"And every time I see your face,
The ocean heaves up to my heart,
You make me wanna strain at the oars, and soon
I can see the shore."
-'Life is Like a Boat' by Rie Fu
"I don't understand why I have to get dressed up for this," I pouted, fiddling with them hem of my dress. My two best friends had quite literally wrestled me into a turquoise, skimpy number that came mid-thigh. They said it had a bubble-skirt. I thought it made my butt look big.
Alice Brandon, fashionista and best friend numero uno, stood behind me working through chunks of my limp, dark brown hair with a big curling iron. It was roughly the size of a rolling pin and looked way too heavy for little Alice to hold upright, let alone wield with such precision.
"You have to get dressed up for this, Isabella Marie, because you never know who you are going to meet," Alice said in a deadly voice, attacking my hair once again.
I sighed and rolled my eyes. "Alice, I'm not going to meet anyone important, it's a stupid carnival! Who am I going to meet there?"
"You never know," Alice said cryptically.
I groaned and tried to bury my head in my hands but then Rosalie walked into my room and pointed a finger at me, "Don't you dare mess up your makeup, Bella. Do not touch your face."
"Maybe you both should just get me one of those plastic cones they put on dogs so they don't bite their wounds," I shot back sardonically, feeling annoyed and childish.
Rosalie scoffed. She didn't understand. Of course she didn't. Rosalie, best friend numero dos, should've been a model but was a mechanic. She always got everything. All the boys, the pretty looks, everything. I would have been jealous of her, but I realized a long time ago that I had no desire to garner the attention Rosalie got. I would probably have a permanent blush if I did.
"Jesus, Bella, you need to realize that you're young, hot and single; guys have to be stupid to not want to get a piece of that," Rosalie said. She was usually a very refined young woman with her upstate New York accent—but occasionally she was crass. More than occasionally actually, but I digress.
"What if I don't want guys to notice me?" I asked.
Rosalie picked up a handful of Q-tips form Alice's makeup bag and threw them at me. "Shut up, Bella."
"Hey!" I exclaimed, "One of those went down my cleavage! I'm going to be picking Q-tips out of my dress all night!" I fussed at them, trying to throw the little white sticks into the trash can.
Rosalie shrugged nonchalantly, "Bella, do you want to be alone for the rest of your life? Do you want to be a crazy old spinster with a hundred cats whose names you don't even remember so you have to make a spreadsheet of all of their names and descriptions so you can keep track of them all?"
Alice and I stared blankly at her before erupting in giggles. "Oh God, Rose, I don't think I'm that bad!"
"If you keep shying away from male attention that's exactly how you'll end up," she said matter-of-factly, crossing her arms over her chest.
All of us were dressed up for this dumb carnival in town, it opened at seven in the evening and closed in the wee hours of the morning. It boasted to be the perfect date spot—so that was why we three single ladies were going. I didn't quite understand why we were going if we were single, but Alice and Rosalie seemed to think it would be a good place to meet single guys who were scoping out all of the ladies in town.
Call me crazy, but that sounded like screwy logic.
But, despite my thinking it was a bad idea, we all had decided that we would go just once to see if their diabolical plan for romance worked.
Rosalie stood leaning against my closet door, looking dangerous in a pair of red skinny jeans and one of those short vests that normal people wore over white dress shirts. Rosalie wore it sans the white dress shirt, just her bare skin underneath. Somehow she managed to make it look not only non-skanky but absolutely stunning.
Alice wore a dress like me. But that was where the similarities ended. Hers was shorter than mine and cut differently; it flared out around the bottom but hugged her body up top. She was petite with slight curves so she looked gorgeous. It was a plum colour that accented the brown flecks in her hazel eyes and the dark tones of her short hair.
And then there was me. With huge barrel-curls that would probably be frizzy by the end of the night, wearing my blue dress and a pair of silver ballet flats.
As much as I hated to admit it, I did look pretty good.
"Alright, ladies, are we ready to head out?" Rosalie asked, pulling the keys of her red convertible out of her pocket. She jingled them at us and smiled like the Cheshire cat.
"Yep, Bella's ready and looking hot, you're ready and looking hot, I'm ready and definitely looking hot," Alice said, checking over the three of us, she nodded pleased; and then we filed out of my room.
I sat in the backseat of Rosalie's M3 convertible, praying that I didn't make a fool of myself at the carnival. I knew there were carnival games and kissing booths and those hokey, rickety rides that I usually threw-up on…and that didn't sound too romantic.
Nothing romantic about throwing up after riding the Tilt-O-Whirl. I probably wouldn't be able to ride the Tilt-O-Whirl anyway, at least not in my dress; people would get flashed for sure.
We arrived soon and I could feel the dread settle into my stomach like I'd just eaten a pound of lead. I felt cumbersome and tired already, my hands shook. I hated being out in public looking so un-me-like. It just made me feel fake. I hoped Rosalie and Alice wouldn't be too disappointed if I spent my entire night in the House of Mirrors staring at all the possible me's. The short ones, the fat ones, the skinny ones—maybe if I were different things would be easier…
Alice hooked her arm with mine and pulled me towards the front gate, snapping me out of my self-destructive thoughts. She paid for our three tickets, considering I wasn't gainfully employed as she was and it would've been tacky for her to just pay for me and not Rosalie.
We made our way through the gate, the bored teenage boy at the gate stamped our hands with some gritty black ink that indicated we were at Sunny Days Amusement Park. I snorted. Lame name for an amusement park only open at night.
"Oh! I want to get a kiss!" Alice exclaimed out of the blue. I snapped my head to see where she was pointing. There was a young man standing somewhat nervously behind a wooden sign that proclaimed: "Kisses $1 each".
Alice pranced right up to the poor, shell-shocked fellow and said that he should up his price; he was handsome enough that she would pay ten bucks to kiss him. He looked flabbergasted.
"I, uh, thank you, ma'am," he said with a sexy country-singer accent.
Alice pulled a tell dollar bill out of her bra, a serious and determined look on her face. She handed it to the young man, "Here, I want my kiss now."
He opened and closed his mouth a few times, fingers wrapped loosely around the money. He managed to smile at my crazy, petite friend before he bent forward and kissed her on the mouth he pulled away quickly, self-consciously.
"I paid ten bucks for that, you can do better," Alice said, hands on her hips.
The poor man looked so bewildered. He ran a hand through his shaggy blonde hair, his bright green eyes apprehensive. His eyes took on a determined glint and he bent forward again, this time wrapping one arm loosely around Alice's waist the other gently cradled the back of her neck. He kissed her fervently; it made me blush to watch.
Alice pulled away breathless, a big grin on her face. She stood on her tip toes and tugged on the man's collar. She whispered something in his ear and then giggled and danced back to Rosalie and me.
I glanced back at the man who was staring at the ten dollar bill in his hand intently.
"What did you tell him?" I asked warily as she smiling in satisfaction.
"I told him that I wrote my cell-phone number and name on the bill and that if he wanted a repeat he could give me a call any time," she said with a breathless giggle.
Rosalie and I laughed at her. Alice was always so forward—always got what she wanted. She always took the direct approach to everything and it worked for her. Another glance over my shoulder told me that this was another one of her conquests; the blonde at the kissing booth had his phone out, programming her number into his cell.
We continued walking through the carnival, having a relatively good time. A couple of guys hit on us—but nobody was really date-worthy. But it was still flattering to be flirted with.
Rosalie had gone off to try her hand at one of those strength test things with the giant hammer where you hit the piece at the bottom, sending the little metal piece up to ring the bell at the top. Alice and I sat at a picnic table—keeping a wary eye on Rosalie and the men staring unabashedly at her—sharing a funnel cake with powdered sugar and melted chocolate on top.
"Oh, she's up next—after the buff steroid guy," Alice said, ripping a hunk of cake off and moping up some excess chocolate sauce off the plate before popping it into her mouth.
Buff steroid guy had been one of the men staring at our blonde bombshell. He had hustled his butt in line when he saw Rosalie approach—undoubtedly to show off his carnival game prowess.
"Five bucks says he doesn't even get the thing half way," Alice said, sipping a Coke daintily.
"You never know, he's trying to impress Rosalie I bet he'll get it more than half way," I said, rooting for the poor sap who was trying to win our Rose over.
Alice sighed, "Crap, I bet you're right and I gave all of my spending money to the hottie at the kissing booth. Here, if I win you have to agree to go on a blind date with my cousin who's coming to town this weekend—"
I groaned, "Alice I'm not going out with your cousin! I already told you no!"
"Nope, we're making a bet here so shush," she said quirking an eyebrow at me and daring me to argue, when I kept my mouth shut she continued, "so if I win and Muscles over there fails you have to go out with Edward. If I lose then you can choose where we go next in the carnival and I won't set you up on a blind date with Eddie."
I sighed, it felt like a lose-lose situation. If I lost I lost big time. I hate blind dates, and going out with a best friend's family member is about as disastrous as they come. But if I won the bet then I got a measly prize. But Alice wasn't one to back down so I reached across the table and shook her hand, praying hard that Muscles' muscles weren't just for show.
They weren't. He heaved the hammer over his head and then fluidly brought it down to the bottom panel, a satisfied grin on his face when he hit the bell at the top. He turned to Rosalie and handed her the hammer, stepping aside with a challenging look on his face. He said something to her that got her riled up. She glared and wound up, hitting the bottom panel as hard as she could.
Rosalie was deceptively muscular from working in a garage pretty much all of her life. She easily hit the bell at the top. She flipped her long blonde hair over her shoulder and turned to Muscles. He quickly rearranged his face from a look of shock to an easy grin, showing off a set of dimples that probably were his greatest weapon against the opposite gender.
But Rosalie wasn't easily swayed, not even by a pretty face.
She said something to him, and he nodded. She smiled at him, a smoldering grin that she reserved for the boys that she really liked. Perhaps Muscles was a charmer as well as a show-off.
She waved to him and came over to us, "That was Emmett McCarty; I'm fixing his Jeep at the shop. I knew I recognized him from somewhere."
I nodded, "So what'd he say to you that go you so upset?"
"He said, 'Take it easy, Princess, wouldn't want you to break a nail'." She said, shaking her head. Alice and I both chuckled—if there was one thing Rosalie hated it was chauvinistic pigs.
"So what did you say to him after you hit the bell?" Alice asked.
"I told him to never underestimate a strong woman," Rosalie said. I doubted those were her exact words. But what she said was probably unfit to print so I didn't pry.
"So why does he look so happy?" Alice asked, staring at Muscles—Emmett—over Rosalie's shoulder.
"Because he asked for my number, and I told him he already had it," she said with a shrug. "He has my business card because I'm fixing his car so I told him to give me a call."
"Rosalie Hale! I can't believe you actually told a guy to give you a call!" Alice said in a proud, motherly tone.
Rose shrugged, "He's hot. What can I say?"
Alice smiled, "So I've had a romantic encounter with Kissing Booth Hottie, and Rosalie got to tease Emmett, so Bella's the only one left."
I sighed, "I won our bet Alice, so I get to pick what we do next."
"What bet?" Rosalie asked, narrowing her eyes as she looked between the two of us.
"I said I didn't think Emmett could hit the bell, Bella thought he could—Bells won so she gets to pick what we do next," Alice said, pouting at me.
"Oh, so Bella, what do you want to do?" Rosalie asked.
"I want to do something tame, I want to be able to sit down and not have to worry about anything."
"How about we ride the swans?" Rosalie suggested.
"What swans?" I asked, finishing off the funnel cake and stealing a drink from Alice's Coke.
"They have these little swan boats that take you inside of this tunnel. It should be cool in there you'll be able to relax," Rosalie suggested.
"Alright, we'll go to the swans," I said but I caught a mischievous glance that passed between my two supposed best friends. "What's going on?"
"Nothing," they both replied too quickly. I was suspicious of this. It didn't sound good, but I had no idea what the heck they were up to and I knew them well enough to know they weren't going to tell me. I sighed and lowered my head in defeat.
"Let's just get this over with," I grumbled getting up to dump the plate and Coke can into the garbage.
Alice led the way to the swan boats while I thought of a hundred possible scenarios of what they could do to me on a boat.
And then I knew why they were snickering. Because I wouldn't be riding the boat with them. I would be riding it with some strange guy.
The ride had two lines were roped off by gender. Boys on one side of a tall wall, girls on the other. You didn't know who you were riding with until you go to the very front of the line, well after escape was out of the question.
"I refuse to do this," I said, planting my feet as they tugged on both of my arms.
"Isabella Marie Swan, you get in this line this instant before I throw you over my shoulder and carry you in," Rosalie said in a lethal tone.
I paled and scampered into the line. Rosalie's threat had garnered the attention of several men who were eyeing the hemline of my dress greedily. I held it down with two hands and ran as fast I could without tripping into the line.
Rosalie and Alice walked in behind me.
I turned around and glared, "Just so you know, I hate the both of you and after this ride I'm looking for two new best friends."
"Have you ever considered, dear sweet naïve Bella, that maybe this is for your own good?" Alice asked with an angelic smile.
"Have you ever considered, cunning conniving evil Alice, that maybe the guy I'll get paired with is an axe-murderer and rapist?"
Alice and Rosalie rolled their eyes in unison, "You're being melodramatic. Calm down, take a deep breath and think positive! Repeat after me: I will have fun."
"Repeat it!" Alice commanded, planting her fists on her hips and jutting her chin out.
"I will have fun," I grumbled.
"I will be nice to whomever I am paired with."
"I will be nice to whomever I am paired with."
"I will not stammer or monopolize the conversation with such boring topics as Jane Austen, classic literature of the Victorian era, or cooking secrets I've learned from watching Food Network."
"Alice, I'm not repeating that. Have a little faith in me." I whined.
Alice glared but didn't make me repeat the ridiculous statement. She pushed me forward as the line moved.
Rosalie stepped up behind me and started to massage my shoulders. She bent her head to whisper to me, "Alright Bells, you're gonna do great out there. Just be yourself. Make me and Mama Alice proud. You can do it!"
I wasn't convinced by her pep talk. Adrenaline pounded into my veins, making me feel cold and tingly all over. My stomach was squirming inside me and I started to regret eating that funnel cake. I hoped it wouldn't make a reappearance. Funnel cake would not be fun to upchuck over the side of a tiny boat in a dark tunnel with a complete stranger beside me.
"Bella, you look a little green are you sure you're ok?" Alice asked from somewhere behind me but I was starting to feel a little weak at the knees from being so blindingly nervous.
"I can't do this—what if I make a fool of myself," I choked out.
"You can do this, Bella. I know we tease you but you're a sweet, beautiful woman. You're capable and lovable. If the guy you get paired with doesn't like you then it's his loss, honey." Alice said, sobered from her earlier taunting.
"Alice is right, Bella. Just be yourself. This guy could be a dud or The One, you never know. But you'll never find out unless you give it a try," Rosalie encouraged, giving me a quick hug.
I was so nervous, fidgeting with the end of my dress. "You two go first," I said, pushing them in line in front of me.
They didn't argue and moved ahead of me in the line. Rosalie was first to go, she was paired with a boy about a head shorter than her who looked like he was as nervous as I was. He tried to greet her and shake her hand but his hand was trembling so bad that he couldn't even reach out to take her head.
I heard a rumbling chuckle from the other side of the tall partition and then the poor kid was pushed out of the way by a big arm followed by a hulking frame. Emmett stepped up in line and offered Rose his arm.
"Sorry kid," he said to the still-shaking teenager, "better luck next time."
The poor boy scrambled out of line and ran off as Emmett boomed another laugh. Rosalie shook her head but look pleased. The ride attendants held their boat steady as Emmett helped Rosalie in and then climbed in after her. He wrapped and arm around her shoulders and turned to Alice and I to wink before their boat was pushed down the tunnel.
"Well that was interesting," Alice remarked mildly.
"Miss, you're next in line," the girl working the ride said. Alice stepped forward and the kissing booth man materialized from the other side of the wall. Alice looked thrilled.
He bent and whispered to her, "I paid the attendant to let me ride with you, Alice."
Alice beamed at him and reached up for a kiss. He happily obliged. He started to lead her to the side of the little man-made river winding into the tunnel but she held up one finger for him to wait. She peaked around the side of the wall and her face lit up. She bounced on the balls of her feet and gave me a thumbs-up.
I sighed, not knowing if that was a good or bad sign.
"So what's you're name?" She asked, turning to the blonde as he wrapped his arm around her waist and helped her into their little wooden bird.
"Jasper Whitlock," I heard him say as they pushed off.
I was so nervous as I waited for the next boat to come around. I fiddled with the ends of my long hair. I counted backwards from 100. And said as much of the Periodic Table of Elements as I could remember.
My stomach dropped to my feet as I saw the head of the white swan boat emerge from the tunnel.
The attendant motioned for me to come forward but I stood rooted in place. I was so afraid.
Suddenly the most handsome man I'd ever seen before in my entire life was standing in front of me.
"Are you alright?" He asked. "I'm next in line on this side, so I guess we're riding together."
His brilliant green eyes darted around and he tapped the tips of his Converse sneakers against the ground. He wouldn't meet my eyes.
He was nervous, too.
"Yeah, I uh, I'm a little nervous about this, I guess," I stammered.
"Me, too. My friends made me get in line for this," he said, glaring at the harmless boat.
"Mine, too. They were the two girls ahead of me in line."
"Yeah, my friend Jasper works here at the ridiculous kissing booth—he saw Alice get in line so he dragged me and Emmett over her for moral support." He said, a little uncomfortably. His hands were shoved deep in the pockets of his dark wash jeans.
I nodded, "Yeah, Alice was really excited to ride this thing with him."
"She's a pistol that Alice," he said shaking his head.
I blinked a few times, "You know her?"
"Excuse me," a rude young woman said from the line behind me, "you're holding up the ride get in the stupid boat already."
"Sorry," the man apologized dipping his head. I noticed how beautiful his hair was, a reddish brown colour, like pennies and mahogany mixed together. He pressed a soft hand against the small of my back and led me forward.
I grabbed his hand tenaciously as he helped me into the boat. The last thing I needed was to have a klutzy moment and fall into the water right in front of the human incarnation of a Greek god.
He got into the boat beside me, keeping a safe distance between the two of us. The boat had foot paddles like a bicycle so we both put our feet on them and rowed through the tunnel. It was a straight shot so we didn't have to steer.
"So how do you know Alice?" I asked after a few minutes of riding through the unnervingly dark tunnel.
He turned to look at me, his eyes were unnaturally bright in the dim light, "She's my cousin."
"Oh my God!" I exclaimed turning to stare at him, "You're Edward!"
"Yes, yes I am," he said a little nervously, his beautifully sculpted mouth turned down slightly at the corners.
"She was trying to set me up on a blind date with you this weekend!" I exclaimed, pointing an accusing finger in his direction.
He looked a little taken aback but then his surprised expression smoothed out, "Then you must be Bella."
"Yes, that's me," I said.
Edward laughed a little, "Well, I must admit I've been a fool to turn down the date Alice set us up on."
I titled my head to the side, staring at him, "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Nothing bad," he said quickly, "it's just…I wouldn't have weaseled my way out of the date had I known you were such a beautiful young lady."
I was thankful that we were in such a dark, ominous tunnel, then. He couldn't see my insufferable blush.
"Well, if it's any consolation to you," I said, feeling bold, "had I known you were a charming, handsome man I wouldn't have whined to Alice to not make me go out with you."
"Well, we're quite the pair then," he said with a friendly chuckle.
"Yep," I agreed, nodding my head.
There was a long, awkward silence where neither Edward nor I could think of anything to say. I could feel static zip amid the small canyon between us. My stomach was knotting again, but this time it wasn't nerves. It was hope and want. I wanted Edward to close the gap between us. I wanted to be as bold as Alice and get a kiss from him. And I wanted Edward to want all the things I wanted!
"Wouldn't Alice be surprised," he said, his voice sounded odd after such a long pause in conversation, "if she didn't have to be the one to set us up on a date?"
He didn't just ask me out…did he? Not that I would know with my limited dating experience.
I looked at him with cautious curiosity.
He looked at me with guarded hope.
I smiled and he replied with his own blinding, beautiful, crooked grin.
"So, Edward, should we surprise Alice, then?" I asked, trying to act cool but my voice quavered a little.
"I think we should," he said, brushing some of my hair away from my face. I could see the mouth of the tunnel come at us fast as we floated toward the end of the ride. But I really didn't care because Edward—handsome Edward, Alice's cousin Edward, blind-dating ditching Edward—was leaning his face towards mine.
We were out into the moonlight now, at the end of the ride. But I really didn't care because Edward was a phenomenal kisser.
I had this idea for a one-shot a while ago. I actually think I wrote it before 'Hey Chicago What Do You Say', but I wanted to post that one first because it actually had more than one chapter. And I was kind of saving this one, because this is one of my favourite one-shots. It was a lot of fun to write.
[shameless plug] If you haven't read CREEPING DOSE go read it, and once you're done reading it go VOTE for it on bronzehairedgirl620's profile!![/shamelss plug]
Oh! A ton of random things in this story came from Real Life, I actually made a list of things in this story based on things that have happened to me [no, unfortunately I have not been paired in one of those love boat things with a Real Life Edward. Life sucks, I know.]. Actually some of the random things Rose and Alice say are things my friends have said. The funniest one would probably be:
"Bella, do you want to be alone for the rest of your life? Do you want to be a crazy old spinster with a hundred cats whose names you don't even remember so you have to make a spreadsheet of all of their names and descriptions so you can keep track of them all?" I swear to God, I once had a substitute teacher that did this. One of my teachers a couple years back got pretty sick towards the end of the year so my class saw its fair share of subs, this particular one monopolized the entire class time telling us about her 100+ cats. At least she was better than the one lady we convinced that one of our classmates had died and that we were all in mourning. Some other little things have been taken from Life but this one is probably the funniest.
And for those of you who are missing reading full-length chapter stories from me, fear not! I have one in the works! I've written the first five chapters thus far and I'm pretty sure you guys are going to like it! If you want, say in your review you want a preview of it and I'll send you a preview in my review reply!
Thanks for reading! Please review!