Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns the characters. I'm borrowing them.
Written for the Broken Record Holiday Contest and hey, I actually won it, too. How awesome is that shit?
So thanks everyone for voting for me and for being awesome and reading.
And to my girls who pre-read this for me; Angie and Shelley. You two are amazing and I love you both like whoa. *insert little heart thingy here*
Go on over to the contest page, too, to read the rest of the entries because they're all pretty damn awesome. The link is in my favorite authors. Give some love to my Twin and my Wifey while you're there because they're awesome and I love them more than words can possibly express.
I'm done gushing. Go on! :)
I pulled into the parking lot of the Forks Bowling Alley, sighing heavily as I leaned forward and turned the key, resting my forehead on the steering wheel as I took a deep breath. I listened to the engine click and cool down, the heat immediately seeping out and the ice-cold bitterness spilling in through the cracks that I didn't know about during the summer.
I fucking hated the holidays. Everyone was either cheerful to the point of it being painful or they were the grouchiest sons-of-bitches that I'd ever had to help. There were no happy mediums; oh, no, that would make my life too fucking easy and who really wants to do something like that?
I shook my head, sat up straight, grabbed my keys from the ignition and my purse from the passenger side before shoving open the door and sliding from the cab.
Tuesday nights were my nights. All of my best friends were in a damn bowling league – of all fucking things – and since I was the odd one out, I visited them. I wasn't coordinated enough to bowl and plus, my nails were nice and long and I kind of refused to break them by throwing a ten pound ball down a lane towards pins that I'd never hit the right way. We hung out, talked, drank and annoyed everyone else in the entire bar when they were done bowling.
I hadn't been here in a while, though. With the holidays, the boss had been asking me to stay later and work harder to get ready for the shoppers each morning. I'd been more than willing to claw her eyes out on more than one occasion and had decided that no matter how damn tired I was tonight, I was drinking. It was the last night that I'd have to work late for her or with her and that deserved a damn beer.
I'd worked with Rosalie at the store for a few years and we'd gotten extremely close – she was my best friend. She'd been dating Emmett for as long as I'd known her and they were the complete opposite of one another. She liked to drink and he didn't drink at all. The platinum blonde dye had seeped into her brain and he was the tech manager at the local auto shop. They'd been engaged for five years now – he was itching to get married and she was in no hurry. I don't understand quite what made them work, but most of the time, they seemed pretty content with each other so who was I to judge? Alice and Jasper were the other two that I'd met through Rose and Emmett and they were always the life of every single Tuesday night. The two of them drank and danced to the music we could hear over the televisions that Mike needed on to watch whatever game might have been on at the time. Jess spent her time at the bar, slowly getting sloppy drunk like she did every Tuesday night and then counting on her brother – Mike – to take her home. Her fiancé had passed away a few months ago while in Iraq and that was her way of coping. Mike promised that right after the holidays, he was taking her to get help no matter how much she bitched and yelled at him. When she was sober and happy, she was the nicest person I'd ever met. Drunk and depressed, she was a raging bitch and I couldn't even fault her for it.
We were all different enough to get along in almost perfect harmony and I loved them almost more than I loved my own family.
That was another matter entirely.
I shoved my purse up on my shoulder, my keys dangling in my hand as I walked through the parking lot, ice and snow crunching under my dress shoes as I made it up to the dull blue-carpeted steps. There were a few regulars just getting finished with their league smoking by the door and I kept my head down as I walked towards them, quickly pulling open the door and stepping inside the warmth.
I groaned when I saw the garland and the lights strewn all along the front desk, Christmas carols ringing throughout the entire place and setting my teeth on edge.
Not only had I dealt with them all fucking day at work, but now they were here, too? I'd been dealing with them since the day after Halloween and now, on Christmas Eve, I just wanted to find the radio and turn it off. Or shoot at it so that it never played another God-forsaken Christmas carol ever fucking again.
It didn't help that I'd heard Elvis sing this song at least five times alone and now, we were making it the sixth. It's no fucking wonder that everyone is so damn depressed around the holidays; aside from the money issues and family issues, half of the Christmas carols weren't all that uplifting.
"Hey, Bella!" Tyler Crowley exclaimed, turning around to face me.
I stared at him. He was wearing Elf ears and if he walked out from behind the damn counter with pointed shoes that had bells on them, I would scream. That was too damn much Christmas shit for any sane person to really deal with.
"Hey," I mumbled, nodding at him before taking a sharp right and walking into the bar.
The modest heels I wore to work clicked on the hardwood floor and a few of the girls that were stationed at the bar – Jess being one of them – looked up when they heard me.
The Cue Club, as it was called, had been redesigned a few years ago. Everything was rich wood; the long bar that took up the front of the room gleamed and was the owner's pride and joy, to be perfectly honest. There was a carpeted section separated by another small breakfast bar of sorts that included round tables, a pool table, a fireplace and access to the smoker's deck.
Rose and Emmett were sitting at one of the round tables, Alice and Jasper were probably out on the deck, and Mike was sitting across from Rose, his gaze focused on the flat-screen TV mounted on the wall by the fireplace. I groaned internally when I saw Rose's red shirt, white feathers or some shit adoring all the edges in a very Clause-like decoration and Emmett… well, Emmett was wearing a fucking Santa hat. Mike was dressed head to toe in red and green and I started to feel sick.
I used to love the holidays. In fact, Christmas had been my favorite fucking holiday up until about ten years ago. My grandfather had gone into the hospital and we'd spent our holiday there. The year after that, my grandmother had died. The past four years, either my grandfather had been too ill to make the holiday worth it or he'd been in the hospital. If it wasn't the hospital that one of my relatives was in, I was getting dumped or my parents were in the same room with each other and attempting to see who could scream louder or put the most blame on whom. That Christmas, I'd gone back to my little apartment completely fucking hammered on my uncle's eggnog. Come to think of it, that night hadn't actually been that bad.
Christmas had not been my favorite holiday for a very long time and this year wasn't making that any different. I didn't have a boyfriend to dump me and both of my parents were away on their separate holidays, but the entire idea of Christmas had been completely and utterly ruined for me.
Nothing good ever happened on Christmas.
Rose looked up and grinned at me, holding up her Coors Light bottle and motioning me over with her other hand.
"I'm gonna get one first!" I exclaimed, pointing to the half-crowded bar.
She nodded and smiled, settling back into her seat and reaching over the table to hold her hand in front of Mike's eyes. He jumped and slapped at her. I snorted and shook my head, shoving my keys into my coat pocket and walking to the end of the bar that wasn't as occupied.
Edward, the bartender, was down at the other end, attempting to serve all the people clustered there. I smirked to myself, thankful for his black t-shirt, ripped blue jeans and the black biker boots that he always wore. The Chinese symbol for strength that he had tattooed on his back and shoulder was peeking out from underneath the top of his shirt, right on his neck. I rested my elbows on the bar, licking my bottom lip as my eyes landed on the hoop he had through the middle of his.
The man was fucking gorgeous; sex on legs, if I had to put it bluntly. His bronze hair was always sticking up and disheveled, making it look as though he just had a very successful roll in between the sheets. His gorgeous green eyes were more expressive than anyone's I'd ever seen before and his jaw was a work of fucking art. Sharp edges and square, it had starred in more than a few of my not-so-innocent dreams. He was also one of the most decent, nicest, gentleman-like human beings I'd ever had the pleasure of calling a friend of sorts.
Naturally, he was dating someone. He and Tanya had been together for I don't know how long and she'd hang out with us every once in a while. She was friends with Rose and while she looked the part of a bitch – long, strawberry blonde hair that was never out of place, always wearing the highest damn heels she could possibly get her hands on, and always on her cell phone due to running her own damn company – she was actually very down-to-earth and nice. She was more like Rosalie than anything – she liked to party and have a good time while Edward was usually ready to go home as soon as she showed up.
I envied her more than was absolutely natural.
It also might have had a lot to do with the fact that I was lonely as shit and hadn't been out on a proper date since Jake and I had broken up almost a year ago. Mike was constantly asking me to go out with him and as I stared at my reflection in the mirrored wall across from me, I gave serious consideration to finally taking him up on the offer if he asked me again tonight.
I wasn't just lonely, I was also desperate. It's not that Mike was a bad guy. He was very nice. He was a very nice friend and no matter how many times I tried to tell myself that maybe we could make something out of it, I never believed myself. I could tell myself that I'd take Mike up on his offer for dinner as many damn times as I wanted, but I knew that I'd never go through with it. It wasn't there and I wished more than anything that he'd finally see that.
But if he asked me again tonight and I'd had more than enough to drink, we might both be getting very lucky.
"Edward! More!" Jessica slurred, slamming her empty glass on the bar in front of her.
Then again, maybe not. Mike would be too busy trying to get Jess into his car and then home to even think about asking me out.
I looked down at her end of the bar and noticed that most of the other bowlers had taken their alcohol of choice and moved from the bar. They either were littered against the breakfast bar behind me or had gone back to the lanes for a few more rounds in an attempt to keep in shape for next week.
"I'll be right with you, Bella!" Edward called out, grabbing Jess's glass and shaking his head as he grabbed the bottle of Captain Morgan.
I was more than happy to stand here and watch him for the rest of the night but Rose might have a problem with that and if Tanya showed up tonight, I didn't want to deal with the teasing I knew I'd get from her. She was very well aware of what Edward did to other girls and she found it pretty damn amusing. I didn't want to be grouped with them and had tried very fucking hard to keep my lusting after the pretty damn perfect bartender I saw once a week to myself. It had worked so far and I wanted to keep it that way.
"Hey," Edward breathed, appearing in front of me.
I jumped a little, still concentrating on Jess as her hand shook while she lifted her glass to her lips, and laughed nervously when Edward snorted at me.
"Coors," I said, clearing my throat.
He smirked and nodded, pursing his lips as he walked back to the other end of the bar and pulled a bottle out of the cooler.
Did I mention that he has one of those asses that begged to be squeezed? Because he fucking does. I don't know what he did to keep in shape, but I sure as fuck wasn't going to complain about it.
He walked back to me and I pulled my wallet out of my purse, grabbing four dollars and handing them to him as he popped the top off for me.
"How many has she had?" I asked him, grabbing onto my bottle once I'd stuffed my wallet and keys back into my purse and nodding towards Jess.
"I stopped counting at seven," he said, shaking his head as he turned towards the ancient cash register behind him.
He threw the extra dollar into the tin bucket at his side and turned again, leaning back against the counter and smirking at me again.
"You gonna come and hang out?" I asked, lifting the bottle to my lips and raising an eyebrow.
"With the Christmas lovers over there? No thanks," he snorted.
I tilted my head at him, licking my lips of the extra beer that lingered there.
"You love Christmas just as much as the rest of them."
"Not anymore," he grumbled, pushing off the counter and running a hand through his hair.
I blinked at him.
"Care to explain?"
"Bella! What the fuck?" I heard Rose yell. "I know it doesn't take that long to get a damn beer!"
"Save me a drink, yeah?" I asked, pointing the tip of my bottle at him.
"Come over to the hotel with me tonight," he suggested, nodding in the direction of the Holiday Inn next door. "We'll get a drink there. I don't wanna be here more than I have to."
I shrugged, nodding slowly and forcing a smile at him before I turned on my heel and started around the corner to where the tables were.
He'd never done that before. If we were both up to it, we'd just have one last beer when everyone else left and that was it. He'd never wanted to go anywhere else.
Shrugging again, I plopped down into the empty seat next to Mike and dropped my purse to the floor. I didn't want to be in my place of business any longer than I absolutely had to, so why would I think that he did? He'd probably had a rough night – with it being the holiday, the bowling alley and bar were more crowded than normal – and probably just wanted to get out of this place when he could.
"'Bout damn time, girl. Now we just have to get Alice and Jasper off of the deck and life is good," she stated, thrusting her bottle towards me.
I looked over at Emmett and he sighed, shrugging one shoulder at me and shaking his head.
Rose had definitely had more than enough for the night. Would that stop her from having at least two more? Fuck no and Emmett would be dragging her out of here when Tyler started shutting lights off on us.
"How'd you guys do tonight?" I asked, propping my foot up on the bar of the chair and sliding my bottle around on the tabletop.
All three of them starting rambling off about averages, missed pins and things that I had no idea of no matter how long I've been coming around this place when they were here. I nodded my head at everything they said, humming when one of them said they'd done badly and laughing when Rose told me about the man on her team that break-danced whenever he managed a strike.
"Bella!" Alice squealed, completely trashed as she made it through the door and saw me.
She held her arms up above her head, almost hitting Jasper in the face before she rushed over to me and wrapped her arms around my neck. She smelled like cigarettes, beer and snow and I laughed, twisting my body a little to reach up and hug her back.
"Hey, Bella," Jasper laughed, grabbing a chair from the table behind us and quickly twisting it around to sit between Emmett and Mike.
Alice pulled away from me and I greeted him, looking over their matching… Christmas outfits.
Oh. Good. Lord.
How is it that someone like me – the self-appointed Grinch – had managed to find a group of friends that loved Christmas and everything that it entailed? How in the fuck did that shit even happen?
"What is everyone doing for Christmas?" Alice asked as she plopped down into Jasper's lap and wrapped her arms around his neck.
The two of them were easily the most sickening couple ever. I'd never seen them fight about anything and they'd already been married for a year and a half. They were also, easily, the oddest-looking couple ever. Jasper towered over Alice's five foot one frame and his messy, slightly curly blonde hair was a stark contrast to Alice's dark head of boy-short black hair. She reminded me of a porcelain doll and he had always reminded me of a beanpole.
"My parents, his parents," Rose stated, pointing at Emmett before finishing off her beer.
"Mom's bright and fucking early," Mike said glumly, pouting as he rested his chin in his hand and looked up at the television again.
I reached over and rubbed his back, stealing a glance over at Jess. She was leaning over her glass, staring blankly into it as she tapped her fingertips against the bar. Oh, Mike was not going to have an easy night and even less easier morning when she called to yell at him, asking him why he let her drink so much. She did it every week and every week, he took the abuse, apologizing and promising that he wouldn't let it happen again.
She failed to remember that the last time he'd tried to prevent her from drinking, she'd nearly broken all of his damn fingers in an attempt to pry them off her wrist.
Yet, he still fucking loved Christmas.
I didn't understand it.
"What about you, Bella?" Emmett asked, rubbing his face and watching as Rose got up from the table, stumbling a little on her way to the bar.
"Heading over to mom's early. We're doing dinner and presents and all that," I mumbled, moving my hand from Mike's back to wave off his question.
What's a little white lie? I'd rather spend the holiday alone than have my friends feel sorry for me because my mother and my father had abandoned me for sunny vacations in Florida and Australia respectively. Plus, I'd never been very good company and making them suffer through my bitchiness on a holiday meant for cheer wasn't something I'd ever put upon them.
"Gonna go see the Chief?" Jasper asked, his nose buried in Alice's neck.
"Probably," I said quickly, nodding.
"Wonder what horrendous Disney-themed sweatshirt you got this year," Rose laughed, plopping back into her seat with a fresh beer.
My father had a horrible habit of forgetting that I was twenty-five years old and insisted on buying me Disney Princesses sweatshirts every damn Christmas. It was partly my fault, though; I never discouraged him and always made sure that I had one stashed away in my car so that I could change into it if I was going to see him.
Fuck, my life was pretty damn pathetic.
"There's a new princess, isn't there?" I groaned, lifting my beer bottle to my lips again.
"At least you know what to expect from him," Alice chirped, giggling and leaning back from Jasper.
I didn't want to know what he did to her.
"Yeah, I guess."
I had two more beers before Tyler started to shut the lights off on us and we all stood up, grabbing our things and generally being a loud, obnoxious group as we walked towards the end of the bar where Jessica was still sitting. Edward had cleaned up the bar; all the alcohol was put away, the bar was wiped down and all the glasses were sitting upside down on a towel next to the sink.
"Just one more!" Jess begged, slapping her palm on the bar.
"I'm all out, Jess," Edward said, shaking his head.
They went through this every week. His speech was rehearsed and he could probably say it to her in his sleep. It was the only way to get her out of here without her putting up a fight.
"It's all gone."
"Oh," she mumbled, pulling her bottom lip into her mouth. "You'll get more, right? I mean, you'll have more soon, won't you?"
"I'll definitely have more for you next week, Jess. Go home." He nodded towards Mike, who offered him a small smile and grabbed Jess' jacket from the back of her chair. "Have a good day tomorrow, Jess."
"Yeah, thanks," she said quietly, sliding from the bar stool and letting Mike help her put her coat on. "You too, Edward."
I leaned against the bar and bid everyone a farewell, grinning through the Merry Christmas's I had to receive and spit back before they disappeared out the glass doors. I turned and looked over at Edward, watching as he slid the black leather jacket on over his shoulders. He unconsciously started playing with his lip ring and I licked my lips, watching the tip of his tongue run over the metal as he checked the length of the bar to make sure that everything was done for the day after Christmas.
Fuck. Me. Hard. Please.
"You ready?" he asked, looking over at me.
I nodded and cleared my throat, standing up straight and quickly turning my back on him to make sure that I didn't have any drool making its way down my chin.
He rounded the bar, flicking off the lights before walking up next to me and flinging an arm around my shoulders. I casually draped an arm around his slim waist and we walked towards the front desk, where Tyler was still wearing the Elf ears and counting down the register.
"Have a nice Christmas, Ty," Edward stated, doing some sort of guy-salute with his free hand.
"Yeah, sure, Edward. You too. You do the same, Bella."
"Thanks. You too."
We walked out of the building and started down the carpeted steps, looking out at the mostly deserted parking lot. My truck was parked out in the middle of nowhere thanks to the massive amount of vehicles that had been when I'd arrived and the rest of them belonged to the employees.
"Did you wanna just walk?" he asked, looking down at me. "It's probably just as easy."
"Yeah, that's fine."
"So, tell me, Bella," he started on a sigh, his arm still around my shoulders as we started towards the end of the parking lot, "what are you doing for Christmas?"
"Nothing," I laughed, shaking my head and fisting my hand in his jacket. "My parents are gone on vacations, I don't have any other living relatives around here and I'm just a Grinch anyway."
"I don't believe that your heart is three sizes too small. Nope, I don't believe that at all."
I looked up at him and laughed, shaking my head.
"You could be the next Dr. Seuss."
"What are you doing for Christmas?" I asked as we stepped onto the sidewalk at the end of the parking lot. "You and Tanya doing the two Christmas thing like Rose and Emmett?"
"No," he said quietly, shaking his head.
"All right, what's up with you? You've shunned Christmas and that's something I never would've thought you'd ever do. Tell me."
"Let's get a drink first, all right?" he sighed heavily, turning into the Holiday Inn parking lot and leading me towards the entrance of the bar.
We made it to the glass door of the bar and he held it open for me, motioning with his free hand for me to go first. I smiled and slid in front of him, letting my purse fall from my shoulder as I took my coat off and hung it on the rack by the door.
I'd never been inside here before. Rose and Emmett came here occasionally when Rose wasn't ready to leave her beer and the bowling alley and other two bars in town had closed for the night. The shining white marble and mahogany bar took up the entire back wall, the standard mirror running the length behind it. The room itself wasn't all that big, just long. There were a few other tables set up near the door, the chairs matching the white and gold of the shining bar surface.
And, of course, the Christmas decorations were fucking everywhere. And that stupid fucking song that had been haunting me all damn day was playing softly through speakers that I wanted to rip from the wall. I was very tempted to clap my hands over my ears and start singing la la la at the top of my lungs, but I was pretty sure Edward would turn around and walk back out.
It didn't matter that the bar was deserted and even the bartender was missing. Who wants to be seen with someone who does something like that in public?
"How many times are we gonna hear this song, do you think?" he asked, shrugging his jacket off and hanging it up next to mine.
"Too many. I've heard it at least four times today alone."
"That is… crazy." He placed his hand on the small of my back and led me towards the bar. "Thanks for coming with me."
I sat in the gold and white stool, resting my feet on the lip of the bar and looking around for the bartender. He had to have heard us come in, right? Granted, most people were at home or celebrating early, but they were open so he had to be here somewhere.
"No problem. Wanna explain why you're suddenly Scrooge?"
He sat in the stool next to me with a heavy sigh and crossed his arms on the bar. He stared at his reflection in the mirror, tapping his long fingers against the marble.
"Tanya and I called it quits," he mumbled.
My mouth fell open and I stared at the side of his face, almost distracted by the way he was tonguing his lip ring.
Edward and Tanya had always been the couple that I'd seen as unbreakable. They had their differences and aside from Alice and Jasper, who didn't? I had never imagined that there would be a day when I heard those words fall from his lips.
His gorgeous lips, with the lip ring that I'd only found attractive on him. His pouty lips that I'm sure knew how to kiss a girl senseless.
I snapped my mouth shut and shook my head sharply. There was a time and a place for those thoughts – this was definitely not either of them.
"Why?" I finally managed.
Naturally, the bartender chose then to appear out of a door I hadn't noticed and asked us what we'd like. I ordered another beer. Edward ordered a Jack and coke – something I'd never seen him drink before.
"I proposed about three months ago," he said quietly, splaying his hands out on the bar when the grouchy old man had disappeared.
"What? You never told us…"
"She said no," he chuckled humorlessly, shaking his head.
My heart went out to him and I reached over, rubbing my hand on his back and leaning my head against his shoulder.
"We tried to go back… make it work." He shrugged and I watched as he smiled weakly at our reflection. He kept that smile on his face as the bartender arrived with our drinks, sliding them in front of us on cocktail napkins. "It didn't. We broke up for good a few weeks ago."
"I'm so sorry."
I sat up straight, watching as he immediately grabbed his glass and brought it up to his lips. His lip ring clinked against the glass and I watched his throat as he swallowed.
I didn't understand Tanya at all. She'd been with him forever, it seemed like, and then refused his marriage proposal? I liked her and all, but she was kind of an idiot.
"Did she say why?" I asked softly, starting to slowly peel the label from my bottle.
It was a habit that I'd picked up after watching someone else do it on television when I was younger. I'd also started rolling paper place mats when Rose dragged me out after I'd had more than enough to drink – Emmett found it amusing until she smacked him on the head with it. Then he told her not to be stupid and she did it all the more.
It was never a dull night with those two, that's for sure.
"She said that she wasn't ready to settle down yet." He snorted, shaking his head and twisting the glass around in his hands. "We bought a house together but she wasn't ready to settle down yet."
"Oh, shit, your house…"
"She's buying me out. I'm staying with my parents." He rolled his eyes and lifted the glass to his lips again. "Twenty-six fucking years old and I'm back to living at home."
"You make it sound like you're sixty-three or something."
"I had a house of my own." He jabbed a finger into the top of the bar, his eyes narrowing at his reflection. "I had a house, I had a girlfriend…" The fire died out of his eyes and he sighed, shaking his head. "Merry fucking Christmas to me."
I shifted my stool closer to his and rested my head back on his shoulder, sliding my beer to sit in front of me. He sighed heavily and moved his arm, draping it around my shoulders.
"Sorry. Didn't mean to unload on you like that."
"You know I don't mind."
"Yeah, well… it's not your problem to deal with."
"I'm your friend, moron." I looked up at him and waiting for him to look at me, smirking. "It's what I'm supposed to do."
"We don't hang out enough," he declared, nodding once.
"I know it."
"Why don't we do something tomorrow?"
I laughed and pushed him, sitting up straight as he laughed at me.
"Nothing's open tomorrow!"
"Why do we have to go somewhere? Can't we just hang out at your place?"
"My place, huh?"
"You really want to deal with my parents when they're in Christmas mode?" he drawled, raising an eyebrow at me.
He needed an eyebrow piercing, too.
"It's not a pretty picture, I assure you."
"Fine," I sighed dramatically, reaching for my beer.
"You make it sound like such a hardship."
I merely raised an eyebrow at him, lifting the bottle to my lips and nearly spitting it all over the bar as he poked my ribs.
"Oh, ho, ho, what do we have here? A ticklish Bella?"
"No!" I screeched, holding my beer bottle in between us as if it would offer me protection. "I'm not!"
"I call bullshit."
"Call it whatever you want, but I'm not."
"Mhmm," he mumbled, nodding and turning back to stare at his reflection.
I relaxed and lifted the beer to my lips again, sipping from the bottle. Then I spit it out when Edward latched onto my ribs with his hand, laughing maniacally. I screamed, beer dribbling down my chin – I chose not to think about that too closely when Edward's hands were roaming all over my stomach – and my laughter ringing out in the quiet bar.
"I'm going to have to ask you two to leave."
We both looked up, my face red and my breathing labored, to see the bartender standing in front of us with his arms crossed and his eyebrows furrowed. I quickly wiped my chin and snorted a little into the sleeve of my shirt.
"Why?" Edward asked slowly.
"You're disrupting the peace."
I blinked at him and Edward slowly turned on his stool, motioning to the empty tables around us.
"There's no one else here."
"Well you're annoying the fuck out of me," he snapped. "It's Christmas Eve. Go home."
"Whatever you say, Ebenezer." Edward grabbed his glass and downed the rest of his drink, nodding towards my beer bottle. "How you doing with that?"
"I should stop anyway," I sighed, sipping off it once more before placing it back on its napkin and pushing away from the bar.
I walked to the coat rack and grabbed my purse, pulling out my wallet and ready to pay when I felt Edward's hand on the small of my back.
"Come on. It's taken care of."
"What? No." I shook my head and pulled the money out of my wallet anyway, handing it to him. "You can't do that."
"It's a four dollar beer and you can call it my Christmas gift to you." He nodded decisively as he grabbed his jacket and threw it around his shoulders. "Put it away."
"Edward, take the money."
"Put it away," he laughed, shaking his head as he adjusted his jacket. "Ebenezer isn't very happy with us lingering."
I huffed and stuffed the dollar bills back into my wallet, shoving it back into my purse and grabbing my jacket. I slipped it on and then shoved my purse back onto my shoulder, walking out of the bar when Edward held the door open for me.
"You know," I started as we walked through the parking lot, "that's a pretty shitty Christmas gift."
"All I get is a beer? Psht."
"It's not like you got me anything!" he laughed, shoving his hands into his pockets and leaning over to nudge his shoulder against mine.
"How do you know?"
"You got me something?"
"Maybe I did. Maybe I didn't."
I shrugged and skipped to the end of the parking lot, jumping onto the sidewalk and turning to wait for him.
"I didn't say that I got you anything, really."
"You hinted to it. Can I have it?"
"I don't know. You tickled me."
He finally joined me on the sidewalk, his bottom lip shoved out in a pout. I had to physically restrain myself from leaning up and nipping at it.
Fuck, I needed to stop thinking of him that way. He was single now, yes, but he was also hurting because of it. I had no business thinking about what his lips could do to me or vice versa.
"I didn't mean it."
"How can you not mean that?"
I laughed and pushed on his chest, shaking my head as I started back towards the bowling alley parking lot.
"Did you really get me something?" he asked, walking up next to me and slinging an arm around my shoulders again.
"No," I laughed.
"So that means that you owe me!"
"Fine, whatever. I'll buy you a beer tomorrow."
"How? Everything's closed."
"You're fucking impossible!" I laughed, gently elbowing him. "I'll… make you dinner or something."
"I have to be home before then. My mother would skin me alive."
"Okay, fine. I'll make you breakfast."
"Anticipate on seeing me early, do you?"
"If you don't knock it off, I will be the one to skin you."
"I'll take breakfast."
"That's what I thought."
We stopped when we reached my truck and I dug my keys out of my purse, looking up at him.
"What time should I grace you with my presence?"
I laughed and rolled my eyes, jiggling my keys in my hand.
"Yeah, sure, that sounds good." He pulled me against him, hugging me tightly. "Thanks again, Bella."
"You'd do the same for me."
I turned my head, aiming to kiss his cheek, and instead felt his lips on mine. Some kind of shock passed through me, making me drop my keys, and I pulled back from him to meet his eyes. He looked just as shocked and confused as I felt.
"I didn't… Edward, that wasn't…" I stuttered, fully fucking aware of how his arms felt around me and the way I fit against him.
"Did you feel that?" he asked, his voice hoarse.
I nodded hesitantly, swallowing hard when I felt his arms tighten around me.
"Again," he mumbled before his lips were back on mine.
I should've pulled away. I should've said something else or completely denied the sparks that were currently traveling throughout my entire body. He wasn't over Tanya – hell, he shouldn't be. This would only lead to disaster.
Instead, I stepped up on my toes and fisted my hands in his hair, kissing him back. He turned us quickly, his boots crunching on the ice beneath us and pressed my back against the side of my truck, placing his hands on my waist. I opened my mouth under his, my tongue immediately running over his lip ring as I'd seen him do hundreds of times before. He grunted and I felt his hands sliding up the back of my shirt, the cold air that hit my skin making me shiver. His tongue snaked out to meet mine and I groaned, my hands tightening in his hair as I pressed my chest against his.
"Take me to your place," he breathed, breaking away from me.
"What?" I panted, my eyes fluttering open.
His hands were still on the bare skin of my back, his words jumbled in my brain as I fought to concentrate on everything that was happening.
It was overwhelming and completely stupid and overly exhilarating. I fucking loved it.
"Let's go to your place," he said again, his lips capturing my top lip and his hands splaying out on my back.
"You want to…?" I mumbled, pulling back from him.
"I want to with you, Bella." He rested his forehead against mine and my eyes were immediately drawn to his mouth. "Please."
I'm a fucking moron who was going to have my heart served to me on a platter. A nice big, silver, intricately engraved heirloom platter. This was wrong on so many fucking levels because he's hurting, I'm lonely as all hell and I had no more intentions to try and stop this anymore. Not when he was looking at me as if I were the only fucking girl in the world and not when I finally knew what it was like to kiss him. Christ, it was better than my dreams and that's a lot to live up to.
I ignored my conscious telling me that this was all sorts of fucked up and stood up on my toes again to kiss him. He groaned and I felt his fingertips digging into my back as he pulled me closer.
"Get in," I breathed, stepping down from him.
His hands were gone from my back and I listened to his boots crunching over the ice chunks as he rounded the front of my truck.
I took a deep breath, shaking my head and bending down to pick up my keys from the ground. I pulled open the door, looking over at Edward as he sat in the passenger seat. I cleared my throat and climbed in, slamming the door and quickly sticking the keys in the ignition.
"Your parents won't wonder where you are?" I asked as I pulled out of the parking lot and started towards my apartment.
"I'm twenty-six. They know I won't be home every night and they know that I can take care of myself."
"I know. I just figured…"
I pressed my lips together and tried to concentrate on the road, my mind in fifteen hundred different directions. So when he placed one of his hands on my thigh, I almost drove into a fucking snow bank on the side of the road.
"Jesus Christ, a little warning would be nice!" I exclaimed, my voice nearing a decibel level only Mariah Carey had been able to achieve in the 80's.
"All right," he said slowly. "Well, I'm now going to move closer to you and kiss your neck." Huh. It was suddenly very hot in the cab and I clearly remember not turning the heat on. "Warning enough?"
"Uh huh," I squeaked, nodding as if I had transformed into a fucking bobble head.
I heard the leather of his jacket squeak as he moved, my heart damn near about to pound out of my chest when he used his other hand to push my hair out of the way. I felt the warmth of him when he was near me and I fought to keep my eyes open. Trying to explain to a police office why we were in the side of a house would not be easy.
I shivered when I felt his lips on the side of my neck, tightening my hands on the steering wheel and tilting my head slightly to the side. I whimpered when I felt his tongue slide against my skin and swallowed hard, still fighting to keep the truck in between the lines. My apartment wasn't that far from the bowling alley but right about now, it felt like for-fucking-ever until I'd finally pull into the damn driveway.
"You taste fucking amazing," he growled into my ear, nipping at the edge of my jaw.
I don't know what the fuck escaped my mouth, but it resembled a dying wombat or some shit close to that.
"Your skin is so soft," he continued, his lips trailing back to the side of my neck as the hand he still held on my thigh began to travel up. "You smell like fucking Heaven."
The sound that escaped that time was most definitely a moan and I gasped when I felt his cold hand crawling up the front of my shirt.
"I'm gonna touch you now, Bella," he whispered, trailing his fingertips up and down my stomach.
My muscles fucking quivered – which made me want to laugh and pull over onto the side of the road – and I felt goose bumps cover my entire body.
"Uh huh," I managed again, once again acting the part of bobble head as I bit my bottom lip.
His hand easily slid up, cupping my right breast as he thumbed my nipple. I exhaled shakily, my foot twitching on the gas pedal as I passed the convenience store right down the road from my apartment. Fuck, I couldn't get us there fast enough.
I cried out as he pinched my nipple and I swear I felt his lips curve against my skin.
"I love the way you sound."
I took a sharp left onto my street, only causing his hand to grip me a little harder as he lurched with the unexpected movement of the truck. It only made me moan and I had to hurry to right the truck on the road before I ran into the neighbor's mailbox.
I think telling grouchy old Mr. Collins that I'd taken it out in an attempt to get home so that I could get laid would go over about as well as telling the police my whole side-of-a-house excuse would.
"In a hurry?" he chuckled, pulling the bottom of my ear into his mouth.
"Aren't you?" I breathed.
He hummed and the vibrations shot through me, my brain almost complete mush as I squealed into my driveway and shoved the damn truck into park. I barely had my foot off the gas before I twisted my body, fisted my hands in the hair at the back of his head and fused my mouth to his. He moaned loudly, his mouth opening to mine and our tongues twisting together effortlessly. His hand fell from my breast and he reached up with both, cupping my face and pulling my mouth harder to his.
"Inside," he managed, pulling back from me.
I sat back from him, grabbing my keys from the ignition and picking up my purse from the floorboard before I shoved open the door and slid out of the cab. I slammed the door shut, listening to it echo around the quiet neighborhood before I heard Edward's close as well. I waited for him before walking up to the front door and pushing through it. I led him up the stairs leading to my apartment door and fumbled with the right key before the door was finally open. I dropped my purse on the floor just inside, ripping my keys out of the door and throwing them in the general direction of my purse as I waited for him to walk in. I had enough time to flick the lights in the hallway on before his arms were around my waist and he was pushing me back, slamming the door in the process.
"In a hurry?" I mimicked him breathlessly.
"Aren't you?" he smirked, raising one eyebrow at me.
I watched as his tongue slid out to play with his lip ring and I tilted my head back a little, keeping my eyes on his lips.
"You like this?" he asked, his voice low and gravelly.
I nodded, watching as he continued to play with it.
He took a step towards me, effectively pressing us close together and grinding his hips against mine. My mouth fell open and I whimpered when I felt him through the layers of fabric separating us, my hands clasping tightly onto his shoulders.
"You ever think of me like this?" he breathed, ducking his head and trailing his lips along my throat. I closed my eyes, digging my fingertips into his shoulders. "Ever think of me touching you? Kissing you? Being inside of you?"
I was pretty sure he was the only thing holding me up at that point because I was also pretty sure that my knees had given out.
"Y-yes," I stuttered out, breathing heavily when he tugged on the front of my shirt and started kissing down the exposed skin of my chest.
I was gonna regret this conversation in the morning.
He trailed his mouth back up to my ear, his lip ring sliding against my neck as he pulled my ear into his mouth.
"I think about it too," he whispered, his voice raspy. "A lot."
Then again, maybe there'd be no fucking regrets after all.
I finally found the strength in my knees that I needed to balance me and wrapped my arms around his shoulders, my mouth quickly finding his again. He groaned and I felt his hands travel down to my thighs, screeching a little and laughing as he hitched me up. I wrapped my legs tightly around his waist, trailing my hands back into his hair and pulling his mouth back to mine. My dress shoes fell off, clicking against the floor when the heels hit the hardwood. His tongue forced its way into my mouth and I slowly started to grind my hips against his. He moaned, his hands moving from my thighs to cover my ass.
"Tell me which direction your bedroom is in," he demanded breathlessly, pulling back from me.
I pointed over his shoulder and he quickly turned us, his footsteps heavy against the floor of my living room.
He'd only been here a few times and there had definitely been no need for my bed at the time. Plus, he'd barely made it over the threshold before we were out the door and off doing something else on the few occasions that we did manage to hang out together.
I reached down when my back hit my bedroom door and grabbed the doorknob, twisting it and pushing it open. He stumbled in and I could feel as he toed off his boots. I'd left the shades open and the streetlight was shining directly in my room, illuminating the bed like a fucking beacon or something.
He quickly walked over to it, sitting down on the edge so that I was sitting in his lap. I unwound my arms from his shoulders, immediately tangling my hands in his hair and pulling his mouth back to mine. I couldn't seem to get enough of him; the way he felt, the way he tasted, how he was making me feel and those sparks that coursed through me every time we kissed.
I began rocking my hips against his and my lips curved into a smile when I heard him hiss, pulling back from me to bury his face in my neck and kiss my skin.
"I can't wait to feel you," he moaned, his hands finally moving from my ass and reaching up to start pushing my coat off my shoulders.
I moved my hands from his hair, easily yanking my coat off and throwing it to the floor behind me.
"You wear those skirts sometimes," he continued, his hands moving up the front of my shirt. I pulled that off as well, rolling my head back as he placed a trail of open-mouthed kisses down my chest. "They drive me fucking crazy."
I moaned quietly and got my arms moving again, sliding my hands underneath the shoulders of his jacket and pushing it off. He shrugged out of it, pulling his shirt off without my help before ducking his head and placing his mouth over my breast. My hips moved on their own, my moans bouncing off the walls of my room as he dragged his teeth over my nipple.
"You're even better than I imagined." His hands were on my back and my bra was unhooked before I realized it. "You're pretty fucking gorgeous, Bella."
"You're not so bad, either, Cullen," I breathed, pushing on his shoulders with as much force as I could manage.
He grunted and fell backwards to the bed, his hands immediately landing on my knees. I smirked down at him, pulled my bra off, throwing it behind me before I leaned over him, and anchored my hands on each side of his head.
He'd had his fun. Now it was my turn.
"Do you know how much this thing drives me crazy?" I breathed, leaning in to him and tilting my head to the side. I gently grabbed his lip ring in between my teeth, pulling carefully before letting go and ghosting my lips over his. "And when you play with it… fuck, Edward."
He groaned and raised his hands, cupping my breasts before capturing my lips completely with his. I ran my hands down his chest, stopping at the button to his jeans and smirking against his mouth when he thrust his hips into my hands.
"Eager?" I breathed, backing away from him to kiss his neck.
"Do you really need an answer to that question?"
I hummed against his skin as I kissed a trail down to his chest, looking up at him to find that he was watching me. I got his pants unbuttoned and quickly pulled the zipper down, my hand sliding inside to find that he wasn't wearing anything underneath.
Just when I didn't think it was possible for him to get any fucking hotter…
I wrapped my hand around him and he moaned, his hands moving from my breasts and grabbing onto my shoulders as he raised his hips into my hand. I looked up at him as I dragged my hand up, my thumb automatically circling his tip, to see that his head was thrown back, his chest was arched off the bed and every ounce of willpower I might've possessed before this disappeared completely.
I moved my hand from him and he fucking whined in protest, his head popping up and his eyes hooded.
"What…? Why did you…?"
"Now," I demanded, leaning over him again and pressing my lips forcefully to his. "I need you now."
He quickly grabbed me around the waist, somehow managing to flip us so that I was on my back, looking up at him as he settled in between my legs. My mouth fell open and my eyes threatened to roll back in my head as he started thrusting against me.
"How badly do you need me, Bella?" he asked through his teeth. "Are you aching for me?"
"Yes." I grabbed onto his arms, arching my back from the bed and meeting his thrusts. "Fuck, yes."
"Do you want me inside you?" he growled, lowering his head to my neck and nipping at my skin. "Do you want to feel me?"
"Yes," I moaned, sliding my hands from his arms to his back. "Please, Edward."
He sat up and I rested back onto the bed, placing my hands on his chest and trailing my fingertips down as he worked on the button to my dress pants. He hooked his fingers into the top, yanking both them and my panties down quicker than I could possibly react and throwing them off to the side.
Well, that was easy enough.
He did the same with his and crawled back on top of me, his hands pressed into the mattress next to my head.
He quickly thrust inside me and I arched back into him, one of my legs wrapping around his waist as I moaned loudly. I thought the sparks I'd felt when we kissed had been shocking – it was absolutely nothing compared to the electricity flowing through me now. Every single nerve ending was alive, every little movement was noticeable, every breath hurt in the most glorious fucking way and I never wanted to live without this feeling.
"Shit," he breathed, dropping his forehead onto my chest. "Fuck. You feel fucking incredible."
"You're not so bad yourself," I panted, sliding my arms around his back.
He grunted, his mouth opening over my skin and his tongue sliding out as he slowly pulled out of me. I dug my fingernails into his back, my hips meeting his as he pushed back in. He moaned and my breath caught in my throat, the electricity spiking between us.
"Do you… do you feel this?" he moaned, his mouth at my ear as I clawed at his back.
"I've never had this… fuck."
I wrapped my other leg around his waist, hooking my ankles and throwing my head back as we moved together. The sound of his moans in my ear and the way he felt was something I'd never experienced before. I'd never had this feeling with any of my previous boyfriends, had never thought something like this could even exist with someone.
"Bella," he whispered into my ear before his lips were on mine.
I moaned into his mouth, moving my fingernails from his back to place my hands on his cheeks. I sucked his bottom lip into my mouth, my tongue flicking over his hoop before his tongue melded with mine. I moved my hands from his cheeks, sliding my hands down his neck and onto his chest. I dropped my legs from around his waist, placing my feet flat on the mattress and sliding my hands around to his back once more.
He pulled away from me, his breathing heavier than it had been as he buried his face in my neck and started moving his hips faster against mine. I immediately responded to him, my hands trailing farther down his back to rest on his ass.
Fuck, it felt even better than it looked.
He growled into my ear and I felt his teeth nipping at the juncture of my neck and shoulder, sending shivers down my spine and causing me to squeeze a little harder. His hips started moving even faster and I met his pace, moving my hands from his ass to grab onto his shoulders.
"Fuck," he panted, moving his head from my neck and looking into my eyes. "You're so… fuck."
I felt my stomach tighten as I stared back at him, my entire body shaking as he leaned back a little and hit a spot I wasn't even aware fucking existed in my body. I arched up off the bed, my nails digging into his shoulders and my mouth dropping open as I damn near screamed.
"So fucking close," he moaned, one of his hands moving in between us and finding my clit.
I did scream then, my vision blurring and the edges turning a slight shade of white as I fell off the edge, my hips still moving against his.
"Yes," he hissed, a guttural moan making its way out of his mouth as he continued to move with me. "Fuck, yes, shit, Bella."
He stilled on top of me and I collapsed back onto the mattress, looking up in enough time to see him throw his head back, the cords in his neck standing out in the light from the streetlamp outside. He thrust into me once more before he fell on top of me, our chests working together as we attempted to catch our breath.
I swallowed hard and raised my limp arms to tangle my fingers in his hair, looking up at my ceiling as he buried his face in my shoulder. I felt him pressing small kisses against my skin after a few minutes and closed my eyes when I felt him pull out of me. He rolled off me and onto the other side of the bed, one of his hands resting on my stomach.
"For once in my life," he started, still panting slightly, "I am fucking speechless."
I opened my eyes and looked over at him, chuckling and shaking my head. He rolled his head to look over at me and smirked, turning on his side and propping himself up on his elbow.
"Mind if I stay here tonight?"
"Well, I'm sure as hell not getting dressed to drive you back to your car, that's for sure."
He laughed and leaned over me, his lips gentle against mine as he splayed his fingers out on my stomach, trailing his hand over to my side and pulling me against him. I rolled onto my side, draping a still-limp arm over his waist as he pulled back from me. I caught the glow of my alarm clock behind his head as he rested completely and smirked to myself, grabbing the extra blanket I kept at the foot of my bed and pulling it over us. I snuggled into his chest and buried my nose in his chest, breathing him in.
"Merry Christmas, Edward," I sighed out.
He wrapped his arms around me, throwing one of his legs over top of mine and resting his chin on the top of my head.
"Merry Christmas, Bella."
Yes, I do plan on continuing this when I've got some free time. It's gonna be a while, but I promise that there will be more of a story attached to it once I can breathe a little more.
Thanks again for reading and voting and being awesome! I love you all.