I'm buying you all a shot. You are fucking awesome. More about how awesome you are at the bottom.
Disclaimer: S. Meyer's vamps bring all the girls to the yard.
In seventh grade, I went to a sleepover at Kristen Cope's house. It was less because Kristen and I were actually friends and more in consideration of the fact that my podunk town had a school the size of a shoebox and all ten girls in our class were invited by obligation. I had no interest in going and stashed the invite in the depths of my patch-ridden Jansport. Then my nosy mother found it and gave some spiel about getting "socialized." She forced me to attend. I never really forgave her for it… or anything else, for that matter.
I didn't remember much from that night, aside from the fact that Kristen's house smelled like soup and her mom had a closet full of themed sweater vests I found on accident while looking for the bathroom. After eating our preteen weight in sweets and snacks, we gathered in some séance circle for a few rounds of Light as a Feather Stiff as whateverthefuck. Even then I knew it was all social climbing bullshit, and ended up falling asleep to the whispered tales of Stacey getting felt up on the bus ride back from the field trip to the Planetarium.
Before that moment, I'd never been enlightened as to the ritual hazing of the first sleeper. My ignorance resulted in waking to find my overnight bag ransacked, my bra transformed into a AAA icicle, and whipped cream smeared down the front of my blanket.
Kristen Cope's sleepover taught me two important lessons:
One: Never fall asleep first.
Two: Warm whipped cream fucking reeks.
Eighth grade me blushed a million reds at twenty-five year old me's consideration of whipped cream possibilities in Edward's company. I was really stoked he didn't freeze my bra, though I wouldn't have minded him taking it off.
But that would never happen. Because I, Bella Swan, was a stupid fucking idiot who was stupid. And an idiot.
I was in his bed. His perfect, marshmallowy, Page 89 Pottery Barn bed. It smelled like cinnamon and man. Fresh and spicy. Was there a way to take pictures of smells? A scented snapshot? That's what I did that morning, melting into his blankets, his pillow. I basked. Then I fucking panicked.
I remembered the hallway. Oh, fuck me, did I remember the hallway. I spent the next five minutes remembering the hallway. I remembered seeing his apartment. The records on the wall. I picked a record. He played the record. Then I slipped away.
Of all the nights in my life I'd spent not going to sleep until the sun woke, why, why in the name of all that is beautiful and nose-ringed and perfect, did I have to sleep that night?
Fuck you, Johnny Walker. Fuck you and Jack Daniels, too.
To say I had a headache would have been a horrible understatement. There was an army of gnomes playing whack-a-mole on my brain… with steel hammers. My mouth felt fuzzy, and that was wrong on so many fucking levels beyond my comprehension. I had to get out of there. As hard as it was, with the marshmallow bed and cinnamon, I had to leave.
Maybe I should have left a note. Thanked him for a good night. But that seemed contrived and stupid, and for some reason the word "good" wasn't enough. Great wasn't enough. Perfect wasn't enough. Nothing was enough. The night with Edward—that was enough.
My mind was fucked. It made perfect sense to me; if I left without a word, we could both go our separate ways and just let the night be what it was: perfectly timed perfection. Nothing more, nothing less. No pressure and no disappointment.
Disappearance versus disappointment.
I couldn't stand another disappointment. Not like the others. Mostly, I didn't want to be the disappointment. Not with him.
The couch was half his size, but he slept on it anyway. The sunlight through the curtains did crazy things to his hair. It took everything I had to not stop and touch him again. But disappearance won.
Back to reality.
Stepping into the frigid dawn, I took a look back at his building. It was a new kind of disappointment.
I smoothed the fabric of my wrinkled top and flattened my wild hair. This was a walk of pride, not shame.
And I made that walk of pride my bitch.
I didn't want to sit in my apartment anymore. After I got home, I spent two hours burning toast and overanalyzing my disappearance versus disappointment theory.
Turned out, after years of apathy, I was really good at over analysis. Or bad. Whichever was worse, and left that anxiety lump in my stomach.
On the upside, in those two hours I managed to find almost three dollars in change and four takeout menus pressed between my couch cushions.
I used the change to buy two cups of coffee on the way to work. One of which I finished on the walk there.
Jake gave me the side eye when I arrived thirty minutes early. I gave him the finger.
"Bad night?" He smirked, refilling the CD deck by the office.
"What about the finger didn't you understand, Jake?" I glanced at the music in his hands. No fucking way was I being subjected to that garbage all day long. "Veto," I said flatly, pointing to the stack.
He didn't have bad taste in the slightest, but lately it was nothing but wacky fantasy metal and dubstep. He wasn't usually around enough for it to completely piss me off, but it wasn't the day to try. I think he sensed that.
Jake huffed. "Fine. Split." So we did. He got his Night Fire Corpse of Cannibal Ashes in October or whatever the fuck it was, and I got some semblance of sanity for three albums' lengths.
Neither of us heard Alice arrive a few hours later. I was concentrating far more than necessary on making new overhead signs for music sections, while Jake was busy with pre-orders. Work was a nice distraction.
"Let's go," was all she said. And it scared the shit out of me. It didn't startle me, it scared me. I knew what this was about.
"Oh, hey, Alice," I said, not even the slightest bit naturally. "I'm actually a bit busy, but if you wanted to maybe come back later..." I was not ready to have this conversation.
"Bullshit. They have to give you a break. You're the boss, you give you a break." Her voice was coated in sleep, and I took in her appearance for the first time. She wore the same hat she'd stolen from Jasper the night before paired with an oversized Ramones t-shirt I assumed she borrowed as well. She was a walking hangover: ratty sweater, Olsen Twin sunglasses, leggings and furry boots. Not her finest moment. If Alice left her apartment looking like that, without consequence, I knew I wasn't getting out of this.
"Be back, Jake," I called to him across the store. He offered a grunt and dismissive wave.
Alice cringed and rubbed her temples. "Stop making your words so loud. Fuck."
We walked wordlessly up the street to the bistro on the corner, our silent agreement. We didn't speak when we were seated. We didn't speak when the waiter arrived. I was staring into the murky red of Alice's half-empty Bloody Mary when her voice finally shook me from my daze.
"So," she started, swirling a piece of celery around in the crimson liquid.
"So," I echoed.
"Out with it."
I sighed. Like a fucking lame ass. I just sighed. Where was I supposed to start with this?
"It's complicated." I was officially one Shins-ridden soundtrack short of a teen drama.
"No, it's not." Alice's low bullshit tolerance was one of the things I liked most about her.
"I don't know what you know."
"I know you left with my brother last night. I know he isn't answering his phone today. I know one of you better fucking fill me in—spare the details I want nothing to do with—so I can figure out what's going on."
"Nothing is going on. I had fun with Edward last night." Fun. That was a cheap substitute.
Don't think about his mouth. His hands. His voice. Don't think about it.
I was thinking of nothing but it. All of it.
"And nothing. It was what it was, and now it's done."
"Why?" She waved to the waiter and pointed to her drink. Refill.
"Because, it's easier this way."
"Well, that's a bit selfish, isn't it?" Yep.
"I'm just trying to figure some things out right now."
Alice finally removed her sunglasses, after being indoors for nearly ten minutes. She rolled her eyes. "Like your career? Yourself? It's not you, it's me type shit, right? Cop out."
"That's not what I meant. I just don't want to be let down again."
"First off, fuck you, because that's my brother you're talking about." She smiled for the first time. "Secondly, maybe this is good. Why won't you let yourself find out if this could be good? I don't want to push it, I just want to know."
"Maybe." The waiter shoved my sandwich in front of me. Alice squirted globs of ketchup onto her plate. The mass of thoughts flying through my mind made it impossible to identify a single one.
"Maybe stop thinking so hard."
I laughed, genuinely. It felt really good. She smiled and popped a french fry into her mouth.
"All I'm saying is this, Bella. You've had a shitty hand. And you don't deserve it. I wouldn't have dragged my ass out of the house looking and feeling like this if you went home with Mike last night. Well, maybe I would have, but only to punch you in the mouth for being an idiot."
The name did nothing. There was nothing there. I don't think there ever was.
"But," she said, adjusting the glasses on her head, "at the risk of sounding cliché, you won't know until you try. As your friend, I won't push this. It's not my business. But as his sister, he's a great guy, and he deserves better than being walked out on."
I hadn't told her I left without a word. "But, I…"
"I know these things. I know you. And I think you should say 'fuck it' and just jump. Just once."
"Thanks, Alice." She made far too much sense, and my thoughts multiplied to scenarios. How I could fix this mess I created myself. This manifestation of bullshit disappointment I had no grounds to identify other than just being a girl afraid of liking a boy.
How fucking pathetic. Alice was right. I deserved a shot, and Edward deserved an explanation.
"In other news, let's talk about how I'm pretty sure I vomited in one of Jasper's cowboy boots last night."
And that's how the rest of our lunch went. Light. Easy. Fun. And mixed in with the laughs between friends, I silenced the mess in my mind and decided on one thing.
I would fucking fix this.
At 3:30, I was still staring at the numbers on the napkin. The ink was bleeding, an inconvenient ticking time bomb. If I didn't act soon, there would be nothing but seven blotches of misshapen blue.
Alice gave me Edward's number. Without hope or condition, she folded it into my hand on her Bloody Mary-stained coaster. It was up to me now.
At 4:15, I dialed five numbers.
At 4:18 I went to the office and practiced our conversation in a pocket mirror. I had wicked bags under my eyes. Two nights had passed without two nights' worth of sleep.
I would call at 4:37. I wrote out a voicemail on a post-it, in case he didn't answer.
He didn't answer at 4:37 and I didn't follow the script in the slightest. I was rambling and I knew it. Extended my vowels, made every word stretch, and I was positive none of it made any fucking sense. I wondered how many times I'd said "um."
The store was fairly busy. People bustled in and out, knocking into each other with shopping bags hanging off their hands. The problem with steady business was whenever the door chimed their welcome, or a random cell phone went off, I frantically patted down my pockets assuming it was mine.
It wasn't. And I dropped my phone twice because of the false alarms. Once on Jake's foot.
I needed to not think about it. I needed to wait it out. I alphabetized albums to concentrate on something mundane and not what he was doing, if he had gotten my message, or if it was floating in some wireless black hole where all awkward pathetic apology voicemails go to die. To save the sender from horrible humiliation.
Badly Drawn Boy before Bat for Lashes. Bikini Kill after Belle and Sebastian. Baha…
"What the fuck is this?" I pinched the offending album between my thumb and pointer finger in Jake's direction. He remained bent over, nose deep in the latest issue of GQ.
"Jake, I said what is this?"
"JAKE!" He shot up, knocking over the stack of papers next to him, rainbow confetti fluttering around the cash wrap. Glaring at me through his floppy black hair, his jaw tensed, distinct cheekbones caving in as he ground his teeth.
"What is what, Bella?" he spat.
"This!" I shouted, waving the case at arm's length.
"It's a fucking CD. Do you know where you are right now?"
"This is not a CD. This is a Baha Men CD. Why do we have a Baha Men CD, Jake?"
"Because someone might want to buy it."
"I don't think I want to work in the type of establishment where that is a possibility," I said seriously. He picked up the flyers one by one. Green. Pink. Yellow. Orange. Back to green.
"Then don't. What's your deal today? You're starting to piss me off. Go home."
"What?" He couldn't have been serious.
"I know what I said, because I said it. Go home, Bella. Decompress. Come back tomorrow. Sans the PM…" he started.
"I assure you, if you finish that fucking sentence, this CD will be so far up your ass you'll be letting the dogs out through your nostrils."
"Oooh, a Baha Men fan reveals herself." Jake walked into the office and reappeared with my coat and bag. "Seriously, just chill out. Please. Have a beer. Get some sleep. I'll see you later."
I didn't have the energy to argue. Instead, I gathered my things and left with a small wave. Halfway down the block I heard a phone ring. I glanced across the street. No one.
Holy shit it's mine.
I steadied myself on a streetlight post after almost slipping on a patch of black November ice.
Two words and I was floating, gripping the post to simply stay grounded now. I couldn't not smile.
I wanted to think of a witty, clever response. One to make him laugh. I could picture him laugh. Something eager, but not too eager. One with mystique, but not unavailability.
Fuck intention. Fuck perception.
It was getting dark. The air around me was tinted green. Then yellow. Then red. When it was green again, he responded.
What are you doing ten minutes ago?
My face stung. Too much cold, too much smiling. My frozen fingers hovered over the keypad.
Leaving work early. What did you have in mind?
It was how first flutters should feel, tickling up from the pit of my stomach, stuck with the smiles in my throat and lifting me nearly off the ground with grins.
With flowers and fancy restaurants?
Something not like that. Something like you.
I fucking giggled. Damn the man.
Pick me up?
Now that, I'll do. Address?
I was fixing it. I was jumping in. I had a date with Edward Cullen.
And damn if I wasn't a bit motherfucking swoony.
I officially could not dress myself. Shirts and skirts and dresses littered the floor of my studio, all victims of my pre-date anxiety. My only victory was showering, a minor one considering my hair was still in a towel, and I was nowhere closer to an outfit decision. I wasn't that girl, I didn't stress about shit like clothes and makeup and boys. It was what made the preparation most difficult, I wanted something comfortable, something me. Not dressing to impress, but dressing as an honest display of who I was. I wanted Edward to see me.
Needless to say, when there was a knock on my door I was not prepared. I shoveled up armfuls of fabric and threw them haphazardly into my closet. Jeans, white t-shirt and towel hair it was. I was so eager to see him, I couldn't stop to give a fuck.
I knew it was him, but I glanced through the peephole anyway. I needed preparation, so I was not as bumbling and awkward as I had been the night before. And I even had liquid courage at that point. I was screwed.
Completely screwed when I saw him there, all fish-eye lensed and perfect. Navy beanie and leather jacket, v-neck tee and lip between teeth.
Yep, completely fucking fucked. I opened the door before he could knock again.
"Before you say anything, I need you to know I had a bit of a crisis," I said. Not my best opening. He was still standing in the doorway, outside my apartment. It felt like miles between us. I needed him so much closer.
His brow furrowed. "What? Are you alright? Is everything okay?" His eyes were intense, my favorite shade of green, tied to nothing but mine.
"Oh no, yeah, I'm fine. I just…" I pointed to my ensemble. "Clearly, I'm not ready."
"Oh. I wasn't looking at your clothes." And then he was. Eyes drifting painfully slowly and I think I felt their touch, from the round of my shoulders to the tips of my toes.
Did he just lick his lips? Fuck me he just licked his lips.
"Are you coming in?"
Fucking smirk. "Are you going to ask me to come in?"
I gestured him inside. When he passed, he started taking off his jacket, which wafted his cinnamon spice in my direction and I gripped the doorknob for balance. The lines of his back shifted with every move, and I was flat out fucking gaping. He hung the leather on the back of a chair, which I would later sniff. He was looking around, and I suddenly felt really fucking exposed. Everything in there was mine, some piece of me, and there it was, on full display. I took the towel out of my hair. I needed him to say something.
"You've been a lot of places," he said, pointing to the map behind my kitchen table. Push pins were scattered all over the world. Twenty-eight countries to be exact.
"No, those are the places I want to go."
He started toward me. With the slowest steps in my direction, it was a silent torture. I smelled him before I felt him, tender fingertips on my jaw, brushing wet locks back behind my ear, and then his minty mouth close to mine.
"Hi." He could have mouthed the word and not said it. I just knew I felt it in peppermint tufts of breath on my lips, then lips on my lips and I was gone.
We had the oddest chronology.
"I'm sorry." It was all I had.
Leaving? Running? Running as fast as I could because when he was that close everything was too clear and too wonderful and that was fucking terrifying? What was I sorry for again?
"For falling asleep last night. I'm sorry I fell asleep last night."
He kissed me again. His forgiveness.
We stood like that, me on the tips of my toes, kissing in the kitchen for minutes. Hours. Not long enough. He broke first. His staring made me blush. I could feel it. He touched my cheek.
"What's the plan?" I asked. He twirled a strand of my hair through his fingers. Wrapped around the pointer, woven through the middle. I was eye level with the hollow at the base of his throat. My nose skimmed the flesh, following the curve of his collarbone to the seam of his shirt and back again.
"Anything you want."
"Well that's hardly creative. Aren't you supposed to woo me? Wine me and dine me?"
He chuckled. It shook me from where I stood beneath him.
"I don't know what I'm supposed to do with you."
"So, anything I want?"
"Within reason." He found a new strand of hair to play with.
"Can we stay here?" It wasn't presumptuous. It wasn't anything other than I liked the way he looked in my apartment. He was seamless, this was seamless. I was comfortable. I was me here. With him.
"Of course. Do you want dinner? I can go pick something up."
I regrettably broke our embrace to get the delivery menus I had found earlier. Edward sifted through the stack, concentrating on his options. "Which one would you like?"
"One? What are you, new? Try all."
"Are you kidding?"
"Do I look like I'm fucking kidding?" I asked.
He sighed heavily and adjusted his beanie. Without looking up from the menus he shook his head and added, "I like you, Bella Swan."
It couldn't have been more adorable if he said it covered in fucking puppies.
"You're telling me your first fantasy included Gillian Anderson?"
"I don't understand what's so hard to understand about that, Bella."
"Oh, nothing, except everything."
Pizza crusts and chopsticks littered the empty boxes and cartons on my coffee table. We'd finished eating ages ago, settling on the couch with a few beers and conversation. It was the most at home I'd felt in that apartment, sitting there with Edward. Learning him. I had to pace myself, I wanted to know everything. I soaked up his words eagerly, asking question upon question. Not to fill a lull in conversation, there was none. He fired back with frequency, listening to my tales twisted with randomness, taking the longest route to reach the point. He didn't judge me for that.
He'd lost the beanie and his shoes, slouching into the cushions next to me. He fiddled with the fringe on the edge of a throw pillow.
"Great album," he said, pointing in the air toward the speakers across the room on my nightstand.
I stretched and offered a, "mmhmm," in his direction. I glanced at him across the couch, eyes closed, hand wrapped around his green bottle, smirking softly. He looked… fucking delectable.
The air was thicker. I felt it. I swallowed it in hearty gulps, the air around him, around us. I needed to get off that couch to minimize fucking pouncing. I gathered our garbage and piled it into the pizza box, depositing it in the kitchen. I switched the song on my way back to him.
"You do that a lot."
"Change songs in the middle."
"Oh, sorry." He put his hand on my thigh. I ignited under his touch, the denim barrier the only thing holding me back from full body flames.
"It was just an observation. Nothing worthy of an apology." He rubbed in small circles on my kneecap, a whisper of fingertips over the fabric.
"Oh, yeah. I do. I have a bit of musical OCD. I don't know why. I mean, I do. It's how my mind works. I'll think of one song and be two ahead. And I'm constantly thinking of order, the sequence I need to hear them in and… fuck, I'm rambling nonsense."
"Made sense to me." He smiled, crookedly, one side anchored and the other tipped slightly higher to his eyes. He had crinkles there, laugh lines.
One cushion separated us. It was like a fucking dividing line, this unspoken boundary that kept the spark partially at bay. I craved his electricity, more than the buzzing connection on my kneecap. Needed to feel it radiating off him, between us, all through me like feeling alive for the first time. Again. In reality, my nervousness was unwarranted; we'd been in a far more compromising position already, a mere twenty-four hours ago. My skin burned briefly in ghostly trails across my body, his previous path. I crossed my legs and tucked them underneath myself, scooting closer. I was testing fate then.
He knew. Of course he knew, because he knew everything, like what to say and how to smile and how to drive me mad with merry-go-round motions over my jeans. Those eyes, moss to forest suddenly, on me, inside me, right through me.
"Hi," I managed, hours after his, keeping up with our twisted timeline. I touched his hair, baby soft through my fingers, shadowed in grays and nighttime blue-greens. Dragging my hand away, he kissed my palm, prickly scruff scratching the surrounding skin.
His lips were satiny secrets on my own, tugging top then bottom, as if he was picking a favorite. His hands kept me on earth, covering my back with their mass, fisting fabric and floating up and down, then up again. Long thumbs wrapped inward toward my tummy, lifting in search of skin. The connection was calling, pulsing veins and goose-bumped flesh, a bumpy road beneath his thumbprint.
His grip was behind my neck then, lowering me slowly to the cushions below. Peppered kisses along my throat, tasting my racing heart. A warm wash of breath tickled my earlobe, followed by quick nips and the steel of his tongue tracing lines along my neck.
"Blackberries and honey," he breathed. With a quick lick above my belly button, he was all clockwise kisses and upward glances.
I was panting. Flat out panting as he slid up my body, every part of me damning the material between us. I felt him then, all of him, hard at my thigh. I broke free beneath his hold, snaking my leg around his back to rest at his waist. Instinct drove him into me, solid and firm and I whimpered into the heated air around us. He gripped my thigh and pulled, other hand splayed across my back, skin on skin, and lifted me into the air with ease. I was floating in space and breathing heavily, suddenly settled on his lap, knees on either side of his hips. He pulled me to him, fast and steady, the natural rhythm of us, and it was perfection. Utter perfection as I sat, rocking against his hard length, my dampened seams rubbing the most flawless places.
Edward took a sturdy hold of my wrists, cupped in one of his hands, behind my back and craned his neck to catch my lips. Cinnamon kisses as he thrust upward into me, deliciously in time with his breathed, "Bella."
I was close then, free hands with white knuckles holding fistfuls of his penny-shaded hair, his tongue gliding along the salty sheen of my clavicle.
"Fuck," he moaned, all hoarse and man, guiding me still.
Three more thrusts and I was falling, and he was with me, eyes locked and falling, worshipping his name as it fell from my lips, writhing and writhing in our soaked jeans.
His salty sweet lips brushed my matted hair, my forehead, my cheeks, my mouth. I felt his hard exhales across my face, both of us attempting to catch ourselves, not wanting to come back down. We were wonderful there, and it was enough.
There we were, blackberry honey and cinnamon spice. Not knowing what the fuck we were doing, but enjoying the hell out of doing it.
He fell asleep first.
Not all sleepovers were bad.
A/N: Big ups to annanabanana and ilsuocantante for their surgery of my wordery. And my other loves for their extra eyes, you all are so divine.
So yeah, I know, it's legit been like a year. No excuses from me.
Here's the deal, you guys are incredible. I have heard the nicest things from these silly words, and I really enjoy writing them. (and try to respond to all of you, sorry if it takes me nine years.) You'll notice this chapter wasn't the monster 10 k the others were, and I'm hoping because of that adjustment, that I'll be more inclined to write more often. This fandom is so much fun, and I love that you all know I'll never be an every day or week updater. Keep with me if you wish, I have fun in store for these two.
Now someone cue up Rob's "I don't see nothin wrooooooooooong with a little bump n' grind."
Review if you wish. I always love to hear from you.