Unknown to me, the Garden of Eden was located directly above my head.
The garden Edward was wheeling me was a small roof garden located directly above my apartment.
The rooftop garden was elegant, modern, and clean. The wall that faced into the courtyard was empty and a long teak bench was attached to the stainless steel wall. The walls that faced out were edged in tall bushes that were about five feet in height. On either side of the door stood large aloe plants that were as big as my wheelchair. Over in the corner was a long silver staircase that led up to the third floor roof, where I could see were even more planters.
"Where did you… how?" I couldn't get a complete sentence out to save my life. It all looked amazing. Edward led me to a small deck area that was at the far end of the garden. There was a teak floor and a thick wooden table, surrounded by teak chairs. The furniture was modern and looked very expensive. This apparently is where my first months deposit was going to. I knew that the courtyard was pristine, but this made the courtyard look like a child's playground. That was one of the reasons I chose to be at the more expensive apartments. The owners had sunk a lot of money in turning this old school for the blind into high-end apartments.
"My neighbor, Mr. Molina. He is a retired biology teacher and he devotes his time to the gardens. See up there," Edward started, breaking me out of my stupor. He was pointing to the third floor section of the garden. "He started an organic garden. He keeps showing up at my door with organic tomatoes and last year he had pumpkins for Halloween."
I was shocked. Here growing above my head was an entire eco-system. I was just happy I hadn't killed off Edward's orchid and someone managed to keep this entire second earth alive and quiet. I never noticed that side door, let alone ever heard people walking above my head, so I wondered how many people knew of this oasis. Edward and Mr. Molina were the only apartments on the third floor of the U-shaped building. The building didn't have a third floor on my side.
"He was the one who suggested the orchid, and helped me out with setting things up."
Reading minds again Edward? Wait a minute…
"You talk to your neighbor about me?"
Busted. I watched as the blush returned, covering the apples of his cheeks, flaring up to his ears. His eyes dropped to the ground.
"I… I just didn't want to … I wanted to give you something different." His voice dropped to almost a whisper. "I… I'm sure you get lots of flowers."
I don't think he meant for me to hear that last bit, but I did, and I was taken aback by it.
"Actually, I loved them. I'm rather impressed with the fact I haven't killed it yet. Black thumb," I said with a chuckle, giving him a thumb up and rotating it. He forced a laugh and then his eyes shot back down to the ground. He was either very unsure of himself, or totally re-thinking this entire date ordeal. He rolled me up to the teak table and pulled out a chair for me to sit on. I easily maneuvered out of my wheelchair and sat down on the smooth wooden chair. The table was set with a simple black table cloth, white square plates with white napkins and black wooden chopsticks.
Edward sat next to me after he rolled my ride off to the side. He scooted in and smiled at me.
"This is my favorite restaurant. I go before every performance. It's almost a good luck tradition now," He stated. I just let my jaw hang open. "Have you ever had it?"
In front of us was sushi, glorious and cold. I recognized the take out containers. They were from my favorite sushi restaurant, (make up a name). I couldn't speak. He looked at me and must have mistaken my face for one of worry and fear over eating raw fish.
"Here, it's really good. Try some." He handed me my plate, now full of food, along with a fork. The owner of our favorite sushi restaurant would have stabbed him with this fork had we been at the restaurant. I took the fork anyways, just to be polite. The plate was small and had vegetable tempura, edamame, a Philly roll, and a Seattle roll. Child's play to me. He left the soft pink ginger and the soft green wasabi off my plate. This was a cardinal sin in my book. I loved my wasabi and ginger. I let it go, knowing he obviously had no idea.
I looked over at his plate. He had placed some Alaska rolls, Nijo, spicy yellowtail, and eel. Edward then took some other rolls out and placed them on the larger plate ahead of us. On my side of the plate, more Seattle rolls and Philly rolls. On his I could see Cali rolls, lion roll, Akuma, and Downtown rolls. He also set the pink shavings of ginger and a glob of wasabi and placed them closer to him. I watched as he also took a small dish and put some sauce into it and placed it in between us.
"What would you like to drink? I have sake, some wine… I also have Diet Coke and water in the cooler." He said gesturing to a small gray cooler that was on the floor behind him. I had totally missed when I'd sat down.
"Um. Sake is fine." He smiled and jumped at the chance to serve me. I just sat back and let him. Once we both had drinks I took a sip and had forgotten how delicious the sake tasted. I knew that even though dinner was going to be a little under my tastes, I was going to love it. I quickly snapped up my chopsticks and placed a piece of Seattle roll in my mouth, savoring the flavors of the salmon and avocado. It had been an old standby and my first introduction to sushi when I was starting out on my own. Alice had some for lunch one day and let me try it and I've never looked back.
Soon we were in full conversation over parents and what they did and what we did. I watched him meticulously picked up an Alaska roll with his chopsticks and eat. He then watched as I stopped fooling around. I quickly snapped up a lion roll and popped in my mouth. Edward started to stop me but it was too late.
I gave him a small half smile and when all was clear I pointed to the rolls.
"I love lion."
Edward's eyes got large when it clicked. "Me too," He responded. We laughed at our over-politeness and started to eat off the larger dish.
After we had finished with one bottle of sake, Edward cleared the plates and we sat on the pillows up against the table. The sun was setting and the sky took on a pink-purple hue.
Edward sat next to me; he smiled a bit of a nervous smile.
"So…" He started.
"How was your day?"
"Fine. It doesn't really change nowadays."
"Oh?" He said, moving so he was sitting Indian style on the blanket.
"Yeah. Get up, roll over to the desk. Do some web design, roll to the kitchen for lunch. Roll back to work, dinner at some point, maybe watch some TV, then bed. Rinse and repeat."
"Oh. I thought… maybe you get visitors or something…" He withdrew for a flash, becoming fixated on his shoelace
"Just my neighbor Alice. She's a tattoo artist. She designed my cast." I said, pointing to it and showing it off.
"Nice! Is that Andre?" he asked, coming back out of his shell, he pointing to the inside of the cast. There was Fezik, and Inigo, and the Sicilian, all with their arms crossed.
"Yeah. She did it earlier this week; we had a movie night and she got bored." I said with an embarrassed smile.
We sat in silence for a few moments. I looked over to him; he was looking off at the skyline, the sun setting behind him. The sun's dying light practically lit his hair on fire, shafts of orange light projected through, making it look redder than usual. He looked like he was very content. His calm demeanor ruled how our date was. Comfortable, easy.
We sat and laughed, talked about families and where we grew up, favorite movies, music and why we did what we did. Our talks were about simple things, the weather and local news, and passionately felt things like politics and personal views. We smiled and laughs so much it was starting to hurt my cheeks.
A car alarm in the distance made Edward jump and face where the sound was coming from it was disruptive and annoying. He scowled at it, his mouth almost in a full pout. Edward rolled off his pillow and onto his side, quickly rolling back to me. Music started to play and I noticed a small, black remote in his hand. I looked back and noticed that on the floor, just along the wall, was an iPod jammed into a speaker dock.
We sat listening to the quiet music and just enjoying each other's company. He sat the remote down between us, and I noticed how close his long piano playing fingers were to mine. I moved my hand just enough that our hands would touch, and he quickly jumped and looked down, the blush covering both our faces now. He placed his hand back down, this time over my entire hand. His fingers pushed and laced up with mine, a soft pleased look graced his face, while the muscles in my cheeks ached.
"I'd invite you to dance, but lately it's just something I don't do," I said as his beautiful music captured my attention it was soft in one moment, deep and dark but still happy in others. I felt wrapped in it, its sound protecting me, watching me, keeping me safe. I watched as he smiled and stood anyways.
"Come on." He stood with his foot against my upper thigh. He bent down and wrapped his arms around my back innocently. My arms wrapped around his neck, and suddenly he pulled, lifting me up so I was more or less standing. He pressed me up against his body and my twelve year old inner-child started to giggle uncontrollably. My outer twenty-eight year old self was quietly shocked at his strength. I mean, I'm not four hundred pounds or anything but he just picked me up like I was a stuffed animal. It was startling at the ease he whipped me around. I could feel just how strong his arms were as they flexed under my body.
"Keep your foot back," he said softly, only inches away from my ear. My body shivered, and my arms rippled with goosebumps. I gave a nervous chuckle and bent my leg. He rested my good foot on his black shoes and with one quick move we were waltzing around the rooftop garden. I could smell the roses combined with Edward's cologne and just his regular smell.
I wanted to live in Edward's scent.
I needed to figure out what cologne he wore, and bathe in it.
The music ended and I didn't care. I didn't want to move. I was content.
I felt him quietly chuckle. Please, God, don't let him be laughing at me. I was having such a good time and for me to ruin it now would be mortifying.
I pulled back to look at him. His grip was tight, and I slid off his foot onto the ground so that I didn't hurt him anymore.
I looked up into his face and his green eyes were soft, full of emotion, and they fit the huge grin on his beautiful lips.
I felt the blush flare up on my face and race down my neck and I looked down at our feet. His hand came up and pulled my chin up.
"Now, now. I've finally gotten you to slow down enough to see you. Don't start hiding on me now."
His words confused me, but I was so captivated by his presence that I just didn't care.
I looked down for a split second, to watch my foot, and I heard him make a soft noise to catch my attention, an "I got this" in a simple grunt. I looked up quickly and got caught in his eyes They were deep and shimmering with a pleased pleasure, with a flash of "do it". His nose touched mine, and my eyes closed at the warmth. I could feel the magnetic pull that brought us together and his soft warm mouth was on mine. I had to keep repeating to myself to go easy because it felt so good. He tasted so much like sake and I wanted more. As the kiss broke he closed the gap, and buried his face into my neck. I mirrored his actions, our bodies charged with the pleasant feeling of how well this was going. Far better than the 'worst case scenarios' I ran through as we reached the door to the garden.
The music's changed from a soft jazzy pop song to a soft piano solo. I recognized it but couldn't place it.
"Who is this?" I asked. His head was turned slightly, but he didn't look at me. "I've heard this somewhere." I pushed his face back to me. "This is you isn't it?" I whispered, my mouth breaking into a smile.
He blushed hard, from neck to hairline and I smiled. I liked putting him on the spot like this. That blush made my insides turn and drop like I was on a roller coaster. I ran my hand through his hair, still smiling like a loon. He started to laugh.
"Edward?" His face shot up. "This has been fun. Thank you." With that, all the tension rolled off his body and he gave me an honest smile.
"I'm glad. I'm no good at this stuff. I'm sorry."
"No. No, don't be. The sushi was great. It's from my favorite restaurant and everything was delicious, and the music and dancing was really nice."
The darkness of night was closing in and soon it was going to be difficult to navigate off the roof, so we decided the evening was over. Edward packed everything up and he wheeled me back to the elevator.
"So when is your next show?" I asked him on the ride back down. Finding out that he was a composer and piano player for the opera company was very interesting. I had never been to a live show, until now.
"Two weeks. The opera is in full dress rehearsals now."
He stopped at my door and smiled warmly as I fished out my key.
"Bella, I had a really great time with you tonight," He said pushing me inside my apartment. I turned around nervously, knowing that this was the end of my dream night. "I would love it if you and I could do something later."
"Sure. I think it's my turn to do dinner."
He bent over and kissed me again, this time with a little more hunger pushing him. I started to laugh as our kisses slowed.
"Good night, Edward." I watched him back out of the room, his eyes never leaving me.
"Good night, Bella," He said, his face flushed with lust. I was about to let myself go giddy but instead I gave him a little wave and shut the door. I locked the door and rolled over to the window to make sure my date got home. Sure enough, his lights popped on and his dark shadow played against the walls. I pulled away from the window with a smile on my face.
That is, until I saw a faint glow from across the courtyard.
Lanky Man was sitting at his window, in the dark, smoking. The glowing ember at the tip of his cigarette was all I could see.
I would like to say thank you to the fans who read all these stories written for and by fans of this story. Thank You to MY fans... Thank You for sticking with me, when i just felt lost.
An ENORMOUS THANK YOU TO KnittingFynatyc for Beta-ing me yet again, after all this time.
Thank you to KnittingFynatyc, TheBetham, for listening to my dribbles of story ideas and telling me "OMG that sounds AWESOME." and making me feel normal when the world was crashing down, and all i wanted to do was crawl in a hole.
Thank you to those like kiltmama, ashpags, pmsgeisha, naelany, knit1purr2, Megi, maylin, MaleficentKnits Teenuh, Criosa and all the UU peoples... Thank you for sticking with me... and not hating me too much.
Thank you... i hope you enjoyed.