A/N: All characters, products, and songs referenced are property of their respective owners. No copyright infringement is intended. This work of fanfiction is mine.
This chapter has been beta'd by Project Team Beta and keepingupwiththekids and reposted May 09.
Song: Bad Girlfriend – Theory of a Deadman
I met Rosalie Hale when we worked at Johnny's, a shitty little sports bar in a shitty little town where neither of us wanted to stay. It was the kind of town people would label as "good for raising a family," but for two women in their early twenties, it had little to offer. We quickly discovered that we shared an unladylike sense of humor, a sarcastic wit, and an affinity for attracting copious amounts of attention from men. We became fast friends, and I found in her a best friend and partner in crime. She was the peanut butter to my jelly or more appropriately, the vodka to my cranberry.
We didn't work at Johnny's because we enjoyed the workplace. No, it was simply for the money. Johnny had a loyal stream of customers, and that meant a reliable pay out for Rose and me. The majority of the clientele was made up of working class middle aged men and the ever present atmosphere in the bar was simply morose. Sure, an exciting Mariners or Seahawks game would get the guys fired up, but the joy never lasted. Most of those men's lives were just as dreary as the Pacific Northwest weather. Johnny himself was no different from his customers and friends. He ran a tight ship and wasn't the most pleasant boss most days, but we made great tips there – most likely because of the way we playfully flirted with the customers and added a brief ray of sunshine to their days.
We spent our nights after work at a larger neighborhood bar that stayed open late and drew a crowd that was closer to our age. That place also served my favorite microbrew and sometimes hosted local bands as live entertainment. We quickly became known as "Double Trouble" around there, and we were often told what a dangerous pair we were with our contrasting features and beauty. Rosalie was a tall, blonde-haired, blue-eyed babe, while I had a softer and more innocent look with big brown eyes that matched my long chocolate hair.
Old Johnny was a douche bag, but he was as much of a sucker for our sweet talking as his customers were. With a little show of cleavage Rose and I were occasionally able to get nights off together and we spent those at dance clubs just trying to have some girly good fun. We were young, sexy party girls, and it was rare for us to pay for more than one or two of our own drinks. There always seemed to be a line of guys waiting for their chance to dance with us or cop a feel. We relished the attention and made out with our fair share of suitors, but most nights we said goodbye to the guys at last call and passed out together on Rosalie's bed. We were no angels, but I wouldn't have called us very promiscuous at the time either. We preferred to think we were more selective than the majority of people we encountered in bars and clubs because we didn't go out with the sole purpose of hooking up. There were, of course, times one of us did end up with a guy at the end of the night, but that was the exception, not the rule. I suppose you could say we were both trying to enjoy our early twenties as much as we could before real life and responsibility caught up with us.
I had recently graduated from Seattle Pacific University, and unlike many of my college friends, I didn't want to settle down right in the city. Unfortunately, I didn't quite know what I wanted to do with myself, and ended up moving to the suburbs with one of my sorority sisters. I had no desire to move back in with my parents, so I figured I'd take this route for a year or so and look for a job in the meantime. Not everyone finds a job in their field immediately after graduating, and I didn't see the need to put too much pressure on myself or take a job I would inevitably hate. Bartending was meant to be a temporary job to cover my expenses until I figured out what I wanted to do with myself. Rosalie, on the other hand, was a townie from a fairly large family. She was working her way through South Seattle Community College as a part-time student since her parents couldn't help her pay for much of her education. She wavered on an ultimate career choice, so she focused on her general education credits until she made a final decision.
Our lives ultimately lacked purpose for the time being other than enjoying the time we spent together and pursuing our version of happiness á la Peter Pan and The Lost Boys. Honestly, we didn't mind too much. We liked the freedom that came with our lifestyle.
Time passed and in the natural progression of life, we both found ourselves in relationships.
I had James. Rosalie had Demetri. Then Garrett. Demetri again. Then Felix. Demetri and Felix at the same time, though they didn't know that. Then just Felix.
About six months after meeting, we both wanted to quit Johnny's and move on to other jobs. The atmosphere of that place was bringing us down, and we both felt the need for a change. Rosalie continued bartending at a popular country bar nearby. We had a lot of fun the few times we'd gone line dancing there in the preceding months. Weeknights seemed to be fairly tame with patrons playing darts or pool, but Thursday through Saturday, it was a full blown line dancer's dream. Rose loved checking out guys in their tight Wrangler jeans and cowboy hats, and her charm and infectious smile kept the tips a-coming. A supermodel body didn't hurt, either.
James and I had been together for about a month when I started looking for another job. Rosalie wanted me to work with her again, but James suggested I look for a day job instead. He was concerned about me working late and having to drive home at night when drunk or over-tired drivers could be on the road. At least that's what he said, and I believed his concern at the time. I fancied him a sweet and protective boyfriend for it, but I would later realize it was his jealousy and possessiveness that wanted to keep me out of the bars.
When I met James, he was one of the many who knew me and Rosalie as "Double Trouble." He didn't stand out from the other guys in looks or personality at first, and he didn't pursue me the way most of the other guys there did. He was a bit reserved, but I still had the impression he was interested in me. Regardless, he was a good friend who never tried to take advantage of me, no matter how drunk or uninhibited I may have been. I honestly couldn't remember the last time I'd met a man who wasn't looking for an immediate lay other than back in high school. In the end, it was the slow build of our friendship and attraction that drew me in, and I was the one who initiated our relationship. I thought I'd found myself a true gentleman.
Once we were official, our relationship moved quickly, and it was only a matter of months before James moved in with me when my roommate moved out. We were caught up in new love, and looking back on it, I can see how that foolishly effected the decisions I made. One of those was getting a job teaching at a day care center. I had always liked kids, but it was still a tad ironic considering that my night life consisted of little more than drinking, dancing, sex, and other debauchery.
The changes in our relationship were subtle, and as more time passed I was too absorbed in James to really give them much thought. I spent less time with Rosalie, but wrote it off on account of her own love life and our conflicting work schedules. James was more of a homebody than I was and I hated to make him feel uncomfortable, so I didn't go see my parents as often, either. When James' car broke down and he couldn't afford to get it fixed right away, I just let him take mine after dropping me off at work every morning. There were other little things, like what we ate or watched, but they seemed like such trivial details they didn't cross my mind.
The truth was that I became complacent in our relationship and living arrangements. I accepted his habits and quirks as part of his personality and ignored what was really happening because I was "in love." After years of on-and-off relationships and partying, it was nice to be in something secure and stable. Unfortunately, that mindset didn't let me see the forest for the trees.
After about a year and a half together, I finally accepted that James had issues that I wasn't qualified to handle on my own. I assumed he was an undiagnosed manic depressive or something similar, but I didn't really know much about mental illness. What I did know was that he would self-medicated with pot and whatever pills he could get a hold of to make himself numb to the ever-changing emotional climate raging within his body. I never cared for the random pill popping, but the recreational toking didn't bother me all that much. I had plenty of friends who were potheads, and I was known to partake on occasion in my college years. For reasons I could not understand, James hated doctors, and I had to tread lightly when suggesting he seek professional medical treatment. I cared for him and I wanted him to be healthy, but it was often easier to just deal with his mood swings than to constantly fight about going to see the doctor.
My life became controlled in almost every way. James was constantly at my side and wanted to know every detail of my life outside of our home. He checked calls and messages on my phone, and anytime I made or received calls, he was listening and asking questions. I nearly gave up on talking to anyone other than when I was at work and he wasn't around. I barely went out anymore, and Rosalie and I drifted apart. At first she would come over and hang out or invite James and me to do things with her and whomever she was seeing at the time. He always came up with some excuse not to, thus making me feel obligated to stay home with him instead. After a while, I stopped answering her calls. I knew James would be infuriated if I did anything for myself and it would inevitably lead to another argument. I also knew that if I just did what I had to in order to appease him, he and I could enjoy our time together, so I basically became his doormat. It was easier to avoid the confrontation, even when it was at the expense of my dearest friend. I had to believe our friendship was strong enough that she would understand. It seems we often test and take advantage of those closest to us because we know they'll love us unconditionally.
Although I would never admit it to my friends or family, after a year together James and I fought nearly every day about something. After a while, it didn't matter anymore what we fought about, we just fought about everything. We were at each other's throats over the tiniest things, then we'd end up crying and apologizing with words of love before the night was over. He never hit me, but he was forceful and intimidating physically. His cruel and spiteful words did more residual harm than a smack or punch ever would. Over the course of our two years together, I had somehow become that stereotypical Lifetime movie character justifying things like, "We fight because we love each other," or "He only does that because he's afraid to lose me." Let's not forget my idiotic mentality that I had invested too much of my time in him to give up what we had because I knew part of him still loved me like he used to.
In retrospect, I can't say that I believe it was ever truly love for either of us. I think I was in love with the idea of a guy who wasn't just like all the rest I'd encounter. If James ever loved me, it was quickly overshadowed and forgotten by his need to dominate me and control our lives.
Near the end, I had become exhausted with his tight grasp on my life and started spending time with Rosalie again. If James could go get high with his loser buddies anytime he wanted, I could visit my friend while he was gone. Returning home to find me not there inevitably caused more fights, but I missed my best friend too much to care about his double standards anymore. A few hours with her always made James' unfounded anger with me worthwhile, especially since he'd probably just get mad about something else eventually. What was the difference, right?
One of those nights that James was off getting high with his scumbag buddy Laurent, Rosalie and I hung out in Felix's basement watching him and his friends play foosball. A guy named Jacob served as my eye candy for the evening as my best friend and I sat behind the bar and talked. Tall, dark, and handsome were the first words to come to mind. I found myself drawn to his engaging smile and dark, sparkling eyes, and Rosalie noticed. If I had been single, I would have been on that in a hot minute.
Desperate to get me away from James, Rosalie brought up the subject of Jacob whenever possible.
It didn't seem to be necessary, though. Two weeks later, James went off on a three day bender without one phone call home, and when his number finally appeared on my caller ID I made my stand. I can't pinpoint a single reason why it took me so long, but I was unspeakably grateful for what snapped inside of me. I had a lot of time to think in those three long days, and I knew that enough was enough. It wasn't the first time I'd thought about ending our relationship; I had been unhappy for months. The more time I spent away from James, the more I realized what I needed to do. I just wasn't sure how to do it until that point. I feared his reaction, and I honestly wasn't sure if he would get violent if I broke up with him face to face. Breaking up over the phone is a shitty thing to do to someone, but under the circumstances it was what I had to do. A little time away from James' constant grasp helped me realize that I wasn't Bella anymore, rather a shell of the gregarious young woman I used to be. Simply put, that was unacceptable, and I was ready to take control of my life again.
James didn't accept the break up without a lot of yelling, name-calling, crying, begging, threats and middle-of-the-night phone calls, but I held my ground. My friends and family were a great support system, and I had a feeling they had all been anxiously awaiting the end of that relationship. I had the locks changed, arranged for his things to be picked up by a family member, and spent most of my free time at Rosalie's house for several weeks. I also carried pepper spray everywhere I went just in case. Surprisingly, I managed not to see James at all, and I hoped I never would again. It would just be easier that way. I'm pretty sure the threat of a restraining order kept him at bay; he knew my father was a retired police officer.
I celebrated my freedom with Jacob as my eager and willing rebound guy. It only took one night out at a club and we were all over each other on the dance floor. On the way home, we feverishly made out in the backseat of Felix's car. Within a week, he was my new fuck buddy. Lordy, did that feel great after months of no sexual appetite with James. Jacob's affection reminded me what it was like to be desired, and my self-confidence resurfaced in the time we spent together.
Rosalie and I were back to our old selves together in no time, and I felt like a real woman again, not someone's pet. I'm not sure I would have handled it all so well without her. I embraced the self I had pushed aside when James came into my life. I redefined myself with the confidence and liberation I had lacked for the last two years. I went where I wanted, did what I wanted, and spent time with people who lavished me with the compliments and attention I needed to rediscover myself.
My sexuality was my power, something I had lost with James. Something I now thrived on. I was finally in control and living my life for me, no questions asked, and I felt happy in a way I hadn't been in many months.
The night I met Edward Cullen was just another night of short skirts and barstools for Rosalie and I, though we had chosen a new location for the evening.
It was a Tuesday, and a bar with a cheap luau theme hosted karaoke that night. A few drinks into the evening, Rosalie and I were on stage, belting out some country girl power anthem. We giggled, shook our asses and winked at the men who howled at the particle board stage where we swayed. Just a few more strokes on the egos she and I had so carefully tailored.
Though I didn't know his name at the time, I couldn't take my eyes off Edward when he walked up to the stage and sang a drool-worthy Pearl Jam cover. He was the single most gorgeous creature I had ever laid eyes on, and the singing only enticed me more. His voice was buttery smooth, but still possessed a gritty tone that reminded me of Aaron Lewis. A few glances around the brightly decorated bar confirmed that I wasn't the only patron enthralled with the captivating man or his performance. I unconsciously ran my fingers through my long, dark locks, imagining the feel of his perfectly messy mop of penny colored hair. It stuck out in all the right places, providing a striking contrast to the deep green eyes I could see even from our seats at the bar. His toned arms were laced with tattoos, and I could see others peeking out from the V cut in his gray shirt. I yearned to see the rest of the ink beneath his clothes. When he hopped off the makeshift stage and made his way back to the bar, his shirt stretched across his torso to highlight his evenly muscled form. He was the epitome of sex on legs.
Rosalie and I remained perched at the bar, but I continued stealing glances at Eddie Vedder, as I'd appropriately dubbed him. Rose joked that the ridiculously sexy definition of his chiseled features was going to give her a "jawgasm," which only served to draw my attention to his luscious, lickable lips. He didn't seem to be with anyone as he drifted through the crowd, but he stopped and talked to a number of people with ease as if he knew them.
In a moment of weakness, Rosalie called Demetri and invited him to join us. She had a terrible habit of always going back to him. He tried to act like a player, but when it came to my best friend, he would take any piece of her he could get.
To my surprise and delight, Eddie Vedder apparently knew Demetri, and wandered over to the area of the bar where we were sitting. I laughed to myself when he introduced himself as Edward, and he eventually got me to admit I had referred to him as Eddie Vedder after seeing him on stage. He took that as a compliment, and claimed the stool next to me that Rose had been sitting in before Demetri arrived.
We fell into easy conversation, mostly commenting on all the karaoke stars of the night.
"You and your friend were pretty good up there," he said with a sincere smile after we commented on the current performer.
"Oh, thanks," I replied simply. I found it difficult to take a compliment from him when he was gazing at me with those amazing green eyes.
They were unlike anything I had ever seen, and it was a bit hypnotizing. The full color of his eyes was the undeniably vibrant green I had seen from across the room, but up close there was more to it. The innermost part of his irises surrounding his pupils weren't green, but a beautiful shade of blue. I would almost call it a turquoise or teal, and it blended easily into the greener coloring on the outer ring. While subtle from several feet away, the blend of color was both shocking and mesmerizing as close together as we were. I found it nearly impossible to look away from the most dazzling set of eyes I'd ever seen.
"You two were really cute," he added, interrupting my reverie. "But since I sang a solo for you, I think you should go do one for me."
"You didn't sing that for me," I countered quickly, but the instant blush on my cheeks betrayed my playful comeback.
He mumbled something I couldn't quite hear and then continued. "I still think you should. Please?" he asked with a smile that made a swell of heat rush through me.
I found myself powerless against his will, so I nodded and slid down off my stool. It wasn't alcohol affecting me that night, it was simply him. I gave in, and made my way back to the stage where I performed an enthusiastic rendition of one of my favorite chick rock songs. It was upbeat and playful enough for me to feign confidence in his unnerving presence, and I was rewarded with his approving smiles and cheers.
As the song faded out I bowed like a theater major and then skipped back toward my friends. Rosalie gave me a quick hug, and when I went to sit, Edward had turned our stools so that we sat face to face. Once I was seated and comfortable, he scooted himself closer so that our knees pressed against each other. My exposed legs made an easy resting place for his hands. We smiled at one another, but didn't speak. I could see excitement and desire in his charming stare, and I returned it without hesitation. I was drawn to him in a way that was undeniably deeper than physical attraction, yet I couldn't put a finger on what it was between us. I was sure he could feel it, too, but his soft caress on my knee suddenly stopped and he looked away from me. His entire body stiffened, and I nervously straightened my posture in return.
"Is something…" I began, but he cut me off.
"I'm married, so don't get the wrong idea," he told me bluntly. He stared off at some far wall and wouldn't meet my eyes.
His statement caught me off guard, and I stopped breathing momentarily. I looked down and noticed the wedding band on his left hand for the first time. I blamed the alcohol for missing it before that moment. To say I was overcome by my chagrin was an understatement. He had obviously been coming onto me since he came over to speak to Demetri, but he hadn't mentioned that "little" detail until almost an hour later. He was the one who had approached me. The one who had bought me a drink. The one inching his fingers up my bare thigh in a very public place.
I looked back up at him and the fog of my confusion lifted when our eyes met once more. That delicious green and blue burned into me, and I realized that his confession was a test. His hands returned to stroking my milky skin, and his expression was filled with lust. His words challenged me to be sensible and stop this runaway train we were on, but his body urged me to proceed. I could not think of anyone I had ever been this attracted to in all my life; not a crush, an ex-boyfriend or even any handsome celebrity. Not even that hot British actor who I now realized bore a striking resemblance to Edward.
I chose to respond to the ministrations of his long and torturous fingers, not his words.
Much to my delight, he flashed me a delicious crooked smile as he continued.
He peaked under my barely-there denim skirt and complimented the red boy short panties I wore. He placed his hand on mine and whispered in my ear.
"Let's get out of here," he purred in a tone that was both husky and velvet soft. It was reminiscent of his singing and I felt powerless against it, so I did what he requested of me. It's not as if I went unwillingly.
His mouth attacked mine as soon as we were out of bar. Moving toward his car, we groped each other with passion and fury in every touch.
"No, my car," I panted, pulling my lips away from his momentarily.
"What? Why?" he asked as he straightened a little to look down at me.
"Umm, this probably sounds a little backwards, but I don't even know you. I'm not driving off with you to be left without a way back." I hated thinking that way, so my words came out quiet and fast.
He leaned in and lavished my neck with hot kisses. "You can trust me. And we don't have to go anywhere."
"Hell no!" I pulled back again. "I will not screw in the parking lot of a crowded bar."
"No, you're right. You're right," he nodded. "How far away is your place?"
"It's more than 20 minutes from here," I frowned.
"Damn," he conceded. He ceased kissing me to consider our options, but his hands continued to run up and down my sides as if that would give him an idea faster. I was grateful he held our connection that way. After a moment, he made another suggestion. "I have an idea. It's not necessarily private, but it's out of the public eye."
I furrowed my brows at his cryptic statement and mischievous smile, but I was so keyed up that I was willing to take almost any viable option at that point.
"There's a park a couple streets away from here. It'll be completed deserted," he told me with a hopeful grin.
All rational thought escaped me in that moment wrapped up in Edward's strong, inked arms. I wanted him more than I'd ever wanted a man. My body needed his. Now.
"Let's go," I agreed. "But I'm driving."
"We can take your car, but I'm driving. You've had more to drink than I have."
I didn't waste anymore time arguing. I tossed him the keys and raced for the passenger side door of my car.
Feeling incredibly licentious and desperate for immediate gratification, I fucked him in the dugout of a baseball field at the park. It was frenzied and hot as I straddled him on the wooden bench, but none of the aesthetics mattered as our bodies connected and sought release. It wouldn't have mattered if we were in a suite at the Waldorf-Astoria because in those moments together, the only thing I could focus on were Edward's piercing eyes and the way his body moved in and against mine. The intensity of it all was almost overwhelming.
I'd never felt so empowered or uninhibited in my life. My ego roared like a victorious predator within me. In the few months since my breakup with James, I had committed myself to being strong, sexy, and confident – all things that loser had taken away from me bit by bit. Claiming Edward's body and mind sexually gave me an incredible sense of naughty pride. I knew I could have my pick of almost any single man I pursued, but a married man was different. Something about me made him break the vows of his marriage to be with me. Even if it was just this once. He may or may not have done it before, but that didn't matter to me in the moment. The instant sexual chemistry between us outweighed that. He was gorgeous, and I had one-upped a woman who had no idea she was my competition.
There was some kind of spark between us, but I didn't really care about Edward. I didn't even know him, so how could I? I didn't care about his nameless wife, and after that, I wondered if he did.
I should have felt some sort of shame or remorse as he drove us back to the bar and my best friend, but I didn't. I was too busy reeling in my newfound sexual glory. I had never considered this kind of thing an option before, so I had never considered how it would make me feel. In truth, being with any random married man was quite unappealing, but having Edward was something that held a precarious duality. I wanted him before I knew he was married and in spite of his marital status. Afterward, however, I was overtaken by this twisted sense of accomplishment. It hadn't fueled my actions, but it most definitely added to my pleasure.
I came to the jolting realization that in spite of the swell of power and control these circumstances garnered, they also left me vulnerable to my attraction to Edward, and that was not acceptable. Although I gave him my phone number when he asked for it, I forced myself to banish any thought of him from my mind. I truly didn't expect to ever hear from him again, and I was fine with that. It was for the best for both of us.
Two weeks later he surprised me. He wanted to see me. He missed me. Was that possible?
Red thong, Party's on, Love this song, sing along.
Come together, leave alone, see you later back at home
No one really knows if she's drunk or is she's stoned
But she's coming back to my place tonight. I say
No one really knows just how far she's gonna go,
But I'm gonna find out later tonight
Theory of a Deadman
Endnotes: Cheating – not good. It is selfish & stupid. B&E are not in love right here, so they're acting according to their own wants. Hold tight, it's a bumpy ride =)