A/N: This is an idea that began bouncing around in my head last night after I began looking for a new apartment on Craigslist. I know I should be posting my next chapter of P&P right now, but something about this idea called to me and I just had to get it down on paper (so to speak). For those of you that read my SVM story "One Thousand Words," this Twilight fic may be more up your alley than the silliness that is P&P. This, my friends, is simply a love story.
I hope you enjoy it.
The song that Chapter One is named for is "Stranger Things Have Happened" by the Foo Fighters.
SM owns all things Twilight.
Stranger Things Have Happened
It had been three whole days since I left the only home I'd ever known in New York, and I was still a complete mess. All I could do was replay the events of the past three years over and over again in my head and try to figure out how I could have missed so much. I mentally kicked myself for being so blind for so long. I didn't know how I was unable to see the end of my relationship - the one that I thought would be my own happily ever after - coming.
So on the third day after moving out of my apartment, I found myself sitting alone on the couch in my best friend Alice's fifth floor walk-up in Queens. It was a far cry from my old place on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Don't get me wrong. Alice's place was adorable, even if it wasn't in the safest part of town. But it was all she and her fiance, Jasper, could afford at the moment, and I was grateful that they offered me their spare bedroom while I looked for my own place to live. I had three months to find something before they moved out and in to their new house, but I was hoping it wouldn't take that long. I love them both dearly, but after what I'd just been through, watching them make goo-goo eyes at each other all day long probably wasn't doing my sanity much good.
My own place. Something I never thought I'd have to look for again. I sighed sadly and grabbed my laptop, determined to finally do something productive this weekend.
Alice and Jasper had gone to Texas to visit his family for Christmas, so I was left to my own devices for the holidays. By the time I knew I needed to leave my old apartment, it was too late to book a flight home to Chicago to be with my family. So it was two days after Christmas that I began my search for an apartment.
Scrolling through my options on Craigslist, I realized that finding a new place wasn't going to be as easy as I'd hoped. Everything was so expensive, and I figured out pretty quickly that I would have to find a roommate. I also knew that I wasn't going to be able to afford to live in Manhattan, so I set my preference to Brooklyn and began clicking through the shared housing listings.
I sat there for over an hour scrolling through page after page of crap. Each listing was worse than the one before it. Some were too expensive, many were too far away from transportation, and even more had pictures of places that looked like they should have been condemned rather than up for rent. Disheartened, I decided that my next step would be to place an ad in the "Housing Wanted" section, detailing exactly what it was that I was looking for. I didn't have much faith in the outcome, but I figured it couldn't hurt to try.
I typed up my ad, trying desperately not to sound like the sad, broken soul I really was and then re-read it once before placing it.
I'm a 30-something female, looking for a solid and hopefully emotionally stable person to look for a 2BR apartment with me and split the rent. I can do this any time over the next few months. I'll go as high as $1200 per month for my share. I don't care if you're male or female, only that you're at least in your 30's, have a solid job, can pay your bills on time, are relatively clean and don't mind a good deal of peace and quiet. I do want to sign at least a one year lease, so if that's not in your plans, stop reading now.
About me: I have a good job, and I'm gone M-F from 9-5ish. I do occasionally travel for work. I'm planning on buying some new furniture, so I don't expect you to have to provide everything. I'd prefer the Brooklyn Heights, Carroll Gardens or Prospect Heights area, but I'm open to suggestions as long as it's a good neighborhood and close to a train station that can easily get me in to Union Square, as my office is in Gramercy Park.
Drop me an email if you're interested. We can meet for some coffee or a beer & talk about it.
With the ad placed, I shut down my laptop and decided to try to fall asleep. I walked to the bedroom that would be mine for the next few months and groaned loudly as I looked at the bed. Three days ago, I had been in my own bed, wrapped in the arms of the man I thought had loved me, I thought. Tonight, I'm the girl who had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich alone for her Christmas dinner watching "A Christmas Story" on a continuous loop. Pathetic.
Unable to get into the bed by myself, I turned and walked back to the living room. Once again, the couch would have to do.
* * *
I woke up the next morning cramped and stiff from my third night spent sleeping on the couch. I stood and stretched and then ran my hands down my aching back. What I really needed was a long hot shower, so I walked to the tiny bathroom and turned on the tap, pushing the temperature to the point where I would barely be able to stand it.
As I waited for the water to warm up, I brushed my teeth and washed my face. After I rinsed the soap from my skin, I looked in the mirror and was shocked by what I saw. Staring back at me was another woman entirely. My large brown eyes, which were usually bright and cheerful, looked dead. There were deep purple bags underneath them, making it look like I'd been punched in the face. Not so far off the mark there, I cringed. It was more like a sock to the gut, but what's the difference, really?
My long brown hair was dull and lifeless and my skin was even paler than usual. I looked like shit, which was fitting, because that's exactly how I felt.
I stepped in the shower and groaned as the stream of hot water both scalded my skin and eased my aching muscles. When I was finished, I toweled off and went to my room to get dressed. I heard the familiar ping from my phone notifying me that I had a new email message, so I picked it up and was shocked by what I saw. I had twenty-three new emails, all of them in response to my ad. I quickly threw on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and made my way out to the living room. I powered up my laptop and clicked on my email program, looking forward to reading the replies.
I was shocked and appalled by what was waiting for me in my inbox. I clicked through each response, quickly realizing that the "Housing Wanted" section of Craigslist was little more than a tool for the weirdos and perverts of the world to find someone to hook up with. I received pictures of men – and some women – in every form of undress imaginable, along with multiple requests for a date. I hadn't even put my picture in the ad, and yet these freaks were putting themselves out there on display for me.
I was disheartened to say the least by the time I clicked on the final email. I just wanted to get through it and toss it in the purge bin with all the rest, but that never happened. Surprisingly enough, it was an honest to god reply, with an offer for an apartment to share. I opened the full message, completely taken aback by what I read.
From: Edward Masen
To:Craigslist AD 195660359
Hi. I just saw your ad on Craigslist. I know you were looking for a new place, but I have a bright, clean bedroom available in a large three bedroom apartment in Williamsburg, just steps from a subway stop and I thought I'd try my luck and shoot you an email anyways.
Based on your ad, I think my apartment and our personalities sound as if they might be a good fit, but I need to state up front that I have a six-year-old daughter who stays with me three nights a week. On two of the mornings she's with me, she goes to school at 8a.m. On the one weekend day she's with me, we plan day trips and play dates. In other words, she's at the apartment while she's sleeping, but we don't spend endless hours during the day hanging out there. Obviously, you would have absolutely no responsibilities regarding my daughter, other than a little bit of friendliness toward her. She is sweet, mellow, loving and has a positive energy. All is good between me and her mom, from whom I've been separated for 4 years, so you won't have to worry about any crazy exes running around.
The bedroom for rent is in a large, newly renovated apartment with a very nice kitchen and bathroom. The bedroom can fit a queen-size bed, with space left over for a dresser or desk. It also has a window and full closet, plus you'd have access to two other closets for storage. The bathroom is right next to what would be your bedroom. The common area has a loft-like spaciousness in which you would be able to put some furniture and help me arrange the shared living space so that it's comfortable for both of us.
I'm looking for someone mature, responsible, and has a full-time job. Because my daughter is a young girl, I'd prefer a female roommate (I'm male). If you don't mind a child around for part of the week, this is an excellent housing opportunity in a really nice apartment in a great neighborhood.
I'm a 37-year-old professor with a successful career. I don't have much time for socializing, but I have a great group of friends that keep me from turning in to an old man too early. I'm clean and quiet, but I promise I'm not a bore.
$1,200 per month includes all utilities plus wireless. One month deposit. Available starting February 1.
There's obviously more to talk about. If this situation sounds like a possibility (and I understand that it might not be what you want given that there will be a child around part-time), please email me, and we'll start a conversation.
I look forward to hearing from you,
I pushed my laptop to the side and tossed the idea around in my head. It took balls to admit to something as important as having a child around, which told me a few things about this Edward Masen already. First, he was honest. Second, he was taking responsibility for a child, so he must be a stand-up person at the very least. Third, because of his daughter, he would be busy, which led me to believe I wouldn't have to spend a whole lot of time with him. What I was looking for was peace and a place to be relatively alone with my thoughts while I pulled my life back together. The third reason on my list was what sealed the deal for me. I clicked "reply" and began typing.
To: Edward Masen
From: Isabella Swan
Thank you for your reply to my ad. It was nice to finally receive one that was normal. Apparently, the "Housing Wanted" section of CL is major meat-market. Funny, I thought that kind of activity was reserved solely for MySpace.
Let's get the important part out of the way, shall we? I have absolutely no issues in regards to living with someone with a child. In fact, I think it would be nice to have a munchkin around. I miss my niece and nephew (they're back home in Chicago) dearly, so I think it could actually be good for me. I'll be able to keep up with all the latest "little girl" trends so I'll know which gifts to get my niece, thereby ensuring her eternal love and devotion. I'm not above buying it.
About me...I work as the business manager for a successful restaurant company with an office in Gramercy Park. I do travel occasionally for work when we open new locations. I'm 36, a born-and-raised Midwestern girl who is stuck in Queens right now (don't ask) and I'm dying to get out. I have a small circle of wonderful and creative friends here, and just like you, I'm clean and quiet, but not a bore. If you can't already tell, I am capable of losing my verbal filter from time to time, but I do my best to keep it in check – especially around kids. Otherwise, I'm pretty much the picture of normal.
I'd really like to take a look at the apartment if you decide you'd like to show it to me. My schedule is very flexible. I'm usually out of work no later than 4 or 5pm.
So, drop me a line if you think you'd like to talk further. This sounds like it could be an ideal situation for both of us.
I look forward to hearing from you,
With the ball now in Edward's court, I shut down my laptop and made my way out to the grocery store. It was the first time I'd left the apartment since I moved in. It was time to stop wallowing.
* * *
I came back from the store weighed down with heavy bags and lugged them up the five flights to the apartment. I was out of breath, and made a mental note to ask Edward if there was a good gym in his neighborhood if I decided to move in. I was obviously out of shape.
I put my groceries away and poured myself a glass of wine, then walked to the living room and turned on my laptop. I was hoping to hear from Edward, and he didn't disappoint me.
To: Isabella Swan
From: Edward Masen
Thank you for your message. It's nice to receive a sane response as well. Craigslist is a strange place, though not so weird as when I visited Roommate Finder, thinking maybe I'd find a roommate or post an ad for one, only to see photos of men with their shirts off and women who not only don't need a roommate, but probably don't even want to spend the night. Creepy.
Anyways, I'm glad having a child around wouldn't be an issue, and I can assure you that my daughter, Lily, wouldn't be intrusive in any way. You'll still need to see the apartment, of course. It's really quite spacious, but so you know, two of the bedrooms are side-by-side in the back. I don't do anything in my bedroom except sleep (single dad syndrome, I guess), and my daughter's play area and my music alcove are in the front. I'm also completely open to arranging the apartment to create more privacy and "walls." I don't know how much furniture you might have, but there's some room for it.
I'm in Chicago (Small world, eh? What part are you from?) visiting my family until late Monday afternoon. The best time to see the apartment would be around eleven Tuesday morning. Would that work for you?
I'm looking forward to meeting a fellow Midwesterner. Sometimes these New Yorkers get to be too much for me.
When I read his email I chuckled and then laid back against the couch and closed my eyes, thinking of an appropriate response. Part of me was certain this situation was too good to be true. Edward seemed, for all intents and purposes, like a really nice man. I couldn't help but wonder why someone who sounded as if he had his shit together would be looking for a roommate. I knew it would be a rude question to ask him, but I hoped he'd be forthcoming enough for me to figure it out.
As I typed my response, all I could do was hope that everything was as cut and dry as it seemed, and that there were no more shoes waiting to drop in my life for a while.
To: Edward Masen
From: Isabella Swan
So glad to hear back from you. You poor thing. While I'm typically not opposed to seeing pictures of men with their shirts off, I can see how that might be a bit awkward for you. If it makes you feel better, I received a few of those as well. I'm still shuddering at the thought of them.
11am on Tuesday works for me. Please email me the address and I'll see you then.
As for the furniture issue, well, the long and short of it is I don't have any. I moved here several years ago from Chicago (I'm originally a Southsider – no comments from the peanut gallery – but I lived on the north side for most of my adult life.) and sold everything before leaving since I was moving in to an apartment that was already furnished. I was planning on buying whatever I needed before moving in to a new place. I do have dishes and glassware, but otherwise, I'll pretty much be starting from scratch.
If it seems as though we'll be able to make it work, I would hope you wouldn't worry about your daughter being intrusive. I really do enjoy having kids around, so I can't imagine how it would ever become an issue with me. I tend to find children much more fun and interesting to be around than most adults I know, anyways.
Have a great time with your family, and I'll see you Tuesday.
I clicked send and sat there, staring at my screen, totally zoning out. I'd been doing that a lot over the past several days. Twenty minutes later, I re-focused my vision to see a response from Edward.
From: Edward Masen
To: Isabella Swan
Has anyone told you that you have a great sense of humor? I laughed so hard I actually woke Lily up after reading your "Southsider" comment. I grew up on the north side (Lincoln Park area) myself, but I promise not to judge you too harshly. I wonder if we ever passed each other on the street.
Anyways, here's the address:
202 Graham Ave. #1
If you need directions, just drop me a line and I'll send them to you, but something tells me you're intelligent enough to figure it out on without my help.
I'll see you Tuesday. Have a great night.
I don't know why I was so pleased with his compliments. I certainly didn't have much to joke about these days, and if I was that smart, I definitely wouldn't be looking for an apartment mere days before the new year. Nonetheless, his words made me smile, which was something I hadn't done in what felt like ages.
* * *
I woke up extra early Tuesday morning, wanting the additional time to put just a little more effort into my appearance than usual. My desire to make a good first impression overrode my need for more sleep. I showered and dried my hair, opting to leave it down. I dressed in my favorite brown cashmere sweater dress and black suede boots and then applied my makeup. After putting on my favorite coat and grabbing my bag, I headed out the door with the hope of a fresh start.
The day was clear and cool, and the sun shone brightly in the sky, and I couldn't help but notice how it affected my mood. My spirits were better than they had been in days, and I decided that no matter what happened, I would make an effort every day to find at least one thing that would make me smile. I was still unhappy, but I couldn't wallow in self-pity forever. It was time to move forward.
The train ride was long as I had to make several transfers before getting to Williamsburg from Queens. I found myself trying to picture what Edward and Lily looked like, but it was really only a game to occupy my time since I had no real information to go on. What is a professor supposed to look like, anyways?
I knew that there was a good chance that he came from substantial money, considering he grew up in Lincoln Park. I wondered again why he would possibly need a roommate if he was, in fact, wealthy. I also wondered why he was renting instead of owning his own home. I quickly chided myself for being so nosy. I had no idea what his life was like, and had no business making assumptions and asking such private questions.
When I reached the Graham St. station, I stepped off the train and made the short walk to what could potentially be my new home, taking mental notes of the shops and restaurants along the way. I found the address, and was pleased with what I saw before me. The building was classic Williamsburg, with a large stone stairway leading to heavy wooden double doors. The brick facade was an ordinary shade of brown, but the stone details that were laid between the bricks was absolutely charming. I could see myself living here and being happy.
I took several deep breaths in a vain attempt to calm my nerves before finally walking up the steps and ringing the door bell. I heard a loud crash, followed by a dog barking and a string of expletives coming from right inside the door, and I couldn't help but laugh out loud. I covered my mouth with my hand to stifle the laughter as I heard the deadbolt turn. "Christ, Jake! Get down you stupid dog!" I heard someone shout.
The door finally opened, and I literally stopped breathing for a moment when I gazed upon the man that stood in front of me. He was absolutely the most beautiful human being I had ever seen. His body was long and lean, standing close to a foot taller than me. He was wearing a light blue v-neck sweater with white oxford underneath and pair of dark blue jeans that hung nicely on his narrow waist. His jaw was amazingly square and it looked like something that was created by a chisel rather than human DNA. His sparkling eyes were a light shade of green, and his hair, though chaotic at best, was a remarkable shade of auburn that I would gladly pay my hairdresser a hefty sum of money for. He was perfect, and I was most definitely in trouble.
"You must be Bella," he said as he extended his hand to me. "I'm Edward. It's so nice to finally meet you."
I tried to compose myself as best I could as I took his hand and shook it. I marveled at his long fingers and his soft, warm grip on my hand. It felt...good. Really good.
"It's nice to finally meet you, too. Thanks for letting me see the apartment today."
"My pleasure," he replied with a warm smile that made the lines along the side of his eyes crinkle up in the most adorable way. "Now come inside. You have to be freezing."
He opened the door wider and allowed me to pass in front of him. I was stopped dead in my tracks by a humongous chocolate lab who happily stuck his nose in my crotch.
"Oh, god, Bella! I'm so sorry," Edward cried. He pulled the beast away by the collar and made him sit. "Jake here has the absolute worst manners imaginable. He's been kicked out of every obedience school in the borough. We're attempting Manhattan next."
"It's alright. Really. I'm fine. You didn't mention you had a dog." I stated as I moved forward to rub the top of Jake's head.
"Crap! I'm sorry. I don't know where my mind has been. I did remember to tell you I had a child, right? I've been so scatterbrained lately. I'll totally understand if you change your mind about moving in." He looked distraught, and I couldn't help but feel a little bit sorry for him. I giggled and it seemed to calm his anxiety some.
"How about you show me the apartment first before I make any decisions?" I asked.
"Right. Good idea. Follow me." He kept a hold of Jake's collar as he led me in to a large, open living room with unbelievably high ceilings. The walls were a warm shade of brown, and the furniture was plush and white, which I found to be an odd choice considering he had a six-year-old. There was a large entertainment center flanked by floor to ceiling bookshelves on either side, and a huge flat screen TV and stereo system I was certain I'd break if I ever dared to touch them. In the front bay window was a large black piano and a small area that was filled with toys. A few paintings and photographs hung on the wall, but otherwise, it was pretty much a clean slate.
"This is the living room, obviously, and just back there is the kitchen. Follow me."
The kitchen was stunning, with mahogany cabinets and brand new stainless steel appliances. The counter to was made of an exquisite black granite, and I couldn't contain the grin on my face when I thought about cooking in there. I hadn't had the chance to do that for a very long time.
"Do you like it?" He asked softly. The look on his face was hopeful, and I smiled brightly at him, earning myself one in return.
"It's beautiful," I replied honestly. "I would love to have a chance to cook in here."
"Well, I'm glad someone can get some use out of it. I can't cook worth a damn. Well, except for mac and cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for Lily. They're her favorite."
I found I enjoyed the warmth in his voice when he spoke of his daughter. There was no doubt in my mind that he loved her dearly. We stared at one another for a long moment, and I had to force myself to look away before I made a total fool out of myself.
"Where's the bedroom?"
"Huh? What?" He stuttered. "Oh, yeah. I guess you'd want to see that. I mean, that's what you're here for, right?" He motioned for me to follow him and pointed at Jake and said, "Stay!" Of course, he didn't, and trailed behind me as Edward led me to the bedroom, poking my behind with his nose the entire way.
I walked through the doorway in to a large, sunny bedroom, and was truly pleased with what I saw. I knew I would be able to be comfortable there.
"My bedroom is right next door, and the bathroom is on the other side. There's plenty of room in the vanity for you, and if you need more space, I'll be happy to pull more of my stuff out."
"That's not necessary," I replied with a wave of my hand. "I don't need much."
A wide smile formed on his face before he dropped his eyes shyly to stare at his feet. "No, I can't imagine you do."
I felt the blush rise on my cheeks from his compliment. Even the tops of my ears grew hot. I was in dangerous territory, and I wasn't sure I could control myself in the presence of this stunning man. If I was going to live there, I'd have to find a way to push down the obvious attraction I felt for him. I needed a home. What I didn't need was to pine after a man I had no business messing around with. Although I loved the apartment and knew I should jump at the opportunity, I also realized I needed to get out of there and take some time to think it over carefully.
"So, what's the verdict?" He asked hopefully.
"It's wonderful, Edward. Really. But would you mind giving me until tomorrow to think it over?"
His face fell, and I couldn't help but wonder what he was thinking. I also couldn't help the fact that I had the urgent need to reassure him.
"I just want to go over my budget and be one hundred percent sure I can afford it." I lied. I knew I could, but I couldn't tell him that I wasn't sure I could deal with my attraction to him.
"Oh, well if it's a matter of money, I honestly don't mind dropping the price. Would a thousand a month be alright with you?"
Damn, I thought. There goes my only excuse.
"That's more than fair. But don't you want to check my references first? I brought my list..."
He cut me off with a wave of his hand. "It's not necessary, Bella. I trust you."
Oh. Okay, then.
"Well, I guess there's nothing more to think about. I'll take it," I said.
"We can talk about my schedule with Lily when you move in, but I promise you, she won't get in the way."
"Honestly, Edward, I'm not worried about it at all. I think I'm going to enjoy living here very much."
Edward gave me another of his mega-watt smiles and bounced up and down on his toes. I would have sworn he was more excited about my moving in than I was.
"One more thing, Bella. I told you in my email that the room was available as of February 1st, but you're more than welcome to move in as soon as you're ready."
"Wow, that would be amazing. I'd love to get out of Queens as soon as possible."
"I don't blame you," he teased. "And Bella, I want you to make yourself at home. There's nothing here I would be unwilling to share with you." His charm was utterly disarming, and I felt a little weak in the knees.
"Um, thank you. That's very nice of you."
"Nonsense. I like you, Bella. I have the feeling you and I are going to get along perfectly."
I smiled, thinking that stranger things have happened.
Additional A/N: I'm sure some of you are wondering why Edward would allow someone to move in to his apartment without thoroughly checking them out, especially since he has a little girl to take care of. Let's just say that he has more than a good feeling about her for now. All will be explained down the road.
So what do you think? Would you like to read more?