Ch. 1: Arrivals
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight
Thanks to all the help from Project Team Beta for this chapter.
They worked their magic and made it pretty!
So, this is Seattle. It would do for now.
I had just got off the bus from Portland and my legs ached. I was too damn tall to be crammed into those seats. I stretched my arms above my head and straightened my legs until my knees popped, and taking a deep breath of the morning air.
That first deep breath alerted me to something different surrounding me, different from every other city I'd been to. The difference wasn't as simple as fresh air versus the recycled air of the bus. It felt different going into my lungs, almost like it was thicker. This city felt like it had more substance in one breath than any other I had visited in years.
I shook it off and started to walk down the sidewalk away from the bus station. It was mid-morning, but there was no sun. The sky was full of grey clouds that looked like they were tumbling over each other the way they do before a huge, fucking storm, but from what I had heard it always looked like rain here. I honestly didn't think I would mind…that much.
The more I thought about it the luckier I felt. The atmosphere was cool and somber and since I wasn't a bright, shiny person and I didn't really like living it bright, shiny places, I guess I got lucky. I missed the first bus that was going to Phoenix and instead settled for the one that took me to Seattle. I knew this city was a much better choice already. The word Phoenix screamed 'heat' to me.
The only problem I ever encountered in a new place was direction. I had no clue where anything was, so, like always, I decided to just walk until I found a motel. I didn't really care for scenery, so where it was located didn't matter, and I didn't have any friends to be close to, so that didn't matter either. All I needed a place to stay.
I had made sure before I bought the bus ticket that I would have enough money for about a weeks rent at a cheap place. I sure as shit didn't want to sleep on a park bench for any length of time. Luckily, I had enough left over since my last job in Portland paid well.
Strategizing was next. After I found a room for myself I then needed to find a job. Seattle was supposed to have a big music scene, so I was sure I could find some bar or club that would take me. I wasn't interested in playing on the weekends so I should be able to find a gig fairly easy.
I had been playing around the country since I was eighteen and could legally get into clubs and bars. For the first two years after I left home, I worked odd jobs and practically lived on the street. At one point, I had a job at a hotel, carrying bags and shit. The manager was pretty cool and let me stay in the basement. That was for six months, then I turned eighteen and moved on again.
The only things that I had kept with me over the years were my duffle bag full of clothes and my guitar. The clothes changed but the duffle bag stayed the same. My mom bought it for me the summer I went to guitar camp. I was twelve and she used all the extra money we had to send me there. I'm pretty sure that while I was away for that month, she went without the telephone and electricity. She was a good woman, and I couldn't help but think she would be disappointed in me now. I had no saving grace it seemed, and I really wasn't looking for redemption. I wasn't a good guy and I certainly wasn't a guy that any woman with self-preservation would go for.
I was snapped out of my self-deprecating thoughts when my guitar case ran into something or rather someone. I heard a small "Oh" and I looked around. Nothing was visible at eye level so I looked down and that was when I saw her.
"I'm so sorry! I didn't see you." Her voice was soft and I could see her blush, even though she was looking down, picking up her purse. She had long brown hair that curled slightly. Her skin was pale but it didn't look sickly: it was smooth and looked soft. She was dressed casually in a t-shirt and jeans.
"It's alright. I wasn't paying attention either." I could barely get my voice to cooperate.
She looked up once I spoke and I gave her a small smile. I looked into her eyes and saw they were the most interesting shade of brown. I continued to stare into them trying to figure them out. They looked like melted chocolate with little hints of caramel. Her eyes reminded me of the sweetest fucking desert I could imagine. She blushed deeper and gazed down at her bag. I realized then that I was probably being creepy just staring at her, but she was like nothing I'd ever seen before.
"Ok. Sorry again." She started to walk away when I noticed that there was a book lying in the gutter. The cover and pages were worn and creased. It must have been one she really liked. Wuthering Heights. I vaguely remembered hearing about this book in school. I smiled when I realized she must have been a romantic.
That was nice, but the poor girl was in for heartbreak one day. Soul stealing romances were only found between the well worn pages of books or weaved between the notes in a song. Real love tended to be stolen away or was just a figment of someone's imagination.
Still, she would need her book back. Who was I to deny her of her fantasy?
"Hey! Wait!" She stopped and turned around quickly, losing her balance a little and wobbling, but she then righted herself. She was wearing flats. Judging by everything that had happened since I met her she had no future as a ballerina.
"Um, yes?" Her blush spread along her neck as she twisted her fingers together. She looked as nervous as I felt.
"You forgot this. Although I'm not sure you want it. It doesn't even look like you like it." I thumbed through the weathered pages and smiled, trying my best to use my unpracticed flirting skills.
She looked down at the ground and then met my eyes. Biting her bottom lip she shrugged, "You're right. I have no interest, but thank you. One day I plan on reading it." She took the book from my hands and stuffed it back in her purse.
She was really beautiful.
"Good luck with that, and good luck getting to where you're going. Remember, one foot in front of the other. Okay?" I joked, trying to flirt.
She smiled at me and turned to walk away. I watched her as she moved down the street and into a little bar. I really hoped that she didn't work there. Bless her and whoever gets her as a waitress if she did. I couldn't imagine her carrying drinks around in a crowded bar without a few accidents.
I started walking again and made my way to a little motel down the street. I don't know why I was stopping here as it was a pretty shitty place, but I had a strange feeling it was because of the girl. I wanted the chance to run into her again.
It was with that thought that I realized how fucked I really was. I hadn't even asked for her name and I was thinking about the next time I would see her, if there was ever going to be a next time. She seemed so nice, and I really needed to keep my distance. She didn't need to get caught up with a guy like me. She would be constantly worrying if I was going to come take off without warning and never come back.
Fuck, who was I kidding? She wouldn't give me the time of day anyway and I didn't want to have any obligations.
I spent most of my time moving from place to place. I didn't like being in one city for too long at all. I didn't want a relationship. I didn't want to waste my time with anymore so called "friends". I hadn't thought about having a real friend in years. Just acquaintances. It was just how I was and I liked it best that way. I couldn't leave me or betray me, but others could and did.
I could already tell that the girl on the street would destroy my world if given the chance.
Besides, she probably had someone. Her guy wouldn't have abandonment issues and he certainly wouldn't sneak off like I might. I bet he was the perfect fucking All-American boy. Douche. I bet I could kick his ass. That set off my imagination and soon I was beating some blonde haired, blue eyed, surfer looking dude and picking up my sweet ballerina before we rode off into the fucking sunset.
I thought about her face again. The way the blush spread along her cheeks and down her neck. I wanted to know where it ended…
What was I thinking about? I didn't even know her name and I was already thinking of all the ways we could royally fuck each others lives up. This might be another reason why I never have relationships, of any kind, because I think too much. Nothing can ever be simple. No motives are ever pure. My outlook on life is really fucked and I couldn't see it changing soon. Self-destruction before introduction.
Huh, I need to write that down. I could make that work. I reached in my back pocket and pulled out my small note pad and jotted it down. I kept this with me at all times just in case I thought of something. Something told me that this encounter would bring lots of thoughts my way.
First, I needed to a place to stay. I walked into the seedy motel that was situated on the corner. The guy behind the counter was overweight and looked like he had just run a marathon. Slob.
"I need a room, please."
"How many hours?" I cocked an eyebrow at him. I hadn't expected that. Did he really think I was just using this place for a quick fuck? I mean I had a guitar in one hand and a bag in the other. Also, I was not being followed by a woman. I shook my head and settled for the simplest answer I could think of.
"I actually need to stay indefinitely. If that's alright? I can pay by the week." His face brightened at this. Obviously this man didn't have many long-term customers.
"Yeah, that's fine. It's $200 a week."
I filled out the quick form with all my generic information. I had no phone number, no credit card number, and I didn't have a billing address. The form was mostly blank when I handed it back to him.
"Here you go. I'll find you again next Tuesday." He handed me a set of keys and I made my way to room 117. I hadn't walked too far when he stopped me.
"Hey man. You any good at that thing?" He pointed at my guitar.
"It depends on who you ask. Why?"
"Well there's this little bar down the street that is holding auditions for weekly shows. It's a singing and playing type thing. I noticed you didn't have much cash left so you might need a job."
I didn't really like how observant he was about my money but it was nice to know there was someplace close that might have work. I hated walking a long way or pay for the bus or a cab. I nodded my head and told him thanks before finding my room.
When I was safely inside my current home, the first thing I did was tear the sheets off the bed. There was no way I would sleep on those, especially after the "how many hours" question. I brought my own sheets anyway. It was cleaner and I never had to worry about who slept on them before. They were queen sheets so I could use them even if I had a smaller bed. After settling in I took a nap. I might have had tons of practice sleeping on a bus but I never could.
I woke up and really looked around the room this time. My bed was pretty comfortable. It had been awhile since I slept in a bed this big. The room was actually a decent size which surprised me. There was a desk on the far wall next to window with a phone and a pad of paper. Directly in front of the bed against the wall was a dresser with a T.V. on top. I was surprised that it worked. It looked thirty years old and had rabbit ears on top, but fuck me if it didn't get a few channels.
There was a door close to the entrance that led to the bathroom which wasn't anything special. Just a bathroom.
All in all I liked the room. It was much more spacious than I was used to, which made me feel a little lonely, like it was meant to hold someone else too.
I quickly pushed that thought out of my mind and decided to go to that bar. I needed to start looking for a job and it was the closest. Hopefully, it would be the only place I had to look.
I grabbed my guitar and locked up my room. The sun was shining through the clouds just a little as I made my way down the street. It was four in the afternoon so the sidewalk held more people than before. I made sure to keep my guitar case close to me because I didn't want to hit another person on the street.
It seemed like my every thought led me back to that girl. She was unattainable and was so far away from me. I stopped and took out my little notebook from my back pocket and a pen to write that down. It would seem that I was right. She was my muse.
I opened the door to the bar. It was dimly lit and there were several neon signs all over the place advertising the different types of beer they sold. Along the right wall were a line of booths and the center of the room held about fifteen tables. On my left side was the bar. It was like any other bar. It looked worn and scuffed up but was still shiny. A wall of liquor was behind it. The stage was located furthest from the door and it was a raised platform almost the length of the wall. To the left it cut off early to make room for the hallway that had a "Restrooms" sign above it.
Something caught my eye at the corner of the bar, so I turned to focus on it. There was a big guy with curly black hair. He looked like a football player from where I was standing. He picked up a couple of boxes of beer and moved down the bar towards me. He finally noticed me standing there and nodded his head.
"I'll be right with ya." His voice was happy, not at all what I was expecting from his looks.
I told him to take his time and walked to take a seat at the bar. He put the beer in the mini refrigerators under the counter then turned to me clapping his hands together.
"What can I get for ya?"
"Well, I heard that you were holding auditions."
He smiled at me and slapped a hand on my shoulder.
I'm not a weak man but I will say that it hurt. A lot. I don't think he meant for it to be that hard because he kind of flinched after he did it. Possibly because it made a loud smack.
He shook his head and pointed behind him. "Jasper handles all that. He's in the back right now with Alice."
"Well I'll just wait around. I'm not in a hurry or anything."
He just nodded his head and asked, "In that case, you wanna beer?"
I shrugged, "Why not. You got Blue Moon?"
He got himself one too and we sat in silence for a little while.
"Shit. I never introduced myself. I'm Emmett McCarty."
He extended a hand towards me. I took it and as we were shaking I said, "Don't worry about it. I'm Edward Masen."
These introductions led Emmett into a retelling of his entire life. He was a really happy guy and rather loud. The term "open book" fit Emmett to the T. I found out that he moved from Tennessee at the beginning of his sophomore year in high school to a small town north of Seattle, called Forks. That is where he met his "amazingly stunning" girlfriend the first day of classes. He said her name was Rosalie.
"Man, you'll meet her and see what I'm talking about. She's gorgeous but she can be a bitch. Watch out, alright?"
I didn't really think I would be spending too much time here to find out how complicated she was but I told him I would watch out for her claws. He continued with his life history after that.
"It was just the three of us for a year. Alice, Rose and I were great together. Then the beginning of junior year Jasper showed up. He came from Texas so he had that Southern charm thing going for him. I'll let Alice tell you that story because it's too sappy for me to tell without feeling like I have a vagina." I felt my eyes go wide and I couldn't help the laugh that bubbled up.
He kept going with his story.
"We were pretty complete and then after Christmas break Bella showed up. She fits in great with us. She doesn't date but I think she's holding out, you know? It's not like she couldn't get a guy. Eventually we stopped pushing." He face turned a shade of pink and he continued, "Wow, when you meet Bella please don't tell her I caught you up on her sex life because she would probably get Rose to do something painful. Alright?"
"I'm not saying anything." Because I doubt I'll be here long enough to have any in depth conversation with her. Especially about sex. I added mentally.
After that, I found out that Emmett played football in high school and was pretty good. He came to UW to play but blew out his knee, so instead of going to rehab and then going back to play, he just concentrated on school. Now he worked here bartending to pay for classes. Jasper and Alice worked on getting the talent into the bar and paying the bills, while Rose and Bella waitressed along with two other girls. I found myself wondering if the girl I ran into today was one of them. I knew it couldn't be Rose because Emmett described her as a "blonde bombshell". For some reason, I prayed to God she wasn't Alice and in the back with Jasper. That would be fucking awful.
"So what's your story, Masen?"
I didn't want to tell him about my life because after listening to his story I realized that mine was lacking so much. I had always been pretty content with my situation and thought I was doing what other people would love to do. Now I just felt that I had missed all the happiness that friends could bring.
"Emy! I've missed you!" The voice echoed through the empty bar and my head turned in the direction of the restrooms. There stood a girl no taller than five feet with short, spiky black hair and wearing almost the same thing as the girl this morning, but her jeans were strategically ripped and the bar t-shirt was altered too. It looked like she cut the sleeves off it and then cut the neck out so that it was wide on the shoulders and showed her collarbones, scooping down in the front. She also looked like she was bouncing. I could only wonder how much caffeine she'd had.
The guy behind her must have been Jasper. He had dirty blond hair that was kind of shaggy and fell into his face. He had a pearl snap shirt on with the sleeves rolled up and it looked like Alice might have dressed him in the man version of her jeans. They were baggy and ripped up. While Alice looked to be in perpetual motion he looked like the calm in a storm.
Just looking at him had me thinking about my imaginary "fight" this morning. I prayed this guy wasn't the douche that I had rescued Bella from in my mind. Emmett was right, even from here I could see the Southern charm thing.
"Aww Alice. Everyone misses me." He winked at her then pointed at me. "Jasper, this is Edward and he wants a job."
Alice caught my eye after he mentioned my name and walked up to me. It was all strange and almost in slow motion. She touched my cheek and her eyes had a blank look to them, she then smiled and her eyes lit up.
"It took you long enough to get here." She slapped my cheek softly then turned and kissed Jasper and said, "I gotta go. Big, big plans! Tomorrow night is going to be amazing!"
She flitted by me and out the door. I turned to look back at them with an eyebrow lifted. "I forgot to tell you that Alice thinks she can see the future. She dreams random shit. Sometimes she's pretty accurate, other times she couldn't be farther from the truth. Just go with it. Soon enough you won't even think about it when it happens," Emmett said and shrugged his shoulders. I seriously doubted that I would be here that long. It seemed like something that took years getting used to.
I looked over at Jasper who was sitting on a barstool and he shrugged his shoulders too. That was when I realized Alice had kissed Jasper. He wasn't with my ballerina. Thank God. Now I didn't have to kill him.
"Let's hear it then. What do you play?" Jasper brought me back to the present. Finally a question I could answer.
"I do covers mostly but I have a few of my own songs. I don't really do loud. I'm more acoustic."
"Sounds good to me. The last guy was trying to be a young Elvis and that shit just wasn't working."
"Yeah! Thank ya very much! That guy was terrible. Seriously Edward, you have to be better than him." Emmett still had his lip cocked up in an Elvis grin.
"I hope so. Otherwise I've been making an ass out of myself for the last five years."
I leaned down and opened the guitar case. I made sure it was tuned then I started strumming the opening notes from "Shed Some Light" by Shinedown.
I'm falling apart again
And I can't find a way to make amends
And I'm looking in both directions
But it's make believe, it's all pretend
Shed some light on me
And hold me up in disbelief
And shed some light on me
And tell me something that I'll believe in
It's innocence within the maze
But I have chosen the wrong way
I'm still getting over who I was
There's no sense of trust, there's no definition of love
Shed some light on me
And hold me up in disbelief
And shed some light on me
And tell me something that I'll believe in
Tell me something that I'll...
Tell me something that I'll believe
Jasper's head was down the entire time I played. I set my guitar on my lap and turned to look at both of them. Jasper looked up at me and said, "That was great, man. I'm really impressed. You can work weekends if you want? They pay so much more than weekdays."
"No thanks. I would rather work during the week. I'm not a weekend guy."
That was the truth. I didn't like working weekends because those people came to the bar for a reason: to have fun and get drunk. I wanted to play for the people that came in during the week. The people who really didn't have another place to go. The same sad fucks who would live their lives in places like this. People like me.
"Suit yourself. If you want why don't you play tonight and tomorrow? I have someone on Mondays and Thursdays are open mic and karaoke." Jasper then went into discussion about my pay. It would be $300 a week plus whatever tips I got. That was pretty fair. Playing music wasn't really work to me anyway.
"Hey man. I could use some help behind the bar on weekends. It's just me and it can get crazy in here. You'll get $10 an hour and we'll split the tips at the end of the night." Emmett had a desperate look in his eyes and Jasper laughed at him.
"Em, you are so full of shit. You just want to spend more time with Rose. You can handle the bar, but it's your tips." He turned to look at me. "I don't mind letting you work the bar. My uncle doesn't really give a shit who I hire anyway."
"Yeah. I'll think about it. I'll let you know tomorrow."
"Well looks like you need to get started. It's almost six. We don't get many people in during the week but we have regulars that will start filing in soon. Jessica and Lauren are working tonight so you'll have to meet Rose and Bella tomorrow." He stood up and stuck out his hand, "Nice to meet ya, Edward. I'll see ya'll later." With that he turned and went back towards the office. I looked over at Emmett who was reaching for another beer. "Want one?"
I got back to my hotel that night and lay in bed. I wasn't drunk. I never got drunk. I was just tired. It was almost one in the morning. After I played I just sat at the bar with Emmett and Jasper. They seemed really easy to get along with. For the first time in my life I thought I might have found some friends. I tossed around for a while. I couldn't fall asleep for some reason. Today had been weird. It felt like the friendships I had been avoiding all my life were trying to finally get to me.
Of course, I didn't tell them anything about me really. I explained I didn't have any family and that I had been on my own for awhile. Mostly, I listened to their stories about living in Forks. Emmett told some from when he was living in Tennessee but it really seemed like his life took off when he moved to Washington. Same thing with Jasper, his Texas stories didn't have the same flair that his Forks stories did.
Now I knew everything about them both, and Rose and Alice. They didn't say much about Bella. She was in a lot of their stories but it seemed liked she was the responsible one, the adult of the group. Their more adventurous stories didn't have her in them. She appeared later, after the mischief and then it was to talk her dad out of putting them in jail. Bella seemed like the glue that kept them all together. I could tell that neither of them liked her being alone but they never said it. The only slip was what Emmett said earlier in the afternoon.
Yes, today was weird. I thought about the beginning of my day in Seattle. I had met a girl and she was a girl that could make me stay. She was constantly popping into my mind. I felt like I had started to obsess over her. She was my ideal, my ballerina.
She was haunting my thoughts. I started wondering how stalkerish it would be to wait outside the bar all day just to see if she would come back. Probably really stalkerish.
I rolled over again and finally fell asleep.
I woke up in the middle of the smiling, which was something that hadn't happened in a long time. I had dreamt of a girl, we were smiling and laughing together—we seemed happy. As the dream ended she kissed my cheek and said "Edward, it'll be worth it." Then she turned and walked away.
I basked in my happiness for a little while before I let the words really sink in. I sat on the edge of the bed staring at the wall. I don't know how long I sat there just thinking. But I made a decision.
I might not know who she is yet. I might not ever know who she is but those words meant more to me than just her.
This place was worth it. The people I had met were worth it. I just needed to stop being so guarded. I didn't need to leave right away. Maybe I could stay longer than a month.
I would take Emmett up on the bartending. I knew it would keep me here longer.
For the first time in a long time, I would try.
Thanks for reading! Review if you feel so inclined!
Song this chapter was "Shed Some Light" by Shinedown.