Written for An Edward To Remember - Classic Hollywood Romance One-Shot Contest

Disclaimer: This lovely little fic is base off of 1955's Academy award winner for best picture, Marty , starring Ernest Borgnine and Besty Blair. It's a fabulous old Black and White, so if you're into old movies it's definitely not one to miss! The film is known for several notable quotes which I have incorporated into the story. Any quotations in Bold Italic are from the original screenplay written by Paddy Chayefsky. Twilight belongs to Stephenie Meyer.

/ V \\

"Hello, could I speak with Miss Maggie Doyle?" I ask, my voice sounding unsure.

"This is Maggie."

"Oh…ah…Hello there, Maggie, this is Eddie Masen."

"I'm sorry, do I know you?"

She doesn't remember…I frown and glance back at the small black address book in my hand to make sure I dialed the right number. "Oh, well we met a couple-a weeks ago at the movie, the RKO Chester. I was with a friend a mine, named Jimmy, and you was with another girl."

"I'm sorry, I just can't seem to recall."

I close my eyes desperately trying to keep the panic from my voice. "Well maybe this will ring a bell…I'm a tall, skinny fella. I work in a butcher shop. My friend Jimmy and I took you and your friend to Howard Johnson's after the movie. We had a real swell time."

"You got red hair?"

Do I got red hair? I open my eyes in surprise and reach up and lightly touch my hair with my free hand. "I don't know. I never really thought about it. I guess it is kinda red."

The line was dead with an awkward silence making my nerves tingle with anxiety and fear. I lean on the wall next to the door leading into the dining room and heave a silent sigh as I fidget with the piping on the back of my mother's favorite chair.

"So, I…I was wonderin' how everything was with you." I swallow the lump of nerves in my throat and continue to pick at the chair. "How's…how's everything?"

"Good, thanks."

"Well, that's real swell." My fingers move up to grip the telephone cord as Iwork up the nerve to ask her to go out with me.

"Listen, Maggie, I was thinkin' on taking in a movie tomorrow, and was wonderin' if you'd care to join me." I close my eyes and hold my breath. I hate putting myself out there like this.


"Yeah, tomorrow. I know it's kinda…"

"I'm sorry, Eddie, I already got plans."

"You do?" I close my eyes again and turn, dropping my forehead against the wall. No matter what I did, I couldn't seem to catch a break with the gals.


"That's swell. Maybe another time…H-how 'bout Saturday?" I hold my breath waiting for her to shoot me down again.

"I think I have plans then, too."

"Oh. Okay. Hey, what about next weekend? A group-"

"I'm pretty sure I got plans next weekend, too." She cut off my last desperate attempt.

"Oh. Okay, I understand. Well, it was nice talkin' to ya."

"Bye, Eddie."

I hung up the phone and stood there in defeat. That's real swell Eddie.

"Eddie," I straighten-up when I hear my mother call from the kitchen.

"Yeah, Ma?"

"Are you gonna get the door, or what? Your cousin Emmett's here for dinner."

"Yeah, Ma, I'll get it."

I rub my eyes clearing them of any evidence of emotion as I walk towards the front door, noticing the knocking for the first time. I take one more moment to pull myself together and try to forget the brush off I'd just received and open the door to my cousin Emmett and his wife, Rosalie.

"Hey, Eddie! How are ya?" Emmett bellows the moment I open the door.

"I'm doin' real good. How are you, Emmett?" I reach out and shake his hand.

"Things are real fine, Eddie. It's good to see ya," he pats me on the shoulder as I usher them into the foyer.

"Rose, let me take your coat." I reach for her coat and hang it in the closet next to the front door.

"Thanks, Eddie."

"Come in, come in, Ma's almost got supper ready." I motion them into the living room.

"So, Eddie, how are things down at the shop? Is Uncle Aro still treatin' ya right?"

"You know Uncle Aro, he's from the old country, but he's a fine business man. I couldn't ask for a better partner." I chuckle and sit down in the chair across from them. "How're things working out with Aunt Esme? I told ya before, she's welcome here anytime. Ma and I got plenty-a space."

"We just might take ya up on that offer, Eddie." Emmett turns uncharacteristically serious. "Rose and Ma got into another fight just last night. You shouldda-"

"Lemme tell him, Emmett," Rose interrupted. "Every minute, of every day she tells me what to do! I can't take it no more. We don't got no privacy, Eddie. I can't even have a fight with Emmett without her tellin' me I'm doin' it wrong!"

"It'll be okay. Don't get so excited, Rosie," he takes her hand in his, and Rose looks at him, visibly relaxing, before she continues.

"Last night she tell me I ain't changin' the baby's diaper right. She took little Nicki right outta my arms!" Her voice starts to rise in pitch again. "Right outta my arms, I tell ya, then she repins his diaper and hands him back to me like it was nothin'."

I watch her take her free hand and rub her forehead. When she starts speaking her voice is quiet and she sounds like she's on the verge of tears. "I clean the house and she follows right behind me cleanin' everything all over again. I can't do nothin' right!"

"Like I said, we got plenty-a space. Ma would love to have her here."

"Thanks, Eddie, that's very nice-a ya to let her into your home."

"Nah, she's family, we got plenty-a space."

"Emmett," my mother says as she walks into the room.

"Aunt Elizabeth."

They both rise to greet her and she embraces him, then turns to Rose and kisses her on both cheeks, "…and Rose. It is always so good to see you."

"Thank you for inviting us for supper, Aunt Elizabeth," Rose replies.

"Supper is ready. Rose, can you come help me bring it to the table?"

"Sure, Aunt Elizabeth." We turn and walk the short distance through the sliding doors into the adjacent dining room.

"Is that Aunt Elizabeth's Carpaccio I smell?" Emmett asks as the women disappear behind the kitchen door.

I smile and nod. "You know it is."

"Siddown Emmett," my mother orders as she and Rose bring the serving dishes out to set on the table. "You know I always make my famous Carpaccio when you come over. No one else shows their appreciation like you."

We all laugh and take our seats at the large dining room table. I sit at the head of the table as is my right as the oldest living male in the household; it's a place I'm still uncomfortable taking even though it has been fourteen years since my father had last sat here. We eat in quiet reverence, only complimenting my mother on the meal every now and then.

"So, what's new, Eddie," Rose asks as Ma pours coffee for everyone at the end of the meal, "you find a nice girl to settle down with yet?"

Ma huffs and answers her before I can get a word in, "Ha! I beginning to think Eddie never find a nice girl. You know any nice girls you can set him up with?"

I blush and look down at the table embarrassed by the turn of conversation. "I can find a nice girl on my own, Ma."

"Could have fooled me! When was the last time you went out with a nice girl, huh?" She pats me on the shoulder resuming her seat with the others.

"Ma, just leave it alone, will ya," I ask in a pained voice. Can't they see I don't wanna discuss it?

"How old are you now Eddie? Thirty-four? Thirty-five?" Emmett asks. "How come you ain't got married yet?"

"I'm thirty-four," I mumble. Looking down at the table, I brace myself for what I know is coming, even though it doesn't make it hurt any less.

I was sick and tired of the comments. Eddie, you should be ashamed of yourself; Eddie, how come you ain't married yet; Eddie, when you gonna get married; Eddie, I know this girl… A day didn't go by when someone wouldn't bring my bachelorhood to my attention – like I don't know that I'm perpetually single, like I don't have any future aspirations for a family of my own…like I'm single by choice.

Truth was, there was nothin' I wanted more, but no matter what I do I can't get a date. I can't even remember how many times I'd been ditched at the ballroom or the theater, or how many times a gal just flat out turned me down.

I'm part owner of a successful business, so I have a stable career, even if I am just a butcher. I'm not the best looking guy in the world – too tall, too thin, and have unruly hair that can only be controlled by the liberal use of brilliantine, but I'm a nice guy and I never treated a gal with anything less than the respect she deserved. That oughta count for somethin', but that's not enough.

Listening to the voices of my family discussing all the eligible women they know, I get fed up with it all and decide I'm not going to listen to it no more.

"I think I might know a couple-a nice girls…Eddie, you like blondes or brunettes?"

"Rose," I try to warn.

"I know this girl; she's a real nice gal – pretty too. I could fix ya up. You won't be sorry, I promise."

"Is she a good Italian girl?"


"What? Is it too much to ask to find a nice Italian girl for my son?"

"Just stop, all-a ya," I yell. They all stare at me in stunned silence. I never raise my voice, ever.

"I'm thirty-four years old. If I can't find a wife on my own, I don't want her." I rest my elbows on the table and cradle my face in my hands for a moment before looking back up at them. "Sooner or later, there comes a point in a man's life when he gotta face some facts, and one fact I gotta face is that whatever it is that women like, I ain't got it. I chased enough girls in my life. I went to enough dances. I got hurt enough. I don't wanna get hurt no more. I just called a girl just now, and I got a real brush-off, boy. I figured I was past the point of being hurt, but that hurt… She gave me the brush… I got feelings, you know. I had enough pain. No, thank you."


"No, Ma, I don't wanna discuss it no more."

"Okay, Eddie, we let it go for now." She pats me on the arm and gives a nod to Emmett and Rose. We quietly finish dessert, the good natured feelings of before effectively dampened by my outburst. After dessert, Ma and I escort our guests to the door.

"Remember what I said, Emmett, Aunt Esme is welcome here anytime." I retrieve Rose's coat from the closet and hold it out for her.

"I will, and thanks again, Eddie, ya got a good heart." He hugs Ma and takes Rosie's arm.

"You bring that baby by soon, huh, Rose?"

"I will, Aunt Elizabeth."

"We see you Sunday at mass," my mother says as I close the door. I just want to be alone for a while, so I walk towards the stairs.

"Eddie, I am sorry, I just…want you to be happy."

I stop on the bottom step, keeping my hand on the newel post. "I know, Ma."

"You gonna get married, Eddie. You find a real nice girl someday and get married."

"Goodnight, Ma." I continue on up the stairs and turn in for the night, my heart heavy and cynical.

/ V \\

I don't feel much better the next morning, but do my best to put my negative feelings behind me and get on with my day. It's Friday, so the shop is busy. Everyone is coming in fresh off of pay day, or to pick up something special for Sunday dinner so the day goes by fast despite all of the neighborhood hens peppering me with the usual nagging conversations about my marital status.

As soon as Uncle Aro and I close up, I head over to Jake's Bar for a beer or two with Jimmy and the guys before heading home. I know Jimmy will be disappointed, but after the last couple of days I just want to stay home for the weekend.

"Hey, Charlie, can I get a couple-a beers," I ask, looking around the bar for my friends.

"Sure thing, Eddie, here ya go."

"Thanks, Charlie." I grab the cool bottles off the bar and head over to the booth where I spotted Jimmy and the rest of the guys.

"Hey, Eddie!"

"Hi-ya, Felix…Jasper…" We all nod in greeting and I hand my extra bottle of beer to Jimmy since it was my turn to buy.

"Eddie, I was just tellin' the guys about this date Felix and I got lined up for tonight," Jasper drawls.

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah, a couple-a real nice squirrels. They're tellers down at the bank on A Hundred and Fourth Street. Felix and I are takin' 'em out tonight. I have a feelin' it's gonna be a real swell time." He leans on the back of the booth. "What're you guys gonna do? You goin' out tonight or what?"

"Nah, I don't think so." I take a long pull from my beer. "I'm all knocked out. I don't really feel like goin out."

"So what do you feel like doin' tonight?"

"I don't know, Jimmy, wadda you feel like doin'?"

"It's Saturday night, we should be goin' out. I don't wanna spend my evenin' watching Sid Caesar or The Hit Parade from your livin' room like we did last weekend. Hey, I know…remember those gals we met a couple-a weeks ago at the movie?" He finishes off his beer and I nod realizing he's talking about Maggie Doyle. "You still got that gal's number?"

"Yeah, I got it alright," I say not able to hide the bitterness in my voice.

"Why don't you give her a call? Maybe she could call up that skinny little friend-a hers and we could all go out somewheres."

I shake my head knowing I had to spill. "Lemme tell ya 'bout that…I don't think it's gonna work out. I called her up yesterday, and boy did she give me the brush."

"She did?"


"Huh, I coulda swore she liked ya, that one. I thought we had a real swell time."

"Me too."

"Eddie, you get the brush again?" Jasper asks.


"That's too bad. Hey, you want me to call you up if these two squirrels got a couple-a nice friends?"

"Nah, that's okay, Jasper."

"You sure? I'm tellin' ya, it's money in the bag!"

"So, what do you wanna do," I ask Jimmy.

"I don't know…"

"We could go bowlin', down at the alley over on A Hundred and Seventieth and Jerome."

"Nah, I don't wanna. Why don't we go over to Seventy-Second Street. Jaspers says it's crawlin' with action, some real ripe tomatoes."

"I'm not in the mood."

"You know, Eddie, you're getting to be a real drag."

"I ain't gonna wreck your Saturday night, Jimmy. If you wanna go out, then go out, I ain't stopping you." I finish my beer and look to Jasper. "Why don't you call up those girls you're so excited about and see if you can scrounge up a date for Jimmy."

"Sure, I can do that." He pushes off from the back of the booth and starts to head to the back of the bar. "Are you sure you don't want me to get one for you too, Eddie?"

"Yeah, I'm sure." I shake my head.

"Alright, I'll be right back."

"Hey, Eddie!" I hear Charlie call from behind the bar.

"Yeah, Charlie?"

"Your cousin, Emmett's on the phone."

My cousin Emmett? I get up and walk back to the unoccupied booth. "This one, Charlie?"

"Yep, that's the one."

I slide onto the seat, picking up the phone with one hand as I slide the door shut with the other. "This is Eddie."

"Eddie, it's Emmett."

"Hey, Em, what's goin' on? Is everything okay?"

"Sure, everything's swell. I just…" He pauses for a second. "I kinda need a favor."

"Sure, you know I'd do anything for ya."

"Yeah, I know…" He pauses again. "So, ah…I know last night you said you didn't want us to fix ya up, but I'm in a real scrape."

"Emmett," I said frowning.

"Now just listen a minute, Eddie. It's not what you think. Rose made a date for us to go out with one-a her friends, and I got one of the fellas down from work to go out with us, but his uncle passed away and he can't make it, so I was hopin' you would take his place."

"I told ya last night, I don't wanna be set up no more!"

"You gotta go, Eddie! We won't be able to find another stag to go with us on such short notice."

"Come on, you'll like her, I promise. She's a real nice gal, real pretty."

"Alright...alright, I'll go, but only 'cause I ain't cad enough to give a nice gal the brush."

"I owe ya, Eddie, ya gotta good heart."

"Yeah, yeah."

"Meet us at our place at eight-thirty and we'll go pick Gianna up and head to the Stardust. She's a real nice gal, you won't regret it, I promise."

I hang up the phone and make my way back to the table. "Looks like I'm goin' out anyways."

"Oh yeah?" Jimmy looks at me with a smirk.

"Yeah, Emmett suckered me into goin' to the Stardust with this gal as a favor."

"Maybe it'll pan out."

"It's not like that, Jimmy. Her date cancelled and I'm just fillin' in 'cause no one else is available."

"At least you won't be at home watchin' The Hit Parade, huh?"

/ V \\

After I left the bar, I went home to change and take a shave before I headed over to Emmett and Rose's place. We left as soon as I got there, and drove Emmett's new car over to this gal's place. Rose went in while Emmett and I stayed in the car.

"She'll just be a minute. She's a real nice gal. I met her once before," Emmett turned in his seat. "See here they are now."

Emmett and I opened our doors and made our way to the other side of the car. She was a real nice looking gal, tall and slim. Her blonde hair was pulled up and I could see the slight graceful line of her neck just above the collar of her dress. I couldn't help but feel this was going to be a disaster. Girls like her never look twice at guys like me. Still my mother raised me to be a gentleman, and I'd give her my all as long as she allowed me her company this evening.

"Gianna, you remember my husband, Emmett?"

"Of course, Rose. It's a pleasure to see you again, Emmett."

Emmett nodded in reply before introducing me. "Gianna this is my cousin, Eddie."

"It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance," I smile at her.

"Likewise." She gave me a small smile, but ignored my offered hand, keeping both hands on her handbag instead.

"Shall we?" I motion to the car and she nods. I open the door for her, only shutting it once she is comfortably settled.

This is definitely going to be a disaster. We haven't even left yet and she is barely cordial. I cross back over to the other side of the car and catch Emmett's eye before he gets in, but he just smiles and shrugs his shoulders.

I get in and settle myself in the backseat next to Gianna, but can't get comfortable. I look over at her, but she's avoiding my gaze by looking out of the window. The silence is definitely uncomfortable, and feeling already defeated I can't think of anything to say. Rose takes pity on me and tries to start conversation, but she and Emmett are the only participants.

By the time we reach the Stardust Ballroom, I know this can only go one of two ways. One, she will continue to give me the cold shoulder for the rest of the evening and neither of us will have any fun, or, two, she'll give me the brush and ditch me as soon as someone asks her to dance. I was betting on two.

We climbed the stairs and checked our coats with the attendant, then headed through the double doors that led into the dance hall. It was fairly crowded with couples dancing, groups of people conversing, and a line of gents looking over the crowd for the single ladies.

"Why don't you gentlemen grab us a table, while Rose and I powder our nose," Gianna smiled at us. She was deceptively casual, that was the most she'd said in my presence since we'd picked her up at her place.

"Sure, look for us in the back corner, over there," Emmett gestured to the back corner by a bank of windows that looked out over the street below.

We found a nice table and ordered a couple of cokes, while we waited for the ladies to return. If I was a betting man, I would have lost since I was wrong on both counts; she didn't even wait to get asked to dance. Rose came back a short while later, alone.

"Eddie, I'm so sorry we dragged you out here for this," she looked at me shamefully. "We never even made it to the powder room. She said she thought she saw someone she used to know and asked me to give you her excuses."

I nodded my head and got up from my seat. "Why don't you two enjoy yourselves. I think I'm gonna go outside and have a smoke."

Neither of them say a word as I walk away, either because they have no words or are just too ashamed of the situation. I really want to be by myself for a little while, and all the people in the ballroom just seem to be crowding in too close for my comfort, so I decide to make my way over to take refuge on the fire escape balcony on the opposite side of the room. It looks out over the back alley and would be real quiet and dark. I could lose myself in the shadows for a while.

I glance around the room as I make my way over and notice a little brunette sitting in the chairs against the back wall. She seems to be about as happy as I am to be here, and I have to pass right by her on my way to the fire escape.

As I near the back part of the room I notice a gentleman slow as he walks by her. She looks up, and I can see the hope in her eyes, but then he shakes his head and walks on past. She looks down at the hands folded in her lap and I see her shoulders slump a little. I know that feeling…I know that feeling well…It's a shame because she looks like a real nice gal.

Seeing that poor gal reminds me of my own failures and I quicken my pace towards the balcony. As soon as I get outside I breathe deeply, taking in the cool night air in an attempt to soothe my aching heart. I take out a cigarette from the pack in my pocket and light it, taking a long slow drag from the tobacco. I lean against the brick of the building immersing myself completely in the shadows I had sought. A few more drags from the cigarette and I finally start to relax, and although I can hear the music from inside, I still feel isolated and alone, which is exactly what I need at the moment. I needed to regroup before I go back in there. I needed to garner a little strength before I had to walk back through all those people to retrieve my coat and head home for the evening.

I take another drag and exhale, losing myself in the relative silence of the alley. I'm so focused on the calmness that finally starts to wash over me that I almost don't notice the movement to my left. I look over and see the petite profile of a woman standing near the edge of the balcony. I figure if I stay quiet and in the shadows she'd probably leave soon enough and I'd once again have the solitude I'd sought.

I try to ignore her, but my attention is drawn back to her. I can see her struggling with her purse, and watch as she draws out a pack of cigarettes. She plucks one out of the pack and presses it between her lips, before fumbling with a match. I can see her shoulders start to shake and realize she's on the verge of tears, so I push away from the wall to make myself known.

"Can I offer you a light?" I ask quietly as I come up beside her, hoping my presence will help stave off her tears.

She takes the unlit cigarette out from between her lips and then freezes. I can see the tremble of her lips as she fights to keep her emotions in check.


She says nothing, just stands there trembling and I can tell she's about to break.

"Miss," I ask again, and she suddenly turns, tears spilling down her cheeks, and buries her face in my chest. Her hands reach up for my shoulders and she clasps me to her tightly.

Not quite sure what to do, I just stand there for a few moments feeling completely helpless, before I finally realize she just needs me for a moment…She just needs me…so I wrap my arms around her and hold her just as tightly as she is holding me and I rest my cheek on the top of her head and just wait. I wait for her sobbing to subside, and I wait for the shudders to cease.

After a while, I'm not really sure how long, she's silent - just resting against me. I never thought I'd meet someone who suffers the same heartache as me, but here I am with this little slip of a girl in my arms and she'd just cried enough tears for the both of us.

"Are…are you gonna be okay?" I ask her quietly.

She pulls back slightly and nods, "Yes, thank you."

"You sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure. Thank you. I'm sorry that I…it was incredibly nice of you to…" she trails off as she sniffs again, clearly embarrassed by her loss of control in the presence of a stranger.

I pull away from her, noticing for the first time since she'd stopped crying that I was still holding her in my arms, and offer her the handkerchief from my pocket.

"Thank you, again." She gently wipes beneath her eyes and her nose before crumpling up the handkerchief in her small hand. When she finally raises her gaze to mine for the first time I realize she is the gal I saw in the ballroom on my way to the balcony. My heart thuds a little harder in my chest knowing that she knows exactly how I feel. Rejection is just as familiar to her as it is to me.

She stares at me quietly, a blush gracing her cheeks. She is clearly embarrassed by her emotional display and I can see a little bit of fear in her eyes as well. I resolve to do anything I can to make her feel more comfortable, anything to make the fear go away.

"I'm Eddie Masen," I say, trying to make her feel more at ease. "Would you care to dance?"

"It's nice to meet you, Eddie. I'm Bella," she blushes again and looks back down at her hands before finally looking me in the face, "and, I'd like that very much. Thank you."

I offer her my arm and guide her back through the balcony doors to the crowded dance floor where I take her in my arms and start to lead her in a slow dance. She is quiet in my arms, neither one of us speaking, but comfortable with the silence. After a few songs she shyly looks up at me and starts to speak.

"I'm sorry I cried all over you earlier."

"Hey, Hey – everybody's gotta cry sometime right?"

She looks down at my chest, and I quickly try to reassure her.

"Hey, right? I felt like cryin' yesterday. I called a gal up and she turned me down. I feel like cryin' every time a gal turns me down, and that's pretty frequent." I try to laugh, but it comes out a bit strained and I'm embarrassed by my confession.

"I know what you mean," she says quietly. Her voice is very soft and soothing. I feel strangely content in her presence, more than I've ever felt in any other woman's presence. Usually I feel very unsure of myself; I never know what to say.

"Thank you."

"What could I have possibly done for you, that you have to thank me?" She sounds so surprised and a bit incredulous. "You have been more than chivalrous this evening, I should be the one expressing my gratitude."

"I'm just thankful a nice gal like you, wants to dance with an old dog like me."

"You're not an old dog, Eddie." She shakes her head and looks me in the eyes. "I think you seem like a very nice man. I don't know any gentlemen that would allow a strange woman to sob on their shoulder like you did for me. And…and I think you have a very nice face. It's very strong and honest. I find that very comforting, so no, I don't think you're a dog – least of all old. You can't be much more than…thirty, I'd say."

I chuckle at her guess, and smile widely as I correct her assumption. "I'm thirty-four."

"You see? That's not very old at all." She smiles back just as widely.

"Tell me about yourself, Bella."

"Well, there's not much to tell, really." We continue to dance and she rests her cheek on my chest. I've never had a woman dance so close to me. It feels nice. I like that she seems to feel so comfortable with me. "I'm a school teacher. I teach English at a high school in Brooklyn. I- I live with my parents, and I'm twenty-nine years old…"

I could sense her hesitance at revealing her age and home life, and decide to share as much of myself with her in return. "You live with your parents? I live with my mother, too. I been livin' at home since my father passed away."

"I'm sorry to hear about your father."

"Thank you, but it was a very long time ago. It's been almost fourteen years that he's been gone now." I feel her head nod against my chest in understanding.

"Will you tell me about yourself, Eddie?"

"Sure, sure. I'll tell ya anything you'd like to know." Reluctant to let her go from my arms, I know that it would be much easier to talk if we sat down somewhere. "Would you…would you like to get a cup of coffee with me? There's a diner down the street…we could get a cup of coffee and talk…if…if you'd like."

"I'd like that very much."

I stop our dance and take her arm, leading her through the crowd to the coat check. As I help her with her coat I realize I forgot that I had arrived with my cousins and couldn't leave without letting them know where I was going.

"Bella, would you pardon me for a moment? I been so caught up in our conversation that I forgot I should try to let my cousin know I'm leavin'. I'll be just a moment, I promise."

She nods and I head back into the ballroom, but neither Emmett nor Rose are anywhere to be found. I make my way back to Bella at the head of the stairs and offer her my arm, which she takes with a smile. I look down at her and smile back, happy for the first time in longer than I care to remember. "You got a real nice smile, you know that?"

She blushes and looks down, clearly embarrassed by my compliment. "Thank you."

Her humility and shyness quickly become my favorite of her traits. There is a very endearing quality about her, and I find myself feeling very protective of her feelings. I don't want her to ever feel the way she did earlier, when she had cried in my arms. She's a real nice gal, and clearly deserves far better treatment than she has received.

"So I thought you were going to tell me about yourself," she jokes as we descend the stairs of the ballroom.

"Sure," I laugh, "where would you like me to start?"

"Well, I've already told you that I'm a teacher, what do you do?"

"I'm a butcher. See, my father and my Uncle Aro opened a shop many years ago when my parents first got married. When my father died, I took over his partnership to support the family."

"How old were you when your father passed away?"

"I was twenty."

"That's very young, to have so much responsibility."

"Yes, it was, but I love my family very much. My sisters and my brother are all younger than me, so there was no one else," I shrug.

"Do you like being a butcher?"

I'm quiet a moment while I think about how I should answer that, and see that we have arrived at the diner, so I guide her over to the door and lead her inside to one of the booths. I take her coat and get us settled before I answer. "I guess I do. There're a lotta worse jobs out there, and I'm a good butcher, so it's not so bad."

I look over at the counter. "Hey, Mel, can I get a couple-a coffees over here?"

"Sure thing, Eddie, comin' right up."

"So, taking over the family business wasn't what you had originally wanted to do?" She takes a cigarette out of the pack in her purse and I offer her a light. We both lean forward and I light hers before leaning back against the seat of the booth to light my own.

"No. When my father died, I was in the army. I wanted to go to school; I wanted to be a doctor." I look up as Mel sets two coffees down for us. "Thanks, Mel."

"Sure, Eddie, holler if yous need anything else."

I look back over at Bella and watch as she daintily takes a sip from the steaming mug. "You can't tell by listenin' to me now, but I used to be a pretty smart guy, graduated at the top of my class. I went into the army so I could go to college on the GI Bill of Rights, but when my father died, I got discharged and had to come home. Without the GI Bill, we couldn't afford school, and I was the only one old enough to work."

I snuff out what's left of my cigarette and cradle the cup of coffee in my hands. "See I got three sisters and a brother. My brother, he's the youngest, and was still in school…I was the only one that could help out Ma, so I took over my father's responsibilities at the butcher shop. But like I said, it's not so bad, and I'm a pretty good butcher."

"I can tell from the way you speak that you take pride in your work."

"I do, it's nothin' glamorous, but it's honest work." I take a sip from my mug. I've never had anyone listen to me like this, it feels good to have someone take an interest in me for a change…and for no reason at all, just because…just because. "Have…have you ever had somethin' you wanted to do, just for yourself, but life just didn't…wanna let ya?"

"Yes, I have," she says quietly, and I know…I know she understands me like no one else in my life does.

"I been livin' my life for everybody else - takin' care of everybody else for so long...I'm too old to go back to school. I'll never be a doctor, I know that, but my Uncle Aro and Aunt Sulpicia…" I look down at the mug in my hands, and smile ruefully. I'm talking to this gal about things I haven't ever talked to anyone about, not even Jimmy or my mother, and am amazed that I can be so open with her when I can't with those closest to me. "See, they live above the butcher shop. He wants to move uptown, closer to my cousins, and offered me his place, but…I just can't bring myself to do it. I'm all my mother's got now since my father died and all my sisters and my brother got married. She got nobody but me.

"If my Aunt Esme moves in I wouldn't have to worry 'bout her no more, ya know? She wouldn't be alone. I could finally live my life for me. That's all I want…to finally have the chance to live my life for me."

I look up at her, suddenly desperate to see that she understands. "Do you know what I mean?"

"I do." She smiles sadly, but I know it's not pity I see when I look at her watery eyes, it's empathy from someone who's been there, too.

"You do?"

"Yes, I do." She starts to fumble with her pack of cigarettes again and I know she's struggling to keep herself together. I lean across the table and light her cigarette and decide to give her some time to pull herself together.

"Would you…would you like another cuppa coffee?" She nods in answer, and I call Mel over for a refill. After a few minutes she looks up at me and I can see she wants to talk some more.

"I've always wanted to go back to school. I was part way through my master's program when my dad got sick. My mother never worked, and someone had to take care of my dad, so I started teaching…Even when my dad got better, I just never went back." She looks out the window and is silent for a while before she finally looks back at me and smiles shyly. "I guess I just thought I was too old. I still think about it though, it's always there in the back of my mind, calling to me. So yeah, I understand, Eddie. If I could do one thing for myself, I would go back to school and finish my degree, just for myself, no other reason."

"What's holdin' ya back?"

"I…I don't know. I guess I'm just stuck in this rut, feeling bad for myself. I feel like I have no prospects. I know I'm not especially pretty, and no matter what I do I can't seem to attract the attention of a nice man, so I'll probably never get married and have a family of my own…I've been living with my parents all of my life, and I'll probably still be living with them when they pass away, so I figure…why bother?"

"You know what, Bella? I don't think we're quite the dogs we think we are…I don't think we're the dogs everybody else seems to think we are either. I know I'm a nice guy, and you seem to be an awful nice gal, and I think we deserve more than we give ourselves credit for. I think we deserve to do somethin' for us…for ourselves." I look her straight in the eye. "I think you oughta go back to school, and I think I should move outta my ma's house if the opportunity comes my way. We need to stop feelin' sorry for ourselves, and take something from life instead of lettin' life take everything from us."

"Something for us…" she whispers and then shakes her head smiling brightly at me. "You really are a lot smarter than you give yourself credit for, Eddie."

I smile back at her, my mood suddenly much lighter than before, then I look at my watch. "Boy, look at the time! It's a quarter to one! Can you believe it? I never talked so much in my life!"

"Me either," she chuckles, "I've never lost track of time so easily, but I should really be getting home. I didn't realize it was so late."

"Bella?" I ask, feeling nervous for the first time in hours.

"What is it, Eddie?"

"Would…would you allow me the honor of escortin' you home this evenin'?"

She smiles and answers me quietly. "I'd really like that, Eddie."

A huge smile spreads across my face, and even though I know I probably look like some kind of goober, I can't find it in me to care. I stand up and offer my hand to help her out of the booth, and then hold her coat as she slips her arms into the sleeves. "I don't have a car…"

"That's okay, Eddie. Would you like to ride the bus with me?"

"I'd like that. I'd like that a lot, Bella."

Once again, Bella takes my arm, and once again I feel like the luckiest fella in town. Once we get on the bus I start telling her about other parts of my life, about my friends and family.

"We were quite the crew. Boy, I remember this one time, we decided to go squirrel huntin'. There we were in the middle of the city with a handful of stones, huntin' squirrels down at St. James Park – by the entrance over on Jerome Avenue. It only took us about half an hour and one dead squirrel to figure out huntin' wasn't for us, so we went down to the Windsor to catch a flick.

"See, there was this broken fire exit door on the second floor we used to sneak into, but we forgot that since it was Saturday, it was matinee day, so they had that live variety show before the movie. There was no way we were gonna sit through that, boy I tell ya!

"So we decided to go over to the Paradise instead. Only Jasper got this bright idea. See, for some reason they still had that squirrel, and he and Jimmy decided to throw it over the balcony. It landed right on this gent's neck, but instead of throwin' it on the floor he threw it back up in the air! You shouldda seen the looks on those poor people's faces as that squirrel flew through the air. Boy I tell ya! We sure had some great times when we were kids."

"It sounds like you have a nice group of friends."

"They're a great group of guys, sure. Sometimes though, I just don't think they understand me, sometimes I don't think anyone understands me…" I take a deep breath and look at Bella before I jump in with my next thought. "Not…not like you do…Bella?"

"Yes, Eddie?" She looks at me intently.

"Bella…I…I had a real swell time tonight."

"I did, too. I can't remember when I last had such a nice evening, Eddie."

I take another deep breath gathering the courage to ask her to go out with me, only this time I actually have a feeling that for the first time in a long time, I'm not going to get turned down. "I'd like to see you again…if you'd like?"

"I'd like to see you again, too," she smiles genuinely at me.

"That's swell, that's real swell," I smile back, genuinely happy.

The bus stops and I walk her to a small apartment building. "I gotta work at the shop all day tomorrow, but I thought maybe we could take in a movie…"

"I'd like that a lot, Eddie," she looks down at her feet sheepishly.

"Would…Would ya mind meetin' me at the shop? Around six o'clock," I ask. "We could go down to the grill and grab somethin' to eat before the movie…"

"Sure, I'll see you then…" she answers enthusiastically. Nobody was ever enthusiastic about going out with me…that thought made my smile even bigger. "Where's it at?"

"Boy am I embarrassed! I was so excited that you'd said yes, I forgot to tell ya where the shop was!" I feel my face flush, then smile even wider than I thought was possible. "It's Volturi's over on Fordham."

"Okay, I'll see you there at six." We stare at each other for a few moments, neither of us sure how to say goodbye, until we take a step closer and reach out at the same time. I hold my hand out for her to shake and she reaches up for a hug. We both laugh at the situation and then become quiet when we both realize how close we are standing next to each other.

"Bella?" My breath hitches and I lick my lips nervously.

"Yes, Eddie?"

I look down at my hands, and then back up at her. "Would…would it be alright…" I look back down at my hands. "Bella? May I kiss you?"

"I'd like that, Eddie. I'd like that very much," she says so softly I almost don't hear her.

I look back up at her and feel the corners of my lips twitch back up into a smile as I lean in and gently touch my lips to hers. It only lasts a moment, but I feel more in that split second than I have ever felt before in my few meager encounters.

I pull away and look at her face…really look at her face for the first time. "You got the prettiest brown eyes I think I ever saw."

She looks away again shyly. "Good night, Eddie."

"Good night, Bella. I'll see ya tomorrow." She turns and walks up the main steps into the building and I wait until she disappears before making my way back over to the bus stop. A series of emotions washes over me and I suddenly feel like Gene Kelly in Singin' in the Rain. I feel so happy, like I could dance all the way home.

/ V \\

I wake up the next morning with a smile on my face and a song on my lips. I don't think I can get any happier. The day at the shop goes by just as fast as the day before, and the ladies' never ending comments don't affect me nearly as much as they did in the past, because I know I'm going out with a first class gal tonight.

"There you go, Mrs. De Luca, that'll be a dollar seventy-nine." I wait patiently as she counts the exact change from her purse, only looking up when I hear the bell ring.

I see Bella walk in and stand quietly by the back wall, and I smile as I take the money from Jimmy's mother. "Here ya go, Eddie. You stop by soon, eh? It's been a while since Jimmy had you over for dinner."

"That'd be real nice, Mrs. De Luca. I look forward to it." I nod to Bella before I turn around to put the money in the register, so that she knows that I saw her arrive.

"There somethin' I can get for ya, Miss?" I hear Uncle Aro ask. I try to hurry as I count the change into the appropriate slots.

"No thank you," she replies sweetly. "I'm- I'm here to see Eddie."

"Is that right?" he asks. "Eddie, you no tell me you got a date tonight! Go on, get outta here, I'll close up shop tonight."

"Thanks, Uncle Aro." I smile and wash my hands and arms at the sink.

"So you gonna introduce this lucky lady, or what?"

"Of course." I blush and turn, motioning Bella forward. "Uncle Aro, this is Isabella Swan." I motion toward my uncle. "Bella, I'd like you to meet my Uncle Aro."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Sir."

"Please call me Uncle Aro, everybody else does," he exclaims as he takes her hand and places a kiss with a flourish. She blushes at the attention he gives her. "Now go, have a good time."

"Thanks, Uncle Aro." I grab my coat from the rack in the corner. "I'll see you tomorrow at mass."

I offer Bella my arm as we exit the shop. "Your uncle is quite the charmer."

"He sure is! Boy I tell ya, if it wasn't for him charmin' the neighborhood ladies I think the shop wouldda closed years ago."

"Don't sell yourself short, Eddie. You're more of a charmer than you think you are."

I blush and my grin widens. I can hear her laughing quietly next to me. "What? I can't stop smilin'. I haven't stopped smilin' since last night. I don't think I ever smiled so much in my entire life!"

She laughs louder now and looks at me, her brown eyes shining as she speaks. "I can't stop smiling either, Eddie."

"Do you mind if we stop by my house real quick? I gotta pick up a pack-a smokes and a little extra cash...It's not far, just around the corner."

"I don't mind."

We walk quickly down the street towards my home discussing which movie to attend and whether we should go to dinner before or after the show. I open the door and show her into the living room.

"Eddie, is that you?" My mother calls from the kitchen.

"Yeah, Ma, it's me," I answer. I look at Bella and she smiles, not phased by the prospect of meeting my mother before our first official date.

"What you doin' home early? I didn't expect you til later," she says as she comes through the door. She stops when she notices Bella standing next to me. "I so sorry, I did not realize we have company."

"Ma, I'd like you to meet Miss Isabella Swan. We were thinkin' on takin' in a movie tonight, and maybe some supper down at the grill."

She looks at Bella and then back at me without saying a word.

"It's nice to meet you, Mrs. Masen. Eddie has told me a lot about you," Bella graciously addresses her.

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Isabella." My mother's voice sounds a bit sharp, but I figure her arthritis is acting up and making her a bit irritable.

"Please call me Bella, Mrs. Masen."


"Hey, Ma, I'm gonna run upstairs real quick and grab a pack-a smoke before we leave." I turn and rush up the stairs hearing my mother asking Bella about herself. I quickly get the pack of cigarettes and a couple of bills from the small stack of cash I keep in my top drawer. When I return I can tell by the set of my mother's mouth and the stiffness of Bella's posture that things did not go so well in my absence. What could they have possible said while I was gone so short a time? I decide to let it go for now and just ask Bella what happened when we leave.

"I'm ready to go. Shall we?" I hold my arm out to Bella and she takes it silently, only nodding in response. "I'll see ya later, Ma!"

"Have a good evening, Eddie…Bella…" An awkward smile twists her lips and I am truly disturbed by what could possibly have been said in my absence. I guide Bella out to the street and then head in the direction of the theater.

"Is everything okay?" I ask, breaking the silence.

"Everything' s fine." She smiles genuinely, but it doesn't light up her eyes quite like it had before we stopped at my house.

"You sure?"

"Of course. I'm really looking forward to this evening, Eddie." She smiles a little bit brighter and I decide to let the matter drop. I don't want anything ruining our evening, and I can always ask my mother in the morning.

The rest of the night follows a similar pattern as the previous evening. I smile even more than before and can't help but feel like I finally found something…someone special. I ride the bus home with her, and once again she allows me the pleasure of a kiss, only this time our lips press together longer and I can feel her hands slide up my arms to rest on my shoulders in a light embrace.

"Can I call you tomorrow?" I ask, slightly breathless from our encounter.

"I'd really like that, Eddie, but we usually go to my aunt's house for Sunday supper and then Papa and I go to see a movie down at the Paradise." Her voice gets very quiet by the end of her explanation, and a slight frown passes over her lips.

"Oh, well that's okay. I can call you another time." I hope my voice doesn't show my disappointment.

"Okay. Good night, Eddie."

"Good night, Bella." I wait until she enters the building, and then take my leave heading towards the bus stop. I can't help but feel like something wasn't quite right. She seemed a little distant all evening after we'd stopped at my house, but I push it from my mind deciding that I'd ask my mother about it in the morning.

The house is dark when I get home, except for the porch light. I turn it off before heading upstairs and fall asleep as soon as I lie down.

/ V \\

"Her name is Bella, Ma."

"What kind of name is that? It sounds Italian. She Italian?"

"I don't know, Ma."

"You don't know? How could you not know? You say you like this girl, that she a nice girl. How you spend all evening with her and not know if she Italian or not?

"Is she Catholic?"

"Yes, Ma, she's Catholic." I am completely exasperated by my mother's behavior. She's a good natured and loving woman. I've never seen her take an instant disliking to someone before, it hurt that she felt so negatively about someone who was quickly becoming so important to me.

"I don't understand, Ma." I get up from the dining room table and start to pace. "Just the other day, I couldn't find a girl fast enough for ya and now when I finally find one, ya got nothing nice to say. What's the matter?"

"Nothin' the matter, I just don't like her."

"Why, why don't you like her? She's a real nice girl, Ma, and I like her very much. You'd like her too if you'd just give her a chance."

"I don't wanna like her!"

I am completely stunned by my mother's confession. Her outburst and words are so out of character that I don't know what to say. "Ma?"

"You gonna leave me, Eddie," she says quietly. "You find nice girl, get married, and you leave me. Then I be all alone."

"Ma, I ain't goin' nowhere." I crouch down next to her chair. "Even if I do get married, I'm still gonna take care-a ya."

"I gonna be a lonely old lady, Eddie. My husband is dead, and all my children gonna be grown and gone with families of their own. What's left for an old lady like me?"

"Ma, all these years you been pushin' me to get married… you were all for it, even yesterday. This isn't just about me gettin' married."

"It don't matter if you get married or not, you still leave me."

I look at her in stunned silence.

"What? You think I don't know about Aro's offer? He's my brother, Eddie, of course he talk to me about it!" She looks away from me down to the table in front of her.

I get up from my position next to her and sit back down on my chair. I had no idea Uncle Aro would talk to Ma about the apartment, not that I had made any concrete plans to take him up on the offer…yet.

"I didn't tell him I'd take it."

"I know. That's why he come over here Friday night. He come to tell me I gotta let you go. He say, that it's time for you be your own man. Then I see you with that girl, and I know that it don't matter, I lose you either way." She continued to look down at her empty plate, her hands in her lap twisting the napkin she held.

"Ma, you're not gonna lose me. I promise I'll always be here for ya, but I gotta live my own life. I gotta have somethin' for myself."

"So you are gonna go, then?"

I nod my head, resolved that it's the right thing to do. "Yeah, I think I am, but not until Aunt Esme moves in here. I'll always be here if ya need me, but I think this is somethin' I have to do."

She nods, but is silent.

"I think I'm gonna go out for a while." I get up from my chair and go up to my room to get some cash and a pack of smokes before heading on over to Hess' Pool Room to meet up with the guys for the afternoon.

"Hey, Eddie!" Jasper calls as I make my way down the stairs into the dimly lit interior of the small pool hall.

"Jasper, Felix." I nod to each of my friends in greeting. "Where's Jimmy?"

"He's up at the bar, gettin' some beers."

"Here ya go, Eddie, have a cold one." Jimmy hands me an icy bottle and I take a long pull. The cold beer tastes good after the conversation I had with my mother and I'm ready to relax.

"So how'd it go Friday night, Eddie?"

"Not so good at first. She practically gave me the brush before we even got to the ballroom." I grimace, remembering how Gianna had made me feel.

"I told you, you should have come with us," Jasper says, lining up his next shot on the table. "It was money in the bag, Eddie, money in the bag."

"Eddie, you shouldda seen these squirrels Jasper found." Jimmy sits his beer down on the counter and picksup his pool cue. "I don't think I ever seen a more wild bunch of gals!"

"You oughta come out with us again next Friday, Eddie," Felix says, "You won't be sorry, that's for sure."

"Nah, I think I already got a date."

Jimmy straightens from the shot he was about to take and looks at me incredulously. "You, my best friend, Eddie Masen, already has a date for next Friday night?"

"Not officially, but I met a real nice gal at the ballroom on Friday, we had coffee and talked. I'm gonna give her a call tomorrow night."

"Nah, don't go doin' that. You gotta come out with us on Friday. These squirrels we got lined up for Friday'll do more'n drink coffee with ya."

"Watsa matter with you, Jimmy?"

"Come on, she's probably just a nothin'. Why spend an evening with a girl like that when you could be out havin' fun with some real fun gals."

"She's not a nothin'. She's special, a real first rate gal." I say more than a little annoyed by my friend's attitude. "You don't like her. My mother don't like her. She's a dog, and I'm a tall, skinny little man. All I know is I hadda good time…If we have enough good times together, I'm gonna go down on my knees and beg that girl to marry me…You don't like her, that's too bad."

My friends look at me in silence, and I look away upset that I let myself get so annoyed But…between them and my mother it was shapin' up to be a real bad day.

Jimmy walks over and stands next to me. "I'm sorry, Eddie."

I nod in acknowledgement of his apology and try to get back in the game, but my heart's just not in it so I leave after a couple more rounds and head back to seek some solitude in my room.

/ V \\

I couldn't escape the nightmare. I knew it was a dream, but I just couldn't make myself wake up. There I am in the Butcher Shop, trying to fill orders, and the more I fil,l the more people pour in off of the street. Everyone is yelling at me, telling me I'm not movin' fast enough, and then they switch up all of the sudden and start yelling at me that I oughta be ashamed of myself, that I oughta get married. One right after the other, they just keep screaming until I close my eyes and cover my ears like a small child.

Then everything goes silent. I take a few deep breaths, afraid to open my eyes. My breath is coming in hard pants and I feel like I just ran a couple of miles. I just can't seem to catch my breath.

Then I hear her soft voice.

"Eddie?" It's so soothing and so quiet. "Eddie? I'm here now, everything is going to be okay."

I feel a light touch on my arm and finally open my eyes. "Bella?"

She smiles and I see her brown eyes light up with happiness. "They're not going to bother you anymore, Eddie. I'm here now, and I'm not going to let them bother you."

"I know…I think I know." She walks around the counter right up next to me and grabs me in a tight embrace just like she did out on the balcony.

She feels warm and soft and smells so nice. I don't want to let go…"I don't wanna let go."

"You don't have to," she says, "not ever again."

I didn't even realize I had spoken aloud, but I like the sound of her answer. I lift her chin with my hand so I can look in her eyes. "I won't."

As soon as the words leave my mouth she leans up and presses her lips to mine. I've never tasted anything so sweet, or felt anything so soft in my life and it ignites a feeling deep inside that spurs me on to deepen the kiss. I increase the pressure and slide my hand from her chin to the hair at the nape of her neck. Her shoulder length hair slides across my skin sending shivers up my arm.

The need I suddenly feel for her overtakes any hesitancy I have and I slip the tip of my tongue out and gently lick her lips. She accepts my wordless invitation by opening her mouth to mine and for the first time our tongues meet in a gentle caress. The sensations are indescribable and I suddenly cannot get enough. She leans in further, rising up onto her tip toes, and tightens our embrace.

I move both of my hands down to her waist and then slowly down to her hips where I clasp her tightly to me. She moves her arms up around my neck and releases my lips.

"I need you, Eddie," she whispers in my ear before kissing my sensitive lobe and making her way back down to my lips.

I tighten my grip on her hips and lift her up onto the butcher block, pushing her legs apart so that I can rest between them. I move my hands to her waist and pull her forward pressing our bodies as close together as possible.

She pulls back and smiles, her brown eyes bursting with the same happiness I feel radiating throughout my own body. "I need you, Eddie."

When I hear her words, I know there is nothing I wouldn't give her. All I ever want to do is make her happy, make her brown eyes shine…

I move my hand back up to her neck and weave my fingers into her hair and angle her lips to mine so that I can once again take advantage of her sweet taste. I feel her hands caressing up and down my chest and I groan at the sensation. Her tiny fingers make quick work of the buttons on the front of my shirt. She pushes the edges to the side and runs her hands up and down my chest again, except this time there is only my undershirt between us.

I feel emboldened by her touch and have the desire to feel her skin against mine so I disentangle my hands from her hair and start to push my shirt from my shoulders. As soon as my shirt slips to the floor I feel her hands at my waist tugging my undershirt from my pants and then up and over my head.

I stare at her, my breath coming in hard pants, and close my eyes when her hands finally touch the skin of my lightly muscled torso. "That feels so good, Bella."

Keeping one hand on my chest, she reaches the other up and guides our mouths back together. I greedily lick and nip at her lips and tongue drinking in her flavor. I move my hands slowly up her waist and lightly palm the sides of her breasts through her blouse. I let my thumbs graze over her already hardened peaks and growl at the low moan she emits at my touch.

I hastily unbutton her blouse and slide it open exposing her crisp white undergarments to my gaze. I quickly divest her of any and all clothing keeping her high, firm breasts from my view. They're perfect, small and round, just enough to fill my mouth as I draw a pink nipple between my lips.

"Eddie…" she moans.

I move my mouth back up to her lips and take them in a crushing kiss. Within a few moments she's unbuckled my belt and pushed my pants and briefs down where they now rest around my ankles. I move my hands to her knees and push the fabric of her skirt up over her thighs so I can access the most intimate part of her.

She feels like heaven, all hot and moist, ready and waiting for me. I reach over with my left hand and retrieve the knife I had been using earlier and quickly slice through her garter belt and panties, removing the last remaining barrier between us, and thrust myself inside he.

We both cry out with the intensity of the sensations as I start to move within her, neither of us able to hold anything in as I draw back and press forward again and again in a timeless rhythm. I greedily assault her lips with my own, imitating each thrust of my hips with my tongue. I can feel her body gripping mine as she nears completion and shudder with the sensation of my own impending orgasm. I once again weave my fingers into the hair at the nape of her neck gripping her head tightly in the palm of my hand, and move my other palm from her waist to support her lower back as I change the angle of our position on the counter. I thrust upward more forcefully and move my lips down to suckle her arching breasts.

"Mmm…Eddie," she moans as her release takes over her body. The sensation of her orgasm sweeps me into my own, washing me with a happiness I'd never known.

I wake with a start, completely disoriented and flushed with embarrassment—I've never had a dream so vivid and detailed in my life.

It's Monday morning, and I head into work, hardly able to recover from the intense dream of the night before.

The first thing I do is talk to Uncle Aro about taking his offer of the apartment upstairs. The only request I make is to wait until Aunt Esme moves in with Ma. The rest of the day moves by pretty slow, Monday business is always slower than the rest of the week, and I am constantly distracted by my thoughts of Bella and the memory of my dream. It's awfully hard to cut apart a side of beef with the same knife I dreamed had been used to cut off my Bella's undergarments the night before…let alone that I had taken dream Bella on the very same butcher block I had to stand in front of all day. It made for a very uncomfortable situation in my pants…that's real swell, Eddie.

By the end of the day all I could think about was seeing Bella again, and calling her up tonight was just not going to be enough. I want more than just her voice…I need to see her, to have an assurance that she needs me in the same way I had begun to need her. I beg Uncle Aro to let me go early, promising that I'll close up for him for the next couple of nights.

He smiles at me knowingly. "Go on, get outta here."

"Thanks, Uncle Aro." I grab my coat and hurry across the street to the flower shop and then make my way to the bus stop as fast as I can, hoping I can make it before she leaves for the day.

The bus pulls up just down the street from Benjamin Franklin High School right as the bell rings to signal the end of the day. I stop someone and ask the way to Miss Swan's room, and he quickly relays directions.

I start to get nervous, hoping I'm not making a mistake, hoping that she won't think I'm too forward for coming to the school instead of calling like I said I would. I slowly approach her room and see that she is speaking with a student. I back away and pace in front of her door waiting for my chance.


I stop abruptly and look over at her door, feeling extremely shy and out of place. "H-hello, Bella," I finally manage to speak.

She looks at me quizzically. "Hi, Eddie."

"I-I'm sorry I came down. I don't mean to intrude; I just really wanted to see ya…" I trail off, feeling unsure of myself.

"Are those for me?" She looks from my face to the flowers in my hand.

"Sorry, yeah…I just wanted to do somethin' nice for ya…" I hold out the flowers to her and she takes them from my hand, holding them up to her face to inhale the fragrance.

"Thank you, Eddie," she smiles, "No one's ever brought me flowers before."

At the sight of her smile, my confidence starts to return. "I was wonderin' if you'd like to have dinner with me tonight…"

Her smile brightens and her brown eyes shine. "I'd like that, Eddie."

/ V \\

AN: Marty, was originally written as a teleplay by Paddy Chayefsky which was adapted to film in 1955. It won both an Academy Award for Best Picture and the Palme d'Or at Cannes. In addition it was nominated for seven other Academy Awards. I t won in four out of the eight total categories in which it was nominated including Best Picture, Best Director (Delbert Mann), Best Actor (Ernest Borgnine), and Best Writing/Adapted Screenplay.