"For My Valentine"
A Twilight Love Story Contest
Title: Breakfast at Tiffany's
Pairing: Edward & Bella
Vampire or Human: Human
AN: Since Valentine's Day is all about L-O-V-E, we're sharing it! ProfMom got Edward (jealous much?) and HMonster4 got Bella (because her B is so fab!). What's gonna happen?
I pulled my phone out of my pocket for the third time in 2 minutes. She was late today. By about 5 minutes. In six months, she'd never been late before, so I was anxious. I realized that at any time this could end. Just imagining my day without seeing her set off an alarm in my body. My heart raced, and my hands shook slightly. I checked the time again. 6 minutes late. What if she's gone?
If she didn't get here soon, I would be late as well. Reluctantly, I began to fold the newspaper I'd been ignoring, and I took a final drink of coffee from the cup in front of me. I inhaled my disappointment sharply, stood up, and made my way toward the front door.
As I stepped out onto Fifth Avenue, I caught a glimpse of dark chestnut hair rushing past me. Damn. I'd missed her face.
She was on a mission. Maybe she wouldn't stop today.
She was almost to the corner, when her head turned. She slowed her pace, waited for a break, and then cut quickly across the moving crowds.
She never disappointed me.
Every morning, the girl with the brown hair and browner eyes found peace in an otherwise chaotic scene. She lost herself on average for 3.2 minutes. I kept track.
Millions of people passed the Tiffany window every year, hundreds stopped to examine its contents every day. She was special though.
In the circle I ran in, genuine, lasting, and unpretentious were rarely associated with beauty.
These were exactly the qualities that connected her to what was on display in that window.
And I coveted them. I coveted her.
But we'd never met.
Damn. I was going to be late because of a stupid bicycle. I mean, seriously, who leaves their bike in the middle of the hallway like that? The owner is lucky that I caught myself before I could flip down the stairs. No, can that. He's lucky I can't get into his apartment, or else he might end up with Nair in his shampoo.
I flew up Fifth Avenue, refusing to give up the one bright spot in the boring monotony I called my day. I dodged the small man in front of me talking loudly on his cell phone, the group of gawking tourists, the two ladies who lunch.
There it was. Fifth and 57th. Robin's egg blue and white satin. Tiffany and Company. The personification of everything graceful, romantic and classic.
Everything that my life was not.
I stopped here everyday to press my nose against the window and allow myself a few moments to dream of a life that didn't happen to girls like me. Prince Charming, an apartment that was larger than 500 square feet, and true love.
For a few minutes everyday, I could escape my mundane existence to a better place. One where I was Sabrina the confident, riding off into the sunset with Linus Larabie. Not Sabrina, daughter of the chauffer, looking down at the party from the branches of a garden tree.
Every morning she drew me in. I was a predator. She tempted me. But I needed to be strong enough to resist.
Some days were harder than others. I started to follow her a few times. I thought if I could just find out something else about her—her name, where she worked, what kind of music she liked, how she took her coffee, whether she was in a relationship . . . . And that's where I stopped myself. I would not be a stalker. I could not find out these things only to use them for my benefit.
If I wanted her, I would have to introduce myself.
How ordinary. Entirely too commonplace a way to meet. I convinced myself it simply wasn't enough, so I never did.
I knew the truth though. There were other reasons I hadn't used my charms on her.
I adored her, idealized her. She inspired me.
Humanity disgusted me. My professional and personal world was populated by vampires, ready to suck the life from me at any moment. It was beyond incivility. Every day, I witnessed friends abusing trust, families torn apart, and business associates stabbing each other in the back.
My romantic encounters were no less parasitic. I was surrounded by women who had teased and tortured themselves into beauty. They were starved and over trained. They'd had fat sucked out and botulism put back in. They were sculpted to absolute external perfection, masking the deficiencies within.
But this woman was none of that. She radiated authenticity.
My world would sully her.
Or I would discover she was just as fraudulent as the rest, and I would lose my hope.
I must have won the luck lottery today. I woke up before my alarm went off and got out of my apartment without tripping over any bikes. That alone is cause for celebration.
And it got better. Sunshine and warmth are unheard of in Manhattan in February. But today was one of those fluke days. Blame global warming if you must, all I know is that it felt heavenly not to bundle up for once.
I was standing at the corner of 55th and Fifth fifteen minutes earlier than usual. I had two choices. Get to work early, or take some time for myself. Gee, hard choice.
There is a cute little coffee place that I walk by every day. Two years I have taken this route to work, yet I've never gone in. If I am going to start changing the mundane day to day, this is a good start.
There was a line five people deep, and the shop was warm. I queued up and waited patiently for my turn. The longer I waited, the warmer it got. I would feel beads of perspiration form on my neck. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all. I fanned myself, but it didn't make a whit of difference. I was baking. I need to get out of here.
"It is a bit oppressive in here, isn't it?" A deep voice observes behind me. "Would you like a section of my newspaper? It might be a more effective fan than your hand."
I turn to acknowledge my benefactor, grateful for anything that will bring relief.
What was I saying?
Standing in front of me was the most breathtakingly beautiful man I have ever seen in my life. Get over it, Bella! Men aren't beautiful.
But he was. I couldn't get past his eyes. Not just the color, which reminded me of Central Park's Strawberry Fields in June, but the sadness that lurked behind them. Such sad eyes for a seemingly young face.
"Thank you…" I sounded like an idiot. Nice first impression, Bella.
A glimpse into the shop's window nearly persuaded me to forego my morning coffee. They were busier than usual, and I would risk still being in line by the time my daily dose of hope breezed by.
Caffeine and my brunette desire were the only drugs I ingested.
I knew that I could always find coffee on the next block, but I would only get one chance to see her today. I peeked at the time and realized I still had about 10 minutes, and there was nowhere inconspicuous to wait outside. On Fifth Avenue at this time of the morning, people didn't loiter; they bustled.
I almost walked out the minute I stepped foot in; despite the unseasonable temperatures, they hadn't turned the heat down. It was stifling. The room was packed with wilting patrons. One was frantically fanning herself as she shifted uncomfortably from hip to hip. I could have mistaken her for any one of the pretentious customers whose impatience resulted in undeserved rudeness to the barista were it not for that hair. It was pulled back, which is what deterred me from recognizing her initially.
She was early; she was in front of me; she was hot. Quite literally. So, I offered her my newspaper, and she turned to face me.
I internally berated myself for speaking up. I wasn't ready for this.
Finally able to peer directly into her eyes, their depth engulfed me. Words eluded me. I attempted to find an appropriate follow up to her simple statement of gratitude:
"Lovely weather we're having."
"Hello, my name is Edward, and I watch you every day."
She turned back around when I didn't respond quickly enough. How rude of me. Abandoning my anxiety, I drew myself closer, and made her an offer I hoped she wouldn't refuse.
"You look positively flushed. Tell me what you plan to order, and I will bring it to you outside. Tiffany's is just next door; perhaps, you would enjoy a little window shopping while you wait. Shall I meet you there?"
He was talking to me. I knew that because his lips were moving. But I didn't hear a word he said. I stood there, mesmerized by those eyes. I wanted to get lost in them. Wanted, I already was.
I am not the type to be dumbstruck by a man. Struck by their dumbness is more like it.
He stood there, waiting for me to speak. I'm sure I looked like a blithering idiot. I had to think of something, anything to keep him here for a few more minutes.
"…shall I meet you there?"
I dug my nails into my hand, using the pain to shake myself out of my daze. "I'm sorry?"
He gave me a small smile, "What were you planning on ordering? I'll get it for you and meet you outside."
I felt foolish telling him that I was going to order a skim mocha, extra whip cream.
"Just black coffee, thank you." Normally, there is no way that I would let a stranger, let alone a strange man, buy me a cup of coffee. Today was definitely turning out to be anything but normal.
I left the shop, standing just outside the door. I could see my window down the street, calling to me. But for once, I had something better to do than day dream in front of a window filled with unattainable dreams.
Just black coffee? Simple, yes, but I wished I could read her mind then. I had a feeling that wasn't her usual order.
Suddenly my own patience ran thin. Why in the world did the people ahead of me all order something with 10 words in the title when all I needed were 2 cups of black coffee?
She was waiting just outside the door. Her face was turned up toward the sun, as if in worship.
"You didn't make it to the window," I observed as I handed her the drink and gestured toward Tiffany's.
"Um, no." She was clearly perplexed.
"I'm headed in that direction. How about you?"
"Well, yes, me too."
We both sipped and walked silently. I wasn't entirely sure what to do next.
"At the risk of sounding cliché," she remarked, "Do you come here often?"
I laughed. "Every day. I come here every day. My name is Edward, by the way."
"Bella," She said with a smile. A sincere smile. "And me too. I come here every morning."
"I know," I smiled mysteriously. She looked shocked at first, but I quickly added, "Who could resist the allure of breakfast at Tiffany's?"
I should have bid her well and been on my way, but the window with Bella held the promise of something divine, and I hadn't been to church in a very long time.
The display had transformed overnight. There were hearts everywhere. All shapes and sizes.
"Crap. I hate the Valentine's Day display."
"Do you have something against romance, Bella?"
Did I say I was having a great day? Hmm, maybe I need to go back and amend that.
I stood in front of MY window. The window that I had stopped and looked at every business day for two years. He knew that. He probably thought it was funny.
And to top it off, the window looked like someone had puked hearts and lace.
I hate Valentines Day. With a passion. Love should be spontaneous, unscripted. Not mandated by greeting card companies.
And now Mr. Talk Dark and…wait, Edward. His name is Edward. Anyway, he wants to know what I have against romance. I might as well just leave now.
My phone chirped, I shot Edward an apologetic look and pulled it out of my coat pocket. It was a text message from my friend, Alice.
- Checking out the strawberry pop tarts?
I laughed as I read the message.
"Strawberry pop tarts?" Edward gave me a confused look.
Shit. I must have read Alice's text out loud. How to explain…
"My friend Alice and I went out and consumed a few too many cosmo's last valentines day. I tend to get a bit, well, philosophical when I drink." I looked down at my feet, embarrassed that I sounded like a lush.
"Anyway, we passed by here on our way home, and I end up spouting a whole diatribe about how strawberry pop tarts are the epitome of the perfect relationship. Ever since then, these have been known as the strawberry pop tart windows."
Edward looked at me like I have two heads. I really need to learn when to shut up.
"I'm intrigued. Are you going to share your soliloquy?"
I got myself here, I obviously was never going to see this guy again, and definitely not when he thought I was a total loon. What the heck. I launched in, my eyes never leaving the display window.
"True love is like a package of strawberry pop tarts. When you first get it, you are all excited to open the shiny new package. Once it's open, you find two perfectly matched pastries with simple pink frosting and gorgeous colorful sprinkles. But there is more to it, for inside lurks strawberry preserves that remind you of everything good and simple and wonderful in life. Of course, it helps that pop tarts are totally processed, and therefore have a shelf life of forever, that way you don't ever have to worry about them going bad."
I bite my lip and cringe, waiting for the sound of receding footsteps. Goodbye Mr. Wonderful.
Simple. Wonderful. Forever.
She healed me with that ridiculous metaphor. Suddenly, I wanted to sing "People pop up with Kellogg's pop tarts!" I would buy them in bulk from now on. Perhaps, I should consider increasing my stock in the company.
I thought about puppies, warm chocolate chip cookies, walking down the main streets of Disneyland, my mother's perfume, playing catch with my brother, and someday making love to this woman. All things that represented unadulterated joy.
A long strand of hair broke free of her pony tail, and I wanted to reach across, and tuck it behind her ear. Having my hand resting on the side of her head would merely serve as excuse to pull her head closer, to bring her lips in contact with mine.
"So, Bella, have you already opened your shiny new package of pop tarts? Have you already found your matching frosting?" Nothing could be done until I knew if she were single.
"I've had a few shiny packages, but they always ended up being the wrong flavor. Gotta be strawberry, and definitely with frosting."
"Hmm, so let me see if I follow . . . the pop tarts are true love, but the emotion implied in the Valentine window is not?"
She nodded in agreement. "Exactly. The Valentines display reflects commercialism, not emotions."
She was absolutely real. She was a perfect pop tart. She even smelled like strawberries.
I fell in love with her right then and there.
He was laughing at me. He thought I was ridiculous. What did he expect of a dissertation on true love begotten by too much vodka?
What did I expect that my drunken rambling would win over someone like him? Dream on, Bella.
So I played along, masking my embarrassment. Same shit, different day.
But I didn't want it to be the same shit. Not with him.
It was getting late, and I needed to get to work. But I didn't want to leave. I knew it would be the last time I would see Edward. Scratch last, the only time. I wanted something to remember it by.
I've never been a bold one; more the type to hang back and watch others stake their claim. What is that old saying, 'Always the bridesmaid, never the bride?' I'd never even been a bridesmaid.
Mustering up every bit of courage I had, I looked up at Edward.
"Maybe I'll bump into you again sometime?"
I hesitated, biting my lip. Come on, Bella. You can do this!
Edward opened his mouth as if to answer me, but I was faster. I stepped forward and grabbed his red silk tie. It forced him to lean forward while allowing me to balance on tip toe.
"Thank you for the coffee." I whispered, and kissed him quickly. His lips were soft. He smelled of coffee and cinnamon.
Letting go was the hardest thing I have ever done, but fear of rejection is a great motivator. I released his tie, pivoted, and shot up Fifth Avenue.
Goodbye Edward. I wish you could have been my strawberry pop tart.
I was too stunned to move. I stood there at our window feeling her lips on mine. In a haze, I made it to work and through the day. Arriving home, I allowed myself to return to the scene of my rebirth. I replayed our exchange over and over, and each time I fell in love with her even more.
That kiss changed everything. That kiss beckoned me. I added to my list.
Simple. Wonderful. Forever. Beautiful. Brave.
These qualities, her love of toaster pastry and the Tiffany's window. It was all I knew about her.
It was enough to know I loved her.
Not one thing about her was fake. She even owned her nervousness.
I lingered on her kiss. It was quick, it may very well have been a move just to shut me up and get rid of me, but there was more too. The second our skin made contact, fireworks went off and sparks flew as I breathed more of her strawberry scent.
But she ran, which bewildered me. Certainly, it was not something I was accustomed to. I was usually the one being chased, and more often than not, I was faster. Pursuing her would require stamina, as well as speed.
A hint . . . a small gesture to begin . . .I picked up the phone and called in a favor from someone who just happened to work at my new favorite store. They only had one item that fit my description. It would seem out of place in the current display. Only she would know why it was there.
It was a message
"I am your strawberry pop tart."
The rest of my day crept at a snail's pace. I couldn't tell you a single thing that happened once I walked away from Edward, and honestly, it didn't really matter. Nothing mattered.
I grew up a romantic at heart. Idealized notions of what love should be, shaped by literature and popular media. I dreamed of the day that someone would make a grand gesture for me. Stereo under the window, sing to me on the bleachers, or tell me that I completed him.
But a strange thing happened. I grew up and found out that as much as I wished it, life didn't imitate art. There were no grand gestures. Guys were not emotionally wired to connect at that level. After years of holding out hope, I gave up.
That was last Valentine's Day. Hence the pop tart soliloquy as Edward had called it. An easy way to contain all of my hopes and dreams in one small, shiny package.
I never expected to tell any one about it. In hindsight, I guess it was a test. My initial reaction to him was so intense; I needed to throw down the ultimate gauntlet to see how he would respond. And he laughed at me.
I should have just walked away then. But no, I had to give myself something to remember the fleeting moment with him. I should have stopped while I was ahead. And now I couldn't get him out of my head.
Smart one, Bella.
The next morning I walked up Fifth in the rain, holding my breath, and constantly scanning the crowd. It was hard to distinguish people due to the umbrellas. It may have been a one time thing, seeing him. I shouldn't fixate on it. Time to go on about life.
I paused, as usual, in front of my window. The pink and hearts of the display taunted me. It reminded me of everything that I wanted and how I would never get it.
Two ladies that lunch were standing next to me, ogling the cocktail rings in the display. I envied their confidence, their certainty that their dear husbands would buy them something lovely for Valentine's Day. Commercialism at its best.
One of the ladies was giving a running commentary on displays. "It's a lovely display this year. One of their best. I don't understand the keychain though. All these lovely rings and necklaces, why throw in the little strawberry bauble? It doesn't fit."
A strawberry? There was no strawberry in the window. It had been filled with ridiculously expensive diamonds, sapphires, and platinum.
But there it was, tucked discreetly into the corner. A small enamel strawberry keychain.
Stop it, Bella. Stop dreaming. It doesn't mean anything. Probably an oversight or something slipped in to appease those that couldn't afford the grander things.
It couldn't be for me.
4.6 minutes. That's how long she stared at the window. She had to have seen it. She had to know.
I followed her, and I didn't stop myself in the next block as I had in past. That one small kiss made this action sweet and romantic, not desperate and clandestine. I needed to know something more about her in order to complete the plan. She ordered a silly coffee drink at Starbucks. I chuckled at the irony of her anti-commercialism stance against romance. Apparently, that didn't apply to coffee.
Valentine's Day was now only 6 business days away.
I stayed far enough back that she wouldn't see me. I never worried about losing her in a crowd. She stood out. A rose among dandelions.
I had enough to move forward.
When she breezed up to our window the next morning, I gave her a minute to take in the new addition to the window. It was more subtle. I couldn't be certain she'd understand the meaning. That tiny red bean was the start of something we could nurture together. Though it was a long shot, I had to start at the beginning.
I approached swiftly, circled my arm around her, handing her cup. "Skim mocha with extra whipped cream. You're giving me quite a sweet tooth, Bella" I whispered in her ear.
Only her hand moved when she took the cup. I could feel the rest of her stiffen in front of me.
"Thank you?" she responded. She was puzzled.
"Have a lovely weekend, Bella." And I turned to get lost in the crowd.
72 hours of questions. 4,320 minutes of anxiety.
3 days of not seeing Edward, of not knowing what all this meant.
He appeared at my side Friday morning with a mocha exactly the way I would order it. His cheeks were flushed with the cold, his fair skin a stark contrast against the rich camel's hair top coat he was bundled in. He delivered my coffee, and disappeared into the crowd.
In my window, a crystal martini glass had been added. The enamel keychain wrapped around the stem. Resting in the delicate V of the glass was a single, dark red jasper Tiffany bean. Jasper. Actors believe it brings luck. Others believe it brings courage to speak out.
Was it courage that made me tell Edward about the pop tart window? Was it luck?
The addition to the window, what did it mean? His showing up with my all time favorite caffeinated addiction couldn't have been a lucky guess, could it?
Monday morning couldn't get here soon enough.
After following her all the way to work on Friday, I now had her full name, Isabella Swan. Even her name held the meaning of everything I was missing: beauty, freedom, healing and luck.
My family would tell me I was reading too much meaning into all of this. That I would eventually discover she was just as imperfect as all of the women I had ever dated.
They didn't understand though. I knew perfection as a concept was unattainable, but seeing my parents deeply committed love convinced me, I could find someone perfect for me.
My weekend was long. Time passed far too slowly.
I thought only of her. I remembered the taste of her lips, and I longed to feel them again.
On Monday, it was quartz; she could interpret the teardrop however she liked, but the stone itself carried healing powers which were transformative in nature. I was shedding the pain of the past. I didn't speak to her that day. I didn't think I could watch her attempt to decipher my intention. Of everything I planned, that little charm was my most personal revelation.
Tuesday, however, I waited for her by the window. I had to know whether she would come to me. Was she with me on this journey? And what would she make of the lapis starfish?
Four days. That's how long it had been since our Friday morning exchange. I've not seen him. I even went into the coffee shop in the hopes that he would be there.
Nothing. I felt like a part of me was missing. I was incapable of filling the void on my own.
I bought a mocha and a newspaper. I don't read the paper, but it reminded me of him. Everything reminded me of him, or what little I knew.
Monday morning, there had been another charm in the martini glass. This time a clear crystal tear drop. All I could think of was the sadness in his eyes the first time I saw them.
Would there be something today? Would I see him today?
I stopped in the coffee shop again. Nothing. I bought a mocha and paper like yesterday. I folded the paper just like Edward had, nesting the USA Today inside the Wall Street Journal, and cradled it in my arm. It felt strangely comforting having one of the only tangible memories I had of him close to my heart.
As I stepped out of the shop, there was a break in crowd. I saw a tall man with red hair standing in front of the window. Please let it be him.
I dodged the crowds and puddles, moving as quickly and as quietly as I could. He either didn't hear me approach, or chose not to acknowledge me. I glanced at the window quickly; a blue starfish had joined the bean and the tear drop in the martini glass.
A blue starfish. Wow. I may not know one hundred percent the meaning of the bean or the teardrop, but there was no mistaking this one.
Courage of speech, Bella. Ball is in your court.
"Did you know that in ancient Christian mythology, the image of a starfish was used to represent infinite love?" I smiled, proud of myself for not chickening out.
I slipped the folded papers under his arm. "USA Today is hidden on the inside. We don't want anyone to know that you actually read that stuff. Have a good Tuesday, Edward."
This time, I was the one that disappeared.
I mustered all of my self control to keep from chasing her down and professing my infinite love to her. She took all my coherent thoughts with her when she left. I remained at the window grinning like a little boy who just got an extra cookie for being good.
I pulled the newspaper up in front of my face, and inhaled as inconspicuously as possible. I caught the last bit of her scent that remained before the wind carried it away.
She had to know where all of this was headed. I was being obvious, but I believed that love could be passionate and predictable at the same time. Something about it must be constant and knowing. Without that, you only have lust which lacks the preservatives for a long shelf life.
But still a little spontaneity never hurt anyone. We were getting too close to the end; there had to be another gesture.
Once I knew where she worked, it was easy to find her email address. I deeply regretted that I would not see her lips move as she read the note. I wished she would look away from her screen to see me standing there, ready for her eager embrace. But we were not there yet. I put "lapis" in the subject line. It would have to capture her attention.
My bounty is as boundless as the sea, my love as deep; the more I give to thee, the more I have, for both are infinite.
You're very perceptive, Bella Swan.
Once I clicked send, all I could do was wait.
My afternoon was supposed to be spent editing a manuscript. My head was not in the world of clandestine spies and covert ops. Mentally, I was standing in front of a window, looking at three charms in a martini glass, hoping that my interpretations were correct.
I had spent the morning second guessing myself. The confidence and self assurance I felt this morning had quickly been replaced by doubt and apprehension. What if I misinterpreted? What if it wasn't for me?
I tossed down the manuscript on my desk. It was hopeless. There was no way I could justify leaving early, but my head just wasn't in it today. I stared at my computer monitor, hoping for divine inspiration.
An envelope appeared in my icon tray. I might as well deal with the tedium that is email. It would kill time until I had to go home to an empty apartment and more rambling thoughts.
An internal email about benefits renewal. Two emails from authors asking for status. Spam offering to enlarge my penis.
I reached an email from an address I didn't recognize. The subject line said lapis. Lapis? Was that Latin? A typo?
I opened it and read.
I don't know how he found me, but he did. Not just my name, my physical location, or my email address, but he found ME.
I sat and thought for a long time. How best to respond. To show that I understood his actions and intentions.
When in doubt, go to the classics.
I tapped out a quick email, and before I could second guess myself, hit send.
All the Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
Layin' in the sun,
Talkin' 'bout the things
They woulda coulda shoulda done...
But those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas
All ran away and hid
From one little Did.
- Shel Silverstein
I may be perceptive, but that will never trump the one little did.
I was in a meeting where everyone talked, but no one said anything. I nodded strategically, and agreed appropriately, but I was not there.
Occasionally, I glanced at my phone hoping for a response. And there it was, "re: lapis." I couldn't top it, nor did I want to. This wasn't a contest to outdo each other. This was an exchange of souls. We could both win.
Someone must have noticed when my demeanor changed. When the heavens aligned, and my heart sang.
My list grew longer . . . Simple. Wonderful. Forever. Beautiful. Brave. Perceptive. Smart.
I knew this moved us forward immeasurably. She now had my last name. A few strokes in a search engine, and she would know who I was . . . the who everyone else knew. She already knew me, though.
Despite our online disclosures, I was cautious when I approached her on Wednesday. Knowing my past could alter her perceptions of our future. I steeled myself before slipping my hand in hers.
"For you, Bella, I not only did, but I always will."
"Shel knows his stuff," she said sweetly. I squeezed her hand lightly, and gently pulled her away from the window.
I walked her to work, still connected. I wished her a pleasant day with a kiss on her hand.
I made it sound easy, but those two words meant waiting. I had always prided myself on my unending patience, but I'd found its limit.
It used to be that I lived for the end of the work day. Now I longed for the beginning.
We had both made leaps of faith yesterday, exposed ourselves.
He knew who I was. I knew who he was. I could tell by the way he approached me today that he was concerned about that. He tried to play it off with the silver E charm, the acknowledgment of who he was, what he was.
It would have been easy to pull up my browser and type in his name. I knew the last name, heck, everyone knew the last name. But I didn't know him. As I sat there, staring at the blank screen, fingers poised, I decided it didn't matter. News stories, society photos, and press clippings weren't going to tell me what I needed to know.
So I swallowed my curiosity.
But what I couldn't suppress was the nagging thought that I needed to do something. All of his wonderful, lovely gestures made such an impact. What have I done? I gave him the newspaper one day. Classy, Bella.
I sat in my office for a long time, thinking. If he was concerned about what I might find, he needed to know it didn't matter. Question issued, problem solved.
I popped up my email, and tapped out a quick message. He initiated yesterday. Today was my turn. I typed past in the subject line, and tabbed to the body.
- When I was ten, I stepped on a rake and had to get ten stitches in my foot
- Freshman year of high school I got a D in geometry
- I am allergic to cashews
You won't find that out if you google me. That's what matters.
I paused, debating for a second. He put himself out there. I needed to meet him halfway.
I never liked mornings before I met you. Now I hate the rest of the day, because it's not morning.
I have volumes of classics in my home, but these few sentences on my computer screen moved me more than all of them combined.
She knew what mattered. She wanted to know me.
I clicked reply, and waited for the words to come.
-When I was 10, my brother broke my nose with an errant baseball.
-Freshman year of high school, I got a 3 day suspension for skipping too much school. I
thought it was a reward.
-I have no allergies, but I cashews disgust me.
You are my life now. No matter the time of day.
I hoped it wasn't too much, but I'd already declared my infinite love.
We spent the rest of the day exchanging emails. I told him about my life, my dreams, and my fears. I told him about my parent's divorce, the goldfish I had when I was 6, and how I wanted to be a marine biologist when I was little so that I could swim with the dolphins.
He reciprocated, telling stories of his family, his childhood, the world that he lived in. We were so different, yet we were almost the same.
Thursday morning, I gave her my heart, and she kissed me again. It was the fairest trade I'd ever made.
My martini glass now contained a jasper bean, a quartz tear drop, a lapis star fish, a sterling e and floating heart.
He gave me his heart.
We walked to my office again, hand in hand. My mind raced the entire time. I felt absolutely complete and yet utterly insignificant. He had everything. I couldn't give him anything that he didn't already have.
So I gave him the only thing I had. The only thing that mattered. I gave him me.
Just like that first morning, in front of the window at Tiffany's, I grabbed his tie and pulled him towards me. I kissed him, reveling in everything. The taste, the scent, the sensation. I wanted to stay like this forever, to forget that anything existed but us.
But work called. Bills to pay, authors to be published.
I stood just inside the lobby, watching him walk away. I felt like I needed to do something, to say something.
I bolted out of the building, running after him, shouting his name. He paused at the street corner, turning with a bewildered look on his face. I threw myself into his arms, kissing him desperately.
'Thank you. It feels like such an insignificant way to acknowledge this. But thank you."
She thought her kiss was insignificant. It could not have less true.
"I've said it several different ways, but not yet directly. I love you, Bella." I kissed her gently on her forehead. I wasn't as brave as she, and I turned away before she could respond, tossing "Check your email later," over my shoulder.
Edward Cullen loves me.
I may have teased her just by waiting until later in the afternoon to write.
Monday is too far away. May I walk you home today?
As if she were refreshing her email constantly, I received a near instantaneous response.
We re-traced our steps from the morning walk, stopping by the window where one more charm was added. I intended to love her for eternity.
She had to know what tomorrow was, and it was possible she already had plans, but hadn't wanted to ask until all the pieces were in the glass.
"Bella, would you meet me here for breakfast tomorrow?"
Friday evening, Edward walked me home. In my martini glass, a jade circle had been added. Circles are infinite. No beginning, no end, forever.
I was dreading another weekend with no contact. I had steeled myself against the desire to hope that I would see him this weekend. This week had been so perfect, so surreal, that I kept waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop to end it all.
But I should know better than to bet against Edward. Instead of saying goodbye, he asked me to meet him for breakfast in the morning.
Tomorrow was Valentine's Day. Neither of us acknowledged it, but it lurked on the periphery, taunting me.
As much as I want to hope, as much as I want to believe, I am scared.
Fifth Avenue on early Saturday morning was significantly quieter than business days. I was still two blocks away, and I could already see Edward.
I started walking faster now, fighting breaking into a run to get there faster. He must have heard me approach; he turned and gave me a dazzling smile, arms out wide.
"No tie for leverage today." I mumbled as I grabbed the front of his coat. He laughed at me as I stood up on tiptoe. "I'm sure there will be a benefit to you being tall, getting stuff off the top shelf and all that, but it really makes kissing you challenging."
He chuckled, and bent his head to accommodate me. "Is that better?"
"Shhh…I'm busy." I whispered as I pressed my lips to his.
"mmm. You'll be the death of me."
"Don't go dying on me, I'm not done with you yet." she quipped.
I led her over to the window where a single signature blue Tiffany package sat in the middle of Valentine display.
I watched her scan the window for any sign. I caught a hint of disappointment.
"Bella, I spend my life surrounded by things that are pretty on the outside, but there is no substance within. We've been admiring this exquisite display for days. Would you like to go inside with me?"
She bit her lip. "I'd love to, but they aren't open yet."
The store didn't officially open until 10, so it paid to know the right people today. We entered the store with all the reverence of a Cathedral. We wandered aimlessly and silently for a while.
"I've been wondering. Are you still opposed to romance?"
"I never had anything against romance, just the way everyone wants you to believe in it versus how it really is."
"I'm pleased to hear it. Come over here. I think there is something you might like."
She was still taking in the store. I had a feeling she'd never actually stepped foot beyond the front door. Her wide eyed innocence was refreshing.
We walked up to the counter, and I nodded to my friend. "I believe you have something for this gorgeous creature beside me." She looked up at me in shock.
He walked over to the window, and pulled the blue box out of the display and handed it to Bella. She was shaking, as she opened it.
She seemed relieved when she saw the familiar lettering, and she laughed out loud.
"I told you we were having breakfast at Tiffany's. Shall we dig in? I'm hungry." I said slyly.
She had no more caution as she hurried to get to her pink frosting. She stopped quickly when she saw there was another box inside. She looked to me sharply, and I nodded for her to continue.
She opened the lid slowly, and her eyes lit up when she saw the familiar charms attached to a simple silver chain bracelet.
"Am I awful if I say I wanted this?"
"No, you're merely honest."
"Thank you, Edward. I don't know what to say."
"Bella, say you'll be my Valentine?"
Edward's eyes went wide, his brows furrowing in confusion.
"I'd rather be your strawberry pop tart."
AN: I adore H's romantic writing in WYTYK, so I really thought she should do a one-shot. We both got a little caught up in cupid's arrow! We did this as a true round-robin, never knowing what we'd have to play off of. Too much fun, and oh so sappy! Happy Valentine's Day everyone!
Links in my profile to all the messages he sent.