed me, begging me to test her. Pshh yeah like she was going to invite me before Edward brought me up.
"Well, in that case sure I'll go," he answered. Giving her a million dollar smile. She sighed overjoyed and probably not realizing he was only going because I was 'going.' He gave me a slight wink but I only shot him a death glare. Jessica who I didn't realize was still there popped up from behind me smiling from ear to ear.
"Hey it's getting late I think we should get going, shouldn't we Bella?" She asked me, eyeing Lauren with a wicked smile. Yeah, you mean give Lauren and Edward alone time? Over my dead body you little…
"Actually, Bella do you mind if I speak to you privately?" Edward asked. Lauren's eyes stared me down then.
"You know what, yeah there is something I'd like to talk to you about privately," I said as I made my way angrily towards Edward grabbing his arm and pulling him towards to front of his house. The hell that this boy is getting me into!
"Goodnight ladies!" He waved back. I continued tugging on him as I sulked. Lauren...that slut! There's no way I could attend this party! I was too busy evaluating my options to pretend to be polite to them so I paid no mind them or their reaction. I kept my grip firm on him when I reached the door and spun around angrily to see if the girls were in earshot. Looking back up at him I was prepared to yell at him, but I stopped short. His expression was well…pouting but not in a begging kind of way, in a scared apologetic kind of way. It was slightly amusing. I found myself letting go of his arm and crossing my arms so I could just stare at his expression.
"I'm guessing you don't like parties," were the first words out of his mouth.
"Not particularly, but especially not parties thrown by Lauren," I answered bitterly. Edward seemed amused by this.
"Do you not like her?" He asked slowly.
"No really? Could you tell?" I asked sarcastically. He laughed suddenly. I felt like I was missing something but I could care less at the moment. "She's been out to get me since we were practically kids!" I yelled.
"Well, that sounds like it would be an interesting story but I won't make you tell me," he chuckled. "I really do think you should go, though my reasoning is kind of lame," he said. My eyebrow raised slightly.
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"You see…Lauren scares me," he explained shoving his hand in his pockets. "And I would feel a lot better about going if you were going," he finished. I was still puzzled but flattered at the same time.
"Why do you want to go to her party if you're scared of her?" I laughed.
"It's kind of stupid like I said but uh…I've never been to a party before," he whispered. His face looked so ashamed and I immediately wanted to hug him and tell his there was nothing to be ashamed about. STOP! In check Bella. Stop being a sappy idiot. "I'm not kidding either. That's the first time anyone has ever invited me to a party," he said.
"Why do I find that extremely hard to believe?" I asked aloud.
"I'm not sure, you tell me," he laughed, trying to it play off. That's just so...sad. He's a wonderful person on top of the looks I don't see why in the world no one would want him to go to their party. "You see just growing up I've kind of been, the oddball out in all fairness. I'm just not a very social person. You're the first real friend I've ever had," he said with such intensity I had to look away from those piercing green eyes. How could our conversation have taken such a serious turn? "I mean besides my brother…" he stopped abruptly.
What the fuck was I doing. I knew very well that I shouldn't go there. This is weak Edward. Get over it. Drop it, forget it. I couldn't say anymore. I had done the one thing I promised myself not to do. Spill my mushy feelings. I wanted to kick myself in the back of my head. What the hell would she say if I started fucking crying in front of her? I turned away from her facing the porch. My hands were on the sides of my head covering my ears. All at once I could hear the screams again. Screams coming from the fire that I so selfishly didn't die in with them. Next thing I knew I felt slight pressure on my back. I didn't move. I hated appearing weak and I didn't want Bella to think it was her place to comfort me. God help me. Her arms slowly snaked their way around the front of my stomach. I couldn't help but realize such a distinct difference in the way Bella and Lauren touched me. Lauren's arm was cold and uninviting, as is her voice and intentions. Bella's contact made heat pulse in every spot she touched, even though I couldn't feel her skin. I felt alive at her touch; at peace and holy fuck this is wrong. This was the other thing I promised myself I wouldn't do.
"I'd be honored to go with you to your first party," she whispered right below my ear. This sent pleasant chills all the way down my spine. "And save you from the sharks of course," she continued. She was the sweetest girl I've ever met. I felt myself tearing up and her generosity and kindness. I'm such a girl.
"Thank you," I said aloud, turning to face her. She didn't look up at me but she stepped forward and hugged me once again, resting her head on my chest. She was very warm and I couldn't resist hugging her in return. We stood like this for who knows how long. Then the door jerked open. Cass was peeking slightly through the door and smiled at me before giving me a thumbs up. I motioned for her to go back inside and she did so without complaint. Bella stepped away suddenly without still looking down.
"I should go," she said. "We're supposed to meet the entire group by nine, goodnight Edward." Without a glance back she walked away and I stood silent watching her every step.
I promised I wouldn't get close to anyone ever again. I'm starting to think Bella isn't just anyone.
So what do you think? And who's ready for a party? ;] I've been extremely busy as usual guys so I extend my apologies once again. I will be going to D.C. in a week for National Young Leaders Conference! So I'm really psyched! And hopefully I can get the next chapter up and beta'd before I leave. Please Review if you read this chapter it helps my writing!