DISCLAIMER: I do not own twilight. All the characters belong to SM.
We made it to the mall in a relatively jubilant mood. Alice told me some of the very interesting childhood stories, amalgamated with embarrassing childhood secrets, of her brothers' life. Apparently, after being adopted by the Cullens, Edward's childhood was filled with exuberance and jolliness. I found out more about Emmett and his absurd juvenile activities…and how his age has had no affect on his maturity department. We laughed and without realizing the atmosphere was significantly lightened. The instant attachment I felt towards Alice was enthralling. She had managed to win my heart the very first time I talked to her…but she was gradually earning a more special place in my life - a faithful friend. I felt such at ease and lightheaded when I was with her, it was hard to explain it in words.
We finally made it to the mall's parking lot and got out of the car, Alice practically dragging me, unable to contain the excitement of visiting every shop in the mall within her. She looked worse than a five year old at Christmas. The thriving chatters, light music, children's gleeful laughter filled my ears as we entered the mall. I noticed Edward, Emmett and Rosalie standing at a corner, Edward leaning against the side wall looking like a Greek God.
Oh my God! Did I just think that?
I shook my head vehemently to get rid of that thought. What was happening to me? They were supposedly waiting for both of us there; Alice knew how to get her way.
As I approached nearer, Edward's gaze fell on me. I smiled politely, which took him off guard for a moment. Realizing that he still thinks that the hate I possessed for him from our first encounter still resides in my heart, made me feel guilty. After recovering from his initial shock, he threw a brilliant crooked smile which made my heart jump twice it's normal rate. I mentally berated myself for letting him have such a significant impact on me.
"Hey guys, thanks for waiting for us" Alice said as we joined the group. Rosalie and Emmett greeted me with affable hugs while Edward shook my hand in acknowledgment. A familiar spark of electricity thrilled to my body and momentarily mesmerized my movements. I looked up timidly at him only to find him staring at me intently with a knowing look, as if trying to convey an emotion of recognition telling me that he felt it too. I don't know how long we stood there holding each others hands and looking in each others eyes but a certain person clearing their throat brought me out of my reverie. I looked up to see Emmett grinning from ear to ear, his gazed fixed at our intertwined hands and Rosalie and Alice looking at us with a similar knowing expression and amusement.
I retreated my hand and a pink blush made its way to my cheeks.
What the hell is wrong with you woman! I chastised myself.
"Alright, lets proceed further now, shall we?" Alice reminded us and we all followed her to the nearest shop.
The first shop we entered consisted of fashion related apparel and accessory stores, designer collections and clothing and beauty stores. After practically making me try the clothes of the entire shop, Alice somewhat settled down and agreed to let me shop for myself and she got lost in the nearby collection of designer shoes.
The only problem was that it left me alone with Edward.
We stood there for a moment looking at Alice babbling to the shopkeeper about something when Edward finally decided to put an end to the awkward silence.
"umm…Bella…" he began hesitatingly while I tried my best to ignore the way it made me feel to here my name from his lips…like soft velvet…like…
I looked at him, silently permitting him to continue.
"I wanted to apologize. Our first meeting wasn't…pleasant. I shouldn't have acted the way I did. I hope you could forget the past and give me another chance?" he asked hopefully.
"Hmmm…I'm not sure. You did put me in an awkward situation in which I had to gift a free puppy for a Christmas gift!" I playfully rebuked.
His hearty laughter filled my ears and he shook his head at the memory.
"Yeah, well…that was kinda embarrassing" he replied with a light chuckle.
"Oh really" I retorted. "I guess being pampered by your girlfriend in the middle of a gift shop was comparatively more embarrassing, 'Eddie'"
This cut short his laughter and he gave me a playful glare.
"You're never going to let me forget that, are you?" he said.
"Not unless you stop reminding me of my embarrassing moments."
He smiled affectionately and answered "Well, what do you say to you forgiving me and then we could stop embarrassing each other in public and maybe…be friends?"
"I think I'm gonna take you up for that offer" I replied returning his smile.
His facial expression relaxed while his eyes lit up with excitement and ecstasy.
"So, hey…I was thinking maybe you can help me select a couple of shirts…I'm not usually very good at this stuff. Alice mostly helps me but I guess she's little busy." He asked as we both turned to look at Alice who was animatedly trying to explain something to the shopkeeper while he stood there looking slightly terrified and uncomfortable.
Edward and I, both laughed at the scene and I readily agreed to help him find a suitable shirt.
We reached the men's section while Edward started picking up a couple of shirts. At my right was a huge rack of clothes, blocking the view of the other side of the shop and on my left was the changing room. Edward and I were currently the only people standing there when Edward picked up a nave blue shirt and a red one and went to the changing room. I waited for a several moments when I felt a tap on my shoulder. I whirled around…and what I saw made me gasp.
Edward stood there…bare chest…looking way too gorgeous to describe in words. His blue jeans hung low on his waist. His well built muscles were clearly visible and the sight of his toned chest did nothing to prevent me from drooling. Finally I met his gaze and noticed that he had caught me staring and was now trying to hide his smile…unsuccessfully. He held a sly expression on his face while he held the two shirts out and gave me a confused look.
"Hey Bella, I can't seem to decide which color looks better. I mean I like blue but red also look great. What do you think?" he asked, faking such concern as if the fate of the entire world depended on his choice of color.
I was flabbergasted. For a long while I couldn't get the words out of my mouth. To top it all up, we were all alone in this area currently, which was Ofcourse why he thought of pulling this stunt in the first place. My heart was beating rapidly and my complete focus was on maintaining the normal rhythm of my breathing.
"Bella?" Edward's questioning voice held a smile and amusement.
Hurry up Bella, reply him already and get it over with before you could make a bigger fool of yourself by unabashedly staring at this God of a man.
"Uh…um…I – well, b-blue?" was all I was able to stutter out which came out more like a question than a statement.
"What was that?" he asked, cocking his head to the side while taking a step closer to me.
My heart felt like it would explode any moment. I gulped while replying in what I hope was a firm voice. "Blue…blue would look good."
"Really, blue? What about this red one? I think it looks a little better. What do you say?" he asked inspecting the red shirt, all the while stepping closer to me. Instinctively I started backing away.
"Yeah, red then. Uh…red look great too." I stammered, still backing away from his approaching figure.
"Bella, you'll have to select one you know." He stated, now just a few inches away from me.
While backing away, my back touched the wall and I knew there was no escape. His scent intoxicated me, his sight poisoned me, his breath tickled me and every part of me was conscious of his closeness. I grew more and more anxious with time, knowing full well that if I didn't escape now then I won't be able to stop the instinctive response of my body when he was so close to me.
So I blurted out the only coherent sentence my mind was able to form – "you'll look good in anything"
My eyes grew wide in surprise as soon as the words left my mouth, unable to fathom that I just confessed that to him.
First his expression was a mixture of shock and excitement which later melted into a look of pure lust. I noticed his gaze fixed on my lips. Now I couldn't help stopping the way my breathing picked up, mirroring his. Shirts were long forgotten. It was just him and me. The familiar charge of electricity surrounded us much the similar way as it did when we were last this close during the Christmas party.
His leaned in and I impulsively brought my face forward.
"May I help you with anything, sir?"
Before our lips could barely even touch, an annoying overly-sweet high pitched voice interrupted us. With a frustrating sigh Edward turned back to see a tall blonde standing across from us, coming forward making sure to sway her hips a little too much which made her look as if she was drunk. She held a seductive smirk on her lips, her eyes intently trained on Edward and his bare chest.
No matter however illogical and unreasonable it was, but I felt a light burn creeping up my chest as my angered glare focused on her fake form.
She was an employee here and her name tag said her name was Lauren Mallory.
"Would you like me to help you select your outfit sir?" she purred in what was supposed to be a seductive voice, though her nasal screech of a voice was anything but seductive.
"No thank you. I think I'm gonna buy both of them" he answered looking at me with a sly smirk.
I looked at him in surprise.
If he intended to buy both the shirts anyways, then what was the need to make me go through all that?!!
He chuckled at my annoyed expression. He winked at me once before turning away to the changing room.
Lauren turned back to me, clearly aggravated by the fact that she wasn't able to attract even a part of Edward's attention, and scrutinized me from head to tow. His expression told that she wasn't impressed at what she saw. With a huff she turned back and went away.
Oh boy! This is getting more and more complicated every second…
After Edward's 'shirt shopping', we made our way towards the counter in search for Alice. We found her rummaging through a stack of clothes desperately.
"Um, Alice?" Edward said, making our presence known.
Without looking up at us she replied – "oh Edward, good you're finally here. I was just going to find you. I need you to carry a bunch of stuff." She babbled, too lost in her own world to see us standing behind us. She abruptly turned away from us and towards the corner of the shop while her spare hand – which was free from the loads of shopping bags – shot back and grabbed the wrist of a man standing before us.
"c'mon Edward, we haven't got all day" with that Alice dragged the poor man along with her to the corner where a black strapless dress hung magnificently. The man had blonde curly hair with light blue eyes. He was lean yet very good looking. I discerned the expression of shock on his face as Alice dragged him along with her. Edward and I were having way too much fun to alert Alice of her mistake.
She stopped in front of the dress as looked at it with a heartbreaking expression of longing and sorrow.
"I'll never look good in this splendid dress. I'm just so tiny; I'll never bode well in this dress.
I saw the man's expression turn from shock and surprise to an expression of utter adoration and disapproving look when he saw Alice's sad face.
"That's not possible. You'll look good in anything and everything in this store. If anything, I think this dress might not be worthy enough for you." The blonde man whispered in a very gentle and kind voice which rand with absolute sincerity.
I heard Alice let out a gasp as she whirled around to come face to face with the man. They stood there, their eyes boring into one another, their face inches apart.
Edward and I watched in awe as they introduced themselves and made small talks. Needless to say, the man – who introduced himself as Jasper – went away with Alice's phone number and Alice ended up buying the dress anyway.
I could feel the palpability of their instant attraction. It was the start of something new…
After a tiring day of shopping we all gathered at a restaurant, eating, laughing, joking, teasing and just having fun.
I was enthralled by how familiar and comfortable I felt in the company of a bunch of people who were practically strangers to me just a few hours ago. Their compassion, trust, humor, love and friendliness completely won over my heart. They felt like family in a time span of mere hours.
It didn't escape my notice the way Edward's eyes refused to stay unfocused from my face for more than a few minutes. Everytime I would catch him looking at me, he would merely smile his infamous crooked smile and I, being myself, blushed and looked away.
Edward's cell phone ringing caught my attention and I saw him grimace at the caller ID. He excused himself from the table and walked out to talk on his phone in private. I looked through the glass door and from what I could tell he was arguing with someone on the phone, running his hand through his bronze hair in frustration.
After arguing for a few minutes he slammed his phone shut and walked towards his car instead of coming back.
I frowned. Looking at him all depressed and irritated made me impulsively want to go and comfort him. And so I did.
I excused myself from the table and went towards the parking lot where he stood leaning against his Volvo, staring blankly at the sky with a depressed and regretful expression on his face.
I tentatively placed my hands on his shoulder which made him flinch in surprise before he acknowledged my presence.
"Hey, you okay?" I asked in concern.
"I wish I could say yes." was his reply as he resumed his act of staring blankly ahead of him with a sorrowful look on his exquisite face.
"Wanna talk about it?" I asked, hoping beyond anything that I could somehow erase that painful look from his features.
He hesitated for a moment before turning towards me. "It was…Tanya on the phone…." He replied with a dark and livid expression.
Oh God…what did she do now…?
A/N: Please review!