Originally written for the NaughtyHeels Anonymous One-Shot Contest - I Love 80s' Music: Placed third...w00t!!! This is my first Twific, and I was completely overwhelmed and humbled by the response. First draft of chapter two is completed, and should hopefully be up soon (after some beta negotiation - it's a rough month with everyone doing the NaNo). Special thanks to the ultra-fab Coquettishness - a brilliant author who pulled my ass out of the fire at the eleventh hour so I could make the deadline for this contest. If not for her, this might have never seen the (twi)light of day... yeah, I went there! *groans*
Items of note:
*This song was wildly popular with me and my friends many moons before Donnie Darko was conceived.
*John Taylor is the bassist for Duran Duran and possesses the most perfectly square jaw in human existence.
* Boys Don't Cry by the Cure is one of the best songs ever, with an unbelievably iconic graphic to go along with it.
*The lead singer of Echo and the Bunnymen introduced The Killing Moon at KROQ's Flashback to the Future concert festival as "the greatest song ever written." He also managed to bitch about how they should be the headliners for the concert.
*The actual headliners were Duran Duran and the Cure.
Name of Song and Artist of Inspiration Song: The Killing Moon - Echo & the Bunnymen
Disclaimer: I don't own them. If I did, there'd have been no 'fade to black'.
Summary: Fate up against your will. It's the late 80s and Bella Swan must learn to live with her undying devotion to the popular Edward Cullen, who will never see her as anything more than a friend.
The Killing Moon - Echo & The Bunnymen
Under blue moon I saw you
So soon you'll take me
Up in your arms, too late to beg you
Or cancel it though I know it must be
The killing time
Fate up against your will
Through the thick and thin
He will wait until
You give yourself to him
In starlit nights I saw you
So cruelly you kissed me
Your lips a magic world
Your sky all hung with jewels
The killing moon
Will come too soon
Fate up against your will
Through the thick and thin
He will wait until
You give yourself to him
Under blue moon I saw you
So soon you'll take me
Up in your arms, too late to beg you
Or cancel it though I know it must be
The killing time
Fate up against your will
Through the thick and thin
He will wait until
You give yourself to him
I'd fought against it for so long. Silly, really, considering I'd known from almost the first moment I saw Edward Cullen, that my heart belonged to him.
We'd been freshmen together. I was new to this school, to Phoenix, and he'd lived here all his life. He knew everyone, was liked by everyone, and had an almost deadly charisma. Of course, this made him wildly popular, and you'd think it would also make him equally conceited, yet, underneath it all, he was one of the nicest people I knew. Humorous, athletic, smart, and did I mention charming? Oh yeah, and ridiculously good looking?
He'd never have to worry about a getting a girlfriend. Like, ever.
We'd both belonged to the honors program, meaning that we shared a lot of the same advanced courses. But the first time I'd really noticed him was, of all places, the city bus.
We both took the same bus in the mornings. I lived on the far edge of the school district, in a small apartment complex with my mom. He was much closer to school, in the neighborhoods that resembled something out of a John Hughes movie. Immaculate lawns dotted with gardens, families with kids that had all grown up together, BMWs and Mercedes gleaming as far as the eye could see; even at fourteen, I knew enough to be both jealous and nervous of my preppy peers. The closer we got to school, the more expensively dressed the students got. As if I didn't already feel out of place, my still-in-really-good-condition secondhand outfits were steadily dwarfed by an ever-growing rainbow of Swatches, Reeboks, Izod and Polo shirts.
I was glad I had chosen to sit as far in the back as possible. I found it easiest to observe and not be observed.
With only three miles left, the bus doors opened and in he walked. The only reason I had even looked up from my worn copy of Firestarter was because of the rise in volume. It seemed he had quite a number of friends that were all glad to see him, and he smiled in greeting.
It was the smile that caught me, the sheen of pink in his cheeks that drew me in further, and the easy and genuine laughter that killed me.
I did my best to quell the sudden, giddy rush I felt in the pit of my stomach. He was just some cute guy. No big deal. In a high school as big as ours, in a city as big as Phoenix, there were bound to be dozens, if not hundreds of them. I gave a sigh and returned to my book.
Another mile down the road, a frazzled-looking woman with two small children boarded the bus. She tried to shift both of her childrens' hands into one of her own as she grabbed an overhead rail. We'd hit standing-room-only status about two stops back. Several more passengers surged past her, trying to wedge their way into the aisle.
I heard a voice above the din. "Guys, didn't your moms ever teach you any manners?"
I looked as Cute Guy stood, elbowing his buddies seated in the side-facing chairs. Then he turned that gorgeous smile on the thankful mom, graciously offering the seats.
Wow. For real!
I told myself I wasn't looking for him when we arrived at the school and the teeming masses pushed and shoved their way out. I was far too nervous about starting at a new place in the middle of the year. Thankfully, it was the beginning of second semester, so at least some of the students would have new classes, and it wouldn't be so obvious that I was the new kid.
I was grateful to be spared the embarrassing classroom introductions. I think that was reserved for smaller schools, like the one I went to back in Washington. It was easy enough to simply fade into the background here, which made me more than happy.
I'd made it early to second period honors English and took a seat in the front. English was, by far, my favorite subject, and if I wanted to participate in class discussions, at least I could do it without seeing everyone's eyes on me. The room continued to fill, and right before the bell rang, I heard his laugh, unmistakable, though I'd only heard it once before. I turned around, and since everyone was still milling about, I took advantage of the opportunity to really check him out.
He was taller than I had realized, fair, but not pale, mussed hair, sparkling eyes, and wet, almost cherry-colored lips. His build and hair reminded me of John Taylor, but those lips were definitely Rob Lowe. After he put his books on the desk, he pushed up the sleeves of his worn, denim jacket. I could see the silhouette on his t-shirt. I had the same Boys Don't Cry poster hanging in my room. His jeans were almost the same shade as his jacket and his bright purple Vans (which, given the whiteness of the laces, I guessed to be a Christmas gift) completed the outfit.
Cute Guy ended up in four of my six periods. With the exception of English, I had a pretty good view of him from my seat in all of my classes.
Because our school had a fairly good-sized honors program, I didn't feel like quite the outcast I had been back home. After a couple of weeks, I realized how much easier it was to make friends when you had almost all the same classes together, and shared a lot of the same interests. I could easily talk about movies, books and music with any of my peers. I could even crack some Monty Python jokes with a select few.
Edward, aka Cute Guy, turned out to be one of those few.
I'd walked into Spanish class, only to see those dreaded words scrawled across the chalkboard.
"Ohmigod, seriously?" Angela choked next to me.
"You know what they say, Ang," I said, attempting my best Michael Palin voice as I jumped in front of her. "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!"
An embarrassingly loud laugh came from behind me, then I suddenly felt two hands grip my shoulders.
"Our chief weapon is surprise! Surprise and fear! Fear and surprise! Our two weapons are fear and surprise!" Edward's head was over my shoulder, his voice mimicking mine as we both taunted Angela.
"And ruthless efficiency. Our three weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency!" I giggled, waving my hand with three fingers pointing at her.
"And an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope! Our four, no, amongst our weapons, amongst our weaponry, are such elements as fear, surprise..." Edward laughed even harder.
"Do you want to just come in again?" I looked at him, and he grinned at me.
"You two," Angela said, stabbing at us with her pencil, "are crazy!" She stalked off towards her desk. Edward folded his arms, a mock pout on his face.
"But, we didn't even get to the part about the red uniforms."
"Or the rack!" I smirked at him, almost giddy.
"Oh well, her loss. Good luck, Señorita Bella!" He bowed in flourish, grinning at me.
"Buena suerte, Eduardo," I beamed. I'd never been in such a good mood before a pop quiz.
Our friendship blossomed from that point on. Our shared affection of British comedy was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. We seemed to love a lot of the same things, and with nearly identical schedules and a shared lunch period, we found ourselves spending more and more time together. By the end of the year, we were practically best friends. I was never stupid enough to think we could be anything more than that, and I couldn't be happier.
I'd be lying if I said it was always easy. By sophomore year he'd begun dating in earnest. None of the girls were in our circle of friends. Nope, no honors students in that dating pool. Plenty of cheerleaders and cheerleaders from other schools, and let's not forget the pom squad. When he joined track later that year, it opened him up to the athletic girls as well.
The few girls that lasted long enough to make it to the let-me-introduce-you-to-my-friends phase all had one thing in common - their reaction to me. It was damn near identical every time and had become a private running joke between Emmett, Edward's neighbor and our third musketeer, and me.
"And this is Bella," Edward would say. The pick of the litter would first stiffen, then give me the hairy eyeball, followed by the fake smile, another poorly disguised head-to-toe inspection, then finish off with the completely smug leer.
It was a double-bonus for me if they hit the leer in under thirty seconds - it meant Emmett owed me pizza, and they'd be gone in less than a week.
Thankfully, Edward never did seem too upset whenever he'd broken up with one of them. I'd say that made me glad because I didn't want to see him hurt. Of course, it also gave me another false spark of hope that maybe, just maybe, the next time, it could be me. Maybe, he'd see me as something other than 'one of the guys.'
Crazy, right? Best friends.
Really, I'm fine with it.
Sophomore year, a good number of us had been drafted into the student council. For such a large school, there really didn't seem to be all that many students interested in running for office.
An executive decision had been made by the school administration to tap the honors segment, knowing that at the very least, we'd do a good job representing the school.
We certainly didn't object, knowing how good it would look on our academic records and college admissions. What university was going to look closely enough to see that you'd been appointed and not elected?
Edward had found his element. He was already popular, and with his charm, it was easy enough for him to run for junior class president the next year and win. Thankfully, no one wanted the role of class secretary, and our advisor had no problem appointing me to another term.
Junior year was both the best and worst for me.
In addition to all the excitement of student council, I still hung out with my friends, including Edward and Emmett. We'd gone over to Edward's house one day after school, which oddly, we had never done before, and I finally got to meet his sister, Alice. We seemed to hit it off immediately, and she couldn't stop telling me how excited she was to be starting high school the following year.
We became fast friends despite the age difference. I couldn't help but be amazed at how scary smart she was. I swear, it's like that kid knew everything!
And I do mean everything. More than once she caught me looking at Edward, then would shoot me a knowing smile that would make me beet red.
"Bella? You getting sick?"
Edward's words froze me. He happened to look over while I was locked in Alice's gaze, and I hadn't noticed. Mistaking my blush of abject horror for a sudden fever, I could only shake my head quickly.
"No. No. Just a little warm," I squeaked out. Alice collapsed into giggles, and I shot her the death glare from hell. She looked up, saw my expression, then lost it completely, snorting and wheezing. Unable to stop, I followed suit, bellowing with laughter and collapsing into her side. The embarrassment gave way to utter amusement at the ridiculousness of my situation, and it felt so good to just let go and laugh about it. Especially considering that after two years of covert longing, I'd been caught by the little eighth grader without ever having said a word.
Edward and Emmett thought we were both crazy, and gave us nearly identical looks of confusion, which only made us laugh louder.
It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving vacation. Emmett and I both had chemistry together, so we'd always walk together to our lockers, hunt down Edward, then bum a ride home from him. It sucked not having a car, and while Emmett actually did have one, he and Edward almost always carpooled. Honestly, between the two of them, I'd become quite spoiled. I hadn't had to take the bus home in months.
We checked the student council room and even the track to see if he'd decided to go for a run. Track season didn't start for another couple of months, but sometimes he'd go out and run some laps just to stay conditioned.
"This sucks, Bell! Where the hell is he?"
"No idea. Think you should check the locker room? I seem to be lacking some essential equipment, otherwise I'd do that myself," I joked.
"I dunno Swan. You seem to have some impressive equipment up top," he shot back, giving me this ridiculous chest-juggling gesture to emphasize the point.
We laughed, turning the corner of the bleachers to head to the locker room, when we saw them.
Edward and one of the girls from the track team, (I couldn't remember her name) were sucking some serious face, pressed against one another at the back of the bleachers. She had her arms wrapped tightly under his letterman's jacket, and I tore my gaze away as quickly as I could before I could see where his hands were.
Emmett pulled me back around the corner, out of sight, and was snorting in a loud whisper. "Damn, I didn't know he'd taken up baseball! Whaddya think, Bell," he said, crouching down, taking another peek, "is that rounding second?" He turned back to look at me, and I could only imagine what I must have looked like, 'cause I sure as hell knew what I ifelt/i like.
I'm pretty sure I was white as a sheet. I could feel the blood drain from my face. My hands were cold, too, and I didn't know where my stomach had gone. I think it must have slid down my legs on the way to my toes, because I buckled, and fell to one knee.
It wasn't like I didn't know that Edward dated a lot. And I wasn't so stupid and naive to think that he was some sort of chaste monk. But to actually isee/i it, right in front of me...it was like taking a razor-covered fist to my gut.
"Bella!" Emmett at least had the presence of mind to keep his voice somewhat low as he rushed to help me up. I put a hand up, stopping him mid-lunge.
"Bella," he asked, and I just kept shaking my head 'no.' It was all I had in me to keep back the choking flood of tears. I'd already let Emmett see too much, and I couldn't reveal this, too. I had to get out of here, as quickly as possible, and I wouldn't be able to do it without words.
"Em, I... I'm sorry. Just give me a sec, 'k," I rasped.
"Bell," he said, helpless.
I took a deep breath, trying to get through this as quickly as possible. The sudden fear that they'd heard us, that ihe/i could be walking this way and coming around that corner at any second, was enough to light a fire under my absolutely pathetic ass.
I stood up as fast as I could, fighting the dizzying head rush that followed. I looked up at Emmett, choking out the words in a rush. "Not a word, Emmett. You have to promise me, swear to me, that you'll never say a word about this, ever. Please," I begged, every ounce of my wretched emotional state lacing my voice.
"Bell," he tried again.
"No, Emmett. You have to promise! You have to!" I clutched his jacket, terrified, and I think he saw that in my eyes.
"I...I promise, Bella I swear," he whispered, his tone solemn.
"Thank you," I whispered back, and he hugged me. But I couldn't take his comfort, or I'd lose it completely.
Away. I had to get away.
I couldn't think. Somehow, I'd found my way to the bus stop, then had the presence of mind to walk to the one that preceded the school, just in case they should drive by on the way home. I was barely keeping it together as it was, and I couldn't fathom what I would do if he smiled that crooked, cherry-cheeked grin and offered me a ride.
I made it home, kicked off my shoes, and curled into a numb ball on my bed. Fisting the covers over my shoulders, I tucked my hands hard under my chin. My blurred vision fell on my poster of The Cure.
I would say I'm sorry if I thought that it would change your mind. The song lyrics immediately came to mind.
No, he wouldn't. And why would he? It's not as if he did anything to me. I'm just his friend, and we've never been anything more. I knew what I was doing these past two years. I know what I had traded, what I'd sacrificed just to be with him. I got to see a side of him that I doubt he'd ever shown to those girls. I knew he was a gentleman, but I also knew what a fragile soul he could be, so unsure of himself sometimes. So afraid that he could never be good enough to make his family proud or make it into his parent's top three picks for college. He was scared and unsure, just like the rest of us, he only knew how to hide it better.
I'd never be pretty enough, or popular enough, but dammit, I could be what he needed in a friend. I had been. I still was. And even though it ripped me up from the inside out, I was too pathetic, too needy a person to give him up.
God, I only wish I could take it back. Whatever piece of myself that I'd given to him over the years, that integral bit that spelled the difference between friendship and angst-ridden, soul-crushing love. If I could only reclaim just that one piece, this wouldn't hurt so much.
Why did it have to hurt so much?
When mom knocked on the door, I told her I wasn't feeling well. I promised her I'd change into my pajamas, but that I was trying to sleep off whatever bug I'd caught so I could be up nice and early to help cook.
I don't know if she really believed me, but she left me to my misery, and that's all that mattered.
The next morning I got out of bed nice and early to help with Thanksgiving dinner. I stepped into the bathroom, turned on the shower, and made sure that I'd carefully locked away yesterday's ugliness. It was packed tightly in a locked box, resting somewhere in the gaping hole of my chest.
I could do this. I'd done it for years now.
By the time Alice had called to wish us a happy Thanksgiving, I was fine.
Visiting family kept me distracted through the weekend, and come Monday, I knew I could do this. Emmett gave me a few, worried glances in the morning, but thankfully, he never mentioned what had happened.
I'd never been more grateful in my life.
By the end of January, we were all geared up for the big student council state convention. As a school, we were lobbying hard to win the opportunity to host it the next year, which meant we had to show all the delegates that, indeed, we have spirit, yes we do.
This required a game plan, including matching outfits for each day, a series of songs and cheers we could shout in unison at any given moment, not to mention the rabid amount of socializing. We were encouraged to go out and mingle with as many kids as we possibly could, whoring ourselves in the name of good fun, school spirit, and bragging rights for next year.
While I had no problem planning events or even dressing up, I was still somewhat shy. I was thankful that the other delegates from our school included Emmett and Edward, of course. While I'm certain that Edward would be completely at ease using his vast charms on the throbbing mass of spirited teenagers, I at least had Emmett to talk to if I got overwhelmed.
"No worries, Bell! I'll keep you safe," he laughed, adjusting the collar on the old letterman's jacket he'd loaned me. Our group of delegates made quite a colorful bunch, matching jackets and all, clamoring into twin vans for the three hour drive north to the state convention. Emmett, mindful as always, sat between Edward and me, offering what tacit protection he could for my charade.
As a group we joked, laughed and sang stupid theme songs during the entire drive up. The advisors even seemed to get a little goofy, starting a friendly competition to race against our other van. Every few miles they'd speed up, and we'd cheer and taunt our other group as we passed them on the highway.
As we began to speed up again, Emmett climbed over, shoving me against Edward in the process. Edward wrapped an arm around me, sliding me across the bench seat and tucked me into his chest. He pulled us against the window, protecting us both from a face full of Emmett's ass. I looked up at Edward, confused, and he flashed that wicked grin at me. I couldn't stop the blush that burned my face, being this close to him and staring into his sparkling eyes.
"This is going to be worth every penny," he laughed, then nodded towards Emmett. It was difficult to look away, but when I turned my head, Edward's arms latched around my waist, pulling me tighter against him. For just a brief second, I closed my eyes, loving the feel of being this close to him. When I finally looked, Emmett had adopted a strange squatting pose on the seat. His hands were clutched on his hips, and it took me a second to realize that his fly was undone.
Right then, we pulled up to our neighboring vehicle, and Emmett yanked down his jeans, giving everyone an eyeful.
"Agh!" I wasn't the only screaming in delight as he shimmied his ass against the window. I could see our other classmates, laughing and pointing at our van, making sure everyone caught a glimpse of Emmett's full moon!
Cheers like 'classic' and 'awesome' were given all around as Emmett zipped up and sat down. He had the proudest grin on his face as he and Edward high-fived over me.
"Easiest money ever made," he said, leaning back and buckling his belt.
"How much did you pay him?" I asked, leaning my head back to look up at Edward.
"Twenty bucks. My parents were especially generous with my allowance for this trip. I figured I could be the philanthropist and spend my money for the good of mankind," he said, grinning. My stomach was doing all sorts of delightful flips as I stared at him, grinning back. His voice and been deep and soft, adding to our strange little intimate bubble. I took another deep breath, appreciating being held by him and the happiness of his expression.
"On behalf of mankind, may I just say, I'm really glad I wasn't in the other van," I joked.
"I'm sorry, Em," I said, leaning back into Edward's embrace. "It's not that I don't love you and all. I'm sure you have quite the gorgeous, football-playing ass, but there are just some things that I never want to see up close and personal. Count your backdoor as one of them."
"Gross, Bell! I just mooned them! I didn't invite them in for a tour!"
"Just be glad you never had P.E. with him. It doesn't get much more up close and personal than that," Edward said into my ear, and I shivered.
Emmett raised an eyebrow at me, smirking.
"I'll tell you what, Bell. Since I offended your delicate sensibilities, I'll be the total gentleman and keep this seat for the rest of the ride, thus sparing you the glory of my ass prints," he said, waving his hands over the window, like a Price Is Right model.
"I hope the hotel has some industrial strength Windex, otherwise I think that seat may be yours for life," Edward quipped.
"What are you talking about? I was gonna pull it out, get it dusted for prints, and hang it in the trophy case at school!"
Everyone in the van laughed, including our advisor. Deciding to make the most of my rare situation, I put my feet up in Emmett's lap, which let me press further into Edward's grasp.
"So, twenty bucks," I said, trying to act casual, "who knew you could be bought for so cheap?" Edward twisted towards me, throwing one arm across the back of the seat and leaving the other draped around my waist. I couldn't help but beam a glorious smile at Emmett. He grinned back, happy to see I had taken full advantage of the situation.
"I'm not cheap, Bell, I'm economical."
"Your ass was the blue light special," I shot back. Edward's laughter rumbled through my back.
"Imagine what I could have gotten for forty," he said. "Definitely worth the money!"
"Definitely worth it," Emmett said, waving the twenty in front of us both and winking at me.
I blushed and giggled and was totally thankful that Edward couldn't see my face.
Three hours later we arrived, moans and groans coming from everyone as we climbed out and stretched in the parking lot. After getting our room assignments and keys, we went to the welcoming ceremonies, doing our level best to be the loudest and most spirited group of rowdy teenagers.
After activities and depleting the local Pizza Hut of anything edible, we walked back to the hotel, keys in hand and ready for bed. Our advisors, trusting as they were, decided to give us all a reminder about the hotel rules - anyone not assigned to your room that is in your room means the door must be open at all times. Several of the guys groaned, as if this ruined all their chances of scoring. I just rolled my eyes, knowing as well as they did that there were plenty of ways of skirting the rules and finding trouble. I never participated in any shenanigans myself--always the good girl--but I knew for a fact that Katy Browning from Camelback High had gone home from last year's convention and nine months later had a seven and a half pound bundle of joy.
"Later, Bell! Don't do anything I wouldn't do," Emmett said, shoving into Edward from the side, pushing him into me, then waving. Edward laughed, and I slammed back at him, forcing him against Emmett.
"'Night, guys! See you in the morning!"
I made my way through the lobby and back outside, following my two roomies. Once inside, we figured out the sleeping arrangements between the two beds and one not-so-cozy sofa bed. We had three nights here, so I offered to take the sofa bed tonight, and then us girls would rotate for the next two nights. I figured if I was going to be uncomfortable; best to get it out of the way.
Tired as I was, sleep didn't come easily. I lay in bed, thinking about how Edward was probably just a few feet away, and then remembering those glorious three hours in the van, all nuzzled against him.
When we woke in the morning, I begged the girls to shower first and let me sleep a bit longer. I hadn't fallen asleep last night until two in the morning. The sofa bed and indeed been horribly uncomfortable, and I was terrified that I would talk in my sleep. The last thing I needed was for everyone to know about my crush on Edward and the effect it had on me.
At 7:30 I was scrambling to get ready. I'd have to forgo breakfast if I had any chance of being on time. I quickly combed through my wet hair, pulling it into a tight ponytail. The day's matching spirit outfits were green and white striped shirts, our school colors, and matching sweats. Our mascot was the bobcat, so I was rifling through my bag in search of my bobcat-eared headband and pin-on tail. At least I already had the whiskers on the counter.
Oh, the humiliation!
"BellAAAAH!" There was a loud pounding on my door that made me jump. I ran and threw it open, only to see Edward standing before me, looking nearly as frazzled as I was. There was a smudge of green on his cheek, and he was holding tubes of green and black lipstick.
"I need your help," he began, following me back into the room while I started dumping out the contents of my bag on the bed. "I wanted to put a big number one on my cheek, but I did it in the mirror, and then Emmett told me I'd painted the dumb thing on backwards. He went off to get breakfast, and obviously I can't do this on my own. And these stupid whiskers, agh! Would you please help me?" He begged.
I made the mistake of looking at him. Even as rushed as I was, I couldn't deny that grin or those eyes. God, those eyes were like twin, glittering jewels of kryptonite. Our green and white outfits only made them more piercing, and I swear I melted on the inside.
I stood, gulping like an idiot, upside-down bag in hand.
"Um, sure, but you gotta help me find my headband first," I said, swallowing. We both ran our hands through my stuff, sifting through it. It was only then that I'd realized that there were quite a few unmentionables splayed out before us.
Edward Cullen just touched my underwear.
"Uh," he looked up, seeming to notice my grave error in judgment as soon as I did.
Please, let me die now!
"Never mind, let me do you first." I paused, then my face flamed red. "I mean your makeup! Let me do your makeup first!"
He had the nerve to smirk at me, as I whipped around towards the vanity. I grabbed a handful of tissues and swiped one with Noxema.
He closed his eyes as I started wiping his cheek clean. I took the tiniest bit longer than I needed to, taking this rare opportunity to just admire him. He was easily six feet tall by now, and in the two years we'd known each other, I had to admit he filled out rather nicely. He wasn't too slim or gangly, just lean...and perfect. He was still as a statue, as I made another gentle pass over the apple of his cheek.
"Tilt your head back a little," I requested. I didn't even know if he had any makeup on his jaw and neck, but I sure as hell wasn't going to miss my chance to touch him. I lifted my fingers and started just below his eyes, making a slow arc against the swell of his cheek, towards his perfect ear, to the harder angle of his jaw, and feathering off against his neck.
Please, let me die now...
"Okay, take a seat," I choked out. "You're too tall for me to do this right with you standing."
"Here you go," he said, handing me the makeup, then plopping down on one of the beds. He leaned his head back and closed his eyes.
"Um," I said, "just stay still." Ever so gently I pressed my bare fingertips to his lightly-stubbled chin, angling his face as I carefully drew the '#1' in green, then traced it in black. It only took two minutes, but I could swear I'd entered a bubble of sci-fi anomaly, where the universe simply did not exist, except for the two of us.
"All done," I whispered, sad to let his face go. He opened those gorgeous eyes to look at me and smile, and God, did I want him to kiss me. It felt like all the air and sound had been sucked out of the room, and all that was left was Edward.
"Thanks, Bella," he said, jumping up and breaking the spell completely. I staggered back a little, completely lost.
"What? Yeah! Yeah, I, um, I didn't get breakfast, and I still need to find my stuff," I rambled, running back to my pile of clothes.
"You do that. I'm gonna try to get these whiskers on," he said, stepping toward the vanity. I dug my hand into the pockets of my bag, finally finding my bobcat ears and tail. I joined him at the mirror, and he held out the spirit gum to me.
"Here you go," he said, dabbing his whiskers into place, then pressing them tightly until they were fixed. I started squeezing and working mine into place while he washed his hands.
"Hold still," he said, and I was too focused on my whiskers to see what he was talking about. Then I felt a tug on my waistband, and my heart nearly leapt into my throat. Looking in the mirror, we appeared comically pornographic. I was bent over, my ass practically in the air, my face nearly pressed into the mirror. Edward was concentrating on my lower back, pulling at my waistband to pin on my bobcat tail.
I was actually deafened by the rush blood, racing to either one of my cheeks, or well below the aforementioned waistband. My heart thrummed in my chest, and some base, uncontrollable instinct actually caused me to angle my hips upward!
"I said don't move," he barked, one hand grabbing my hip and lighting fire to the skin beneath it. He leaned over to get a better grasp of the safety pin.
"Whoa! Now I see why they have that open door rule!" Emmett boomed, scaring the crap out of both of us.
"Geez, Emmett," I yelled, jumping up, which caused Edward to lose his hold and stab me in the back with the pin. I yelped.
"Ohmigod, I'm sorry Bella. Are you okay?"
I nodded at Edward, rubbing the spot for a second before he grabbed my sweatpants again. "I'm trying to help her with her tail," Edward said, glaring at Emmett.
"Dude, the last thing I want to hear about is Bella's tail," he joked, throwing his palms up in the air.
"Very funny," I grimaced, but the blush was still in my cheeks, and Emmett winked at me. Edward finished fastening the safety pin, and I rubbed my back again for good measure.
"Guys, the vans are loading up. Hey, where's your hat?" he asked Edward, while tipping his own baseball cap adorned with ridiculously large bobcat ears.
"Crap, I left it in the room," he said, running out the door, digging into his pockets for his room key. "I'll meet you outside," he yelled from down the corridor.
"Been busy, Baby Bell?" Emmett asked suggestively.
"As if," I said, rolling my eyes at him.
"Sorry to interrupt. Maybe you should put a sock on the doorknob next time," he laughed.
"Very funny, McCarty," I shot back, pushing him out of the room. We walked to the vans, standing by the open doors waiting for Edward.
"Everybody in," our advisor yelled, and we took up the middle bench, sliding aside as Edward came running towards us. He jumped in and slammed the sliding door, plopping down in the seat next to me and pulling his hat on. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a green foil package.
"Who's your best friend in the whole world?" he asked, smiling at me, and I gladly took the granola bar out of his hand.
"You are," I beamed, ripping the package apart and completely touched by the gesture.
It had been a long day of cheering, screaming, watching and performing skits, eating, and more cheering and screaming.
By all rights, we should be exhausted. But as the advisors slowly congregated into the hospitality suites, and the entire delegation took over the hotel, it was obvious no one was going to bed early this Friday night. We'd been encouraged to be social, so even through bleary eyes, I followed my classmates out to charm our fellow student council counterparts.
I followed the guys out into the main courtyard, and we glanced around at all the open doors, trying to figure out which ones had the most people hanging out in them. Spying a heavily-trafficked door, we climbed the stairs up to the third floor. Along the way, Edward ran into a student body president from a school in Tucson, leaving me and Emmett to continue on. As we headed towards the room, a guy came hurtling out of a nearby door, a glass sailing past his head.
"Don't you ever come near me again, Roy, so help me God," we heard a girl shout from the room.
Roy stood up to his full height, a good 6'2" at least. I recognized him immediately from earlier today. He was the student body president of one of the schools, and we all knew he was heading off to Stanford next year.
"If you're such a frigid bitch, then maybe you should stop dressing like such a fuckin' cock tease," he said, lunging back towards the door. Emmett grabbed him by the back of his collar.
"Hey, what is your problem?" Emmett growled in a menacing tone.
"My problem is none of your fucking business, jock strap," he said, wrestling from Emmett's grasp. "I was just having a little talk with my girl."
"I'm not your girl, you asshole," she yelled back.
"You're my girl until I say you're not, got it?" he shouted, making another run at the door. Emmett immediately pinned the guy's arm around his back.
"I think the lady says otherwise. Maybe you should go back to your room before I find your advisor," Emmett threatened.
"You'd better back off. Do you have any idea who I am?" Roy snarled.
"Yeah, actually, I do. Roy King," Emmett hissed into his ear. "But you see my friend over there," he nodded towards me, and I froze. "Her dad's the chief of police, and I'm sure that a little incident report about you being drunk and threatening girls at a school event is going to ruin any chances you have of going anywhere that doesn't require a jumpsuit. So, I suggest you back the fuck off, and be on your merry way." He let him go, and Roy looked at him in disgust, then turned to face the girl in the room and pointed at her.
"This isn't over, honey. Not by a long shot," he sneered. That's when Emmett and I happened to finally get a look at her. Tall and blonde, with mascara tracks running down her face. Her eyes were wide with fright, and she was cupping a cube of ice against her swelling cheek.
"Hey Roy," Emmett yelled, and Roy turned to look at him. That's when Emmett's fist connected solidly with Roy's gut.
"I ever catch you hitting her, or any girl for that matter, you're dead meat. Is that understood?" Emmett rumbled into his ear, then pushed Roy away, disgusted to even make contact with him. Roy stumbled towards the railing, leaned over and puked his guts out.
Emmett and I went into the room to help the girl, and she was smiling a wicked grin, wiping her tears.
"God, I wish I could have done that myself. I really need to learn how to throw a good punch," she sniffed. "Thanks." She smiled up at Emmett, and he was mesmerized. I nudged him, trying to get him to close his jaw.
"Emmett's a great teacher. Thanks to him I have a wicked right hook," I offered, but the girl only had eyes for Emmett.
"Oh, y-yeah, no problem. I'm glad I could help. Though, it looked like you were doing a pretty good job till then," he said, smiling at her.
"Some guys just can't take 'no' for an answer. Or 'stop' or 'cut it out' or 'get off of me.' Damn," she sighted, "would you mind hitting him again?"
Emmett turned, happy to oblige, before the blonde grabbed him by the arm.
"No, please. I'm fine, really," she laughed. "I'm Rose, by the way. Rosalie Hale."
"Emmett. Emmett McCarty," he replied, standing to his full height and puffing out his chest a little. I couldn't help but snort.
"And this pipsqueak," he teased.
"Hey," I warned.
"Is Bella Swan."
"It's nice to meet you, Rose. Is there anything I can get for you? Are you sure you're okay?"
"Oh, yeah, I'll be fine. Do you mind, though? I'm just gonna go wash my face really quick," she took a quick couple of steps backward.
"Not at all," Emmett replied, and she smiled at him again, ducking back towards the bathroom vanity.
"Bell," he whispered at me, a look of pleading on his face.
I couldn't help but grin.
"Say no more, say no more, squire," I laughed, backing up towards the door.
"I hate when you and Edward quote that Python shit," he shook his head. "But thanks, I owe you big time!"
"No problem, conquering hero," I waved at him and left to make my way to the party we were originally headed towards.
I was happy for Emmett, but I hated flying solo. Being as inherently shy as I was certainly didn't help, but I managed to introduce myself to several people, and even struck up a decent conversation with a cute guy from Corona del Sol. We must have spent at least twenty minutes on the couch, talking about our respective schools. Jacob was a senior, so he told me all about how he was headed off to ASU in the fall to study psychology. He even seemed interested when I told him I was considering studying literature.
"Planning on teaching for a living, then," he joked.
"Not necessarily. Maybe I'll end up writing the books that teachers teach with," I quipped back.
"I'm sure you could teach them a thing or two," he responded smugly.
We talked for a few more minutes, but after my third yawn, I told him I needed to head back to my room.
"That's a shame, but I'll see you later, right?" he asked.
"Of course, I'm here all weekend," I teased, heading out the door. I knew better than to interrupt Emmett and his new friend, so I breezed quickly past their door, then past the railing where Roy had lost his dinner, until I was by the stairs. I peered over the edge, wondering if I'd catch a glimpse of Edward. It had been nearly an hour since we'd split, so I was sure he was in one of the rooms at another party. I was a handful of steps from the ground floor when I heard giggling.
"Oh, Eddie, how I've missed you," I heard a girl's voice, and I froze.
Not again, please. I can't see this again!
But, like a lamb to the slaughter, I lightly took the last few steps, quietly coming around the staircase.
There, next to the gate of the swimming pool, was Edward and some girl from one of the other schools. Apparently he knew her well, because she had both her hands on his chest, and his hands were clasped lightly on her waist.
I couldn't watch.
I ran as quietly as I could to my empty room, slamming the door and taking big gulps of air. God, I was stupid. What was I thinking? It wasn't like anything had changed. I was still just one of the guys. Sitting next to him on a stupid car ride did not suddenly make us betrothed, so why couldn't I get rid of this ache in my chest? Why couldn't I stop wanting something that could never be?
I was tired of it. So tired. This constant dull pain that underlie everything that we did, every exchange of jokes, every smile, every conversation. It was always there, that pain.
I didn't want to belong to him, knowing he could never be mine. So why did I feel like that? Why, down to my very core, did I feel like he owned me?
I took a shower, knowing I could cry as long and hard as I needed to without interruption. I hoped, with everything that I had, that somehow I could purge this need, this connection. Through my tears, I wanted to purge my soul of Edward Cullen.
I fell asleep, drained and emotionally exhausted.
Saturday was another full schedule, and it was easy to busy myself and stay away from Edward. Emmett was so busy spending time from Rose, he didn't notice my absence.
As night fell, and the parties started up again in earnest, I knew what I wanted to do. Everyone else around me was having fun, having experiences, and I was tired of playing the role of pathetic, lovesick sidekick. I let this disgusting need I had for Edward deprive me everything else I should be enjoying. For years now, whenever I'd even find another boy attractive, I felt as if I was cheating somehow.
Stupid, I know.
So, I went out, milling around the party rooms, desperate to misbehave. I could never have Edward; that much was clear. But maybe, just maybe, I could exorcise him from my being.
Luckily, I ran into Jacob again, and this time, I tried to be flirty. I completely sucked at it, never having done it before, but I think it must have been working on some level. We found another couch, and he offered me some shots of 'mouthwash,' which seemed to be the drink of choice. Never having alcohol before, I thought it really was mouthwash at first, until my head started swimming a bit.
"I don't think this is really mouthwash, Jake," I stage-whispered, and he laughed.
"It is minty fresh," he said with a smile. "But, you're right. Maybe you've had enough. Get some fresh air," he suggested, taking my hand.
"That sounds wunnerful," I giggled, maybe a little more under the influence than I realized.
We walked away from the hotel area, closer to the train tracks, and found an old bench to sit on. My eyes quickly adjusted to the dark.
"God, you can seriously see all the stars out here," I said, looking up in awe.
"Yeah, not an easy thing to see in the city. Way too many lights," he said, putting his arm around me and I let him. It felt nice. Not in the same electric way as Edward's touch, but nice all the same.
"That feels nice," I said, my language filter apparently shot.
"I'm glad you think so," he laughed, rubbing my arm. He tucked me into his side a little more, leaning down to face me. "You're really pretty, you know," he sighed, his hand brushing my bangs to the side.
"You think so," I asked, my voice small and hopeful.
"Oh yeah, absolutely," he smiled. His thumb moved to brush my lip.
This was really going to happen. I'd never been kissed before. Hell, I'd never dated before either. Not for lack of want, but because of my stupid, loyal heart to someone who didn't want me. But I wanted this. I wanted this experience, and even though I didn't have anything other than a passing attraction for Jake, at least I knew he thought I was pretty and worth kissing.
He smiled, and leaned towards me, closing his eyes. I tilted my head, closing my eyes and waiting.
"Bella! Is that you?"
You've got to be kidding me!
Jake jumped back, startled. We both sat up, as a familiar silhouette came into view.
"Bella, what the hell are you doing out here? You know we're not supposed to leave the hotel. We were freaking the hell out," Edward chastised me, before noticing I wasn't alone.
"I'm fine, Edward. I was just hanging out with Jake," I said casually. "We were just...stargazing." I giggled, and Jake stood beside me.
Edward took a step closer, a hard look in his eyes.
"The fuck...Bella, are you drunk? Did you get her drunk!?" He grabbed Jake's shirt, glaring at him. "What school are you with? I'm gonna have your ass handed to you by your advisor!"
"Edward, what the hell?" I shoved him. "Leave him alone!"
"It's cool, Bella. I should get back anyway," Jake relented, a bit of fear in his eyes from the threat.
"No, Jake, don't go," I tried, but he was already walking away.
"What the hell is your problem!" I crossed my arms, yelling at Edward.
"Wh-what...what's my problem? Bella, we've been looking for you for an hour now. Emmett was freaking out. We looked everywhere!"
"Right," I sneered, "Emmett was worried, 'cause, of course, you couldn't give a shit." Oh hell, my language filter really was gone. This could get ugly.
"What the hell are you talking about?!"
"Nothing, alright, just...just leave me alone. I have to go find Jake."
"Like hell I will. I'm not letting you wander off like this, with some strange guy that gets you drunk and carts you off to the middle of nowhere! What were you thinking?"
"What was I thinking!? Oh, I don't know, maybe how, for once, I'd like to feel like something other than an honorary guy or the total square who never has any fun! Maybe I wanted an experience, Edward. Ever think of that? Maybe I'm sick of being a total prude!"
"So what, you wander off with just some random guy?" He looked livid. "It's a huge fucking difference to go from prude to slut!"
I felt like I'd been slapped.
"Those are big fucking words, coming from you and your revolving door of bonus STD 'girlfriends'." I put air quotes on the last word. "I'm sorry if Emmett's concern threw a wrench into whatever french-kissing, boob-groping, blowjob plans you had for the evening. If I ever need a referral for penicillin, I'll give you call!"
I got about ten steps away before he grabbed my arm.
"You're not going after that guy," he snarled.
"Lemme go." I pulled against him.
"What is wrong with you?! Why can everyone else have someone but me, huh? Emmett found someone. You've got the damn Mono parade. I just wanted a first fucking kiss." I was crying. He let go of my arm, and I pulled away, reaching into my pocket for some tissue to wipe away my tears and blow my nose.
I turned around and jumped when I saw Edward standing much too close. He took me up in his arms, sliding his hands to cup my face, and tilted it back ever so gently. I froze, terrified and thrilled all at once. As much as I'd dreamt about this, I didn't think it would ever happen. My mind went into overdrive, trying to figure out the circumstances that could lead to this impossible moment, then it shut down altogether.
"I can give you that," he murmured.
His lips touched mine, and I sighed into him. In that moment, I forgot everything - my insecurities, where and who we were. All I could do was feel. His lips ignited everything within me at once. I felt as if my entire being was straining to express itself with my lips. I wanted to swallow him whole and be consumed at the same time. In that one kiss he took and gave everything, quelling my inexperience by teaching me how to kiss without devouring, but welcome and respond, push and pull.
I wanted to live and die in that kiss.
And then I felt his tongue, both cold and foreign but dangerously exciting. Our closed lips broke into soft, wet gasps, minute swipes of tongues against lips against tongues.
I moaned, and he moaned back. I fisted my hands in his shirt, pulling him tighter against me. His hands slid along my back, and his lips...those magic lips, danced along my neck, suckling and nipping.
I felt like I would explode. Every part of me was burning, building into something frightening and overwhelming. Just from his kiss. My soul was opened and laid bare before him.
I gasped, feeling his lips suckle a new spot on my neck. I couldn't care if it left a mark because the sensation was too great. I returned in kind, latching on to his neck like an inexperienced vampire, desperate to imbibe. He sighed in my ear, and I sucked so hard that I became dizzy, my knees going weak and ears ringing. He grabbed me, and I threw my head back, gulping in air.
His mouth was back on my neck, his hand resting on the bare skin under my sweater. I was limp against him, and I grasped, desperate to find something to hold on to. Unwittingly, my hands found his ass and squeezed. He groaned.
My sweater rose higher. When his thumb grazed my nipple, I squeaked out in delighted shock.
'More,' was all I could think as I lost any sense of propriety. I squeezed him again, eliciting a growl.
I hiccupped, a minty, mouthwash hiccup, and giggled.
He stilled, holding me against him, waiting for my breathing to return to normal. I kept my eyes closed, doing what I could to just enjoy the feel of him wrapped around me. His hand gently stroked my hair, continually sliding and tucking it behind my ears, calming me.
I covered my mouth, blushed and smiled at him. For just a second, I saw him return my smile, eyes sparkling like jewels, before his expression turned blank.
"Was that what you wanted?" he asked.
"Yes," I said, "more than you know."
"Good," he said, his voice devoid of anything gentle. He released me. "There's your 'experience'. Now let's get you back before you get busted."
I staggered back, feeling the coldness of his tone.
"Wait, what?" I muttered, confused.
"You said you wanted an experience so I gave you one. At least be thankful I'm someone you know, and not some random guy. At least I'm a friend."
"A...a friend?" I questioned.
"Not bad for your first kiss. I'm sure whoever finally lands you will be a lucky guy," he joked.
This couldn't be happening. Did he not feel it? Was it only me? That kiss was phenomenal. I knew I had nothing to compare it to, but surely, not every kiss is like that one, was it?
Oh God, was I really that naive?
I looked over at him, marching us solemnly back towards the hotel. His expression was indifferent. He appeared completely unaffected by the most mind-shattering experience of my life.
Oh God, experience!
Stupid, naive, inexperienced Bella!
My first time on the rollercoaster versus his millionth time. Of course it was nothing special to him.
As if it wasn't already enough, as if I hadn't unwillingly given him everything, he had to steal this from me. He thought he'd done me a favor.
My first kiss.
The fantasy of the boy I loved shattered against the reality of this cold and cocky Edward. Maybe all these years I'd simply created the perfect boy in my mind, enough to blind me to this person walking next to me. He was oblivious to my feelings, almost eager to crush them, and me, completely, all in the name of friendship.
Just another victim to his charm.
I was too many things at once; horrified, devastated, and something...something building in the pit of my stomach, blooming in my chest.
I was livid! At myself, for being an idiot, but mostly at him.
I stopped in my tracks, letting this new hatred roll over me. I could feel my fingers curling, just like Emmett had taught me.
"C'mon, we have to get back before anyone else notices you're gone." Edward tugged on my arm, too distracted to see the fist clenching in my right hand.
He looked at me, noticing my sudden change in expression. Too late, my anger registered with him.
My right arm swung a perfect arc, connecting fluidly with his perfect jaw. The solid thud echoed in the air. He fell to the ground, cradling his face, eyes wide with shock.
"Consider that payment for breaking me in for the next lucky guy, you son of bitch," I hissed. "It's not enough, you have to steal one of the few willing experiences I had to share, but you had to make me feel like utter shit afterwards? Some friend," I spat at him. "Consider your obligation fulfilled, and stay the fuck away from me!"
I'm sure I imagined the hurt look in his eyes as I turned to leave. I ran to my room, slammed the door, and seethed.
I belonged to him, irrevocably. That kiss had seared itself into my being. I would relive that one perfect moment for the rest of my life, and I would hate myself for it every single time.
If I ever had any hope before, it was completely gone now.
He would never be mine, because he never wanted me.
And I would spend the rest of my life doing whatever I had to, to forget him.
Somehow, I could learn to live with that.
I would have to.
And I would be fine!