Title: No One Likes To Be Alone
Summary: Alice sends Edward on a mysterious errand to the late night convenience store during the Christmas season. He happens upon a distraught Bella and takes her home while unraveling the enigma that is this unique, human girl. Fandom Gives Back auction piece for Profmom72.
A/N: To Profmom72, thank you for donating to Alex's Lemonade Stand in honor of the Fandom Gives Back and I'm sorry this took so long. I hope you enjoy this. Also, thank you for letting me share this with the rest of the fandom. Huge thanks to my amazing beta, lie2me.87 for fixing my comma craze and making sure everything was coherent. The banner for this story can be found on my blog, link on my profile. And now, have fun reading :D
Take me by the hand,
Take me somewhere new.
I don't know who you are,
But I, I'm with you.
"I'm With You" - Avril Lavigne
I wasn't sure why Alice had sent me to the all-night convenience store at three in the morning, but I went anyway. She tells me to pick up a "surprise" for her, but how in the world do you surprise a clairvoyant?
I could tell the wind was bitterly cold even though it no longer affected me. The humans I passed with their Christmas dresses and ties flapping around them and their rosy, wind-whipped cheeks were enough of a giveaway.
Most people were heading back home from office parties and friendly get-togethers as was usual around this time of year. The thoughts were boisterous and slightly foggy from alcohol interference. It made me smirk on the walk there.
I wished I had been able to bring my car, but Alice had let Jasper borrow it and Rose and Emmett were off on a holiday in Canada.
It seemed convenient, but then again it was hard to trust my baby sister. With her seeing the future and knowing how to keep me from reading her thoughts, it was easy for her to set up evil plots against me and the family. It was Christmastime though, so I felt like giving a little. Who knows, it could be rewarding this time.
I let out a deep breath as I rounded the corner of the street my destination was located on. The exhale only showed wisps of fog compared to the human counterparts I passed. At times, I missed being human, but I know that if Carlisle had not changed me into what I am today, I would not have lived much longer in that form. Because of this, it made me somewhat grateful that I was able to live on and see the world, as it had never been seen, but the days were so lonely when everyone else in the house has paired off happily.
I rub my hands together and blow on them as I enter the store. It's these simple human-like actions that make it easier to blend in.
"Cold out?" the man behind the counter says.
"'Tis the season, to be freezing." I reply with a half-smile.
I wander around the store, looking around for what it is Alice wants me to do here. I'm beginning to wonder why I'm even here when there is nothing that a vampire could possibly need from a convenience store. The trip is proving to be less and less convenient by the second.
I don't see the man behind the counter anymore, but I hear that he is watching me on the camera. Is he honestly afraid I would bother stealing something from here?
He is taking a long time. Most guys that look like that just grab the condoms and leave. Is he gonna start something? What do I do? Do I call my manager? The cops? Breathe, Mike. Settle down. Let the man make his selec--hell-oooo Miss Legs-a-lot. I hear the man's, apparently named Mike, inner panic, which seems distracted by another customer. I heard the door chime, but didn't see anyone enter. Vulgar pictures of this unknown, faceless woman pop into my head, courtesy of Mike, and I blink rapidly to try and make them go away.
"Hello, miss. How may I...be of service tonight?" Mike says, his words dripping with a not-so-hidden sexual undertone.
"I'm fine, thanks," the woman replies, followed by a hiccup.
I peek around the corner of a stand of Hostess treats to get a better look at the girl, when she's not in someone else's sexual fantasies. She's facing the freezer section and I can make out a slight reflection but I try to hear what she's thinking first. She sounded upset and for some reason, I don't want her to be. She's wearing a worn out, overly long sweater covering up a blue dress. Her brown hair is up in a messy bun and her hand rests on the handle to the Ben n Jerry's section. She sighs and lets her arm drop, the silver handcuff bracelet sliding down her forearm. As she stands there I realize I can't hear what is going on in her head. It bothers me that I don't even know whether she's debating on a flavor or if she isn't even thinking about the ice cream at all. I wonder if getting closer will help fix my 'reception', so I casually walk towards the fruit drinks and sodas.
I stare at her out of the corner of my eye, wondering what it is about this creature that blocks me, what is it that makes her so special. I slink closer, thinking up anything I can to say to her.
"Hello, miss. I hear Phish Food is best, but I've never tried it before."
She turns to face me and the sight of her face worries me. I keep my composure, so as to not alarm her. Her mascara is spread in scraggly lines beneath her eyes as if she has been crying recently. Her cheeks are a beautiful rose on her porcelain skin and her lips look wind-burned. The natural redness makes her stunning even when she seems so distraught. I want desperately to know what happened to her.
"It's my favorite," she replies awkwardly, still staring at me. Her eyes continued searching my face for something unknown.
I open the door and grab the pint for her. I motion for her to follow me to the counter. She looks confused but follows me anyway.
"I think this is all we'll be needing tonight," I tell Mike. His thoughts immediately seem to jumble, wondering if I had only been waiting for her to show up. When he sees her up close, he assumes I've done something to upset her and have showed up to try and fix things. He's not very confident in me.
I smirk at him and pay for the dessert. The girl doesn't say anything, but instead seems to be following along. I hand her the bag with her frozen treat. She looks at me, telling me with her eyes to follow her. I walk with her and open the door for her to go back out into the cold night. Once we're outside, she faces me and speaks. Her voice is soft and delicate, just like her.
"I don't know who you are, but thank you. You didn't have to do that. I'm just having a rough night." She looks down shyly then turns to face the door of the convenience store. She is startled by her reflection.
She starts to rummage through her purse. Even without being able to read her mind I know she's looking for a way to clean herself up. I hand her my handkerchief.
"I don't want to mess it up. You've already done enough good deeds for the day. What's your name, anyway?" she asks, trying to shove the handkerchief back into my hand.
"Edward. Edward Cullen. And you are?" I step slightly closer, partially to block her from the wind that has started to pick up but mostly to close the gap between us.
"I'm Bella Swan." She reaches up to wipe some stray mascara with the back of her sleeve and I notice the bracelet again. I comment on how it doesn't seem to match her.
She blushes slightly and looks down at her feet. They're almost purple from both the cold and her apparent lack of melanin.
"My father was the Chief of police where I grew up. He was shot in the line of duty last year and now has to have in-home care. He gave this to me two Christmases ago." Her eyes begin to prickle with tears again and I try to think of something to say to stop it.
"It--it's very cold. May I walk you home? The streets are so dark and slippery at this time and I would hate to find out something happened to you before you were able to enjoy your ice cream." I flash her a friendly smile in hopes that she won't think I'm just some creep.
She pauses as if thinking and her eyes glaze over, reminding me of the devilish sister that put me up to this in the first place. I smirk at the thought and Bella's eyebrows furrow in confusion.
"What did you ask me?" she asks, seeming to be out of it. I laugh loudly at this girl's strange behavior.
"May I walk you home? I'd love to know what goes on in that pretty little head of yours that you can't even remember questions that strange men ask you."
"Um, I'd actually like that." she smiles widely, brightening up her pale face. She is much more beautiful when she smiles. I plan to make her do more of that.
I hold out my elbow for her to take but she stops as if she's just remembered something. She digs through her purse and pulls out a wet wipe and a mirror. She wipes off the make-up and lets out a sigh of relief, as if glad to see her face again. I hand her my long pea coat to try and keep her legs warmer on the walk home. She tries to refuse but sees that I won't relent this time. She stuffs my handkerchief in the pocket slyly and then takes hold of my outstretched elbow. She vaguely tells me about when I'll need to turn down various streets, but she seems to be distracted with sniffing my coat. I realize it might not be warming her up but she makes no move to remove it. She smiles and we begin our journey home.
"So what brings you running to the only men shared among the entire female population?" I ask, trying to carefully pick her brain.
She looks confused so I continue to explain.
"Ben and Jerry." I point to the bag in her hand.
Comprehension seems to dawn on her as her face lights up with understanding then a faint blush. The added color makes her look even more breathtaking.
"Well, I actually left a Christmas party at my boy--ex-boyfriend's house." She looks down as she speaks, obviously still troubled by whatever had happened at the party.
"I'm going to take a wild guess and say this has to do with the ex?"
Her lower lip trembles a bit as she nods her head. I stop walking.
"Oh, I didn't mean to make you cry. Usually, it's just so easy to read people and kind of figure out their situation but with you I couldn't figure it out and it bothered me. I'm so sorry." I turn towards her and bring her to a stop as I speak, frantically trying to fix things.
"Edward, stop. It's okay. He told me it could happen one day. I just wasn't expecting it to be today or ever, really." She shrugs and takes a deep breath to calm herself.
"Wait. He told you he would leave you someday? What kind of guy were you dating?" I am horrified that any man has told her they would eventually leave her, let alone leave any woman. She looks at me with her eyes wide, as if something wrong has been said.
"It-it's, um, complicated. It was a, uh, love at first sight thing for him. We started out as just friends for a long time and then we just sort of started dating but part of us both knew that it wasn't real love, you know?" she says quickly like she has a case of word vomit and flings her hands around in wild gestures, nearly hitting me with the bag of ice cream. I just nod and take it in.
She is wringing her hands nervously.
"Bella, can I ask you something personal?"
Her eyes snap to my face, searching for something.
"Do you believe in love at first sight?"
She opens and closes her mouth several times before she seems to finalize what she wants to say. I feel silly asking her but the human part of me hopes she says yes because it feels as if I may have fallen victim to the old saying.
"Well...yes and no. I mean, I believe it can happen but I don't want to if it doesn't always work both ways. Why believe in something that will only hurt you?" She clutches a heart necklace with blue sapphires and diamonds on it.
I pull her along by the hand to start walking again. Her teeth are starting to chatter and I need to get her home and warm. We are silent for a moment until I can't take it anymore.
"Did he give that to you? The necklace, I mean."
"Huh? Oh, yeah. It's just something he gave me as an early gift for the party. Sapphire's my birthstone and he likes when I wear blues, something about--"
"Looking good with your complexion," we say at the same time.
She blushes again and seems to realize we're holding hands. She smiles and lightly squeezes my hand. Her distraction causes her to trip over the lift in the sidewalk from a rogue tree root. I upright her and see a snowflake fall into her dark hair. It is snowing. I expect to see a child-like expression on her face, as I normally see on the humans that see the first snow of the season, but instead I am greeted with a scowl. I laugh and her brow furrows, but a smile is tugging at the corners of her mouth.
"What's wrong with snow? I thought it was supposed to be magical?" I tease. We are only two turns from her house and I am trying to prolong our time together, even though it's close to 4 a.m.
"I hate snow. And rain. And winter," she says, making a disgusted face.
"How on Earth can you possibly hate all those things and live in Seattle, of all places?"
"I grew up in Forks, a little town outside of here, and moved to California when I graduated. I came back when my dad was shot to make sure he was okay. My mom left and remarried when I was still in pre-school, so I'm all he had left. He didn't want me to spend my life looking after him, so I moved here. Far enough to live on my own, close enough to keep watch on him."
"You are one interesting young woman," I say, turning the final corner to her street.
She smirks and starts looking for the numbers on the houses.
"I could say the same about you, you know."
"Oh, really? You think I'm a woman? I thought for sure I was a man." I pretend to be surprised by this "revelation."
She rolls her eyes, "You know what I meant."
She stops at the walkway to a quaint one-story, number seventeen. I smirk at the irony that the house will always be number seventeen, as I will. She thinks I am smirking at her and does that blushing bit again.
"Well, this is my house. Thanks for walking me home, Edward. I appreciate it." She stands there, obviously not ready to leave.
"You're very welcome. I hope I can get to know you more." I smile genuinely at her.
She stumbles towards me and wraps her arms around me in an embrace. I am startled but happy. I return it wholeheartedly, taking in the scent that had been so faint from the cold and wind. It is intoxicating in so many ways. My mouth pools with venom but I already know I would fight the monster within me to keep this girl alive even if it is for selfish reasons.
"Oh, Edward. I know I don't really know who you are and you don't really know me, but I want to just be. Can we just be?" she rambles on, her voice muffled because she has placed her face against my chest.
Although it seems nonsensical it makes perfect sense to my lonely heart and the thirst ebbs away, with less of an internal fight.
"I would love to just be. May I pick you up at seven, so we can just be?" I say, then feel my phone vibrate in my pocket. I know it is Alice.
Bella looks up at me and smiles wide, "Seven is great. You know where I'll be."
She lets go reluctantly and I pull out my phone to see what Alice has said.
There's a piece of paper with your number on it in your jacket pocket. Make sure she knows. xo Alice
I shake my head and look up just in time to see Bella trying to take off my coat.
"Wait! Keep it. It makes sure that neither of us will back out of the plan but in case you need to make changes, my number is in the pocket."
She opens her mouth to refuse but changes her mind. She nods sheepishly and gives me another hug. Once she steps back I take her hand.
"Goodnight, beautiful Bella." I kiss her hand and watch that beautiful blush spring to life again.
"Goodnight, Edward," she says and walks toward the house finally.
I watch her walk away until she is behind the closed door, safe and sound. I quickly get out my phone to text Alice.
A/N: I just have one more thing to say. This was a challenge for me that I greatly enjoyed. I'm not used to doing Edward's point of view and this was my first venture into present tense writing. I hope I pulled it off. Thanks for reading :D