Title: Waiting for a Sign
Fanfic or Fanart: Fanfiction
Genre: Romance and a wee bit of angst.
Word Count: 1496
Author's Note: I really enjoy writing one-shots because they are quick, to-the-point and sometimes more profound that a big long epic of a story. I was staying with my sister last night, who is almost 9 months pregnant and since she didn't want to be alone while her hubby was on nightshift, I went to stay and without internet connection at her house (yes, I know... no internet, it's a scandal!) I decided to write a one-shot for the apple-a-day challenge. Quickly scanning the list before I left home, I picked shiver and I hope you like it.
People, and their reactions to the things that we do can give away so many secrets about what they are thinking – if you are astute enough to notice the miniscule signs; the widening of the eyes in surprise, a furrow of annoyance or even the pinched angles of despair. Some experts can detect lies in nothing more than the twitch of an eyebrow and for Carlisle, his skill for reading people and their reactions had been honed by centuries of practice.
Although Edward could literally read minds, Carlisle's could almost always accurately interpret the reactions of the people around him. Even when they were trying so desperately to keep their cards close to their chest – as Bella had been doing for too many weeks now.
Carlisle likened it to dancing; the two of them skirting around the very palpable tension that existed between them – so flagrant in fact that it had almost taken on a lifelike quality, as though it were a living, breathing being that co-existed with them. Thus far only Bella and himself were privy to it and he thanked God for small favours.
He had been looking for the signs now for weeks; signs that Bella might harbour something beyond the faintest glimmer of attraction. He noticed the way her breathing hitched when he passed by – a subtle catch in her throat as her heart began to beat faster. The vampiric skills he had acquired centuries ago assured him that her heart did indeed beat faster when he was in close proximity – which was exactly why he refrained from stepping too close when Edward was around. But those endearing hitches stayed in his mind for days, replayed over and over until the magic of them had dissolved in a solution of self-doubt, until he was sure he was imagining things.
Then when her chocolaty eyes refused to look at him, Carlisle's transient belief returned boldly, gleaming with renewed certainty. If she looked at him, it would fuse the attraction, he knew. The meeting of eyes, filled with promise and confusion, lust and guilt. A thousand thoughts and feelings, whirling like the sparkling, ever changing spectacle of a kaleidoscope. Bella recognised his ability to read her and that it unnerved her was obvious in the jerky, awkward way in which she behaved when he was around.
It fanned a thrilling fire in Carlisle's belly and he felt more like a predator now than he had ever as a vampire. The hot blush that crept along her neck and face when he laughed at something someone else had said was incredibly satisfying to witness, even if his growing need for her confused and worried him.
He found that he rather missed her when she didn't visit for a few days and that something reacted adversely when Edward was openly affectionate with her. Jealousy was not a virtue, but it was however a vague fragment of humanity still left within him.
When Edward suggested that Bella start learning a musical instrument and his attempts at positioning her clumsy fingers on the ivory keys of the Steinway and Sons grand piano in the music had catastrophic effects on his ears, Carlisle had kindly – and far from altruistically – offered to teach her the basics of the cello.
She had agreed too quickly, he decided and the immediate closure of emotions in her eyes signalled that she had caught herself on before giving too much away. The dance was quickening, he thought. The tempo increasing to the approaching crescendo and he decided that if there was one more sign – just one – he would act upon it. He would ask her outright if there was something she wished to make vocal. In the pit of his belly, Carlisle sensed he wouldn't have to wait too long.
His assumption was correct.
With the family scattered, Esme, Rosalie, Emmett and Edward hunting and Alice away for the weekend with Jasper, they had been alone in the mountain house. Bella steadfastly refused to look at him for too long and with considerable reluctance (now that she'd had time to think) she agreed to join him in the music room where he would teach her the basics of playing the cello.
"Sit," he said gesturing with one hand to the empty chair by the music stand. "What do you know about cellos, Bella?" The instrument he been his favourite for a great many years and one that he had perfected through much practice. She gnawed on her lip, made nervous by the sheer imposition of his strength and presence.
"Nothing, really..." she admitted bashfully – an endearing thing, Carlisle thought. Although she didn't possess incredible beauty, there was most certainly something extra-special about Bella Swan. Something that no amount of contemplating would enlighten him to. He had tried.
"This cello is made from spruce and maple," he told her as her eyes fell to the instrument in his hand. "The wood with which it was crafted spent a decade drying in the temperate climes of the Mediterranean. The sound drawn from it is powerful, rich and extremely evocative." Bella swallowed heavily and he knew instinctively that she was beginning to view the cello with trepidation; wondering if she was up to the task of playing it. He didn't mention that it cost over thirty-thousand dollars had been made especially for him, in case she fled the music room in a panic. "The bow is made from Pernambuco, a rare Brazilian wood that ensures an excellent balance." He took a step closer and held the cello out to her. "It is extremely important to remember, Bella, that to play the best you can possibly play in any musical instrument you cannot allow yourself to be intimidated by it."
She hesitated in reaching out for it.
Urging her to lean forward, Carlisle stood behind her and wrapped his arms around her delicate frame. Her knuckles were white around the neck of the cello – definitely not conducive to good playing.
"Relax," he soothed, running his hand over her forearms until her fingers loosened. Then came the sign he had been waiting for; her little body gave the tiniest quake that began at her shoulders and slipped all the way down her spine. A shiver. He felt himself freeze and her follow suit – their arms entwined while together they were as rigid as statues, Bella seated in the cello-chair and Carlisle ensconcing her in his demonstrative embrace.
He saw a layer of alluring goosebumps rise on her supple, pale flesh and he was lost that his touch could affect in her such a dramatic way. He'd made her shiver – like a lover eliciting desire at a mere, glancing brush of skin. She looked up at him, embarrassed and ashamed and yet filled deeply with yearning. His golden eyes met hers, understanding and encouraging without words.
The bow and the extremely pricey cello slipped from her hands as she turned in her seat and without preamble, sank her fingers into his blond hair. The fire in his belly erupted as his mouth crashed against hers, all thoughts of music tuition gone from his mind in an instant. The fantasy of having Bella in his arms had been consuming him, and even with his mind being able to create vivid and inspiring images, the reality was beyond anything he could have fathomed in an eternity.
She tasted real – human. Warm and sweet and so very needy.
Bella shivered again when his cool hands slid beneath the hem of her shirt and spread out against her bare back. He delighted in it.
The kissing ended all too quickly but the guilt in her eyes took awhile to come. When it did, though, it rained down over them like a monsoon – grey and bleak and so very miserable. Carlisle stepped away while knelt at the cello, her lovely hand stroking the varnished wood as she once again struggled not to look at him.
Downstairs the door slammed and Carlisle immediately switched his thoughts to a language he knew Edward wouldn't understand while Bella smoothed her hair and levelled her expression. If their guilt was apparent when Edward burst into the music room with a jovial grin, there was no indication of it.
"Hey!" He beamed. "How's the lesson going?" Bella cleared her throat.
"It was just beginning... I dropped the cello... not a great start." Carlisle wondered if she was talking about the music lesson now. "It's been enlightening so far, though." Edward glanced quizzically at him, wondering no doubt why he was thinking in a dead-language, but his smile was unfaltering. "I was thinking you could take me to get some lunch now, though?" Carlisle's heart, if had possessed one, would have crumbled.
"Sure," Edward replied, always obliging.
When Bella passed the cello back to him and their hands brushed, she shivered again. An incontrollable reaction to his touch, it seemed. Only this time, the guilt in her eyes killed the moment.
A/N: A wee bit of a sad ending there, I suppose. But then stories don't always end happily, do they? Of course you can fill in the blanks in your mind, can't you? Weeks of fleeting glances and touches climaxing in a sweaty, lemony scene between the two of them. Please review!!