A/N: I'd say it's my first time, but I'm not big on beating a dead horse.
This is for hunterhunting. She puts up with my anxieties and still encourages me to write. I admire you, Moongoddess.
To my TT h00rs: Let me innn. I love you.
And my amazing betas annanabanana and antiaol—the best word surgeons I know.
Oh and il_suo_cantante? The awk to my wit. Lose the boyshorts.
Disclaimer: Yo Windy, I'm really happy for you and Im'a let you finish, but S. Meyer had the best vampire series of all time.
I agree, Kanye. No copyright violations are intended, I just like playing with their minds. Always play with their minds.
Ok- here we go.
I hated coffee. Actually, let me rephrase that. I fuckingloathed coffee. It was muddy, bitter, and not even the burning of a thousand Altoids would remove that foul filmy shit taste from my mouth after a single sip.
But, in true Bella fashion, all hatred aside, I had become dependent on the otherwise unnecessary substance. This was a reoccurring theme in my life, these addictions. When I thought about it, there was no certain correlation between any of them. It started small: a book I would read until the binding gave out, an album I listened to until I memorized the track lengths down to the second. Then it transformed into something beyond my control. I smoked cigarettes for three years in a long winded fit of rebellion after I graduated high school and moved to Chicago. I had an unprecedented addiction to the word "fuck," and I slept strictly with scumbags.
I used to read Jane Eyre once a month. It took the first three songs from The Queen is Dead for me to get ready in the morning. I would have sold the shirt off my back for a cigarette, and I fucking hated Mike Newton.
My addiction to the douchebaggery that was Mike Newton started out as simple as anything else. He knew beat poetry by heart, he rolled his own cigarettes, he drank hard liquor before the sun went down and he permanently looked about two days overdue for a shower. If my unconventional nature wasn't already cemented, I sure as shit brought it home by dating the guy who played bass in a band for a "living" and constantly smelled a little bit like pot.
I blame my apathetic nature in regards to the opposite sex as the reason for not having caught the warning signs about Mike sooner. It wasn't that I was opposed to sex specifically; but when I reflected on my short list of bedroom experiences, the only things worth notice were that I had perfected the art of the fake orgasm and the only true sexual satisfaction I encountered was in the company of a battery-operated device with stored fantasies of a faceless man. And that, in my opinion, was pretty fucking weak.
In retrospect, I should have known the night Mike took me on a "date" to his band's show and I found more than one Nickelback song on his iPod something was askew. Still I let it go because he didn't completelysketch me out, he wasn't the worst kisser in the world and I had three fucking Justin Timberlake songs on my playlist. If I was being honest, I was happy with settling. I knew by dating someone who kept me, albeit mildly, entertained, I wouldn't be walking the plank of disappointment when it didn't work out. I had abandoned any hope of a fairy-tale romance. I was the poster-spawn of the split home, and I learned at a young age finding Prince Charming was about as likely as dinner with the Easter Bunny.
The thing that blew my mind was that my addiction to Mike wasn't rooted in anything rational beneath the surface. The sex wasn't good. He had exactly five stories stockpiled to share only when in the company of a group of people. I fucking hated that he called me "babe". His band was shit, and I was tired of telling him otherwise. They say hindsight is twenty-twenty. In my case, hindsight was a tiny dick and an unwarranted superego.
After a few weeks of seeing Mike, I noticed the cracks forming in his carefully crafted persona. What I originally thought of as artistic and mysterious suddenly appeared fraudulent and pathetic. His regular tales became grander, and with their new twists and punch lines, he lost track of who knew which version. He blamed his ever-present buzz. I began to see him unraveling, yet I couldn't let go.
I wanted to let go, but I couldn't.
I had become addicted to the false sense of security Mike offered. His hollow promises distracted me from the truths I avoided. He never meant a word he said, but he put on a believable front. His entire existence was staged, and I was merely part of the performance. When realization struck, I categorized myself as a fraud of equal value. I was guilty of immersing myself in his world for as long as I had. His lack of any long term friends assisted in my conclusion that this was a normal Mike cycle. He wore out those around him and traded them in for new models.
The new Bella model was Jessica Stanley. I would've missed her altogether if I hadn't sought out Mike after his gig at a dodgy downtown pub called Tyler's to tell him I had work in the morning and would be heading home to turn in. After my revelations, I made a conscious effort to see him no more than was necessary without provoking suspicion. In my own mind, it was a brilliant ploy. His web was tangling, and I was tired of his shit. I planned it out so in a few weeks time, with our interactions dwindling and my presence less frequent, he could easily forget about me and move on to the next victim. I was far too socially awkward to begin to consider an uncomfortably formal "It's not you, it's me," breakup conversation, and the idea of avoidance seemed more appealing. As I rounded the corner of Tyler's, I spotted Jessica New Model on all fours, while Mike was leaning up against the graffiti covered wall; her mouth barely full with the entirety of his cash and prizes. Neither sensed my presence, and I felt less voyeuristic and more like I needed to immediately bleach my eyes. Somehow I even managed to notice her vermillion claws dug deep in the flesh of his pasty thighs. His jaw was slacked while he leaned casually against the brick with his eyes closed, and I felt the results of seeing such a disturbing display work their way from my stomach to the back of my throat as I spun on my heel and walked in the opposite direction.
A normal response would have been to scream, cry, run and not look back or look for the closest object suitable for anger-driven castration, but I found it impossible to be angry with Mike. Well, that wasn't entirely true. There was the undeniable prickness that accompanied his back alley blowjob, but really, I had used him as much as I had been used by him.
In a response which not only deviated from the norm but also shocked the shit out of me… I laughed. Whether it was a testament to my awkward nature or a walk on the line of certifiable, padded-room insanity, I couldn't be sure, but I stood in a side alley in the middle of the city and laughed until I cried.
I lost track of how long I was caught in the hilarity until I felt a hand on my shoulder. My body stiffened immediately.
"Hey babe, I've been looking all over for you." I cringed when he dropped the 'b' word, and he stroked the crown of my head. It wasn't a romantic gesture in the slightest; there was no emotion attached.
I dabbed the inside corners of my eyes to make sure there were no post-laugh tears left on my face. Mike looked concerned briefly, but the moment was fleeting.
"Oh have you? I was just coming to tell you I was leaving," I said, finally making eye contact, noticing Jessica sheepishly flanking him. Mike held a glass of an amber liquid, and my eyes darted between the two of them in silent question.
"I was just getting Jessica something out of the merch box." He smiled and continued to pet the back of my neck. I was too lost in my own thoughts to give a shit.
Jessica obviously needed to be trained. She blatantly shot daggers at me as I executed the most uncoordinated half-chuckle half-cough on record in response to Mike's lie. The voices from patrons on the sidewalk outside Tyler's grew louder as the three of us walked silently and uncomfortably toward them, the tension palpable in our strides. When we reached the opening, Mike's drummer Eric came over and clapped him on the shoulder, and Jessica rushed back into the pub. Mike draped an arm around my waist lazily, a silent maneuver signaling the beginning of his performance. My stomach boiled in disgust. I knew I should have walked away the minute I saw the display behind Tyler's. Even though I harbored some serious self worth issues, it was clear even I didn't deserve to be treated that way. I wanted to let go, but I couldn't.
I somehow managed to stay silent and still while Mike prattled on and on about their "awesome" set and upcoming plans for a mini tour throughout Illinois. The dullness numbed me, and I lost track of time completely.
The light shuffle of Mike's remaining cigarettes alerted me it was well past two a.m. His glass was conveniently three quarters empty as he slurred his two cents. "Don't ever give up on anything you can't get through a single day without thinking about," his glazed pupils pleaded. I laughed as he spoke to the small group surrounding us and took credit for the mildly insightful thought. I recognized it from a postcard that sat on his kitchen table.
"I'm out of here. I have to work in the morning." I attempted to squeeze out my best fake yawn to add believability.
"Babe, I'm so bummed you're going." Mike leaned in for a goodnight kiss, and in a moment of debatable brilliance or craziness, my lips brushed his cheek and whispered, "You're a fucking fraud. I'm done."
Like a true performer, Mike's expression only faltered momentarily, not wanting to be caught in the current altercation in front of an audience. He looked at me with a tight smile and moved in to kiss the side of my head. I shook off his advances and walked away. I wanted to let go, and I could.
The fuckery which was Mike Newton was indirectly the reason I bought coffee at all and was late to work the next morning. I freed myself of one addiction, and fed another. I couldn't find room to complain; the absence of Mike in my life felt like a huge weight had been lifted. I wished I was actually awake enough for my victory to be fully enjoyed. I grumbled as I eyed the cup of unreasonably hot liquid in front of me, pulled out a gloved hand to hit pause on the "Wake the fuck up Bella" mix and approached Pack Records. I pulled out my earbuds and pushed the door open with my hip, chiming the bells that hung along its frame. I saw Jake immediately at the cash register, his enormous frame practically folded at the waist while he read. Jake was a few years shy of my twenty-five and was rarely in the store he technically owned. A true Y-generation entrepreneur, he made his first million before his twentieth birthday by creating a networking website geared toward unsigned musicians and bands. He opened Pack Records two years ago in an effort to revive the culture which had become dependent on illegal downloading and instant entertainment. Jake had the money to spare, and in my opinion, he harbored some serious High Fidelity envy. He never denied those claims.
"Hey Bells," he called out when the last of the chimes rang and signaled my entrance. I pulled at the tip of my fabric covered finger with my teeth, removing my black gloves, and put them in the messenger bag slung over my shoulder.
"Hey Jake. Everything alright? I haven't seen you in a while." I had worked for Jake since the day he opened the store. I loved my job, and while Jake was away, which he often was, I took over the majority of the managerial work at Pack. I had a degree in Journalism from Northwestern, and did a fair amount of music related articles for local papers and magazines, but Pack felt like home.
He finally looked up from the paperwork which had been holding his attention and smiled brightly at me. I removed my coat and dropped my bag on the counter. I grabbed the handful of windblown locks falling over the newly exposed skin of my collarbone and fastened it into a messy array at the nape of my neck. It was then I noticed Jake's smile was a little bit too big, and it was a little bit too fucking early to be that happy.
"You were supposed to open the store at nine. The midget called me at 9:03." He raised a black brow and glared at me. I took a sip of my still scalding coffee and looked at him in disbelief.
"Alice? How did she even get your number? I'm sorry I was late Jake, I…" To be quite honest, I hoped he would cut me off, so I didn't have to spout off about the Mike drama. I was really fucking thankful that he did.
"Save it, Bells. You know it's fine. And I don't know how she got my number. I'm not ruling out that girl's ties to the mob. Or any other illegal crime organization. Freaky little…"
"I CAN HEAR YOU!" I couldn't stifle the giggle which erupted from my mouth when Jake's head snapped to the back of the store where Alice was skipping through the Jazz section, her arms outstretched touching every album within her limited reach.
"Wake me up, and tell me we're opening late. Satan's sidekick…" Jake continued to mumble under his breath as Alice got closer.
Alice Cullen had been a daily visitor to Pack for the past month. It all started when she came in with a stack full of colorful flyers, almost taller than her petite frame, spouting off a mile a minute about her boyfriend's band and their upcoming show and the tape, oh my in the name of all that was Scotch, the fucking tape. She was a tornado of more energy than any human should embody. An hour later, Pack was covered in promotion for Alice's boyfriend's band Soul Soldiers, she'd declared we were going to be the best of friends, I had six separate phone numbers to reach her at and a "date to do lunch." She was too girly and too pushy, too hyper and too much; but she was real and she didn't take shit from anyone. I fucking liked Alice.
That was, until she somehow found my not-so-boss-boss' unlisted phone number and called him to rat me out for being late to work. "I'm sorry, Bella," she sang as she popped herself up on the counter in one fluent motion. "Your phone was off all night. I was worried."
"Yeah. I'm sorry about that I uh…" I started.
"You broke up with Mike, I know," she stated, so matter of fact that frankly, I was a bit fucking annoyed.
"How did you…" I asked, looking between her and Jake, blushing furiously at the sudden influx of attention on my social life.
"Just a hunch," she shot back. If there was one thing I'd learned in the short time I had known Alice, it was not to second guess her hunches. She was usually correct in her assumptions. I didn't want them explained…ever. I often got the visual of her sitting in front of a Ouija board with Tarot Cards scattered all around as she wore one of those fortune teller gemmed hats and surrounded herself with four crystal balls. Very excessive, even for clairvoyance. Very Alice. "We're going to 1918 tonight," she said as she picked a magazine off the counter and began aimlessly flipping through the pages.
"What? No, Alice. I work until eight and I didn't bring a change of clothes," I said, motioning to my tank, cardigan and crimson bubble skirt. Alice had been trying to get me to go to 1918 for as long as I'd known her. I remembered her saying in passing her older brother worked there. I don't remember what he did or anything else from the conversation, but then again Alice did speak at the speed of a six year old who had twelve Pixie Sticks too many.
"But Bella, Soul Soldiers are opening for California Waiting!" She smiled immediately, knowing I would be intrigued that Jasper was on a bill with my favorite band. The show had been sold out since about two minutes after tickets were released.
"What? Alice, how? That's fucking incredible."
"One of the bands dropped off the tour a few days ago. They needed to fill the slot, and we called in some favors." It didn't surprise me. While she was a far cry from Yoko-ing that shit, Alice dedicated an impressive amount of time promoting and supporting Soul Soldiers.
One side of my lip curled upward at her use of "we." She and Jasper were disgustingly adorable on a bad day, and fucking nauseating on any other. Not necessarily in the public display sense, more in the capable of having a full conversation with just their eyes sense. I had only spent a few nights out with them as a pair, but they were a blast. I would never admit it in a public forum, but there was part of me that was envious of them. Jaded Bella knew it would never happen, but buried deep beneath the scars of experience, Dreamer Bella craved that kind of connection.
"Called in some favors? Did you make anyone cry, Alice?" Jake chuckled loudly, successfully pulling my attention back to the discussion at hand.
Alice barely seemed phased by the stab as she shrugged her shoulders and replied "No more than usual." She shifted her cornflower eyes in my direction and pleaded "Say you'll go? Please, Bella. You know you want to."
I was desperate to see California Waiting live. I had done several album reviews and write-ups about them but had missed the one time they stopped in Chicago in the past year. For about three seconds, I had contemplated trying to snag a press pass for the show and whipping up a review afterward, but the more I let the idea stew, it felt manipulative. I didn't want to work while seeing them; I wanted to experience it fully.
I bit the inside of my cheek and eyed Alice with speculation. Jake had a smug smile on his face, likely knowing I would give in to her plans.
"Fine," I sighed, a bit more dramatic than intended. The truth was, I was thrilled to finally see a good show. I had been so busy dropping by Mike's gigs I wasn't sure I'd know good music anymore if I hadn't actively been seeking it out on my own.
Alice began clapping furiously, looking like something akin to a demented fairy attempting to launch into flight and then made some sort of awful high pitched squealing sound. "Okay, great. I'll call and make sure we're on a list. I'll pick you up at eight, Bella. We're going to have so much fun! We'll get a stiff drink in you, and then you'll forget all about Mike the Fuckbucket. And then we'll get a stiff…" She wiggled her eyebrows suggestively.
"ALICE!" Jake and I screamed in unison. She giggled and hopped off the counter, taking the magazine with her and walking out the front door of Pack.
By the time seven rolled around, I was on my sixth cup of coffee, seventeenth Altoid and twelve minutes, thirty two seconds into California Waiting's latest album. The store was fairly empty and I blocked out the conversation my co-worker Sam was having with a customer about the merits of Insane Clown Posse. Didn't think I missed a fucking thing there. I found myself getting lost in the smooth bridges and tunnels of notes flowing through the speakers, the vocals, an accented vehicle, transporting the lyrics to their destination. I swayed slightly to the progressions and kept rhythm with my foot as I alphabetized the small selection of world music albums Pack had in stock.
Roughly thirty-two minutes into the B-side singles of California Waiting, Alice arrived. I quickly ditched my gloves and coat in the break room of the store, not wanting to tote them around all evening, and if we were taking a cab, I didn't have to worry about getting too frigid in the November Chicago air.
Alice had brought a flask of Black Label for the ride over, and I wasn't sure if it was the nostalgia of drinking before a show, my overall non-shitty day or the booze in general which caused me to be slightly flustered upon our arrival. My stomach tightened and I genuinely had butterflies I was so excited.
Once we paid our fare, Alice led me by the hand through the line of hundreds waiting to get inside 1918. A temporary barricade was set up to aim for some sort of organization, but we bypassed the entire crowd as we headed straight for the front door.
An empty barstool sat directly outside the main entrance, followed by a few sections of velvet rope. Alice continued tugging me along, and the logistics of such a tiny person walking so fast baffled me. Upon reaching the door, a man, who could only be described as a descendent of Andre the Giant with mitts the size of my fucking head, looked down at Alice as a huge grin crept over his face. He picked her up by her tiny waist and threw her over his shoulder. I didn't know whether to scream or punch him, although I was pretty fucking sure that in punching him I would only injure myself.
"Em! Put me down!" Alice squealed as the mammoth spun her around in a few circles. The veins in his arm rippled while he moved with her, and the contractions of the muscles under his solid flesh would have turned me on if I wasn't so fucking terrified in that moment. He set Alice back on the ground and she frantically ran a hand through her spiky mane.
"Bella, this is my brother, Emmett," Alice said, the annoyance seeping through her voice. This was the brother she had told me about. I was suddenly curious as to what Mama and Papa Cullen looked like if they could have children of such opposite physical polarities.
Emmett delicately placed a kiss on the top of my hand and smiled seductively, "Nice to meet you, gorgeous." I shivered a bit, whether from the chill of the air or the flirtatiousness of Emmett's introduction I wasn't sure. I felt my face warm, and as we walked by Emmett I gave a shy wave. Because I was a little bit tipsy, and a lot fucking awkward.
1918 was the newest venue in Chicago with the most buzz. It had an ideal location, close to several restaurants and local bars. Tickets to shows sold out within minutes, and its reputation drew the attention of several popular artists searching for an intimate setting for a concert or two away from the stadium tours. It had been open for close to a year, but not even my freelance work had brought me there. Once Alice and I walked through a small emerald corridor and emptied into the massive performance space, I was in awe. There were two wooden bars running down both opposing sides of the room. The stage was at the far end, ready for Soul Soldiers' set. Above the raised platform, on both sides, were quaint private balconies and an entire second floor standing area. I turned slowly to take in all the intimate details of my surroundings. A massive antique chandelier hung from the ceiling behind the lighting grids, and there was a large VIP area on the upper level, including a bar that tiered up to the furthest wall. There were rich draperies hung in gold, green and maroon throughout the venue, and its lush décor made it hard to believe there would soon be a thousand or so bodies packed in to its remarkable interior.
"What do you think?" Alice yanked me from my gawking, and I shook my head briefly.
"It's… it's fucking wonderful, Alice." She beamed at me and pointed over to where she'd spotted Jasper when we came in.
After a few minutes of chatting with Jasper and his bandmates, we wished them good luck and headed for the bar. The room was filling up fast, and my buzz was wearing off. I knew it wouldn't take much to find the warm fuzzy companionship of inebriation again, considering I hadn't eaten a thing but lethal peppermints all fucking day. She ordered us both two shots of whiskey and a mixed drink I couldn't hear the name of over the growing sea of people. I felt the warmth of the whiskey seep down my throat, slowly spread out into my limbs and cloud my brain. The lights looked softer, the crowd calmer. The venue was almost filled, and Alice insisted on watching Jasper from the side of the stage. That diluted the experience in my opinion; I wanted to be packed in with the people.
I spent the first few songs of Soul Soldiers' set standing by the bar where there was a bit more space between bodies. I danced without hesitation, getting wrapped up in Jasper's rough velvet chords and musical poetry. At the end of every song, I held my rapidly emptying drink above my head and jumped and landed and bounced in celebration for Soul Soldiers. They not only booked a show at 1918, which was a feat in itself, but Jasper and company opened for one of the best bands in the country. And unlike Mike, Alice's presence and Jasper's in turn felt undeniably right in my life. I was proud for my new found friends and thankful for a new beginning.
And thankful for whiskey.
As Soul Soldiers' set wound down, I turned back toward the bar to get a cup of water. I wanted to be tipsy for California Waiting, not take of my top and dance on the bar wasted. As I spun around, several things happened at once. My foot caught on the bottom of a stray barstool and tripped me. Why the fuck the stool was there in the first place was beyond me. Then my whatever-the-hell mixed drink fell from my grasp and in slow motion, I prepared myself for the impact between my jaw and the glass that would surely shatter before I reached the ground. Before I had time to brace myself, something pulled me up fast enough that I was convinced I suffered whiplash, and my head smacked into another solid object.
"What the mother fu…" I started, grabbing for the sore spot on my head and the back of my neck simultaneously.
"Fuck. I think your fucking head broke my nose," a nasal voice responded. I rolled my eyes and turned to face the savior turned victim. His face was hidden behind the hand pinching his nose, and he was looking up at the ceiling. I was momentarily distracted at the line of his jaw, strong and sturdy, as I saw him visibly swallow. His Adam's apple bobbed, and I paused to stare as if I were watching a fucking historical event. I focused my attention to the hand that pinched his nose, the adoring fingers a perfect blend of masculine strength with a hint of feminine softness, and wondered how much time had passed since our collision.
I rattled the obvious alcohol induced thoughts from my mind and spoke up. "Oh chill the fuck out and let me see," I snapped, sassier than intended. As if I somehow gained the smallest bit of grace or confidence from my several drinks and was not a bumbling ball of clumsy at the moment.
"Please," I quickly amended, feeling the blush tickling up my cheekbones.
From under his hand, I saw the corner of a perfectly proportioned pair of lips lifting slightly at the edges. He slowly released his grip on his nose, finger by gloriously long finger, and as his face lowered and entered my view, I was almost positive I made a sound no human had ever made up until that moment. One part gasp, two parts moan, equal parts "fuck."
My eyes swept rapidly over his face , his body, committing it to memory; my brain certain he would vanish at any moment. I refused to blink. I tried to speak, but words failed me. They, too, were unable to function at the sight of him; none adequate to describe his glory. I couldn't say he was perfect by societal standards, but fuck…he was myperfection. The faceless man who starred in my every fantasy, my every dream and every extension of my subconscious finally had features. Flawless features. The dim lights of the venue tinted his hair in golds and reds, the strands standing and falling in every direction. A dark pair of distinct brows rested atop two eyes the shade of moss, earthy and intense and beautiful and addictive. A steel hoop hugged his left nostril, and for the life of me, I couldn't remember how I ever said a negative fucking thing about men with nose rings. The velvet lips, which moments before held a captivating grin, were now in a line, a small barbell visible in the fullest part of the bottom. As soon as I focused my gaze on the piercing, it was gone. I furrowed my brow in confusion, convinced I had definitely lost it at that point, when the metal reappeared. And then I noticed it wasn't his lip… it was his tongue. He slid the ball over the soft pink of his lower lip and, at an achingly slow pace, maneuvered it back into his mouth. My breathing picked up, and I prayed to the powers that be I wasn't literally panting. At this point, it wasn't out of the question. My eyes continued back to his face, where his almond shaped orbs were fixed on me, and I may or may not have stopped fucking breathing altogether. It was already apparent that every physical shift by this man was wired directly to my undercarriage, as I felt the involuntary tightening between my thighs. That was when it hit me: I had completely abandoned the task at hand and was openly and non-soberly eye-fucking the shit out of him.
"How is it?" His voice was as flawless as the opening chords to an all time favorite song. Three words, and I was home, comfy and cozy.
"How's what?" I was too lightheaded to notice if I sounded steady.
Don't say perfect. Don't say perfect. Don't say perfect.
"Perfect." I automatically cursed my lack of a drunken awkward filter. My eyes widened, and I attempted to save myself, "Your nose. Your nose is perfect. It's not bleeding. It's fine. Not your face. Not that your face isn't perfect, or fine, but your nose… it's both, too. I mean…fuck. I'm sorry. Does it hurt badly?" I dug my teeth into my bottom lip, gnawing on the skin, suddenly mortified. I avoided his gaze by focusing on my hands, wrung in front of me. When I gained just enough courage to look up again, he smiled at me.
"I think I'll survive. How about you?" He was still grinning at me like he was the only one in the room who knew a dirty little secret. I wondered if he had some superhuman sex powers and could detect my body's involuntary reaction to him.
"I'm fine. People are staring, you know," I said, uncomfortable with the eyes I felt on our exchange.
His lips moved silently, and without thinking, I inched closer to hear him. He was magnetic and breaking the few inches between us made all the difference. I was wrapped in warmth and fragrance and man from our proximity as I leaned in further to catch his words. "If the people stare, the people stare. I really don't know, and I really don't care."
I really fucking hoped the whimper I made was muted by surrounding conversations. "The Smiths?" I beamed, recognizing the lyrics. Sparks flew through my brain and between our eyes, an exchange so overwhelming, I began to feel my knees weaken.
"You little charmer." His emerald gaze fell on mine, and the heart-melting half-grin was back. He was quite a bit taller than I, and his chin almost touched his chest when he looked down at me. "Yes, The Smiths. What were you in such a rush for just then?"
I assumed the music conversation was closed with his sudden shift. Who the hell quoted a song at random and dropped it? If he was Mike, he would have gone into excruciating detail on the artist, album and any quirky anecdotes from its conception, but then again, Mike only waxed knowledgeable on bands from the pages of "Playing Pretentious for Dummies." No, this man was definitely no Mike. The flutters in my stomach and the dampening fabric between my legs were evidences of that much.
"Oh, I was just going to get some water," I answered, pointing in the direction that which had become crowded during the set intermission.
He departed without a word, ducking under an opening in the wood paneling and popping up behind the bar. I gaped at him from several feet away as he walked up to a breathtaking woman with golden strawberry hair taking orders and making drinks with style and speed. As he whispered to her, she didn't look at him like he was completely insane, which I took as a good sign. When he pulled away, she yelled to someone at the opposite end of the counter and looked back at me and winked. A few seconds later I saw a baby-faced teenager with a broom and dustpan pushing his way through the crowd to get to the broken glass reminder of my clumsiness. He carefully swept up the shards, and I watched, a new wave of embarrassment washing over me. A red cup of clear liquid came into my view, and my breathing picked up again when I saw the fingers wrapped around it. His presence spoke to every nerve in my body without words, and I silently wished for another glass of liquid courage to help my chances of keeping him around for a few more minutes. He held a Heineken in his other hand and passed me the water.
"What, do you work here or something?" I asked, cocking an eyebrow, thrilled to know I was still tipsy enough to not stumble completely over normal human interaction. I wasn't a flirt by a long shot, and it pained me to think for an instant about how fucking pathetic I possibly looked.
"Or something." I gave him a shy grin and held the cup of water up.
"Mysterious. I'll take that. Well thank you…" I looked at him in question.
"Edward." Fuck me even his name turned me on more than it rightfully should. Not that it was a particularly attractive name to begin with; but I was certain he could tell me he was called Webster McGalliwag Leg Humper the Fourth, and I still would have pictured myself whispering it in the throes of passion. "And you are?"
"Bella. Bella Swan." I wasn't sure why I opted to introduce myself like some sort of fucking secret agent.
"Your name is Bella Swan?" he asked, cocking his head to the side.
"As in, beautiful swan?"
I rolled my eyes. "The irony isn't lost on me. Believe that."
"What irony would that be?" He pulled the green beer bottle to his lips and took a swig.
"The irony that although my name suggests otherwise, I never quite graduated from the ugly duckling phase," I shrugged my shoulders. In my opinion, that was easy to tell by anyone with two semi-working eyes.
"Well, Bella"he exaggerated my name and looked at me so intensely I think my body could have burst into flames in that moment, "I think you've been holding on to some seriously warped perceptions of yourself."
I opened my mouth to speak, but I fucking sucked at taking compliments. Awkward filter off, I looked him dead in the eye and tried not to focus on how red my face likely was. "I need a fucking drink," I said.
Edward inched towards to me, slowly, and my body screamed for him to hurry the fuck up and close the void between us. He rested his hand on a pillar behind my shoulder and continued to hold my gaze. "You already have a drink, Bella." His voice was a raspy whisper near my ear, and I desperately wanted to record it and make it my fucking ringtone. It was the sexiest sentence ever spoken. I sucked my bottom lip into my mouth, nibbling from the inside, occupying myself so I didn't launch myself at the sex personified leaning beside me.
I had no idea why out of the blue I was contemplating propositioning strangers at shows, but when I felt his closeness, the currents rushing between us, I couldn't find a reason not to. I had to explore the feeling, see why my reaction to Edward had been so intense. It was completely out of my character, but I wanted to stay near him. I could feel myself becoming addicted to his presence, and the need felt incomparably bigger than the coffee or cigarettes or books.
"Whiskey. I need whiskey," I said, frozen in place. I knew California Waiting would take the stage shortly, and I craved another spurt of inhibition. Edward searched my eyes for an immeasurable moment before he pushed himself off the wall with one arm and headed toward the bar. His lean but solid bicep contracted with grace under his black t-shirt, and I appreciated the lines of his angled back as he retreated. He was mixing a drink in no time, leaning into a conversation with the bartender who was still handling the mass of patrons. Edward seemed to know his way around the space fairly well. The display added to my suspicion he was a bartender himself.
He quickly returned with another red plastic cup and passed it to me.
"I figured we should have you steer clear of the glassware for a while," he smirked.
I took the drink from him and was both surprised and mortified when I stuck my tongue out like I was fucking seven years old. He looked as shocked as I felt and poked his out briefly, still long enough for me to catch a glimpse of the trapped steel once more and unconsciously lick my lips in response. The apple of his throat bounced again, and again my eyes were glued to its motion. At that point, I regretted wearing underwear at all. In my defense, I hadn't the foggiest idea I'd have a literal run in with a man who's every miniscule movement drove me and my body to uncharted insanity. We were still openly staring at each other when he spoke. Well, I stared at him. He was looking at me with darkened eyes, but I wasn't positive it wasn't because he thought I was slow and had a speaking/walking/staring problem.
"Follow me, I know the best spot we can watch from," he said. I turned to follow him without question. The alcohol effectively fulfilled its purpose; I felt relaxed as Edward took long strides in front of me. I could not bring myself to avoid the fact that he said "we," maybe indicating for some fucking reason, he wanted to be around me as well. Edward glanced over his shoulder every few steps, and soon we were standing in a darkened area on the left near the front of the stage. He was right; the view was perfect. While there was still a crowd packed tightly, we were tucked back several rows next to a barricade and under the canopy of the second floor balcony. I sipped my whiskey next to him, the stream spreading evenly throughout my veins. Without warning, the current between us became a quake as he gently wrapped his hand around my waist and shifted my body so I was standing in front of him. I knew I would never forget the way he felt there, assertive but comforting. I looked up over my shoulder at him, and Edward shifted his eyes to the heavyset man who had miraculously squeezed into the small space next to us. I smiled a thank you and turned toward the stage just as the lights went down and the audience erupted into cheers.
As the lights came up over the stage, the crowd surged forward, effectively slamming me into the barricade and Edward directly into me. I should have expected the movement, but nothing in the known world could have prepared me for my reaction to the way Edward's body curved flush against mine. His hips pressed firmly into my back, and my nipples gripped their secret steel in reaction. I closed my eyes and leaned back into him rather than away, and I felt two strong hands on my hips helping me back evenly on my feet. I missed the contact immediately, but could still feel the waves crashing through his fingertips. His hands retreated slowly, and the air from my lungs caught in my throat when he lowered his mouth to my ear.
"Are you alright, Bella?" he breathed huskily, firing off a domino effect of goosebumps that ignited at my earlobe and traveled quickly down the left side of my body before the right followed suit.
"Mhmm," I said softly. I was sure he didn't hear it, but I felt his hips twitch behind me, pulling him into my orbit once again. I pressed my legs together tightly and wondered how the fuck I went from being thrilled about seeing my favorite band perform to questioning how I would make it through the entire evening without some sort of release.
The starting notes blared through the speakers as the rhythm invaded my ears, pulling me from my clouded mind, and suddenly everything was clear. I cheered with the rest of the fans and immediately recognized the tune. I looked at my nearly full drink; the ice melted in the heat from the sea of bodies surrounding us. I threw the straw on the ground beside me and downed its contents and aimed the empty cup for the waste basket behind the barricade. I didn't see if I made it, but directed my attention back to California Waiting and was whisked away from reality with their melodic storytelling. My hips swayed as the bass line replaced the thumping of my heart in my ears. My eyes fluttered closed as I rocked from side to side; my arms poorly mimicking the drum beats I had memorized so well. Between the familiarity of the chords and choruses from the band combined with the constant humming reminder of Edward directly behind me, I was on the verge of a sensory overload. On a pass of my hips I felt something solid behind me and my eyes snapped open and over my shoulder to Edward. He was standing still, eyes black, perfect lips in a straight line. He looked down at me with…disapproval? I tilted my chin to the side as to silently inquire what the fuck was wrong with him. I didn't have any room to give a shit, but I gave a shit. I tried to justify it as not wanting his Debbie Downer ass anywhere near my good times, but I knew the truth was I thought that he was bored. That was a ridiculous, especially considering I had no room to be seeking affections from strangers, no matter what they did to my lady bits. I had, after all, just broken up with Mike the previous evening.
Who gives a flying fuck about Mike?I asked myself. It was more the liquor that asked and not so much brain, and I couldn't help but agree. I didn't give a shit. I had let go.
Edward didn't respond…just stared. I shrugged it off and turned back toward the stage, the bright flashes of light not quite meeting us in the private corner. I sang along loudly, sure that my voice would be gone by the end of the night. The song came to an end, and I felt a twinge of guilt as I wondered where Alice had run off to, but I was comforted to remember she was with Jasper. I knew she wasn't the type to be packed into a crowd during a show. I figured it was probable she was off drinking and sucking face.
The next piece started and it was rougher and edgier than the first, my body automatically responding by thrashing about. I lifted my hands over my head and pulsed with the beats and rhythms exiting the speakers. I screamed when the lead singer held the mic out to the crowd, knowing I wouldn't be heard but being under the spell of the band's undeniable presence. I jumped up and down and drunkenly shook my hips; mid shake, I was halted by Edward's firm grip on my side.
"Bella, I'm trying really fucking hard to not be a creep here." He swept the hair that had fallen from my careless bun out of the way of my ear. The quake had returned. My body trembled at its own accord from his touch. I could tell he wasn't speaking very loudly and was shocked I could understand him over the crowd and music. "So if you could do me the favor of not tempting me by shaking your ass right in front of my fucking face, I may be able to stop myself from doing something really fucking ungentlemanly."
My addiction to the word "fuck" reached new heights in that moment.
My mind was swimming in pools of sound and silence following Edward's confession. I had misinterpreted his earlier reaction. He wasn't disapproving, he was restraining. My heart, historically unaffected by potential attractions, tightened. It seemed impossible that the godlike creature, whose lips were dangerously close to my flesh, could harbor any interest, let alone, any of the non-platonic variety toward me. I knew it was necessary to make a decision on how to proceed and to decide fast. On the one hand, the idea of me trying to harness any sort of seductive prowess was completely fucking laughable. But on the other, whiskey and I had gotten along famously so far that evening.
I was amazed by the fact that I knew Edward was practically a fucking stranger, and it didn't cloud my consideration in the slightest. To be honest, I was more amazed that in such a short amount of time, the stranger could also be strikingly familiar and warrant reactions from parts of me I hadn't even known existed.
It was the quickest decision I ever made. It was also the easiest.
I spun around and tried my best to look playful and not cross-eyed while I stared up at him. His features were merely shadows in the dark; exactly how I remembered him from my dreams. The spotlights landed in our direction every few seconds, and then I could make out his eyes perfectly.
I took a jagged breath. Mr. Daniels, please don't fail me now.
"The last I heard, Edward… gentlemen didn't have metal bars through their tongues." I hoped my smile was sturdy because my knees were fucking shaking.
"I find that both generalizing and offensive, Bella." I was still trembling. I felt so in tune with his presence I could feel the smile in his voice. He was playing along.
"Really?" I asked, lifting my pointer finger and placing it print-down against the satin of his lips. "Because I think it's kind of sexy."
I felt his mouth open in response, and I waited patiently for the breath of his words. Instead, in a move that would go down in the books as Open the Floodgates 2k9, Edward ran the raised silver bead from the underside of my knuckle and up the pad of my thumb. He paused and retreated, pressing his tongue back into my skin with varied pressures. By the third pass, I thought I would come on the spot, and as he licked one last sweep up and down my finger, I moaned. I couldn't remember the last time, if any, I had genuinely moaned from pleasure. But I did. I moaned, and it got lost in the surrounding scene.
But, sing to me in the key of fuck, it felt fucking fantastic.
Applause erupted from the crowd and signaled the end of another song. I clapped along with them and grinned in the dark as I turned back toward the stage, hoping Edward was not done with his ungentlemanly displays.
I spent the next four songs focused on the individual stage personas of California Waiting. Actually, while I was getting lost in peaks and valleys of their performance, the mixture of the music and the man behind me had me in such frenzy my mind couldn't settle for more than a few milliseconds. I thought, after my advances, Edward would have budged a little, tossed a "let's get outta here" my way, and we'd be riding off into the cityscape. I only knew I had made the decision to explore my reaction to him. And after his tease, I thought it was settled. Instead, every time I looked back, he would send me a friendly grin and continue to mouth lyrics, as if he hadn't just said minutes before he essentially planned to attack me in front of an audience.
Two minutes and fourteen seconds into California Waiting's "Charmer," my feet took turns holding the rhythm. I tapped and tapped, bouncing my head, and was willingly pulled into the chords spewing from the speakers. I felt the waves build in my chest and crash throughout my limbs as Edward's arm crept out from behind me and stretched across my stomach until he gripped above my hip on the opposite side. His fingertips strayed slightly, fluttering over the material of my tank top, and my whole body began to heat up. It wasn't uncomfortable or forced; it was familiar like most things I had noticed about Edward. The pulse between my legs had not only returned but transformed into an ache and was accompanied by the indescribable coiling of my abdomen. He swayed my body in time with his, my back resting on his chest; our movements a composition, for the performers we watched on stage. He pulled me closer to him, and I tried to memorize his scent. And with my new proximity, it was pretty fucking apparent I was having an effect on him as well. I hoped for a moment he was packing heat, because if the massive stiffness that brushed against the small of my back was actually physically attached to Edward, I was in fucking trouble. Like potential post-coital reconstructive surgery trouble.
"Charmer" winded down, the lead singer announced the last song of their set and it was a shock to no one that they closed with their most popular single. Edward made no move to loosen his grip on me, but as the audience erupted into the standard near end roar, he placed his cheek flush on the side of my head, his mouth a breath away from my ear.
"I love this song. Do you like this song?" I nodded and tilted my head toward him in an attempt to close the small but infinite space between us.
His hand detached from my side and traveled slowly to the hem of my shirt. With feather light touches, Edward ran his fingers along the sliver of exposed skin, leaving a path of fire in their wake. His digits rested along the top of my waistband and he inhaled deeply, sighing on the exhale.
"I'm sorry, Bella. I'm trying to control myself. It's never been… I can't… It's fucking cra…" he stammered, the struggle in his words apparent.
"Stop trying." It was the simplest advice I could think of.
I felt his laughter vibrate through my insides. "You really shouldn't have said that." His tongue darted out to the flesh behind my ear, and he licked downward to the column of my neck, stopping the path only to close his smooth lips over the skin in a kiss. I didn't give a shit that there were people close by because it was only Edward and I and our created electricity which existed at that moment. It didn't seem anyone was paying the slightest bit of attention to us, anyway, and knowing that made the situation all the more erotic. I whimpered as Edward pursed his lips and blew a stream of cold air down the path he'd just taken with his tongue. My hand rested on his at the top of my skirt.
"Bella," he said, nuzzling his nose in the nook behind my ear as I closed my eyes and combined his liquid voice with the band's current impromptu guitar solo.
"Why the fuck are you wearing a skirt?" he asked.
He readjusted his hand so his palm laid flat against my belly button. I squirmed when the tops of his perfect fingers dipped below the waistband of the crimson fabric.
This cannot be fucking real.
His other arm held me close, the bulge from earlier still quite fucking present against my back. I took a few deep breaths to steady myself and tried to concentrate on anything other than Edward's hands inches from where I wanted him most. I couldn't focus on anything for an extended period of time, but it seemed that we were the only people standing remotely still, even with our swaying. Our neighbors were oblivious to the fact that an incredibly fucking magnificent creature had his hand almost fully in my non-pants.
"I came straight from work," I replied honestly. The only way we could hear one another over the crowd was if we screamed or spoke closely to the other's ear. We chose the latter.
"Well it's far too fucking tempting," he said, dipping his hand lower, at the top of my panties now, and I was completely lost. Caught between notes and sweet nothings, his hands and voices, I was wandering into the unknown and more than content. "Tell me to stop."
"I can't." It was true. I couldn't, nor did I want to.
"Edward. Don't stop." He listened. I couldn't believe he actually fucking listened. His hand maneuvered under the fabric, and he trailed a finger front to back along my entrance. My eyes drifted closed, and I bit my bottom lip, suddenly sensing the explosion of color and noise and pleasure around me. I heard light and saw sounds, and everything made perfect sense and no sense at all. Edward timed his movements to the music with such ease I thought it was choreographed.
His fingers curled into me; in time, in rhythm, in search of my spot. He rolled my clit in between his thumb and forefinger upon arrival, a drumroll to my impending explosion. His head came to rest on top of mine, singing in perfect key along with the band on stage. I opened my eyes and surveyed the area, California Waiting building up to the bridge of their last song. A crescendo ignited, and Edward picked an opportune time to slide a fingertip back and forth, waiting for the notes to stack up enough for him to slip into me completely. The music grew louder, adding elements as Edward added another digit. I bucked against his hand, his pumping a perfect punctuation to the impending explosion.
"Bella, let go," he instructed.
I want to let go, but I can't.
"I can't," I said.
He was pumping faster, but his act still remained a mystery to those around us. His thumb stroked me softly like a sweet summertime song. The two fingers he held inside me angled and curled, a cymbal crash against my spot. I felt my own crescendo approach.
"Fuck, Bella. You feel incredible. Please let go."
I wanted to let go, but I couldn't.
A series of almost-moans escaped my lips, and I was fucking positive I saw unicorns and bunnies; rainbows and the fucking Lucky Charms mascot frolicking along the sidestage. Any arbitrary addiction I had in my past paled in comparison to the need I had for Edward to touch me like this forever.
"Bella," he said, his voice a rough tenor as the audience continued their oblivious cheering. "Bella. Fucking. Let. Go." He bit down on the skin at the base of my neck and moved inside me a few more times. I felt myself tighten around his fingers, and I quivered, which turned into a quake and eventually an eruption and I lost my breath and found my euphoria simultaneously.
I concentrated on breathing while I came down from the natural high. Edward removed himself from my skirt, and I turned to look at him just as the lights were coming up on California Waiting. Even in my current utopian state, I somehow managed to whistle and scream for them as they took respectful bows and left the stage.
I could have been biased. I could have been drunk. But in my opinion, it was the best fucking show I'd ever been to.
When I faced Edward, he rubbed the back of his neck and shifted his eyes from the floor to me nervously. I thought for an instant that it would be hard to focus on anything other than his fingers, but I found the entire package equally mesmerizing. 1918 emptied quickly, some fans stopped to pick up a CD or t-shirt on their way out. The dramatic stage lights went out completely as the industrial fluorescent bulbs turned on and tinted everything a depressing grayish-purple. In a few minutes time, we stood amongst only a handful of other concert goers and 1918 employees.
I was at a loss of how to proceed. I looked at him through the tops of my eyes, awkwardly shifting my feet beneath me. The dopey smile on my face for which he was responsible was impossible to hide.
"So," I said, kicking the straw I removed from my drink earlier, "what now?"
His eyes lit up, and he grinned brightly at me. "Well, I have some things I need to take care of…" There it was. Of course Edward was too good to be true. I tried to not let the disappointment show on my face as I waited for him to tell me he turned into a fucking pumpkin at midnight. "But, if you wanted to wait by the bar for about ten minutes, I'd really like to take you out for some coffee."
I tried to stifle my giggle but was unsuccessful. "You know," he continued, "in the name of doing things out of order."
It wasn't an appropriate time for shy Bella to appear, but alas she did. I nodded and recognized the flush creeping up my skin. I planned to text Alice and let her know I would get home on my own. She had Jasper to make sure she was back safe and sound.
"Okay. I'll be right back," he said and departed with a breathtaking smile which I swore almost reached the ceiling. I followed him to the bar while he chatted with the knock-out again. If I hadn't still been coming down from a fucking legendary orgasm and was a little more sober, I might have been jealous. He came back to the patrons' side of the bar, the woman handing him what looked like a credit card receipt.
I don't even know his last name.
I rested my palm in a pool of liquid on the solid slab of oak, and watched Edward's fingers grip the ballpoint pen to sign. They looked foreign now in the harsh florescent light of the bar; out of place doing anything but bringing me pleasure. I closed one eye to steady myself and prayed for a stop to the spinning of my brain, but I made a mental note to thank Johnny and Jack thoroughly for my current state. I glanced down at his elegant script and was fairly fucking certain that his tab was more than my monthly rent. Before I could be assaulted with the image of lying naked on a Bentley and Mr. God-Fucked-Me-Fingers coming in spurts of gold, the light tug on the damp cotton of my tank pulled me from my reverie.
"BEWWA!" Alice gripped my shirt tighter and pulled down as she attempted to steady her footing. Her hair was a mess, and not in the normal styled-but-not Alice fashion, she had a run in her stockings, and she fucking reeked of booze. I saw both Jasper and Emmett approach, Jasper carrying Alice's jacket and one of her spiky heels.
"Bewwa, I'm missed youuu sommuch. SOMMUCH!" she slurred.
"Jesus, Jasper. What the fuck did you give her? You know she's your girlfriend, right? You could probably snag a beejer without liquoring her up." I smirked as they got closer. Alice was a lightweight in every sense of the word, and I assumed by her current state that she had approximately drank either three beers or a half of a Long Island. "Great set by the way."
"Thanks, Bella," he said as he peeled Alice off my shirt, bending over to wrap her tiny arm around his neck. She burst into a fit of giggles, pulled the beanie off Jasper's head and tugged it onto her own, covering her eyes. She stretched her arms out as if to mimic an airplane and kicked off her other shoe before she ran in wide circles across the littered floor of the club. Jasper took off after her which left Emmett and I to stare at one another awkwardly.
I didn't have a fucking clue what to say to Emmett. We both darted our eyes around the room and concentrated on anything but the other. I was thankful when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Edward step away from the bar and walk toward us.
"Hey, man. Emmett, this is…" he began, pointing between Emmett and myself.
"Bella. I know. We met earlier."
"What? When? Just now earlier?" Edward asked, confused. The only thing I understood was they knew each other, and I kind of knew both of them as well.
"Earlier tonight when I got here," I clarified.
"And it was a pleasure," Emmett wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.
"Are you hitting on customers again, Em?" Edward seemed mildly amused by the random incident.
"Hardly. I came with his sister."
Edward tilted his head and smirked. "You came with Alice?"
"Yes. I came with his sister, Alice. How do you know her?"
"EDwurd. I havesnt seens you alllll night!" Alice stopped her imaginary flying and joined the discussion. She threw her arms around Edward's neck and I looked between the two of them, mystified. Alice stepped back from Edward and looked at me. "EDwurd! Did you meet Belll-ll-lla? She looooves California Waiting! Bella! Thisis Edward, my brother," she sang.
"I thought Emmett was your brother?"
"You cun has more than one brothers, Bewwa."
I struck any plan of gushing about the night over brunch with Alice anytime soon. Oh yeah, Alice, and by the way, your brothers fingers are laced with magic come dust. Can you pass the grapefruit?No fucking thank you.
"Well isn't this just a fun little fuckin' coincidence." Emmett rang in as Jasper approached. He acknowledged Edward with a chin tilt.
"Hey, man. Thanks so much again for giving us the slot. We really appreciate it. It was surreal."
"No problem, Jasper," Edward said. "Anything I can do to help, really." Edward gravitated closer to me, and I was suddenly confused once more.
And again, tipsy Bella mixed with awkward Bella equals word vomit. "You gave Soul Soldiers the slot? How? I thought you were a bartender."
Emmett and Alice giggled, and Edward shot daggers at them. "No, Bella, you assumed I was the bartender." He smiled softly. I had no idea what the fuck was going on, but I was on the verge of bolting in seconds. Memories of Mike's fraudulent tendencies crept into my mind.
I could tell Edward sensed the discomfort in my expression, and his brow creased. "What are you?" I asked.
"I'm the owner, Bella."
Well fuck me sideways. I didn't see that one coming.
"Oh." It was all I had. I felt exposed suddenly, four separate pairs of eyes burning holes into my skin. "Well, that's cool." I couldn't begin to organize the questions I had. Why wasn't he in an office or some shit? Why was he taking random girls to Pleasuretown in his own establishment? And why the fuck did he pay his own bar tab?Later, I decided. I needed to ride out the rest of the evening happily, and I couldn't let my fucked up paranoia ruin that.
"Well, I'm on my way out," Emmett declared. He clapped Edward on the back and did the same to Jasper. "Bella, it was nice to meet you." He smiled, no trace of flirtation in his voice. "Have a good night, guys."
"Yeah, we should head out too," Jasper said. Somehow Alice had passed out on his shoulder, and he picked up her legs easily. She readjusted herself to his chest, and Jasper smiled at me, "Will you be okay to get a cab back, Bella? We have the van with all of our stuff in it. I'd be happy to give you a lift." I quickly glanced at Edward, and by the time my gaze landed back on Jasper, I was positive I had revealed my plans for the night. I still answered him.
"I'll catch a cab, Jasper. Really, it's fine. Thank you."
"Edward, make sure she gets home alright, okay?" Jasper looked like he would burst into laughter at any moment, and I was convinced he winked at Edward when he walked by.
Once it was the two of us, I felt the hum of electricity drawing me closer to him. I decided I could really fucking get used to it.
Edward walked a few paces ahead of me toward the exit, and once outside, I wrapped my arms around my body to combat the chill. There was a line of cabs in front of 1918, and Edward opened the door to one, glancing back at me.
"No. I don't like coffee." It was true. Addicted? Sure. Enjoyed? Absolutely not.
His brow creased and he angled his body to get into the awaiting vehicle. I cleared my throat ran my teeth over the flesh of my bottom lip.
"I'd fucking love some tea though, Edward," I amended.
He turned back and I saw his shoulders shake while he chuckled. He reached out a hand to help me into the yellow cab, and I eyed it with caution. I could feel the newly familiar electricity from several feet away. I took a breath, stepped forward and Edward wrapped his hand around my own as he helped me in the taxi.
I could let go, but I really didn't fucking want to.
The original intention for Hand in Glove was just this.
Things can change.
What's your addiction?