Author's Note: Ok, here it is – my mea culpa. I have to apologize to everyone for taking so long to get this new chapter done. It wasn't planned and, as we all know, life can sometimes throw us for a loop. I've had some issues the last few weeks and despite many, many attempts at writing, I had too much on my mind to focus on what I was doing. You guys deserved much better than that. I also want to apologize for not responding to the last several reviews submitted. I read each one and seriously – you guys warm my heart.
I've been really good (up until now) about updating regularly, and I hope to be back to that pretty quickly. I don't plan on making you guys wait forever for every chapter and I hope you're still willing to move forward with me.
A big, BIG thanks to all of you who helped me achieve the FOUR initial Indie TwiFic Award nominations (Best Alternate Universe Human WIP, Best Use of Comedy WIP, Best Use of Music as Inspiration WIP, and Most Romantic Moment WIP).
I have made it through to the SECOND ROUND of voting in the category of Best Use of Music as Inspiration so if you think I deserve it, please go to http://theindietwificawards[dot]com and vote for Tragic Turn. Voting is open until midnight on Wednesday, July 29th.
And without further ado, please enjoy.
And, as always, everything Twilight belongs to SM…
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
Chapter 14 – Wish You Were Here
I'd love to say things picked up right where they left off. My hands instantly moved back to Bella's warm chest as hers crept further south… But instead the events of a very long day seemed to take their toll, and sleep jumped to the top of our priority list.
I couldn't help smiling as I watched her carefully fold the blanket and set out two pillows; she was making our bed. She crawled in between the folded sections and her eyes invited me closer. Not that I needed much encouraging, but that look was worth delaying things for another moment.
Climbing into bed – or a bed-like facsimile – with Bella Swan was worth anything and everything it took to get to this point. For once we weren't worried about being caught, we were worried about every passing second taking us one second closer to the weekend ending.
* * *
I was surprised we'd gotten any sleep, but as it turns out a day full of driving, drama, and exorcising demons out of Rosalie was enough to make sleep less of a luxury and more of a necessity.
Bella slept for a while after my eyes first blinked open and, although I wouldn't have admitted it to anyone with xy chromosomes, I tried to memorize every detail of this moment in case life never granted me this much happiness again. The air was crisp, smelling of sunshine in the way that early morning sun tends to do. I could smell faint traces of her perfume and could feel the warmth of her body against me. Her breath, sweeping across my neck with each exhalation, was what really sent me over the edge; other details I could dream up, but the warm wet breaths were something that could only be based firmly in reality.
I couldn't see her face, tucked into my shoulder, so I didn't know she was awake until her voice broke into my train of thought. "Hey."
I didn't want her to move, instead opting to turn my head just enough to place a soft kiss on her forehead. "Hey." The giggle from beneath me caught me off guard. "What are you laughing at?"
"Us," she lifted her head until our eyes were able to finally meet, "you'd think we have more to say to one another by now."
It was true; we always had the generic conversation starter before we could delve into anything of substance.
I was thinking it, but saying it out loud wasn't in the plan until it happened: "Oh, I've got plenty of things to say to you Miss Swan, but only about half of them are appropriate to say in front of children."
It was obvious I'd confused her, but I'd pretty much predicted that would be her response. I aimed a thumb in the direction of the window several yards across the courtyard containing three small children, faces pressed up against the glass, watching us like a zoo exhibit. I kept my eyes on her face, watching the confusion melt into a sweet smile. She lifted a hand to wave at them and all three darted through the heavy curtains to disappear. Turning back to me, she spoke in that slightly-deepened tone that always drove me wild, "You think you'll be sharing any of those inappropriate thoughts with me any time soon?"
When she asked these kinds of questions, the brutally honest kind, it always put me on the spot allowing me to run the risk of saying something completely embarrassing. Rather than let myself talk without the comfort of rational thinking, I kept it short: "Maybe."
I pulled her mouth to mine for a slow kiss, which seemed to function like charging a battery. By the time she tugged her soft lips away I was energized and wide awake. Maybe a little too awake for whatever time it was. Apparently being on the roof was like camping – with only the sights and sounds of nature to indicate time of day.
The soft sound of a chuckle escaping her lips caught my attention and I couldn't help lifting an eyebrow in her direction. I followed her eyes as they darted sharply to one side, "Our audience is back." The three children stood giggling once again in the large picture window.
Lifting her up off the ground by the hand, we stood and I gathered our things. "I guess that's our cue to return to reality."
Her sigh was cute, feigning defeat. "Yeah, I guess so – either that or we give these kids the education of a lifetime." I knew it was a bluff, but a damn good one. I like the way your mind works Bella Swan.
It was a relief to see that Emmett and Rosalie were already gone by the time we climbed down into the room. According to a text message they'd gone to visit some friends of Rose's on one of the local campuses. I'd have thought it strange for them to be out and about so early if my phone hadn't indicated we'd slept in. Ok, maybe slept in was an understatement and missed-the-entire- morning was more fitting – but the beauty of a parent-free weekend was that it didn't matter.
The bed closest the front door was a crumpled mess, but luckily the other had been untouched. Otherwise I wouldn't let Bella sit on either, much less lay on the potentially covered-in-sweat-if-not-more sheets.
"I think I'm gonna take a shower."
On any other occasion it would have just been another statement by another person about personal hygiene; however when Bella and I said it simultaneously it came across as an awkward invitation. I watched as she began to blush from deep within her cheeks, up through the sides of her face and smiled. "Why don't you go ahead?"
She nodded and went to grab her stuff from the bag in the closet. "Thanks. I'd argue with you, but I think I need it more than you do."
She was, of course, crazy. She looked beautiful as always, but now that I knew she had a secret confident, sexy side the moments of insecurity became cute reminders of the timid person she sometimes showed the rest of the world.
"I'll be out in a few minutes." She disappeared into the bathroom on the other side of the room, and as the door closed I could see the shadows of where she stood in the gap beneath the door. I mentally chastised myself for even looking, it was, after all, pretty desperate and recently I was fairly certain that our relationship had progressed at least somewhat beyond the desperation stage. In fact, I was just about to look away when the shadows beneath the door showed what I could only imagine was Bella stepping out of her clothes. While I knew this was a key element to showering, I hadn't really considered that she'd be totally naked until I suddenly had the evidence to support it.
I wondered how she'd react if I casually snuck into the bathroom once she was behind the shower curtain, sliding into the steamy shower behind her… I let my imagination take over which entertained me until I heard the water shut off on the other side of the door.
"Uh, Edward," her voice was timid and unsure.
Quickly walking to the door I wondered what kind of bathroom emergency she could be having that warranted anything from me. "Bel? Everything ok?"
"Yeah, uh, everything's fine. I just have a," she paused for an extra second, "problem."
I was glad she couldn't see the wide grin working its way across my lips. It was obvious whatever it was wasn't life-threatening – merely awkward. "You know, as wonderfully astute as I am – you'll actually have to tell me what that problem is for me to help you."
"Can you open the door for a second?" If her voice had been in that deep-toned sultry sound I would have considered this an act of seduction, but in her current frazzled state I knew not to even go there.
Cracking the door allowed for the thick cloud of steam to escape. Bella wasn't within sight, which meant she was probably hiding behind the shower curtain. Just as I thought it, her head peeked from behind the bland beige curtain with a look of desperation.
"Someone seems to have misplaced all the towels." Looking around proved her to be completely right; there wasn't so much as a lonely washcloth for the poor girl. I shifted my glance back to her and really processed that less than three feet away was my beautiful, sexy girlfriend in the shower. I mean, I'm not insensitive – I fully understood that she asked me in for my assistance, but this was the closest I'd ever been to seeing her body and I'd have been lying if I said it didn't excite me. Her eyes were bright, fresh looking, her smooth skin allowing the beads of water to slide along it, down the sides of her neck, disappearing behind the shower curtain.
I wanted to say something ambiguous, some kind of innuendo, or maybe even something damn obvious like out of a really bad porno movie: Why even bother drying off? Give me the chance and I'll have you wet again in no time… But I was also smart enough to know that I was a fucking big talker and I'd probably shrivel up and die before words like that ever crossed my lips.
"I'll get you something, just hang on." Damn me for being a nice guy, a slave to my conscience, although if I wasn't I probably wouldn't have been able to swing a girl like this to begin with.
Stepping back into the room revealed a large pile of clearly-used towels. Since Emmett was definitely not the type to wipe out enough towels for six adults, I assumed Rosalie used a separate towel for each strand of hair or some equally as inconsiderate bullshit. If she ever put the needs of someone else first, or hell, even considered the needs of someone else, I'd probably drop dead of shock.
The maid's cart couldn't be seen in either direction down the hallway, so I knocked on the door across the hall hoping Alice was still here. If nothing, she was a good sharer and would give up a few towels for her best friend. With my sister I was usually prepared for anything, but perhaps I'd never fully anticipated what "anything" could be until now. Jasper, slowly opening the door into the room still darkened by the drawn drapes, and stood wrapped only in bedsheets as he rubbed his eyes. I didn't have to intentionally look for her to find Alice, obviously sleeping off a night of activity.
"Fuck, Cullen. I'm sorry man. I didn't expect you – "
"No, it's my own fucking fault. I should have known better." It was true, I'm not naïve enough to think that spending the night together wouldn't lead to something between them - I just really, really didn't need a fucking mental image to coordinate with those thoughts. "Your sister and my brother used every towel in the room, we need a few, ok?"
Fuck Jasper. It was so hard to get, let alone, stay mad at him since he always knew just when to speak and when staying quiet was the best decision. In this instance he said nothing, retrieved a stack of towels, and handed them over.
"Thanks." I might have been talking to him, but I'd already headed back to our room – no need to see any more than was absolutely necessary.
I momentarily imagined Bella shivering in the shower and hustled a bit – opening the bathroom door in one quick movement. What I hadn't expected was walking in to see the version of Bella fresh from my dreams standing before me, glistening, and revealing her soft body in all its glory.
"Edward!" This was probably the only time I was unhappy hearing her say my name. In retrospect, a gentlemanly diversion of my eyes would have been the right behavior for the moment, but that's assuming I was thinking with my head. The one with the brain anyway. Instead I gawked at her, eyes wide and white, until she called my name a second time.
"Edward! A little privacy?"
I was pretty sure it wasn't really about the nudity, or having me see her in perhaps her most vulnerable state yet, but the surprise of it all. "I'm so sorry!" Fuck!
I was sorry that I embarrassed her and sorry for forcing her to expose herself before she intended to, but I wasn't at all sorry for confirming that every fantasy I had paled in comparison to the real thing. And it hadn't slipped my mind that at the moment I saw her she wasn't even trying.
When the door opened, I expected her to come out fully dressed. Instead, she stood in the doorway securely wrapped in a fluffy white towel. "I'm sorry I yelled at you."
"Bella, you're ridiculous. You had to do something to snap me back to reality." I was cautious not to elaborate in case I started to embarrass her. Lucky for me, she laughed.
"Yeah, true. You were kinda starting to drool." As the smile spread across her face, I knew she wasn't upset – but I couldn't stop staring at the towel. Fuck me. I guess this is what she's been going through all the time. Although I can't imagine almost seeing me right from the shower was half as interesting as this was…
Her hand was absentmindedly playing with the bottom edge of the towel, occasionally lifting it up slightly to reveal a glistening upper thigh. When I was finally able to tear my eyes from her leg, her deep brown eyes were waiting for me – a playful expression dancing through them. Shit, maybe this girl knew exactly what she was doing after all.
Either because I'm a nice guy or a glutton for punishment, I ushered her back towards the bathroom. "You've got three minutes before I barge in all over again." Truthfully, I needed a good long shower before I'd let the woman anywhere near me again, and remembering that with her barely dressed in front of me was becoming harder and harder. Pun absolutely intended.
I'd given her three minutes but, she was back in just under two, dressed in jeans and a lightweight sweater, carefully towel-drying her hair. "You're up."
A shower – a cool shower – was exactly what I needed. After all, I had a big show tonight and can't be so fixated on sex that my playing would suffer. Although at that exact point in time I'd have sacrificed every ounce of musical talent, and probably my soul, to be able to love that girl the way I wanted to.
I stayed in a few minutes longer than was necessary and quickly dried off and got dressed so she wouldn't be imagining anything weird going on. Or maybe girls didn't think like that, maybe it was just me.
I suggested leaving the hotel and exploring the area. Really I wanted to get away from anything that would remind me of Alice and Jasper. Yeah, I know – when it comes to Alice I tended to be the pot phoning the kettle to tell her it's black. Usually I was able to justify the double standard as something big-brotherly, but this time I was almost entirely sure that I was just bitter over the fact they were actually doing it and anything that reminded me of this fact seemed to make things worse.
We split a sandwich at a small café before drinking black coffee in a shop adjacent to one of the nearby campuses. "You know," I wasn't really a big "planner," but this time I couldn't help it, "this could be us away at college in a couple of years."
She smiled, but it seemed polite rather than anticipatory. "We could all be living on the moon in a couple of years." Now what's a guy supposed to say to that?
And of course, rather than let me inquire the universe throws me a curveball in the form of Alice and Jasper's smug faces walking by the window. Bella was waving to Alice, signaling them in, before I could make up a reason not to want them. I didn't really want to advertise that I hated them for having potentially wild sex in one room, while my testosterone fueled brother had potentially wild sex in the other room, and I was up on the roof content with thinking about it. To be fair, I'd never want to push her and I'd wait as long as was necessary; it was just easier to wait when I knew there were others waiting too.
I stayed quiet as Bella and Alice fell easily into noisy conversation, making up for their near silence the day before. Jasper sipped an energy drink from the can, his arm draped around Alice's shoulders. I was fixating on everything at this point and it hadn't even dawned on me that it might be nerves. Maybe it wasn't really about sex, about sisters, or about vague moon comments – maybe I was scared that tonight was a test. And the outcome of said test would be the sole determining factor for my entire future.
Of course, it was just a theory.
* * *
So it had happened. He saw me naked, completely and utterly naked, and it wasn't at all what I imagined. I'd thought for starters the lighting would be dim rather than the awkward florescence that seems to shine a spotlight on every possible skin imperfection. But despite the imperfections, the look on his face clearly demonstrated something beyond satisfaction. Just another reason I loved him.
I could feel his arm tense as Alice and Jasper walked in to sit with us – but I didn't know why. Normally something like that would bug me, but I was just so anxious for things to be back to normal with my best friend.
She fell into the overstuffed couch to my left, Jasper sliding beside her. "Hey!" Her small arms tightened around my neck in a close embrace. "I feel like I haven't seen your face in years." We fell easily into conversation and if I didn't keep reminding myself I'd probably have forgotten that we even had drama yesterday.
Although she kept talking, I could tell she was listening to Jasper as he talked to Edward behind her back. When he mentioned that they should bring over the equipment this afternoon and do a sound check her eyes grew wide. It might have been my imagination, but it seemed as if she was willing them to go; using her mental powers to usher them out.
Not that I attributed it specifically to her, but when she opened her eyes from her silent pleading they both rose to stand. "Sorry, it seems we have something to attend to." Edward's voice was borderline emotionless.
"Gotta make sure the roadies don't damage anything while they're unpacking our stuff." Jasper's voice was smooth and cool. Something was definitely up.
Edward bent forward to crush his lips against mine, much deeper than he normally would have in the middle of a public place. "I love you, see you later, ok?"
I could only nod as he left behind Jasper, feeling my wheels turning to try and decode his behavior. It was the frantic wave of a hand in front of my face that made me realize I'd zoned out for longer than I expected.
"Bella? Bella!" Her hand now snapping a finger as I blinked a few times, "I need you to focus! I have to talk to you!"
Waving an arm to push her hand from my face I shifted to sit upright and attentive. "Please tell me there isn't something wrong – I don't think I can handle any more drama this weekend."
"No, no, no. Nothing bad. Just something… big." As the words left her mouth she covered it quickly with a small hand, appearing to stifle laughter.
"You're killing me, Alice. And you know it, don't you?"
She tilted her head to one side before scrunching up her nose and nodding in my direction. I couldn't help smiling back at her. "Bella, I slept with Jasper last night."
I had heard her. I heard and processed each word, but I still couldn't help but ask, "Wait? What do you mean?"
Her posture changed and she bent forward, resting her elbows on her drawn-together knees. She lowered her voice to just above a whisper. "We were alone last night, lying in bed watching a movie and it just kind of… happened. I know that sounds just so lame –"
"No, Al, it's not lame at all. You love him, right?" I followed that great advice of never asking a question I didn't already know the answer to in this instance.
"I do, you know I do. I mean I didn't have it planned out or anything and I don't think he did either. It just felt right."
Her spontaneity in the whole matter was a bit surprising since she normally had a plan for everything from sneezes to blinking. "Maybe the best things can't be planned Al. Maybe that's what makes it special." I felt like part of an after-school special, but hopefully minus the pregnancy scare.
"You know, Rosalie told me her first time, before she started dating Emmett, totally sucked. She said it was painful and over before she knew it and that she was pretty much just glad to have the whole thing over with. And as sad as it sounds, despite the high hopes I had for that whole 'perfect experience' thing, it was Rosalie's words that stuck with me; that was what I was expecting. But it was kind of great in its own way. We were comfortable and very open and I'd be lying if I said it wasn't the closest I've ever felt to someone in my life."
Her honesty was heartbreaking in a way I couldn't describe. I didn't have a lot of friends back in Phoenix, none as close as Alice, and this was my first time hearing of actual, experienced sex first hand. Every word seemed to be reeling me into her experience. "Al, would you do it all over again?"
She smiled widely at sat back, appearing a little more at ease. "Totally. Hell, depending on sleeping arrangements I'm hoping to do it all over again tonight!"
I covered my own mouth this time to refrain from belly laughing in a way that might disrupt the entire place. "Sometimes you go just one step too far with the information. But you know that too, don't you?"
Again she nodded, this time with a bit of extra enthusiasm. "There's just one tiny little problem you might need to know about."
I could tell my face dropped as she completed her sentence. Whatever she was about to tell me was most likely the reason behind Edward's odd behavior earlier today. "Bella, Edward knows. He came by looking for towels this morning and connected the dots pretty quickly."
Shit. So based on this information he wasn't actually angry or disgusted by the fact that his friend had deflowered his sister on a group trip. He was…frustrated. Frustrated perhaps by the fact that we were the only couple on this trip who couldn't write a letter to Penthouse Forum about our nocturnal activities. Although he'd never push me into things before I was ready, I knew he was waiting for me to give him the green light at any time.
"That explains the mood I guess." I wanted to talk to her about the things I'd been feeling, the urges I'd been having, the feeling in the pit of my stomach that made me think I was closer to being ready than not, but I was worried that I'd be crossing the line between friend and friend dating her brother. "Is this something we can talk about? You and me I mean. Does it, like, gross you out?" This was a question I honestly didn't know the answer to.
"You can talk to me about anything, Bella. I mean it. I just don't need to see any anatomically correct drawings or home movies, ok? Now something like that could seriously scar a sister for life." Gotta hand it to her, she takes it all in stride.
"No polaroids, got it." She stuck out her tongue so quickly I almost thought I'd imagined it. "I just worry that I'll be ready and won't even know it."
"You'll know." Her small hand rested on my arm as she met my gaze with her own. "And even though I'm the first one to admit that I'm no expert, I have one piece of advice for you: don't expect perfection. Someone once told me that if you wait for things to be perfect, you'll wait forever. In my opinion, when you're ready and it happens you'll end up with a whole new definition of perfection."
"Wow, Alice – that was pretty brilliant."
Her chuckles were infectious. "Haven't you figured out? I'm actually quite brilliant – the rest is just an act." I freaking love this girl!
She jumped up looking at her watch. "So we have exactly three hours before we have to leave for the club. That should be just about enough time to make us gorgeous."
"Alice, I don't know what you have in mind – but I'm all set for tonight."
"You're ridiculous Bella Swan, completely ridiculous." God, they could be so alike sometimes… "We're buying new outfits and getting blow outs or Rosalie will put us both to shame, I promise you that." Even thought we'd gotten through our conflict for the most part, saying the "R" word was pretty much all it took to get me to agree.
I let Alice dress me up for about an hour and a half – forcing me in and out of outfits I would never ordinarily pick out. After buying me a way-too-tight top she described as "putting the twins front and center," we headed to a modern-style salon. Alice had called for us earlier this morning and I wasn't sure how to feel about the fact that she'd anticipated I'd need a complete makeover to fit in tonight. Truthfully, she was just looking out for me – seemed to be a common Cullen trait.
While Alice gave specific instructions on how she wanted her hair done, I relied on a less-is-more approach; tame was about the best I could hope for. The woman working on my hair was able to work miracles and I was actually excited to go out into the world confident that at least one thing about me would be put together for tonight.
During our walk back to the hotel, we slipped into conversations about everything and nothing the way things usually were. Jasper's car was in the lot so we knew the guys were back, but it was Alice's idea to keep ourselves hidden until it was time to leave for the show. According to her, it was the only way to make an impression.
We holed ourselves up in the room that had been Alice and Jasper's, and the guys didn't put up a fight under the condition that we take Rosalie with us. Apparently, she'd been driving the three of them crazy since they returned from their rehearsal.
Alice drew an invisible line down the middle of the bathroom mirror and gave Rosalie clear boundaries as to where she was allowed to get ready: "No one's usurped territory like you since Napoleon."
About an hour into the whole "getting ready" charade I started to get cold feet. "Alice, remind me why we're doing this. The boys know what we look like, for better or for worse."
"Trust me, it'll be worth it. It's gonna be an ego boost – for us and for them."
Rosalie's voice seemed to float from the bathroom as her reflection displayed her meticulously lining her eyes. "Well, I can tell you that I do it because I've got a reputation to live up to."
"Painted up and cheap isn't exactly the kind of reputation all of us want." Alice's sarcasm seemed to come with her newly sexed up persona – I liked this extra-spunky side of her. She turned back to me, "We'll get a boost after seeing the guys drool over us from up on the stage and they'll get a boost knowing we did a little fancying up for them. It's win-win!"
It did sound good, so I sucked it up and went to work with a dark brown eyeliner pencil. I squeezed myself into the tight, dark blue top showing a nice bit of cleavage and the silhouette of every curve. I felt like I was trying too hard, but Rosalie's skimpy halter dress reminded me what trying too hard actually looked like. Alice passed me over a lip gloss and forced me into a pair of heels that she'd brought.
"Al, I was just gonna wear my boots." The comfortable pair of brown boots was what I'd wear to any other social function.
"You need something with a little height – trust me; it helps to lift your butt into the cute little ass you normally hide." She was so difficult to argue with since the idea of enhancing my butt was appealing in its own way.
Rosalie drove us there in Jasper's truck since the guys had to be there early. She drove like a maniac, but we had to hand it to her – she talked the valet from the restaurant next door into parking the car even though we weren't eating there. Ok, maybe it wasn't really talking, just a good look at her long slender legs and a pouty expression on her undeniably beautiful face. I guess she was good for something after all…
The bar was dark and mostly occupied by large wooden bar and several plain sets of wooden tables and chairs. The seating was almost entirely filled with college-age people all taking advantage of the fifty-cent pitchers until ten that night. It was a relief that no one asked for ID when we walked in since, if asked my age, I'd crack immediately under the pressure.
The guys must have been backstage since they were nowhere in sight, and although I wasn't a huge drinker myself, I'd hoped someone gave Edward a drink or two to calm him down. I'd been worried that his frustrations from earlier would cloud his mind and if he didn't play up to his own personal standard tonight we'd all be hearing about it forever.
Our timing had been perfect since a balding man probably in his mid 40's came out on the stage to announce the band. Truthfully, almost no one even glanced up at the stage – but to the boys this was a headlining job and nothing could diminish what a big step that was for them.
Jasper was first to speak, introducing themselves again: "Uh, we're Tragic Turn and if luck is on our side we're gonna keep you entertained tonight. So order yourselves another pitcher, sit back, and let's have a good night, ok?"
Alice couldn't help grinning as he spoke, and it was adorable in his own, charming way. But at the same time I couldn't stop staring at Edward, looking for signs of how he was doing. He actually seemed very relaxed and had changed into the pair of jeans I loved on him most. They rested at just the right point of his hips, exposing his sexy abdomen if he shifted or lifted his arms. His grey t-shirt reminded me immediately of the first day I met him, both of us out in the rain. I remembered how it clung to him as the rain soaked in and how I couldn't tear my eyes away from the droplets as they worked down his face and neck. I seemed to look at that boy for the first time every time and each time he still gave me butterflies.
Alice saw a group getting up from a table near the stage and we snatched it up before they were even out of their seats. It might have been an important night for the guys, but it was a big night for us too. They opened their set with a few cliché crowd pleasers, but we all knew this was strategy more than anything. They'd always said that people pay more attention when you entice them in with something familiar.
The three of us clapped and hooted after each song, standing out from the gentle applause scattered throughout the rest of the bar, but the guys gave little indication they even knew we were there. It bordered on disappointment, especially after the effort we'd put into getting ready. Alice was reassuring though, "They're nervous. Once they see us they'll be distracted all night anyway." Gotta love her.
I noticed a few people around us getting into it when they played "The Joker," and I think Jasper put a little extra emphasis on the line, I really love your peaches, wanna shake your tree, specifically for Alice's benefit.
Watching Edward's fingers as he slid them up and down the neck of the guitar had always been mesmerizing, but now that I was beginning to understand the full potential of those hands it was an entirely new experience. He tickled Opal gently with the tips of his fingers and I felt a warming sensation run through my body like hot water through a pipe. My man was talented, sexy, and mine. And on top of all of that he wanted me. Wanted me regardless of how plain I could be, wanted me for the person I am, and wanted me for everything I'm not. I began to suspect that "ready" was a state of mind I was more familiar with than I realized.
And just as the thought crossed my mind, I heard Edward's voice – deep and breathy – coming through the speakers. "I, uh, picked this song because I wanted to dedicate it to someone who couldn't be here tonight. But since the stars aligned and she's here I'll play it anyway and hope she likes it."
From the second he started strumming I knew what it was. And it was ironic that, despite all the conversations we'd had in our months together, I'd never told him how much I loved this song. It was that song for me; the one that makes you smile and cry simultaneously. The one that makes you believe in things that seem so difficult to believe in. Hearing Edward's voice begin to sing the lyrics just sent me reeling.
So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from hell
Blue skies from pain…
It's funny that he'd intended it to be for me when he thought I wouldn't be present to hear it, but as he sang it it took on a new meaning. I wished he were here, right here with me so I could pull his mouth to mine, rest a hand on his chest to feel his heart beating, and say to him, "I love you. I'll always love you."
When he got to the "wish you were here" part of the song, he sang with his eyes closed. I knew he did it when he was funneling all of his emotions into what he was doing – sending them out in each and every word.
How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls
Swimming in a fishbowl,
Year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found
The same old fears.
Wish you were here.
I hoped he'd look to me, so I could silently indicate that this gesture meant the world to me. As if my thoughts were being broadcast throughout the bar, his eyes opened to immediately focus on mine.
Unlike the sexy, smoldering look he sometimes gave me during a show, this time he was looking into my eyes as if there was something to see. Although it seemed to defy logic, I understood it as I returned the gesture. And suddenly I got it: it wasn't about wishing I was here tonight, it was about wishing I'd be here always. Edward, I'll be here as long as it makes you happy, as long as you want me here.
When the song finished I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I quickly moved to the front door for some air. The whole trip had been surreal – albeit mixed good and bad surreal – but just when I thought the feelings I had for Edward couldn't be stronger or more intense he'd do something to shoot that theory out of the water.
After a few deep breaths of cool air I turned to walk back inside just as they were starting a new song. Edward was taking the lead and whether it had been pre-planned or whether he started playing on a whim, his timing was impeccable. The first few notes of "Foxy Lady" were unmistakable and could be heard as I stepped forward into the light. And while I probably could have helped the wide grin that had spread across my lips; the strut I was projecting just could not be helped. It must have been a combination of the heels and the lift I knew they were giving my ass. Either way, I allowed my hair to bounce as I walked, catching the light, and making sure to show Edward that I knew he was doing this for me.
You know youre a cute little heartbreaker
You know youre a sweet little lovemaker
Foxy't do you no harm, no
You've got to be all mine, all mine
Ooh, foxy lady
I wanna take you home
I could see his smile, pulling up just slightly higher on one side, forming as he furiously played and had a feeling that once they were done for the night I'd only have time to blink before his lips were on me.
They broke after the first set for about twenty minutes and I was happy to see that Edward was the first of the three to head to our table. It must have been that the heels boosted my confidence along with my ass since the first words out of my mouth sounded nothing like me: "Hey, handsome. Can I have your autograph?"
He stopped in his tracks and smiled a thoughtfully mischievous smile. "You? You can have anything you want." God! It wasn't even what he said, but the way he said it. If he was a less trustworthy person I'd have been in big trouble. A cough from behind Edward seemed to break up the moment, both of us turning to look at its source. Emmett was nudging Edward with one shoulder. As he turned back to face me, Edward dramatically rolled his eyes – so very much like Alice – before speaking. "Oh, uh, Emmett wanted me to ask you if you're wearing space pants."
I wanted to laugh, probably so hard I'd pee myself, but I held it back enough to play dumb at the old joke – and a bad old joke at that. "Uh, space pants? No, why?"
Edward looked back at Emmett over his shoulder only to find his lame attempt at a subtle thumbs up before returning to look at me. "Cause your ass is out of this world." He could not have delivered the line more deadpan if he was forced to speak through one of those electronic voice boxes.
I feigned flattery at the comment for Emmett's sake and watched as he beamed from behind his brother. "Dude, now that's a line of genius if I do say so." I swear I saw a little wink follow the comment.
It was cute the way we all wanted to humor him – to protect his feelings. Despite his status as the biggest and strongest of us all, he had this sensitive streak we all suspected was there lying just beneath the surface. No one wanted to aggravate it unnecessarily; it would be like kicking a puppy.
The short break felt even shorter than I'd anticipated and it was time for them to go back on stage. I leaned back into the brick wall behind our table and quickly pulled Edward close to me. "You sang my song tonight, without even knowing it. You have no idea what a turn on that was." Damn these heels and their magic confidence…
He raised his arms and placed and his hands against the wall on either side of my head, leaning in close. "I was just gonna say the same thing about that shirt. That painted-on, cleavage baring thing is so working for you right now. Or working for me is probably more accurate." The sexual tension was growing with each passing breath.
I leaned in close to kiss him, pausing just before my mouth made contact with his. "I think you're supposed to go back up there."
He pushed his mouth onto mine, letting his hands rest on my hips and pushing the weight of our bodies into the wall. "Now I can go back up there." He did that sideways smile thing that drove me absolutely mad and leapt up onto the stage.
They played another long set, but I could barely process the songs. I was too wrapped up in watching Edward's every movement, especially those hands – those hands! – and letting my imagination get the best of me. I was positive things were wrapping up once they let Emmett sing a really strange attempt at "Casey Jones."
Driving that train, high on cocaine,
Casey Jones is ready, watch your speed.
Trouble ahead, trouble behind,
And you know that notion just crossed my mind.
We all screamed and clapped like crazy anyway and were fully pumped from the excitement of it all. The guys played like rock stars, which either made us the bitchy rock star wives or the slutty rock star groupies. Probably we were somewhere in between, with some of us falling more to one end of the spectrum or the other.
Edward was once again the first one to reach us and something electrifying began to surge through my veins. I pulled him off to the side, backing him up against the brick wall this time, "Do you think we could get out of here? Like now?"
His hands lifted from his sides to wind around my middle, pulling me to press up against him. "Why the hurry Ms. Swan? I don't know about you, but I've got a lot of energy to burn off."
I'd been shooting off my mouth all night, why stop now? "That's just it, Cullen. I've got a lot of," I didn't know just how to say it, "…energy to burn off too."
"Bella – what do you –" I didn't let him finish his sentence before bringing my mouth to the crook of his neck and gently nibbling at it. I felt my hand slowly sliding into his front pocket before I realized I was even doing it.
"I think I'm ready, Edward. And we need to leave here, right now."
From deep within his pocket I could feel his reaction long before he said anything. It was like an out of body experience, my hand slowly creeping over within his pocket.
He pulled my hand out forcefully and lifted it up to his lips. I noticed his eyes still watching me, searching for a sign of some kind. I did the one thing I could think of and slowly licked my lips. His eyes followed as my tongue slid across both lips and then grabbed my hand. He leaned forward, pressing his lips against my ear as he spoke after swallowing hard: "Let's go."
Author's Note: Is it just me, or does it seem to be one thing after another on this trip? Of course, as someone who lives a life full of drama herself it seems only natural…
Thanks for toughing out the last few weeks with me – thank you for being such loyal readers and for making me want to do the best for each of you. I've missed you all.
"The Joker" – Steve Miller Band
"Foxy Lady" – Jimi Hendrix
"Casey Jones" – Grateful Dead
Just a reminder, these and every other song mentioned in Tragic Turn can be found on my YouTube playlist, just search for "Tragic Turn."