I can't get to bed
But I'm really tired
The things in my head
You used to admire
In your sundrenched world
-Sundrenched World by Joshua Radin
As I pulled on my oversized winter boots, I couldn't help the wistful sigh that fell from my downturned mouth. I looked over to my opened closet and glared at my favorite Birkenstock sandals that sat alone in the corner, about to be unused for several months. Chicago was enjoying its first official snowstorm of the year and unfortunately for me, it wasn't epic enough to warrant the closure of the school. So, once my boots were on, jeans tucked into them to make me look like a five year old child, I grabbed my oversized winter jacket and slipped it on, followed by my backpack before I picked up my guitar case and reluctantly opened my apartment door.
"Bella, did you call your teacher to confirm that class is still a go?" called Alice, my feisty and slightly annoying roommate, as she walked out of the bathroom looking impeccable even though she had only been in it for five minutes. She had a talent, that was for sure, but it was frustrating to spend twenty minutes in there and still look like a hideous mess, when she barely tried and looked like a fucking model.
"Yeah, I called. Professor Davis and he informed me that class was still on. Then he proceeded to rant about overzealous college students who call him at the drop of a snowflake to check if he is still teaching. I have a feeling that even if we get six feet of snow dumped on us in an hour, that asshole would still make us go just to prove a point," I stated with a roll of my eyes as Alice simply giggled at me in response.
"He sounds like a complete douche. I'm sorry I made you call the son of a bitch, Bella. Mrs. White cancelled my afternoon class and emailed us all to let us know. Although, I think she takes a bike to class, which in my opinion is simply asinine in Chicago…" Alice continued to ramble on for a moment about bicycle safety as I lifted my hand and attempted to silence her, which was an extremely difficult task on the best days.
"Alice, as much as I want to hear about the guy from Florida who cracked his skull open because he wasn't wearing a helmet and was texting while riding his Schwinn, if you don't let me go, I will be late for Davis' class and then all hell will break loose." Alice nodded in response before waving to me happily and practically skipping off to her bedroom, still mumbling on about helmet laws in other states, as I left our small but comfortable two bedroom apartment.
I walked down the slippery snow covered front steps of our building, cursing our building management for never thinking ahead, and letting out a frustrated sigh as I trudged off towards class. Professor Davis was truly an ass of epic proportions, but he was a talented musician and a revered professor. I knew I was lucky to have gotten into his class because he limited his class size, so I decided not to bitch and moan about the situation and accept that in the grand scheme of things this class was an opportunity for me, not a setback.
When I got to school twenty minutes later, my hair was soaking wet and literally covered in snow, so I brushed it away with my knitted mittens and braided it loosely on either side of my head as I waited for class to start. Of course, as I expected only half of the students showed up and Professor Davis looked pretty frustrated at the situation. "Well, thanks to those of you who showed up. How about we have a pop quiz during next class about everything we learned here today, just to piss off those who didn't show?" Davis said with a sly laugh as I chuckled under my breath, not wanting him to see that I found the situation humorous. I knew there was a bonus to showing up today, even if it was a major pain in the ass.
I spent the next hour and a half listening to Professor Davis drone on about my least favorite subject, music history, and when I peered out the window, I couldn't help but notice that it was snowing harder than when I first arrived. I tried to ignore the weather as I typed notes furiously on my Mac, since this was one of my worst subjects and I desperately needed a good grade.
By the time class was over, I was feeling relieved that I had shown up but nervous about heading home since the weather had turned worse than I had initially expected. "Isabella, can you stay behind for a moment. I'd like to talk to you about something important," called Davis, sounding extremely formal, as I nodded my head nervously and watched with envy as my classmates made their way out of class. I didn't know what the hell was going on, but as I approached his desk at the front of the class, I felt a little like a lamb being led off to slaughter.
"I heard you playing in one of the music rooms last week," he said, dropping the formal act as the last student left the classroom and he motioned down to my guitar case. I fidgeted my fingers nervously around the handle of the case as I waited for him to say something else. Professor Davis was a rather daunting man in his late thirties, tall with wavy blonde hair and an arrogant air about him. If this class wasn't so important to me, I would have transferred out in my first week back in September because he intimidated me that much. "You have a wonderful talent and I think you would be an excellent addition to the guitar ensemble. Did you try out when auditions were held last month?"
I opened my mouth in surprise at his suggestion and appreciation of my abilities. "Um no… I didn't because I have to be employed to afford tuition here, so I accepted a job that didn't allow me any sort of flexibility to audition." I mentally scoffed at myself because I had actually accepted the first job I had been offered because money was that tight. I was a waitress at a nearby Denny's, but it was better than nothing in my opinion.
"What are you doing next Tuesday afternoon… after my class?"
"Umm… nothing until five o'clock. Then I have to work," I explained nervously as Davis moved over to his desk and yanked his briefcase up from the floor.
"A talent like yours Isabella should be nurtured as much as possible. I can get you a job here in the music department in your spare time which will help with tuition, if you are willing. You would have to quit your current job, but this position would work around your guitar ensemble schedule, because you have an appointment next week to try out. Of course, since I am the faculty advisor, you are a shoo in for a seat." He jotted a few things down in his iPhone and then scribbled some notes on a piece of paper before shoving it towards me. "Go see Mrs. Cope down in the Music Department office. They have been looking for help there to clean up the mess left behind by last year's student employee. It's not much, but it's better… right?"
"Oh yes… much better Professor Davis," I replied enthusiastically as I withheld the urge to hug him. Something told me that he didn't hug… anyone. He motioned towards the door for me to leave and I grabbed my coat, backpack and guitar case and headed out the door, feeling forever indebted to a man who barely knew me for literally giving me the chance of a lifetime. However, I already knew that working in the Music Department would be ten times better than my shitty waitressing job, so I literally sprinted down the empty hallway in a rush to see Mrs. Cope.
When I opened the door, she was sitting behind the first desk and smiling from ear to ear, the nameplate on her desk signaling that I had found the right person. "Professor Davis sent me to see you," I said nervously as she literally began bouncing in her seat from excitement.
"You must be Isabella. I'll make this brief because honestly, it's snowing like a son of a bitch and I want to head home," she said bluntly, as she spoke in a very loud voice and then followed it up with a huge laugh. I was caught so off guard by her personality I simply sat still in my chair looking at her anxiously. "Do you know the alphabet?"
"Um… excuse me?" I asked as my mouth fell open in shock at her rather absurd question. This was officially the weirdest day on record. However instead of responding to my question, Mrs. Cope just quirked an eye brow and began fiddling her thumbs, waiting for me to answer. "Yes, I know my alphabet. A all the way to Z."
"Good, you're hired. You start on Monday. Come see me after your last class and we will set up a schedule. If Professor Davis vouches for you, then you must be a good egg," she laughed as she grabbed her long puffy winter jacket off a coat rack behind her and slipped her arms in with ease. "Now, I suggest you pick your jaw up off the floor and make your way home young lady. The weather is getting as nasty as my old Uncle Mort on a three day bender."
"Um ok… Uncle Mort… bender," I stammered as she continued to laugh at me, her eyes lit up and her cheeks rosy red, which reminded me of my Gran, god rest her soul. "Is that seriously it? I know my alphabet and you hire me? Isn't there some sort of rigorous screening progress or maybe drug testing?"
"Do you do drugs?" she asked me with one salt & pepper eyebrow quirked in curiosity, as I withheld the urge to laugh at her expression.
"Good… then go home Isabella. You don't want to be snowed in at Northwestern, there's nothing to do but learn," she laughed and the grasped for her purse before holding the door open for me, signaling for me to leave. I reached for all my things and stumbled out into the hallway, no doubt looking like a hot mess. "See you on Monday, bright eyed and bushy tailed."
I wandered down the hallway, carrying all my belongings and looking a bit like a hobo as I struggled to lug everything. Thank god, I didn't cross another soul before I walked into my favorite rehearsal room. There was one picture window on the left hand side of the room and when I looked out, seeing the view of the parking lot, there were tons of cars stuck in the snow. I had to walk home in this shit, and there was no way that was going to happen, so I tossed my coat into the corner and grabbed my composition book out of my backpack and grabbed my guitar case. I got comfortable in my favorite chair on the far side of the room, and kept an eye on the weather as I worked on my next song. However, inspiration failed me… until I heard his voice.
"Holy hell, there is life in this building after all," laughed the smooth voice of a rather gruff looking boy who took my breath away. From a distance I could clearly see that he had a disastrous mess of reddish brown hair, dark looking eyes and five o'clock shadow that I wished I could rub my hand over and feel as the roughness brushed against my soft skin. "Why aren't you getting a ride on the Zamboni parked outside?"
"What the hell is a Zamboni?" I questioned as he leaned against the door jamb and ran his fingers through his hair, making the mess even worse and ten times more appealing. He was wearing a pair of very worn in dark wash jeans and a dark blue hoodie, his coat draped over his shoulder casually.
"It's one of those big ass machines that clean the ice during a hockey game," he explained as I looked him, my face no doubt filled with pure confusion. However he just looked handsome, rugged and a bit amused. "Ah never mind. You should really be getting out you know."
"I could say the same to you," I replied casually as he strolled into the room, the door closing with a loud click behind him as he sat across from me on the floor and pulled a joint from his pocket. "Are you insane by the way… smoking up on campus?"
"Sorry to burst you bubble Pippi Longstocking, but you and I are the only two people in this building," he said as he lit it with ease and look a long drag, looking around the room to appraise his surroundings. "Where the hell am I anyways?"
"You're in Music Room C in the Harper Building. If you don't know where you are… why the hell are you here?" I asked him as he leaned back on the floor carelessly, one hand stretched behind him, as he propped himself up. I almost expected him to fall over, but he kept perfect balance as he continued to smoke with his free hand. When I looked back towards his gaze, waiting for him to answer, I realized I was almost paralyzed under his stare. He really was even more handsome up close.
"I had class in Burham Hall across the way and well, if I am being perfectly honest with you… this building tends to have cuter girls, so I often wander over here when I'm done with Boring 101 or whatever the fuck class I was in," he laughed genuinely as his eyes didn't remove themselves from mine. "I can see I wasn't wrong about the pretty girls in this building."
I blushed a dozen shades of pink because I knew there was no way he could be talking about anyone else, but I didn't believe a word he said. My hair was a horrid mess, I needed to gain a good fifteen pounds because everyone said I was way too skinny for my height and my blush was my worst feature. It gave away every single emotion I had; I knew I wasn't cute or pretty. He probably just hungry and wanted one of my granola bars that I had packed just in case of an emergency. I scribbled down a few notes in my composition notebook and decided I would try to ignore him as best as I could. However, this would prove not to be easy.
"Play something," he said as he took another long drag, inhaling the smoke that swirled around him with a comfortable ease as he motioned towards my acoustic guitar which was resting on my lap, my fingers drumming nervously against it. "You know any Zeppelin or Pink Floyd?"
"Are you seriously sitting in front of me asking me to play Zeppelin as you get high? Are you going to break out a lava lamp or some psychedelic velvet pictures in a minute, just to further prove that I am currently in the Twilight Zone?" I queried as he just burst into laughter and began actually smacking his knee he thought I was being so funny. "Let me guess… in a past life you used to follow the Dead around in a beat up VW van with unicorns painted on the side?"
"I'm Edward," he said as he wiped the tears from his eyes and reached his hand out to me, the small bit of his spliff left hanging from his mouth in the sexiest way possible. What the hell was wrong with me? I never once found pot smoking slackers attractive before. My usual type was more straight laced and uninteresting, which was perhaps a reason why I was finding Edward so appealing right now, even though he was a bit of an arrogant ass.
"I'm annoyed. Are you just gonna sit here and bother me? Don't you have a tunnel to dig back to your apartment?" I asked as I looked out the window again, irritated by the fact that the snow wasn't letting up at all. It was going to be a long afternoon and I suddenly regretted refusing the ride home I had been offered by Eric in my Music History class earlier in the day. Then again, that would have probably led to him asking me out… again, and me turning him down as painlessly as possible.
"Well annoyed… yes, yes I am. So… do you know any 'D'yer Maker' or 'Tangerine'? What about 'Houses of the Holy' or 'Going to California'? I need something to relax me. Unless you want to give me a blow job… that works too!" he said with a smug wink and I pretended to gag myself with my finger, implying that I found the concept vomit inducing. Of course Edward just laughed it off again. "Can't blame a guy for trying right?"
"Whatever," I said with a nervous scoff as I positioned my guitar on my lap and began playing a few chords aimlessly, searching for some sort of groove so I could write something… anything. "You can stay, just leave me alone."
"Where's the fun in that, Annoying?" he asked with a crooked grin that made me sigh under my breath. Jesus Bella, now you were sighing over this guy?
"Oh stop with the annoying shit. My name is Bella alright?"
"I figured you would give in soon enough, although that was rather quick if I do say so myself. I must be getting better at aggravating people. So… what do you play… and don't be a smart ass and say the guitar. I mean what kind of music."
"A little bit of everything if I am being honest with you. Yes, I know how to play Zeppelin; my dad is a huge fan actually and encouraged me all the time. I can even do some CCR, Floyd, U2.... the list is endless. I prefer to be a little less excitable in my own music though. I write and compose my own stuff which is more like umm… Amos Lee, Tristan Prettyman, or Rilo Kiley I suppose… mellow and fun," I explained as Edward rubbed on the back of his neck before letting out a deep breath.
"I'm gonna be honest with you annoying… I mean Bella," he said with a wink as I groaned at the whole confident attitude that he had going on. "I have no idea who any of those singers or people are. Do they duet with Eminem?"
"Yeah, then I'm screwed. So… play something for me and I can tell you if I like it or have heard it before," Edward said as I let out an exasperated sigh and took a moment to tune my guitar as I tried to think of a song to play. I played the first few chords of 'I've Got a Woman' by Zeppelin and Edward's eyes lit up in joy as he leaned back , both of his palms resting flat against the floor and closed his eyes, his head moving from side to side as he smiled happily. I couldn't help but wonder how much he had to smoke as he began tapping his fingers against his leg in time with my guitar playing and it reminded me a lot of my dad Charlie, and how he used to react when I played for him.
When I finished the song, I was surprised by the response that greeted me from Edward. "You are really fucking good. Has anyone ever told you that?"
"Yeah… I may have heard that before," I said as I blushed at his compliment, which for some reason seemed to mean more from him than it had from my professor less than an hour ago.
"Your blush is really cute too."
"No need to thank me, I should be thanking you. I haven't seen anything that lovely in a while," Edward explained as I quirked my eye brow at him, not sure if I believed a single word he said. "So… you can play Zeppelin. Show me what else you got."
This is how the next two hours in the rehearsal room went. I would play songs for Edward, and as we waited for one of us to come up with the next song for me to play, which varied from Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, Aerosmith and even Norah Jones, we would talk about the most asinine things. He told me about his abnormal love of microwaving things, including carrots, hamburgers and even a plastic doll once, just to see what would happen. I, in turn, told him a bit about Alice and her rather spastic personality, admitting that I liked staying in the music room after classes were finished for the day simply to avoid her back at our apartment. We got along rather well, our conversation flowing easily which disturbed me a bit because in all seriousness, he was a complete stranger who interrupted me from composing and playing. However, after a few hours with him, I felt like we were old friends.
When I stretched my fingers after finishing a rather shabby cover of 'Fix You' by Coldplay, Edward and I both looked out the window at the same time and were surprised to see that the snow had finally stopped. "I guess we should get going huh?" I mumbled quietly as Edward glanced at me before looking back out the window. I wasn't quite sure, because I wasn't good at detecting people's emotions from their face, but Edward may have looked disappointed.
"Yeah, I have to go dust off my snowshoes and head back home to Anchorage. I know my dog sled is out there somewhere waiting for me. Does the school valet dog sleds?" he asked with an anxious laugh as I began gathering up my things, his eyes watching me intently the entire time. "Do you have a car… like… do you need help digging it out or something?"
"Nope. No car. I only live a few blocks away, so I walked here this morning. I wasn't exactly expecting such a monumental snowfall," I admitted as I shut the clasps on my guitar case and rested it against the seat I was sitting on. When I looked over at Edward, his fingers were raking through his unkempt mess of hair and he was sticking his tongue out nervously between his lips, which was kind of endearing. "I'll be fine. I'm not too worried."
"If you insist," he said as he tugged his coat on and pulled the hood of his sweater up over the collar of his coat. "Well this was certainly an interesting afternoon," he stammered and I thought it was even cuter that he was nervous. However, he had no reason what so ever to be nervous around me. Who was I to be making him uneasy? I was no one, that's who.
I zipped up my coat and headed out into the hallway, my backpack resting comfortably on my shoulders and my guitar case grasped firmly in my tiny fingers. Of course Edward was right behind me, following my every step as I headed towards the main door of the building. When I looked outside, I groaned because there was a fair bit of snow piled up against the door, so Edward and I had to push against it together to get it to open at all.
"Thanks for keeping me preoccupied. It was fun," I said as I tried to break the tension between us and I leaned up to kiss his cheek before pulling his hood back over his freakishly sexy hair and took my first step out the door. "You should stay warm. You don't want to be sick and miss Boring 101.
"Maybe I will see you again?"
That night when I finally got home, my toes were practically frozen together and I was exhausted. The walk home had taken twice as long as when I first headed to school, and it didn't help matters that I couldn't get Edward off of my mind. So, after a quick dinner of Macaroni & Cheese and some casual TV watching with Alice, I headed into my room and began to write; the words and melody practically flowing effortlessly from me as I thought about my afternoon and Edward. I had never felt such ease before in composing anything, and I had to smile a little bit, because I knew this was all because of him; the annoyingly beautiful stoner who had kept me company during the snowstorm.
A/N: Love it? Hate it? Wondering what kind of drugs I took when I wrote this? Yeah… me too! Anywhoo, huge thanks to my beta MaggieMay14 and my awesome pre-readers Risbee and Flightlessbird11 who encourage my habit a little more than they should. Thank god I'm not a heroin addict huh?
Just so you know, this will be a SHORT story. I actually outlined the thing and it's only 12 chapters long. Possibly 13 if I decide to do an epilogue. All the lyrics mentioned in this story belong to Joshua Radin, not me sadly. If you don't listen to his music (which is a shock since I mention him in a lot of my stories including American Girl and Cabin Fever) you should at least listen to the two I will reference with this story.
Now hit that little green button and show me some love, cause I love all of you guys!