Hi guys! This has only taken us what, six months? Welll, this chapter's nearly triple the size it would normally be, so I hope it tides you guys over for a couple of weeks. M and I are back into full swing with writing, and! I just found out we've been nominated for one of those Indie Awards, which is really flattering. Thanks so much for thinking of us!
And now, the dinner it's taken us so many months to get to. I hope it's worth it for you all!
In hindsight, the library had probably been a bad idea.
She hadn't thought about it. Of course, in Phoenix libraries were deliciously full on the weekends, and back then she'd never had a gorgeous boy chauffeuring her places. She wondered if his antics were some kind of payment for gas money, and then flushes, thinking of how silly she's being.
But when they'd arrived there was one librarian, if she could even be called that, and the serene look on Edward's face hadn't fooled her. She'd felt her face heat up as she disappeared into the stacks, only half hoping that maybe he was interested in perusing some literature as well.
He wasn't, of course.
At first, she'd been embarrassed and curious all at once, but as time wore on the embarrassment lessened, and she found herself pulling back, exploring new places, creating new sounds, and deciding which ones she especially liked. He seemed to shy away from letting her slip her hands underneath his clothes, but had no problem with hers, which proved to be cumbersome fairly quickly.
She was too busy trying to remember the backs of books she had to read six times before they made any sense, and when they emerged, she couldn't look the librarian in the face, and Edward did most of her speaking for her.
She didn't choose Subway because she was a fan of the cold-cut, she'd chosen it because given his track record, it was safe. At least she thought it would be. But it proved to be a point of contention between the two of them. She sat on her hands, avoiding his eyes as they drove away from the library, and towards one of the only sit-down restaurants in Forks. She could hardly imagine what Edward was capable of in dark public places where no one could see his hands.
She is unsurprised that he knows it existed. Boys like him (admittedly he was the only one she'd ever met) seem to have radar for stuff like this, and she's momentarily taken aback when she realises they've arrived and he's opened the door of the car for her. Gingerly, she steps out.
"Wait a second," her voice is less than a whisper, wavering madly like a bottle caught in a riptide, though that could be expected, given her train of thought. She's thankful he can't hear what she is thinking, because she's beginning to anticipate his expressions. Even thinking of them gives her chills, both kinds.
"You're um…I mean, you seem to enjoy," she sucks in a deep breath, making brief eye contact with him before looking away again. She can't do this sober, maybe she should stare at him. "Touching me," her cheeks flush and her voice drops an octave as she meets his gaze and notices his eyes look a great deal darker than they had when they were inside of the car. Barely audible, she continues.
"I think we should probably—I mean, get it out of m—uh, your system. S—so people don't um—at the restaurant."
Right, because that would be incredibly embarrassing.
"Do you have a problem with me touching you?" He practically purrs it in her ear, enjoying her blushes and stammering, enjoying the noises she makes when he touches her even more.
Her fingers loop where a belt should have been and wasn't, and she mumbles the rest of her proposition into his chest, waiting for it to shake with laughter before he drags her inside and makes her eat something that probably cost half of what her truck did.
Hands tug at his cotton shirt, sliding underneath it, the tips of her fingers skimming along his hipbones, tracing the beginnings of the v-shape there, learning new musculature territory, pausing once, glancing up at him and biting her lip, to find he'd gone completely rigid, and she tries to figure out whether it's a good thing.
Too short to reach his mouth without a little help, her lips hunt along his throat as her fingers draw circles in his hipbones, pushing higher, shivering as she realises he is cold everywhere and she tries not to take it personally.
Sighing softly she shifts to new techniques, raking her fingers along his abdomen and letting out a gasp as he presses closer to her and she realizes that rigid is, apparently a very good thing.
There had been more he intended to say - that he would never get it out of his system, but that he had no intention of humiliating her in public – but then her lips are on his neck like this, and her warm hands on his abdomen, it's all he can do to stifle his groan. As he presses closer to her – hands sliding down her sides to pull her to him - he begins to think that dinner is a waste of time. They should leave, get out of here, go somewhere they could be alone and –
The voice of the hostess interrupts him, and he resists the urge to growl at her. Bella had sufficiently distracted him and he hadn't realised they had gathered an audience. Turning his head slightly in her direction, he quickly requests a private table for two, a sharp edge to his voice. The girl is blinking at him, her eyes focusing on his lips, and he wants to roll his eyes. Instead he glares at her, and is satisfied at the fear that runs through her mind and makes her pulse hammer.
They're soon seated in a dark corner of the restaurant, and Bella finds herself shifting closer to his chair as they sit down together. Edward does the same, leaning into her. Flickering candles illuminate his face and make it seem almost more sinister as he smiles at her and moves closer. Her pulse hammers hard in her wrists, and she grabs a menu, looking for a distraction more than food. She wonders if he'd let her get away with something like a side salad. Everything here looks so expensive, and she's counting out how many groceries she can buy for the cost of a steak when she feels Edward's lips against her neck, hand on her thigh and she jumps slightly at the ice spreading over her skin and the sudden warmth that counters it.
He can't resist it, can't stop himself from touching her, listening to the rush of blood just under her skin, and drowning in her scent. But still in control. Easier all the time. "See anything that takes your fancy?" he murmurs against her before resuming his kissing. But he pauses again, remembering her words from a few moments ago, and pulls back slightly. Just slightly.
"I apologise if I've made you feel uncomfortable." But he's grinning as he says it., not really repenting when her body reacts in such a manner.
"Ed—Edward," she murmurs, her hand clutching the menu so tightly that the edges are beginning to cut into her palm, and she cuts her eyes to him as he pulls away. If he had just muttered something like an apology to her, he certainly doesn't look like he meant it. Ducking her head, she feels herself flush even more, as she tries to blend into the dark corner as the waitress approaches – all legs and hair – and all Bella wants is to disappear.
The thoughts of their server reach Edward loud and clear and make him want to groan. She is being particularly graphic with them, and thinking disparagingly about Bella. His eyes narrow at her as she approaches and he tenses, struggling not to hold onto Bella too tightly.
"My name is Amy and I'll be your waitress this evening. Are you ready to order?" She's standing close to Edward's chair, sticking her chest out, mentally cutting Bella out of the picture.
He regards her coolly, before giving her a sinister grin and flashing his teeth. "Nothing for me." He is satisfied when she shudders slightly and her thoughts falter in fear, but it's only for a second before she dismisses it. So he tries another tactic. His earlier apology is going to be wasted, but he's sure she will forgive him. Turning back to Bella, he moves in close again, one hand on her back and the other high on her thigh. "I've already eaten."
Bella draws back to stare, wondering why he seems irritated about something. She places her hand on his visible one, tracing small, slow circles on the back it.
"What do you mean you've already e—oh!"
He's carefully sucking at her neck again, before he brings his mouth up to her ear and grazes her earlobe. His hand inches higher, fingers trailing softly over the fabric of her trousers. A smirk appears as the outraged thoughts of the waitress reach him and she again tries to get his attention, ignoring Bella's presence.
This could not be normal. There was no way that anyone could possibly be so one-minded as he was, and Bella was beginning to wonder about the point of dinner. Was it to validate what he thought was coming afterwards? That seems the only logical explanation, especially given the current location of his right hand. She sucks in a deep breath, staring hard at her menu and clamping her knees together as his fingers brush higher and higher.
"Edward." She certainly hopes that she sounds displeased with him, but she can't really make sense of tonal qualities right at that moment – all of her senses are once again consumed by him. One of her hands blindly grasps at his knee and squeezes hard, although it doesn't seem to have any effect. "Do you intend to just watch me eat again?" Her cheeks are flushed again, but embarrassment isn't the only thing that lingers there.
"I intend to do much more than that, Bella," he says idly, pulling back from her slightly and glancing around the restaurant, still ignoring the waitress who has finally focused on Bella.
"Um…do you have just spaghetti?"
They do, and it's called something infinitely more complicated, probably so that they could hike the price up. The waitress is still shooting looks at Edward, and while she can't exactly blame her, she also can't help the flickering in her chest, though she finds she can't put a name or reason to it.
And, after Amy had left, it suddenly occurs to Bella that they have no boundaries. She has no idea what is going on between them—too afraid of an ending to ask for a beginning, and so she settles on something else instead.
"She's pretty." One hand is still on Edward's knee, and begins tracing slightly higher to his thigh, her movements almost shy, before withdrawing entirely. "And I think she likes you."
He pulls his hand away from her leg. When she willingly reached out to touch him, it thrilled him and he wanted more, but he had promised to behave and so far he was breaking that promise. He removes his hands completely from her, although he still sits close by her, raising his eyebrows at her comment about the waitress.
"Was she? I thought she was obnoxious." He catches Bella in his gaze again. "Anyway, I really don't want to talk about the waitress."
"You don't seem to put much stock in talking at all."
It's out before she realises it, and her cheeks flush pink once more, darker than they were in the candlelight between the two of them. She shrinks against her chair.
She really isn't good at this whole date thing. Was this a date? His hand reaches for hers, and she gives it to him, her palm splaying open against his fingers, and a chill running up her spine as he stares at her intently - almost as though he was looking through her, at something inside of her. She ducks her head, mahogany hair curtaining her face.
They make small talk for a few minutes—or, Bella attempts to talk, but she thinks that Edward has decided words simply aren't necessary between them. What she doesn't know is that he's trying to match up her facial expressions to her words. She's like some kind of algebra equation. X equals her thoughts. But she isn't saying too much – this is just idle polite speak and for some reason that annoys him. He wants to know more.
"So Bella, how –"
Much to his irritation he is again interrupted as a glass clinks on the table and they both look up at a new waitress whose face holds a slightly frosty expression. The glass is frosted and full of a cherry-red liquid.
-not even pretty and she has these guys fawning all over her, must be a huge slut-
"From the guy at the bar." Her head snaps in the direction, and Edward recognises one of those boys from Bella's high school, his thoughts focusing on her and her lips wrapping around the straw of the glass, her lips wrapping around something else…
"I'm sorry, I don't—"
A low rumbling is coming from somewhere, and it stops Bella mid sentence. Suddenly, Edward is looking very annoyed about something.
He is unable to stop his growl, furious that he has to endure these thoughts and shoots a glare at the offending boy. Unfortunately, he's too engrossed in watching Bella. For a fleeting second, Edward decides he's going to have a word with the human boy outside and enjoy a drink from him in the style he prefers; but he has to forcibly push that decision away.
The growl that leaves Edward is long and low and Bella's legs lock, as though she's trying to keep herself in her seat. Her hand recoils slightly as his nostrils flare, before she replaces it.
Suddenly daylight and twilight are taking on entirely new meanings; she's sitting rigid in her seat and her muscles tense.
Run, run, run as fast as you can, you can't catch me--
The words died in her mind. What was she?
His voice is terse as he tries to hold onto his control. "Take it back. She – we – we're both underage. And so is the idiot" – he snarls the word – "at the bar. He has a fake ID." The gormless waitress stares at him for a moment, looking shocked, and this time he does roll his eyes. Perhaps being charming would work better? But he was getting impatient, and not in the humour to deal with this. "What are you standing there for? We don't want it." She blinks at him. "Shoo."
She finally moves then, annoyed at his rudeness even while thoughts like I'd ride him like I stole it reach him and make him cringe slightly. The drink is returned to the boy at the bar, who finally slides his eyes away from Bella only to see the very dark look directed at him from the vampire sitting next to her. Foolishly he tries to enter into a staring contest with him while the waitress examines his ID once again.
Who did this silly little human think he was? Would he have to keep his lips permanently attached to Bella for them to keep away?
That idea had its merits.
"It's really not a big deal," Bella murmurs, the snarl in his voice making her shudder slightly. He sounds possessive, like she's a toy to be brought out at will, and he'd break her before someone else ever had a chance to pull her out of her box. But he doesn't reply, still glowering at the now withering boy that she realises she vaguely recognises.
The boy loses the staring match spectacularly, which means he is also suitably distracted while the waitress shows the ID to her manager. When he notices, he begins fidgeting nervously, both at that and the death glare he's still getting from Edward.
Edward only relaxes when the boy has been escorted from the premises. The hand clenched into a fist on the table finally loosens and he looks back at Bella, wondering what she sees when she looks at him.
He's wondering why she stayed.
So he says nothing for a second, taking her hand gently in his and collecting himself before shooting a crooked grin at her. He knows she's not pleased at his behaviour and tries to smooth it out. "How did you end up in Forks, Bella? I heard that you just moved here recently." His curiosity is genuine.
She doesn't like this. The multiple personality theory presents itself again as he smiles at her - the smile that made something in her heart tug violently. Bleeding internally. Heartstrings. Something else tugs too, something vague that needs to be made clear. Nevertheless, she answers his question, deciding she will ask her own next.
"I—my mother remarried," she offers, her voice quiet, eyes large, and she is reminded of the way his voice had rolled over her name before she was pressed between him and a door handle. "Being a newlywed is hard when there's a teenager around."
Her breath comes out in one large whoosh, and she looks back at him. Still staring. Her shoulders lock, and she stares back.
"She sent you away? Because she remarried?"
"No, she didn't send me away. I felt like--I've always taken care of my mother. And now she's got someone to do it for her. Charlie needs me more." She shrugs one shoulder lightly.
There are a million questions, a million things she can and probably should ask, but her mind pulls in a different direction than the rest of her, and safe things lock in there while what are probably the most trivial leak out.
"Wh—who is Esme? Your eyes, when you talked about her. They were—different."
While she waits for his answer, a plate of spaghetti that looks as though it probably could have fed several people arrives, and her stomach rolls. She really isn't too hungry anymore. The waitress gives her a strange look, one she can't place but it seems familiar to her - perhaps an expression she'd worn at some point too - and a snippy "Anything else?"
Bella murmurs her wish for a Coke, and Amy whisks away, with decidedly less spring to her step than before. A smile crosses Bella's face as Edward's voice reverberates in her mind. "Obnoxious."
His brow furrows and he has to glance away at the mention of Esme, choosing his words carefully.
"Esme is...a mother of sorts to me. Or at least, she was. I haven't seen her in while." His voice drops. "She was always too good to me."
She frowns slightly, noticing for the first time the way that his expressions change when he talks about people he knows.
"I don't understand why--why you were so rushed, um. Earlier. If she really was a mother to you..."
Twirling spaghetti on her fork, she glances at him before taking a bite.
Leaning back into his chair, he pulls himself a little away from her, not meeting her gaze.
His mouth turns downwards, wanting to change the topic, and he thinks back to her earlier comments about coming to Forks. He was still trying to understand her thought process.
"So you chose to come here? How did your mother feel about that?"
She stiffens slightly. He's asking too many questions and not answering enough of them in return, and she remembers suddenly how he'd known her father is the chief of police.
She takes another bite of her food, unable to say anything, waiting to see if he'll say something while she sorts through her thoughts.
A smile flickers on his face for a split second at her words and the tone in her voice, but it's gone as he realises he is going to have to give her something to find out what he wants to know.
He pauses for a moment.
"Carlisle and Esme...you could call them my adoptive parents. We parted a long time ago, and not on the best terms. I regret causing them pain, but..." He trails off, lost in thought for a second, and his voice is a murmur as he seems to talk to himself. "I didn't think Esme would want to see me. But it was unfair of me to think that."
"Aren't - you must have been very young when you left them. Dr. Cullen doesn't seem like someone to hold a grudge against a little boy."
He shakes his head lightly, choosing to ignore the comment about how young he must have been. "No, Carlisle wouldn't hold a grudge against anyone. The fault was - is - mine."
It's her turn to pause then, absorbing his words before deciding to answer his own questions. Questions which are slightly odd, considering they seemed to revolved around a torn that he didn't live in.
"Well, my mom, she didn't want me to go. She felt suffocated when she - she didn't think it would be a good fit for me, here. It's different, but I'm adjusting. Weird how everyone knows who I am, though."
She looks at him pointedly, trying out her baiting skills.
Finally he looks at her again, a small smile ghosting over his face as he very easily picks up the hidden question in her words.
"You're very selfless. It couldn't have been easy for you to leave your home like that, just for your mother's happiness. There aren't many who would." A short pause. "Small towns can be like that. People find new arrivals interesting, especially when they're the daughter of the Chief of Police. Carlisle knew who you were even though he hadn't met you before. I wasn't prying exactly...just curious. I was surprised to find out you live here."
"And you're very smooth," she counters, something in his voice making her draw back, the undercurrents of the word "exactly" rushing under her fingertips between their palms, and her hand draws backwards, the pads of her fingers just barely brushing his.
A raised eyebrow is her only answer for a moment.
"You know all the right things to say to people."
She's just teasing, she thinks. But a shiver crawls slowly up her spine nonetheless.
"I've always been good at reading people. They usually aren't too hard to figure out. Nearly everyone falls into some kind of mold, making them easy to predict." His eyes narrow again. "You, however, are something of a mystery."
She flushes, thinking that's the opposite of true. She's like an open book.
"You're not exactly forthcoming either. What? Did you kill a man in Reno or something?"
A slow smile spreads across his face. "I've never been to Reno, actually. Too sunny for me." He leans back in his chair, watching her hands as she toys with her fork and represses his smirk. "I apologise Bella. I thought perhaps you would prefer me with an aura of mystery."
"Why--You want me to prefer you?"
"You are remarkably unobservant, but I really haven't ever done anything like this before. Whatever inappropriate behaviour I have displayed was all in the effort of getting you to... prefer me to likes of that idiot at the bar earlier… for example."
"I find that really hard to believe," she mumbles, before taking a sip of her drink, cutting her eyes away as he proclaims his intentions, without actually proclaiming his intentions. Then, there is a flare of indignation. "You think I would have gone for something like that if you weren't here?"
"I'm not lying, Bella," he says, more sharply than he intended. He is, after all, lying about practically everything else. "And no, I don't think you would have, but his..." - he almost says thoughts here, but catches himself - "...he wasn't trustworthy."
"I don't think most seventeen year olds who send other seventeen year olds drinks are. And then--" She stops, her hands are shaking slightly as she meets his gaze once more.
"And then there's you."
None of this makes any sense, really.
"Right." He is amused by her words. "Am I not like other boys?"
She flushes, biting her lip. Her napkin twists in her hand, and she wonders where the interrupting waitresses had all gone.
"You're..." she fishes for a word for a moment. "You're much more intense."
He can take that however he wants to. And from the flicker in his eyes, she thinks he takes it in a good way. She can't be sure, it's hard to see him in this light, which just sets her more on edge than before.
"Intense?" That also amuses him. Anyone else would probably have found his antics creepy by now, but intense appears to be a good thing.
She nods, relenting slightly as she peers up at him.
"So, if I preferred you--give me a little bit more to go on besides that you play the piano and your favourite colour is brown?"
His eyes narrow, and her pulse speeds up for a second. They're darker, they have to be darker. But he nods, and once again the first thing in her mind pops out.
"So y--you prefer the anonymity of Seattle then?"
She does too, but she's beginning to get the sense that it is for different reasons.
And then he shrugs, eyes tightening slightly as he draws his own hand away, breaking all contact between them.
"Seattle is convenient, as is the anonymity." It's easy to get lost there and make people disappear. "But I'm not really attached to the city."
She stumbles for a moment, the break in their contact flushing her skin to normal temperatures once more, and shocking her. She draws her hand to her lap, and looks down for a moment.
This is starting to get a bit creepier. Her nerve endings shiver and sing, and there's that rhyme again:
Run, run, run, as fast as you can.
Again, she knows there are a thousand things to ask, but suddenly she's not so sure of anything – how could she be when he's looking at her like that and her body is practically humming. But she's thinking about it. She's learning ways to make him confess to things but he knows how to make her shut up.
He rolls his eyes lightly at her behaviour, unable to figure out the sudden increases in her pulse, but still he finds himself smiling gently at her, and throws her a bone.
"Is there anything in particular you'd like to know?" It's probably a dangerous question.
She stills, thinking hard, realising she knows too little about him to pin down one specific thing that she wants to know.
He knows far too much about her already. She trembles slightly.
"Can't you just...talk about something? Your family, where you live, what you like to do?"
He closes his eyes for a second, contemplating what would possibly be safe to tell her.
"I'm not that interesting, really. I was born in Chicago. I don't remember my birth parents well - they died a long time ago. I don't have a family anymore, unless you count Carlisle and Esme and I'm not sure if you can. I do intend on seeing them both again soon. I have an apartment in Seattle, and I keep to myself most of the time. I like music; if I'm not playing it I'm listening to it." He shrugs as he finishes - his life really is very dull, aside from the killing and the blood drinking. He rarely has lasting contact with other people, and this is the longest conversation he'd had in years.
She draws back, inhales a sharp breath, but continues to stare straight at him. "Don't you...go to school?"
School. Of course. It isn't something he's had to think about in years. He hasn't been in a while.
"I graduated last year," he replies smoothly. "I suppose you could call this a gap year."
"A gap year full of--"
She's interrupted as Amy reappears, a new wave of confidence apparent as she positions herself flirtatiously and asks if they want anything else. Well, asks if Edward wants anything else, really.
Even Bella can pick out the innuendo lying just beneath her words.
Edward wants to scoff at her attempts. He gives her the briefest glance before turning to Bella.
"If Bella is finished, we'll just have the check, please."
"Yes," her breath comes out in a rush, and she doubts that Amy even hears her confirm that she is finished. Her fingers twitch once more, and she shoves them under the table. "Yes I'm done."
He continues to ignore the waitress until she leaves and answers the question Bella hadn't had chance to finish.
"A gap year full of music, really. And some travelling." It isn't a lie, not exactly. It is what he was doing, just for a lot longer than a year.
"Seeing your...family doesn't really count as travelling," she murmurs, glancing around nervously. It's too dark, she can't see the door.
She shouldn't be this nervous, but she should. It's nothing like the alleyway: she knows his name, his favourite colour, other things that would make her flush in broad daylight, but somehow don't here. And yet still she can't shake the anxiety.
"Do you go other places?" She's trying not to look at the number on the check as it arrives because she's sure even though it's spaghetti, it's fancy spaghetti and she'll probably see stars next to the dollar signs.
He quickly places payment in the slip, with a generous tip that probably isn't deserved. Her heart is thundering in his ears and he wonders at that, at what her thoughts could possibly be.
"I've been around most of the northern states. Canada, Alaska. Europe for a little bit - Italy, France, a few other places on the continent." Again he had been to these places, just not recently.
Hadn't she heard enough about him by now?
"Reno's too sunny, but not Italy?"
Another part of her wonders when he had time to visit all of these places, wonders if he's making things up just so she'll prefer him, even though it's certainly no longer a matter of choice anymore. It's a matter of heartstrings and blood.
Oh, if she only knew.
"Yes, I didn't like Italy that much. It isn't a place I would visit again. I enjoyed France a lot more."
Twisting slightly, he gives her what he hopes is a winning smile. He worried he's saying too much. He really doesn't want to be talking about himself at all and her heart rate still hasn't lowered. It is most distracting. "Don't you think I'm owed some questions about you now?"
"You don't know enough yet?"
Her pulse hammers through his ears again, anxious.
"I know your name, who your father is, where you go to school and what kinds of books you prefer. I don't even know your favourite colour."
"You know what kind of car I drive. And my favorite color is purple. Like thunderclouds and heat lightning."
"I would call your truck a menace," he says lightly, "but I think it might actually be a safe vehicle. I doubt it goes very fast, though."
His fist clenches involuntarily, and she moves her knee away from where it has been resting near his, to near underneath the table. The car thing isn't fair because she knows what kind of car he drives too. One too expensive, and too fast.
He frowns slightly. "You seem nervous."
"I'm just…I'm not entirely sure what's going on here. And the way you--" Overreacted would be the word, but she didn't want to say it, didn't want to see if irritation can be directed at her too. "act around other people."
Her description of her favourite colour makes him smile slightly, although it falls when she moves away and again he has to force himself to relax. This dinner is not turning out how he would have imagined. She's so hard to figure out.
"Like I said before, I find people easy to read. I suppose I just get irritated easily."
She thinks about what that means, sucking her bottom lip inward as she contemplates what he is saying. Is she irritating him? It's certainly beginning to look that way.
"You don't seem like the best person to...make mad," she agrees, fiddling with the complementary mint on the plate before popping it into her mouth, and allowing he gaze to travel upwards as he stands.
He ponders something for a second, deciding to try a different tactic as he stands up, with a look of resignation passing over his face. "I'm sorry. I haven't exactly been a gentleman. Would you like me to take you home now?"
It comes out so quickly that she isn't even sure she's said it. But she knows she didn't want him going to her house, seeing where she lives and possibly running into Charlie.
"I--I mean, you have been, I've just--this whole thing is kind of...new?"
At her quick refusal, his eyebrows raise. "I'm not letting you walk home, Bella." Although it is safer than being with him. "This is all new to me too, but it's getting dark and it isn't safe. I know that I've made you uncomfortable and I'm not going to do anything – I'll just bring you home."
She didn't have a plan, but that isn't something a quick index of 80's movies can't fix.
They begin moving towards the exit, the hostess wishing them a pleasant evening. He keeps a safe distance between them now, not wanting to crowd her, a little concerned that he is frightening her away. Holding the door open for her, they began walking and Edward tries to look contrite. It isn't a look he's mastered yet.
"It's Forks, of course it's safe. The Chief of Police comes home at six on the dot every night."
She shifts slightly closer nonetheless.
"It isn't safe, Bella. It doesn't rest easy with me to let you have to make your own way home."
"How do you know I don't live right across the--" her voice catches when she notices what is across the street. A shoe repair shop. "--street?"
He rolls his eyes at that. "I don't. Do you repair shoes at night then?" His tone is teasing, a smile playing across his lips. "If you live within walking distance I'll walk you home. If not I'll drive you." Silently he wills her to stop being so stubborn. If he hadn't already promised not to touch her he would have distracted her that way.
His formal, clipped way of speaking makes her feel like she is a child being reprimanded, and she doesn't like it.
"Well, how very 19th century of you. If Mike tries to attack me I'll make sure I mace him," she rolls her eyes this time, still not completely convinced, and slightly irritated that he seems to think she can't take care of herself. Of course there were all of those hospital visits as proof but--she'd taken care of her mother for years now.
Somewhere, far off, a wolf howls, and the sudden rush of birds from trees at the noise make her jump. Point one for Edward, although she manages to keep her voice even.
He has to smirk. Nature is on his side tonight, apparently.
"And I bake cookies in a tree during my spare time. Edward, this is--oh."
They've come to a place where abruptly the streetlights end, probably because the shops had as well, and she sucks a breath in.
He wants to ignore her protestations, but some little insecurity gets the better of him. "Are you so desperate to get away from me quickly?"
She hears him, the only sound between them the crunch of stray leaves underfoot, but she didn't know what to answer. She's being pulled both ways. Her head told her it probably isn't the wolf she needs to look out for, and if she is honest, her heart says the same. It is the rest of her that's being pesky and insisting that somehow this is okay.
As they leave the main, well-lit area, he pauses, looking at her expectantly. Regardless of what she wants, he isn't letting her go home alone. "So Bella, are we walking or driving?" He knows the answer very well, and he's going to have to watch himself around her.
She doesn't answer his next question immediately, the yes no no no yes yes no playing through her head like a symphony, though she again shifts closer to him as they walk.
"Walking," she answers finally, chin jutting suddenly in defiance. It's irritating the way he doesn't seem to think she can handle this on her own. Her fingers clench around the place where her bag should have been--before she realises that it is inside Edward's car. He'd have to see her again.
"It's through there," she mumbles as they continue on, and she nods in the direction of a road which wound through a grove of trees. As they go, her mind is coming up with places along the way where she can get Edward to separate from her.
He replies as stiffly as she. "Very well." He is very much aware of her bag back in his car, but isn't going to mention it. It gives him an excuse to see her again, and he isn't sure if she wants to see him again. He thinks back over the evening, able to see where he went wrong, and hoping he was beginning to pick up on her expressions. Time for some damage control.
"I have a problem with my temper sometimes." He glances towards her as he confesses this, taking in her expression. "I wasn't ever annoyed at you, Bella. The waitress was aggravating and I didn't appreciate another boy showing you attention like that." He frowns. "I've never been jealous before."
"You were jealous? Of...of him?"
Maybe that had been the twanging in her chest after the appearance of each and every waitress who'd been by during the course of their - her - dinner. She'd had no cause to be jealous, of course. She still has no idea what is going on between them, what he wants out of this, and that terrifies her almost as much as the ferocity in his eyes had.
"Yes, he was clearly trying to get your attention despite the fact that you were there with someone else. The fact that he sent you an alcoholic drink just exacerbated it."
He shrugs slightly, allowing himself to look slightly repentant.
"You have my attention," she mutters turning her head away from him as she said it, and they walk slowly. It's fifty/fifty now, good attention and bad too, but now she knows she means what she'd said outside of the hospital. She can't just walk away now. There's too much involved
"Is that good or bad, I wonder?" He matches her tone, his own voice quiet and he isn't sure if she hears.
They walk, still with that safe distance between them, and he gets more frustrated, wanting to say something, question her, kiss her. As he takes in their surroundings he grows more exasperated with her. It is idiocy for her to want to walk home alone in such dark and secluded surroundings. And yet it is completely sensible for her to want to be away from him. But that is the last thing he wants.
And he's thirsty again. But it's manageable for now.
The silence is almost as unnerving as his gaze, and she shivers slightly, night-time breezes passing through the air around them. He is most certainly angry with her now, she decides between nervous glances at his face. She doesn't want to know what would happen if she truly incurred wrath from him. The thought makes her shiver again, and not from the cold.
He could let her go on, let her think she was going home alone and tail her to make sure she arrives safely. Perhaps leaving her alone would be best for now. He has a reason to see her again and that would have to do for now. As things are, he's only going to get more frustrated or say something incriminating.
One final effort.
He steps in front of herm blocking her off and forcing her to a stop. She looks like she's just going to step around him, but he speaks, a pleading note in his voice. "Bella."
Her eyes had been focused on the ground, following her shoes intently, but she looks up in surprise when he moves in front of her.
Running a hand through his hair, he sighs and steps closer to her. They aren't touching, but as he speaks his breath blows into her face and his eyes bore into hers. His face is open, sincere. "I'm sorry for my behaviour. If you truly believe you're safe walking home, I'll leave you alone from here. I won't force my company on you." He shrugs, ducking his head before looking at her through his eyelashes. "I just wanted to be around you."
"Edward." It is supposed to come out in the same tone, but he's close, too close, and the heart-pounding, breath-catching nerves are setting in once more, as she breathes it out, shakily. Her eyes dart around the deserted road quickly, before his eyes pull her back in. She finds herself leaning in to him, and not entirely of her own accord either.
"You're not forcing anything. I'm still here with you, aren't I?" She reaches out to brush her hand across a jacket-covered arm, before pulling back again. "And you didn't really do anything wrong, I just—it's—you're very—" Forceful? Severe? Reactory? "—intense." Ah, the old standby then.
"And, I—I want that too," she finds herself saying, letting her hand slide between his fingers, telling herself it isn't lying if she's merely switched a couple of adjectives. Children aren't supposed to know the difference between want and need anyway, right?
"Didn't you have questions for me?" She's doing her best to be diplomatic, considering the pitch black that surrounds them.
The touch of her warm fingers sends a shock through him, and his own hand curls around hers, one side of his lips rising in a small smile as they begin walking again.
"I didn't think you really wanted to answer. I don't know what to expect with you, and I appear to be reading you wrong. I feel like everything I'm doing is wrong," he finishes with a grimace.
With her hand in his, she finds an entire side of her body following suit, frostbitten coolness passing through him into one side of her while the other remained warm. She wonders if that means something.
"Not wrong," her breath comes out in a rush of air as she remembers exactly what he'd been doing so far is wrong. "Just...just sooner than expected," she tries to explain.
He looks at her apologetically. "You aren't cold, are you?" Why on earth didn't she let me drive her home?
They continue walking, and she smiles slightly, shaking her head. "No. I don't think it's the cold, strictly." He returns her smile with that mysteriously half one of his own.
"I wasn't thinking that you'd--today at the library, I mean," she stammers. "We haven't even--well I guess now we have." And suddenly she looks up at him, quirking her mouth to the side in a half-grimace. "Even though you didn't eat anything. Unless. I mean, unless that doesn't count as a--date."
"No, I think it counts as a date," he says smoothly. "I'd like to take you out again, if you want. I promise to behave. I was very...forward, when we were at the library."
Her pulse quickens at his confirmation, and she curls her shoulders inward, sure that he can hear it--that the whole forest can hear it.
The corners of her mouth turn up. "You're not very good at keeping promises, though."
He nods in agreement with her. "Yes, I do seem to break promises. You are far too tempting. But I'll be good from now on, if that's what you want." His thumb rubs over her hand absently as he speaks.
She watches as they pass Angela's house, the high school, and realises her chances of escaping are fast escaping her, and her heart speeds up and then slows to a more normal pace at the realisation of what she is allowing herself to do.
She glances up at him.
"Kind of a long drive, though."
Her quickening pulse was like a beautiful song in his ears, and he swallows back some venom, realising he would need to hunt when he left her. He doesn't want to leave her tonight, curious as to what would pass her lips while she slept, and he's actually considering drinking from an animal just to sustain him for a few more hours. He needs to be cautious.
"I like driving," he speaks absently "The distance doesn't bother me that much. Anyway, Carlisle and Esme will probably let me stay with them, if I wanted to. I'll need to speak with them soon."
His thumb against her skin makes her swallow hard, the skin there rising up into gooseflesh as he traces small circles into the juncture between thumb and forefinger. She has to look away, knowing her face is burning again.
"There's what I want, and then there's what's a good idea," she mumbles, letting the space between the two of them increase as she drifts to the side of the road. They're now a good block and a half from Charlie's. Or, they would be if this was anything resembling a city at all.
"I think--I think here's good," she nods, trying to sound sure of herself, and not like she might get eaten by wolves in the five minute walk to her house. She draws close to him again. "Esme sounds like she loves you very much," a smile twitches at the corners of her mouth.
"Right," he murmurs serenely, letting go of her hand. He knows exactly where they were and he wonders why she doesn't want him to walk her to her door. Afraid of what her father might think?
She's still standing close to him though, and he tries to ignore that twisted feeling in his gut whenever Esme is mentioned. "She does. I don't deserve it."
As if to prove his earlier point about behaving, he takes a step back from her in the direction they had come in, shooting her a crooked grin, mentally daring her to come to him this time. He isn't sure what he'll do if she doesn't.
"Stop being such a masochist, it's really not attractive," she mutters, casting her eyes at her shoes once more.
"I'm not being a masochist, it's just the truth. Maybe I'll tell you why someday." Unlikely.
"You say that like you're going to be around for a long time." There's laughter there, spooled through her words, but underneath it, the thought both terrifies and thrills her in alternating degrees.
"So if this is the end of a date," she swallows, still unwilling to believe that she'd been on a first date and almost completely missed it. And with him, of all people.
"Kissing you after one date could get me a reputation around Forks, couldn't it?" she teases, the way his words flowed amusing her still.
She glances to her left, quickly, the porch light in her neighbour's house making her relax a little bit.
He takes another step back, amusement in his eyes, although he keeps his voice serious. "It could indeed. We can't allow that, can we?"
"Edward." She crosses her arms over her chest. "Of course now would be when you'd choose to behave."
"You'll have to forgive me if I'm getting mixed messages from you. You're hard to figure out." His tone is teasing, although he's being completely truthful. "I don't want to make you feel uncomfortable."
For every step he takes back, she takes one forward, though not quite so large as his. "I bet--" she starts, not sure if it will work, but remembering vividly the flare in his eyes. "That kid at the bar would have tried to kiss me. If I'd gone along with it."
His eyes narrow as she continues. He stops moving then, and stays still, going no closer to her.
"He would have tried a lot more than that," he mutters darkly. "Are you trying to aggravate me?"
It's easier to be around him when there's an end in sight, and the need can pulse louder than the trepidation that surrounds her. Right now her end is a porch light and his is a silver Volvo.
"Like you haven't already?" she asks, but her voice is quieter than before, and she reaches for his shirttails. "I'm just going over my options."
That's an understatement, and she sounds more confident than she actually is in the four boys who have actively taken interest in her, and the one earlier, who might just be a sign of things to come on Monday.
"And, the glaring thing is slightly uncomfortable," she adds in at the end. His eyes look more menacing that way, and she doesn't like what it does to her stomach.
He sucks in a breath as she pulls at his shirt, and fights with himself to remain still. He isn't giving in, to the thirst or to her. His own voice is equally as quiet as he looks down into her face.
"I was trying to make an effort."
"It was a nice effort," she acknowledges, nodding slightly, caught in his gaze, drifting forward as he did too.
Unconsciously, he tilts his head closer to her, leaning forward slightly. "I would have no need to glare if you didn't mention kissing other boys in front of me."
"And why not?" Her own head tilts slightly to the left, and a smile twitches at the edges of her mouth. "Since the one in front of me seems to have no interest in it."
He seems in a better mood than he had been several minutes before, and her pulse spiked with something other than fear when she realises that their noses are almost touching. She can breathe him in. And she does.
"I'm glad you appreciated it," he murmurs, returning her smile. "And I never said I had no interesting in kissing you. Could we perhaps have a signal of some kind for when you want me to behave or not? It would save me a lot of confusion."
She stiffens as she presses her lips against his briefly, unaccustomed to the icy tingle spreading across her mouth.
Her scent swims around him and her pulse hammers in his ears, and when her lips meet his that jolt from before shoots through his body. He stops thinking then, kissing her back and deepening the kiss. His hand finds its way to her hair, running through the long strands gently, while his other is on her waist, pulling her body to his.
"How about we just go with a general rule that when--" She's trying to speak against his lips, but she's cut off because he's pulling her closer, and kissing her so deeply that she breathes him and not air. Her hand moves to rake through that odd-coloured hair of his as she presses up against him, and then rests against the side of his face.
She can feel goosebumps begin to break out on the top of her hand, a chill spreading through her fingers, so she moves away slowly, temperatures adjusting, and then blinks up at him. "That counts as a first-date kiss, right?" She can't help but notice that he looks pained, jaw tight, teeth clenching and she feels a shiver leak through her once more, before he opens his eyes and stares down at her.
He's making sure he's still in control. He wants so much more than this, but he will have to be satisfied for now. A few second later, confident in himself again, he smiles down at her.
"Yes, I think it does."
He lets the fingers that had been in her hair move to her face, trailing across her cheek before he leans in again, kissing it and then her lips softly.
He is still smiling as they separate.
"Good night, Bella. I'll see you soon."
It isn't a question.
She blinks at him as he says goodnight, shoving her hands back into the pockets of her jacket, her fingers warming considerably.
As she turns, she stumbles slightly, toe catching on a crack in the old pavement, and catches herself quickly, her cheeks flushing as she thinks something along the lines of how it figures.
She only turns back to look at Edward once more.
"I expect you to turn around and walk the other way as soon as I do."
Only a small part of her would mind if he stays and watches her move all the way into the warm light of her home.
First of all, thank you to the lovely ladies who beta'd this chapter: KTBass, and adair7. If you're not reading their stories, you should be -- Flannelward's mine though, that's all I'm saying. Also, a shoutout to michellephants, cause she asked for one, and because she bullied me into uploading the chapter, and for that, I thank her.
I hope we haven't lost our touch after all these months! Review and let us know what you thought!