OMG, Jo is posting? WTF? Hell MUST have frozen over. (I think it did actually).
DEDICATED TO: Ashley (ilrpinkgirl), who purchased me in the SS Auctions waaay back in September. Yeah. I suck THAT bad. I still have another one to complete as well (which is in the works). I swear, I will NEVER auction myself again. I am WAY too unreliable. I'll just buy 'em.
THANK YOUS TO (read: sappiness): Siouxchef, beta extraordaire. Trac... ILY. Thank you for finding all of my errant vocab faux pas and making me remember that a synonym is NOT a definition of a word. You are invaluable to the extreme.
Mag, you are one of the most amazing people I've ever met. I love you every day and wish so badly that we didn't live on opposite sides of the globe. (Kicking the moon to you bb... I'm done with him for now.) You are a beautiful person, and a most wonderful friend and I love you to pieces. Thank you for sharing with me your language, and your love.
My ficwife, Ke. My love cannot be contained in the words that I love to abuse and never reuse. You have a brilliant mind and a beautiful heart and I love you for so many things, but most of all, for being you and loving me too. 3
For everyone who was kind and generous enough to pre-read this and give me their honest opinions, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, a million times THANK YOU!
READER INFO: There's a LOT of French in here people. If you want real translations, see A/N at the bottom. :)
I have a playlist for this chapter. A friend of mine is mixing them for me, and I'll post a link to the mp3 on my profile once it's finished. For now, DL the song "Le Dragueur" by INGRID. The remix is fab, but the song itself was inspiration on this chapter.
DISCLAMER: I do not own Twilight. I just fuck around with the characters for a frolicking good time.
De L'amour et la Haine
Chapter 1 - Le Dragueur
He'd said, "Get lost..."
He really said that.
I didn't think people actually said that in real life. At least not seriously, and certainly not to someone that had, not five hours before, made love to them. I felt like an after-school-special reject. No, I felt worse than that. Much worse. I felt like the homely girl, out of her league, dressed up as a joke and left crying in a puddle of tossed beverage and disgust. Was there something that felt worse than that? If there was, I most definitely felt it. I felt so worthless in fact, that I did just as he said. No questions asked. No arguments given. No pleading mercy. The stabbing shock of it was too tumultuous to fight. And so, for the past three and a half weeks that is what I had been doing... just as he ordered.
How does one get lost?
Of course, he meant it literally. Get out of my face. Get away from me. Dégage. Casse toi ! Fuck off!
But my mind could not handle the face value of his words, of what he'd done. The reality of my situation was much too horrific for me to yet embrace, and I indeed needed to get lost, even if for just a while, before having to come to terms with... with... unadulterated rejection. Unforeseen, unwarned, slap-in-the-face, kick-in-the-teeth, complete fucking abandonment. Eleven months of bliss, of love, of planning and living together, of reshaping my life and my future for him, gone.
The finality of my situation warred with the utter spontaneity of it. My brain could not recognize a difference, could not postulate the shift of my entire world on its axis. The best it could do was remind me of why I was avoiding everything. Why I hadn't dared call Charlie. Why I was playing au pair to a sweet old French woman and her bichon for an attic room in Les Buttes-Chaumont. Why I'd avoided his cousin Charlaine's never ending phone calls... and why I was here, tonight.
I was here to get lost, and that required three simple tasks;
One – the systematic shut down of my higher brain function, beating it's murky dirge against my sense of self-preservation. Get lost.
Two – slamming back the vile, bottom-shelf, double-shot of dirty tequila, and sucking the life out of the stale beer-with-lime chaser. Get lost.
And three – immersing myself in the pounding beats vibrating from the walls, the floors, and ricocheting through the mass of sweat-laden, over-scented, dancing bodies.
Get fucking lost.
I danced for minutes or hours. The only indication of time passing being the occasional shift of treble refrain or bass pulse. I broke only for the occasional gorge of rotten liquid, or the purge of it. No matter my jello-legs or my off-kilter balance, I found my way back to the sea each time, wrapping myself in the heat and roving hands and anonymity. I was lost, and I felt safe here. I felt sweet, merciful nothing, and I wouldn't leave here until the Gods of time forced up the house lights and shouted, "Last call!"
In my haze of protective numb, I let go of everything and kept my body in tune with the steady 'thump, thump, thump, thump' radiating up my legs and through my empty, defeated chest. And yet, even through my alcohol and music-induced makeshift coma, those unwanted thoughts penetrated. The images ripped and burned their way into my mind as I shook my head violently back and forth, trying to cast the demons away. It would look to all the world as though I was just swaying to the beat... feeling the music.
"Feel the music, Bella?" He moved his body against me with the rhythm, placing my palm secure to his chest, over his heart. "Tu sens ça?" he repeated, the double entendre clear as he ground into me.
I shook my head harder, back and forth, hair billowing and whipping across my face, trying in vain to hide me from the memories I could not stop.
"This is what you make me feel, girl. Mon coeur, my heart... it beats this heavy... il palpite aussi vite. A chaque fois que je suis auprès de toi. Every time." My breathing sped at his words.
"I love you, James. Je t'aime tellement." My arms snaked around his neck and we slowed our dance as if on instinct. I pulled him down, pleading with him to meet my lips.
"I can not fucking wait to marry you," he growled out, meeting my begging lips and kissing me senseless. I could hardly believe my good fortune. How many people could claim to find the 'perfect one'? The one that would love them with abandon and hold them close forever? I was giddy with it, and a laugh left unbidden through my lips into his eager mouth.
"Tu trouves ça drôle?" he questioned, looking down at me, bemused.
"No, not funny... I'm just..." I started, still attempting to contain giggles and filtering them into a smile, "I'm so happy, James. Je suis tellement heureuse. I feel like... the luckiest girl."
"Ahh, but you see," he countered as his hands roamed just under my ass and squeezed me tight against him, "I'm the one who is lucky." He nuzzled through my hair and licked down my neck to my collarbone. I couldn't contain the shiver in my bones, or the giggles that bubbled up once again from my chest. I was drunk on him. "I get to have you, rien qu'à moi, tout à moi, for the rest of your life. All..." he drawled out between kisses, "...mine."
My head swung back and forth, my body pumping to the beat, pulsing, forcing. Go away! Get lost! I told my thoughts. I didn't want to remember. I was here to forget. Yet those romantic moments, my moments of happiness, slipped right on through, reminding me of when I thought I was loved and cherished. When I was engaged to be married. Was. As in, past tense. As in, never going to happen. You were never loved... NEVER LOVED! Stupid girl. It was all a lie.
Shut up! I pushed my body harder until it screamed in protest. No please, I don't want to think of it, please. It was no use, they came, one by one, despite my desperate attempts to wash them away.
I forced open the car door, eerily unnerved and jittery over James' carte blanche assessment of my wedding plans. It was only a little over a month away now, and he suddenly seemed interested in taking over the remainder of the tasks at hand. I let him know that Charlaine and I had everything under control - it was a small affair, after all - and he snapped at me. He'd said just because he was the groom, did not mean he automatically didn't want to be involved. I felt guilty, instantly, thinking over all the things I hadn't brought to his attention, all the plans I went ahead with, thinking that I was saving him from the 'duty' of being involved. I was trying not to "enculer des mouches," as he liked to call it. I refused to be a nit-picker.
"I... I'm so sorry, James. Je suis désolée. I never thought, I mean... I would always want you included, always baby, you know that." How could I have been so blind? I should have asked!
"Do I?" he clipped back to me as we stood in the drive to Victoria's extravagant home. "You know Bella, you're right. You did not think." He stormed up the large porch and into the awaiting party. I stood, dumbfounded and feeling utterly like an ass. I knew no one at this party, and it seemed James was not going to speak to me after this. I battled with just sitting in the car for the rest of the night.
I stumbled through the scant portcullis leading to the restroom. The swinging half-door was lighter than I anticipated, and I tripped into the tiny room, bumping into a tall, pretty blonde, and causing her to spill her drink.
"Putain de merde! Non mais quelle conne!" she keened, quickly holding her arms away from the dripping mess. "Tu pouvais pas faire attention connasse!"
"Désolée, désolée!" I began, grabbing a handful of towels and patting her aimlessly to rid her body of the spilled beverage. "Esssscusez-moi. Ouais, J'sssssuiiis complètement bourrée," I explained my drunkenness with a slur. Apparently, I was doing more damage than good, because the woman ripped the towels from my hand, simultaneously scoffing and dismissing me.
So much for apologies.
Shrugging off my embarrassment, I poured myself into the first available stall and fell to the seat. I dropped my head into my hands, attempting to calm my spinning equilibrium. Dammit, the alcohol was not helping, it was only making me sick. It certainly wasn't doing anything to stop the painful memories I was attempting to drown. Instead, I remained... sitting in a dank stall on a docked barge converted to a techno, smelling of liquor and tears and fighting with my mind and heart.
"It's all right baby. I swear, I'm not mad. I am just a little sur les nerfs, uh...stressed, and it comes out the wrong way to you," he assured me, pulling on the strings to my costume as I quickly pulled them from his hands to prevent me from any exposure. "Fuck, you look so hot in this. You should wear it every night." he tugged another string while mauling my exposed breastbone with his mouth, and I tried to keep myself as covered as possible amidst all the party goers.
"James... take it easy, baby," I laughed, flushed skin in full force as I eyed the crowd, hoping to find no curious onlookers. James' head snapped up suddenly, and he brought us quickly to our previous, less indecent, dance position. His face was a mask of gentile concern, completely betraying the passion he'd expressed just seconds before. My head spun.
"So, I meet the caterer with Laurent tomorrow, okay," he began, catching me a little off-guard with the quick subject change. "You and Charlaine, you go out, have nice girly-girly time, whatever it is you do. Shop. Paint nails."
James had no idea that I merely entertained his cousin's company for his sake. She was pushy and condescending to me, but I felt obliged to include her as she was his only family here, and I certainly had no friends of my own. All acquaintances I'd made during my lone semester at La Sorbonne had gone back to their home countries... including America. Aside from James and Charlaine, I was truly alone here. I missed America terribly, but I loved James. I would live anywhere with him.
"O-Okay," I said, slightly bewildered. I had planned for Charlaine and I to meet with the caterer for hors d'oeuvres tasting tomorrow. I supposed I could trust James to choose something we would both like. We did have similar tastes after all, and it wasn't like we were purchasing haute cuisine. It was going to be a small ceremony and reception at L'Ecume Bartistique, a tiny place down the street from our home, with only James' close friends in attendance. Though I wished Charlie could attend, he was not very happy with me, and we could not afford to send him a plane ticket. I doubted he would accept it anyway. Charlaine would be disappointed at missing the caterer, but I wanted to show James that I really was sorry for not including him.
After washing my face of fresh tears and drinking a full liter of water, I made my way back through the throngs of people, taking care to avoid any more mishaps with pretty girls and their drinks. I found an open spot next to a purple-padded pole and began my pulsing pursuit into nothingness once more. A new song began, my body complying with it's serenade. But my mind... my mind furiously objected. Three fucking weeks, and still I couldn't drown the memory of that night, no matter the methods I pursued.
I struggled to dance harder, fighting the recalcitrant thoughts barraging me. I closed my eyes tightly, willing my body to take over everything. No. It was coming. It was coming and I couldn't stop it, I knew it. Please, I begged.
It was no use.
The piercing ring of a loud, synthesized horn, blared shrill and sharp through the speakers and into my head, lending sound to the searing pain I felt ripping through my chest. I can't do this. Just dance. Just dance. Stop thinking. Just dance.
"Excuse-moi, Laurent?" I gently tapped the shoulder of James' best friend, who looked larger than life in his Captain Jack Sparrow costume. He turned in response, flashing a brilliant smile, complete with gold teeth.
"Hé, Bella! Quoi de neuf? Ça va?" he took my hand, branding my fingers with a kiss. "You look positively edible tonight."
Cue ungraceful blush.
"Merci," I offered, ducking my head and re-checking the strings to my costume with frantic hands. Laurent was truly a good friend to us, although a little overly-flirtatious. I usually took his attentions in stride, but I was feeling particularly vulnerable tonight, so I'm sure my nervousness was quite evident.
"You save a dance with me, Miss Bella. S'il vous plaît. My happiness is much depending on it." He took my hand and spun me around, smiling warmly at my timid response. I couldn't help but smile back. I always appreciated his attempts to speak as much English with me as possible. Although I had become fairly fluent in my time here, his effort was a testament to his desire to make me feel accepted, and his flattery was unending.
"Bien sûr, I would love to," I agreed. "Um... have you seen James anywhere by chance? I seem to have lost him in the crowd."
"Non," he tisked and shook his head, looking around as though to help me find him. "I speak to him on the patio, but... this was over an hour ago." I could feel my face fall. This was becoming ludicrous. James knew I was not acquainted with the people here, and nervous about it, yet I had not seen him in almost two hours.
"Oh," I replied lamely, practically masticating my lip with my teeth. I didn't want to go poking around the house, but I was beyond uncomfortable here and I didn't want to hang on Laurent's hospitality all night. He was clearly busy chatting with many different guests here.
"I tell him you look for him if I see him, okay Puce?" he offered, rubbing my arm before grabbing his drink.
"Ouais, merci beaucoup," I nodded with a smile.
"De rien, ma Belle." He threw me a wink and moved to join what looked like a group of Victoria's Secret Angels. Yes, I clearly needed to give him some space.
Out of my element, and feeling indecently exposed in my getup, I decided to make the trek through the halls of the immense and well appointed home in search of my fiancé. I expected to find him engaged in some inescapable conversation with coworkers, or sucked into cigar smoking and brandy snifting in some billiards room. Surely he wouldn't leave me alone for so long without good reason. Perhaps he needed me to save him from whatever was keeping him.
With newfound determination, I searched the lower floors, only to come up empty. There were no billiard rooms or brandy-snifting male junkets going on - just a smattering of guests, intimately coupled in the quieter rooms down below. I crept up to the third floor, feeling like a trespasser. I only hoped at this point that James was okay and not passed out in a restroom somewhere, or worse. Room by room, I began my deductive search for him, quietly becoming more worried with each new door I opened. As I reached the last room in the hall, I mentally noted to go back into each bedroom I passed and look for additional bathrooms. He had to be here somewhere.
I knocked lightly on the door, and then turned the knob, opening cautiously. The room was quite dark, but I immediately realized I had reached yet another bedroom. I would start my backtracking bathroom search with this room. Two steps into the room, I tripped over something, falling to the floor with a loud, "oof!". I felt around the floor for the offending object and picked up a shoe.
"Qui est là!" a voice hissed out. I knew his voice.
"James?" I quickly shuffled myself to my feet, shoe in hand, as light flooded the room.
"Merde! Bella! What are you do here?" As my eyes adjusted to the light, and James' harsh tone, I immediately apologized, expecting to find him curled up on the bed, sleeping, or avoiding the party.
What I saw before me instead was enough to throw my mind into a stupor of confusion: my sweaty, naked fiancé, entangled amidst rumpled bedsheets with a négligée clad Victoria d'Allemagne.
She did not speak, but the look on her face said a million words. Words I didn't know, in a scene I couldn't understand, in this place where I clearly did not belong. My mind rallied against my clearly lying eyes.
"What is..." my breathing sped. "Qu'est-ce..." I stumbled over my words, my sight, my thoughts, "Qu'est-ce que tu fais?" What had he done? Possibly the worst question I could have asked.
"Putain, Bella. This is... we... Fait chier! We need speak time, alors... to ending... this," he said, motioning between him and me.
"Je... I don't..." I struggled, "J-Je ne comprends pas." My words came out muddled and meak.
"Oh, Nom de Dieu! Get off it, Bella! I don't believe you never know! T'es vraiment trop stupide!" My entire body flinched at his harsh response. My heart clenched so tight I was sure it would stop beating on the spot. "I was wanted to wait and stop the preparations for the wedding before I told you more nicely. I wanted to say nice stuff, be gentle... but...errgh! Il a fallu que tu ailles fourrer ton nez partout!"
My head began to shake, personifying my confusion. "Stupid? Sticking my nose everywhere? What are... James, what are you talking about? You've been..." I immediately felt my stomach lurch at my realization of his words, his anger. "You've been with Victoria for... for how long?"
"Cela ne te regarde pas!"
"Not my business?" Not only was the sight before my eyes unbelievable, but his reactions to the situation baffled me. "James, you... you've..." The room was suddenly spinning, and the bile rising in my stomach intensified the lightheaded feeling ballooning in my head.
"Since the winter, okay! You must know everything? It doesn't matter! I am not explain myself to you! This is over, Bella. I didn't wanted to end like this, but... putain! Just, get out, Bella! We're done, okay! Just... Merde! T'es chiante! You make me look so bad!" he shouted, now tossing his hands up. As though I had created all of this. As though I had slighted him by my mere presence. I could not wrap my head around his severe contempt and stood there, still, bewildered, stunned, paralyzed. "C'est pas possible! Bella! Just... Va t'en," he said, "S'il te plait."
Still, I stood. My eyes would not focus on either of them, though I seemed to look at them both simultaneously. The French, the broken English, the broken... broken... breaking us. Breaking up. His admission... spewed at me like an accusation. The anger and hatred... hurled at me. I couldn't move. My mind swam against the hard current of it all, drowning.
"J'ai dit, va t'en, Bella! Casse toi! Dégage! Get lost!"
I blinked, stung, shocked, and completely thrown. Blindly I turned, moving to the door of the room. I felt as though I were floating... out of body. I could not even feel myself breathing as I passed the threshold and quietly closed the door behind me. And through it all, what I could see clearly – what burned into my mind's eye and played over and over as I walked down the hall – was the silent sight of Victoria's knowing expression.
The memory of my swirling emotions at seeing her still consumed me. I wanted to kill her. I wanted to hate her. But most of all, worst of all, I wanted to be her. I wanted to be what she was to him. What I wasn't – beautiful, cultured, wealthy. She hadn't said a word to me, and yet, it felt as though she'd torn me down, ridiculed me, publicly humiliated and disparaged me in every terrible way possible.
Her silence that night had pierced me through, unsparing, more callously than any single word she could have dared to speak. And him. He'd said "get lost". Get lost. Get lost. Get lost...
But I am lost.
I rubbed my face roughly with my hands, tears again staining my hands. Be it alcohol, or memories, or sheer exhaustion, I felt my legs giving out, and knew I needed to exit the dance floor soon or I was going to pass out. Just as I moved to fall against my purple-padded dance partner, I felt cold hands against me. They were soft and smooth, and slid over the skin of my arms, my shoulders, my waist. They held me up and moved with me. The touch was so soft, so soothing, I kept my eyes closed and I allowed myself, for a moment, to just feel. I had no energy left, and these soft hands, they felt so very good.
I focused my breathing and swayed in comfort with my new friends. As the nausea and violence of my rehashed memories drifted away, scent of heaven filled me and wrapped me in it's delicious film. It was cool and crisp and fresh and I drank it in as eagerly as I had alcohol all evening. Where had they been all night? This was surely intoxicating my mind more sweetly and effectively than any disgusting brown liquid could ever do.
Cool touch on my collarbone, a comforting presence at my back - I moved with them; flowing, soft, easy - and I sighed in relief at both the change in temperature and atmosphere surrounding me. I dared not open my eyes, for fear of losing the momentary balm of these two beautiful creatures. Deep in my consciousness I knew I was playing with strangers. I was dancing with two women, that much I could feel, and God knows the voyeurism that accompanied this display. But I simply did not care. The comfort at my breast and back was more than I had felt in over three torturous weeks, and I craved to keep it with me as long as possible.
The dance they shared with me was erotic and languorous, and I allowed it to flow easily, following their lead. Though the music continued it's fast, pounding beat, we moved in a fluid undulation to our own song. Part of me realized after a time that my legs had completely given up on me, and I was being lulled and channeled in arms of steel and silk, my feet gliding across the floor with their comforting strength. I felt their cool breath on my cheek, in my hair, and I could hear a buzzing of whispers coming from them.
I opened my eyes then, curious of the unintelligible sounds they were exchanging between me.
My eyes had to be playing tricks on me as I stared into a pair of amber eyes, flecked with the brilliance of pure gold, and framed by the most bewitching set of angelic features I'd ever seen. Sharp, silken strands of jet-black tresses held a wild prominence to the seraphim smoothness of her face. I was spellbound.
Her mouth moved as though speaking, but the sound was just a faint humming and the movement of her lips made me blink to focus.
Was she speaking? What was that?
I sucked in a breath and felt myself grow even more captivated and impossibly aroused at the scent that blew from her lips. She was celestial in her unearthly beauty, and I had to be ridiculously drunk. There was no person on earth who resembled what my eyes were drinking in. There were no beings in existence who could do what they were doing to me... which I wasn't at all sure what exactly that was.
Feeling a hand slide across my hipbone, I wanted to see the woman behind me. I felt greedy, wanting to drown all my senses with them. The more we danced, the more intoxicated I seemed to become. But this was not the nauseating spin of alcohol. It was ecstasy, and I was climbing to a threshold of overwhelming euphoria in their arms.
I turned my neck, catching a flash of golden waves behind me, before the little one's small, strong hands guided my face back to hers. She leaned her face to my ear as her hands trailed softly down my neck, coming to rest at the base near my shoulders. "Ma chère petite soeur... Tu es tellement excitante," she whispered hotly, "Nous t'avons enfin trouvée. Nous t'avons attendue si longtemps. Il a attendu si longtemps."
My confusion mingled with their heady scent and enticing movements, and a moan escaped my lips, unbidden. I tried to feel alarm at her words. I didn't understand her calling me, "sister".
They were looking for me? Had waited for me? And who was 'HE'? He waited for me? What was she talking about?
The twinge of nervous energy budding in my stomach quickly dissipated, and I only seemed to relax further into their arms, into their whispered breaths upon me. I felt seduced, as if by some magic, and our dance continued.
"Whatever happens, Bella, don't be afraid," she said, and I could feel my brow crease at her change in language... and her seeming knowledge of who I was. "You're one of us now, and you'll be protected, always, I promise you." The dance went on, their hands guiding me, but I pulled my face back enough to look at her, not nearly as startled at her words as I knew I should have been.
"You...you're... American?" was certainly not the first question I wanted to ask, but was what came out nonetheless.
"Yes, sweetheart," came from the magnetic blonde at my back, "From Forks, no less." Her gentle whisper into my ear soothed and stunned me. I was confounded, and utterly entranced. My body's reactions to their words made no sense as I continued to flow with them, leaning closer, more deliberately into their embrace, my eyes closing again. I understood nothing. I felt everything.
"F-Forks?" was the only word I could form with my slack jaw and parted lips as my head lolled back into long, blonde locks flowing behind me.
"Just don't be afraid, Bella... I promise you. You'll be just fine-" repeated the dark-haired seductress in front of me, just as I felt a cooling bluster of wind around my entire form, swirling my hair as though caught up in a frantic whirlwind.
It happened so fast, and was violent, yet silent and smooth. I felt the loss of the angels touching my body as the wind took them away, and I opened my eyes in response. But before I could make movement to survey where they'd gone, my body was embraced once more. Only this time it was much, much different.
My breath caught in my throat and I froze, startled, as a tall, commanding figure secured me in his grip, backing me to the pole I had danced along side all evening. The same cold, smooth hands gripped me at my sides, only these hands were larger, stronger, and definitely less gentle. I choked out a breath as he moved one hand, ghosting it over my face, my neck, my shoulder, his fingers finally wrapping securely around my upper arm.
The same hypnotic scent washed over me as his face moved close to mine; same impalpable features, etched in smoothness and beauty, enchanted my sight. But my vision became fixated on the burning fury of his eyes as my head leaned back, hitting the pole, its weight heavy on my neck. These were not the corrals of gold I had seen in my now missing angels. No. His eyes were molten black, swimming with a rabid intensity that immediately frightened me. They were wild, crazed, and raging, and I let out a whimper as his other hand drifted into the hair at my neck, grabbing hold fiercely, and his face became too close for me to see his eyes.
"Torturous witch," he hissed, "You're here to destroy me." He whispered the words, but spoke with such violence and frenzy, it was no whisper at all. I could feel cold liquid spatter along my face and neck as he spat the words at me.
Had my body not already immobilized itself with petrifying fear, he surely would have kept me easily pinned to his form. He was so strong, without even moving, I knew I would have no defense against his strength. I felt my heart race at dizzying speed as his icy lips moved from my ear down to my neck, all the while an echo of my dark-haired angel's voice repeating in my mind, "Just don't be afraid, Bella...don't be afraid, Bella...don't be afraid..."
Impossible. I was terrified.
"You die..." he spoke quietly into my skin, "and so shall I."
I seized at his words, beginning to hyperventilate. I braced myself, awaiting something unknown... something horrifying. I awaited my death. But my body propelled forward in an instant, and I stumbled forward over my feet, his menacing presence no longer holding me. Confusion set in as I caught myself from falling completely to the floor and righted my body. I shook my head of the dizziness, and as my eyes focused again, I could see a trio of men struggling and moving away from me.
Had someone pulled him off me? Was he being escorted out?
I was so unbelievably confused.
As I continued to pull myself from the haze left by these inconceivable encounters, the two nymphs appeared before me once more, seeming to materialize out of thin air. I sucked in a deep draught of air and looked to them, as they both looked directly back at me.
"I'm so sorry, Bella," the small, sprite-like one began, "he had to find you first, on his own. It was the only way."
"I don't... that was..." I sputtered, "He... you know who that was?" I finished, finally able to form a single, coherent thought.
"That," stressed the tall, statuesque blonde, "was Edward."
"He's our... brother," the smaller one continued, "...of a sort." I shook my head, feeling wary that there was a familial association between these... whatever they were. I certainly had never met anyone like any of them ever before.
"Um..." I was quite completely at a loss for words.
"I'm Alice," she gestured to herself flamboyantly, "...and this is Rose."
"Rosalie," the taller, and impossibly more beautiful woman huffed indignantly, a gentle roll in her eyes.
Wow. She makes indignant look indecent.
"Um... okay..." I stammered, their presence alone overwhelming me, "I'm-"
"Bella. Yes, we know," Alice chimed with a smile. A brilliant smile.
That's right. They knew me.
I scrunched my brow at the recognition again. "Um.. exactly how do you? um...how do-" God, I couldn't even form a complete sentence!
"I said before, Bella... you're one of us now, sweet girl... and well... there's really no going back, I'm NOT sorry to say."
I shook my head in reflexive disagreement, but for some strange reason, I couldn't argue with her. I didn't understand a word of what she said, yet I raised my arm to her now offered hand willingly. .
What was I doing? She hadn't even answered my unfinished question and I found myself following along with her through the crowd, Rosalie again positioned behind me as we walked.
"You need to meet Edward. Really meet him," Alice said, turning her face back to me so I could hear her. I instantly cemented my feet to the floor. Was she crazy? I wasn't sure exactly what had transpired in my brief collision with this Edward, but I was sure that I did not want to meet him. I especially didn't want to really meet him. I froze, and Alice stopped, feeling the tug from my resistance.
"It's okay," Rosalie whispered to me as she pressed into my back, arms on my shoulders, gently pushing me forward once more. "You're completely safe, Bella. He won't hurt you."
"I won't hurt you, ma Belle... I'll never hurt you..."
James' words echoed through my mind, and my eyes squeezed tightly shut against the force of his lies. Lies.
It's all lies! My inner self screamed at me.
"Lies!" I screamed out suddenly, shaking, and I felt cool fingers smooth over my face. Astonishing relief flooded me as she touched my cheeks, and I opened my eyes to see Alice, concern painted plainly over her enigmatic features.
"We know he hurt you, Bella. He hurt you so deeply," she consoled, and I was distracted by the fact that she knew this much about me as well. "I promise you... Bella," she gripped my cheeks lightly forcing my gaze back to hers, "I promise you we will not hurt you. And we won't allow anyone else to hurt you either. You can trust us. You can trust me."
Despite her cold hands, the warmth and compassion that radiated from her words, her calming touch, made me believe her. I was still no less confused than I was before, but I found myself allowing them to push and pull me along through the crowd once again.
Either they are stark, raving mad... or I am.
I wasn't sure which was worse at the moment.
As we approached the table, I could feel Edward's presence before I could actually see the expression on his face. He was positively vibrating with tension. There were two others on either side of him in the booth against the wall. Both of them men, and to my continued astonishment, both beyond allurement. The one on the right was tall and lean, with a mess of slightly curled blonde hair. To the right was a beast of a man, easily twice the size of the one on the left, though gentle looking in his visage. He had brown, wavy hair, and his cheeks dimpled as he smiled at our advance.
As I took in their appearances, I noticed the strange similarities in their eyes, and ghostly pale skin. There was definitely some type of familial bond between them all. Although Edward... as I had witnessed up close on the dance floor, had eyes stained a turbulent onyx color that caused me to shudder in my steps.
I was not ready for this. Why was I doing this?
"Relax, Bella," breathed the tall one... Rosalie, into my neck. "You're completely safe."
How they managed to keep me under such a spell by just their words of promised truth and safety escaped me. It made no sense to me at all, yet still I strode, closing in on the table, and following them voluntarily to what could quite possibly be my demise. Even the registered warning of danger that screamed from Edward's face did not stop me in my trek.
Yep, I'm pretty sure I am the one who is stark, raving mad.
Just as we reached the over-sized table, the strange humming sound I had heard between Alice and Rosalie began again between all of them, though it only lasted a few seconds. Before I could question the noise and whether or not it had come from their lips, each of them turned and smiled at me in greeting. I tried smiling in return, but it was wary and weak. I felt so out of place and honestly, afraid.
Alice cheerfully pulled out a center chair for me and directed me with a flourish to sit... directly across from him.
I swallowed loudly enough for myself to hear it, and sat down, my heart stammering in my chest. I was seriously considering that I must be comatose on the floor somewhere and dreaming this entire meeting. Everything felt so strange and surreal, and as Alice and Rosalie took the accompanying chairs beside me, I let out a tremulous breath.
"So this is the famous Bellaaa," the large brutish man to my left let out with an infectious grin. I found myself smiling at his humorous attempt at breaking the proverbial ice, but again, was reminded of their untold supply of knowledge about me. The situation was bewildering, and my instincts were screaming "Danger!" from deep inside me.
"Famous..." muttered Edward, fixing his cold stare on Alice beside me. He continued his remark, but I could not decipher the remainder of what he said.
Alice leaned in toward me, keeping her eyes upon Edward. "Don't you worry about him. He just needs some time to acclimate to your scent." I turned to her in utter confusion.
"Alice!" Edward hissed.
"Time, Edward," she responded pointedly, "and not much of it from what I can see. Stop making this more difficult than necessary and introduce yourself to Bella here."
"Um... he doesn't need to... I mean, it's o-okay," I stuttered out a quick pardon, looking to Alice, wondering again why I was here, and wishing now that I wasn't. The man had an obvious aversion to me, or something. My puzzlement grew deeper and stranger as this brief conversation continued.
Acclimate to my scent? What?
"Can we stop confusing the poor girl?" interjected the disarming blonde man seated across to my right, "I'm about ready to bang my head against the table."
"Please..." I added to his request, though I wasn't at all sure if I was prepared for an explanation.
"Yes, Jas, but introductions first!" Alice lilted, and I witnessed her actually clap her hands in what could only be described and irrepressible excitement. She turned to me, a gleaming smile plastered on her flawless face and began.
"Okay, you've met Ros-alie," she directed to my left. I followed her movement and nodded. She nodded back with a faint smile, which was absolutely hypnotizing. I found my gaze affixed on her face, unable to look away. That is, until Alice's hand physically turned my head.
"...and this big bear here is her husband, Emmett," she continued, my gaze directed to the brown-haired giant on the left. He waved in such a child-like fashion, I couldn't help the corner of my lip as it upturned. She leaned in once more confiding, "he's just a big teddy bear, really."
Emmett's eyes narrowed on her as though he heard every word, but the smile never left his face. Her breath against me was creating the familiar stirrings I had felt on the dance floor, and as much as it unnerved me, my body became relaxed and enraptured once again.
As my breathing sped, she pressed on, directing me further right. "This sexy man, is my husband, Jasper. He's such a peach isn't he?" I was met with a raised eyebrow, a provocative half-smirk, and a nod as I turned to the tall blonde on the right. I managed to avoid Edward's face completely as my eyes skimmed across the table. I was afraid to see his tortured scowl and demonic eyes. Unfortunately, Alice felt a proper introduction was due, despite our earlier encounter. She paused momentarily before bestowing his name to me in a whisper against my ear.
"You've met Edward," she conspired closely with an elongated breath, and I felt a rush of... something at her words, "but I'd like him to address you directly... and politely."
She had said nothing to me to warrant the intense need that charged through my body like a streak of heated lightening at her words, and as I raised my reluctant stare to Edward, I was met surprisingly with a look of pure desire. Intense longing registered upon his magnificent face, and his eyes, though still frightening, seemed to burn with something much more enticing than when I last saw them. My face flooded with heat, and I felt myself grow wet with arousal.
"It's a... pleasure," he said, "an intriguing pleasure to meet you,Bella." My name from his lips sent me spiraling with wanton hunger, and I moaned helplessly at his words. His expression intensified, his nostrils flaring, as his body moved forward slowly, hands reaching out to mine. "There are no words for it..." he sighed, "...delicious."
"I do believe he's quite taken with you, Miss Bella," Alice spoke softly against my cheek as her hand roamed over my arm and across my back. Her touch left me reeling, and before I knew what I'd done, my mouth was on hers.
My tongue swept her mouth ravenously, carving a path on it's own course, as my body instinctively molded against hers. She moved, pulling me closer to her and trailed her mouth from my lips, down my jaw and over my neck. I could not stop the gasps that fired from my lungs as I heard the words she spoke into my ear...
"We've finally found you, Bella. An eighth to complete us... to make us whole. He'll be yours, forever you know. Oh, Bella.... sweet, sweet girl. You aren't alone... not anymore. You are loved, so very loved already." I was so lost. So completely and blissfully lost, at her words, her mouth on me, her body against mine... I never wanted to leave here.
Another moment of passion, and a deep, ominous growl punctured through my rapture. It didn't belong here... not where I was... not with these feelings. A confusion began to settle over me again, and I whimpered at the loss of my complete state of ecstasy.
"Dammit, Jasper, stop it! … ALICE!" Edward's voice boomed, as though channeled through the loud speakers in the club.
I was instantly sobered, and incredibly unnerved at not only the complete change in his demeanor, but at my own inexplicable behavior. I shook my head forcefully, trying to pull myself back up to the surface and into reality.
This was enough. I knew my instincts, and they told me I was playing with absolute fire. I didn't know these people from Adam, and they were doing things to me... things I couldn't explain, things that shouldn't be possible. The tumult in Edward's eyes only confirmed that I needed to get the hell out of here.
"I'm uh... I'm sorry, Alice, but... you're kind of, uh... insane. Or I'm insane. Or... I don't know what. Uh... I gotta... I-I gotta go."
Before I could be confused, or seduced, or trapped, or breathed on by them any longer, I jumped up from my seat and rushed out of the club, not caring who I pushed out of my way... pretty girls with their drinks be damned.
As soon as I felt the cool rush of air from outside, I stopped, panting, and dropped my hands to my knees in exhaustion. I had no idea what to think, what to feel, what to believe, as I stood there, sucking in gulps of misty air. That was quite possibly the most bizarre experience of my entire life, and I could not make heads or tails of it.
The Seine, rushing below the quays called my attention, and I walked slowly down the steps to a lower platform, mesmerized by the black, vacillating waters.
A black abyss. That's what it looked like, and I instantly felt the stabbing pain of abandonment return at the thought.
I wasted no more time. Quickly making my way up the steps and back to the street, I hailed a taxi and made my way back to... well, back to the sweet, old woman's home. I refused to call it my home, because it wasn't. I just didn't know what it was. I didn't know where I was, or what the hell I was doing for that matter, and not for the last time during this night – or any other night – James' presence was there. He blistered into my mind like a festering sickness, and I leaned my head back against the firm leather seat re-acclimating myself to the misery that was now my life.
A/N: I decided to include the French translations here. I opted out of correct French punctuation, since this story is in English. I thought it would be too distracting/annoying for those that don't know French. Please keep an open mind here people. Just like English, there are a million ways to say something in French, and I tried my best to go with the most natural flow of dialogue. Most of these things will not translate properly using Google translator, but online translators are like that with any language... they lose a lot in translation.
The rest of this story will have significantly LESS French in it (if any at all), so if it bothered you, I hope you'll stick with me and keep reading! :)
I hope you all enjoyed the opening. I also hope I can get another chapter to you before we all die in 2012.
TRANSLATIONS (in order of appearance):
FIC TITLE: "de L'amour et la Haine" = "Of Love and Hate"
CHAP TITLE: "Le Dragueur" = "The Sweeper" (fig. Casanova)
"Dégage. Casse toi!" = "Piss off! Get out!"
"Tu sens ça?" = "You feel it?" (as spoken with pun/innuendo: "You feel my dick?")
"Mon coeur..." = "My heart..."
"il palpite aussi vite. A chaque fois que je suis auprès de toi." = "It beats so fast. Each time I'm with you I feel this way."
"Je t'aime tellement." = "I love you so much."
"Tu trouves ça drôle?" = "That's funny?" (lit. "You think that's funny?")
"Je suis tellement heureuse." = "I am so happy."
"rien qu'à moi, tout à moi," = "all mine, only mine"
"enculer des mouches," = fig. Obsess with trivial details, nit-pick. (lit. "to sodomize flies")
"Je suis désolée!" = "I'm sorry!"
"Putain de merde! Non mais quelle conne!" = fig. "Fucking shit! What a bitch!"
"Tu pouvais pas faire attention connasse!" = fig. "Watch what you're doing stupid slut/asshole!" (lit. You couldn't pay attention asshole!)
"Désolée, désolée!" = "Sorry! Sorry!"
"Essscusez-moi. Ouais, J'sssuiiis complètement bourrée," = "Excuse me. Yeah, I'm completely drunk." (w/ obvious slurring included)
"sur les nerfs" = "nervous/stressed" (lit. "on nerves")
"Excuse-moi, Laurent?" = "Excuse me, Laurent?"
"Hé, Bella! Quoi de neuf? Ça va?" = "Hey, Bella! What's up? How are you?/How's things?"
"Merci," = "Thank you"
"S'il vous plaît." = "Please." (formal)
"Bien sûr," = "Of course,"
"okay, Puce?" = "okay, Cutie/Doll/Poppet?" (lit. "okay, Flea?")
"Ouais, merci beaucoup," = "Yeah, thank you very much."
"De rien, ma Belle." = "It's nothing, beautiful." (intimate)
"Qui est là!" = "Who's there!"
"Merde! Bella!" = "Shit! Bella!"
"Qu'est-ce... Qu'est-ce que tu fais?" = "What are... what are you doing?"
"Putain, Bella. – Fait chier ! – alors..." = "Fuck, Bella. – Fucking hell! (fig.) – then..."
"J-Je ne comprends pas." = "I-I don't understand."
"Oh, Nom de Dieu!" = "Oh, Name of God!" (fig. unbelievable!/I don't believe this!)
"T'es vraiment trop stupide!" = "You really are too stupid (for your own good)!"
"errgh! Il a fallu que tu ailles y fourrer ton nez partout!" = "errrgh! You just had to stick your nose in everywhere!"
"Cela ne te regarde pas!" = "It's not your business!"
"...Putain ! T'es chiant!" = "...Fuck! You suck!"
"C'est pas possible! Bella! Just... Va t'en," he said, "S'il te plait." = "This is not happening! (fig.) Bella! Just... go away (fig.), please (informal)"
"J'ai dit, va t'en, Bella! Casse toi ! Dégage ! Get lost!" = "I said, go away (fig.), Bella! Get out! Piss off!(fig.) Get lost!"
"Mah chére petite soeur... Tu es tellement excitante ," she whispered, "Nous t'avons enfin trouvée. Nous t'avons attendue si longtemps. Il a attendu si longtemps." = "My dear, sweet sister... how you excite me," she whispered, "We've finally found you. We've waited so long. He's waited so very long."