CHAPTER FOUR

Disclaimer: I'm playing in Stephenie Meyer's sandbox. I'm not stealing, nor profiting. So leave me be with my plastic shovel and bucket. *Hmph*

AN at the bottom, as usual. Enjoy.

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BPOV

Don't these people ever get tired of this? I know I am. I groaned and cursed under my breath. Nowadays, I barely even notice the noise anymore. I made myself a special room in my head to find refuge in.

I kept walking through the crowd, made easier when Charlie came to help me. I walked inside the warm building in pulled off my gloves. The elevator door was closed, and inside it was empty. I bit the inside of my cheek and contemplated.

I opted to wait.

I leaned on one side of the open doors. I sighed and leaned my head back against it, waiting.

Temporary insanity, meet Bella.

---

EPOV

I was feeling much better today, finally able to get a full nights rest last night. I hurried home, I knew it was well after 2 and I would probably miss Bella.

The radio was blaring at me, begging for me to turn the volume down. But instead, I let the music fill the inside of the car, letting it drown my thoughts away. I couldn't bear to suffice what I thought of nowadays. Well, who I thought of.

I was, honestly, still reeling from the smugness of Bella's reaction. And this… game, I'm suddenly playing, left questions in me. My only hope is that I don't scare Bella away. I hid things from the world, and I didn't need her to know them and run just yet.

You're a selfish prick, Edward. I shook away my thoughts and turned the radio up louder. The chatter in my mind stopped abruptly and I was thankful for it, for now.

-

I pulled up to the building and for the first time, I saw the horde that had gathered in front of The Summit's heavy glass paned doors. I couldn't even fathom how Bella had to make her way through this many people just to get home. She must really love that guy.

Murmuring under my breath, I walked down and across the street carefully, testing the waters. The dull roar heard inside the building was nothing compared to the hertz generated out here.

I pushed my way through the crowd. I couldn't believe the fact that they were still yelling, and pushing up against each other. I tucked my hands in the pocket of my jacket, worn over my hospital scrubs. The chance of meeting Bella in these clothes was completely embarrassing, but I had no choice. Not if I wanted to see her.

I was probably no different than these people out here. They all wanted to catch just a glimpse of her every night, as so did I.

I finally reached the glass doors, keeping my feet locked on the ground to avoid the constant pushing from the mob behind me. Flashing Charlie a smile, he let me in and again tried to keep people out. I realized that it was well past 2 and that I wouldn't see Bella.

I walked slowly toward the elevator, completely disappointed and unmotivated.

"Walk faster would ya?"

It was Bella. She had her hand plastered on the right side of the open doors, her body leaning on the elevators' walls.

"Bella? What are you…? What are you doing?" I asked, floored and confused.

She looked at me, amused. "Well… waiting. Come on." She tilted her head to the side, pointing out the elevator. She was waiting? For me?

I stood confused for a moment before stepping in.

I leaned back against the opposite wall she was on. I pressed my floor button, deciding against pressing hers for a second, but did it anyways. I didn't get to see her reaction, I'm not sure if she noticed at all.

Her bangs were covering most of her face, now looking down toward the floor. The immediate change in behavior astounded me. She was sassy and confident just a moment ago.

Frowning automatically, I asked her tentatively. "Bella, are you alright?"

She looked up at me in an instant. She had dark circles under her beautiful eyes. The normal sparkle in her eyes disappeared. Her deep, green-brown orbs were vacant. She looked almost… sad.

She blinked a few times, looking flustered. "Yeah… yeah Edward, I'm fine."

Her face was deep in thought for a moment, but she recovered quickly. She cleared her throat softly before speaking up.

"Always the observant doctor, huh?" She said with a smile.

"I guess," I was embarrassed. She'd taken a notice to my horrendous hospital scrubs.

She looked at me when the elevator dinged, she then took a moment to nod, reassuring me that she was just fine. "See you, Edward."

She stepped out of the elevator, eyes cast downward and I couldn't help but feel remorse.

She does have a nice ass, though.

I cursed at my impulsive thoughts.

You are one demented man, Edward Cullen.

-

I woke up at 11 the next day, stomach grumbling and head throbbing. After cutting myself shaving, I gulped down an Advil, realizing the sheer pain was enough to make me hurt myself. I had tonight off, thankful that it was a Sunday. I haven't had a Sunday off in a while.

I got out of my apartment, in hopes of doing something fun today. It was hard, living out of town from your family and friends. There was really nobody here. I occupied myself in bookstores and the local record store.

I smiled at Charlie as I left the building.

"You just missed her, Edward. She just left." He looked at me with a knowing smirk; I shook my head and feigned nonchalance.

Walking out the door and into the cold, I unconsciously retraced the steps Bella had lead me onto. I saw the coffee shop at the intersection and leaned against the metal post again.

She was inside.

Holding yet another Austen novel, I smiled. I saw the white earphones plugged into her ears, the color peeking out of her straight, brown hair. She had a warm coffee on the table and all too soon, the coffee lured me in.

Hell, who was I kidding? Bella.

It was Bella who lured me in. And before I knew it, I was stepping into the warmth of the coffee shop.

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BPOV

Elizabeth's spirits soon rising to playfulness again, she wanted Mr. Darcy to account for his having ever fallen in love with her. "How could you begin?" said she. "I can comprehend your going on charmingly, when you had once made a beginning; but what could set you off in the first place?"

"I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun."

"My beauty you had early withstood, and as for my manners—my behaviour to you was at least always bordering on the uncivil, and I never spoke to you without rather wishing to give you pain than not. Now be sincere; did you admire me for my impertinence?"

"For the liveliness of your mind, I did."

"Another Austen novel? Really?"

I looked up from the page and met Edward's smiling face. I frowned, with a smile, and lifted an eyebrow suspiciously.

"What could you possibly be doing here, Edward?"

He smiled his breathtaking grin and pulled the chair opposite to mine away from the table, plopping down on it. He placed his elbows on the table, hands clasped together.

"I didn't think I'll need a valid reasoning for that question, Ms. Dwyer."

I bit the inside of my cheek and smiled, looking down at my book and continuing to read. But honestly, I couldn't even concentrate. Through my peripheral vision, I could see him still smiling, and looking at me, amused.

After minutes of struggling to get through a passage, I looked up at him, confused.

"What are you doing? I'm honestly, honestly a boring person, you're going to get bored very quickly here, Edward." I looked at him skeptically, allowing my eyes to linger down to his perfectly shaped cheekbones, prodding out from his skin.

He cleared his throat and I shifted back my gaze. "You're not boring, Bella. You… intrigue me. Probably more than you should."

I didn't know how to respond to that, so I looked back down at my book. Heat travelled up my neck and onto my cheeks.

"Another Austen novel then?" He smiled at me, his eyes curious.

I murmured a silent "mhhmm" at him, not looking up at my book and taking the risk of getting too distracted and caught up staring at him.

"Feminist." His tone was playful, yet provoking. I dropped my book completely, lying it page spread open, face down on the table top.

I bit the inside of my cheek, my teeth making a small indentation. I continued to look at him, questioning.

"What've you got against Austen?" My tone changed slightly, now prodding and challenging.

He cleared his throat again and sat up in his chair, his back straight.

"Well, to begin, all her heroine characters are similar. They are only slightly different in each novel. They think the same, they act the same… Only her characters' familial relations are different! Every book is the same. Seriously, every single one."

He ended with a discriminating tone, drawing out the last words, speaking them one by one. He looked back into my eyes, waiting for my retort.

I smiled at the challenge. I followed suit, sitting up from my slouching position in my seat.

"Her female characters are colored with warmth and enthusiasm, anything energetic, poignant… or heartfelt… They are all separate and unique in their own way! Austen writes absolutely brilliantly. Her attention to detail, might I mention, is also flawless. Sure, it's criticized, but what great work isn't?"

He looked thoughtful for a moment. I picked up my coffee and sipped the warm liquid before setting it back down.

"Bella, her attention to detail, is tiring to read." He shook his head in amusement. I couldn't help but smile. This was turning out to be one of the best conversations I've had lately.

His knowledge of literature had me completely floored. I hadn't known that he even noticed my book at all. I couldn't help but smile back at him. He had a small, gorgeous smile playing on his delicious lips.

"Get some coffee, Edward. I have a feeling we're going to be here for quite a while."

-

I looked at him, astonished. I was pretty sure my mouth was gaping open, but what the hell.

Oh no he didn't!

I was offended. Baffled. Astounded. Floored. Stunned.

Ah, screw it.

"Nothing is wrong with Elizabeth Bennet!"

He was beaming a smile on his face, laughing at my agitation.

"My dear Bella… Everything was wrong with Elizabeth Bennet! She judged on first impression, and being her arrogant self she therefore overlooked her own happiness!"

I stared at him in bewilderment, shocked at his words. My feet's movement on the pavement came to a halt, I stopped. He seemed shocked that I did, so he stopped too. I turned to face him.

"Elizabeth Bennet is an intelligent, lively, attractive and witty young woman!"

He looked at me skeptically.

"Oh come on! As if you wouldn't fall in love with her!" I teased him, still slightly offended and incredulous.

He turned his gaze around, now looking straight ahead. He started walking again, regaining our previous slow pace.

The snow stopped falling but the streets were empty. I'd longed for peace and quiet like this for far too long.

This… slow walking pace. The… silence. All of it.

Being with Edward felt unbelievably… normal. Human. Regular and average. I'd grown to miss this.

He still looked straight ahead, down the empty pavement and streets. I looked ahead also, my feet thudding rhythmically on the sidewalk.

He took a deep breath before starting again.

"Falling in love with a young, intelligent, witty, attractive and lively woman is entirely possible for me, Bella."

He paused before continuing.

"I don't think that it was a decision in the first place… But instead, this girl… she makes decisions that are rash, quick… Too impulsive. She's selective with her evidence and believes in what she chooses to believe in… She's holding herself back from her own happiness. From someone who could actually make her happy. And… just cherish her wellbeing…"

He ended with a soft sigh. I sighed in response too.

After moments of silence, I found myself unable to form a coherent response to his words.

Our walk back to the Summit was silent. The quiet thudding of our shoes on the slick pavement was the only sound keeping my mind from floating away.

What did his answer even mean?

We were still silent in the elevator.

And when I set down my foot on my floor, I silently gestured a goodbye to him with my eyes. For a small moment, his eyes mirrored mine.

He smiled a silent smile.

I was silently content.

When I was alone again in on my floor, I was silently lonely. Silently missing the moment we shared for the entire day, already slipping away far too quickly.

I propped my bag and book down on the kitchen counter and dropped my keys next to my phone. After what seemed like hours of contemplation, sitting too rigidly on the bar stool at the kitchen counter, I picked up my Blackberry off of the cold marble table and texted Ben.

I said that I wouldn't be there tonight on account of feeling unwell.

It wasn't a lie. I really was unwell.

I wasn't lying to him.

Groaning, I walked to my bathroom, stripping off my clothing on the way.

This was too silent. Too deafening to handle.

When the shower came on, the noise startled me. And then it became quiet again.

Too much… silence. The quiet left me no room but to settle with my chaotic thoughts, running rampant from the day's activities.

Silence.

I felt too… alone.

---

EPOV

This woman… will be the death of me.

My own words repeated itself in my head over and over again.

I probably sounded crazy.

Those words I spouted off spontaneously probably made me sound insane.

I grabbed a fistful of my hair and cursed under my breath. I plopped down on my couch and laid my head back against the headrest, neck stiff and angular.

My mind played over and over, the accounts of the day. Perhaps the best day I'd had as of late. This unbelievably, amazing, gorgeously beautiful girl had managed to astound me. Over and over the fuck again.

Fucking Bella.

I was screwed. There was no getting away from this.

I propped up my legs on the coffee table, the wood grunting under my weight. I shut my eyes tight and tried to stop the constant replaying of words in my head.

There was no way, even if I tried, that I would be able to stay away from her. Bella was so… enticing. Appealing, exquisite, stunning… Beautiful.

Her straight brown hair would frame and tickle her cheeks, tempting me to brush it away. Her deep, wide chocolate brown eyes captivated my own, and before I knew it, I was done for. Her full lips would curl into a knowing smirk…. So plump and soft…

Sighing, I ran my hand over my eyes. I didn't know if I could possibly stay away from her anymore. But she was so exquisite. I'd met girls before. But none like her.

She…

Bella was something else.

I cared for her too. Perhaps too much for my own good. But hell, I couldn't help it. I'd never met anyone like her… She was different. I felt for her. I wanted to feel her. She made me feel the way I'd never felt before.

Alive. Exuberant. Exhilarated. Vivacious…

Happy.

I was happy. With Bella, I was myself and I was myself in ways I never knew was possible before. She let me be happy.

But fuck, I didn't give a fuck about not knowing her. I didn't know her at all.

She was a fucking stranger but I didn't care.

Bella…

I saw her more than just a gorgeous girl. But I was reminded of how I used to be when I was with her. I was carefree again.

Fucking thirty fucking seconds.

Thirty seconds. Just thirty seconds a day with her and I was already addicted. The soft electric current would buzz between us and crawl on my skin, tempting me to act on it. Tempting me to touch her.

I longed for those glorious thirty seconds every moment of the day.

There was no way I could keep away from her anymore. I knew it meant destruction. It would mean complete and utter destruction, for both me and her.

Fuck that.

I didn't think I would have it any other way. If it was a fall I was heading toward, it was a fall I was ready to take.

I was ready for destruction. I had nothing to lose. I had little to give and absolutely nothing to lose. I was ready to fall. I was ready to give in.

A part of me knew I probably already had.

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BPOV

I had my elbows on the kitchen counter, the light from the microwave blinking at me.

Midnight.

Two more hours and I was done. For tonight at least.

The award show was tomorrow. My head hurt just thinking about it.

Fuck.

I did not want to go. To an extent, sure yeah, going wasn't a problem. But now that it was a day away, I found myself with an abundance of other ways I could be spending my time.

I need to fucking get some sleep.

That night, I pulled myself off of the kitchen counter and into the warm bed waiting for me. Ben didn't even notice I'd gotten up at all.

-

Fucking finally.

I was in the elevator. The walls felt so warm around me, it was comforting. I leaned against one of the walls and stood there, letting the metal doors close. The elevator stayed there, the buttons all sitting untouched.

I waited.

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EPOV

Fuck.

The doors were closed.

I missed her.

Drunk teenager just had to puke on me today. I exhaled heavily, shooting Charlie a sad smile. My head hung low and I pressed the elevator's call button.

"Rough night?" I looked up to see Bella, in the elevator, her eyes peeking up under her hair.

I frowned, confused. She was here.

"Uh yeah, you can say that." I nodded and stepped inside.

I pressed in both her number and mine, in that order. Leaning against the side, I could see her, slumped on the back wall.

"You alright?" Shit. Why the heck do I say that now?

"I'm fine." Her voice was soft, but I heard it nonetheless.

I nodded in response. I had nothing else to say.

"Edward?" That voice…

"Yeah?" I looked up to face her.

She hesitated for a moment. "What are we?" Her shoulders lifted as she asked.

My brow furrowed for a moment.

"Neighbors?" She bit the inside of her cheek and laughed.

"No shit, Sherlock."

Shit, that smile was gorgeous.

She bit her lip and started again. "Are we… Friends?"

My heart did a silent jump and my gut filled with joy.

It felt like fucking Christmas.

"Yeah, Bella. We're friends."

The elevator dinged.

"Okay." She nodded softly.

She didn't move.

She stayed there, leaning against the wall.

The doors opened and closed again, the elevator now moving up toward my floor.

Her head was still angled downwards, her eyes cast to the floor.

"Bella, are you sure you're alright?" I moved toward her, placing my arm on her small shoulder.

Her eyebrows rose for a second and she inhaled. "Yeah, yeah. I'm fine."

Silence.

She rose up her hand to catch my wrist, the one perched on her shoulder. Her warm hand covered my wrist and I felt so secure.

It felt like fucking New Years.

She leaned forward against me and dropped her forehead forward, dropping it on my chest. She exhaled deeply.

"No, Edward, I'm not alright. But I will be. I'll be fine."

I moved my hand to the back of her neck instinctively and she moved her small hand to rest on my waist, just above my belt line. We fit perfectly. Our bodies fit perfectly in each others.

Our bodies moved perfectly, in sync with each other as we breathed. The rise and fall of our chests would cause our torsos to graze softly. I inhaled the scent from her hair, memorizing the way the tiny strands stood up and tickled my chin.

And then I knew too, we were going to be alright.

Eventually.

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AN: I am terrible! I know, I know. But heck, life is terrible to me lately. I've had nearly no time to write at all! But hey, this chapter's 500 words longer than the last! :) I hope you enjoyed it though. Forgive me for not updating, let's all hope the next one won't take as long. Note the fact that I still don't have a beta. *sigh* The amount of profanity in this chapter was unexpected, and I'm not too happy about it. But oh well...

This chapter was a biznatch to write. I wrote paragraphs and scrapped it over and over. But it finally came out the way I wanted it to, so thank God. I apologize again!

Reviews are better than fitting your body perfectly with Edward's hugs. Leave one.