When Love Was New Contest Entry
Title: Sealed with a Kiss
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"Come on Bella, you can do this. Just keep going."
"Keep pushing dear, you are almost there."
"Please, make it stop!" her voice cried out over the rest of them. I couldn't believe how much pain she was in.
I gripped her hand tightly in mine, trying to force all of my strength into her through that small appendage. Bella had to make it through this. I couldn't survive if she didn't. There was no life beyond the woman writhing in agony beside me.
"Edward! Edward it hurts!" her voice cut me to the core. How could anyone endure this? How was I suppose to let her?
"I'm right here, baby. I'm right here," I tired to make my voice as soothing and clam as possible. I wanted her to find comfort in it, find the strength to keep going but I wasn't sure if it was there.
I was so scared to lose her at this point. It had already been such a fight for her. She had been fighting and pushing and working so hard for so many hours already, I didn't know how much more she could take.
I brushed back the long dark locks of hair from her damp forehead to brush my lips along her skin. I could taste the salt from her hard labor mixed with the always intoxicating taste that just was Bella. I trailed my fingers through her hair once more, looking worriedly down at her face. There was a deep crease running across her brow as she concentrated on working through the pain. Her eyes were pinched shut, blocking me from gazing into the chocolate depths below her delicate eyelids. I noticed the slight purplish crescents that hovered below her lash line, they had deepened after months of exhaustion.
"Tell me, Edward. Tell me again," her voice was barely more than a butterfly's wings flapping, weak and straining but the weight of her words was real. I knew what she needed to hear. I just hoped it would bring her peace as it always had.
Kissing her worn and brittle lips, I cupped her check with my hand and traced the outline of her jaw. I wasn't sure this was the time for such stories, not when she need to focus on staying alive. Her face was a deep red flush, further proof of how taxing this excursion was on her. But I saw the need in her eyes after she opened them to me once more. Her eyes pleaded with me to tell her, begging me to understand how much she would need it once more. I could deny her nothing.
"Do you remember how we met?" I asked her rhetorically. She nodded slightly before laying gently back on the white pillow behind her. I took in her form once more and admired the strength she wasn't even aware she had. I prayed quickly in that moment it would be enough to carry her through this. Taking another small kiss from her I continued on with the tale, allowing my memories to play out before me like a movie.
I was seven years old, sitting beneath a large red plastic slide in the park. I picked up a small orange car and pushed it along the dust, happily unaware of the outside world. I smacked the orange car into another car, blue with doors that opened, forcing the two into a collision. Crawling on my hands and knees, I continued pushing the car along my imaginary highway, leaving the blue car smoldering in the wake behind me. I moved forward, making all the obligatory car sounds along my way until I saw two small white sneakers in my path.
"Whatca playin'?" a girl's voice questioned. Looking up I saw a slip of a girl with mousy brown hair and big brown doe eyes looking down on me with her head cooked to the side.
"Nothing. I was just pretending to be a race car driver." I looked back down quickly at my car, not wanting to continue the conversation. Girls were annoying and always crying. Or at least my baby sister Alice was and I didn't trust this girl wouldn't be just like her.
"Can I play?" she dropped to her knees and grabbed the blue car behind me.
"Girls don't play cars. You play with dolls. This is a boys toy." I quickly retched the car from her hand. This girl was definitely annoying.
"I'm not a girl. I'm Bella. And I don't like dolls, I want to play with you." She put her hand on her hips as way of explanation. I looked over her clothes noting that she wasn't wearing a dress like Alice usually did. Her jeans were muddy along the edges and she had on a shirt with the teenage mutant ninja turtles on it. She couldn't be all that bad if she liked the them. Shrugging my shoulders, I gave her the car once again and quickly explained my rules.
"So we can't go in the sun? Why not?" she pushed the car along the dirt trails absently as she peered at me.
"Well cause, we're vampire race car drivers. And vampires can't go in the sun or they'll die." Clearly this girl had no idea how vampires worked.
"Oh." She accepted this answer without any more questions and started to play once more. We ran around in the shadows of the slide before become more daring, hoping from one stretch of shade to the next.
"Catch me if you can Edward!" she screamed out to me as I abandoned the safety of the shadow to chase her down.
Bella was racing along the playground, her laugh floating back to me along the breeze. Her brown hair was wild behind her head, whipping into her face as her propelled herself toward the monkey bars. But before she could reach her target she became entangled in her own feet and fell with a hard thud to the ground.
Her small body recoiled into a tight ball as she lay on the ground whimpering softly. I kneeled down by her side and peered at the dirt and hair which covered her face.
"Are you okay, Bella?"
She didn't say anything, just gently rocked herself on the ground. I bent over her body and gently pushed the hair from her face only to see a fat tears rolling down her cheeks.
"Its okay Bella. You can cry," I tried to tell her.
"No I can't Edward. You said girls cry and my brother Emmett said girls who cry are stupid and I don't want to be a stupid girl," her voice was filled with hurt pride.
"I won't think you're a stupid girl. I think you're the best girl I know." I wanted her to feel better and I knew how much crying helped me when I got hurt."I won't tell anyone, I promise." I added.
"Cross your heart and hope to die?" she looked at me with childish hope. I shook my head yes while marking a big X on my chest.
"Stick a needle in your eye if you lie?" I didn't like the sound of that so I promised to not lie either.
"Seal it with a kiss?" her voice was stronger now and her eyes were losing the glassy look from her tears. I didn't want to kiss a girl who wasn't my mother but if it meant make Bella feel better I guessed I could do it.
Puckering my lips, I leaned forward to place a kiss on her cheek. She turned her head at the last moment causing my lips to brush across her tiny pink ones. My eyes widened at the contact of our lips as I felt my heart raced.
"Can we go play more now?" I asked while quickly pulling back. I swiped the back of my hand across my mouth and wiped it along my striped shirt. I had sort of liked kissing her but she didn't need to know that.
Nodding, Bella slowly rose from her sitting position and tested her legs out. She seemed to be fine and before long the two of us were racing around again. Our mothers came all to quickly to take us home, however and I was forced to say goodbye to my new friend.
"Thanks for letting me play with you Edward. I hope I'll see you again," Bella smiled a wide grin before leaning in and pecking me on the mouth once again. Her mother chuckled and pulled her away, leaving me standing alone. I watched Bella chatter with her mother as they walked to the parking lot and I smiled to myself. I didn't wipe the kiss from my face this time, wanting it to linger for as long as possible.
I didn't wash my face for two days after that kiss.
"Okay, Bella we need you to try again. Ready?" the doctor interrupted. I looked toward the man standing at the end of her hospital bed. He was older, mid-fifties with hair just beginning to turn from brown to white. His brow was in a worried crease but he seemed confident as well. I was placing all of my trust in this man. If he didn't deliver, I wouldn't be able to go on.
Bella struggled with his request, forcing her small frame to do the most impossible of tasks. She grunted with her efforts, muscles straining from the force within her. Her eyes screwed up tight as she sucked her bottom lip into her mouth and bit down.
I grasped her tiny hand in mine, squeezing it let her know I was there. She squeezed back, aware even in the pits of this physical hell of me. She had always been aware of what I needed, always seeking to comfort me even when I wasn't the one needing it. I needed to be that seven year old boy again and comfort her.
"Do you want me to tell you more?" I whispered into her ear once she had been released to rest once more. A soft sigh and gentle smile across her lips let me know this was indeed what she wanted.
Turning to my memories once more I told her of the first night I knew I loved her, as not just a friend but as a man loves a woman.
The fire crackled and popped loudly into the crisp fall night. Scattered around the bonfire on First Beach sat some of my closest friends, some toasting marshmallows while others enjoyed smoking hot dogs over the open flames. I watched as my baby sister, now fifteen and hardly a baby at all wrapped her arms around the blonde who currently functioned as her chair. Jasper had moved to Forks just the year before but had quickly won a place in the tight circle of my friends. Of course when his attention had turned to my sister, a freshman at the time, I was livid. The guy was too smooth, too laid back and just a little to looking to be truly interested in Alice. So I had given him a lot of shit, pushing the limits of protective older brother. Of course I shouldn't have worried, Alice has had Jasper wrapped snugly around her little finger since the first time she batted her blue eyes in his direction. And I couldn't have been happier for them.
As I watched them gently encircle each other with their love, so quiet and devoted, I couldn't help but feel a pang of jealous. I didn't have that kind of attachment to anyone. The closest thing was Bella. Sweet, playful Bella. I couldn't help but look over to her across the firelight. She had her eyes turned downward, a slight frown tugging on those full lips. Somewhere inside me I felt a small pull, a shift of uncomfortableness from who knows where. I didn't like when Bella was upset. We had been best friends since that fateful day on the playground and it bothered me to see her in any form of distress.
She must have sensed my gaze on her because suddenly her eyes shot up and sought out my own. I held her gaze, silently asking if she was alright. Something flickered beneath the surface of her face, fast and lightening quick before she replaced it with a clear mask and gave me half smile and tiny nod to indicate she was okay. I didn't know what the first look meant, but if she was willing to shrug it off it wasn't something I wanted to dwell on. Summer was coming to a close and we were about to be seniors. Finally. Of course after this, I would be going off to college where I would inevitably study medicine and become Carlisle's poster boy for success. My father had many plans for me, plans which I had no idea if I wanted to make my own. Only one other person knew about my doubts and she was currently lost in place deep within her own mind, somewhere I was never able to quite read.
"Hey Eddie, how's it going?" a timid voice broke my mental brooding. I looked up to the see Jessica Stanley hovering over me.
"Hey Jess. Wanna sit down?" I slide down the timber log I was resting on and offered her the vacant seat next to me. Jessica and I had dated on and off for most of the last two years and we were currently in an 'off' status. But the look in her eyes, which was swimming all over the surface thanks to the cheap wine, made it clear she was ready to change that.
"Thanks." She plopped down next to me. I noticed the way her denim skirt rode high up her thigh accentuating her long, toned legs. The tight fitting, pink top she wore was scooped low which showed off just a little too much cleavage,not that I was complaining. Her boobs were one of her best features, as she lacked heavily in the department of brains.
"So how was your summer? Do anything fun?" she pulled another tug of her wine from her cup, licking her bottom lip seductively before letting a low moan of satisfaction slip out. Damn this girl was good. I knew what she was doing but at eighteen you just don't turn it down.
Clearing my throat, I causally draped my left arm across her shoulders, pulling her in closer to my side.
"Well, summer was good. Hung out with the boys a lot. We went over to Seattle for a few concerts. Saw Kings of Leon and Parachute. You know, the usual sort of thing." I began twirling a strand of her brown hair. She smiled and leaned gently into me. "What about you?"
"Oh not much. I just worked out at Newton's Outfitters. Trying to save up some money to go down to L.A." She beamed up at me.
Jess had this crazy idea that she would move to Los Angeles and get discovered. She had dreams of becoming an actress. I cringed at the thought, distinctly remembering her failure to preform under pressure. She had successfully butchered the part of Juliet in last year's school play on the first night alone. She couldn't get a single line right, throwing in crazy accents and words in wherever she felt. Of course her Romeo was no better, Mike Newton couldn't have been a less appealing leading man. His voice was somehow still going through puberty, so the audience endured vocal high jumps throughout the ordeal.
Bella and I had laughed through the whole thing, doubling over in tears at some parts because it was so terrible. Bella was a huge Romeo and Juliet fan so of course when it got to her favorite scenes, silently reciting the lines to herself. Her face was filled with so much passion and adoration for the meaning behind them, I couldn't help myself and decided to help her out a bit. I had leaned over and softly whispered Romeo's lines into her ears, causing her to jump in her seat a bit. I had chuckled at her startled reaction but kept going once I saw the smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. All in all, that had been one of my favorite memories of junior year, sharing Romeo and Juliet lines with Bella in the dark theater. I smiled to myself just at the memory.
Jessica must have taken my smile as encouragement to continue talking as she placed her hand on my thigh, gently squeezing my leg before starting in once more.
"LA is going to be great, I just know it. You'll have to come and visit me Eddie. Just think of all the clubs and concerts you could go to! You'll have to bring Emmett and Jasper once too. Wouldn't that be fun?" her voice seemed to rise with excitement.
"Sure, I'm sure the guys would love to hit LA. And Bella has been dying to see the Pacific ocean, so I'm sure she'd love the trip too." I could just picture Bella running into the wake, kicking up water and laughing in delight at the feel of the sand on her feet. She had always said that while First Beach was great, it wasn't a real ocean. You needed sun for that.
"Uh, Bella? I, uh... I didn't realize you guys were still close. But I guess she could come too," Jessica replied reluctantly.
I turned to study the emotion on Jessica's face. Was she jealous? I mean, she knew Bella and I were close, always had been. Hell everyone knew we were friends, best friends. So why was Jess sounding jealous all a sudden?
"You don't have a problem with Bella do you?" a hard edge crept into my voice. Jessica and I had had this discussion one to many times over the year which always resulted in the same outcome, Jessica stomping off in tears and me shaking my head at her delusions and swearing to wash my hands of the girl.
"No, I just... gah, Edward, I just thought maybe you had realized... but you didn't and so... I mean, you didn't mention you guys spent time together at all this summer. And I just figured it had happened and you let her go." Jessica's eyes were attempting to stare daggers into my own but it came off more as bitchy than anything else.
"What the hell are you talking about? What finally happening? Why would I let Bella go?" I was confused. Was something suppose to happen between me and Bella?
"Oh come on Eddie! You can't be seriously that stupid? Bella is clearly in love with you." Her voice spoke of finality, as if this was known and accepted fact that everyone knew about. Funny, how I was just now hearing about it. I snorted at the possibility.
"Whatever Jess, Bella and I just aren't like that. We're friends, close friends but come on.." I couldn't help but admonish the idea. Bella loved me? I mean as a best friend, sure. But as more...?
Somewhere deep inside a felt that pull again. It was a silly idea right? Then how come my heart raced at the mere thought of it being true.
"Oh my god, Edward Cullen! You didn't know?!! All this time and you didn't know?" Jessica was shocked beside me. "Ha! This is too rich, really. Edward, Bella has been in love with you since we were kids. How could you not have seen that, the way she always followed you around like a puppy on a leash? I mean the girl is planning on going to Dartmouth just because you'll be there! Geez, Eddie, how blind are you?"
Apparently, very. It had never occurred to me Bella loved me. Liked me, sure, love however was something different. I mean just figured any best friends of the opposite sex ended up with crushes on each other at some point. But a crush was not love.
"Well, whatever, now you know. Time to cut her lose and move on, Eddie. So, like, do you think we'll be going to homecoming together this year?" she fluttered her fake eyelashes at me with a coy smile crossing her heavily glossed lips.
I looked down at her, really seeing this girl. She was nothing like the natural and innocent beauty Bella had. Jessica was over the top, too much make-up and too little clothes. She wasn't smart, she could barely hold a conversation about anything besides celebrity gossip and she had the worst taste in music. She wasn't anything I wanted.
I looked away from Jessica and across the fire once again, my eyes resting on Bella. She was smiling and laughing at some joke Emmett must have told her, her deep soulful brown eyes dancing and a genuine smile lighting up her face. I studied Bella from my position, noticing all the little things about her that had slipped by before. I don't know when it had happened but Bella had become a woman. she had lost her girlish figure at some point was now at woman filled with curves and grace and beauty. And God, was she beautiful. Her once mousy hair had turned to a dark and lustrous mahogany brown, which hung long and curling down her back with a few wayward strands dancing around her creamy porcelain face. Her lips were stained slightly red from the drink she causally sipped from, fingers dancing across the top of the cup.
Staring at Bella, really taking her in for the first time in this new light did something to me. I was at once as monumental as the earth moving beneath my seated form but as simple as exhaling. Bella was it for me. She was what I wanted, what I needed even when I didn't know. I hadn't known it for so long. But then I remembered the pull, the almost magnetic affect she had on me. I couldn't stand seeing her sad, would crawl across broken glass to bring a smile to her face. I would walk to Egypt and back to get something she wanted to needed if only she asked. Was that love? Was love the best friend who knows your soul and sees it better than you do finding love?
Did love mean picking up a scrawny eight year old and holding her hand as you walked her back to her to get a band-aid for her skinned knee? Was love the look she gave me as we curled up together on the couch, her nestling into the crook of my arms as we watched her favorite movie? Could love be what drove me to keep all those guys from asking her out, fearing they would break her heart and leave her so broken a band-aid couldn't fix it? Or was it fear she would love someone who wasn't me? Was I a good enough man for her to love?
My pulse raced, my heart beating out a rhythm I'd never felt before. It was song all its own, the melody pure and passionate and speaking only one word.
Bella. Bella. Bella.
It was if she could hear my heart calling out her name in that moment. She turned her big doe eyes to me then, a smile still lifting her lips. I held her gaze, pleading with her to see something in them that would alert her to the changes I was going through. She cocked her head to the side, a look of confusion drawing across her brow. She quirked an eyebrow at me, a questioning look to check if I was okay. I jerked my head toward the treeline to indicate I wanted to talk with her, my eyes still begging for her to see. She nodded and quietly excused herself from our friends before walking away from the group. Seeing her go, I felt the slight aching pull once again but this time I knew where it came from. She was to far away. I had to be closer to her, I had to breathe in her strawberry and vanilla scent, hold her in my arms and crash my lips onto hers for a real kiss.
Standing quickly, I gave Jessica a final look. How blind I had been to ever think anyone could hold a candle to my Bella. My Bella... that sounded right.
"No, Jessica. We won't be going to homecoming or anything else for that matter. I don't know what I was ever thinking, to have been so blind before. But I've seen the light now and it's waiting for me right over there." I pointed to the place Bella stood bathed in moonlight as she gazed out over the waves. Beautiful. "And you're wrong, Bella is brilliant. She got into Dartmouth first—I'm following her. And quit calling me Eddie, I hate that shit."
I felt all the eyes of my friends on me as I walked over to Bella. As I crossed the distance between my present life and the hope of my future, I heard someone's comment "About fucking time."
And it was. What had I been waiting on? What took me so long to see the utter perfection before me?
I walked silently across the sand, not sure of how to say the things I wanted to say to Bella. Now that I finally knew I loved her, how did I tell her? And if even though it seemed obvious to everyone else, how could I be sure she felt the same? Wouldn't she have said something before? Did that mean she didn't feel the same? Was I in this alone? Could I love Bella if she didn't love me?
The weight of the impossible questions screamed out in my mind as I reached Bella's side. She continued to stare out into the gray waters, wind picking up strands of her hair and twisting it out into the endless night. I watched her as she seemed to be pondering the world's greatest questions with a slightly pensive look on her face. She was still serene, even in this thoughtful space. I was enraptured by her. After what could have been minutes or hours she turned to me, a sad smile pulled on her mouth.
"Hey," she quietly broke the silence between us.
"So...back with Jess again?" her voice was flat, her face resigned.
"What? Oh hell no. She and I are over." I would not be going out with Jessica Stanley ever again.
"Oh. Well it just looked like.. and you two are always so on and off," she seemed a little happy at my admission but I could still hear the doubtful tone in her voice.
"Well we are definitely off from now on. I don't know what I was thinking..." I let my voice trail off as I gazed at Bella. What had I been thinking, dating Jessica when I could have been loving Bella all this time.
"Clearly you weren't thinking, Cullen. Only took you a year to figure that out, maybe its time to renew that Mensa status of yours." Her eyes were teasing now as a look of playfulness settled on her face. God I loved her.
I wanted to tell her, but a part of me feared she wouldn't feel the same. I mean this was Bella, my best and closest friend Bella. Would it hurt when she said no? Hell yes, it would burn like nothing ever had before. But could I live without ever telling her- no. I would rather suffer through life knowing I'd at least given it a chance then never knowing. My resolve strengthened. I had to tell her, now.
"Bella." I pulled her small hand into my own. Looking deeply into the depths of her coffee eyes, I took a breathe before spilling my mortal heart out to her, hoping she would keep it alive. She quickly understood the serious shift my voice had taken and her eyes filled with a small panic.
"Edwa-" I cut her off, placing a finger across her lips. I needed to get this out and I would lose my nerve if she kept talking.
"Bella, I need to say a few things. And I hope you'll listen." She started to speak again. "Please." I was practically begging her now. With a deep breath in, she nodded.
"We have known each other for such a long time Bella. You are in all of my childhood memories, eating birthday cake and riding bikes. We learned to dance together, we've skipped school together. You discover music only my heart dreams about. You've seen me at my worst, you've always been there when I was at my best. I don't know when it happened, cause I'm just finding out myself, but I think... I know, I'm in love with you, Bella. Beyond all reason, with no doubt. When I close my eyes, its you I see. You were my first kiss and I want you to be my last."
She stared at me for a lifetime, eyes welling with tears which then coursed down her cheeks. She was crying. She didn't feel the same. I began to spiral into darkness, into the empty oblivion.
"You don't have to say anything Bella. Its okay if you don't feel the same," her face took another a look of horror, further slicing away at my now mangled heart. She didn't love me, but selfishly I had to keep a part of her or I would never make it. "I can.. we can still be frie-"
"Don't, Edward." She placed her own delicate finger to my lips, silencing me this time. Her face was unreadable. I was drowning.
"Don't you take away the most beautiful thing you've ever said to me. I can't bare it, not when its exactly what I feel. I have loved you since that first day, Edward. You are my best friend and I want to be your last first kiss."
My body was on fire, tingling with electricity I didn't know existed. I pulled the now smiling girl into my chest, needing to feel her body on every inch of my own. I traced the shape of her arms, moving my hands up her to her neck before cupping the curve of her face. Her eyes were dancing with an emotion I could now fully understand, love. She loved me and I her. I traced my thumb across the soft tenderness of her full bottom lip.
"I love you Bella." I stared directly into her eyes, needing her to see it.
"Seal it with a kiss?" her breath warmed my face. I leaned down to close the small distance between us, brushing my lips softly across hers. I could taste the beginning of my life right there on her lips.
"That's it Bella! You're doing wonderfully! Almost there... one more big push, you can do it!" a nurse encouraged her.
I watched as my beautiful wife pushed down once more, sucking in air and forcing it out in low cry as she bared down a final time. In an instant the room was a flutter of motion, nurses hurrying with blankets and instruments, handing them off to the doctor as he righted himself in his chair.
There, resting in his arms was a small wriggling mess of pink, arms and legs failing and reaching for the warmth she had always known as a cry escaped her tiny mouth and pierced the room.
"Oh my god, Edward. She is beautiful!" Bella's voice was pure adoration and love as she stared at our daughter. The nurse swaddled the small bundle in a pink blanket before placing her gently in Bella's out stretched arms.
As I looked down on my beautiful wife and perfect daughter, I felt my heart swell, filling itself with more love than I ever thought it capable of holding. Bella was openly crying, tears of joy splashing down her face as she tucked the blanket around the baby. Our daughter opened her mouth wide with a yawn before closing her eyes and nestling down against her mother's breast. It was the most exquisite sight I had ever seen.
"She is so beautiful, Bella. You are so beautiful. Both of you, precious gifts that God has granted me. Thank you," I placed a tender kiss to Bella's forehead before lowering my lips to the tiny head she cradled in her arms. Inhaling the soft scent of my daughter, I kissed the top of her head with reverence knowing just how blessed I truly was.
"She really is beautiful isn't she? She has your eyes, Edward, did you see?" Bella raised her shimmering chocolate orbs up to me.
"I wish she had yours, love. They are radiant, especially right now. So full of love." I watched a blush bloom across her face, giving her skin a glowing perfection. "And I really hope she has inherited your blush. Its another one of my favorite parts of you." I couldn't help but lavish her with another kiss, this time taking her bottom lip into my own for a deeper kiss. I felt her smile beneath my ministrations before she pulled back slightly.
"I don't know, Mr. Cullen. I happen to think your shade of green is rather dazzling myself." Bella gave me a soft smile full of the love and joy. I couldn't help but reciprocate with my own-half grin.
"Whatever you say, sweetheart. As long as she is part you, she will be prefect to me." I gently grazed my finger along the now sleeping girls cheek relishing the soft skin there. I looked back up to Bella, her eyes focused intently on me.
"I love you, Edward."
"I love you Bella. More today than any day before. And I will love you more each day than I ever have before."
"Cross your heart and hope to die?" she teased. I obliged by crossing an imaginary X over my heart.
"Stick a needle in your eye if you lie?" I nodded my head in the solemn promise of our youth.
"Seal it with a kiss?"
"Gladly, love. Gladly."