Chapter 14~ I Will Wait for You
Cause it's you and me and all of the people
with nothing to do
nothing to lose
and it's you and me and all of the people
and I don't know why
I can't keep my eyes off of you
LifeHouse~ You and Me
The morning sun filtering through my curtains was so bright it was burning my retinas. With a twitch of my fingers, I realized my hand hurt like a bitch. I gaped at the bandage, confused for a minute. Rolling over onto my back, I combed fingers through my crazy knotted hair.
When I sat up, I spotted a piece of bright yellow 'cheese' shaped paper on my laptop. It was a note from Edward.
I'll be back at 11:00. Stole the picture of you in your drawer.
I eyed the note, admiring his surprisingly girlie handwriting. I suddenly remembered Edward had slept here and I had a lunch date with him in Port Angeles this afternoon.
He stole a picture of me? Oh, wait the one taken in the yard at mom and Phil's. I look terrible in that picture.
I spent the next few minutes musing over what I was going to wear. Jeans? My black hip hugger pants? A skirt? Hmmm, what If I wore that little denim…
Then it hit me.
Edward was accused of date rape and he can't touch me or kiss me or hold my hand or do anything with me until he is eighteen years old.
I sat on the edge of the bed lost in my own head, trying to recall what was actually said last night. I had to dig, like really dig into my memory to remember exactly what he had told me. And then, as if the lid of Pandora's box had been thrown wide open, all of Edward's words came rushing toward me as written on a page, some appearing bold and others less prominent, images flittering in and out of focus. All of them just as meaningful and significant.
That evil bitch.
It was surreal. I didn't know whether to have a panic attack or just cry my eyes out. The nonsense that I had conjured up in my head over what I had thought was Edward's past was nothing compared to the reality of it. This boy had been through so much in the last year, it was unfathomable. No wonder why his eyes were always swimming with sadness and anger. The worst part of the situation was that his childhood friend betrayed him. I could not imagine what Edward went through having to give up everything that was important to him and leave his home because of a girl. A lying girl.
I obsessed over his words for a long time, digesting the impact all of this would have on me, on our relationship, if we chose to move forward with one. That was what he meant last night about sleeping on it. Edward wanted me to understand that if I wanted to be with him…I couldn't be with him.
Chewing on my nails didn't help the gnawing feeling in my stomach, so I went down stairs to find another Percocet as well as grab something quick to eat. Upon entering the kitchen, I stopped short, seeing that it was spotless. I briefly wondered if Charlie had been home and tidied up, but then I remembered who I was talking about and scratched that theory. Charlie would have woken me up if he had spotted blood.
It must have been Edward. As I wrapped a plastic bag around my bandaged hand, taping it securely to my skin in an effort to waterproof the area, I imagined him wrapping the lasagna leftovers in plastic and then on his hands and knees diligently scouring the blood off the tiles. I wondered if he had been obsessing over the mess in the kitchen while he watched television or did whatever he did while I passed out on him last night. I hope he wasn't bored.
As I showered, I made a mental list of all the things I wanted to ask him and after I dried off, I sat in a towel at my desk while jotting the questions down on a sheet of loose leaf. This was too important to miss a single detail and I had to get my thoughts focused.
This hand thing was a real pain in the ass, but if I had to skewer myself, it was better in the left than in the right. Bedsides that fact that my hand was completely useless, the bandage wrapped around the palm was stark white and ugly and coordinated with nothing that I wanted to wear today. Maybe I could wear one sparkly glove or something ala Michael Jackson…spark a trend.
I couldn't blow dry my hair, so I let it dry naturally, knowing it would curl up as the day went on. I chose a dress, simply because I wanted to wear something cute for our afternoon, but I couldn't manage to work the buttons or the zipper on my pants single handed. It was ironic that I could have asked him to do it for me under any other circumstances, though I probably wouldn't have not wanting him to think I was a slut for asking such a thing. I just really wanted to look pretty for him.
The half of the pill I took was working nicely, as the throbbing pain in my hand subsided and I felt slightly tingly and very happy. I had about twenty minutes until he arrived and I was kind of nervous. To kill time, I fought with the tape dispenser before leaving a note attached half assed to the front door and headed out to the swings. While I spun on the tire, I thought about the enormity of Edward's situation.
What did all this mean now? Could we even be a normal couple? He asked me out regardless of the fact that he said he couldn't touch me.
He couldn't touch me.
Which meant no hand holding, no kissing, no hugging, no licking, no copping feels, no heavy petting, no dry humping, no jobs- neither hand nor blow, no fingering, no sex, no touching, no touching, no touching.
With everything he had told me last night, I listened and hung onto every word as if it were his last dying breath. All of what he had said penetrated my ears and sort of took its time to sink in hard as he described the details of his past in Chicago. I was in absolute disbelief that something like this could happen to a person like Edward. And truthfully, hearing about him having sex with that girl hurt me. A lot.
My stomach felt strangely unsettled with the knowledge that he was with another girl, however, my theory about him being in love was laid to rest, which gave me a bizarre sense of hope.
It was painful to know that he had been with someone before, and that he couldn't be with me…though he did want to. Even though he had "been" with another girl…could that really even count since he actually was not mentally coherent? And he technically didn't give consent to it.
I wanted to hug him and hold him and tell him I would never hurt him like that, or betray him like she did. It explained so much as to his severe reaction to Friday's debacle, and at the same time, made me feel incredibly bad for what I had done to him, and the additional plight this had put on him. He would have to straighten this out tomorrow with whomever he had to. But since this mess had really been all of my doing I thought maybe I should offer to go with him to help explain the situation.
I was the one that needed to take responsibility for this. Not him.
Out of everything he said, it never crossed my mind for even a fraction of a second that he would do such a terrible thing. I had seen him be so kind to that girl in the English hallway and I watched in awe as he came to the rescue of that boy at the party. He may have had a hard exterior and he may have even been seriously angry with me in that parking lot, but I knew beyond any doubt that Edward Cullen did not have it in him to harm a girl, nevermind rape her. I knew it in my heart and in the pit of my soul as well as I knew my very own name. Plus, I'm betting that if it were true, his mother would have killed him. Dead.
Edward was innocent and I believed him without question. I also knew that what I felt for him was much more than friendship and I didn't want to be a virgin forever. I wanted to be with him desperately. I wanted to feel his breath in my face and his lips on mine. I wanted to feel his soft skin and the weight of his muscles on top of me, while his long fingers touched my body in ways that no one ever had, except for in my fantasies.
Could I wait?
Did I even have a choice at that point?
I read somewhere that men thought about sex every seven seconds, which was much more often than women. If that were true, then I had something severely wrong with me, because I thought about sex…all the time. More than every seven seconds. But ironically enough, only since I had met Edward. It was like his presence in my life had kick started my hormones, surging estrogen in all my inner girl parts. I craved it ferociously, which was odd, particularly since the only thing that had ever touched my cooter was my own fingers. This was clearly a relationship in which my sexual wants would not be met by anyone other than myself. And that sucked… a lot.
As the tire swung around, I decided that I had to make a decision whether I wanted to wait. It was obviously my choice and Edward was giving me carte blanche to proceed or not. But as I debated over the choice to be made, weighing pros and cons, when he arrived at the swing I was beyond elated. The rush of emotions surged through my veins and danced on my skin as my heart beat wildly from the mere sight of him. If I had any doubt before that moment, it was all erased in the instant that he flashed his smile at me. He made me gooey inside. The sound of his voice, the sight of his face, the smell of his skin…things that I couldn't avoid, made my knees weak. Did I need him to touch me? Hell yes, but could I live without it?
If I knew anything, it was that I wanted him in my life any way I could have him, despite his unfortunate situation. He was my boy and…I wanted to be his girl. If that meant waiting for him to be "free" than I would wait.
As he ushered me through the gate, he looked at me with such longing that it actually hurt my heart. That would have been the perfect time to kiss me, or even touch my face or make some simple affectionate gesture which most people would take for granted. I wondered if he was thinking the same thing.
I realized at that moment this was just the beginning of a long, difficult winding road filled with frustration and pain as Edward needed to heal and come to terms with his anger. All I knew was the beautiful boy who lived down the street made my heart flutter when he smiled at me and I belonged with him.
So there we were, in my room as I powered up my laptop preparing to show him my secrets and my shame. He bared his soul to me, and I felt it was only right to reciprocate with outing my own demons. However, I think that had I not been on a generous helping of a glorious painkiller that I wouldn't have been so open with prominently displaying the obscene photos. It was just as easy to tell him with words alone. But Edward was special and he deserved the truth, as embarrassing as it was.
I couldn't touch him, but I could show him all of me, the parts he wouldn't be able to touch regardless. The metaphorical ones, anyway. I could share with him my pain and embarrassment. Somehow, it felt extremely therapeutic to have it out in the open with someone who would not judge me.
His expression was a mixture of confusion, horror, and anger as his gaze remained unfaltering on the computer screen.
"Bella, what is this?" he asked, obviously frazzled by what he saw. His voice was laced with a bit of anger and disbelief while his fists balled up on his thighs leaving his knuckles white. "Please tell me this is a joke…please." His eyes met mine and he almost looked panicked.
"It's not me," I said quickly. "And I have no idea who the bodies of those guys are, but their heads are the captain of the football team and the starting quarterback at my old high school. Someone did a great job Photoshopping, right?" I had seen the picture a thousand times before, inspecting and dissecting it. "Her body looks just like mine but my boobs are a little smaller," I said, pointing out the fake Bella's breasts in the photo. Edward looked at my chest briefly before his gaze snapped back to the screen with a minute nod. He shook his head and his eyebrows furrowed.
"No one knew if the original picture was real. The two boys denied ever having had a threesome with anyone, so they claimed they were manipulated in as well. But personally, I think it was real because of their reactions when it became public." The image on the screen depicted two guys and a girl sandwiched between them, both inside of her at the same time. The whole thing was pretty porntastic. There were four other images similar to that, but different sexual positions. All of the pictures looked remarkably authentic.
I leaned forward to click on the next image. Edward's eyes grew wider and he shifted uncomfortably on the bed. It was the same two guys, only now with the girl (fake me) being taken from behind while the other guy had himself in her mouth. I knew by the odd facial expressions that these were candid shots of me taken during cheerleading practices.
"Who did this to you?" Edward was seething, his eyes were narrowed and his teeth gritted. This time it wasn't because of anything I did to him, thankfully.
I sighed, leaning back into the chair. Edward couldn't keep his huge eyes off of the screen. "Bree," I said quietly. "She lived across the street from me. When I moved to California, I was different. Plain…kind of insecure and shy. I spent so much time looking longingly at the cheerleaders and the popular girls that I was just sick of always being the girl that, I don't know, sat on the sidelines with the book nerds. I wanted more, so when Bree befriended me, even though I knew she was like, super popular, queen of the tenth grade and 'a mean girl', I didn't care. Bree took me under her wing. All her friends became my friends. We went to every single party including the ones that were 'invite' and 'seniors only'. She showed me how to dress, present myself and well… other stuff like how to…kiss and how to be confident and she even got me on the cheerleading team with her."
I leaned over, shutting the picture down, much to Edward's dismay. I knew at that point that showing him the other three would have pushed him over the edge. Maybe another time. Part of me found it humorous that he was so enthralled by it, and I wanted to ask him if he would like it for his own personal screen saver.
"Bella, why would she do this to you?"
"Well, Bree's ex-boyfriend Riley, was interested in me. They went out for like, a month, so I mean, it's not like they had a serious relationship or anything. I completely backed off because she was my friend and she had done so much for me, it was only right, even though I did have a crush on him before they started going out. But Riley was done with her. As much as I rejected his advances, it got to the point that it was just silly. He obviously didn't want to be with her. He asked me to the winter formal and I really wanted to go, so I asked Bree if she minded and she said it was cool. Huge, colossal, ginormous mistake. In the middle of the dance, everyone started getting these texts…with those pictures."
"So that's why you don't go to dances?"
"Bad memories, you know? The thing is, the two guys in the picture had senior girlfriends who were like, outraged. No one believed that the photo was a fake; I mean it's really good. And God only knows how Bree acquired it. But my life was turned to instant hell after that. You have no idea how cruel people can be, especially girls." Edward cocked an eyebrow at that statement, unintentionally insensitive as it was.
"Uh, well maybe you do know. They like, made it their goal to make my life hell. They were sending me these disgusting emails and texts. The police called it "sexting." They continued to forward those pics around along with god-awful lies and stories about me. They scratched horrible things on my locker door. My name was in every private blog you could imagine, just saying how I was a slut and a whore and no one, I mean no one wanted anything to do with me. I was a pariah."
I looked over at Edward's face. He had his elbow propped up on his knee with his hand covering his mouth in disbelief. "That is just so fucked up."
"The two senior girls actually harassed me to the point where my parents went to the police. But at the time, there were no laws or guidelines regarding this stuff, so there wasn't anything they could do except for filing harassment charges, and that only made things worse. The school board was no help since they had no proof who vandalized my locker or who sent the original picture in the first place, though I knew damn well it was Bree. These girls were very careful not to send anything during school hours so the principal refused to get involved since everything was taking place off school grounds. It was a vicious cycle.
"The police told me and my mom that the school administration had to handle it and the school told us to go the police. It got to the point that I was actually scared to go to school so I stuck it out until I couldn't anymore. And then my mom home schooled me for the last month before summer break, which sucked by the way, but was better than dealing with being tortured every day. When school started up again in September, I went back thinking it would have all blown over with the seniors gone. But Bree made sure that it was never going to happen. She basically said, 'I made you and I can ruin you…' and she sure as hell did. I just got so sick of feeling like shit about something that I didn't do, that I just gave up and moved here. You know that saying, 'Be careful what you wish for?' Well, all I wanted was to not be in the background all the time. I just wanted to matter, for someone to pay attention me. This got me so much interest that I was having panic attacks three times a day. I hated waking up every morning."
"I'm so sorry. For someone who has been through so much, you are surprisingly normal. What you went through is so unbelievable."
Edward looked up at me with so much sadness and empathy in his eyes. He understood what it was like to be falsely accused of something by a supposed friend and have to be driven out of his own home for it.
"Yeah well, the really, really messed up thing is, that the two guys were like heroes because of it. Well, to everyone but their girlfriends. I, on the other hand, have never even seen an actual real live peen before, and I got all the misery surrounding it. The Prozac helps me to be 'normal.' I promised myself that I wouldn't let this take over my life once I moved, and I haven't." I shook my head, gazing out the window as I mused frustrated over the unfairness of the situation and how proud of myself I was for letting it go. Mostly.
Edward spoke quietly. "You've never seen a… peen?" He had some difficulty getting that word to roll off his tongue. I turned to him again. His expression was perplexed though he was clearly fighting back a smile.
"Why is that funny?" I cocked an eyebrow, thinking maybe he didn't know what a peen was. "A peen is a pe…"
"Yeah, yeah, I know what it is," he replied. "It's not…I just didn't think you were a…"
"Virgin? Yep, still pure as snow," I snapped. He nodded, looking down sort of like a scolded little boy, but I could see the smirk he was trying to hide. I stood, smoothing out the front of my dress, embarrassed and kind of put off by his amused reaction, so I was really hoping the conversation would shift directions. After taking one quick glance in the mirror, I motioned for Edward to follow me out the door.
"Wait, listen. I'm not… I wasn't making fun of you. I was just thinking that this might be good, since well, since you've never done it, you wouldn't know what you're missing." He smiled shyly, and shrugged. So full of hope. I quirked an eyebrow at him though his rationale did make some sense, however, it didn't erase the fact that I was practically dying to know what it was like.
"And to be honest…I'm glad you haven't been with anyone." Edward leaned against the hallway wall, looking down at his scuffling feet.
His mouth opened to speak, but he was obviously having trouble coming up with the right words. Edward's head snapped up as we heard a car pull into the driveway. He looked suddenly panicked, making a beeline for the stairs and descended down them.
"E, what's the matter?" I asked, following him. He was sort of twisting in different directions in the middle of the living room wringing his hands. I had never seen him so ruffled. It sort of freaked me out.
"Your dad is here. It this okay that I am here?" He seriously looked like he was going to cry or have a nervous breakdown or pee his pants.
"Edward, it's fine. We're not doing anything wrong. Relax. Come on." I waved for him to follow me as I grabbed my purse off the table and opened the outside door.
Charlie was getting out of his truck, looking dapper as usual. His face was clean shaven and his hair had actual gel in it.
"Hey kiddo. Hello…it's Edward, right?" he cringed, trying to remember Edward's name. "Sorry, you kids have some unusual names. Couldn't remember who was who."
Edward just chuckled, holding out his hand to my father. "Hi Charlie, how are you?" I eyed the handshake almost scornfully, completely resentful of the fact that Charlie could touch Edward's beautiful hands and would never even appreciate it.
"Where are you two off to today?" he asked, shoving a manila envelope under his arm, which was undoubtedly filled with incriminating photos of some couple's clandestine meeting. It struck me odd that this monumental piece of information, that was the undoubtedly the impending destruction of a few people's entire lives was in such close proximity to his armpit.
I replied, "Port Angeles. We're going to grab something to eat."
"Bells, your hand! What the hell did you do now?" Charlie groaned, carefully lifting my hand up by the wrist. Edward sighed.
"I sliced it open making the lasagna you asked for and didn't make it home to enjoy." I regretted the words instantly, feeling like a nagging, resentful housewife. Charlie looked dejected. "Oh, I'm joking, dad. Jeez, you people have got to lighten up. I'm fine. Dr. Cullen gave me a few stitches. I was going to call you, but I forgot. Sorry."
"Well, next time don't forget. Scratch that- don't let there be a next time. I'll have to thank Carlisle properly, maybe take him out fishing or something. Does your dad fish?" He glanced at Edward who shook his head. "Oh, well…listen, I'm here for about an hour and then I'm going to meet up with Billy and Harry. You'll be home for dinner?"
I looked to Edward for confirmation, hoping he would say no. He nodded and admittedly, I was sort of disheartened that he was so sure he'd want to end our date after only a few hours. But whatever, I guessed I shouldn't be so pushy. It was only our first date, and hopefully there would be many more. Charlie kissed me on the forehead and said goodbye to us both, disappearing into the house.
Edward unlocked his car doors. "Hey E, do you mind if we take my car? It's so nice out and I know I probably won't be able to put the top down again until spring." Edward pursed his lips eyeing me disdainfully. I rolled my eyes.
"Seriously? You're worried about your hair, aren't you?"
He shrugged. "It takes a major amount of time to get it this perfectly messy." I pouted, and then he reached his hand out for my keys, which I carefully, dropped into his hand. I tried to be inconspicuous about it now that it was out in the open, but the harder I tried the more obvious I looked so I stopped trying.
The top was down, windscreen up, sunglasses on and we were on the road. I lay my head back against the seat absorbing the heat of the sun on my face. We were only a few miles out of town when I pulled out my list, turned down the radio and angled myself toward Edward. He looked so unbelievably yummy, one hand on the wheel, the other elbow on the door, dark sunglasses on. Edward was the kind of boy that the second you looked at him, his image would send sparks through your lady parts. Didn't matter how old or young, or what gender you happened to be...it was just a fact.
I unfolded my list one handed. "So you said I could ask questions. Can I start now?"
Edward smiled at me, tugging the paper out of my hand.
He glanced at it, turning it over with wide eyes. "You made a list? And people think I'm the one with OCD. Maybe we should go to Seattle instead. You might be done by the time we get there." He rolled his eyes teasingly, shaking his head. I ripped the paper from his fingers.
"You said I could ask you anything."
"I'm joking. Sort of." He sighed. "Go ahead, ask away." Edward leaned over shutting the radio volume off completely.
I looked at the list trying to find a question that would be easy to answer and not too much pressure on him, but the one that was nagging at the forefront of my mind just blurted out of my mouth.
"Why can't we touch in private?"
Way to be subtle there, Bella.
"You don't have, like, people watching you twenty four seven, or like a space satellite tracking your every move, do you? I mean if no one knows about it then…" I waited expectantly for an answer. Edward pursed his lips in thought.
His eyes met mine for a second, and all I wanted to do was wrap my arms around his neck and lick the side of his face.
"Here's the thing. As of right now, if I abide by the conditions of the restraining order, it gets wiped clean from my record, as if it never existed. However, if I violate it, the charge is bumped up to a felony and I will go to jail for a minimum of six months. Like, real jail, not just juvie. The charge will be on my record forever. I also can't vote, own a gun, work for the government, practice law or medicine or get any kind of corporate job. I can't even go to Canada. Oh, and of course, my name will be added to the sexual predators list. My options for the future are so limited. I could be like a taxidermist, a construction worker, or own my own business. But even then, getting a business loan and shit when you have a felony charge is a challenge. So, can you see me covered in sawdust or stuffing dead animals for a living?"
I eyed Edward's perfectly neat exterior, his manicured fingernails, his uncallused hands that I was dying to have intertwined with mine. "Uh…no, I absolutely cannot. Wow, that seems so harsh. I mean, you said they never even proved anything really happened, right?"
"Right, but apparently the judge was being kind when he handed the sentence to me. From what I've heard from my attorney, the same judge was giving out even harsher sentences to other kids like me, one's who he deemed wealthy, spoiled and ungrateful. So I guess it could be a lot worse."
I still pressed for more, though Edward had answered efficiently. "So then, we could touch, but not get caught." I bit my lip, somewhat fearfully awaiting his response.
He chewed the side of his cheek, not breaking his gaze from the road. "Yeah, sure. We could do that. But see I've thought about it. A lot. If you and I start kissing and touching and shit in private, what happens when we're in public? I mean, we can probably control ourselves fine with some effort, but what about the nights when we're drunk and sloppy? Or when we're high and our reaction time is shit? Could you remember to restrain yourself?" Edward looked at me briefly before turning back to the road.
"I don't know how to say this without sounding insulting, and please forgive me if I sound like a complete dick, but I am very aware of my surroundings, who is near me, and how I interact with them. I am always in control of myself. You don't pay attention to your environment at all. Accidents happen and I just can't afford any mishaps. I've fucked up once already and that can't happen. Ever." Before I could ask him what that meant, he continued on sort of a gentile rampage.
"And then, if you and I start fooling around, are you going to keep that from the girls? You honestly think that you could not tell Rose and Alice that you and I were together? You were telling people even when we weren't. If they know, then everyone knows and then I'm screwed. I'll be lucky of the Forks Parent Teacher Organization doesn't put a burning cross on my front lawn or some shit. Seriously… I know it's hard to take in, but if I get caught, my whole life is ruined, all because I held your hand. And honestly, could you live with the guilt of seeing me go off to jail to get raped by a dude named Tiny, just because we kissed?"
"God, I never thought of it that way. I get it, Edward, I do. But like, who could catch you?"
"My attorney, my therapist, the stupid truant officer I see every six weeks, Mrs. Meyer, the principal, and um, half of Chicago knows. So it may seem like it would be a huge coincidence if I ever ran into one of those people, but considering my shit luck, I have to assume everyone is an enemy. And who knows? Maybe Charlotte's parents hired someone to check on me, or maybe her attorney has some business in Washington, and happens to swing by Forks. It's highly unlikely, but it is always a possibility. And do I want to go to jail over it? Absolutely not."
At that moment my thoughts immediately went to my father. Suppose they actually were to hire a private investigator. Holy shit. The last thing I would want to see would be Edward's entire future in a manila envelope stuck under my dad's armpit. That was his reality, and mine if I chose to be with him.
I sighed. "I don't mean to get pissy with you, B, it's just so goddamn frustrating for me to have to live like this for no reason, and even more so because I have this ridiculously beautiful girl next to me who wants to be with me and I can't even touch her hand. It sucks."
As much as I wanted to protest about Edward's rationale for not touching behind closed doors, I understood it perfectly and I couldn't challenge his decision to maintain his distance from me. At least it gave mild comfort that he didn't want to, he simply had to. This would undoubtedly be hard.
I smiled, leaning my temple back into the leather seat while staring at Edward's serious face. "So, if you could touch my hand, is that what you would be doing right now?" I asked softly, batting my lashes unconsciously.
Edward's head turned slowly to meet my flirtatious gaze. I immediately felt wrong and shitty for saying something like that, knowing that he couldn't do anything about it, and it felt like rubbing salt in his wounds. His eyes were intense.
"No," he replied, staring fixedly at my lips. "I'd definitely be kissing you right now." A smirk played at the edges of his mouth. I suddenly felt all swishy and feathery like I was floating on a cloud. "You're so pretty, you know that?"
Dear God, why?
Why I ask you?
He thinks I'm pretty.
I mumbled something completely dumb and incoherent along the lines of, "Oh immma no no you're so pretty pretty too." I heard it spill out of my mouth before I could stop it and I thought that perhaps it was too windy for him to have heard clearly. But he looked me and burst out laughing as I sunk into the seat covering my face with my hand, obviously having heard the ridiculous blunder.
Good thing he thinks I'm pretty, cause if he thought I was smart then he was clearly mistaken.
I was enraptured by the boy. He could sell me to the circus for a penny and I would happily skip off with the carnies without protest. I thought that if he could make me feel so giddy and stupid just by saying I was pretty, imagine the power he would have over me when we finally could kiss.
I referred to my list again. "Edward, you said that this was enforced until your eighteenth birthday? When is that?"
"Oh, so…" I squinted one eye as I counted on my fingers, "twenty one months? That's not so horrible."
"Well, yeah, but when is your birthday?"
"It just passed last month. September thirteenth."
He shut his eyes momentarily before replying, "Then no, two years exactly. You would still be a minor on my eighteenth." He gave me sort of a meek smile. "Happy birthday by the way. I'm sorry I missed it. Did you do anything good?"
I shrugged my shoulders with the words two years exactly ringing in my ears.
"Oh…um, I went to beach and had a candlelight lobster dinner overlooking the ocean at sunset. It was very romantic and really beautiful." Edward glanced at me almost forlorn, his expression confused until I fully explained. "But I was just with my mom and Phil, so. It was nice anyway."
"Sweet sixteen and you didn't even have a big party? We should celebrate."
"No, I got a car instead of a party. Not that anyone would have come if I had a party." Edward cringed, realizing that he made the reference to having a Sweet Sixteen when I had essentially no friends to invite.
He mumbled, "Shit…sorry," shaking his head.
Edward turned off the highway into the cozy little harbor town, filled with quaint shops and eclectic eateries. The walkways were crowded with meandering people enjoying the rare rain free afternoon. We parked in the lot, and Edward crossed the front of the car to my side, opening the door for me. I almost blushed at the gesture, which was so gentlemanly and mature. I tucked the list back into my bag, determined to get through each question before the day was through.
Edward and I walked side by side into the town, gazing in windows, chatting about benign things until I realized I was really hungry. There was a little Indian restaurant that had just opened. Edward was surprised and actually elated that I ate that type of cuisine as he explained that no one in his family but Carlisle ate it, so it was a rarity that he was able to dine on that kind of food.
We sat at a table on the outside patio that overlooked the harbor. Boat engines steamed by, and the sound of gulls squawking in the distance filled the air as we looked at the menu. We decided on an appetizer platter and we would share our entrees because I had never tasted his lamb dish and really wanted to try it. When the waitress asked what kind of bread we wanted, Edward and I both answered "Onion," in unison. We laughed because we knew funky breath wasn't going to be an issue for us later on, due to the lack of kissing that would not happen.
As she placed our drinks on the table, I smiled, pulling out my list again. Edward rolled his eyes, dropping his forehead in his hand.
He peeked up through his fingers. "There's more?"
"Lots." I nodded eagerly, taking a sip of soda as I scanned the list for an appropriate lunch conversation. "You aren't allowed to play baseball at all?"
His posture went ridged. "Uh, I wasn't allowed in Chicago, because I was no longer a part of that school system and you can't play if you don't go to school there."
"But you can play in Forks?"
He gazed out into the water, swirling his straw in his drink. "Yeah."
"And you don't?"
His eyes darted to mine. "It's complicated. I don't know." He shrugged his shoulders, clearly wanting to end the topic.
"Listen, E. I'm sorry. I don't want to upset you. I just want to get to know you better."
"No, it's fine. It's cool that you are interested, and I like having the air cleared, but baseball is a sore subject for me. You can ask about anything but that. Save it for another day, okay?" He smiled, letting me know that it was hard for him to talk about, but that he would talk to me about it eventually. Pacified, I relented quickly, changing the subject to a lighter topic.
When our food arrived, Edward split the two entrees into our dishes, sliding mine toward me. I looked at my chicken with distain, realizing that I couldn't cut it one handed. He picked up on my problem without me having to say a word, because he had apparently already cut up all his meat and then switched plates with me. And then as we enjoyed our meal, he tore off a piece of onion kulcha, dipping it in the little sauce cup of cilantro mint sauce. He held the bread out toward me. Without thinking, I reached to grab it from him, and he snatched it back with a smirk.
"No touching." So I let him feed me, and it was sweet and weird and erotic at the same time. God, he was beautiful. I could watch him chew all day without ever getting bored. He had such nice table manners and always used please and thank you when addressing the waitress. He also didn't speak condescendingly to her and said, "Excuse me ma'am," when he called her to the table for a soda refill. I don't know why but I found that hot.
I left the questions alone while we ate, just so we could laugh and enjoy the meal without angst, because no matter what I asked, it always seemed to turn into something that Edward was given a painful reminder of. Once we were stuffed, he suggested that we walk around a while before getting dessert.
We stopped in a little book store where Edward picked up a copy of The Catcher in the Rye because he said he misplaced his last one and only read up to the part where Holden was beat up by the prostitute's pimp. Admittedly, I'd always thought it was a book about baseball. You know…the catcher part? So, Intrigued by prostitutes and pimps, I grabbed a copy for myself and though I protested, Edward paid for both books. He also bought me a bookmark with a black and white picture of a couple holding hands, and his eyes were sad when he handed it to the cashier.
We stopped to watch a little concert on the City Pier before walking out to the railing that overlooked the water. You could almost see forever in the distance and it was clear and blue and so unbelievably breathtaking. I told Edward it was my dream to own a home on a cliff overlooking the water like that and he agreed that would be a beautiful thing to wake up to every day. As we gazed into the scenery, Edward was quiet for a while, suddenly seeming sort of lost and distant. I asked him if he wanted to go home and he shook his head.
"This is nice, you know?" He looked away from me, back out to the view and whispered, "But I wish… "
"It's really nice, Edward. And it's okay. You don't have to keep feeling bad about not holding my hand and stuff. I'll survive without it until we don't have to anymore."
"Bella, I can't ask you to wait two years for me. It's not right. I can't expect that you would put your life on hold because I can't do shit."
"Edward, are you kidding me? Who is putting their life on hold? We're doing things any normal couple would except for the touching part. It's not that big of a deal. There's plenty of other stuff we can do. I mean look at those kids who make vows of abstinence. And the Amish. They are fine and happy and sex free. Don't stress over it. I am here because I want to be with you, not your hands."
Not entirely true, but…
"Thanks, Bella. For whatever it's worth, it means so much to me that you feel that way." He smiled endearingly, pulling the pack of cigarettes out of his pocket, and lighting one. "So, why don't you knock a couple more questions off your list before we grab dessert?" he said, as we began walking down the pier.
I asked him a few things about his life back in Chicago, what he was like and who he was then. He told me essentially that he was very popular, that he belonged to a shit load of clubs and school organizations and that his school was a private academy so they were required to wear uniforms. I made him describe the uniform in detail, while he looked at me confused because I wanted to burn it into my brain for possible future fantasies.
Once we got to the coffee shop and ordered, Edward stepped outside to take a phone call while he smoked another cigarette. As the order came up, I brought it to the table and knocked gently on the glass window to let him know it was ready. He held his palm up, indicating he would be five minutes, and I found my hand suddenly drawn to his. I pressed my hand against the glass with a smile, as Edward placed his palm to the window, his large hand outlining my small one. It sort of reminded me of a scene from a prison movie when the jaded lover came to see her innocent man sent to prison for tax evasion. But really we were in kind of a prison, trapped under Edward's restraining order in some kind of torturous bizarre teenage love lock down. Our eyes met, and no words were needed to say what we were conveying in that moment. Essentially we were connected, whether it was through glass or not.
He sat at the table, apologizing for his absence, telling me that sometimes Emmett got nosy and chatty like a girl, no offense. I laughed, pushing the brownie sundae toward him. He put a heaping spoonful of ice cream on his spoon and fed it to me, dribbling ice cream down my chin, which he thought was hysterical. I chided him for being so messy and he said as long as it wasn't on him than it was okay. He did mention that if he could, he would have licked it off my chin. He was joking, but something told me it had a good amount of truth behind it. I fed him as well, stealing flirtatious glances at one another and shy smiles in between talking and spoonfuls of ice cream. I was in sheer heaven.
When we were done, I glanced at the list without removing it from my purse. I knew it was probably getting annoying, but he was surprisingly patient and accommodating with my persistence in my quest for knowledge of all things Edward Cullen.
"About the restraining order," I said quietly. "There aren't any loopholes in this? I mean there's no way to lessen the sentence?"
He leaned forward in his chair just a foot or so away from my face. "I had an outstanding attorney and I was lucky to have gotten what I did. But um…yeah. There is a loophole."
I cocked an eyebrow, excited and hopeful.
"My lawyer says the only way out is to get married. Soooo, do you have a white dress?" Edward smirked deviously.
I gasped. "I have five."
He laughed. "We can be in Vegas in about eight hours."
"I've always wanted to meet Elvis."
He cocked his head to the side. "You would actually marry me just to kiss me?"
Yes. I would also shave my head and set fire to all my shoes if you wanted me to. But of course, once we were married, we would be doing lots more than kissing.
I shrugged my shoulders, cupping my chin in my good hand as I placed my elbow on the table. "You have nice lips."
"Don't do that." His face was serious.
"That. Say stuff like that, all sexy and breathy. It makes things hard."
"Oh really? Does it now?" I pressed my lips together to fight back a smile and he groaned again, realizing the sexual implications of the statement. "Bella, I didn't mean. Forget it."
Edward was blushing.
I could have gone hog-wild with that whole thing, but since it was a rare moment for Edward to be truly embarrassed like that, I decided to let it go. We walked around a little more, looking in shops and at one point, we stopped at a handmade jewelry display in the town square. I fell in love with a little sparkly crystal bracelet, which Edward insisted on buying for me.
I protested a little, but his quiet response was, "It makes me feel like a real boyfriend if I do this shit." And because those words broke my heart, I let him.
Besides, I wasn't going to lie…I loved presents.
"Put out your hand," he asked. "Okay, don't move." He wrapped the strand of green and silver crystals around my wrist very carefully clasping the two ends together. He was so close that I could smell his cologne and his soap and feel the warmth radiating off his body. It was maddening and sheer torture. But what was worse, was the smile that was plastered all over his face afterward. He was actually happy, and the thought that I was the reason for that made me want to sing.
We tried on masks at a Halloween costume display. He placed a fluffy pink feather boa around my neck as he stood behind me, and I carefully slipped a pair of black rimmed coke bottle nerd glasses with the bridge wrapped in white tape on him. He even looked hot as a geek. We laughed a lot and I quit the questions, trying to keep the mood light and playful for the remainder of the afternoon. Periodically, Edward would ask about my hand, genuinely concerned if I was in pain. But by late afternoon, my hand was throbbing so I took another half of a Percocet.
I dozed off on the drive home, literally exhausted from everything. It was one of the nicest days I had ever had and I was truly grateful for the opportunity to spend the day with Edward, touching restrictions and all. I felt like I had learned so much about him and even though it broke my heart to know that he was hurting inside, I was hoping I could be a participant in helping him heal. I mean, not that I had even the tiniest clue how to do that, but seeing him smile around me like I had never seen him do around anyone else was nothing short of miraculous in my eyes. He was letting his guard down with me, and he wasn't nearly as tough as he pretended.
As we pulled into my driveway, he seemed a bit strange as he looked toward his house. I got the distinct feeling that he didn't want to go home, probably because of Jasper, so when I asked him to come in to eat dinner, he accepted appreciatively.
As we walked through the doorway I said, "We're only having lasagna leftovers." I felt bad that I was feeding him the same thing two nights in a row.
He practically beamed. "Your leftover lasagna is a million times better than whatever Esmom is making."
"Hey Edward?" I asked, as I turned on the oven and began pulling plates out of the cabinets. "What's with the name Esmom?"
He chuckled as he placed the plates in three spots, and began to fold napkins into neat triangles. "Em and Jazz called her Esme when she was their nanny and then after she and Carlisle got married it was just an easier transition from Esme to Mom, therefore Esmom was born. I guess it just stuck."
"Do you call your father Cardad?" Though I asked seriously, Edward apparently thought it was hilarious and practically snorted as he guffawed.
"Uh, no, but I might start, cause that shit is funny."
Charlie pulled into the driveway and again, Edward immediately became rigid. He sat down at the table, I think just to calm himself down and then rose when Charlie entered. He was so damn polite it was sort of creepy Stepford Child.
During dinner, as they talked about baseball, my eyes sort of glassed over and when I pretended to fall asleep at the table, enhancing it by snoring loudly, they ignored me. Edward didn't curse once during the whole meal and I was impressed at his restraint. However, I probably shouldn't have been because he told me flat out that that he was very aware of his surroundings at all times. He was always in control.
That scared me, and excited me equally.
Once we finished, Edward and I cleaned up while my father disappeared into the den to watch television. I made hot chocolate, and Edward and I sat outside on the front porch swing drinking from mugs and sharing a blanket. The one question I was dying to ask still lingered on my tongue. I debated whether or not to ask, but the moment was really nice and I didn't want to ruin it. Plus I was really afraid to find out the answer. He suspected that I was being tormented by something and asked me to spill because my fidgeting was apparently driving him nuts. So I sat back, turning my body toward his and sighed.
"Was Charlotte the only person you've been with?" He took a moment before he shook his head, his eyes darting to the wood floor. My stomach turned a bit, but I reined it in, remembering that he had a past and it wasn't his fault. "How many girls have you been with?"
"Just one other."
"Was she your girlfriend?" I could barely make eye contact with him.
"God, no. Her name is Tanya. Her parents are good friends with my parents. We've known each other since we're kids." Edward shrugged his shoulders and I felt immediate relief, be it minor.
"And you were together just once…or…?"
"Bella, do you really want to know this?" he asked, giving me a compassionate look as his hands fidgeted in his lap. I nodded, pursing my lips. No, not really, but yes definitely.
He huffed, leaning his head back against the swing cushion. "Tanya's family and my family go on vacation together every year at spring break. We were on a cruise to Hawaii two years ago, when our parents had gone out for the night and we got the brilliant idea to play strip poker in the state room. She's older than me and she had been all suggestive and flirty the whole week, so I don't know. I figured what the hell? We were together a couple of times during the trip and that's pretty much it. We email and shit now and then, but I haven't seen her since, because with the move and everything that happened last year, we didn't go on a family vacation. It's not a big deal."
I nodded, hurt without reason, but placated. "So you don't love her or anything?"
"No, hell no. I've never had a real girlfriend, never been in love before. This," he passed his hand back and forth between the two of us, "is all new to me. I have no idea what the hell I'm doing."
"Yeah, well, my experience is even less than yours, so."
"Do you… I mean, are you… are we? Shit, this is awkward." He let out a frustrated sigh, rubbing his hand over his forehead. "I want to be with you, Bella."
My skin felt tingly and my heart sort of felt like it was melting. "I want to be with you too, Edward." I smiled shyly, running the tips of my fingers over my bracelet.
"But the thing is, even though we can't be together- together, I am gonna freak the fuck out if you are with anyone else." He raised an eyebrow, in what appeared to be a warning.
I raised an eyebrow back. "What does that mean?"
"Are we doing this? Me and you…us…together…?" His voice cracked a little and he looked scared shitless.
I nodded and smiled, feeling beautiful and lovely and all his. As Edward licked his lips, my eyes stared fixatedly on them, saddened by the fact that mine were not pressed against them.
"Edward? On my eighteenth birthday, would you do something for me?"
"Would you kiss me right here on this swing?"
He nodded his head slowly, his expression forlorn yet sort of amused. "Trust me, I'm gonna do a hell of a lot more than just kiss you. Make sure Charlie's not home that night." We laughed, both kind of stunned by what he had said, though it was honest and sweet and I hoped it was true.
We both rested our heads against the swing cushion staring at each other for a long time, until Charlie opened the door to say good night and politely hint for Edward to go home. Parting was what they would call "such sweet sorrow," because it physically hurt to not kiss or hug after the day we shared and the feelings we had admitted to one another. And it also felt wholly unnatural not to, like being trapped behind a glass wall against my will.
I knew this was just the beginning of a relationship that would likely see many struggles, and part of me questioned whether it was even reasonable for two teenagers to become so deeply involved with such strict limitations placed on them.
But it was done years ago, when it was considered impolite to touch another person without their permission. It was not impossible. Difficult yes, but not impossible.
We had made it through the day without touching once, while effectively showing affection toward one another.
I blew a goodnight kiss to Edward, which was apparently our 'thing', and I watched Esme greet him as he put his key into the front door. After I said goodnight to Charlie, who thankfully did not give me the third degree about Edward, I changed, checked my email and debated whether to text Alice and Rosalie about my day.
They were well aware that I was hanging out with Edward, but I couldn't tell them the reason we wouldn't be affectionate with each other. I had no idea how long I could keep up the façade, because they were my best friends, I hated lying and frankly, they were nosy bitches.
For a while, I laid in bed thinking about plausible excuses to explain for the absence of physical contact between us. Nothing I came up with was remotely believable. The only thing that made sense was to hide the relationship all together and continue to behave as if we were just friends. I hated lying, but I had to protect Edward.
I flipped through the first chapter of the book Edward and I got, but realized I was too tired to read anything. I turned off the lights, snuggling under the covers, thinking about Edward.
Please bless all the people in the world who have no food, clothing or shelter, and give toys to all the little kids that have nothing to play with but an old shoe. Please watch over my family and friends, and especially Edward. He needs some guidance, and even though I know he doesn't pray or anything, he could probably use a little miracle. Thank you for my day with him…and thank you for allowing me to be happy again.
The following morning, Edward stopped by my house as Alice and I were getting in my car. He was alone, obviously having not reconciled with Jasper. I asked him if he wanted me to go to Principal Meyer to help him explain, but he thanked me and said it would be best if he handled it himself.
People had heard the rumor on Monday, and by Thursday morning, we were the talk of the eleventh grade, by mostly the girls. The boys didn't seem to care as much, only giving Edward sporadic pats on the back and unmet attempts at high fives in congratulations for his newly outed heterosexuality.
Edward and I shared shy glances in English, walking side by side to lunch afterward. In the cafeteria, he looked so freaked out because of the tension between him and Jasper, that I plopped myself down in the chair next to him and ate my lunch quietly, while Jasper took it upon himself to sit in my seat and entertain the girls. We endured a lot of stares and idle chatter about the rumor that was circling, but Edward and I chose to just smile and ignore the ignorant talk. Being stared at and scrutinized gave me an all too familiar pang of anxiety, landing me right back in California the day after the dance. Having us sitting together just fueled the fire, but Edward whispered sweet, calming things to me, and as the panic subsided, all I could focus on was his face. Everything melted away and I was fine.
In Bio, as we were subjected to another boring lecture, Edward rifled through my bag looking for something. I kept taking notes when he pulled out my hamburger pad, jotted something down and slid it along the table toward me.
I'm holding your hand under the table right now.
I smiled, wrote my reply, and slid it back to him. He lifted the spongy "bun," took one glance at the paper and tossed it back in my bag, covering his mouth with a weird coughing sound. He glared at me, shaking his head as I shrugged my shoulders innocently. I wore a smug grin, laughing to myself, which was wrong, so very, very wrong. But it was all worth it to see Edward lose his carefully reigned in composure.
We hung out after school, in the tree house sans Jasper, who was suddenly MIA.
We never spoke of the kiss, but I did mention to Edward how Jasper said he had only done it because I reminded him of Emily. I debated telling Alice, but she was on a Rosalie-induced indifference binge toward Jasper and Edward said he thought I should remain quiet about it until if or when things ever became of them. No need to hurt anyone's feelings if there was no reason.
Edward had therapy on Friday after school, which brought him home late into the evening. Admittedly, I waited around for him to call me, before I made definitive plans. I knew I shouldn't have been that reliant on him, but I missed him every second that I wasn't with him and I didn't feel like going out with the girls. Alice asked me to go down to the beach with her and Angela because Rose was with Emmett. Once Edward did call, he sounded tired and said he was just going to call it an early night. I was immensely disappointed, but went to the beach with the girls, only to be bored and eagerly awaiting Edward's appearance, thinking he would have changed his mind.
We spent Saturday together hanging out in his basement, watching movies, talking and listening to music, and of course, smoking up. The dynamic of our relationship was that of friends, with an overt crush. It was limited to that and we both struggled with holding back touches and caresses, substituting a lot of flirting and smiles for the former.
Sunday afternoon, Billy had given me the day off because of my hand, and Charlie was gone again off on surveillance of some shady dude suspected of cheating on his wife with the housekeeper. Edward and I were in my kitchen heating up tomato soup to go with the grilled cheese sandwiches we had cooked together. He sucked at the cooking part, but was really organized and regimented about setting up the supplies and ingredients and then just as efficient with the cleanup. We were being silly and totally flirtatious, and somehow everything turned into a sexual innuendo.
I was over the stove, about to spoon some soup into my mouth when I spilled it on my chest, burning my skin. I shrieked, pulling at the front of the thin v-neck sweater I was wearing, not even caring that the bra I had underneath was completely sheer, and I was probably giving Edward a show. He panicked, grabbing a tray of ice cubes, and practically tossed a handful down the front of my stretched out shirt. It was funny, but not, as I was red and puffy and definitely burned. I pouted, rubbing ice over my chest, as the little droplets formed a pool of cool water in the front clasp of my bra while he stood there gaping at me.
I could see it in his eyes, Edward was weirded out. He did that thing with his hands where he made circles in his palms and he just looked sort of spooked. He apologized, said he suddenly wasn't feeling well, and he took off out the door like a bat out of hell. I watched in disbelief out my living room window as he vanished through the gate to his yard, heading straight to his room via the balcony. I was annoyed at his abrupt departure, and even more so when I saw that he had left his cell on my kitchen table.
I changed my shirt and rubbed aloe on my chest. I walked down the road to his house, taking the balcony stairs up the same way he went. I was just going to leave the phone on his desk or wherever and go, because if he needed space or if he wasn't feeling well as he said, then I didn't want to be a nuisance. Behind the glass doors, I could only see Edward's legs stretched out on the bed, and the television playing a movie. I knocked twice softly, before opening the handle on the door and pushing the glass open, without waiting for a reply to enter.
Edward yelled something that sounded like, "Jesus Christ!" hastily grabbing the comforter to cover his body with it. Something fell over onto the floor with a thud.
"E, you left your phone…" I stood in the doorway, with his silver cell paused in midair, taking in the reality of what was happening. The bedroom smelled aromatic- clean, fresh, and very familiar. He was bare chested; the roundness of his taught shoulders and the contrast of the black ink on his arm stood out against the stark white of the bedding. Edward had one arm tucked inside the blanket and the other balled into a fist over his terrified face. Once quick glance, and I noticed the bottle of lotion on his night table next to the bed.
It took a second to absorb before I placed the phone gently down on the long dresser and crossed the room. Edward said, "Bella, you need to go, please." It was an absolute whimper, a plea. He stared up at the ceiling with his arm thrown over his forehead in a rigid position.
"Bella, I'm serious, you gotta go…NOW!" It sounded like he was going to cry.
I was stunned and intrigued and definitely annoyed. But in the back of my mind, once he confirmed it, I knew what he was doing.
I also knew what I wanted.
My eyes shifted from the lotion, to the purple tube on the floor, back to the comforter. With my hands on my hips; my tone agitated and huffy, I asked,
"Edward…did you seriously just leave my house to jerk off?"
"Oh my god…" He groaned, covering his eyes in agony of the embarrassment.
"E?" I licked my lips, moving closer to the bed, staring in awe at the mini lump in the linens where I estimated his crotch to be. I only hoped he wouldn't freak out and think I was insane, perverted or sick or something. But I thought, since I was standing there, and he was, well, obviously naked, that it couldn't hurt to ask. So I did.
"Can I see it?"
Thanks for reading.