A/N: Looking for a beta! See bottom note.
Testing the Waters
You could tell a lot about people by the way they entered into the pool.
At least, that's what Edward thought.
Emmett always jumped into the pool without looking to see if anyone was in his way. (Most of the time, he didn't have to worry about that, since he was almost always the first one to the pool.) Similarly, he rarely looked before he leaped in real life, either.
Rosalie liked to dive in the pool--graceful, serene, beautiful...and with huge fanfare. She would walk all the way around the pool to the diving board, practically dancing, walk on her toes to the edge, lean forward, and slide into the water. Almost becoming one with it. There was never a splash, and even her brother, Jasper, caught his breath watching her. That was how Rose was--gorgeous and aware of it, too quiet to say anything about it, but making it clear in her actions.
Alice was much more rambunctious in her entrance, a medium of Rose's grace and Emmett's exuberance. She ignored the "No Running" rule and darted around the pool after Rose's dive to leap onto the diving board, bounce once at the end, catapult into the air, and arc gracefully into the pool. Unlike Emmett, she didn't have to look—she seemed to have an innate ability to know she would land safely away from the others, while still displaying the careless grace that defined her.
In swimming, just like everything else, Jasper focused explicitly on pleasing Alice. And something he'd found that Alice liked was for him to sneak up on her after she jumped in. And so, he'd strategically skirt around the pool looking for the best way to slip in without alerting her of his presence. Of course, she expects it, almost demands it, and so it's harder and harder for him to figure out ways to do it. But he does, successfully, sometimes waiting longer intervals, and coming at her from different positions. And sometimes she catches him—luckily for him, this pleases her just as much.
Edward enters by the stairs. Slow and steady wins the race, right? He's not sure how it relates to his personality, but he's sure it does somehow...he just can't see it.
And then, maybe he does know. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Bella sometimes enters that way, and he likes to walk beside her...
See, Bella doesn't always enter the pool the same way—she always dips her toes in first, to see how cold the water is. If it's not too bad, she just slides in silently. No big fanfare, just...a simple beauty. The polar opposite of Rosalie, timed just so that everyone would be too busy playing in the water to notice her as she slid into the pool. Everyone, of course, but Edward.
But if the water was too cold, Bella walked down the stairs. Cautious and careful, not moving to fast, and, upon adjusting to the temperature, immersing herself in the water. Just as she was in all things—always over analyzing every decision she had to make before going through with it as quick as possible, or working more meticulously to adjust herself to the consequences.
So, sometimes, down the stairs... Where Edward always was. After all, he couldn't very well do the same thing as her every time—that would be much too obvious.
Not that it mattered that much, since everyone seemed to be aware of his crush on Bella—but he hoped that Bella thought he was just a "good buddy". And Edward was too shy to change that. Besides, he thought it was pretty good that she considered him one of her best friends.
And for him, it was pretty good. It meant he could walk with her on the way to their biology class without it being weird when he "accidentally" brushed his hand with hers, or when he offered to carry her books. It was just a...friend thing.
Just friends. That was all.
Edward leaned against his car after school, soaking in the yellow sunlight. It turned the normal dark green of the ever-present forest a smooth bright green. Like his eyes, Bella would say.
Bella was also leaning against a car, though not Edward's. Rosalie and Alice were leaning over her as she cowered against Alice's yellow '69 convertible Porsche. They spoke to her in hushed tones, scowling and casting frequent glances over their shoulders, towards Edward. Bella's eyes, too, flickered to Edward—naturally, he was unaware of all of this, eyes closed as the sun caressed his arms and face.
Emmett announced his presence with a booming, "What are you doing to my sister?"
Edward blinked his eyes open as Rosalie and Alice spun away from Bella innocently. "Nothing, Emmett," they chorused.
Of course, he thought wryly. Torture Bella, and it's nothing.
And they weren't really torturing her... After all, there were no shopping bags or makeup wands in sight.
But then, such things could be hidden, especially if Alice was involved.
The girl in question had danced over to Jasper by then, and she was hugging him tightly and telling him how much she missed him. And then, a demonic glint flashed in her eyes. "Jazzy, let's go out tonight!"
Edward was slightly nervous. Alice never tried to pull anything on Jasper, so if she was taking him out, that meant the rest of them were in danger. Probably himself and Bella.
"Ooh!" Rosalie said, "Us, too, Emmett. We could double!"
Aaand, there you have it folks, Edward thought. When Alice agreed to Rosalie's suggestion, Edward knew he and Bella were in for it. Whatever it might be.
But Emmett was less eager. "Man, I wanted to go swimming today..." But Rosalie gave him puppy eyes, and so he agreed.
"Pick us up right after you drop your things off at home," Alice instructed. She gave Bella a meaningful look, and then leaped into her Porche. Leaped, because Alice never did anything halfway.
Bella leaned away from the car, and Rosalie strode over to her.
"Bella," she said seriously. "You know what to do."
Bella grimaced, and shoved her away.
Rosalie smirked, and said, "Emmett...give me a ride home?"
Emmett cheerfully agreed, and said, "Bella? Are you coming."
"No room, Emmy-bear," Rosalie said quickly. "Edward could take her home."
Bella covered her face with her hands.
"Yeah, I can take her," Edward agreed, stepping forward. "It's no problem."
Bella smiled gratefully at him before shooting a glare at Rosalie.
"Actually, Edward," Bella began. "I was wondering if I could go swimming today?"
"Um...sure?" Edward said. He had no doubt that Rosalie and Alice had something to do with this. He just couldn't figure out why for the life of him.
"Thanks," Bella said.
Alice suddenly gunned her engine, and Jasper ran around the car and slid into the passenger seat. She rolled down the windows. "Wear the new swimsuit Esme bought you!" Alice ordered.
Bella saluted her. "Ma'am, yes, Ma'am," she barked.
Alice smirked and rolled her window up. With a parting wave, she stomped on the pedal and tore out of the lot, her Rosalie-restored engine screaming with joy.
Rose sighed before walking around Emmett's truck and jumping inside the cab. "Come on, Emmy."
Emmett rolled his eyes. It was common knowledge that he detested the nicknames Rosalie gave him, but would never say a word. And in true Rosalie fashion, she remained ignorant. "Coming, snugglebear."
Then again, maybe she'd figure it out.
Emmett's truck roared to life and lumbered out of the school lot, leaving Bella and Edward standing alone.
"Hey, Edward," Bella said at last. She seemed distant today, almost lost in her own world, but still holding onto some thread of the one she inhabited.
"Hey," he said with a smile. "Ready?"
She seemed eager suddenly, smiling and running around his car. She stumbled once, but righted herself before she could fall, and climbed into his Volvo. "How did Alice know about the swimsuit?" Bella asked curiously, as soon as he was in the car.
"Don't ask me. That's part of the mystery that is Alice Brandon." He smiled now, chalking her earlier funk up to the abrupt change in weather. Because, really, a day of sunshine was an abrupt change of weather, anywhere in Washington.
"In that case, save gas," she commented. "Just go straight home."
He smiled slightly. He liked that she called his house 'home'. Of course, it might have been that Carlisle had just said "Mi casa es su casa" so many times that it was wired into her brain. But he liked to think that maybe she felt that wherever he was was her home. It was a nice thought. A nice dream.
Edward finished changing first, in his eagerness to see Bella. Not wanting to appear too eager, he waited by the pool, instructing Esme, in utter seriousness, to inform Bella of his whereabouts.
Now he sat outside in the sun, in Esme's new zero-gravity chair. His eyes were shut behind his aviators, so he wasn't aware of Bella's presence until she unlocked his chair, causing it to move into a sitting position.
He opened his eyes to see her smirking at him, hands on her hips. "Come on, Edward...Let's swim." She grabbed his hand and pulled him upwards. Standing up, he landed dead in front of her, their toes touching.
They both turned red and took a step back. Bella mumbled an apology, and Edward mumbled an acknowledgment.
But then the blush was gone, and Bella slid a hand into his. She pulled him along, into the glass pool house.
The door swung shut behind them, and for a minute, the merely stood still, hand in hand, gazing at the serene water. She squeezed his hand lightly, dropped it, and took off at a run to leap into the pool.
It struck him as odd--she always tested the water before she got in. She never leaped before looking. And yet, there she was, surfacing and smiling as the water dripped down her face. Free of inhibitions. He wished he could be the same.
"Edward." Her voice floated toward him, an inquisitive lilt coloring her tone. "Are you coming?" Her head was tilted to the side, her eyes hopeful.
That smile. It was so...free. Exhilarating. He couldn't help but return it. He started to move towards the stairs, but then he stopped, turned, and followed her jump into the water.
It was invigorating, somehow. He didn't understand it, but as the water wrapped around him, Bella's face flashed in his mind. If only he could be so free with her...if only.
Later, The stretched out in the grass in an attempt to warm up. Bella's head rested on Edward's stomach, and her eyes were closed.
Absentmindedly, he twisted a lock of her hair around his fingers before releasing it and twirling it again.
"Edward?" Bella murmured.
"I know you better than Alice, right?"
"Then..." she paused. "Alice thinks I should just provoke you into making the first move."
"What?" he asked, focusing more clearly.
"You know, to ask me out."
"How...how'd you..." Inwardly, he cringed. Was it that obvious?
"Edward," Bella said, sitting up and turning to look at him. "I know you better than everyone. And everyone knows."
Edward sat up, and held his face in his hands.
Bella reached up and took his hands in hers. "That being said...I happen to know that you're too shy to ever do anything about it." She scooted forward. "Edward, I really like you. Really, really like you. A lot. And...I want you to go out with me."
Edward gaped at her, mouth opening, and then shutting. "Um. I...well...yes?" he finally choked out, unable to believe his good luck.
She bit her lip. A beatific smile lit up her face, and she leaned forward to hug him. She hesitated a little and looked up at him. "This is okay...right?"
Testing the water, he thought. He gave her a shaky smile. "Definitely."
It wasn't like they'd never hugged before. It wasn't like this one was physically different from the previous ones. But somehow it was more special--which meant something, because every hug from Bella meant a lot to Edward. But this one...this was the best.
"I lied," Bella whispered.
"I don't like you...I...love you."
"Oh," he said, his breath coming out in a big sigh. Testing again. "I love you, too."
"Yeah. I know. But...sometimes I worry that I'm not enough..."
"So, you test the water."
She blinked, and then smiled. "Yeah. Exactly."
"Bella...You're more than enough," he whispered, kissing her forehead gently.
"Okay...just...keep reminding me?"
"Oh, are you two finally together?" Esmé asked when the pair entered the house.
"My mother knew?" Edward groaned.
"It was painfully obvious," Bella said. "Even Emmett had it figured out." But she smiled at him to soften the blow.
To no use—Edward scowled. Emmett? That was a low blow.
"Edward." Bella's voice drew him out of his musings. "Are you going to drive me?"
She didn't ask him to drive her home...perhaps just a slip. But still...Edward liked to think that maybe she felt that wherever he was was her home. It was a nice thought. A nice possibility.
A/N: There you have it...my work of the summer. Pretty depressing, eh? I was pretty depressed when I realized it on Saturday...I had all summer and all I produced was a few one-shots. Sad.
However, I do have a full length fiction in the works. I have seven chapters done. I want to be nearly finished before I begin posting, however, because I have to work way too much this year, and I don't really want to go three months between updates.
That being said, I'm looking for a beta to work with me on this fiction. (I could go search through beta readers, but I'd rather it be one of my own readers...) By work with, I mean read over it and tell me when my grammar/spelling is wrong, if I sound stupid, and convince me to sit down and work on the stupid thing. (Okay, it isn't stupid...It's actually the best thing I've written yet.) Also, I need help with a title. Some basic info about it: it's a Twilight, Canon, All-Human fiction. The chapters are twice the size of my normal ones (20 pages! Incredible for me.) and major themes include divorce, break-ups, music, Guitar Hero, infidelity, and a suicide. Warning: the beginning is Bella/Jasper.
So, if you're interested, please let me know in a review or PM. Thanks!