Things I Own: a
New Moon poster, a bright purple trench coat, a LISKYDIVE bumper
sticker, and a shot glass that says "hottie." Things I
Don't Own: Twilight: Twilight characters, actors, or the rights to
the Twilight movie soundtrack, or the song Eyes on Fire by Blue
Things I Don't Own: Twilight: Twilight characters, actors, or the rights to the Twilight movie soundtrack, or the song Eyes on Fire by Blue Foundation.
He forced himself to keep his eyes locked straight ahead, purposefully avoiding the pull in his gut. He didn't need to look, he'd know that feeling anywhere. She was walking passed him, gliding by in a swirl of strawberries and brown curls.
He grabbed both wrists and pinned her back against the nearest locker, pressing his body tightly against her. She let out a soft moan and he caught it in his mouth, bruising her lips with hungry kisses. His fingers tightened around wrists, cold against the metal, as she twisted her hands against his grip, grasping at him in a desperate attempt to touch any part of him.
A low growl escaped his throat, barely loud enough for anyone to hear.
God, he wanted her.
He wanted Bella more than anything he could possibly imagine, and would trade anything and everything he owned to have her, to make her his. He wanted to feel her body writhing beneath him; he wanted to feel her shaking as he tickled her ribs, sighing when he kissed her, squeezing back when his fingers tightened around hers.
He wanted to watch her eyes, those big, brown, doe eyes, filling with warmth as he told her he loved her, and he wanted to watch those words fall off her soft pink lips as she whispered them back.
She could feel his eyes on her, boring into the back of her neck. She didn't turn around; he was too good, she could never actually catch him in the act. It didn't matter, she didn't want to see the expression on his face, in his eyes.
She never understood why he didn't like her. Why she was the only student, the only person, she had ever known him to be anything less than cordial to. Edward Cullen was quiet, certainly, but always polite, always speaking to people in a soft, pleasant voice.
She was the only person he wouldn't speak to.
He ignored her, and the only times he wasn't ignoring her, he was glaring at her, and she had absolutely no idea why. Sure, she spent a lot of time with Alice, but he never seemed to have a problem with any of her other friends.
She'd tried asking Alice about it once, but Alice just smirked at her, her blue eyes twinkling as she informed her that "she had no idea why her brother was so dense." She had then proceeded to curl Bella's hair, apply mascara and lip gloss to her otherwise clean face, force her into a royal blue sweater, and invite her to stay for dinner. Edward had walked into the kitchen, taken one look at Bella, and left, mumbling something about not feeling well.
Bella did everything in her power to look unaffected by Edward's obvious distaste for her.
Alice looked triumphant.
She was his sister's best friend.
He had never quite understood how that happened. Isabella Swan had appeared at Forks High School one day, stirring gossip and rumors like she was a famous celebrity, not the daughter of a small town police chief.
He recognized instantly that she hated the attention, hated the spotlight the entire town had shone on her for her first few weeks here. He had loved that about her, loved the way she seemed to be like him, preferring to hide behind her long brown hair and a Jane Austen novel.
He'd gotten home from school, on that first day, playing the day over and over in his mind. He kept seeing little glimpses of the new girl; in his biology class, across the cafeteria, turning down the end of the hallway.
Alice was waiting for him, bouncing up and down on the kitchen counter top as he made his ritual peanut butter and banana sandwich. She'd squealed that she met Isabella Swan today, and that she was undeniably certain that "Bella" was going to be the best friend she'd ever had.
Edward didn't see it. What Alice lacked in stature she made up with personality, a bubbly, charming, outgoing little pixie of a person. She took dance classes three days a week, and spent the other four working at a small boutique in Port Angeles, taking notes for her future career in fashion.
People often didn't believe it when told they were twins. Edward, with his strange bronze colored hair, green eyes, tall figure and reclusive personality seemed nothing like Alice; petite, dark haired, and charismatic. They barely seemed to be related, let alone fraternal twins.
Still, he understood the draw to Bella, the magnetic pull that had boys and girls alike vying for Bella's attention.
She was untouchable, of course. Her inability to look anyone in the eye while speaking, while endearing, positively reeked of painful shyness. But still, through Alice and the few others she had opened up to, it was easy to see the beautiful qualities of Bella's personality; her selflessness, her passion for others, the general goodness that seemed to surround her.
She refused to stay on the pedestal the rest of the student body seemed to want her on. Which, Edward admitted, was probably for the best; knowing Bella, she'd probably find some way to trip over her own feet and fall face first off the platform.
Edward had chosen to grace them with his presence this evening, though Bella could not entirely figure out why. They were on this odd sort of triple-date-hang-out thing, Alice and her boyfriend Jasper Hale, along with their older siblings, Emmett and Rosalie. Bella, not wanting to intrude on the couples, had invited along Jacob Black, a friend of hers from La Push.
But now here was Edward, eyeing Jacob as though he were the unexpected party. An unusual expression gleamed in Edward's bright green eyes, following Jacob's every move.
It seemed as though Bella had found someone that Edward disliked even more than her. She found herself studying Edward's face, intrigued, searching for some sort of explanation, an underlying cause or a linking factor that put her and Jacob in the same boat.
She learned nothing until much later, when they'd arrived at the restaurant Alice had suggested. The waiter leered suggestively at the beautiful Rosalie, blatantly flirting with her. Emmett flexed his jaw, appearing agitated, his eyes hard as he wrapped one arm possessively around Rosalie's waist.
Bella had been watching that expression all night, only the face she'd been watching had green eyes instead of brown.
Bella's fingers tangled in his messy
hair, pulling his head back as her lips worked against his neck,
sucking, licking, nipping. He tightened one arm around her waist,
holding her to him, unwilling to let her stop. His free hand slid up
slowly up her back, caressing the bare skin of her shoulder and the
back of her neck before finally touching those long, beautiful
curls. He wrapped the strands of chestnut hair around his
fingers, relishing in the softness. She shifted her head to the other
side of his jaw and movement shook her hair, the scent of
strawberries and shampoo assaulting his nose as it brushed against
his chin. God she was delicious. Soft in his arms, hot
against his skin, and so completely his. Her lips were moving up his
jaw, kissing the sensitive skin behind his ear. "I love
you," she breathed, her lips brushing against the cartilage of his
ear. He felt himself melt slightly, both from the words and the way
she'd said them, untangling his fingers from her hair to caress her
cheek. "I love you too."
He wrapped the strands of chestnut hair around his fingers, relishing in the softness. She shifted her head to the other side of his jaw and movement shook her hair, the scent of strawberries and shampoo assaulting his nose as it brushed against his chin.
God she was delicious. Soft in his arms, hot against his skin, and so completely his. Her lips were moving up his jaw, kissing the sensitive skin behind his ear.
"I love you," she breathed, her lips brushing against the cartilage of his ear. He felt himself melt slightly, both from the words and the way she'd said them, untangling his fingers from her hair to caress her cheek.
"I love you too."
Edward woke up with his face in his hands, wishing with everything he had that his dream could be real.
Today in Biology Mike Newton, who is usually Bella's lab partner, is out sick. She sees no reason why she can't do the lab on her own, but Mr. Banner insists this is a lab that must be done in groups. She lowers her eyes to the table in front of her, knowing exactly who she was about to be paired up with.
Edward did not have a lab partner. There is an odd number of students in the class, and though many people, especially girls, had offered to work with the sexy, mysterious Edward Cullen, he had politely refused all of them, saying he had no problem being the one forced to work alone.
On labs that Mr. Banner insisted everyone needed a partner for; however, Edward was always forced to join with another pair. Unless, of course, someone's partner was absent.
Bella stood up with a small sigh, picking up her books and moving slowly towards the back of the classroom, where Edward stood next to an empty lab station. Her eyes focused on the tile floor, both to avoid looking at him and to avoid falling.
It didn't work.
Her foot caught in the strap of someone's backpack just in front of Edward's table and she fell forward, books flying out of her arms as she flung her hands forward, bracing herself for impact.
She felt her body jerk to a sudden halt, looking down at the ground frozen below her.
Long, slim fingers were wrapped around her biceps, holding her arms tightly as she attempted to regain her balance, carefully steadying both feet under her. She stood up shakily, her face undoubtedly the color of a ripe tomato. Bella opened her mouth to say thank you, glancing up into Edward's face.
The words died on her tongue. Edward stood merely inches from her, his gorgeous green eyes staring directly into hers. His face was pale, paler than usual, and his eyes had a slightly wild expression touching the corners of them. She couldn't tear her eyes away from him.
Bella felt something poke her arm and she looked down, startled to notice Angela Weber standing there with a small smile, holding Bella's fallen books out to her. Bella returned the smile and tried to reach for the books, only to find that Edward's hands were still wrapped around her arms.
He released her instantaneously, staring at his hands as though he'd been burned. Blush returning in full force, Bella took the books from Angela and whispered her thanks before diving into her seat, trying desperately to figure out what had just happened.
He had barely spoken to her the entire class, muttering something in the general direction of her shoulder whenever the lab absolutely necessitated that they communicate. They were the first group finished, and sat the remainder of the class in uncomfortable silence. He bolted the second the bell rang.
A full week later he still couldn't get the feeling of her off his hands, her bare skin soft and delicate under his clutching fingers. His palms felt as though they'd been burned, branded, searing her into his skin. He'd taken to rubbing them repeatedly against the denim of his jeans, smirking when he noticed the resemblance to Lady MacBeth.
Which is why, he reasoned, he slowed down as he drove passed her car, the only car left in the parking lot. He had stayed after to make up an exam, and apparently she had too, for some reason or another. In any case, theirs were the only two cars left in the parking lot.
And Bella's wasn't starting.
She stood in the dreary Forks rain with her head under the hood of her ancient truck, as though she could actually figure out what was wrong with the thing. Edward almost smiled at that. He took a deep, steadying breath before smoothly lowering his window as he pulled to a stop in front of her car.
"Would you like any help?"
Bella shot up so fast she'd nearly slammed her head into the rusted hood, whirling around to face the Volvo. He found himself raising an eyebrow, secretly impressed that she managed to do that without injuring herself.
A few moments passed before she began to speak, shielding her eyes from the rain as she peered down into the car.
"It won't start. I think I may have left the lights on, but I don't have any jumper cables."
Edward grimaced. He himself had taken the jumper cables out of his own trunk barely two days ago, lending them to Emmett for his hiking trip. He studied the girl in front of him for a few breaths, watching the rain soak through her down jacket and dripped down the ends of her hair.
She gaped at him for a second before reaching forward and opening the door, squishing slightly against the leather as she folded her wet figure into the passenger seat. Edward winced, vowing to dry the car the second he made it home.
They drove towards her house in silence, both staring straight out the windshield watching the rain beat down on them. After a few minutes of agonizingly miserable silence, Edward reached forward, turning the volume up on his stereo, hoping one of his less eccentric albums was playing.
Clair de Lune.
Edward ripped his eyes from the road, turning his entire body to stare at the beautiful, intelligent girl dripping in his front seat. He tightened his fingers on the steering wheel, forcing himself to maintain control, to not reach out and cup her jaw and draw her full, wet lips forward to meet his…
"My favorite." He whispered, turning sharply back to face the road again. He saw Bella nod out of the corner of his eye, but she said nothing else for the remainder of the trip, even after he pulled smoothly into her driveway.
She reached for the handle of the door and Edward scrambled frantically for anything, anything to keep her here just a few seconds longer.
"We…" he sighed quietly, picking at the ripped seam on the hem of his sweater. "We shouldn't be friends."
Bella paused, door open, looking at him with those brilliantly deep eyes of her. He saw wisdom and insight, and a swarm of other emotions swirling in their depths, and hoped beyond hope that one of those emotions was understanding.
The door closed softly behind her.
Bella began watching him. Not just in passing, but nearly obsessively, staring at him in classes, following him down the hallway. She studied him carefully, watching the way he moved, how he interacted with others, and what he did when he thought no one was watching.
She noticed that he spends the majority of his day alone. People usually say hello, or speak to him in class, and though he is always polite back, he usually winds up alone again. He seems to enjoy the solitude; Jasper is the only person she has ever seen him actively seek out.
He writes frequently in a small spiral notebook, and though Bella does not know what he's writing, she's pretty sure it isn't prose. He taps the fingers of his left hand while he writes, intricate little patterns that seem like nonsense to her.
He's even more gorgeous under careful scrutiny than he is from afar. He plays with his copper-bronze hair when he's nervous, giving it a perpetually disheveled look. Her fingers twitch every time she watches him touch it, desperate to reach out and see if it's really as soft as it looks.
Bella finds herself desperate to do a lot of things as far as Edward is concerned. She aches to know what he's thinking, to sit down next to him and brush her fingers down his graceful neck and ask him what he's writing. She wants to touch the razor sharpness of his cheekbones and trace her fingertips along his smooth, strong jaw. She bites her tongue to refrain from telling him that he has beautiful hands, and even more beautiful forearms, and she wants to know how dark those green green eyes would turn if she slid her fingers up those arms, across his shoulders, into his hair, and roughly pulled his lips to hers…
Alice catches her, just once, watching Edward out of the corner of her eye as they eat lunch. Neither of them were speaking, preferring instead to leave the entertainment to Emmett and Jasper. Alice's blue eyes twinkled at her, and Bella blushed, though she wasn't entirely sure why.
Alice, talkative, girly, gossipy little Alice, simply reached over and squeezed Bella's hand once.
The smell of afternoon rain is his new second favorite smell. Second favorite, because nothing will ever live up to the smell of strawberries and sunshine that is Bella to him. Still, the rain smells of her too, the feel of her in the car next to him, the tension between them practically tangible as he drove her home.
After she'd left he pulled the car around the corner and sat there, staring at his steering wheel for what seemed like hours. He ached with the desire to turn around, sprint back to her house, and beg both her forgiveness and her understanding.
Though he knew her words to be nothing more than a simple statement of the fact, and though they were uttered in a plain, unaffected tone, Edward couldn't help but feel, or maybe wish, that there was a stinging bitterness felt by both of them as they recognized the truth of her statement.
He wanted desperately to explain himself. To take her small hands in his and confess to her that he's loved her since the very first day he laid eyes on her. To admit that he was nervous, terrified, when she was anywhere near him, and that his intense fear of making a fool of himself left him speechless, frozen.
He never would though. How could he, the words died on his lips when he so much as tried to say hello to her, how could he possibly profess his inexplicable and unrequited love to her?
She could feel his eyes on her, boring into the back of her neck. This time, though, this time she was going to turn. She was going to turn around, regardless of the situation, every time she felt his eyes on her. She was determined to catch him.
He was better than she'd ever thought though. Every time she turned, every time she looked, he always looked perfectly innocent, watching the teacher or focusing on his notes. She never even caught the end of his recovery, maybe the nervous flicker of his eyes or an awkward shuffling of paper.
She was determined though, and she would catch him.
Bella wasn't prepared for what would happen if she did. She hadn't thought that far in advance, hoping that, on the off chance that she actually catches him, she'll know how to react in the moment.
She's starting to feel like that moment will never come though. It's been almost a month since the day he'd caught her in Biology, the last time she looked him directly in the eye, and she was no closer to placing the wild expression she'd seen in his eyes.
Rosalie, Rosalie Hale, beautiful, wild, aloof Rosalie, had somehow figured out something Bella herself wasn't even sure she understood. Rolling her eyes in Emmett's direction as she watched the two of them dance around each other in the cafeteria, Rosalie kicked Bella sharply under the table, causing the brunette to jump, jerking her head in Rosalie's direction.
Edward had been sitting next to her, watching Bella quietly as she ate, speaking occasionally to Alice but otherwise remaining silent. Their eyes locked, unavoidably, and Bella felt her eyes grow wide, staring, as she read the emotions Edward hadn't been quick enough to hide.
The green gaze was warm, practically glowing, watching Bella with what she could only describe as affection. A smile touched the corner of his eyes, though his mouth was drawn in a tight line, and there was a strange sort of intensity, something Bella had noticed many times in Edward's expression, but had always thought it was something else.
It was desire. Not distaste, not dislike, as she had always thought she'd seen on his face, but desire. He looked at her like she was something good to eat, a delicious offering on a silver platter, waiting to be devoured.
She liked it. More than that, she loved it. She felt the thrill of it coursing through her, racing through her veins from her eyes to her brain to her heart to her cheeks and the pit of her stomach. Butterflies erupted and a blush dusted her cheeks, but she didn't, she couldn't, break her gaze away from his.
Alice was waiting for him again, sitting cross-legged on the center of the bed, eyes closed, humming along to the soft strains of music drifting from his stereo. She smiled when she heard him open the door, patting the bed next to her without opening her eyes.
There was no use arguing, his sister, his best friend, was exceptionally good at getting her way. He crossed the room in silence, dropping gracefully onto the gold duvet cover and allowing his back to sink into the soft down beneath him.
Edward glanced towards Alice, raising one eyebrow delicately at her. She turned her head to look at him, a smirk dusting across her lips, reaching up to touch the corners of her eyes. A small sigh escaped him as Edward resigned himself to the inevitable conversation. There was no use hiding from Alice, she knew him too well.
Besides, truth be told, he found himself growing weary of this entire charade.
"You love her, Edward, I know you do. Emmett knows you do. Jasper and Rosalie know you do. Everyone that has ever been in the same room as you for five minutes knows how deeply you care for her. Everyone except Bella."
He turned his eyes back up to the ceiling, watching the sunlight filter across the soft white surface. He wanted to ask Alice how, how he was supposed to tell this beautiful, intelligent, unique, wonderful girl that his very soul ached for her. She barely knew him. They barely knew each other.
And there was, of course, the small, insignificant part where he found himself unable to either think or speak anything remotely coherent if Bella was anywhere within hearing distance.
"She loves you, too, Edward."
Bella wandered down a nearly empty street in Port Angeles, scrutinizing each of the stores in front of her as she searched for the book store she'd been told was here. She'd been here for a while now, roaming up and down the streets of the small downtown area, taking advantage of the unnaturally warm day.
The weather had cooled significantly though, the sky growing progressively darker with every passing minute. Bella knew she should leave, she'd promised Charlie she wouldn't be home too late, but she was determined to find the book store before she left. It had been a bit of a long drive coming this far, she didn't want the trip to be a complete waste of her time.
Still, she kept glancing at her watch every few minutes, eyes flicking back and forth between the small numbers on the face and the quickly setting sun. Finally promising herself that if she didn't reach the book store before the end of this block she would turn around, Bella moved on, quickly scanning each of the storefronts on either side of the street.
The corner store at the end of the street boasted a small, neatly painted sign hanging outside the door, Port Angeles Books and News. Rushing down the sidewalk Bella finally reached the door, pulling it open smoothly as she stepped inside.
She found what she'd been looking for fairly quickly, having known exactly what books she wanted when she'd arrived in Port Angeles. Though there was no one else in the store the cashier took his fair time ringing up each of the three books by hand, night had nearly fallen by the time Bella left the store.
Hurrying this time, not wandering, she turned back up the street, searching for some sign of the parking lot she'd left her truck in. The town, especially in the dark, was wholly unfamiliar to her, and she found herself backtracking several times, trying carefully to retrace her steps from the afternoon.
She turned a corner at the end of an empty street, nearly certain that this was the path to the parking lot. Bella sighed, feeling rather hopeless, as she discovered herself not in a familiar walkway, but in a narrow alley, the dirty concrete sidewalk trailing off into darkness.
Frustrated, she turned again, heading back towards the entrance of the alley. She'd barely taken a few steps when she looked up, startled, to see a figure standing in front of her, blocking her path.
He snarled at her, eyes gleaming, breath reeking of stale alcohol and cigarettes. Bella quickly took a step back, whipping her head around to see if there was anything behind her.
The snarl turned into a string of drunken words, barely coherent, but enough to give Bella some idea of where this would be heading if she didn't get away from him fast. Eyes wide, feeling a bit frantic, Bella searched desperately for an escape, all the while slowly backing further and further away from the man and into the alley.
"She froze, staring around the startled man in front of her to see who had spoken. Edward Cullen, Edward, was hurrying down the alley towards her, looking relieved.
"Darling, I've been looking everywhere for you." His eyes glanced down at the bag in her hand, smiling slightly. "I turn my back on you for just a moment and, of course, you're off to that book store again."
He elbowed the other man not-so-gently out of the way, finally reaching Bella and wrapping an arm around her waist. He leaned in quickly, kissing her on the cheek, and took the package from her hand.
"What did you buy this time love, more Austen? I can't imagine that you need any more of her books, I thought you already owned everything the woman's ever written."
Arm tight around Bella's waist Edward half-walked, half-dragged Bella forward, leading her firmly down the alley, careful to put himself between her and the still-dazed man now leaning heavily against the wall, grumbling crudely at the pair.
By the time they reached the entrance they were nearly running, Bella so desperate to get away from the situation that she currently did not care how or why they'd wound up this way. She spotted Edward's car, the sleek silver Volvo, parked wildly against the curb, barely constituting a parallel park.
Edward released her the moment they were out of sight of the entrance to the alley, taking a step back and looking her over quickly. She reached forward to take her shopping bag back, but he held it way from her, still apparently assessing her.
"Where are you parked?"
His voice was quiet, but rather than its usual almost-melodic quality, Edward's voice was shaking, an unidentifiable emotion laced through each word he spoke through clenched teeth.
Bella described the parking lot to him and he sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose between two fingers.
"It's almost a mile back that way," he muttered, gesturing in the direction Bella had come from. "Come on, I'll drive you."
Silently, knowing from plenty of past experience with Alice that there was no use arguing with a Cullen, Bella followed Edward to his car, barely keeping her surprise in check as he carefully opened the passenger side door for her, waiting until she was safely inside before closing it behind her and hurrying around to his side of the car.
He pulled out of his haphazard parking spot and pulled a quick three-point turn, weaving through the empty streets without a word. Bella watched him, mostly out of habit but also out of intense curiosity, noticing the way his breathing seemed ragged and his knuckles white as he clutched the steering wheel.
Even with two traffic lights and an encounter with a single, slow moving car, it barely took five minute to reach the parking lot where her rusty old truck sat. Bella found herself reluctant to leave the car, stalling slightly as her hand stilled over the seatbelt.
She spoke quietly, just as quietly as he had earlier, but tried to put as much conviction in her tone as she could muster. She wanted him to understand that she truly, truly meant it.
He turned to look at her again, carefully not meeting her gaze while still scrutinizing her face. He nodded once, his eyes coming to rest finally on some indeterminable point, running a hand through his already messy hair.
Bella chewed on her bottom lip, waiting to see if he would say anything. Thick tension hung in the air between them, both frozen in the moment as they waited to see what would break it.
As though she suddenly noticed she was stalling Bella quickly freed her seat belt, grabbing the handle and practically flinging the car door open. She looked back at Edward just once, still staring at an unidentifiable point in space, before climbing out of the car, closing the door firmly behind her.
Pulling her keys out of her bag she took the few steps towards her car, inserting the key into the lock before pulling her door open.
Edward appeared at her side, the bag from the book store casually dangling from his fingers. She took it, grateful that he'd remembered it, and placed it carefully on the bench seat of the trunk.
"I'm tired of trying to stay away from you."
The beautiful, velvet voice was barely a whisper, only discernable, Bella realized, because of Edward's sudden proximity. She could nearly feel him, standing beside her, his open jacket barely brushing against her arm.
She took a deep breath, buying herself the few extra seconds to decide on her course of action. Letting the air of out her lungs she turned, facing her entire body towards Edward.
She looked up and met his gaze firmly, holding his eyes on hers as she allowed herself to drown in the multitude of emotions crashing down on her. He seemed equally dazed, staring at her as though the universe hung on her next breath.
"Then stop trying."
She was, inexplicably, ready for the feel of the cool metal slamming against her back, the feel of a warm body solid against her front. Edward's hands curled around her hips, holding her against the car, as his head tilted forward, angling towards her lips as she felt her body mold perfectly into his.
The first press of his lips against hers was explosive. The spark she'd thought she felt when they made eye contact was nothing to the feeling of his mouth against hers, the feel of him taking her bottom lip between his and teasing her as he pressed his body to hers. Her arms wound around his neck, pulling him closer, as his hands slid across her back, locking him firmly against her.
They stood there, bodies pressed together from knees to shoulders, lips colliding and breaking and crashing together and parting over and over as they poured out kiss after kiss of months of tension between them. Bella sighed once, parting her lips against his, and Edward's smooth tongue slipped inside, instantly tangling with hers as he explored her mouth, familiarizing himself what she knew would now always belong to him.
They broke apart only when the need for oxygen became dire, both panting slightly as they leaned against each other. Edward rested his forehead lightly against hers, sliding his hands up her body to cup her cheeks between his long fingers.
Bella opened her eyes, staring directly into Edward's dark green gaze only inches from her face. And finally, finally, as she categorized the now-familiar expressions of desire, fear, intensity, and insight, she was finally able to label that last elusive expression that she'd seen so many times dancing in the corner of Edward's expressions.