Disclaimer: Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer. I don't own anything.
I took a seat in the row in front of the rude girl and sat through the lecture, trying desperately to pay attention. Mostly though, I just sat there, listening to myself blink. I fucking hate hangovers – I'm never letting anyone talk me into getting that drunk again.
My head was throbbing. I felt like shit. I had already thrown up once this morning and I was just hoping not to make an ass out of myself in front of my professor. All I wanted to do was get back to my dorm room and pass out on my bed.
My fucking pen was leaking again. It always leaked but it was especially aggravating this morning. The urge to throw it across the room was overwhelming. All right, Cullen. Calm the fuck down. I tugged on my hair in frustration, hoping it would help me wake up a bit. It was probably a disaster. I hadn't even tried to control it this morning, just threw on the nearest clean shirt and left.
When the lecture finally ended, I got up slowly, not wanting to piss off my stomach even more. I passed the rude girl behind me and looked her up and down while she was distracted. Meh. She was all right-looking I guess, but nothing special. Tanya was hotter.
And ha! What an understatement. Distracted didn't even come close. When I got to the crowd at the door, I hung back, not wanting to get stuck in the shoving match. I turned and watched her for a few moments as she made her way up to where I was standing. Her posture was tense, her shoulders slumped inwards, like she was trying to take up as little space as possible. She didn't make eye-contact with anyone. She seemed to be in her own little bubble, completely ignoring everyone around her. When people brushed past her, some of them said "excuse me," others didn't. Mostly she didn't reply or she'd mumble an apology as an afterthought. Rude.
I turned back to the door. The crowd had started to thin so I made my way out of the building. I started walking back to my dorm room, hoping that that girlfriend of his kept Mike distracted long enough for me to sleep off this hangover in peace. I was nearly at the traffic light when I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned to see Tanya, my girlfriend I guess, smiling warmly at me. "Edward, hey! I thought it was you."
I just barely held in my exasperated groan. This was not a good time. I was hung over and pissed off and taking it out on everyone within range. Hanging out with her was the very last thing I wanted to do right now – our time together always left me feeling weird and unsatisfied somehow.
Now, now Cullen - it's not her fault you're a grumpy bastard when you're hung over. I tried my best to smile back and look happy to see her.
"Hey, Tanya. How are you?"
"Fantastic, thanks." Her smile grew even wider. "I had so much fun with you last night. We're going out again tonight, you in?"
No. Fucking. Way.
"I can't tonight."
Her face fell and she did that pouting thing with her shiny red lips. She looked kind of cute when she did that.
Because I'm tired. Because I fucking hate those clubs. Because I don't want to.
"I've got to catch up on some stuff for class and to be honest, the sleep deprivation is starting to catch up to me. I need a night off."
"Oh, I'm sorry you're not feeling well. Do you want me to come over? We can have a nice relaxing night in. Just the two of us." She looked at me with such genuine concern and started rubbing my back comfortingly. I immediately felt guilty for my harsh thoughts, but I definitely needed a break. From the clubs. From her friends. And, although I felt like a bastard for even admitting this to myself, from her. I had spent the whole weekend with her and I just felt like being alone for a day.
"No, that's ok. I just need to sleep it off. Let's do something tomorrow, though. How about dinner tomorrow night?"
"That sounds great. Pick me up at 7."
"Sure." I was relieved that she didn't push it. I grinned at her and kissed her on the cheek. She looked back up at me from under her eyelashes, flashing that gorgeous smile of hers. She really was very pretty. Maybe I should make the effort to go out with them again tonight and get to know her a little better. She really was something. Then again, I was taking her out to dinner tomorrow – I'd get to know her better then, one-on-one.
I picked up where I had left off last night with my list of questions, asking her question after question as we made our way back to our dorms. Time seemed to slow down as we continued making tedious small talk. Well, no. It wasn't tedious, I told myself. I only found it tedious because I was hung over. Otherwise, I'm sure her favourite bands would have been much more fascinating.
After what seemed like an hour, we reached her building. I said a short goodbye, giving her a quick kiss and promising I'd call her tomorrow.
I finally got back to my room, feeling really fucking thankful that Mike was nowhere in sight, and promptly passed out on my bed.
By the time I woke up, it was dark outside. Wow. I guess I needed that.
I had five missed calls from Tanya. Fuck. Why was she calling me? I told her I was going straight to sleep. I guess it would be rude not to call her back though…
I stalled for a few minutes, splashing some cold water on my face, and then called her.
She picked up on the first ring.
"Hey, Tanya. What's up?" I tried to keep the annoyance out of my voice.
"Hi, Edward. Are you feeling better, baby?" Oh. She just wanted to check up on me. That's kind of sweet.
"Yeah much better, thanks. Are you calling from the club? I thought you were going out."
"I decided not to go. I was actually hoping you'd change your mind and want to hang out tonight."
There goes my night off. It was sweet of her to cancel her plans, though, on the off-chance that we could see each other. And she sounded so hopeful.
"Um. Ok. Let me just shower real quick. I'll be there in forty-five minutes. Do you want me to bring anything? Food?"
"Food is good. Oh and I just bought this really great movie that we can watch."
"Ok, see you soon."
I called to order a pizza and jumped in the shower. The hot water beating down on my back felt unbelievably good. I immediately regretted making plans for tonight.
I mentally scolded myself for not being more excited about our date. If anything, her calls were proof that she was worried about me and liked spending time with me. I liked spending time with her too. I was just having an off day, I guess.
I dragged myself out of the shower, threw on some clean clothes and tried to fix my hair. Tanya would always smooth it back whenever we went out. I knew it annoyed her how messy it always looked.
I fussed with it enough to make a slight improvement and then gave up. It was getting late anyway and I still needed to pick up the pizza.
I finally got to her room and she opened the door before I even had a chance to knock. She just looked so happy to see me. She had that fucking ridiculous grin on her face. The same one my brothers always wore. I tried to smile back but I knew I couldn't return it. Not yet anyway.
It was just a matter of time, though. She was gorgeous and smart and friendly and just perfect. The feelings would deepen, they had to. It was just a matter of time, I told myself again.
Our date proceeded as expected unfortunately. I didn't like the movie she had chosen, even though Tanya thought it was hilarious.
Now, now Cullen. Don't overreact. So you don't have the same taste in movies. Big deal. She's still everything you're looking for.
We made more mundane small talk and the moments drearily marched by, one by one in an endless line. I guess it wasn't just the hangover. Shit. What the fuck was wrong with me? Why wasn't I more interested in her future career plans? Why did she still seem like a stranger instead of my girlfriend?
She started telling me more about her family and once again, I felt myself involuntarily zoning out. I was in the middle of trying to convince myself that I was actually enjoying this date, when she recaptured my attention by putting her hand on my knee. She scooted closer and looked at me coyly from under her eyelashes.
Oh. I knew what that look meant.
My guilt grew exponentially the further she slid her hand up.
You shouldn't let her do this, Cullen.
But this part felt right. This part felt good.
So I let her continue.
Why couldn't every part feel this effortless?
I told myself to shut up and just let my body lead. I'd somehow managed to convince myself that as long as we waited before having sex, it was ok.
It's just a matter of time.
As my high started to wear off however, the weird feeling settled in again. How could I still feel unsatisfied?
I put my pants back on, feeling ridiculously frustrated. I took my time searching her floor for my shirt, not wanting to look at her right now. I couldn't look at that fucking ridiculous grin anymore. I had to get away from it. Thankfully, it was late and we both had class tomorrow morning. I kissed her goodnight and stepped out into the dark. The cold air felt good. I took the long way back to my dorm room. I craved the silence. I walked back slowly, indifferent and unsatisfied.
When had my life become so fucking boring? Like a rerun of a TV show I'd watched over and over. When had the word 'tomorrow' started to have negative connotations?
Don't do this, Cullen. You're just having an off day.
Yeah, that was it. It was just an off day. Things with Tanya would soon click into place. It's just a matter of time, I told myself for the tenth time tonight.
A/N: Hmmm... I'm not too happy with this chapter. Sorry it's another short one. Hopefully it will get better next chapter when Edward and Bella actually meet and things start to fall into place. It will get longer from next chapter onwards.
A big thanks to my beta, thequietlife, as always.