2nd Annual "For My Valentine"
A Twilight Love Story Contest
Title: Love in an Elevator
Rating: M for swearing
Summary: Valentine's Day has never been kind to Bella and Edward. This one doesn't seem to be any different until an unexpected turn of events forces them to see what they have been missing out on all these years.
For more information please see contest details at http://www(dot)fanfiction(dot)net/~formyvalentinetwilight
Valentine's Day sucks!
That's right, I said it. Shoot me, I don't care. Nothing good has ever happened to me on Valentine's Day. In fact, it would seem that the Gods or cupids, whoever has control over this fucking holiday, have used it as a way to torture me over and over again throughout the years. From day one they had put a curse on me.
Why me? What on earth have I ever done to piss them off?
It all started my first February 14th in this world. My mother picked that exact day to decide that she wasn't cut out to be a wife and mother. She left my father in the doorway holding an infant and never looked back. Charlie had gotten word a few months after the divorce was final that she remarried a minor league baseball player and was living in Florida. I spent a lot of my life wondering what I did to make her leave. I know now that it wasn't my fault, but the little girl inside me sometimes still craves the love that only a mother can give. At least I have been able to find a way to deal with all that. It still kills Charlie to wonder why she hated her life with him so much. I've thought a lot about it and I can't come up with a single reason as to why. Charlie is one of the most compassionate and genuine people on the planet. I'm just glad he's mine.
Moving on, as a small child I was averagely cute. I mean, what kid at seven years old isn't cute? I just wasn't overly cute. I didn't have blond hair in pig tails and pretty dresses. My long, always trimmed by my dad, brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail every day. It was the only thing my father could manage to do in regards to a hairstyle. Also, I preferred jeans and t-shirts to frilly dresses. They just got in my way. So it was probably not a surprise that Bobby McCormick, my second grade crush, wouldn't even entertain the idea of being my valentine when I asked him that day on top of the jungle gym at recess. In fact, he was so against it he pushed me off that jungle gym causing me to break my arm in three places. I spent the next month in a cast from my wrist to my shoulder. Thank you, fucking Bobby.
The Valentine's Day Gods didn't stop there. On the contrary, they were even crueler. There was the Valentine's Day in seventh grade when my very first real boyfriend, Brandon Arnold dumped me and then told everyone it was because I didn't wear a bra yet. Everyone called me 'Tiny Titties' for the rest of the year. There was also my senior year Valentine's Day Dance. My date called me up a few hours before to say that he was sick. Even though I was disappointed, I understood and felt really bad he had to miss it. I decided to go anyway because I was already dressed and a lot of my friends where there. Imagine my utter shock when my so-called date showed up perfectly healthy with his lips attached to neck of the school whore. The only thing he could say to me was that he was feeling better. Yeah, fucking no kidding.
You would have thought that the curse would have broken at the end of high school, but alas, the Gods were not finished with me yet. My freshmen year I was puked on at a frat party. My sophomore year I had to listen to my roommate and her boyfriend going at it like a pack of wild bunnies in our room while I watched reruns of 'I Love Lucy' in our living room with my pajamas on, alone. Talk about pathetic. Well, actually pathetic would be the next year when I caught that same roommate fucking the one and only boyfriend I had in college when I came back to the dorm early to get ready for our Valentine's Day date. The worst part, they were on my fucking bed! Who does that? After that I moved into my own apartment and opted to get a cat instead of a roommate.
After college things began to look up and I thought that the Valentine's Day Gods had gotten bored with tormenting me and had moved on. I got an amazing job in Chicago editing for a book publishing company. I met Jake and after a year of fluffy romance, we moved into an apartment together, solidifying our commitment to a real relationship. Things were going my way and I was sure the curse was broken.
Yeah, joke on me, ha, ha.
Reveling in the silence of the elevator, I began to replay the events of the last hour. How did I go from excited to surprising my boyfriend with the most amazing home cooked meal and some pretty yummy desert from Victoria's Secret to standing in an empty elevator with a box of my bare essentials straining to fall out of my arms?
The answer to that would be fucking Valentine's Day. It was still messing with me.
I had left work early. I wanted to get a jump on the seven course gourmet dinner that I had researched and prepared for in the last few weeks. Apparently I wasn't the only one who wanted to get a jump on something…or rather someone.
The apartment was quiet. There were dishes on the counter which I thought was a little odd but didn't really think anything of it. I remember not wanting to get my work clothes dirty in the cooking process and moved down the hall to my bedroom. When I opened the door my knees went weak and I almost collapsed at what I saw. There, in our room, on our fucking bed, the nighttime door man was using Jake like a playground. My Jake! And he looked like he was enjoying it. That was until he realized I had been watching the gay porno in front of me. When his eyes met mine and shock registered in them, I ran to the bathroom and locked the door.
He tried to get me to come out. He apologized over and over again, said he never meant to hurt me. He had been confused for awhile but was sure now that he had never been really interested in women. He said he could only truly love a man. That's when I lost it. I opened the bathroom door so hard that the handle made a mark on the wall, one that Jake would have to fix later.
"What exactly are you fucking saying, Jake? That you never loved me? That our three year relationship has been a sham."
"Well..it's not that…I do love you, Bells. Just not in that way. I'm sorry I didn't realize sooner."
"You're sorry? You don't get to be sorry and you don't get to call me Bells! I wasted three years of my life on something that was never mine. I'm just sorry that I didn't see this fucking sooner. You couldn't even have the decency to tell me about this before you acted on it. You were fucking him in our home, on our bed. What the hell is wrong with you?" Jake knew that when I swore out loud that I was really beyond pissed. Seeing how the obscenities were flying out of my mouth he knew better than to say anything.
"I need to get the fuck out of here. We're through. You can keep the apartment, I want nothing to do with your little pleasure palace." I walked past him and grabbed an empty paper box from the office. I went through the apartment and collected a few basic necessities and my laptop. I put a few clothes in a duffle bag and stormed to the door. I turned and looked at him even though he disgusted me. "I'll get the rest later. Oh and Jake?" He looked at me almost hopefully. "Fuck you." I left the apartment and slammed the door before he had the chance to reply.
When the elevator doors finally closed, I dropped everything and put my head in my hands. The tears started to flow without my permission and I desperately tried to control them. The last thing I wanted was to be seen by anyone I knew. I wasn't going to be living there anymore, but I sure as hell didn't want to be the talk of the apartment building.
I felt strange. I knew I should have been devastated, but I did not necessarily feel sad over losing Jake. I loved him, but it wasn't crushing me that we wouldn't be together anymore. I was more upset over the fact that I hadn't seen it sooner and those three years of my life were gone, wasted on something that was never meant to be. I guess it should have been comforting that I hadn't lost the love of my life, yet I was just so pissed over being duped. My tears were urged on by my anger, not my despair.
I took a deep breath and attempted to get my shit together. The elevator stopped at the seventh floor and I wiped my face and looked down before the doors could open. I knew I'm sure I looked like I had been hit by a truck, but I figured if I didn't look like I was interested in talking, I would get left alone. It startled me when the figure that I couldn't see because I was looking down stomped into the elevator with heavy feet. He roughly dropped what looked like a picnic basket down to the floor and the sound of breaking glass that came from inside startled me. I chanced at taking a quick look and saw that the incredibly gorgeous man now accompanying me on the elevator was really, really pissed off. He had his eyes closed and one of his hands latched tightly onto his disheveled hair, the other resting on his hip. He was shaking his head and his mouth shifted between mumbling and teeth grinding. I immediately wondered if his day was going just as poorly as mine.
Not fucking likely.
As I was going through the possible scenarios of this guy's story, there was suddenly a loud noise and the elevator came to a grinding halt. The lights flickered for a second before going out completely. It was completely black and I was about freak the fuck out. Needless to say I was relieved when the soft glow of generator lights illuminated the small space.
"Are you fucking kidding me right now?" I was pretty sure he was not talking to me, but the harshness of his voice scared me. He again squeezed his eyes shut, willing himself to be anywhere but here.
For some reason unbeknown to me, I felt the need to comfort this man. Here I was dealing with the biggest relationship crisis in my life up until now and yet it didn't seem to matter that much to me. This beautiful man was in pain, and I wanted to help him in any way that I could.
How weird is that?
"These elevators always do this. It shouldn't be too long before we're moving again." I looked up and watched him open his eyes when I spoke. He stared at me without speaking, like he was sizing me up. It made me feel slightly uncomfortable until I realized what I must look like. Then I felt really uncomfortable. I needed to do something to break this trance or whatever it was he was in. The silence was killing me. "I'll call downstairs." I picked up the emergency phone and waited for someone to answer on the other end.
"You've been crying." He began to raise his hand towards me but stopped mid-motion. He looked conflicted as he lowered his arm back to his side.
And the weird gets weirder.
"Well, yeah, it's been kind of a rough day." At that moment I was saved when the person from the security desk answered the phone only to tell me that a power outage had hit most of the city and that it could be a few hours before it came back on.
Holy hell. Two hours trapped alone with this guy? The weirder is now getting just a little bit insane.
"What did they say?" His question interrupted the silent thoughts going on in my head.
"Power outage. Looks like we're going to be here awhile."
"Aw, fucking hell! Can. This. Day. Get. Any. Fucking. Worse?" He gave the picnic basket a forceful kick in between each word. One minute he looks concerned that I had been crying, the next he's beating the shit out of a wicker basket, obviously upset that he was going to be stuck here…with me. I had to ask myself if this was a guy who was having just as bad a day as I was or was he just bi-polar. With the way my fucking luck was going tonight I wouldn't be surprised if he turned out to be homicidal maniac.
Please let it be the first. Although, death by sexy green-eyed god doesn't seem like a half bad way to go. Seriously, Swan, you got issues.
I must have looked scared because he completely stopped when he took in my expression. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to scare you. I won't hurt you. I just cannot stand to be in this building one more freakin' minute." The sincerity in his voice reassured me that he wasn't going to hack me up into little pieces and I relaxed a little.
"And I thought I was the only one." He snapped his neck up to look at me and I gave him a sympathetic smile. "I'm Bella, Bella Swan."
"It's nice to meet you. I'm Edward Cullen." I reached my hand out. He looked at it for a second before taking it. As soon as we touched there was this surge of electricity that zapped us both. It didn't hurt but surprised the hell out of me. I immediately brought my hand back and started massaging it. He must of felt it too because he was looking at his own hand with narrowed eyes.
"Must be the static electricity in here." I said nervously knowing I was grasping at straws.
"Yeah, must be." He continued to inspect his hand and then raised his eyes in my direction. "Do you live in the building?"
Well that was not something I was expecting.
"Yes…I mean no…." I released a breath that I didn't even realize I was holding and shrugged my shoulders. "Well, up until about twenty minutes ago I did." I was praying that he wouldn't press the issue any farther because I wasn't prepared to go there yet, especially with a complete stranger. He didn't, probably because he had no interest in hearing the reasoning behind my confusing and convoluted answer. "How about you, do you live here?"
That's it, divert the attention away.
"No. I was here to see my gir…I was visiting someone…but now I'm leaving. Or at least trying to." I was pretty sure he was going to say girlfriend but I couldn't be sure with the way he changed what he was saying so quickly. He, too, did not feel like sharing. I nodded showing I understood.
After that exchange, neither of us said anything to keep the conversation going. The silence started to become awkward as it hung in the air, making it difficult to breathe.
I was on the fence about saying anything else because quite honestly, I didn't know what to say. Do I ask him about what happened and see if he would open up to me or do I start talking about trivial shit like the weather and the sad state of the Cubs? Considering we had met each other two minutes ago and were both going through some major emotional life changing turmoil both seemed inappropriate.
"This is just stupid." Edward loud declaration startled me back into reality. He was apparently having the same internal battle with himself. "It's obvious this day has been shitty for both of us. You seem like a nice girl and it looks like we're going not getting out of here in the near future. How about we make the most of what's left of this rotten holiday? I have an entire basket of food and a bottle of champagne. The glasses are probably shot, but if you don't mind drinking out of the bottle we could have a pretty nice elevator picnic. What do you say?" He gave me this earth shattering crooked smile. He was just too damn cute for his own good.
"Good food and alcohol? Sounds like a great picnic to me. I'm in." For the first time since I got into that elevator I smiled an actual smile. We were both hurting and stuck in here. Edward was trying to make the most of it. If he could, then I could as well.
"Great." He bent down and started rummaging through the basket, avoiding the broken pieces of what were the champagne glasses. I also began going though my bag pulling out a few articles of clothing.
"Uh, do you mind if I change?" I never had a chance to change out of my work clothes and I just wanted to be comfortable, which my black pencil skirt, white button-down shirt, and heels were not.
"Not at all." He sat there for a moment looking at me as if he were waiting for me to undress right in front of him.
"Could you…you know…turn around for a sec? This isn't going to be dinner and a show." As soon as the words left my mouth understanding crossed his face and he began to turn the most adorable shade of red.
"Oh, god, I'm sorry. I wasn't…I didn't mean to…" He quickly turned his whole body around so that he was facing the opposite wall and put his hands over his eyes for good measure.
"It's fine, really Edward. You don't have to apologize." I truly meant it, because deep down there was a small part of me that thought it was nice that he might have wanted to watch. Yeah, I know it sounds twisted, but remember, I was in a committed relationship with a gay man for three years. My self-confidence as a woman has dwindled down to nothing.
I pulled on my Adidas pants up and under my skirt before taking it off and then in record time, switched shirts. "Okay, I'm done."
"Are you sure? I don't want to…uh…see anything I'm not supposed to." He turned around but was still shielding his eyes with his hand.
"Unless you count naked feet, we're good." He removed his hand and looked down to my feet where I proceeded to wiggle my toes. Ever so slowly he started to raise his head, letting his eyes follow the entire length of my body until it was on my face. Feeling a tad uncomfortable, I bit my lip. I was so confused. I knew my change of outfits made me look less than appealing yet the way he looked at me, I felt so desired. My body tingled as his piercing gaze made me feel like I was wearing the sexiest lingerie. In the three years I had been with Jake, not once had he looked at me like that.
Of course now you know why. Fucking hindsight's a bitch.
"I look crappy, I know, but if we're going to be here awhile…" My voice trailed off because he was still looking at me and I had no idea what else I should say.
"No…you look great. I mean, you looked great before, but I, I like this look…a lot." He ran his hand through his hair as he glanced down at his feet.
"Oh. Thank you." I thanked him quietly because in all honesty, what he just said made my heart melt.
He likes the comfy look. Is this guy for real?
"Okay, what do you say we get this picnic started?" He smiled a little awkwardly and proceeded to sit down on the floor of the elevator. I followed suit as he began to take things out of the basket. He took out a red checkered linen table cloth and spread it neatly down in between us, pausing briefly to remove a piece of broken glass, no doubt evidence of the damage inflicted by his kicking. He looked at it between his fingers and chuckled sarcastically as he threw it back into the basket. Shaking his head he started taking out several different containers, removed the tops and placed them on the table cloth. There was evidently a lot of effort put into the food choices.
"Wow. This smells so good. What exactly do we have here?" Looking at all the delicious food in front of me made me realized that I had not eaten since breakfast this morning. I was freakin' hungry.
Edward pointed to each container and explained what was in each one. "Cheese and crackers, smoked turkey and cranberry tea sandwiches, grapes, and mango salsa with tortilla chips." He had a humbled look on his face as he tried to gauge my reaction.
"It looks amazing. Where's it from?"
"Um, my kitchen?" He was perplexed by my question.
"You made all of this?" I had just assumed he had gotten all of this food from a gourmet food shop in the city.
"Well, yeah, the sandwiches and the salsa. It wasn't much, really." He was actually embarrassed at his admission.
"I'm very impressed." I said as I picked up a grape.
"Well at least someone is." He muttered so quietly I almost didn't hear him. He changed the subject before I had the chance to ask him about it so I just let it drop. "Oh, wait, I almost forgot the most important thing." He reached down into the basket and pulled out a large bottle of champagne. "Ta da! Want some?"
"Are you kidding? Open that bad boy up." I started salivating over the idea of alcohol. After today's events I needed a fucking drink. Edward popped the cork and handed the bottle to me first, apologizing again for the lack of glasses. I dismissed him with a wave of my hand as I took a long chug. "Edward, you are officially my hero." I handed the bottle back to him and watched him as he tipped it along with his head back. I couldn't take my eyes off his Adam's apple as it slowly bobbed up and down with each swallow. It was extremely…erotic.
"Let me just get out one more thing and then I think we'll be able to get started." He carefully put his hand back into the basket and slowly pulled out a slightly cracked red bud vase with a couple of silk daisies and put it in the center of the table cloth. "What's a romantic picnic without flowers?" I smiled but I could feel the blush creep up my face as the word romantic rolled off his lips. He also looked a little uncomfortable when he realized what he said. "Well, uh, yeah…let's eat."
And eat we did. The food was absolutely simply a-mazing. I must have eaten at least five of those little sandwiches in addition to large portions of everything else. Edward also ate a lot. Apparently being scorned by the opposite sex makes you hungry.
We also drank the entire bottle of champagne. The more we drank, the freer the conversation got. We began talking about the basics of our lives. He seemed to hang on my every word as I told him about my small hometown of Forks and how it was just me and Charlie all my life. I shared some of my college experiences, skipping over the less desirable memories, and how happy I was when I got my book editing job here in Chicago.
I found out that he had lived in Chicago all his life with his parents. His father is a doctor and his mother is an interior decorator. He teaches music theory and composition at Northwestern University and loves the piano. He also has a sister, Alice, and a brother, Emmett.
As the alcohol began to take its effect, our conversation shifted to Valentine's Day and what a sucky holiday it was. It turns out that I'm not the only one who has been cursed by the Valentine's Day Gods. Edward is apparently another one of their victims.
I don't know if it was the champagne or the absurdity of it all, but we started to compare our sob stories and rated them on a scale of one to ten, ten being the absolute worst. It was turning into a competition. At first I thought I was going to win without a doubt, but some of Edward's stories were bad, real bad.
"She seriously beat you up with the roses you bought for her?" I was in awe as Edward talked about his high school girlfriend who was upset that he went on a family vacation and couldn't be with her on Valentine's Day. He tried to make things better by sending her flowers while he was away, only to have her attack him with them when he got back home. After he nodded in response to my question I put my finger on my chin and pretended I was thinking. "I think that deserves a six."
"A six? Would it make any difference if I told you she did it in my driveway in front of my entire family while I just stood there and took it? We had been bringing the suitcases into the house. My mother had to get in her face and tell her to leave."
"Oh my god. That's ballsy. I'm definitely bumping it up to an eight."
"I'll take the eight, but I can do better."
"You have something worse?"
"Oh yes, the mother of all burns."
"Ooohh, do tell." I leaned a little forward on my knees in anticipation of his story.
"Well, in college I had a girlfriend for about two years. I wouldn't say it was love, but it was comfortable. It turns out she was dating another guy as well for about the same time."
"God, that's awful." I was shocked that anyone could do that to this man.
"Want to know how I found out?" I nodded my head in suspense. "I spent Valentine's Day of my junior year in the infirmary…getting treated for Chlamydia of the throat."
Say what now?
"Excuse me…did you say Chlamydia of the throat?"
"You heard right. She got it from her other boyfriend who happened to be screwing everything in sight. She gave it to me when I…pleasured her with my mouth." He said it so softly like he was embarrassed to say it out loud. Normally I would have blushed with that statement but I was so floored by what he was telling me I couldn't react.
"Oh, my, you definitely win. Hands down." He raised his arms up in the air to celebrate his victory. I had to laugh, not at him, but at the ludicrousness of us. We were pathetic.
Us…well that sounds kind of…nice.
"Are you interested in dessert?" I nodded as Edward took out a container and set it on the floor beside him. I helped him pick up the elevator picnic and put the empty containers back into the basket. "I think you are going to like these." He held a relatively large container in front of me and peeled back the lid. Inside there were ten perfectly hand dipped chocolate covered strawberries.
"Oooh, yummy." I started to reach my hand inside but recoiled immediately when Edward playfully slapped my hand. "What the hell was that for?"
"These were the biggest pain in the ass to make, but I persevered through it because I thought I would be feeding them to someone. So that's what I'm going to do and I'm not going to take fucking no for an answer." He picked one up and put it up to his nose to smell it before reaching towards me. His hand was shaking slightly.
I think I've died and gone to heaven.
I moved forward a little, opened my mouth slightly, and closed my eyes. I could smell its sweetness before I could feel the smoothness of the chocolate on my lips. I leaned in and sunk my teeth into the tantalizing fruit. The succulence of it made me groan a little as I felt liquid dribble down my chin. I opened my eyes to see a pair of green ones burning into me. He licked his lower lip as his eyes made their way to where the juice was now trickling down onto my neck. I was about to wipe my chin with the back of my hand when something grabbed my wrist.
"Please, allow me." Still holding my wrist, Edward reached over and with one finger wiped the line of strawberry juice from my neck all the way up to my lips. And then he did the sexiest think I have ever seen done by another human being: he put his finger in his mouth and sucked it until it released with a popping noise. "Delicious."
I was dumbfounded. I couldn't move. His sensuality had cast a spell on me and I never wanted it to end. Unfortunately, as only my luck would have it, there was a sudden groaning noise that was not coming from either of us. The spell was broken as we both looked around in panic, trying to figure out where the noise was coming from.
When it stopped we looked at each other in confusion. Were we hearing things? Suddenly the lights went off and the elevator started to free fall. I screamed as I backed myself against the wall trying to hold on to anything I could get my hands on. It only lasted a few seconds, but it was enough to scare the living crap out of me. When it was all over, the lights came back on a little dimmer than they were before. I could feel my breathing becoming erratic, but I was finding it hard to control. It got faster and became shallower. The more I tried to breathe the less air I could get. I felt like I was drowning in my own lungs and I couldn't stop. My eyes frantically looked into his as I tried to convey that I didn't know what was happening and I was scared to death.
"Shit, Bella." Ever so slowly, he moved over to my side of the elevator and cupped my face his hands. "Shh. It's going to be okay. Look at me, Bella. You're hyperventilating. You need to calm down. Breathe with me, baby."
Did he just call me baby? For Christ sake, Bella, try focusing on something important…like not passing the fuck out.
He started stroking my hair and I instantly felt a calming sensation sweep over my body. I tried to mimic his slowed breathing pattern and I began to feel myself becoming more and more in control. "That's it. You're doing great. Nice and slow." We eventually started breathing normally as my attack subsided. He still had my head in his hands and I started to think about how natural this felt. I had been in the arms of a few men over the years and not once did it ever feel this comfortable and safe to me. This was home.
Edward didn't let go. He just moved me so that he cradled me with his arms as I snuggled into his chest. It was extremely intimate yet he was the one who put me there. I just went with it not caring that I had only known this man for a little over an hour. He started talking to me, asking me random things about my job, my likes and dislikes, whatever he thought would take my mind off the situation. The conversation dulled into a natural silence and for a few minutes I thought he was asleep, until I heard his voice.
"Bella, if you don't mind me asking, what happened to you tonight? What did he do to you?" This was the question I had been avoiding all night, but now in the dimly lit elevator car, wrapped in his arms, it felt right to share with him how I got here. I sighed loudly before speaking.
"He left me for another man. Today I walked in on him having sex with one of the door men in our room, on our bed." I said the last part with as much contempt as I could muster. There was nothing worse than being cheated on in your own bed. I should know having experienced it more than once. I could feel the tears begin again and I willed them away. I was not wasting one more tear on Jake, not ever. "When I was gathering some of my things all I could do was feel angry that I had been lied to for three years. I didn't feel that losing Jake was the worst part of it all. It should have been, if I really had loved him."
Edward didn't say anything, he just held me tighter. It was exactly what I needed. I had no idea how he knew that I wouldn't want to hear how sorry he was or what a bastard the guy was, but I was deeply grateful.
"What about you?" I wasn't sure if I wanted to hear about the horrid details that had caused him pain, but since we were sharing it felt like an opportunity to learn more about him.
"I was supposed to be getting engaged tonight. I planned all this,' he waved his hand toward the picnic basket, 'for my girlfriend. I was intending on proposing to her tonight but before I had the chance, she broke up with me. She told me matter of factly that she was destined for stardom and I was just standing in her way. There wasn't a huge fight and I didn't try to change her mind. I just turned and walked out the door without looking back." His revelation made me want to cry. From what I had seen, this man was more wonderful than any of the other ones I had ever met.
How could he not be enough…for anyone?
"Why didn't you try to change her mind?"
"I didn't understand it at the time, but have you ever heard the saying that all things happen for a reason?" I nodded. "Well, now I've come to realize that this happened because I was never meant to spend the rest of my life with Tanya. She didn't love me; she only loved how she looked with me. And I…I didn't love her, not truly. If anything, she's been holding me back from finding true love, the kind that lasts forever."
"And what made you realize all of this, Edward?"
"Let's just say I'm seeing thing a little bit more clearly now." He hugged me a little tighter and rested his chin on the top of my head.
"Confined places and copious amounts of champagne will do that every time." We both chuckled. I don't know why I had made a joke. It was a serious topic and I was pretty sure Edward was trying to tell me something, something about us. But I was confused. I had a life with Jake. An apartment with furniture, bills, mutual friends, a dinner routine, family functions. We had shared almost everything with each other for three years. That life seemed like it ended an eternity ago. It was meaningless to me. Yet the man that was cradling me in his arms, the man I met just a couple of hours ago, felt more a part of my life than Jake ever had. How could that be possible?
"Bella, I just want you to know…" To my chagrin, Edward didn't have a chance to finish his sentence because at that moment, the lights went on fully and the elevator was once again moving. We both reluctantly let go of each other and stood up, gathering our things before we reached the ground floor. I wanted to know what he was going to say, but the moment had ended. It wasn't the right time and he sensed it too because he didn't offer to continue. The little bubble we had been in for the last couple of hours had burst and now it was back to the real world. I had decided that when we got off the elevator I was going to invite Edward to go get some coffee and then maybe we could pick up that conversation where we left off.
The doors opened and we were greeted by maintenance personnel who were frantic to see if we were okay. We assured them that we were indeed fine, but also alerted them to how we felt the elevator slip a little. They turned from us, apparently now forgotten, and became engrossed in inspecting the car. Once we were a few steps from them I turned to Edward. "Well…"
"Well…" he answered in return.
"Thank you, Edward, for everything. I don't think I could have gotten through that alone."
"No need to thank. I can't think of anyone else I rather be stuck in an elevator with." He smiled down at me as I looked up at him nervously.
God this is awkward. Just ask him already.
"Hey, Edward. Would you like…" I never get the rest of my sentence out because a large figure bursting out of the door leading to the stairway caught my eye.
He started looking around. His eyes went wide as soon as they landed on me. His shoulders were heaving up and down. He must have run down all fifteen flights of stairs. I did not want to do this, not now, not ever. My internal instinct to run went into overdrive. Edward was looking strangely at me trying to figure out why I'd stop midsentence and why I all the color drained out of my face.
"I'm sorry, Edward. I have to get out of here. It was very nice meeting you." I grabbed all of my things and turned to go.
"But, but, Bella. I thought…" I wanted to stay but I had to leave. I could not face Jake, especially in the presence of Edward. There was no time to explain and no time to exchange information.
"I can't. I'm…I'm so sorry." I turned and ran for the door to the lobby. Jake caught up to me and reached out to grab my arm as I was pulling the door to the outside.
Just one more step and I would have been free. Fuck you Valentine's Day Gods!
"Bells, wait, stop. Maintenance called and said you were stuck in the elevator all this time. Are you okay?" He truly looked sincere, but I wanted none of it. I wanted none of him. I spoke low as to not cause a scene. I knew Edward was watching the exchange and there was no way in hell I was going to let on that I was rattled, even though I was…to the core.
"Thank you for your concern, Jake. But from this point on I am none of your concern. Do you hear me?" He immediately let go of my arm and shoved his hands into his pocket. He nodded his acknowledgement.
"For what it's worth, I really am sorry." I did believe him, but I didn't care. I wanted him to hurt the way I had been hurt.
"Your apology is not worth much of anything to me right now. Maybe someday, but not now. Goodbye, Jake. Best of luck to you." And with that I left him standing there. I ran outside to find it pouring the rain. Luckily there was a cab waiting and I jumped in. I was wet, but I hadn't been in it long enough to be totally soaked. At least I had one thing going for me.
My mind was swirling with the events of the day as the cab pulled up to the Hyatt Regency Hotel where my best friend was the manager. I knew it was the one place I could go and definitely get a room. Besides, I needed my best friend right now, desperately. I was happy to see that she was behind the front desk.
"Bella, what are you doing here, sweetie? I thought you were making dinner for Jake. Did the power outage ruin it?" Her eyes darted to the box, my duffle bag, and my laptop carrier and shock washed over her face. "What happened, Bella? What did he do to you?" I couldn't answer her. I was trying so hard to choke down the tears that were suddenly overwhelming me. I finally was able to muster up enough strength to whisper.
"Angela, I need a place to stay…for awhile." And that was it. Every last resolve I had had broken down and I let it all go.
"Of course, sweetie. You can stay here." She punched in a few things onto a computer by the desk and found a swipe key all within the next two minutes. She took one of my bags and let me in to a very elegant and oversized room that I'm sure was reserved for higher paying customers. I put my stuff down and she took my hand and led me over to a couch in the middle of the room. "Okay, tell me what happened."
Everything that had happened poured out of me. I told her of the dinner I had planned for Jake and what I found when I got home. I told her about Edward and how sweet he was during our time stuck in the elevator. I ended with how Jake accosted me in the lobby and how I had to abruptly leave Edward without getting a phone number or anything. It was then I started to break down and I realized why I was crying. It wasn't over Jake, it was over the fact that I may not see Edward again…ever. The thought was debilitating.
"Don't worry, Bella. You'll see him again. You have his last name and his place of employment. In this day and age, you'll find each other again. All hope is not lost."
"I know that I can find him. I just don't know if he'll want me to find him. I ran out of the apartment building without an explanation. For all I know, he thinks I took all the kindness he showed me and shoved it right back in his face by running away and leaving him behind. He's been hurt badly, Angela. What if he decides I'm not worth the threat of getting hurt again? Those damn Valentine's Day Gods! They keep fucking with my life!"
"I know, sweetie. It doesn't seem fair, does it?" She hugged me and stroked my hair until I was all cried out. I was mentally and physically exhausted. Angela had to get back to work and said she was sending some food up to me along with a few things she thought I would like. She also assured that the room was mine free of charge until I didn't need it anymore. I tried to protest but she just waved me off saying something about the perks of being the manager. She had always been there for me and this was no exception. I may not be lucky in love, but when it came to friendship I was the luckiest of them all.
I decided to take a shower and try to relax a little before room service arrived. The warm water felt heavenly as I tried to wash away all of the stress of the day. I focused my thoughts on Edward. His utterly godlike features, his unruly bronze hair, the elevator picnic he shared with me, his compassion as he helped me stop hyperventilating, the way he held me in his arms. These thoughts gave me peace for at least the moment. I didn't want to even entertain the idea that these memories could be the only thing I would ever have left of Edward.
Considering I had only had the bare minimum as far as clothes, I was happy to see that there was one of those white, fluffy hotel robes available for me to use. I wrapped its softness around me and brushed my hair out so that it wouldn't be so difficult to manage in the morning. There was a knock at the door and I realized that room service had arrived with the food Angela had ordered for me.
She was too good to me.
Grabbing a few bucks from my purse for a tip I answered the door only to find that it wasn't room service that had been knocking. In front of me was an absolute gorgeous looking, very wet Edward. His rain soaked hair was dripping down his face and onto his leather jacket. I fell in love all over again.
In love? Is that what this is? Am I in love?
"Edward…" I was so stunned that he was standing in my doorway I completely forgot that I was only wearing a bathrobe.
"Bella. Please, I know it's late. Hear me out for five minutes and if you don't like what I have to say I'll go." He rushed in his words probably wondering if I would shut the door in his face. I did, after all, run out on him with out a word. Little did he know that I would listen to him for the next five hours if had wanted me to. I nodded and motioned for him to come in out of the hallway, which he did. He ran his hands through his hair and took a deep breath before he began to speak.
"We were wrong. The Valentine's Day Gods did not curse us. They were saving us." I'm pretty sure I heard him right, but I really had no idea where he was going with this. All these years it sure as hell felt like a curse. Edward saw that I was ready to disagree with him but started talking again before I had the chance to protest.
"I think their ultimate plan was for us to be together. Year after year we both suffered through one disastrous Valentine's Day after another. Every time we thought things were finally going our way, the Gods would find a way to sabotage it. Don't you see, Bella? It was their way of keeping us single until we could find each other, because they knew when we did, it would be real and true and it would last forever. I know it sounds crazy, but it's the only thing that makes sense to me." If I hadn't spent that time with Edward in the elevator, I would have thought he was crazy. And I would have called security. But as I looked in his eyes all I could see was sincerity. He was pouring his soul out to me and putting his heart on the line where it was vulnerable and unprotected.
"Okay, I know both of us had some real shitty things happen to us today. And I know that neither of us should be looking to jump into something, but the moment I stepped on that elevator I felt something that I had never felt before. Your voice, your smell, the warmth in your eyes. No one has ever made my body and mind react the way it did when I first saw you. The feeling was electric yet there was something very familiar to it. It was like it had been lying dormant just beneath the surface of my skin all these years just waiting for a reason to rise to the top. It was waiting for you." His words rang in my ears like bells and my heart was beating in joyous celebration. He was saying exactly what I was feeling, and he was saying it to me. I wanted to agree, say something that would assure him that he wasn't alone in his feelings, but I was having difficulty forming a coherent sentence in my head.
"I know why you left me standing there. I assume the guy in the lobby was Jake and you just couldn't deal with him at the moment and I understand that. But believe me when I tell you that the loss I felt when you ran and the thought that what we had ended before it even really got started crushed me into oblivion. I knew right then I needed to find you and convince you that we belong together. Because we do Bella, we belong together." Once again his hands were in his hair except this time his eyes were focused on me. He was waiting for something, anything that would indicate to him that I felt the same way. The tears were welling up in my eyes and it was getting hard to breathe so I choked out the first thing I could think of that would convey what I was thinking."
"We… we belong to each other."
"Oh, Bella." Edward quickly closed the distance between us until we were so close we were touching. He took my face in his hands and searched my eyes for permission. I gave him what he was looking for. I closed them in anticipation but when his lips found mine, I was totally unprepared. His lips were gentle yet firm. The way we moved together was loving yet erotic. It was a combination of raw desire and the desperate need to get closer to one another. It was new, exciting, safe, and comfortable all at the same time. In that kiss I felt the promise of a long and wonderful future. For the first time in my life I felt unconditionally and truly loved.
We broke apart breathless and panting. Edward wrapped his arms around me and we stood there just like that for a long time. A random thought entered my head. "Edward, how did you know where to look for me?
"I didn't. This is the fifth hotel I checked. When I asked at the front desk if you were staying here, you're friend, Angela I think it is, gave me the Spanish Inquisition. When I told her my name, she gave me your room number."
"You went hotel to hotel looking for me?" It had to be one of the sweetest things anyone had ever done for me.
"I had to." He looked down at the floor and then back at me. "There was something I needed to ask you and it couldn't wait until tomorrow." I couldn't imagine anything that couldn't have waited until morning.
"What is it Edward? What did you need to ask me?" He took both of my hands in his and rubbed circles on the backs of them with his thumbs. He looked deeply into my eyes. I never thought I would ever find my soul mate. But here he was in front of me, asking me the question that I had heard before, but never had felt the true meaning of.
"Bella, will you be my Valentine?"
And just like that, the curse was broken.