Earlier this spring, there was an auction in support of Stacie Holeman. Many fanauthors placed their services on the block for readers to bid on. Mine were purchased by the inestimable kinolaughs. She told me to write her a story in which the two most prissy—ahem I mean virtuous male leads in chick-fics, Edward Cullen and Fitzwilliam Darcy, were forced to work at a charity kissing booth.
It sounded hilarious. I knew I'd need someone else in there to balance out Ed and Darcy, so, at first, I brought in Jacob Black. However, the more I wrote the more I realized that while it was darn funny, it was very specifically not what kino'd asked me to write. I started over and wrote her a story that more closely followed the letter and spirit of her challenge.
This takes place during Eclipse.
The sign stared back at me like my dad at the guy from Seattle who'd turned up at Dad and Charlie's fishing spot with tennis shoes, a K-mart-issue rod and no license.
It told me that I was completely unprepared for this, that I didn't belong here. It told me that I'd had no idea what I was getting into when Sam had suggested that I accept the invitation.
More literally, though, it read, "YOU MUST BE OVER 18 TO ASK FOR TONGUE."
Over the past twenty-four hours, I'd been told that alternate realities existed, that everybody I knew was a fictional character, that I had thousands upon thousands of adoring fans and-would-I-like-to-help-raise-money-for-cancer-research, but what brought it all home to me? The fact that this place carded.
At the time, it had seemed like a good joke, working a kissing booth for a charity. Embry and the guys had made a lot of jokes. I'd earned a few new nicknames, and "sugar lips" was the only one I could repeat in front of my dad—not that I would. Still, I could tell the guys were jealous. Even Sam had been a bit piqued; we were all handsome, heroic werewolves, after all. Well, all of us but Paul.
Still, Sam'd supported my decision to come. He hadn't said it out loud, but it was also a good message to send to the pack: Killing vampires wasn't the only way to save people's lives. Even when a guy's wolf-running days were done, he could still help people in the ordinary, boring way like everybody else.
...but that hadn't been Sam's only message. I hadn't needed to hear his thoughts. It was all over his face: He was hoping I'd imprint on somebody or at least get my mind off ...her.
I'd wanted to jump up and tell him that he was out of his fool mind, but frankly, I had to admit that if there was anything that would get my mind off Bella, playing tonsil-hockey for charity with a bunch of cute girls would be pretty high up on the list.
"As you can see, Mr. Black," said my guide, a college-aged guy in a black T-shirt with a nametag that read—I squinted—"Frank," "we take our participants' safety very seriously."
I blinked. "Uh, thanks?" I offered. Did this dude remember the part where I had super-strength, accelerated healing and, oh yeah, that thing where I could turn into a wolf the size of a freaking cavalry horse? What could possibly happen at a charity event that would put me in the way of physical harm?
He seemed to sense my doubt and gave me a wry smile, "Well maybe not your safety," he admitted, "but the girls can do a bit of damage to each other if they get in a tiff."
I chuckled. Check that, if there was anything that would get my mind off Bella, getting fought over by a bunch of cute girls would be pretty high up on the list. I stayed in a relatively good mood as Frank unlocked a chain-link fence and motioned toward what looked at first to be a wooden fairground booth. I looked a little closer and saw iron grating.
"We'll let the donors onto the grounds as soon as security finishes the morning check-in," said Frank. "The ladies all pay their tickets at the outer gate, so don't worry about that part." I nodded. "Let me introduce you to your booth buddy."
I looked up, frowning as a dark-haired man in a tuxedo walked toward me. There was something familiar about him, something I just couldn't place as he reached out to shake my hand and said—
"Bond. James Bond."
My jaw must've hit the floor, because one of 007's eyebrows quirked. Fortunately, I had something very smooth to say in response.
"I—! Cool—! You—!"
"Yes, quite," he answered. Wow! "Franklin," he said over my shoulder, "dare I to hope that Fitzwilliam will not be joining us today?"
I vaguely heard Frank heave a sigh. "I told you, Mr. Bond, Darcy's just been around too long. He's a tradition around here; he's got regulars."
Oh my God the guys were going to be so jealous!
"And I can hardly match his enthusiasm," he said with 100% organically grown Bond-brand sarcasm.
"Hey, he might be a prissy son of a bitch, but Darcy brings in the crowds. And while we appreciate your contribution, you've always been more of a male fantasy."
I was shaking hands with 007. This was so cool!
"Are you quite finished with my hand, young man?" he asked me. He was talking to me!
"Um—! Yeah!" I said, letting go. Man, this was awesome. I wondered if he'd say the martini line next.
"But if it helps..." Frank muttered as he checked his clipboard. "We put Darcy and—" Frank stopped talking for a second. My hand was still tingling. "—and the other one over on the west side of the fair."
"Ah," said Bond, "I appreciate that."
"Actually, we were more worried about—you know, never mind. Have a great day, Mr. Bond, Mr. Black, and thank you both!"
I nodded, looking around. The place was set up like a traditional fairground. There was even what looked like a Ferris wheel off to our left, but the place didn't look like it was running. The charity had probably rented it out for the day.
All right... Reality—relatively speaking—was setting in. I was at a charity event running a kissing booth with James Bond. I could be cool. Matter of fact, I had to be cool. I took a deep breath. I was here with a childhood idol, and maybe it would help if I didn't drool all over him.
"Got a hold of yourself?" he asked.
I managed to laugh a little. "Yeah," I said. "Sorry for freaking out like that."
"Oh, I get that all the time," he answered with what might have been weariness. "So have you ever done one of these before?"
Holy hell, I was talking shop with James B—Cool it, Jacob! I told myself. "No," I said. "How do they usually work?"
"Nothing to it, really," he said, looking out onto the fairgrounds. In the distance, I could hear many, many sets of footsteps. "—but you might want to relax if it's your first time."
"Um," it took a second for my brain to catch up to what I'd heard. He probably hadn't meant what it had sounded like he'd meant. "Thanks?"
I didn't get much more chance to think about it. By now, there were people entering the park, forming lines, filing toward me in a neat row.
Here goes, I thought.
Twenty minutes in, I was fighting the urge to check my watch. I'd been ready for this thing to be awkward or dredge up unpleasant memories, but I hadn't thought it would be so ...creepy.
My first kiss was with a pretty blonde girl who looked about my age. She smiled like a kid in an ice cream store on free double cherry day. I didn't have much experience kissing girls, just the one smooch with Bella and that time in ninth grade when Quil had dared me to make out with Paul's cousin Mary behind the school gym. Mary had said my lips tasted like dead Spam (the result of a pervious dare from Embry) and Bella had said I was a manipulative jerk. Blondie didn't say a thing.
The next few were ...well... younger than I expected. Some of these girls had to be like twelve or thirteen. Sure, with them it was just a half-second peck on the lips, but it was still pretty weird.
And most of them weren't cute. Most of them weren't ugly or anything (although the one in the "Sparkle Me" hoodie could've scared a few alley cats); most of them were fine, but these were ordinary-looking girls with braces and freckles and bad skin. It made sense, now that I was here. I mean, cute girls wouldn't have to pay someone to kiss them, right? It wasn't exactly the ego boost I'd been expecting.
And the way some of them were looking at me. It was like I was some cross between the Messiah and a baby panda ...and then there were the T-shirts reading "Team Jacob." What the hell?
"I know," said a smooth voice from behind me. "Sometimes, I simply close my eyes and think of England." I noticed that Bond's line of ...admirers was mostly older than mine, nobody under eighteen and a couple who looked over forty. I guessed it was because he'd been around a lot longer than I had.
"It's a shame we don't get to speak to them much," Bond continued. "Whenever my companion seems dull, I find that all she has to do is open her mouth and I find I enjoy her company immensely."
Um, what? I blinked. "Uh, did you just say—"
"OhmiGod! Are you Jacob from Twilight?" squealed a girl in red-framed sunglasses. She had some kind of poufy cat ears stuck to her headband. She also had skin like a spotted trout and the voice to match.
"Um, I'm Jacob Black if that's what you mean," I answered with what I hoped was polite interest, but I couldn't help leaning forward to get the goddamned kiss over with.
The girl's mouth hung open for half a second before she let out an "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" that could have shattered glass.
"Gyah!" I flinched back. The girl didn't seem to mind, still jumping up and down while her friends further back in line waved her on.
I blinked hard to clear my head and then just leaned in and brushed my lips just just slightly against her orange chapstick.
"OhmiGod! He kissed mEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" she squealed into the ether.
By the time we broke for lunch, I had a headache that could level the Alps.
"I must say," Bond was telling me as we chowed down on fairground sandwiches, "there's something to be said for eating out, but today's fare is hardly the best I've had."
I stopped chewing. I'd seen the women in James Bond's line and frankly I hadn't needed the visual.
"Do you have to do that while we're eating?" I asked quietly.
Bond just shot me a look that said, What are you, gay?
Okay, so this was exactly the sort of stuff he said in his movies, and sure, what had I expected from a guy who hung out with girls named Tiffany Case and Pussy Galore, but the Bond-isms were officially non-funny when they weren't on the other side of a TV. I could see it now, like a guy writing home from the army: Dear Guys, I met James Bond and he's an asshole. Don't let Paul touch my car. Love, Jacob.
I was getting a good blue funk of feeling sorry for myself going on, and it was almost nice that it had nothing to do with her. I barely noticed the sound of footsteps in motion. It took a gentle nudge in the ribs from Bond to make me look up.
And there was Frank, fidgeting with his clipboard, "Can you be cool?" he asked.
Uh oh. "What do you mean?" I asked back.
"Look," said Frank, "we kept him all the way on the other side of the event. I mean, we weren't expecting that you would make trouble but sometimes his fans get a little rambunctious and, uh..."
"For God's sake, man, speak up!" James Bond ordered awesomely. Perverted or not, he had style.
"I'm afraid the fans have destroyed the west kissing booth—"
"Damn..." muttered Bond.
"—and we'll have to put them both of those guys in here with you. Security is escorting them here now."
"Sounds fine," I said carefully. It did. It sounded like it was no big deal at all. The place was certainly big enough. So why would Frank be so skittish about it?
The sound built like a wave, breaking far out on the water and then growing and crowing until it crashed over me with a thundering white fury:
"Oh God, not him," muttered Bond. I squinted to see better. Was it that Darcy guy he'd mentioned earlier? It took me a second to place the name. Right, Pride and Prejudice. I'd read it in English class. Well, I'd read most of it and then watched the Kiera Knightley movie. If what I could hear from my own line of shrill admirers was any indication, Mr. Darcy was the main hero of the world's biggest chick flick. No wonder Frank hadn't wanted to piss him off.
But as the guards came into view from behind the Tilt-a-Whirl, I saw that they were bringing us two other men, not one.
And then the breeze shifted.
"No..." I muttered. It couldn't be. It just couldn't be.
Bond coked an eyebrow toward me. "Good news and bad news," I volunteered. "The good news is that we don't have to share the sandwiches." I squinted against the glare. He'd seen me. I could tell from the way his shoulders had hunched. He knew just what was waiting for him. "The bad news is that we have to share a universe with a blood-sucking crime against nature."
Bond didn't answer, and I was glad. I just watched them get closer. Stray guards minded the crowd until Frank, Darcy and the vampire who thought he was good enough for Bella passed through the security gate to join Bond and me inside the booth.
"Gentlemen," said Frank with obvious self-consciousness, "I'd like to introduce Fitzwilliam Darcy—"
I shook Darcy's offered hand. The fact that Bond didn't like him was no reason to be rude.
"Good day," he answered stiffly. Whatever. I had bigger fish to fry.
"—and Edward Cullen."
Since coming into my birthright, my senses had gotten some serious tweaking. I hardly needed to squint to see those evil yellow eyes narrowing at me. He didn't like that I was here. Well too bad. If there was anyone who didn't have a right to be here, it was him.
So what was the insult going to be today? Things could get pretty creative, but he'd generally stuck to "dog" or "stinking puppy" when Bella was around, probably to avoid pissing her off. I had to hand it to my girl for being non-partisan. She hadn't bitched me out for calling him a leech, either, for all that I'd itched for her to smack his mouth.
I saw the muscles in his jaw twitch as he unclenched his teeth.
Yeah, work it up, ice dick.
"Jacob," he said coldly. I frowned. Not a friendly handshake, but this was hardly our traditional greeting. But whatever. I could play along until I figured out what was going on.
"Edward," I answered the same way. No insult. No warmth. Why was he going easy on me? Was he worried about offending the shrieking hordes? Did he like the attention that much? Oho, I'd have bet he did. Son of a bitch drove around in a goddamned Aston-Martin as if he were James B—as if he were a real badass. I'd've bet he just loved that all these chicks were drooling over him.
He flicked an eyebrow but didn't say anything else.
"I suppose you two know each other," Bond finished dryly. Darcy barely moved.
"Great then," Frank said. I noticed his voice was just a little quicker and higher-pitched than usual. "Can we get started?"
I suddenly remembered why I was here. Kissing. For donations to cancer. And Edward Cullen was standing right next to me. What if he told Bella that I'd spent the whole day alternately kissing jailbait and being cougar bait? Nah, then he'd just have to explain what he was doing here. Come to think of it, maybe I should rat him out...
"And where shall I begin, Mr. Franklin?" asked a stiff voice.
"I've told you, Mr. Darcy, you can call me Frank."
I watched Darcy's shoulders stiffen and shook my head. Frank might as well have told Darcy that he could give him a neck rub. The dude was Just. Not. Comfortable. with all this.
Franklin put me and Edward on opposite sides of the booth muttering something about "don't cross the streams." What did Ghostbusters have to do with this?
There was a fussy sigh behind me. "Because this way your fans and my fans line up in opposite directions," he said as if each word were as heavy as a boulder. "That way they don't peck each other's eyes out while they're waiting their turns."
Condescending son of a... Well, it made sense. As surreal as it was to think of Edward and me fighting out this great duel using skinny pre-teens as proxies, I'd have wanted any fan of mine to hate his guts as much as I did.
"What are you doing here?" I asked plainly. "Taking a look at the buffet?"
No one else would've noticed, but whatever mask of reserve Edward had put on for the day finally cracked. I could tell that I'd gotten to him. He was too still. When a human or werewolf or any other living person got distracted, they tended to move more. Not vampires, though. Those jerks only pretended to twitch and fidget—unless they got too upset at someone calling them on their shit and forgot to fake being normal. He might write me off as a dumb kid, but I had noticed far more about his kind than he would ever realize.
"Well I realize it now, genius."
What was he talking about n—
Oh yeah, he could read my mind. Damn.
"I'd say you catch on quick, but..." he trailed off condescendingly.
Oh but I was so going to rip him apart one day.
"As if you could take me," he sneered back.
"Anytime, leech boy," I answered in kind, but by the my next "client," a friendly looking fourteen-or-so with plump cheeks and a "TEAM JACOB" T-shirt, was waiting for me and it was time to get back to work.
It was easier than it had been this morning. I had a set of mysteries to distract me After a few girls, I got a rhythm going and I was able to think about other things while still letting the girls—and one forty-year-old English teacher who would just not shut up about some Wuthering Heights metaphor—feel like they had my full attention.
But of course, they didn't. Reality was too much of a deal right now. I had to keep reminding myself that yes, I was really here with Edward Cullen. When I looked over my shoulder, I noticed with a sort of smug satisfaction that his line of adoring fans wasn't any hotter than mine. Except he had a couple more older women in there. Yep. My archenemy was standing right next to me, kissing girls young enough to not need training bras and old enough to be my mom. I was wishing to God I'd thought to bring chapstick and some disinfectant, and the fact that James Bond was four feet away showing Darcy from Pride and Prejudice how to work an exploding pen didn't even help. In fact, I was pretty sure I'd never be able to watch Goldeneye again.
What the hell were they doing here? I was here because I was a werewolf dedicated to saving humanity from its enemies. Easy. Bond wasn't much harder—I cringed—wasn't much more difficult. No way was spending a day kissing women a big sacrifice for him. They probably hadn't even had to tell him it was for charity.
But I didn't get Darcy and I didn't get Cullen. Darcy was acting as if every last woman waiting in line had just tried to serve red wine with fish or whatever worked as the Austen-era equivalent to calling someone's mom a skeeze. Edward was still being less abrasive than usual. I couldn't go so far as to say he was being nice to me, but, like earlier, unless I pushed his buttons, he kept things a weird kind of civil. His words had an almost graceful formality to them. I decided to keep an eye on both of them. It would be something to do between underage bleach blondes.
They'd put Darcy on my left so that Edward and I wouldn't have to look at each other. I watched him out of the corner of my eye and, after a while, he got easier to read. The line of women waiting to meet Darcy was a lot less ...crazy than mine. Sure, I had a couple of grown women, but Darcy's fans really covered the range. There were old ladies, middle-aged motherly types and only a few girls who were my age. Nobody younger. I guess not many people in the Internet generation liked reading about tea parties for fun.
I could remember in sophomore English class when they'd told us that Darcy seemed mean but he was really shy, and it was looking like that was right. He pushed himself toward each new taker like he was scared of her, not like he thought she was dirty. But even that didn't make any sense. Back in eighteen-oh-whenever-the-book-came-out, you had to be engaged to even hold hands in public. Why would a guy who was so proper about everything sign on to kiss strangers? The next time I got a break in my—ahem—duties, I took a step over.
"Darcy, may I ask you something?"
The dude's expression got even more sour but no way was I calling him Mister Darcy if he wasn't calling me Mr. Black.
"I suppose you may, Mr. Black."
I still wasn't calling him Mister Darcy. "If this makes you so uncomfortable," I asked, "then why do you come?"
His mouth twitched backwards. This was no frozen bloodsucker. He tried to hold his feelings back; he didn't fake being human. "Honor demands it," he said simply.
"Honor?" I asked, suddenly realizing that I sounded like an ignorant hick. Of course I knew what honor was; I just didn't know what lip-locking three hundred strange women had to do with it.
"Once a promise is made," Darcy told me stiffly, "even if it was made foolishly, or too quickly, or in a moment of pity, it must be kept, and that is simply that."
"Wait, so they got you to promise to come every year and now you can't go back on it?"
"But I'm sure you could find some other way to help people if you really wanted." Heck, I was going through a pair of Keds a week and I still managed to give a dollar to the Salvation Army guy once in the while. In the book, Darcy was super-rich. Probably could have built his own charity out of monocles or whatever.
"I am certain that I could," said Darcy. "But a promise is a promise."
I had to take a moment to process that. No way was anybody that honorable. Even back in olden times where he was from people weren't really that honorable. We only thought of them that way because of movies and novels and—
I took another look at the line of women waiting for twenty seconds of this man's time. I finally got it.
I'd been thinking of Darcy as if he were a real person, but he wasn't. He was a fictional character. And so am I, but I tried not to think about that. More than that, he was a fictional character who'd managed to get women to love him for two hundred years. Yes, he was the sort of person who'd make a promise on his wedding night to always help with the housework and still be doing dishes on his twentieth anniversary. I stifled a chuckle. I was so glad that I wasn't from a chick-flick book.
What was it called, anyway? Badass Werewolf Mystery Hour? Nah, too flashy... Jacob Kicks Edward's Frozen Butt, Volume I?
"What makes you think you're the protagonist, wolf boy?" someone called from behind me.
I scowled at him over my shoulder. Spying prick. It was time to turn the tables on him.
He snorted. "As if anything you came up with—"
"Does Bella know you're out here?" I asked. He looked away. "She doesn't, does she?" I was glad that I'd made him change the subject, now this made even less sense. Bella was head over heels for this jerk but not to the point where she'd be okay with him kissing a few hundred other girls, not even if they were mostly annoying twerps.
"No, she doesn't know," Edward said quietly. "Helping out today wasn't exactly my idea, but—"
"Oh come now, Edward," Bond cut in smoothly. "You've shown up on time for the past three years. You have your reasons for being here."
Edward raised his chin haughtily and turned back to the girls waiting for his attention.
All right. Something was going on here. Something just wasn't right. On the one hand, maybe it was theoretically possible that a bloodsucker could give a flying crap about cancer—I mean, if it had been Carlisle here, I could've bought it—but this particular bloodsucker was way, way too prissy.
And for all that I didn't like to admit it, he was hung up on Bella to the point where I didn't see him cheating on her.
What the hell was he doing here?
...these people had known that I was a werewolf, so they probably knew that Eddie was a vampire. Had they threatened to blow his family's cover? Nah. Even if these people had tricked Darcy, it could've been an accident. Frank here didn't know not to tell Darcy to use his first name; maybe his predecessor hadn't known that Darcy would keep any promise he made no matter how stupid. If Edward had come back three times, that meant that he was doing something here and—I watched him cringe as he pecked a grabby brunette on the corner of her mouth—and it definitely wasn't to meet girls.
His next customer opened her zit-framed mouth to say something, but he cut her off before she could speak.
"You're not eighteen." Edward's cold, velvety voice was wet with disapproval. The skinny kid in front of him looked like he'd just shoved a sword through her guts.
"You're fifteen," Edward said rudely. "And if Sharie said that you could pass for nineteen if you borrowed her push-up bra then she was lying her size-fours off."
Her lower lip crumpled and began to twitch.
"That might work on Mrs. Federman when your homework is late, but it won't work on me," he said finally. Her face steadied and turned sullen.
"Now do you still want the kiss?" he asked.
She shook her head and trudged off. Edward's shoulders twitched. Probably in relief.
I didn't know how to feel about that. On the one hand, these girls were really freaking me out. On the other... "Did you have to be so mean?" I asked at last.
"Oh nonsense," his voice was like a snowball full of razor blades, "that girl is going to run straight home and tell her whole school that little Sharie's only been pretending to be the same size as whatever stick figure they've pasted up behind the altar this year. She'll have the time of her life."
"Do you ever think that maybe you shouldn't encourage them to act like evil bitchlings to each other?" I asked.
"When you've been alive as long as I have, you learn that there is no changing human nature."
What would you know about human nature, bloodsucker?
"More than I'd like," he said.
"Will you—" I stopped. What was I going to do, ask him to stop hearing my thoughts? I of all people knew it didn't work that way. Frankly, answering me as if I'd said it out loud was probably the least messed up of his available options.
"Thank you, I tend to think so."
"All right, seriously," I said. "You're using their thoughts against them. It's creepy."
"Well what else am I supposed to do about it?" Edward snapped back. "And another thing, if you're going to be so high-and-mighty about it, then what are you doing to—"
I never registered his last words. As he threw his hissy fit, he stepped toward me, straight into a beam of mid-afternoon sunlight.
I actually blinked. His whole skin sparkled. I mean, exactly like that little heart diamond thing that he'd given Bella to one-up me on my wolf charm.
The next thing I knew, I was on the ground, laughing my ass off. The girls in the crowd must've started taking pictures with their cellphones, because there was big a chorus of, "Oooooo!" and he started to gleam in time to those fake recorded clicking sounds, like a beauty shot on one of those reality fashion shows. That just made me laugh harder. Even Bond seemed to be hiding a chuckle behind his hand.
"Get a hold of yourself, man," muttered Darcy.
Oh not for the world! I thought.
Edward just rolled his eyes. "Must you?"
"You look like a twelve-year-old girl emptied a jar of glitter over your head," I gasped out.
He actually looked a little miffed.
Oho, this was going to be easier than I thought. Vampire boy did not know how to be laughed at. Sooner or later, Bella would see him in the sunlight, react the way I had, and he'd dump her himself just because he couldn't take it. Except this time, she wouldn't fall apart. She knew how to live without him now. And even if she didn't come running to me, she wouldn't turn me away if I went to her.
"Actually—" Edward said quietly, then seemed to think the better of it.
"Actually what?" I asked. "It's actually that stuff that strippers use?"
Edward composed himself quickly. "Hardly," he said simply.
I frowned again. He'd gone back to what he'd been doing when he'd first showed up. He was being less of an asshole than usual again. What was going on?
"Mr. Black—" I turned as Darcy moved toward me. "—must you act this way to your companions?" he said. There was disgust in his voice, but not the kind of heavy revulsion that I got from the Cullen kids. There was an almost graceful rhythm to it, as if he'd practiced and practiced what to say in this situation until he'd gotten it just right. It reminded me of a teacher I'd had in grade school. Whenever he yelled at us, he said that it was because he thought we were really better than we were acting.
No wonder the chicks dug this guy. No wonder Bella had read his book five times.
I didn't answer Darcy out loud. I just nodded slightly. He seemed satisfied and got back to work. Then I turned for one last glare at Edward...
...and everything came together.
He wasn't watching me, for once. His eyes were on Darcy, taking in the man's every move. I'd seen that look before, when Quil'd been trying to figure out how to phase at will. He'd glued his eyes to every one of us as we went back and forth. I'd seen that look on Embry during math class. Hell, I'd seen that look in the mirror.
My mouth gaped open as I put two and two together. I might not've had five Ph. D's in how to make macramé chickens or whatever the hell it was they taught at Harvard, but I wasn't dumb.
"You've been copying him!" Edward's head jerked toward me. I didn't stop. "You saw that she loves all that Jane Austen stuff and you've been coming here and taking notes so you could put the Darcy whammy on her!"
At first, his mouth hung open.
Then that smirk. That evil, beautiful smirk. "I seem to recall telling you," he said slowly, "that I wasn't planning on fighting fair."
"Oh you son of a—!" I lunged for his throat before I even remembered how quickly he could dodge me. I crashed into the side of the booth, making the whole structure shake. My brain was on fire. The damn bloodsucker was cheating! A thick growl built in my human throat.
"Think before you phase, wolf boy," Edward told me with mock generosity, dodging my second lunge.
"What do you care?" I snarled, feeling the familiar fever-prickling in my skin.
The stinking vampire gave a melodramatic sigh—overkill, really, considering he didn't even really breathe—and said, "Sooner or later, you'll have to change back. Do you really want to be naked in this company?"
I opened my mouth to tell him that if James Bond was intimidated by my bare butt, then he probably needed a license to kill his own lame ass. Then I looked over my shoulder at the line of eager pre-teens. One of them had a set of fluffy fake cat ears on her head. What the fuck? All of them had camera phones.
Oh. That the fuck.
"Fuck you," I said at last.
"You're welcome," answered Edward.
I seethed, but there was nothing I could do. This whole damned day.
The next time I felt like donating to charity, I'd just hand over my paycheck.
Jacob and Edward were created by Stephenie Meyer for her Twilight series.
Fitzwilliam Darcy is the invention of Jane Austen and appears in Pride and Prejudice. David Shapard really does have a great annotated version.
James Bond was invented by Ian Fleming and first seen in his novel, Casino Royale, though different authors and several filmmakers have since continued the franchise.
Star Trek is awesome but so is Farscape. Firefly gets credit for being the anti-Star Trek, but Farscape got there first. Only no one saw it. Oh well.
drf24 (at) columbia (dot) edu