Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight. Or Edward – Or Robert – Damn it.
Chapter 4: 1st Day of the New Year
"Edward?" I asked. "What… How…" I mumbled, pulling the door open a bit wider. "I mean, what are you doing here?"
With a grin, Edward raised a white, square rectangular box that said "Pagliacci Pizza" in big, green block letters. "Just thought you'd be hungry after today. I know I am," he explained with a nervous smile.
Because I'd left the door wide open, a cold blast of air blew past me into my apartment, carrying the pizza's heavenly smell right along with it. Realizing I'd left him out there shivering in the cold night air, I said, "Come in," while I stepped aside. "You must be freezing."
Seeking what little warmth my home offered, Edward walked past me, but stopped once he was about ten feet in front of me. With a soft click, I closed the door behind me and watched as he took in the details of my small apartment. Following his gaze, my eyes first found my couch, whose cushions were still askew from my search for keys this morning. In the small kitchen area that sat next to what served as my living room, my gaze lingered on the pile of dirty dishes stacked next to my sink, before they finally came to rest on Edward.
The cut of his jacket was definitely tailored, and something about its stitching reminded me of the craftsmanship of the leather seats in his sports car. He obviously made more money than I could possibly fathom, but I hadn't really thought about it until just now. It suddenly struck me that we hadn't discussed much about ourselves earlier in the day; I had no idea what his last name was, let alone what he did for a living. Worse yet, I wasn't sure that he realized that I didn't work in a smelly fish market. I had the overwhelming urge to share my entire life story with him, and in exchange, I was eager to listen to his…
As Edward turned to face me, though, and brought his hypnotizing eyes up to meet my own, talking was the last thing on my mind. "Where do you want to do this?" he asked, breaking the silence that had fallen between us since he'd walked in.
Wait, I thought to myself, did he just ask me where I wanted to…
"Right—" I began to say, but backed up a second. "Wait… Do what?" I asked before I realized what my question would sound like aloud.
You really shouldn't speak before you think, I scolded myself. My cheeks went up in flames, and I couldn't help but wonder how it was possible to be so embarrassed so many times in just one day. What has this man done to me? I idly asked myself.
Edward indicated the pizza box still in his hand. "Eat?" he asked with a sheepish grin.
"Right…" I said again, only this time, it was a statement in it of itself, not the start of an option as to where I'd like to…
Think before you speak, Bella, I reminded myself. Hardly trusting myself just yet, I nodded toward the sofa table and couch lining the right wall of my untidy apartment; I didn't have a table, and though I'd never really wanted one, I did just then. It would have been a more reasonable place to offer Edward to sit and eat, and my stupid Christmas decorations probably wouldn't be blocking the entire left side of the floor, as they were now.
I really should have taken those down to the garage last week, I thought to myself as Edward made his way over to the couch while I followed quickly behind him. But I had to admit, the soft glow emanating from the strand of white Christmas lights piled next to the door was oddly comforting. Perhaps I'd restring them instead of stowing them downstairs for another year; they were just decorative enough to not be viewed as cheap, and I couldn't help but be grateful that my electricity bill hadn't been any higher this month because of them.
Edward placed the pizza box on top of the sofa table as I righted the couch cushions. As he sat, I said, "I'll just go get us a couple of plates." Stepping past him, I walked the few feet that separated the couch from the kitchen and retrieved two paper plates and a few napkins from the cabinets that hung next to the sink, then placed them down on top of the counter. Opening the fridge, I peered in to see what I could offer Edward to drink. "Would you like a soda?" I asked him after I was sure that I had a few.
"A soda sounds good," he replied.
Gathering my supplies in my hands, I made my way back over to the couch and sat to his right. After a few awkward moments where we handed our plates and slices of pizza to each other, we both relaxed and began to eat. Edward must have been as ravenous as I was; we were mostly quiet as we ate, though my mind was running a mile a minute, thinking about how Edward was here, in my apartment. I was allowing my imagination to get the best of me, picturing the look on his face as Edward threw his pizza down, turned his body toward mine, and captured my unsuspecting lips in a searing kiss…
When we'd both finished our meal, I leaned up to place my empty plate on top of the pizza box. Leaning back into my place on the couch, I realized how close we'd actually been sitting next to each other. Our thighs were practically touching, and when Edward reached up to fish his phone from his pocket, I could have sworn that his finger grazed my leg. Of course, I couldn't be sure, but I certainly wanted to believe that it had.
Hoping to distract myself from getting too carried away by my fantasies, I peered down at the glowing screen of Edward's phone. "What time is it?"
"Almost 11:30," he replied, holding his phone up to show me. I couldn't believe that it had gotten so late already. Biting my lip, I nodded and watched as Edward fumbled with his phone, turning it over and over in his hand.
Assuming the way Edward was awkwardly shifting in his seat was due to the fact that he was unsure of how to end our long day – the majority of which we'd spent in each other's company – I took the initiative and spoke up. "Wow," I began, "I hadn't realized how late it was. Then again, it's been an unusual day." Looking down at my lap, I realized that I hadn't necessarily helped him out, so I continued. "You must be tired. After all, you were on duty all afternoon, but I think I'm all set. You probably need to get back to helping out all of the other local damsels in distress, huh?" I asked, venturing a sly look at him.
To say I was surprised when I found that he'd turned his upper body toward me and stopped his uncomfortable fidgeting would have been a gross understatement. But what really struck me was how concentrated on my face Edward seemed to be when he replied, "No." The directness of his answer took me slightly off guard, and he must have read as much in my face, because he continued by saying, "Unless you'd like me to go."
Gathering my expression into something I hoped resembled nonchalance, I replied, "Of course not," and stood, collecting our empty paper plates and napkins in the process. "I'm just going to go throw these away and clean up. I'll be right back."
Walking swiftly toward the kitchen, I deposited the last wares of our impromptu dinner into the trash can then continued on past my bed and into the bathroom, all the while feeling Edward's eyes upon my back. The feeling only dissipated once I closed the door with a small click. For the second time today, I leaned down over a sink and splashed my face with ice cold water, only this time it was intentional.
The small hand towel I'd used this morning hung slightly askew on the wall to my right, so after I used it to dry myself off I made sure to hang it back up straight in case Edward happened to come in here. Not that he'd care about how straight my towels were hung up, I thought to myself. He'll probably rummage around in my drawers, instead. I knew I would, if I was lucky enough to be alone in Edward's bathroom. Rolling my eyes at how ridiculous I'd let my thoughts become, I glanced up in the mirror. My eyes widened as I took in my reflection, and I leaned forward to make sure that they weren't simply playing tricks on me.
Sadly, they weren't.
A small fleck of oregano spice was lodged in between my two of my lower teeth, and I'd definitely smiled at him since I'd finished eating. Unfortunately, that was the lesser of my two general-appearance woes. My hair looked… a bit worse than I'd originally thought. Of course, I knew it didn't look great – it never really did – because I'd gone to sleep with it wet while wrapped up in a towel, but the rat's nest sitting atop my head was unexpected, to say the least.
Several minutes later, I emerged from the bathroom with clean teeth and as smooth of a braid I could manage without using heated hair appliances. Edward was still sitting on the couch, waiting patiently for me to return. As I stood there, looking over at him while he studied the mass of Christmas decorations left by my door, I noticed that the kitchen light was on; it sparked an interesting idea. Using the fact that Edward had yet to notice that I'd reemerged to my advantage, I allowed my idea to take precedence over my nerves.
Perhaps if it was a bit darker, Edward would loosen up, I reasoned. Or maybe, just maybe, if I sat down closer to him than I'd been sitting before, I could lean in toward him and see what happens…
Letting myself get wrapped up in the possibilities that might entail if I went through with it, I strode toward the kitchen with purpose. I flicked off the lights, leaving my apartment bathed only in the soft light emanating from the Christmas lights plugged in by the door. Edward turned to look at me when the apartment fell into semi-darkness, his face even more handsome in the glow of white light behind him. A tentative smile began to form on my face as his eyes met mine, when a low hiss filled my ears.
What in the world?
Reluctantly, I pulled my gaze from his to search for the source of the odd sound, which seemed to be getting louder by the second. Suddenly, a loud pop rang out and a bright light alerted my attention to the front door. Edward's head whipped around just in time to see the Christmas lights explode in a shower of white sparks. Before I'd even had the chance to react, my apartment went dark.
"Are you alright?" I heard Edward ask, registering that his voice came from much closer than where he'd been sitting mere moments ago.
"I think so," I answered, my voice sounding incredibly meek for some reason. When Edward spoke again, I knew why.
"You must have tripped your breaker when you flipped the light switch," Edward said, and I knew that he was standing directly in front of me. "Do you have a flashlight?"
I nodded my head, temporarily dumbstruck by his proximity; I could feel the heat generated from his body radiating through my sweatshirt. When I realized that there'd been no way he'd seen me nod, I whispered, "It's just below the kitchen sink. I'll get it."
"Just stay put," he replied. "I've got it, Bella."
Even though my apartment was unnaturally chilly, I could feel the heat Edward generated leave the moment he stepped away from me. A moment later, a circle of light appeared on the floor next to me. I followed the long plane of Edward's body with my eyes until my gaze landed on his face. "Where's the electrical panel for your apartment?"
"I think it's down in the garage. Let me just grab my coat, and we can go check." My eyes traveled to the front door and Edward followed my line of sight with the flashlight, but my coat wasn't where I'd found it this morning. "Hmm," I said, tapping my lips with my finger, trying to remember where I'd put it when I got home. Finally, I realized that I'd pulled it off while I'd listened to Jake's obnoxious phone message earlier. Turning on my heel, I made my way to my bed and found my jacket lumped in with my comforter and the towel I'd had wrapped around my hair earlier. "Found it."
Edward had never removed his coat, and I couldn't say I blamed him – I really needed to get a new radiator, but the cost was going to put a major dent in my wallet. I could only hope that I didn't need to hire an electrician to fix whatever was wrong; I couldn't afford both.
Wrapping myself up in my jacket, I made my over to the front door then stepped out into the chilled night air. Edward paused just inside the door where he leaned down to unplug the Christmas lights. Closing the door behind him, he handed me the flashlight. "Be careful on your way down. It was misting when I got here earlier, so the stairs might be iced over."
A small smile graced my lips as I nodded and took the flashlight from him before I carefully made my way down the slick stairs. Seeing Edward's sporty car caused my smile to widen. I liked the way it looked sitting in my driveway, and couldn't help but hope that I'd see it parked there often.
After dialing in the combination to the padlock keeping the garage doors closed, Edward stepped up behind me to help pull the doors open. Pointing the flashlight toward the back of the garage, we both spotted the electrical panel embedded along the wall just above where my spare tire had rested earlier today. I could feel the warmth of my blush rise through my cheeks as I recalled, in vivid detail no less, the way it rolled down the hill directly into Edward's backside.
Obviously thinking along the same lines, Edward chuckled as he walked past me and opened the panel door. I walked up and pointed the light inside of the box. "Looks like you've just tripped the circuit. Hopefully, it won't trip again once I flip the switch," he said as he pushed one of the black fuses to the right. After it popped back into place, I heard the faint hum of electricity from upstairs.
"Sounds like it worked," Edward said. "You probably just had one too many things plugged in and the breaker tripped to prevent overheating. Do you usually leave things like your hair dryer and coffee pot plugged in all the time?"
Biting my lower lip, I nodded and turned toward him, leaving the flashlight pointed at the wall. Due to the angle of its beam and how it reflected off of the metal panel, Edward's eyelashes created long shadows which fanned out across his cheeks, making them appear like they were at least a half an inch long; the effect was breathtaking.
"Hey, don't worry about it. Lots of people leave those kinds of things plugged in. Most of these older buildings were probably just not initially wired as living spaces," he explained, looking around the interior of the garage.
"I think my apartment used to be Mr. Cope's workshop before he passed and Mrs. Cope had it remodeled. But I do keep too many things plugged in," I mumbled, thinking about not only the Christmas lights, but my hair and kitchen appliances that I constantly left plugged in.
"You didn't do anything wrong, Bella. You don't have to have your apartment rewired or anything, just unplug stuff when you're not using it," he assured me, and I couldn't help but feel relieved with his words. With any luck, I didn't have to worry about hiring an electrician anytime soon.
I'd let the flashlight's beam remain on the wall to let Edward take one more look before he closed the panel and kept it as we made our way back out of the garage. However, he took it from me as we closed the two heavy doors, allowing me to close the combination padlock with a twist of the dial. After making sure the doors were secure one last time, I turned to find Edward poised on the first step, pointing the light at the ground so that I could make my way toward him without tripping.
Seeing him waiting there, smiling down at me, I let myself indulge in the fantasy that he really wanted to stay, but the reasonable side of myself argued that he was just fulfilling his role of rescuing me once more, only staying to see if my lights had come back on. When I reached him, he flashed me one more smile before he turned and began making his way up the stairs. I followed diligently behind, until about halfway up, he stopped and turned to face me.
"There's a patch of ice on the left side of this step," he said, dropping his gaze from mine to indicate what he was speaking of. My eyes didn't leave his face, choosing to linger on the way his eyelashes dusted his cheeks. The shadows created from the flashlight earlier weren't necessarily an exaggeration; his lashes were incredibly long and thick. They fluttered back up as his gaze once again settled on my face.
My lips parted at the same time his did, so I held my tongue, though I wasn't sure I could form a word to say anything just then; I was wrapped up in everything about him for the millionth time. Edward exhaled, his breath rising in a cloud of steam all around his face, and I suddenly felt unsteady standing there as I watched. My left hand darted out toward the hand railing in an attempt to steady myself.
As his eyes traveled from my steady gaze to my parted lips, the bright motion light set above Mrs. Cope's patio cut through the darkness, and the hinges of her screen door groaned in protest of being opened in the cold night air. "Oh, Bella, it's just you. I thought I heard something, or I suppose someone, in this case."
"It's just me, Mrs. Cope," I reassured her. Her sudden appearance had startled more than angered me. As I debated whether or not to introduce Edward to her, I found myself embarrassed that she'd found me outside with a man, especially because it was so late; I'd always considered her more as a grandmother-type figure than as a landlord.
"You gave me a right fright," she said with a smile. "But I am glad I caught you. When I brought in a load of laundry earlier tonight, I found a pretty white cotton brassiere lying underneath the stairs. It's far too little to be mine, so I figured it must be yours."
This is not happening, I thought to myself. She couldn't possibly be babbling on and on about my "little" bra in front of Edward, the man I've perpetually been embarrassing myself in front of all day…
Surely I'm hallucinating, I thought as she continued. "The thing is, Bella, the poor little thing must have still been wet; it was frozen solid by the time I found it. I took it inside and washed it in my sink along with my delicates and then hung it up. It's just inside," she said, gesturing behind her through her open door. "Do you want it now?"
My mouth hung open for a few seconds, stuck on my words. Finally, I managed to form my lips together and choke out a reply. "No thank you. I'll just…" go crawl into a hole and die, I finished internally. "I'll come get it tomorrow. Good night, Mrs. Cope."
"Alright, sweetheart," she said. "Good night, then." Mrs. Cope eyed Edward warily before retreating back into her house for the night. I let my eyes close in relief and stayed there for a few peaceful moments until I remembered that Edward was standing one step behind me.
As I turned slowly to face him, I could feel my cheeks burning, and the gust of cold wind blew at that exact moment wasn't the only cause for the sensation. Shivering, I looked down to gather my coat around me and suddenly remembered that I hadn't put on a bra after my shower; I couldn't find it earlier, because apparently, it had been frozen solid underneath my feet.
Mrs. Cope's motion light still lit up the night sky an alarming amount, and I could easily see that my nipples were standing at full attention underneath my very thin shirt. Horror-struck, I looked up at Edward's face. His eyes quickly left my chest at the same moment the motion light turned off, leaving us once again engulfed in the dark January night.
I didn't know what to say, other than "Kill me now," but I just couldn't bring myself to utter the words. For the millionth time, Edward chose to ignore one of our little awkward moments, turned on his heel, and led me the rest of the way up the stairs.
He opened the door without a word and closed it behind me, but when he stayed in the entranceway, I turned to face him, my jacket closed tightly in my fists. "I'd better be going," he said, looking down at his feet.
I nodded though he couldn't see it, and brought my right hand up to my mouth. "Okay," I began, fishing for what to say next. He looked up at me, so I dropped my hand and mumbled, "Thanks for bringing me dinner."
"Didn't I already tell you to stop thanking me?" he asked, bringing his face up.
"Sorry," I muttered. Unable to meet his gaze, I looked away. "It's just, you did so much for me today and I feel like I've done nothing in return. You'll just have to settle for my thanks."
"But you've already thanked me."
With a shrug I said, "I guess I have kind of been on repeat today." It was true; not only had Edward come to my rescue more than once, I'd definitely embarrassed myself over and over in front of him today. "I hope today's bad luck isn't any indication of how my whole year is going to go."
"I don't know," he said. "It hasn't been all bad, has it?"
I looked up at his face, incredulous. "Have you seen what's happened to me today?" Edward glanced back toward the digital clock that sat beside my bed; it was one of those that automatically reset itself to the proper time by satellite if the power blinked or went out. I followed his gaze and was shocked to find that it was only two minutes until midnight.
"It wasn't all bad, Bella," Edward said, cutting through the silence. When I looked back up at him, I found that he'd taken a step toward me and closed the distance I'd left between us. "I've had a great day."
"Well, I can't see how since you've had to come to my rescue all day long, but it wasn't your luck I was referring to, it was mine. I wouldn't want my whole year's worth of bad luck to rub off on you. You still have a minute or two left, though. Maybe you can escape my curse," I teased, smiling up at him.
He took another step toward me, and I couldn't help but take one step back. Unfortunately, my foot landed in the heap of Christmas lights still spiraled there along the floorboards and I stumbled backward. My ass hit the wall behind me and I splayed my hands against it to help balance myself.
Edward stepped forward once more until he stood directly in front of me, our bodies only separated by mere inches. "My luck is good," he whispered, looking down at my upturned face. "It brought me to you." He leaned down to close the small distance left between us, and captured my lips in our first kiss.
A/N's: Well, Jen, I hope you enjoyed it! I tried to use the lyrics you provided & thought up this little story while lingering on these lines:"I want to thank you I want to thank VivaViva for her mad beta skills, and Little Miss Whitlock for putting up with my constant nagging questions concerning this fic! I'd also like to thank Majik's World of Fan Fic for hosting such an amazing auction & thank the woman herself, Stacie. Let's kick cancer's butt!
for giving me the best day of my life
Oh just to be with you
is having the best day of my life"
I want to thank VivaViva for her mad beta skills, and Little Miss Whitlock for putting up with my constant nagging questions concerning this fic! I'd also like to thank Majik's World of Fan Fic for hosting such an amazing auction & thank the woman herself, Stacie. Let's kick cancer's butt!