I know I promised you a reunion in this chapter and it does happen, but, most of it will occur in the next chapter. Sorry! Bella just wouldn't shut up so you're getting more of the lead up than I expected. On the other hand, since Bella is just babbling away at me right now, Chapter 4 is almost done, so the next update should be soon!
"What's wrong?" Alice asked.
"Nothing's wrong," I answered.
"Who are the tickets from?" she wanted to know.
"Remember I told you I used to date a musician…" I began
"You dated one of the guys in Radiohead?!" Alice shrieked.
"No, Alice, of course not. I dated the keyboard-player-slash-singer from a group called Revamp. They're touring with Radiohead and Edward sent me tickets to see the show. Geez, I haven't heard from him in two years."
"Nice gift from some guy you dated a few years ago."
"Yeah, well, I guess we did more than date…" I hesitated. I never shared this story with my roomies and I knew that they'd be hurt I lied about such a significant relationship in my life.
"What does that mean, 'more than date'?" Alice wanted to know.
"I um… I sorta' lived with him for three years." I ducked my head to avoid looking Alice in the face and waited for the explosion. Nothing.
I raised my head.
"ISABELLA MARIE SWAN!"
There it is.
"You were with some guy for three years and never told us about him? How could you?"
"Actually, Alice, we were together for almost seven years. I only lived with him for three."
I'd done the impossible. I'd stunned Mary Alice Brandon into complete silence.
The next few hours were spent in awkward silence. Alice didn't say anything to me. She walked around our apartment with a dazed look on her face. She looked at me a couple of times and I braced myself for her words, but they never came.
"I'm home, bitches!" Rosalie sang out when she arrived.
I stood to grab her, but Alice was faster. She jumped on Rosalie and dragged her into her bedroom before I could say a word. She slammed the door and I could hear mumbling on the other side. I didn't try to hide my eavesdropping. I stood right outside the door and strained to hear, but I couldn't make out a word Alice was saying.
"WHAT?!" Delightful – that outburst was from Rosalie. Both their voices dropped into the mumbling range again. It was 20 minutes later when the door finally opened. I had already given up and was sitting at the kitchen table with my head on my arms. The two of them marched up to me.
"So, Bella…" Alice began.
"Listen, guys, I'm sor-" I began.
Alice waved her hands in front of me.
"No time for apologies, Bella. You do owe us, however. Now spill. We want details, Isabella, details."
I sighed and started talking. I told them everything about meeting Edward, our first real date, our first time. I told them about how smart and talented he was. I talked about his band mates. I shared stories about the early shows and my decision to move in with him when I graduated. I told them about my father's disapproval and my growing discontent. They nodded with understanding when I told them how I broke his heart and left him to live a new life with Jake. They listened.
I had never really discussed my relationship with Edward with anyone. Sitting with my two best friends, watching their sympathetic expressions and seeing their understanding as all my old memories were brought back to the surface was overwhelming. I'd be lying if I said I hadn't ever thought about Edward in these last two years. I had made a conscious decision not to keep track of the band when I left him. I wanted a clean break. I had never tried to contact him, even when I broke it off with Jake, and this was his first effort to contact me as far as I knew.
Rosalie spoke first, "So, what do you want to do about the tickets?"
I considered her words. I had avoided thinking about the invitation since it arrived. I had always been sure that Revamp would be big one day. It seems they had taken a step in that direction opening for a band as well-known as Radiohead. Despite the uncomfortable break up and the years apart, I still wished them success. I had no reason to avoid the show.
"I think I'd like to go. What about you two? Would you like to go with me?"
"Uh, yeah," Alice answered like I was foolish for even asking.
"Who else are you going to take?" Rosalie wanted to know. I considered. Rose and Alice were a given, but I still had another ticket – who among my many acquaintances would appreciate tickets to the show?
"Ben," I decided.
"Bella," Alice began, "I don't think that taking a date to the concert would be appropriate."
"Ben wouldn't be a date," I explained, "He really likes Radiohead and would appreciate the experience."
Alice looked dubious, but Rose nodded, "Makes sense," she said.
Three weeks later the four of us piled into Ben's car and headed to the show. Parking was a nightmare, but we'd left early enough to ensure we'd get to our seats before the opening act took the stage.
"Should we go backstage first?" Ben asked. He was incredibly psyched about meeting Radiohead.
I wasn't sure. I had access to backstage whenever I wanted when I used to go to Edward's shows. I was pretty sure a venue like this had more stringent rules.
"Um, I don't know."
"Maybe it would be better if you waited until your ex finished his set?" Rosalie offered.
Ben looked disappointed but eventually nodded. The four of us made our way to our seats. We had an amazing view. I'd have to remember to thank Edward for the tickets.
I'd spent the better part of the last three weeks thinking about Edward, how he was doing, how the band was doing. I wondered if they'd done a lot of traveling. I especially wondered why he'd sent me the tickets. We hadn't parted on the friendliest of notes. Actually, we hadn't spoken once since I left the apartment we shared.
As show time approached I found myself getting a little nervous. I was probably over thinking it. I'm sure he was simply proud of his success and wanted to share it with me. I glanced over at Alice. She was chewing her lip and looking at the stage thoughtfully. When she caught me looking at her she forced a smile.
"What's wrong?" I asked her.
"Nothing, really. I'm just getting a strange vibe." It wasn't like Alice to discount her 'feelings' about a situation. She had an uncanny knack for knowing how situations were going to turn out. I'm sure she'd tell me if there was something serious brewing.
The lights in the theater dimmed and the noise level rose and then dropped as people got ready for the show. My nervousness dropped away as I listened to Revamp's introduction. When the guys bounded onto stage there was a definite swell of sound – women screaming. I briefly remembered the women who'd throw themselves at Edward when he played. Oddly enough I felt a little hitch of jealousy. I laughed to myself. I certainly had no right to those feelings anymore. I tried to examine their source, but came up empty handed.
"Who's the girl?" Rose yelled over to me.
"Who?" I yelled back. The volume was deafening.
"The girl!" Rose yelled pointing to the stage, "You didn't mention a girl in the band."
I focused on the stage. Sure enough there was a woman standing up front playing bass. In the past the guys used a studio bass player. Sometimes Jasper, the lead guitarist, would play bass. Even Edward could, but they never had a dedicated bass player. I watched the girl as she moved across the stage towards Jasper as he sang. As the chorus started she leaned forward and Jasper shifted so they could share the mike.
She was good. Her voice rang clear and strong. I didn't recognize the song and wondered when they had added it to their repertoire. Alice was on her feet bouncing to the music. Ben and Rose both seemed to be enjoying the music. Suddenly I realized that I had avoided looking at Edward so far. I let my eyes drift over to him on the left side of the stage. He looked… well, amazing.
Nothing seemed to have changed about him in the last two years. His hair stuck up in its usual disarray, he was wearing a well worn black t-shirt and dark jeans. I watched his hands fly over the keyboard as he leaned into his mike. I concentrated and was able to pick his voice out of the larger sound. I closed my eyes and reveled in his voice.
The first song ended and the audience began shrieking again. Ben leaned over to me. "They're good!" he shouted. I just nodded.
Jasper sang lead on three more songs, helped out occasionally by the girl I didn't know. These three songs I recognized from my days with Edward. The nostalgia of hearing them again was getting to me. Although they weren't particularly emotional songs I found my throat tightening. After the third one, Jasper raised his arms over his head and starting talking with the crowd.
"We want to thank everyone for coming tonight. We are Revamp." He paused to acknowledge the cheering crowd. "We hope you enjoyed our part of the show. I am Jasper Whitlock. That's Emmett McCarty on drums." Emmett waved his sticks to the crowd as another cheer went up. Jasper continued, "Give it up for Angela Weber on bass!" Angela played a couple of bars in acknowledgement of her cheers. "And, finally, last but not least, Edward Cullen on keyboard." The shrieking started again and I checked the jumbo screen. The camera had moved close to Edward's face and his grin was larger than life on the monitor. He was obviously enjoying himself. I'm not sure if it was my imagination, but it seemed to take a bit longer for the crowd to settle down after Edward's introduction. He exchanged glances with Jasper. Jasper chuckled into the microphone.
"He's single, ladies!" Edward's grin got bigger as he shook his head in disbelief at Jasper's statement and the renewed screaming from the women in the crowd. I wondered if it were true. It was good for the fans to believe the various musicians in the band were single. Edward was never allowed to acknowledge me as his girlfriend when he was playing.
"Settle down, settle down," Jasper joked with the crowd. The camera moved off Edward and panned the stage. All four of them looked keyed up.
"We've got one more song to sing for you tonight. Our first studio album is set to drop next month but you lucky people get to hear the first single tonight – here's Edward singing 'All That's Left.'" With that Jasper stepped back from the mike and started strumming his guitar. Emmett picked up the beat and Angela joined in the music. The camera moved back to Edward's face. His eyes were closed as his hands moved slowly over the keys. After a lengthy introduction he began to sing…
She walked out on a Sunday afternoon
Stripped my heart bare and
Left me to my doom
Broken pieces are all that's left…
I'd never heard this song before. I listened as Edward continued to sing. The melody was haunting. I was aware of Alice looking at me, but I couldn't drag my eyes away from the screen that hovered over the stage. While I had shared much with my roommates about my time with Edward over the past three weeks, I hadn't been too specific. They didn't know, for example, that Jake picked me up from Edward's on a Sunday afternoon. I wasn't even sure if Edward knew that. He never returned to the apartment after our last conversation, which took place on a Friday night.
The music swelled as it neared the end and Edward wound down…
Pictures of her are all that's left…
Mem'ries of us are all that's left…
The scent of her hair – all that's left…
All that's left… all that's left…
The music trailed off and the crowd began to cheer again. Edward opened his eyes and a grin spread across his face. Emmett stood up and Jasper waved to the crowd once more. The four of them moved to the front of the stage and acknowledged the cheers of the crowd. I thought I saw Edward scan the crowd in our direction, but was pretty sure he couldn't really see anything from the stage with the lights shining down. After one final wave the four of them made for backstage.
"C'mon, Bella, let's go!" Ben was tugging on my arm and dragging me into the aisle.
"Where are we going?" I asked him. He looked at me incredulously and grabbed the pass around his neck.
"I thought you wanted to watch Radiohead play," I reminded him.
"Are you kidding? The show is much better from backstage. Let's go!"
I followed my friends into the aisle and we made our way to a security guard. I could see Rose talking to the guard and gesturing to her pass. He nodded his head and pointed saying something I couldn't hear. Rose thanked him and led us into the lobby and down the hall. She stopped at a door marked "Employees only." Another guard stood here. He greeted us with a nod and used a handheld scanner to check our passes. When all of us were cleared he opened the door and we stepped backstage.
I'd been backstage at the guys' shows at small venues but this was completely different. People were running everywhere. Very expensive looking equipment was visible in every direction. I craned my neck but couldn't see anyone I recognized.
We threaded through the aisles and pathways rubbernecking for all we were worth. Coming across a relatively dark and quiet hallway the whole group paused. Alice and Rose were on their tiptoes scanning backstage while Ben's eyes were fixed on the empty stage where Radiohead would soon be playing.
A ruckus sounded behind me and a stagehand yelled, "Outta' the way!" The four of us scattered to clear the end of the hall as the musicians from Radiohead filed past us. Ben was stunned. Rose and Alice were bobbing up and down in excitement. I glanced back down the hallway and saw light pouring out of three or four open doors. I thought I recognized Emmett standing in one of the doorways, but whoever it was stepped inside and closed the door behind himself before I could be sure.
The last of the stagehands was walking past me when I grabbed him suddenly.
"Hey, can you tell me where the guys from Revamp are?"
The hand gave me a quick once over before indicating the hallway behind me with a quick jerk of his thumb.
I yelled, "Thanks," but he was already gone following the headliners towards the stage. The four of us gathered together and started down the hall. The first door we passed flew open suddenly and I jumped in surprise, losing my balance. Ben caught me around the waist before I could fall and the four of us froze. Standing in the doorway, larger than life, was Emmett. It had been Emmett I'd seen earlier. He had a huge grin on his face.
"Bells!" he boomed stepping back and making a sweeping motion with his arm, welcoming us into the room.
"Emmett!" I couldn't help myself the fangirl squeal. It had been so long.
Disentangling myself from Ben's arm I jumped into Emmett's embrace. He laughed loudly and swung me around a few times before dropping me back to the floor. My previous klutziness reappeared and I almost fell again before Ben reached out to steady me.
"Bella," a quieter voice greeted me from across the room. I looked up to see Jasper sitting on a couch. As I grinned at him he rose to his feet and crossed the room. While his greeting wasn't as exuberant as Emmett's it was no less heartfelt.
"It's good to see you," he murmured after hugging me tightly.
"You, too." My previous emotions were rushing back to me and I suddenly wanted to cry. It was so good seeing them again after our two years apart.
I scanned the room quickly, looking for Edward. He was sitting in a chair and a half on the far side of the room. My breath caught as I took in his perfection – he hadn't changed in the slightest these last two years. Unless you took into account the bass player he had sprawled across his lap. Their causal familiarity hinted that they'd been in this position many times before.
I ignored the pain in my chest as I said his name, "Edward…"
He looked up at me from his seat and a tight smile appeared on his face. Rubbing his hand quickly over Angela's thigh they both stood up.
"Bella," his smile appeared less forced this time, "it's good to see you."
He crossed the distance between us and leaned down to hug me. He let go quickly before taking a step back. I was momentarily stunned by his nearness. Wherever he had touched me felt pleasantly warm.
"You look good," he said.
"Thanks, you don't look too bad yourself." I couldn't help the smile that was spreading across my face.
He took a half step back and turned to face the girl who had been on his lap when we entered the room.
"Bella, this is Angela. She plays bass for the band now."
"Angela, it's nice to meet you," I said, extending my hand to her.
She glanced at Edward before taking my hand, "It's nice to meet you, too," she answered warmly. Her voice was rich.
Jasper and Emmett stood near my friends and I turned to make introductions, "Guys, these are my roommates, Alice and Rosalie and my friend, Ben."
I saw Jasper and Emmett exchange quick glances before offering their hands to my friends so they could exchange pleasantries.
"So," Emmett began, "usually we go get something to eat when our set's done. Would you ladies, and Ben, like to join us?" He shot a glance at Rosalie.
"That's really nice of you, but I'd really like to see the show," Ben answered.
If looks could kill Ben would be in pieces on the floor as both Rose and Alice sent him murderous glances.
"Aw, c'mon, Ben," Alice whined, "you're our ride home. Let's let Bella visit with her old friends."
"That's cool," Jasper interrupted, "we can make sure you get home if Ben'd like to stay. It's a great show, man." This last bit was directed at Ben.
"Excellent! You don't mind, do you, Bella? Please!"
While I wasn't adverse to spending more time with the guys I wasn't sure I was really interested in spending time watching Angela and Edward get all comfy cozy. I know I was the one who walked in our relationship, but I wasn't a masochist. I didn't expect Edward to become a monk when I left him, but seeing him with her was rough. Why subject myself to the happy couple, even if it was for just one night?
"I feel bad leaving you alone here, Ben. Maybe I should stay with you."
Now, I wouldn't have been surprised to hear a protest from Alice or Rose, but the word burst out of the mouth of at least five people at the same time. Jasper, Emmett and, surprisingly, Angela, all protested as well as Alice and Rose.
"You should come, Bella! Let's catch up," Jasper encouraged. I glanced around the group. The only person not looking at me was Edward.
"Really, Bella," Ben said, "I don't need you to babysit me. Go; visit with your old friends! I'll see you at school next week. Thanks so much for giving me the extra ticket. This is like a dream come true!"
Suddenly, Edward looked up. His eyes went from Ben to me to Angela. Angela cast him a sideways glance before looking over at Ben speculatively.
"So, Ben… you're a big Radiohead fan?"
"Oh, yeah! The biggest! I just love their music."
"They're great guys. Would you like to meet them? I haven't stuck around for a show in a couple of weeks. How 'bout I stay with you, then your friends don't have to feel bad about leaving you here. When the show is over I can introduce you to them."
Ben looked like he'd died and gone to Radiohead heaven.
"Seriously? Angela, that'd be awesome." Ben was beside himself with anticipation. He reached out and grabbed her by the hand and before starting to drag her from the room. Angela laughed at his enthusiasm before calling over, "I guess he's taking me up on my offer. See you later!" She did a little skip to catch up with him before he ended up dragging her down the hallway.
"Now that he's taken care of let's go. Ladies…" Emmett indicated the door with a flourish of his arms.
I've gotten some terrific feedback on this story -- I hope you'll continue to review. Check out my other work in progress, The Harder they Fall. The link is on my profile. It's more of a Cinderella story than this one. I was also honored to be asked to review one of my favorite all time stories, Same Time Next Year, for the Perv Pack's Smut Shack. Link to the story is in my favorites. You can visit the Shack (link on my profile) to read my review, which was posted on Friday, 8/21.