Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Hey Readers. I am so pleased this story has been reviewed and featured on a couple of cool websites, like the PPSS and The Little know Discerning Ficster. It was also a finalist in the 2010 Twific Indies. Thanks to all who keep tweeting and mentioning it. You're lovely.
Chapter 1: First Kiss
"It was embarrassing. Awful actually," Bella winced and put her face into Edward's cotton shirt. "I didn't mean to say eww to his face. I just didn't expect his tongue."
"Poor kid," said Edward dryly; he felt more envy than sympathy. Edward could only use his venom-coated tongue with great care. "He probably didn't kiss another girl after that. You ruined him."
"Probably," she smiled. To Bella it seemed so long ago in another place, another time, another climate.
Bella and Edward were in her single bed on a summer morning, Edward above the covers and Bella mostly below – one bare leg sneaked out in defiance of Edward's usual rule. Charlie had gone to work and the sun shone uncommonly for a few hours in both front and back yard, so Edward had contentedly declared himself imprisoned in her house ... and they had yet to get out of her bed.
"So... what about your first kiss?" Bella stretched languidly and Edward stole a glance at her breasts, soft and let loose under her t-shirt. "Tell me," she said.
"Um...no," he hedged. "I'd rather kiss you instead." He was on his side, his head propped on his elbow and he leaned forward and gave her a teasing, lazy kiss. He badly wanted to push his own tongue in her mouth - but for his teeth, his teeth, his damnable razor sharp teeth.
"Come on," she sighed against his chin. "You've lived so long...and you've told me so little. Your first kiss...was it before you were changed?"
"No, after." He pulled back a bit, looking into her eyes. "It's not a nice story," he said quietly.
"How old were you?" she prompted.
"Seventeen," he smiled.
She swatted his marble arm. "You know what I mean: when was it?"
"1933," he remembered promptly. "May." Edward leaned back and looked at the ceiling.
1933. Rochester New York.
Edward took long strides down the empty corridors of his high school, feeling – for once – a bit pleased with himself. He had just completed his first entire year of school as a vampire, surrounded by humans and their tempting liquid cargo, without incident or suspicion.
Well, if you didn't include all the broken PE equipment. He wouldn't take that class again.
It had even rained the day of graduation, and so he, Carlisle and Esme had all attended the human event. But now it was Saturday; Edward nodded to a lone janitor pushing a wide broom in the opposite direction.
Impatient to see Miss Harrow, Edward directed his ability toward the Music Annex, listening for her thoughts. There were a few other staff members still in the building, packing and sorting their things – but she would need help, surely. All those heavy percussion instruments.
He stopped mid-stride and focused. Sheet music. She was perusing sheet music but following other layers of thoughts as well. The effect of depression-era budgets on music education funding. Next year's curriculum.
Edward, she thought.
He froze, elation and anticipation flooding through him. THIS! he thought, this feeling must surely be what love is. A breathless, weightless, tingling sort of thing, that shoots from your core outward to the tips of your fingers and toes.
Her thoughts narrowed to him and him alone. She recalled a melody of his composition assignment; she pictured his face in concentration, his fingers on the keys; she wondered if she would ever see him again.
YES, he almost cried aloud in response. You will, Miss Harrow. I am coming this very moment. Now he moved at almost vampiric speed. His feet made no sound as they sped across the linoleum.
He was immature and foolish, despite his thirty-two years on the earth, and he refused to think about the consequences of this vague and giddy pursuit – the next-weeks and the next-years and what-about-forevers were questions that Carlisle asked, not Edward. Not yet.
"Edward Cullen," she acknowledged his arrival, smiling and shaking her head. I think of him and he appears in my doorway, she mused. She stared at his face for a moment and then looked away. "Did you enjoy graduation ceremonies?" she inquired now in a careful, neutral voice, but Edward was not fooled. He caught the blush on her cheek and the fluttering of her thoughts. Oh, and the tang of guilt too. She was twenty-nine, more than ten years his senior (or so she thought).
Usually, Miss Harrow suppressed her attraction with great self-discipline – sometimes he wondered if this is what drew him to her so. No one else seemed to try. Teenage girls harboured romantic, mostly benign fantasies about him– but the adults ... good Lord, Edward had been shocked to his Victorian core his first week of classes.
He would never get used to the daily mental assault he received from some of the teachers. Mrs. Talley, married, mid-thirties. She gave his entire body a fantasized feel-up every lunchtime, eyeing him lustily as he walked across the cafeteria. Up, down, up again. He could almost feel her hand on his ass.
There was the slightly younger and rounder Miss Rhodes, who promoted Shakespeare and Hardy during class but read dime store smut during her cigarette break. She pictured Edward as the virile hero of every story line. He had mostly blocked it out, until his first English exam, for God's sake, where he was trying to concentrate on Chaucer but instead received a mind load of images of himself with cravat and breeches, a fabric-straining erection, and Mrs. Rhodes floppy breasts in his face. So intense and violating were her thoughts that he could not construct a decent paragraph. He seethed and gritted his teeth, fighting a terrible urge to leap onto her desk and growl.These were the decent people? People whose company he had chosen over the depraved criminals he used to kill?
There had been many school days where sheer embarrassment had driven him to truancy.
But Miss Harrow and her piano lessons became his escape. He hadn't touched the keys since he was human, and both he and she were delighted to discover his forgotten talent. He began to spend lunch time at the piano, painstakingly moving his fingers at a human pace, and she would leave her younger pupils for a moment to comment or correct, or to suggest a new piece of music. He didn't know when his crush had come on, or whether her thoughts or his had driven it. Neither had acted inappropriately; not once had he touched her. He wanted to though, today. Just to brush his arm against hers if she might sit beside him at the piano...
She was grateful for his offer to help, and after a polite exchange of words he began to fold up the music stands and stack them on a wheeled trolley. He could feel her eyes on him and her thoughts running loose for the first time:
I'm so glad he came today...such a kind offer...He couldn't possibly be interested... an old maid like me...He's very mature for eighteen... We've never been alone together... Does that boy not own a comb?
Edward smiled inwardly at that one and stopped his hand just in time from running through his hair.
...He is no longer my pupil, perhaps...perhaps... if only I had the nerve...
The nerve? Edward almost repeated it aloud. (His most common mistake since rejoining the human world was to ANSWER their thoughts.)The nerve to...what?He straightened and turned, meeting her eyes.
...surely it is a sin to want him, she wondered. Miss Harrow returned his stare and swallowed, hard. What would...what would it be like...to kiss him?
It was all he needed to hear. In three quick strides he was in front of her; he took her upper arms in his palms and pulled her close, planting his mouth inexpertly on hers.
So soft! Soft and blood-fragrant and pliable. For almost a whole second her thoughts were blank, her mouth yielding, and Edward was in heaven.
Crack.A sound he knew all too well from his days as a killer. Bones snapping cleanly, like twigs. In his foolish excitement he had forgotten his strength. He had broken both her arms, just by squeezing them with his fingers.
"Oh my God," said Bella, covering her mouth with her hand. "Just like that."
"Just like that," he repeated. It was good, he thought, for Bella to hear this. He bore his strange eyes into hers, willing her to see past her misplaced admiration to the reality of his nature: predator.
She was sympathetic – and love-blind (and this subconsciously pleased him)– as usual. "God, Edward, how awful for you. "
"How awful for her," he added. "You can imagine her horror."
"Yes," she whispered. They were quiet for a few minutes; Bella ran her index finger slowly over the planes of his face. "But it was a long time ago."
But oh, I remember it well. He leaned into Bella's warm embrace and closed his eyes. He could remember Miss Harrow's face with complete accuracy: her shock, her pain. To Edward, her expression was an accusation - or maybe a confirmation - that he wasn't fit to live among humans after all. Breaking her arms in the act of a kiss was like a betrayal of all innocent, decent people.
"So what happened? Did she tell?"
They were assembled in the emergency room, just beyond her curtain -Edward, Carlisle, Sgt. Fallon and the principal. Edward paced, unable to meet Carlisle's eyes, unable to bear Miss Harrow's whimpers of pain and roiling thoughts of self-recrimination, as she spoke to the second policeman behind the curtain.
"The Tympani drum," she whispered in a tearful voice, "fell over when I tried to move it. Young Mr. Cullen here heard the noise; he pulled it off me."
Carlisle's eyes darted to Edward with relief. She lies to protect you! Then the possibilities scrolled through Carlisle's mind, briefly touching on disappointment that Edward had failed to confide in him.
She loves you? asked Carlisle gently in his head. You love her?
"No...perhaps..."Edward shrugged his shoulders bitterly, responding in a vehement vampire murmur. "I have no idea."
He knew that when they got home, Carlisle wouldn't shout or raise a hand against him. He wouldn't accuse Edward of poor judgment or point out that they would probably have to leave Rochester imminently. Esme would be equally and ridiculously sympathetic.
Edward put his hands in his hair, hating himself. He would have preferred Carlisle's wrath to God's subversive punishments. You would think Miss Harrow would fear Edward now; that she would at least consider the terrible and unnatural possibilities. But no: she thought God was punishing her for desiring an eighteen year old. Shame rolled off her thoughts from behind her curtain. Edward had briefly touched her life, and he left an indelible recollection of sexual shame upon her.
Oh, he was a subtle master, God - mocking Edward, accusing him, making him feel like the shit that he was. Edward felt more wretched than ever.
"I never saw her again," he murmured, and Bella had to lean in to hear him. "We left Rochester soon after, once Carlisle turned Rosalie." Edward was almost certain that his failure with Miss Harrow had prompted Carlisle's decision to turn Rosalie.
"Miss Harrow probably doesn't even remember it now," Bella tried to reassure him. To Bella it seemed so long ago that it was almost irrelevant now – like WWI veterans or victims of the 1929 crash. All facts in a book, sometimes terrible and tragic, but now long devoid of their emotional impact. Edward remembers all, she had to remind herself. Both facts and feelings. She used to think this an advantage...
"Well, that's true only because she passed away in 1981," Edward answered her.
"Oh y-yeah –of course," Bella stammered, doing the math and feeling a little sick. Edward had loved a woman who eventually became an old woman. Who was dead now. Who died before Bella was even born. Bella suddenly felt quite desperate to convince Edward to turn her...and soon.
"She taught music until her retirement," he brightened a little bit. "So she must have influenced quite a number of students over the years. She never married though."
"Did you love her?" Bella blurted, facing him squarely.
He shook his head. "I didn't know her well enough to love her. It was a schoolboy's crush, Bella."
"But...how could you call yourself a schoolboy? You had... by then, you had...you know..."
"Murdered? Yes that's true. But..." he rubbed his chin, thinking. "It was like a time warp, my rebellious years. I was either alone or with the dregs of humanity. Discovering normal humans again was a pleasant surprise to me. I suppose..." he struggled to find the words, "it was like I was seventeen all over again. Socially, I was just a kid."
"I see," Bella frowned. Did Edward think she was just a kid, too? But she wasn't. She was eighteen in three weeks.
"Miss Harrow was too old for you, anyway," Bella said, sticking her chin out.
"Age doesn't mean much to me," he shrugged. "Within reason."
Bella absorbed this for a moment. "What did she look like? Was she pretty?"
Edward raised his eyebrows and gave her his crooked smile. "I thought so. "
"And...?" Bella pushed him on his back and lay on top of the cool length of him, the sheet tangling between them.
"Bella..." he warned, his voice croaking.
"...what did she look like?" Bella balanced herself on top of him, flexing her feet and placing her toes against his shins. He breathed in sharply.
"Describe her," Bella insisted.
"Light brown hair, tall and thin, sharp features...I suppose she dressed like a spinster. But she was devoted to her students –and her mind was beautiful. To me. And you are driving me wild."
He gently rolled her off of him, but not before she thought she felt his erection. Right through the sheet and his jeans. If Edward was hard as stone, was it even harder?
"Edward," she whined a bit, moving close again, trying to feel it once more against her abdomen. "You are so..." she sighed, "...predictable."
"Didn't that story teach you anything, Bella? I snapped Miss Harrow's bones. " But he didn't move away. She held him close, chancing a quick brush of her palm over his perfect, denim-clad butt and then tracing her thumb around until she found the tip of his hip bone. She made small circles with her thumb and tried to imagine it was the hard tip of something else.
He closed his eyes and she watched him breathe.
"Have you ever tried to do it with a human?" she asked, curiously.
"Do it?" His voice was low and throaty. "Do what...have sexual intercourse?"
"Yeah." Bella nodded, trying not to laugh at his choice of words. No teen in this century says sexual intercourse.
He waited a long time before answering, and she panicked a bit, unsure if she really wanted to know the answer.
"Yes, I've tried."
She stilled her thumb. "And what happened?"
"That's another tale, for another day," he said firmly.
Another sad story, she wondered? Or because he thought her too young (or too...female?) to hear a story involving sex? He was SO proper sometimes.
"Hmph," she said, irritably. He didn't respond. She sat up and got out of bed, hopefully flashing her underwear at him when she stood up. She contemplated a shower. Maybe she'd walk back in there wrapped only her towel. No, naked – she'd walk back in there naked. Hah, that'd shock his Victorian sensibilities.
She stopped in the bedroom doorway. "I want..." she said, her back to him. "I want you to do something for me for my birthday."
"Oh?" he said, momentarily thrown.
"I want you to get UNDER the covers," she demanded. "The night of my eighteenth."
He made an amused sort of huff.
"Don't patronize me," she snapped.
"Okay, okay," he said. "Sorry."
He hesitated and she turned to glare at him.
"Okay," he agreed, his face turning serious suddenly.
"And no shirt either," she called out, disappearing into the bathroom. She did not specify whose shirt.
Bella shut the door. She turned on the tub's faucet, knowing it would be several minutes before the old water heater managed to do its job.
Ripping off her underwear and big t-shirt, she stared at herself in the mirror. Of course he had tried sex with someone before. He was over one hundred years old. Decades-worth of women had admired him and pursued him, as Jessica Stanley and Lauren Mallory had in the short time he had been in Forks. Multiply those girls times twenty different high schools and colleges. Beautiful vampires had probably attempted to seduce him too. Bella suspected there was some past history with that vampire Tanya, who Bella imagined to look a lot like Rosalie. All the Cullens seemed to tiptoe around the subject whenever Tanya's name came up.
She pushed her fingers into her hair and felt jealousy pluck at her heart. Bella had always revelled in the idea that he had waited for love, waited for her. That meant...he'd never been in love before? Or he'd never been successful in love before...? There was a big difference.
But he was still a virgin. And he belonged to her. Mine, mine, mine, she mouthed soundlessly in the mirror, knowing that he would hear her otherwise.
She wrapped a towel around her torso, wrenched open the door, and stormed into her room.
"Bella," he gasped. She was pleased to see his eyes nearly pop out of his head.
"Who was it?" she asked fiercely.
"Who was... what?" He braced himself, like he was going to throw himself out the window in a single bound.
"The girl!" Bella took another step so that she loomed over the bed. "The human girl you tried to do it with. Her name. Her name and the year."
"Oh," his voice cracked. "Consuela. 1945." Then he clapped his hand over his nose, as he had the first day she met him. "Go," he said, pointing at the door with his other hand. "Pleeease..." It came out like a soft moan.
She stared at him and he stared right back. Then she saw it. Something jerk in his jeans.
It moves! She thought. It leaps all on its own! This was new knowledge to her. She had always assumed it was more like a swelling, like a pool float filling with air.
"Okay," she nodded, momentarily satisfied. She spun on her heel and went back to the bathroom.
Jog on, Consuela, she smiled. This boy is mine.
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