Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam…
"Dammit, Edward Cullen, open this door!"
Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam…
"I mean it, Edward! You're eating dinner with this family tonight, if it kills you. You will not embarrass me in front of my new friend."
Damned annoying pixie.
I sighed and threw my legs over the side of the bed. It was Friday and I had been in my room for seven days. It had been seven days since the love of my life told me that she no longer wanted me. Seven days since I had stepped out of this room and faced the world with my shining light beckoning to me.
Last Friday had started as the best day of my high school career. While Junior Prom wasn't the social event of the season, it was the best event Forks, Washington had to offer and like most of the students my angel and I had been looking forward to the night.
At least I had assumed we were.
Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam…
"Answer me, Edward, or I swear to God I'll have Emmett break down your door!"
When she mentioned our older brother, already home from his second semester of college, I stood up and walked across my dark room and unlocked the latch. It was no idle threat. Emmett was putty in Alice's capable hands and would bust down my door if she asked. Opening the door I blinked into the relatively dim hallway as if a 100 watt light bulb was shining in my face.
Alice couldn't hide the gasp that burst through her lips at my appearance.
"Oh, Edward…" Alice wasn't so sure of herself now.
"What do you want, Alice?" I rasped. My voice surprised even myself. I hadn't spoken to anyone since Sunday, I think. My voice was rusty from lack of use.
Alice's eyes narrowed and she tilted her head.
"You stink," was all she replied.
"It was a pleasure talking to you, Alice," I said, as I went to close the door. She darted inside before I could shut it all the way.
"Ewwww…" Alice held her nose as her eyes darted around the darkened room taking in the signs that the room was inhabited by a madman.
"Your room's disgusting, Edward. What the hell have you been doing in here?" Her voice sounded funny, all nasal because of her pinched nostrils.
Doing? Nothing much. My eyes followed Alice's around the room taking in the mess I had created when I got home Saturday morning, short hours after my reason for being told me she didn't want me anymore, that there was someone else…
Alice flitted to my window and threw open the drapes that had been closed all week. Brilliant sunlight flooded the room and I winced as the light stabbed my eyes. Alice opened the window and a slight breeze ruffled the drapes.
"Aliicce…" I moaned.
"Edward, the pity party ends now," Alice intoned. She marched over to me and peered carefully into my face. "You stink."
"So you said," I answered dully.
"And you need a shave."
I sighed. What was the point of trying if there was no one to try for? Alice took a step back as the air from my sigh reached her.
"Jesus, Edward! When's the last time you brushed your teeth? Your breath could kill a bear."
I thought for a second. Tuesday?
"Tuesday," I answered her.
Alice's eyes popped open even wider and she grumbled something under her breath. The only word I had caught was 'skank' or maybe it was 'skunk'.
"Edward, I have a new friend coming to dinner tonight and I expect you to join the family for a meal and polite conversation. I really like this girl, Edward, and I want us to make a good impression."
My sister, Alice, was a wonderful person, thoughtful, friendly, smart, pretty. She was the whole package, really. However, she was best in small doses. It took a special person to tolerate Alice's unbridled energy and exuberance. While everyone liked Alice, she had no close friends. If she was bringing this girl home for dinner then she must be special. It would be good for Alice to have a close friend, a confidante. However…
"Why do you need me to make a good impression, Alice?" I wondered.
"Because, you idiot, the whole school has been talking about you all week and she expects to meet you tonight when she comes over. I had to lie and tell her that my brother was a perfectly normal young man and not a crazed hermit."
The school was talking about me? Why? I wasn't the only student who'd ever missed a week of school.
My father hadn't been happy about my absence from school, but my mother allowed it as long as I kept up on my missed work. She understood, she said. Alice had been carting my assignments back and forth to school all week. Three years of perfect attendance earned me a little leeway as far as taking a week off went and my grades weren't going to suffer because of a few missed lectures.
Alice pressed one finger into my shoulder.
"Go take a shower. And shave. And brush your teeth, for God's sake. I'll clean up in here and find you something respectable to wear. Dinner is at six."
I took a reluctant step backwards planning on telling Alice to forget about it, but the look on her face had changed. She was upset and… nervous? She really liked this girl and was worried that I'd ruin her chance at a new friend. As depressed as I was I couldn't do that to Alice. She'd always been the best sister a guy could ask for. I could be her charming brother for one evening if that's what it took.
"Charming." She had used the word to describe me when she broke my heart late Friday night. However, when she said it charming sounded like a bad thing; old fashioned and boring.
I turned on my heel and walked towards the bathroom. I looked over my shoulder expecting an encouraging smile from Alice, but she was already distracted, wiping the finger that she had pushed me with on her jeans. I sighed and continued into my bathroom.
Out of habit I flipped on the lights and again winced at the bright light. I squinted and took in the mess that was waiting for me. My tux from the previous week was still crumpled on the floor, the dead boutonniere still pinned sadly to the lapel. An open tube of toothpaste sat on the vanity with my unrinsed and now hard, toothbrush lying next to it. A dried up washcloth was visible through the glass doors of my shower which had a slight film of soap scum. The soap scum and negligible layer of dust on the light fixture over the vanity let me know that the cleaning lady, at least, had respected my privacy this week. While the smell let me know that my aim had been off.
I wrinkled my nose. I opened the cabinet under the vanity and pulled out a Lysol wipe. I swiped it over the toilet and threw it into the trashcan before opening the bathroom window and flipping on the exhaust fan. As the fresh air hit me I perked up a bit. Turning on the water in the sink I tried rinsing my toothbrush before deciding it was hopeless and tossing it in the garbage with the wipe. Opening the drawer, I pulled a fresh toothbrush from the package there and proceeded to brush my teeth.
I took a good look at myself in the mirror for the first time since Tuesday. I didn't like what I saw. My usually unruly bronze hair was dark, greasy and lank. My eyes were dull and gritty. A week with little sleep and frequent rubbing had left the whites tinged pink. Seven days worth of beard peppered my face unattractively. I was past that scruffy look that girls liked so much, but not to the full beard stage. I definitely needed a shave if I was going to play my part tonight.
I decided a shower was the more pressing concern, however. When you can smell yourself you know it's bad. Stripping off my week old boxers and t shirt I adjusted the water's temperature and stepped into the shower. The hot water stung at first but then began to work its magic. I could feel the tense muscles in my neck and shoulders start to relax as I poured a dollop of shampoo into my hand. The oil in my hair prevented the shampoo from lathering properly so I rinsed and went at it again with another squirt of shampoo. As I stood there working up a lather I thought back over my week and realized that I had lost track of a couple of days. I was a mess.
Friday had been a great day at school. Most of the teachers were willing to forgive the students their lack of proper concentration as everyone chatted about the upcoming dance. A popular local band would be playing and the Dance Committee had been excused from classes all day to decorate the gym. The Monte Carlo theme had ignited imaginations and many guys planned on wearing tuxes while the girls purchased slinky evening gowns.
When my only reason to stay alive had done some shopping in Port Angeles with friends and texted me a picture of her silver dress I was relieved. Silver meant I could get away with a classic tux. There'd be no reason to find some unusual colored cummerbund and tie. Everything had seemed perfect that evening. My father let me borrow the Mercedes for the night and I was at my angel's house promptly at 7. A bunch of our friends had congregated there. We were all going together. Jessica was in pink and Mike, her date, complimented her well in a grey tux with a pink tie. Angela was in baby blue and Ben, her boyfriend of two years, wore a white tux with a baby blue vest and tie. Tyler and Eric were there, too, though they didn't have dates. Plenty of people were going stag tonight. Tyler and Eric wouldn't feel like third wheels.
I thought that Eric looked like a waiter – he had on one of those black and white tuxes; black pants, white jacket with a black bow tie. Tyler dressed more classically – he wore a black tux, but his tie and cummerbund were a satiny grey color.
The realization hit me like a ton a bricks. I'd laid in bed for a week turning the breakup over and over again in my mind and I never realized; Tyler had dressed to match my girlfriend's gown.
When Lauren came down the stairs that night I was stunned into silence. She was beautiful. Of course, she was beautiful in jeans and a t-shirt and in those silly pajama pants she insisted on wearing before noon on the weekends. But that night, that night she was beyond compare. Her hair was up in crystal combs and she had rhinestones around her neck. Her makeup was over the top, but she never believed me when I told her she didn't need so much. Mike, Ben and Eric offered their compliments while Jessica and Angela squealed when they saw her. Lauren ran right over to her friends. I remember smiling fondly at the 'girl moment.' Perhaps I had been naïve.
Besides myself, only Tyler remained quiet once Lauren entered the room. It seems that the signs were there, I just had been too blind to see them. I recovered from my awe faster than Tyler did. As all of my mother's instruction in manners snapped to the forefront of my brain, I approached Lauren with her corsage and offered it to her.
"Beautiful flowers for a beautiful lady," I had said, kissing her hand. Lauren had rolled her eyes. She claimed I embarrassed her when I talked like that. She did, however, let me slip the wristlet over her hand before kissing her cheek.
I'd finished scrubbing my hair. I could hear it squeak while I rinsed. I'd forgo conditioner. I thought about later that fateful night as I grabbed the soap and washcloth to start washing my body.
When we got to the school Eric walked ahead of us to go inside. The rest of us paired off and walked in. Tyler had stayed close to Lauren and me and the three of us talked about playing blackjack and roulette. Tyler left us as Lauren and I joined the line for photographs, but met up with us again at the table.
The evening had been fun. Dinner had only been OK but Lauren and I danced and switched off with all our friends. I danced with my sister who was attending the prom with Lee, a guy in my grade. Tyler and Lauren had lost their play chips early in the evening and danced together while I racked up some major wins at the tables.
At the end of the evening, I surrendered my chips to Lauren so she could pick out a prize from those offered. We held hands as we walked out to the car promising to meet everyone at the only 24-hour diner in town.
I knew our friends would hold seats for us, so I was in no rush to hit the diner. Lauren looked so amazing and we hadn't had any time to ourselves all night. Our physical relationship was great, as far as I was concerned. I enjoyed being alone with Lauren – she was always eager. We'd rounded a couple of bases, but there'd been no home runs. I wasn't raised that way. Lauren often pushed for more intimacy than I was comfortable with and I certainly enjoyed the victories she'd won, but there was one line I wouldn't cross.
I pulled onto a small side road on the drive to the diner. Lauren looked over at me and arched her eyebrow.
"Why are we stopping, Edward?" she had asked.
I slid across the bench seat in the Mercedes and put my arm around her.
"You look amazing tonight, Lauren," I'd answered, hoping she'd get the subtle hint.
"Thanks, really, Edward, but I'm starving! That chicken at dinner tonight was just terrible. Let's head over to the diner so we can meet everyone and eat."
I'd only half listened to what she said, though my eyes hadn't left her mouth. Her lips were so sensuous, full and moist. I couldn't help but lean into her and kiss her. She'd let out an exasperated noise and offered me a quick peck.
"Seriously, Edward, the diner."
"Lauren…" I'd hummed, moving my lips to her neck. I knew she liked it when I kissed her there. I kissed her then sucked lightly on the skin beneath her ear.
"Edward, stop!" she commanded.
I pulled back, confused. "What's wrong, Lauren?"
"Drive, Edward, I'll talk."
And that's when she did it. As I chauffeured her to the diner she told me that I wasn't right for her. She was bored and frustrated. She called me charming and sweet, but explained that she wanted a little excitement, some spice. My heart was breaking and I told her I could change. I'd give her whatever she wanted. I'd follow her lead. She just shook her head and told me it was too late. There was someone else.
By this time we'd reached the diner.
"Listen, Edward, I don't think it would be a good idea for you to come in here tonight. Tyler will give me a ride home."
I'd just swallowed and nodded. I knew she'd be safe with Tyler.
"I'm sorry, Edward. You really are a sweet guy." With that Lauren stepped out of the car leaving behind the stuffed wolf she'd picked out with the chips I'd won.
My chest felt hollow. The space that held my feelings for Lauren was empty. I drove aimlessly for a few hours before returning home. It was late and no one was awake to pester me with questions. I'd taken the wolf and gone straight to my room. I broke down there. After crying I got angry and, sad to say, the stuffed wolf bore the brunt of my frustration. After shredding the inoffensive toy I grabbed the frame holding a picture of Lauren and me at her Sweet 16 and threw it on the floor. It bounced, unharmed, on the thick carpet. I picked it up again and slammed it against the wall a few times until the glass shattered and fell to the floor. I threw the now bent frame towards the trash can in the corner but missed, knocking down my desk lamp. Still angry and hurting I curled my hand into a fist and punched the wall. The pain that shot from my knuckles to my shoulder was enough to clear my head. Well, he pain and the fist sized hole in the wall. My parents weren't going to be happy.
Sighing I turned off the shower as I thought back on my tantrum.
After stepping out of the shower I grabbed a towel and rubbed it through my hair. Being clean felt good. I took a moment to wipe the water off my face and then wrapped the towel around my hips. Approaching the mirror I started the unpleasant task of removing seven days worth of beard growth from my face.
20-minutes and two disposable razors later I emerged from the bathroom feeling almost human. The hollow feeling in my chest was still there, but I embraced it now. It had been my constant companion for seven days.
I glanced around my room and noticed that Alice had been busy. She'd cleaned up the glass and righted my lamp. The stuffing from the destroyed wolf was gone as was the bent photo frame. My garbage can was empty. There wasn't anything she could do about the hole in the wall. All the windows were open now and a stiff breeze caused the curtains to flutter. The room smelled better and I noticed that Alice had stripped my bed and put on clean sheets.
Laid out on my fresh sheets was the 'respectable' outfit Alice had chosen, khaki pants and a white button down shirt. I pulled a clean pair of boxers from my drawer and proceeded to get dressed. A quick glance at the clock showed that I had 20 minutes before Alice's guest arrived. I sat on the bed to put on socks and shoes. I grabbed my iPod, which I had listened to intermittently throughout the week and flipped through the playlists. I found the one labeled "Lauren and Edward." Grumbling, I booted up my computer and hooked the iPod up with the USB cable. Starting iTunes I chose the playlist and hit 'delete.' When the warning appeared, "Choosing OK will permanently remove these 114 songs from your iPod," I clicked on "OK" with savage delight. I watched as all the songs that reminded me of Lauren disappeared. If only my feelings could be made to disappear so easily.
I was still staring at the screen when I heard the doorbell ring. Alice's friend must be here. I rubbed my face and sat back. A knock sounded.
"Edward, please come down now," Alice asked with a small catch in her voice. She was truly nervous.
"I'm on my way, Alice."
I made my way to the door and downstairs. I heard indistinct voices in the foyer as I walked into the kitchen. My mother looked up and broke into a brilliant smile when she saw me.
"Welcome back to the land of the living," she teased while rinsing a bag of baby carrots. I didn't have an answer for her. Emmett burst into the kitchen laughing. He whooped when he saw me and held out a fist for me to bump. Our mother smiled fondly at the two of us.
"What's so funny, Emmett?" Mom asked.
"Alice's friend tripped over the rug in the foyer and went sprawling across the floor. Funniest thing I've seen in a week." Mom rolled her eyes at Emmett's amusement as she cut celery into bite sized pieces for the crudités she was working on.
"I hope the poor girl is alright," she fretted.
"She's fine. I get the impression she falls down a lot," he replied, still chuckling. I didn't spare a thought for Alice's coordination challenged friend as I reached over for a radish on the tray. I was feeling the first stirrings of hunger I'd felt in almost a week.
The door to the kitchen swung open and I heard Alice's animated chatter.
"And this is the kitchen. Mom's making a roast chicken for dinner, I hope you like chicken." The girl seemed to understand that the question was rhetorical because she didn't even try to answer Alice as she continued to babble on.
"This is my mom, Esme, and you remember my brother, Emmett from the hallway," I looked up in time to catch Emmett waving a knife in greeting at the girl standing next to Alice. I reached for a piece of celery as Alice said, "And this is my other brother, Edward. I think you'll have Biology together."
"Edward, this is Bella."
I looked over at the girl standing next to Alice, my generic greeting dying on my lips.
Warm brown eyes, the color of chocolate milk, caught mine. Heat flooded through me, not a burning, but a glowing. I stared at the tentative smile on the face of the girl standing before me. All the thoughts that had been racing around my mind just moments earlier, thoughts that had defined me – thoughts of Lauren, of Tyler, of last Friday night, thoughts of my week of self-imposed exile fled as her image filled the hollow spot in my chest.
Kudos to you if you picked up the reference to the New Moon trailer!
Hope you enjoyed this little one shot. I had fun writing it. I've written a few other stories, but haven't gotten much feedback so I've let them die. If you're interested in reading anything else I've written please check my profile. I have full outlines for all my stories, but no desire to write them if no one is going to read them. Even this story could be a two shot if there's enough interest. There's only one way to let me know, though. If you want to see how dinner and the weekend, possibly, unfold you need to click on the little button below and tell me.