AN: My entry for the When Love Was New Contest. Hope you guys enjoy it!
When Love Was New Contest
Title of Entry: The Undefinable Relationship
Your pen name: Formerlyknownasone
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He wasn't family, like Charlie was. He wasn't even her best friend. No, that position was occupied by Alice. He couldn't even be counted as a close friend.
Bella wasn't even sure what Edward was to her.
"What drink do you want?" The bronzed haired man hollered to her from the convenience store.
"Coke!" She yelled back, tugging her khaki jacket around her. The bitter cold of the wind made her shiver.
She wondered if she could even consider him a friend. Not once in her years of acquaintanceship with Edward did they ever call on each other on the phone. Several texts during the festive seasons, but that were about it. She never even stepped into his apartment before.
Alice started dating Jasper Hale at the beginning of junior year in university. His sister Rosalie in turn had been going out with Emmett McCarty. Edward was Emmett's best friend.
That was how Bella and Edward knew each other.
Both had belonged to the same circle, and unfortunately for them, their merry friends always insisted on going out as a group. Since Alice never approved on any of Bella's boyfriends, and Edward didn't seem to have a lot of girlfriends, so the six of them always ended up together. She, Alice, Jasper, Rosalie, Emmett and Edward.
In a way, she could say they got acquainted with each other by being the fifth and sixth wheel of their gang.
Technically she wasn't really his friend. They were friends of friends. How they usually end up together was due to the fact that their circle was made up for couples, and they were not. So Edward usually sat beside Bella and made polite conversation during occasions like these when their friends were too busy ogling each other. That was how she knew him.
Tonight for instance was a classic example. They always seemed to end up in similar situations: somehow Edward would wind up having to walk Bella home. She insisted that he didn't need to, but Edward would bob his head like an impatient toddler and walk her home anyway.
Usually it was because their friends end up ditching them. It was slightly different tonight though. They were at the bar and Bella simply didn't feel like getting inebriated. So she greeted them goodbye and exited the drinking hole. The next thing she knew, Edward was beside her, walking silently.
She asked him what he was doing. He simply flashed her a crooked grin and replied that he wasn't in the mood to get drunk either.
And now he was walking her home again.
Bella tried to find a word to approximately describe this weird relationship the two of friend had. To call him a friend was really inaccurate, but to say they were something less was also untrue. Edward had always been there for her. They enjoyed their intangible words among the silence.
"Am I interrupting your inner monologue slash soliloquy?" Edward teased her. Bella jumped a little. She didn't even notice he was out of the convenience store.
"Yes," she informed him deadpanned. "You did actually. Where is my drink?" she demanded, stretching out her palm in expectant of her can of Coke.
Instead, Edward handed her a cup of hot cocoa. The steam brought warmth to her, and heat brought a welcome tingle to her hands. It was so much better than her original request.
Bella looked at him questioningly. Edward shrugged.
"Tonight is rather chilly, don't you think?"
She smiled. He was always there to take care of her.
"So, what were you thinking about just now?" Edward asked her.
Bella took a sip of her cocoa. It tasted like artificial heaven. She moaned.
"I was having dirty dreams."
Edward spluttered, nearly tripping a little over his red Converse. Bella laughed.
"It's nice to see someone besides me falling," she said. She was dead clumsy, and Edward had saved her from breaking her ski-jumped nose plenty of times.
"Very funny, Swan." He chuckled and continued to walk beside her. "Seriously, what were you thinking about?"
"I was thinking about us," she replied truthfully.
He seemed puzzled. "What about us?"
She looked up at him. He was much taller than her 5"4, but that wasn't unusual. The only person she knew shorter than her was Alice.
"I was trying to define our relationship," she explained. "It seems hard to put in words. We are friends, but not really friends, since we are really just people who belong to the same circle."
Edward nodded a little at this statement, but he looked downcast. Bella wanted to ask him why, but the sad look disappeared before she could comment on it.
She wondered if that was just the moonlight playing tricks on her.
"But at the same time… I feel we have something special between us," she continued. "Like, you are this constant in my life. We get each other. And there's something I can't put my finger on."
He pondered for a moment.
"Maybe what we have is beyond words," Edward answered with ease, his expression smooth once more.
Beyond words. Bella liked the sound of that.
"And I think I know what that something is," he said casually, strolling along.
"What is it?" she asked curiously, raising an eyebrow.
He chuckled. "I'm not going to tell you."
"Nope," he said, smirking. "You are going to have to figure that one out yourself."
"Fine," Bella grumbled, crossing her arms over her chest. "So back to my original question. What exactly are we?"
Edward smiled his angelic smile. "We are whatever you want us to be."
"You are infuriating." Damn his cryptic answers.
"Thank you." He bowed and gave her a wink.
Bella chewed on her empty paper cup. She didn't know what they were, let alone she wanted them to be.
She had known him for years, and yet she didn't really know him did she? She didn't even know how Edward's apartment look like. She didn't know whether he liked his job. She didn't even know his house number for goodness sake!
On the other hand she did know other things. She knew how he liked his coffee (black, but with minimum two sugar) and she knew his habit of pinching his nose bridge whenever he got frustrated.
Edward was always there in the background. When she sobbed to Alice about how her mother died it was he who handed her a box of tissue paper. When she suddenly had a doughnut cravings Edward was the one who had quietly bought a dozen Dunkin' Doughnuts. He always opened the car door for her. He was a nice guy. Too nice.
Sweet, sweet Edward. What would she do without him?
"Hmm?" she responded distractedly.
"Are you still with Jacob?"
She frowned. "No, that was months ago. Whatever gave you the impression?"
"No idea," he smiled. "Just wondering. I thought I heard Emmett mentioned something like that a few months ago."
For a second Bella felt a twinge resembling guilt. She vowed to include him more into her life.
"I will keep you up on what's going on in my life more often," she promised.
Feeling daring suddenly, she picked up his hand and gave it a squeeze before letting go.
Edward stared down at his hand. He felt the warmth of her hand, of the hot cocoa from minutes before right in his palm.
"I went on a date with a guy named Mike Newton last week," she admitted. Edward stiffened.
"I think I heard about him," he said hesitantly. "Blond hair, blue eyes?"
She sighed. "It was a terrible mistake on my part. It was proof why I should never cave in to parental demands."
He raised an eyebrow.
"Charlie made me go on a date with him," Bella explained petulantly. "He knows Mike's parents from this sports store they owned."
"Your father enjoys fishing right?"
"Yes," she answered, surprised that Edward remembered that. "He buys fishing equipment from Mike's parents."
"And you didn't enjoy the date?"
"I did. Although it was a bit boring at the beginning."
"I found out he was going out with another girl."
"I'm sorry about that," Edward said sincerely.
"It's not your fault," Bella told him will a roll of her eyes. "And it's not your fault that I always end up dating such jerks. It's mine."
He grimaced. Bella looked at him oddly.
"What's wrong?" she asked him.
"Did you just berate yourself?" He asked.
She shrugged. "It's true. I know I am not that good looking, but I wish I could actually go out with someone nice."
"None of what you say is true Bella. You are very pretty."
Her cheeks warmed. "That's not true."
"I think you are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen." he insisted earnestly. "I always thought so."
"Now that's an exaggeration."
He laughed. "Ask the whole string of men who asked you out."
"I don't go out with that many men."
"Bella, you haven't been single since I met you. Believe me, I know this," Edward laughed again, but this time a sad laugh. She wondered what his last sentence meant.
Edward shushed her and placed a finger on her lips. "You are incredibly beautiful, on top of being nice and smart and empathetic. You are an incredible human being. Promise me you are not going to describe yourself in such a degrading ways again."
"Okay, I promise, Mr Nice Guy." She giggled. "You almost make me sound perfect."
"You are. Well, except you have shitty taste in men and a horrible sense of balance."
Bella punched him in the shoulder.
"And you have terribly weak arm muscles," he added with a grin.
Bella snorted and punched him on the shoulder again, except her aim was harder. Edward winced a little.
"Didn't your mother ever teach you?" She taunted proudly. "Never insult a Police Chief's daughter. Chances are she knows karate and tae bo."
"I will remember that next time," he said agreeably. "We have arrived at your house," he added.
She blinked. Had it really been fifteen minutes already?
"That was fast," Bella commented, shocked. In a short span of time they had made it to the street where her tiny apartment was located.
"Time flies doesn't it?" Edward said softly, putting his hands in his pocket.
Bella stared. Funny how she never noticed how handsome he looked, especially under the white moonlight. She never noticed his strong jaw or pale skin before, or at least, not like she had now.
And his eyes. They were remarkably expressive and green when he looked at her like that.
"Well then, I will see you soon." Bella said, feeling a sudden jolt of nervousness. She distracted herself by looking for her keys. "Goodnight."
He chuckled."Goodnight," he told her, and walked away.
Over the next two weeks Bella thought about Edward more frequently than she should have.
She thought especially about that night. When she had walked up to her apartment and opened the window that night, she saw Edward gazing up at her home and her. He didn't even look embarrassed when he nodded at her before walking off.
Someone else would have found this slightly disturbing, but Bella knew what Edward had been doing. He had been looking out for her and keeping her safe. She liked thinking of him as her protector.
When she met the gang for breakfast today she was surprised to see only four of them at the table.
"Where's Edward?" she asked as she slid into an empty seat at Rosalie's dining table. The group usually tried to meet up for breakfast once a month, and this time it was at Rosalie and Emmett's house.
Jasper shrugged. "He will be late I guess."
Edward was never late.
"And pray tell," Rosalie interrupted as she wrinkled her nose, her eyes taking in Bella's appearance. "Why the hell do you like you lost a fight with a rose bush?"
Bella sighed. "I woke up late this morning."
She piled her hair into a messy bun. Who cared if she looked bad? She was with her friends only after all.
"Not eating, Bells?" Alice chirped. She was too perky even for a morning person. "Rose will be hurt. She actually made all these by herself!"
Her enthusiastic friend gestured at all the food on the table. The blonde pinched her arm.
Piles of bacon that surprisingly not charred. Fried eggs that were fried eggs and not scrambled. It was amazing coming from Rosalie, whose strong point did not lie in domestic culinary.
"No worries," Emmett grinned. "I will finish it even if Bella won't."
Bella shook her head and helped herself to a glass of orange juice. She tried to see which food appealed to her. It was insulting to Rose, but none of it really whet her appetite.
The doorbell rang, and Rosalie went to open the door. When she returned a familiar tall figure was beside her.
"Sorry guys," Edward apologized as he slid into the seat opposite Bella. She noticed his bronze hair was in a slight disarray, as if he had been in a hurry to get here. "There was a little traffic jam on the way here."
They accepted his apology - after all they had all experience the mid-morning traffic congestion before.
Bella resumed her task and frowned. None of the breakfast choices on the table appealed to her.
A brown takeaway bag now sat in front of her on top of the china plate.
"What's that?" she asked curiously.
Edward merely flashed her a lopsided smile. "Open it."
She did. Light fluffy pancakes with bananas, chocolate and maple syrup greeted her.
Her eyes lit up with pleasure. She had really been craving for pancakes since two weeks ago.
"How did you know I wanted to eat these?" She demanded eagerly.
"You mentioned it the other time," He explained smoothly. "So I paid a visit to IHOP."
"I owe you my life!"
"Thanks for the lifetime servitude service. By the way you look lovely this morning."
"I look like I just rolled out of bed. And you even got my favourite!" She crowed. Bella couldn't help it. It had been a long time since paid homage to these breakfast food
"Oh course I knew. It's my favourite too." He told her as he gently reached across the table to wind a lock of stray hair back into her bun.
"Thank you," she beamed. He really, really was a great guy.
The both of them failed to notice the look Jasper and Alice exchanged with each other.
A week later Bella received a phone call.
She smiled, instantly recognizing the smooth velvety voice. No one else quite had one like his.
"Edward," she greeted. Plopping unceremoniously on her bed, she wondered why he called. He had never called her before.
"You sound tired," was the first comment he made. Always so concerned about others.
"Alice is in my house driving me mad," she informed him cheerfully. Her best friend was taking refuge in her tiny apartment now ever since Jasper flew to Chicago for a business conference. That meant a lot of margarita nights and movie marathons.
"Ah." There was a hint of amusement in his voice.
She closed her eyes for a minute. "I'm hiding out in the bedroom until she finishes painting her nails. Until tonight, I did not know it was possible to give yourself a pedicure and sing karaoke and dance to ABBA at the same time."
"The moment Jasper's plane lands, I'm forcing him to throw away whatever happy drugs she's on."
"If I were at your slumber party I could help you hide her medication. Or a least hum a few lines of the Mamma Mia! Soundtrack.
She let out a deep laugh. She tried to picture Edward lip synching along with the videos. Nope, couldn't do it.
"Speaking of which I happen to have tickets for a certain musical coming to town."
She let out an excited squeal. He couldn't have!
"Phantom of the Opera." She said breathlessly. God it must be. "You didn't!"
He chuckled. "I did."
"Hmmm," He mused. "The tickets I'm holding up right now must be some sort of baloney then. Let me just tear them up."
"Don't you dare!" She squealed again. "I can't believe you actually got tickets to watch it!"
"I take it then that you are interested."
"Is the Pope Catholic? Does Alice love a good bargain? Duh!"
"Would you like to go with me?"
"Of course I would! We are going to have such a great time!" Bella said. She was so excited she could jump up and down on her bed right now.
"I hope so. I heard they have some rather good songs," Edward commented. She snorted and put the phone closer to her ears. Alice's screeching grew louder.
"Liar. You know they have really good songs," She told him, unable to keep the smile off her face. "And probably the lyrics by heart. You are a bigger music buff then anyone else I know."
"Damn. I forgot you knew that. Think we could have dinner before the musical?" Edward sound excited. Overly excited and elated, Bella thought. She didn't realize he was that crazy about Phantom.
"Sure," she agreed amicably. "That sounds good. How about Thai?"
"Great!" Edward replied eagerly. Wow. He must like Thai food a lot.
"I know this place nearby that serves great Pad Thai," She continued. "I think we will have a really hard time pulling Emmett out of there when we dine there before the show."
She expected Edward to laugh, but he didn't. There was silence at the end of the line.
"Hello? Edward?" She said worriedly. "You there?"
She heard him breathe deeply.
"Yeah I'm there."
"Oh," She said, relieved. "I thought something bad happened."
"Emmett and the gang are going with us," he finally said.
"Yeah." She frowned. Of course they were. They always hanged out as a group.
"I better call the rest then. Talk to you later."
"Okay," she said unsurely. There was something weird in his that velvet tone of his. "You sure you all right?"
"Yeah." A chuckle. "Later, my Bella."
She hung up the phone. Maybe he remembered he had some work to do and was too polite to mention on the phone. She smiled at that. That was so typical of Edward. Too nice.
She chucked her phone on the bedside table and walked out of the room.
Alice was still dancing her crazy dance, a mike in one hand and a red nail polish bottle in the other. Bella thought she only lacked a feather boa to complete the image. She plopped onto the sofa.
"So," Bella said, picking up several barbeque chips and popping them in her mouth. "Edward got tickets to watch Phantom of the Opera."
Alice perked up and bounced onto the seat next to her. Her ochre eyes were gleaming. "That's great! You and Edward will have so much fun!"
"Aren't you coming?" She asked, baffled.
"He invited the gang?"
"Of course." Bella got a weird feeling in her stomach. Why did this conversation seem so awkward and familiar? "So you coming?"
Her best friend shook her head, as if affronted by the suggestion.
"Hell no," she told her before getting up and resuming her mad dancing.
"Why not?" Bella asked quizzically.
"First of all, this masked dude seems stalkerish on top of being mentally unstable. Second, I'm not going to watch a guy be masochistic and torture himself in front of the girl he loves."
"The Phantom doesn't do that very often. Only the last bit."
Alice turned to look at Bella. "I wasn't talking about the Phantom."
It ended up being the two of them anyway. Edward had texted her a few days later, stating that the rest weren't able to make it for the show. She replied jokingly that none of their friends were classy enough to appreciate the likes of Andrew Lloyd Webber anyway.
They had arranged to meet outside the restaurant at six, a good two hours before the musical. She thought that it gave them enough time to get a good chat and have a decent bite.
All had been perfectly planned out until Bella finally met Edward on the actual evening of the show. It was only when her gaze landed on Edward did it occur to her that this was the first time that they were out on their own, without their friends. On their own officially for the first time of their several years of acquaintanceship.
Now he was standing right in front of her, greeting her as if it was the most natural thing. She wondered how he could do it.
And he looked absolutely handsome, she realized with a start. He wore dark trousers and a grey long sleeved button down shirt which for some reason seemed to accentuate his brilliant green eyes. His bronze hair was in its usual casual disarray, but it did not matter. He was stunning.
"You look wonderful."
It took Bella a moment to realize that it wasn't her who had said that.
"You look absolutely lovely," Edward repeated. His eyes raked up and down her body in a way that made her think about their relationship status again.
Bella reddened. She had put on a simple dark blue strapped dress that she had bought especially for the occasion.
"Alice helped," she mumbled. It was a half truth. She had rejected Alice's many attempts to dress her into something more formal and dressy. Her best friend's only contribution was the simple rhinestone clip that her long hair was pulled back with.
Before she could say anything more stupid, she tugged Edward into the restaurant and grabbed a seat at a small booth. She did the only thing she could to avoid eye contact with him – grabbed the menu.
"What's the rush?" He asked her amusedly as she perused the menu. Edward picked up his own, but made no move to look flip through the pages.
"Tom Yum Goong is their specialty." She bit her lip. Was it obvious she was trying to change the topic?
The answer was clear from the way he fixed his stare on her, eyes glinting.
Bella sighed and gave up pretending.
"I didn't want to say something stupid," she replied honestly. She found it irritatingly hard to lie to him.
"Still don't know how to accept compliments?" He teased.
"Whatever, Edward," She glared at him. "Some of us are born modest you know."
He only laughed and told her there was a difference being modest and accepting the plain truth.
A matronly waitress appeared before them. She wore a My-Name-Is-Sue badge pinned right on her uniform and was about Charlie's age.
"Ready to order?" Sue asked with a smile on her face, causing the both of them to refocus their attention.
Bella bit her lip as she studied the menu. "Um , Tom Kha Gai. With Rice."
Edward closed the menu and leaned back on his seat as he grinned at Sue. "Same."
Sue scribbled down their orders. "I will leave ya two on your own, eh?" She winked before walking away. "Don't want to interrupt."
"Thank you," Edward called out loudly to the retreating Sue, causing several of the diners to look in their direction. "I assure you this pretty lady is in good hands."
Bella slapped Edward lightly on his arm, blushing even harder. "Thanks a lot. Now everyone is looking at us," she grumbled.
"Just wanted you to get used to it," he shrugged.
She poked him. "Get used to what?"
"And the best way to do it is not by announcing it to the public."
He gave an angelic smile. "Practice makes perfect."
"Fine," she said deadpanned. "I am smart. I am cute. And I suppose you want me to say I'm perfect."
"You are not," he said dismissively as he leaned forward towards Bella. Before she could ask him what he was doing her dark hair tumbled down passed her shoulders in loose waves, just the way she always wore it.
Edward put the clip he took from Bella into his pocket.
"Now you are," he told her, smiling.
When Bella opened her front door to go to pick up the paper this morning, she did not expect to see anything else at her doorstep. But there it was, sitting right at her front door mat. A little potted plant of Gerberas, all bright orange and cheerful-looking.
She dropped her coffee mug filled in surprise. Milk spilt out onto the floor. If she knew she was going to receive such a wonderful morning greeting… Well, she never did, so how would she know?
She picked up the little potted plant, admiring its simple beauty. There was no note, no nothing along with it. But she knew at once who had left it there for her, and the knowledge made her warm with delight.
Edward. Wonderful, considerate Edward. No one else would perform such sweet gestures except for him.
Bella smiled with pleasure as she placed the pot at her kitchen window, letting the warm sunlight dance on the orange blooms. She had such a wonderful time with him last night at the musical, chatting about everything and anything under the figurative sun. She couldn't imagine why they have never gone out on their own before.
Her first instinct was to call him and thank him, but when she did all she got was the velvety voice record of his voice mail. She hung up, preferring not to leave a message. Instead she sent him a short text.
Found a little pot of sunshine at my doorstep. T'was lovely, it made my day.
With that she took a quick shower and made a quick change of clothes before driving her massive red truck to the nearest grocery store.
Grocery shopping to Bella had always been something to look forward to. It was a familiar but comforting routine. As she grabbed a cart from the entrance she wondered absently whether Edward liked grocery shopping. He seemed like the type that would enjoy it.
She threw in some apples. And carrots. And a box of strawberries.
Milk. Frozen fish fingers. Bran's.
Usually she passed the Gardening Section breezily without a thought. But today, Bella Swan made a slight change in her routine and made a detour there instead of heading to the checkout line. She threw in a little gardening pruning scissors and a little packet of fertilizer.
Then she headed for the checkout and queued at the end of the very long line.
She sighed. It was going to be a long wait.
The pleasant faced man in front of her appeared to have the same thought. Having nothing to do, he turned to a bored Bella and made friendly conversation with her. He introduced himself as Tyler Crowley.
"I'm Bella," she told him. He had a friendly demeanor.
He laughed. "Long wait huh?"
"Very very long."
They spent the next ten minutes engaging in mindless chat about the weather and their hatred for queueing. Bella automatically liked him – he was open and friendly. She was glad he was there to kill time with her.
Before she knew it she was unloading her groceries in front of the cashier. Just as she placed the last of the plastic bags into the cart and strolled towards the exit, she heard a beep coming from her bag. She picked up and checked her incoming message.
Saw them in my neighbour's garden today and they remind me of you.
She laughed and shook her heard as walked towards her truck. She would reply later.
Just as she managed to unload the last of her groceries into her vehicle someone called her name.
"Bella," Tyler shouted, jogging towards hers and panting.
"Tyler," she smiled and chuck the last plastic bag in.
"Almost missed you. Forgot to say goodbye just now," he laughed.
"Don't tell me you missed me so much that you had to come here," she teased.
"Nope." Tyler smiled confidently. "I came here to see if I can get your number."
On an ordinary day Bella Swan would have done only one thing. If she liked the man she wouldn't mind giving him her phone number. If she didn't she would have felt bad for not returning the interest and given him her number anyway.
Today was an ordinary day. And she did like Tyler.
He was nice as well.
"Sorry," Bella told him apologized to the brown-haired man. "I don't think I feel comfortable with that."
After the musical incident, Bella began seeing Edward a lot more. Not just with Alice and Rosalie and the gang, but on her own as well. Sometimes he would call her out for a midnight coffee fix. Sometimes she would ask him to accompany her to watch one of those cheesy indie films that everyone else despised.
Tonight they were at one of those amusement fairs. Bella dragged Edward to the shooting booths and almost shot the vendor. Edward laughed and won her a giant stuffed cat named Tom. He ate a chilli hotdog that sent him to buy the biggest slushie immediately. They bought several helium-filled balloons and tied it around their belt loops before deciding that it was a drag and gave it to some excited children instead.
As they were winding down the night with a stroll. Edward caught Bella giggling at him, the giant pink candy floss almost catching some of her hair.
"What?" He cocked an eyebrow, plucking a large piece of her candy floss and tossing it into his mouth.
"You are a mess," she stated, chuckling even harder so that her hair shimmered under the bright fun fair lighting.
Edward had dressed casually, a simple white polo with blue jeans. There were the remaining stains of the blue slushie and red fingerprints on his shirt. His trousers had a large grass stain on the knee.
"And you think you are Miss Impeccable?" He snorted.
She nodded emphatically. "Yes, I do." Her plain white shirt was still spotless, albeit a bit crumpled.
"The chunk of candy floss in your hair disagrees with you," He commented, helping her removed the large confectionary from her head.
"I still think I am neater, but no doubt I have to thank you for preventing a giant battle between my hairbrush and me tomorrow morning."
"Anything to avoid from the same fate as me."
Bella laughed. Edward had the most untamable hair in history. But privately she thought it look good on him.
"You are officially my hero. My messy hero," she teased. He scowled.
"Let's head back to my car now," Edward suggested.
She nodded, and they walked to the carpark where his Volvo was parked. The noise of the amusement fair seem to have died down with distance.
"So," Edward said casually. "Have you figured it out?"
She scrunched up her features. "Figure out what?"
He looked at her with a smile. "The relationship status between the two of us."
His question caused Bella to pause. Truthfully after the first week of that conversation she had given up thinking about it. She had puzzled about it and couldn't muster up a decent answer even after a long time, which prompted to finally leave the situation be.
"I gave up trying to figure it out," she answered honestly as they approached his automobile. "It just seemed so complex at that time and you wouldn't give me a hint with all that cryptic remarks of yours."
Edward opened the car door for her.
"If I ask you to think about it now," he asked Bella as she slid into the car. "Would you do it for me?"
He made his request in a serious tone. She looked up at his earnest face in surprise, wondering what prompted him to ask such a thing.
"Okay," Bella agreed. "Though it may take a while for me to give you an answer."
Edward smiled. "I will give you the whole ride home to think about it."
The ride home was not a short one – they lived a fair distance away from the amusement fair. It gave her ample of time to think it through, but yet when Edward pulled in front of her apartment Bella's mind still drew a blank.
They sat in the car in silence for a minute.
"So," Edward finally spoke. "Have you thought about it?"
"Yes." She replied. She had thought long and hard about it the entire ride. Whether she had an answer or not was another question.
His green expressive eyes were on her now. "And?"
"You want the honest answer or the answer I would give?"
He thought about it. "The answer you would give me."
"We are friends."
Bella heard him suck his breath.
"The honest answer?" he asked after a moment.
"I think we are friends."
"And what is the difference between the two answers?"
"The former one is something that I would give so that I don't sound like I can't answer a simple question," She admitted grudgingly. "The latter is because… I'm not sure what we are. I would think that we behave like we are just friends, but there's still that something more."
"The special thing between us that is beyond words." He stated, referring to their previous conversation from long ago. She nodded.
"Are you disappointed with me being so dense?" Bella asked sheepishly. Edward laughed, ruffling her hair in assurance.
"It's one of the many reasons why I find you so endearing," He assured her. "Though it does exasperate me occasionally."
"Which one is it now?"
She felt bad. "Sorry."
"No worries," He told Bella, leaning towards her to help her unbuckle her seatbelt. "I can wait for an answer."
"Couldn't you just tell me?" She wheedled as he got out of the car to help her open the car door.
His answering voice was filled with amusement. "I think I would like you to figure it out yourself."
"I may never get it," she warned.
"You will one day," Edward said confidently. "It may just take a while for you to realize it."
She glanced at him hopefully. "You could save us the time."
He chuckled as he helped her out of the car. "I am a very patient man."
She sighed. "Okay then. I guess this is goodnight."
"It is. Sleep well and think about it."
"It will cause me to toss and turn all night," Bella said frankly, tiptoeing to kiss him on the cheek. "Goodnight then."
She turned and started to walk away, but she felt his hand stopping her.
She turned back to face Edward, who was gazing at with his burning green eyes.
"Yeah?" she replied, confused to why he called her back.
"We are not just friends, and I don't want to be just friends," Edward told her. "Take that as a tiny clue."
She smiled. "What made you finally give me a hint?"
Edward sighed. "I realize I am not that patient a man after all."
She was lying on the carpet in Rosalie's living room in an old band shirt, sprawled out beside the large red sofa. Time was passing almost too slowly, even for a weekend afternoon.
And a question had been lingering in Bella's mind.
He was the only one in the house besides her, and he was the one selfishly occupying the sofa. Rosalie had gone out to the pharmacy.
Said man looked away from the trashy tabloid magazine he was reading and grinned at her. Bella always shared a close relationship with Emmett for some reason, and she felt comfortable asking him things that she couldn't even share with Alice.
"Why doesn't Edward ever date?" She looked up at Emmett.
"What?" He looked surprised at her question.
"Why doesn't Edward ever date?" She repeated, flipping to lie on her stomach so she could face her good friend.
"I heard you," the giant man said slowly. "But whatever makes you think that he doesn't?"
She shifted slightly. "I know he doesn't. And never once in the years since I know him did he ever go out with anybody."
A corner of his lips lifted. "He doesn't. But why do you want to know?" Emmett asked her coyly, mischief evident in his voice.
"Don't you find it… strange?"
She bit her lip. "I mean, Edward is funny and charming and smart. He's so nice, and there are probably many girls who would be willing to go out with him. You seen it too, when we go out to bars and stuff. Girls will always give him their numbers. But he always dismisses them politely and tells them he's not interested."
A hearty bellow erupted from Emmett. "So you noticed finally huh?"
Bella frowned and poked his ankles. "Noticed what?"
"You are getting dumber each minute Bella," he chuckled. "I mean you noticed that he doesn't date. And there's one very simple reason."
"He is not interested in them."
She was not that oblivious. "That's obvious." She stated plainly.
"You are not listening carefully," Emmett drawled, tapping her shoulder lightly. "He's not interested in them."
"You just said that."
"You really are clueless, aren't you? I repeat, Edward is not interested in them. Them."
She wrinkled her nose, trying to process whatever this friend sporting a Cheshire cat grin was hinting. "So you are trying to tell me Edward is interested in someone else."
"Yep." He popped the 'p'.
"For so long?"
"Yes." Emmett's grin grew wider.
"And he never asked her out?" Bella frowned. That was not like Edward – he wasn't the cowardly type.
"She wasn't available."
"You were always dating some loser, you know," Emmett said matter-of-factly. "He especially didn't like the Jacob fella. Made him miserable all the time."
She stared at Emmett. It couldn't be. It couldn't.
Finally she managed to form the words with her mouth. "Are you saying that Edward likes me?"
He sighed and sank back onto the couch. "Took you long enough to realize that."
"But," Bella spluttered, lost for words. "It's not possible."
He shrugged his shoulders. "He's my best friend. I know it's true."
"How can it be?"
Emmett sighed again and was silent for a long moment, as if debating whether to go on.
"He liked you since forever, you know. In fact, he was positive you were the one, though you didn't seem to notice his interest at all. But it was fairly obvious to us all that he was very taken by you. But you were never available, so he just waited silently all these years. Just waited and waited."
Bella blinked. A memory of him in the amusement fair parking lot: "I am a very patient man."
"All these years?" she asked. Sweet, beautiful Edward had been waiting for her all the time? For years.
"All these years," Emmett reaffirmed. She moaned.
"Why didn't he ever tell me?" she asked aloud.
He looked at her seriously. "Bella there is a reason why you were never available - because you were too damn good to all the guys. You never said no to anyone. If Edward ever did reveal how he felt, you would probably go out with him even if you didn't feel the same. Edward didn't want that to happen."
"Because he is too nice to take advantage of me like that."
He chuckled. "Privately I agree."
She closed her eyes. "He is really too nice."
"And he knows you think that of him."
"What are you trying to say?"
"Bella Swan, there's a very important you should know about guys: When a guy likes you, they don't want you to think of them as 'too nice' or 'too sweet'. It means you think you don't deserve them. They want you to be selfish enough to want them."
Edward liked her. Edward liked her. Edward liked her.
"He likes me," she whispered.
"He never bothered to look at anyone else. Bella, the guy only ever wanted you."
"He more than likes me," Bella mumbled again, trying to let the truth sink in.
"You know that. So what are you going to about it?"
She felt lost. "What should I do about it?"
Emmett ruffled her hair. "You know how he feels. Now you need to figure out how you feel about Edward. And then you tell him."
Bella never did see him over the next few days. He called once, but she didn't pick the phone up. Instead she left him a text saying that she would be busy and that she would talk to him at Ben and Angela's housewarming party.
"Bella!" Angela greeted her with a smile, stepping forward to hug her good friend. "Glad you could make it."
"I wouldn't miss it for the world," she replied honestly and passed a wrapped gift to her tall friend. She bought her a pair of four inch heels from Louboutin, hoping her friend would get the joke.
Angela thanked her as before excusing herself to welcome another arriving guest. So Bella wandered in on her own, scanning around the room while admiring the over-the-top decorations. It gave a hint of who did the party planning.
Speak of the devil, who was wearing nothing short of a shiny green dress that was incredibly disco-ish.
"Darling!" Alice squealed, dancing toward her best friend. "You are late! Very late! The party's started long ago."
"I know," Bella tried to look apologetic, not wanting to admit that she almost wanted to bail on this party. "I had to work until slightly later than usual. I'm sorry I miss your Dancing Queen impression."
Alice rolled her eyes. "The crowd liked it, for your information."
"They didn't want to risk incurring your wrath," she said absently. "Have you seen Edward?"
The pixie nodded her head. "He came half an hour ago. I think he was looking for you too."
"He was?" She didn't know why she was surprised.
"Uh huh," Alice giggled, obviously high on the liquor and dance music. "Come dance with me Bella!"
Bella shook her head. "Better go find Edward first," she told her beaming friend as she walked off.
He wasn't on the dance floor or by the bar. He wasn't in the bathrooms either. Strange, he was always there when she wanted him – except now. Somewhere in her head Bella noted wryly that this must be Murphy's Law.
"Hey," she called to Emmett, who was juggling a few vodka bottles as he passed her. "Have you seen Edward?"
"Yeah, he's at the balcony!" Emmett yelled back, jerking his head in the east direction.
Bella thanked him and hurried to the balcony, purposely ignoring Emmett's wink.
At last she spotted him. He was there, slightly apart from the few guests who had gone there for a breather. There he stood, his whole body relaxed as he absently gazed up at the sky and leaned against the rail. Her breath hitched a little.
Edward was incandescent under the moonlight, looking every bit as handsome as when he walked her home that one night. He only wore a black suit, but it showed off his lean muscular build. He was beauty personified and beyond.
How did she fail to see this before?
"Hello," Bella greeted him breathlessly as she walked up beside him. He smiled crookedly. God, he was beautiful.
"You look lovely this evening," Edward told her, taking a deliberate, long look at her blue chiffon dress.
"Thank you," she replied, determined not to blush and wondered at the same time whether he noticed that she curled her hair. "You too," she said firmly.
He chuckled. "You have finally gotten over your aversion to compliments."
"It is merely the truth," she retorted, unable to stop the slight smile on her face. "Or so a very charming gentleman told me."
"Learn to accept compliments, Edward. Time to practice what you preach," she chided.
"Guess I deserved that." He laughed, shoving his hands in his pocket. "I haven't heard much from you lately." He went on.
"I have been busy," Bella answered, touched by the genuine note of concern in his voice. She hoped he didn't mistake the brief answer as avoidance to the question.
His expression was unreadable. "Oh." Apparently he did misunderstand.
"I really was," Bella told him with a laugh. "You may have heard of Rosalie's ingenious idea to buy an oven… and how she burnt the kitchen in the process."
He grinned. "May have heard the same story twenty times."
"Besides, I needed to do some thinking," she continued on, glancing at couple on her right. They were bobbing to the music. Privately she wished they could go back inside.
There were so many things she wanted to tell him. So many. Too many. Yet she couldn't form the words in her mouth again. At least, not here. Having the conversation here did not seem private or personal enough.
"What you asked me almost two weeks ago." She finally said, gazing directly at Edward.
He didn't say anything for a minute. Edward simply stared back at her, and Bella did not avert her eyes from him, but instead held his gaze with all the courage she could muster. They stared back at each other silently just like that, as if having a wordless conversation.
Neither spoke for a very long time. At least, not until the couple on Bella's right accidentally bumped into her, forcing them to break eye contact. They apologized profusely for their clumsiness. Bella flashed a smile at them and accepted their apologies graciously.
When she turned back to Edward he was still looking straight at her.
"It's getting a little too crowded here," Edward commented, not taking his eyes off her "Want to go out for a walk?"
"I would love to," Bella told him, placing her hand gently in his.
They didn't have anywhere else to go, so the both of them walked down the streets half a block away from Ben and Angela's apartment. In contrast to the loud chaos of the party, the streets were quiet and almost too empty.
The stillness didn't terrify Bella like it should. She felt completely safe beside Edward.
"So," Edward eventually broke the silence. "You have something to tell me."
She smiled slightly and nodded, her eyes looking straight in front. "Yes."
He waited for her to continue, his curiosity burning inside him like an unceasing fire, but Bella was distracted by a pebble in her way. He kicked it to the side for her impatiently.
"Does it have anything to do with why you avoided me recently?" He asked.
"I wasn't avoiding you," Bella said with a laugh. "Well not intentionally. I didn't want to see you until I know what to say."
"And now…You know what you want to tell me?"
"Nope." She shrugged her shoulders. "I decided to just wing it."
Edward chuckled. "As long as you talk."
Bella shivered a little as a cold breezed passed them. Edward took off his dinner jacket and wrapped it around her shoulder.
"Better?" he asked. She nodded gratefully.
"Good. Now you can start."
"Okay," She smiled brightly. "I will just begin frankly then. I want to say that I must be really thick to not see it."
Her eyes danced. "See that you like me."
Edward paused. "And how did you finally find out?"
"Emmett told me," she said slowly. "Apparently everyone else could see it as well."
"I figured it would be something like that." Edward commented.
She studied his expression. "You don't look surprised."
He smiled sadly. "I think my intentions were being pretty obvious from the beginning."
"I didn't clue in until Emmett told me," She admitted. "It never occurred to me that you could see me that way."
He shook his head. "It was never really an option. I just… fell."
The corners of his mouth twitched. "When we met the very first time. Don't you remember?"
A shake of her head.
"I meant that previous statement quite literally." The grin on his face refused to leave, as if in reminiscence of the memory. "I was walking in with Emmett to that dang coffee shop to meet you all for the first time. I was trying to be cool and suave in front of everybody. You know, to make a good impression. Before I knew it, someone ran into me and ploughed us down."
She winced. "I remember. I spilled coffee all over us."
"And doughnuts," he reminded her. "Powdered doughnuts."
Bella looked slightly horrified. "Is that the kind of first impression I made on you?"
"It wasn't bad at all," He said warmly. "I couldn't forget you since that first moment. Even then I noticed how pretty you were, underneath all that sprinkled sugar and brown splotches."
"I can't imagine how uncoordinated I must have seem."
"You are clumsy," Edward stated, tweaking her nose gently. "And it's one of the reasons why I find you so endearing, apart from your obliviousness."
"I'm glad." Bella said softly. "Although I wish I was not so oblivious."
"Sometimes I wish so too," he said wistfully.
"How could you stand waiting for so long?"
"You were worth the wait," He answered plainly, as if there could be no whiter truth.
"It must have been… torturous."
"Bella, when it comes to you I am a very patient man," Edward said firmly. "I would wait my whole life for you."
Edward cleared his throat. "So now that you know about my feelings… How do you feel about that?"
"About what?" She forced herself not to stammer. Her heart skipped a beat.
His voice was low. "I ask how you feel about my affections."
Bella smiled, confident of her answer. "I feel… the same."
He turned quickly to look at her, as if he couldn't believe it. "The same?"
"The same," she clarified, still smiling. "I like you."
"I more than like you," Edward said lowly. "I love you."
Her gaze was unwavering. "And I love you."
He broke into his own wide smile. "Really?"
"Really," Bella confirmed, grabbing his hand and raising up their entwined limbs, reddening a little at her forwardness. "Does this convince you?"
He was triumphant.
"Yes," he replied, his happiness so evident in his tone. "Yes it does."
She gave his hand a light squeeze before letting go. Edward had other ideas though. He took her hand and clasped it tightly with his, refusing to release it. Bella tilted her head to catch a glimpse of his face. The expression on his face was one of unadulterated joy and exhilaration.
"You like me too." He said with gloat and triumph in his voice.
"And so I do."
"And when did you realize that?" He asked, his smile beatific.
"It's a stupid and embarrassing story," she muttered. She tried to concentrate how warm his hands felt around her own.
"What story can ever top the one that Emmett had to tell you a simple fact which everyone else knew?" He teased.
She scowled, elbowing him in the ribs. "Your coax is not working."
"No. It's lame."
"Tell me," he whispered in her ear in a way that made her shiver. Didn't he know how irresistible he was?
"Fine," she caved, biting her lip. "I slipped in the shower the other day."
His brows furrowed.
"I wasn't injured," Bella assured him, leaning onto him. "I just landed really hard on my bottom."
"I will kiss and make it better," he said suggestively, his other hand tracing her face.
"Funny," her face flamed at that insinuation. "The point is… It really hurt to fall so hard, and I felt like crying and somehow all I thought was how if you had been there, you would have caught me in your arms like you always do. That I wanted only you to save me from the fall. So there you go, the big moment."
"That's your epiphany?"
"I told you it was stupid." She smiled. "On the other hand that epiphany was the pain. And it also made me realize the reason why I want only you to save me from this bathroom fall was because you were the only one who I wanted to see me naked."
"I look forward to that."
Bella slapped him playfully on the shoulder. "And to think I always thought you are such a gentleman. You didn't use to be so seductive."
Edward cocked his head. "Are you easily seduced?"
"Hmm… You will have to try and find out."
His eyes raked her body. "And I will do so with pleasure."
"You are such a rogue," Bella said. "Not at all the nice person I thought you were."
He growled a little. "I'm not that nice. I am a man after all, and there is only so much I can resist."
She wrapped her arms around him, running her hands down his back. "Well, that's nice to know, boyfriend."
"Boyfriend?" He asked questioningly.
"Well, that status is an upgrade from friends, and I certainly hope are not into the friends with benefits concept."
Edward nuzzled her neck. "I was thinking more along the lines of lovers and soul mates. For eternity."
Her breath hitched. "Eternity?"
"For forever," he whispered, pulling her petite body against his own hard lines.
"Forever," she agreed as she fell softly against him.
"Bella?" He tilted her face and looked at her tenderly.
"I love you."
"I know." She replied lovingly. "Edward?"
"I love you too."
He laughed softly. "Now I know."
With that, Edward caught her lips and kissed Bella. It was warm and soft and tasted like all things beautiful.
He couldn't stop grinning even after he released Bella from the kiss.
"What?" she asked curiously.
He smiled. "If I knew how our first kiss would feel anything like this, I may not have been so patient after all."
Tadaa. Hope most of you guys love it. I strongly encourage people to take part in the When Love Was New Contest because, face it, the world would be a happier place if we had more romances to read about.