Disclaimer: The characters belong to Stephenie Meyer, not me. Sadly!
A/N: This one shot came from a photo prompt given to me by Nostalgicmiss. The photo can be found on the blog where she is also posting her stories.
picprompt (dot) blogspot (dot) com/?zx=fc173bfa148f411f
Hopefully there will be one posted a week and they will all be different, depending on the photos I get!
"Stupid, stupid, stupid," I chanted to myself as I tore at my hair, the metallic band that was holding my hair out of my eyes falling forward and coming to rest on my forehead where I left it, too busy with my self flagellation to bother to reset it.
I curled my knees up into my chest, resting my chin on my knees and staring out at the football field angrily. I don't know what I was thinking, letting Alice talk me into going to that stupid party just so that she could stalk some guy in the year above us. She was utterly convinced that if he saw her in her own clothes instead of the vile school uniform he saw her in day in day out that he would be suddenly rendered unable to resist her and would fall into her arms like some sort of ridiculous fairy tale.
Of course, naturally it had worked like a charm and Jasper Whitlock was pretty much putty in her hands from the moment she walked into the party in her almost indecently tight dress and insanely high heels which I couldn't have even stood up straight in, let alone attempted the seductive swagger she managed to pull off.
And of course he was there, with his blonde hair, melting blue eyes and Jessica Stanley permanently attached to him like a limpet. His eyes had caught mine briefly, indifference flying from them and almost creasing me in two before he walked away with his arm slung casually over Jessica's shoulder and her hand caressing his ass cozily.
I could hear my brother in the kitchen with his friends, laughing boisterously and probably drinking insane amounts of alcohol, knowing that dad was out of town until the following evening.
I burrowed my face into my knees, wishing I could just disappear as I remembered how I had fled from the room after realizing how hopelessly out of place I was there.
The room had spun about me, the crowds of teenagers in varying states of inebriation twisting menacingly around me as I fought to remain standing, my feet so solidly fixed on the spot where I was standing that I was certain I would take root there. The jovial shouts from all around rang in my ears as my eyes darted around looking for somebody, anybody in the room that I could relate to. My best friend, the one who had dragged me along in the first place was twisted up against Jasper Whitlock's body, his hands cupping her ass as they made out in the corner by the keg which had busted open and destroyed Tyler's parent's carpet.
As the noise became more and more deafening and my eyes began to swim with tears I desperately tried to suppress, I couldn't bear it any more. Whispering a hurried "I'm sorry" into the room, which probably went unheard, I turned on my heel and ran out of there, leaving the happy sounds of people enjoying themselves behind me and pushing my legs forward until I hit the football park across the way from Tyler's house. There I flung myself down onto one of the benches which circled the pitch where children's teams played in a mini league at the weekends.
I could hear the light breeze rustling through the leaves of the trees which lined this side of the pitch, bringing with it a cooling relief to the blazing sunshine which was sinking down in the western sky, signaling that the party was probably moving from the pretense of a small BBQ it had begun as, into the full scale blowout that it had turned into well before it was even starting to get dark.
Soft footsteps approached me, crunching through the loose gravel getting louder and louder, closer and closer, then coming to a stop beside me. I kept my face buried in my knees, hoping to utilize the old "if I can't see them, they can't see me," trick. It, of course, failed epically.
"Bella?" a soft voice whispered the sound almost like a song on the breeze.
I shook my head in between my knees, saying nothing and hoping that whoever it was would just go away and leave me alone.
"You sure about that?" the voice continued, a small laugh contained within his words.
I nodded, once again maintaining my silence and keeping my face hidden, certain that the emotions there would betray me to whoever the voice belonged to.
"Ah, my mistake, apologies," a hand landed on the top of my head, making me jump and look up into a pair of familiar piercing green eyes which were eyeing me with a mixture of concern and amusement. "Are you alright?" Edward Cullen, quarter back, school hero and best friend to my brother questioned me softly, his eyes sparkling in the sunlight making his expression appear even more intense than he intended.
"Peachy," I mumbled, placing my head back into its burrow in my knees and bringing my arms around to hug them in place.
"Oh right," he responded, his feet shuffling noisily in the gravel. "It's just that I've never seen you move so fast or so skillfully before."
I snorted at his words, earning a long drawn out silence before he finally asked, "What's funny?"
"You are," I responded, looking up into his confused eyes once more. One perfect eyebrow quirked at me in question when I didn't elaborate.
"You," I started, "see me." The very idea was preposterous, so how he would know how quickly or otherwise I generally moved or with how much coordination was beyond me.
"See you?" he responded, softly. "What do you mean?"
"It doesn't matter," I returned, moving my head as if to look back into my knees again, but finding the movement restricted by his finger under my chin. His intense eyes gazed at me, piercing their way through my defenses and making me squirm until his finger dropped from my face, falling uncomfortably down by his side once more.
"Sorry," he whispered, looking guilty at my obvious discomfort.
"What do you want, Edward?" I asked, almost rudely.
"I just wanted to make sure you were ok, I saw you run out of the party like you were upset, you looked..." he trailed off, shrugging as though the rest of the sentence was obvious.
"You... saw me?"
"Of course, Bella... what?" His tone was utterly confused and I had no intention of enlightening him and embarrassing myself. I just shook my head once again, seeing his frustration at my lack of response.
He sat down on the bench beside me, scooting back and leaning against the trunk of an old oak tree which sat conveniently behind the bench.
"You don't say much do you?" he chuckled, his eyes still holding mine as I twisted where I sat following him with wide surprised eyes.
"You don't have to stay out here with me, Edward, you can go back to the party," I said, effectively releasing him from any weird sense of duty he felt towards Emmett in 'taking care' of his sister for him.
"Am I annoying you? Do you want me to go?" he responded, leaning forward slightly from his relaxed pose against the tree.
"No, Edward, you're not annoying me." I sighed, averting my gaze back out to the football field, his scrutiny becoming uncomfortable. "But you don't have to stay either, you're missing the party," I reasoned, fingering the loosed threads on the knees of my jeans where the denim was wearing away.
"Something tells me I'm not missing much," he rolled his eyes as the gentle din which had been audible from the house was steadily increasing in volume. My eyes widened in surprise at the look of disgust he aimed at the house.
"It sounded like people were having fun," I whispered, uncertain as to why he was suddenly being nice to me.
"Yeah, fun," he laughed sarcastically. "Your big brother seemed to like the beer anyway," he laughed, almost bitterly.
"Big brother," I scoffed, the usual assumption bugging me just as much as ever.
"Again with the cryptic laughter," his eyebrow went up once more, his emerald eyes twinkling at me curiously.
"Big brother. Everyone says big brother."
"He's not your brother?" his question made me laugh out loud.
"Oh, he's my brother," I forced out through my laughter, earning myself an even more confused look. "We're twins, Edward."
The look of shocked confusion on his face was so comical I almost wished that I carried a camera just so that I could capture it. His mouth opened and closed several times, his eyes wide and gaping at me as though he had never seen me before, which I had always, assumed to be the case.
"But... You're in different grades, how? I mean..." he trailed off, apparently unable to verbalize what apparently Emmett never bothered to tell him.
"He was born at eleven fifty nine pm on August thirty first, I was born at twelve oh-two am on September first. He's three minutes and a whole school year older than me."
"Wow," he responded, simply. "That's... ah... weird."
"Yeah, weird," I agreed, shuffling back on the bench and leaning back against the tree beside him, my arm brushing against his, sending sparks of electricity shooting through me. Jumping back from him I felt him do the same, evidently he felt it too.
"So why'd you run?" he changed the subject after a moment of slightly uncomfortable silence. I simply shrugged in response, pulling my knees back up to my chest and hugging them there tightly, my chin once more resting on the tops of my knees. "Not a party person?"
"Is it that obvious?" I mumbled, briefly meeting his eyes with mine then staring down at my scruffy, converse clad feet.
"Kind of, the look of abject terror on your face when you walked in pretty much sold you out, sorry," he winked at me. Winked at me.
My mind was whirling at about a thousand miles a second, trying to figure out what he wanted, why he had followed me out here and why he was still sitting with me, looking like there was nowhere on earth he'd rather be.
"Why are you here, Edward?" I whispered softly, looking at him squarely in the eyes, waiting for the inevitable, when he would tell me he followed me out here for a bet or something.
"I saw you run and I was worried about you," he responded, simply, shrugging as though it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"You... saw me and then you came after me?" I started my voice slightly wobbly. "I don't even want to go into how many things are wrong with that sentence."
He looked at me curiously, his trademark crooked grin which routinely left all the girls in Forks High swooning and reaching for the smelling salts taking over his face.
"Enlighten me," he said after a few moments of staring at me. "Tell me which bits of the sentence you have a problem with and I'll see if I can clear things up for you."
I turned my head so that my cheek was resting against my knee and my eyes were fixed on his. They stared at me now in all their glorious emerald intensity, waiting for a response.
"OK so let's start with the part where you saw me, shall we?" I mumbled, unable to drag my eyes away from his captivating gaze.
"I'm not blind, Bella," he laughed, his eyes flickering all around as though he was demonstrating the adequacies of his sight. "Why would that surprise you?"
He sounded genuinely intrigued, a small line appearing between his eyes as they focused back on me.
"Because I'm... me, and you are... well... you. The only reason you even know my name is because you hang out with my brother."
"You think so?" he smirked at me, one eyebrow raised once again as though he was teasing me.
"I know so," I replied confidently.
"You're name is Isabella but you hate being called that because it was the name your mom gave you and you'd rather not think about her. When she left you guys you cried for three whole days and then you refused to answer to Isabella any more. You want to be an editor when you're older, you love to write but being a writer would thrust you into the limelight and there's nothing you hate more than being the centre of attention. You have a crazy crush on Mike Newton who is too much of a douche to notice and even if he did he wouldn't be nearly good enough for you for Emmett to allow him within twelve feet of you, for fear of how crushed you'd be when you realized what an idiot you were crushing on. You hide from the world by walking around with your head down thinking that if you don't look at the world then the world won't look at you, but you're wrong. You don't realize how many people notice you because the one person you want to notice you doesn't."
The smirk had disappeared from his face, replaced by a look that held such deep intensity that it made me fidget uncomfortably where I sat. His long slender fingers twitched where they rested on his thigh before he reached out with his right hand and pushed a stray strand of my hair behind my ear with the most devastatingly tender look on his face.
"I see you, Bella," he whispered, so quietly that the gentle breeze almost stole the words away. The hand that moved my hair now landed softly on my face, the pad of his thumb running in small circles on the apple of my cheek. His face was so close to mine that I could feel the warmth of his breath on my face, the slight scent of cola overcoming my senses and telling me that he was maybe the only other person at the party who hadn't been drinking. I felt a strong surge of something that felt like electricity flow through me, charging from the spot on my face where his hand was still lightly touching it, right through my body.
"B-but you're Edward Cullen," I mumbled incoherently, the words tripping out of my mouth in no apparent order and causing his hand to drop from my face.
"And who is he exactly?" he asked, his voice almost hostile as he leaned back against the tree. I recoiled at the almost resentful tone of his voice, seeing a hurt look shoot across his face.
"Edward Cullen?" I asked earning myself a curt nod before his eyes wandered to the football pitch where no doubt he had scored numerous touchdowns over the years. "He's the quarterback on the football team, the guy who got himself a full football scholarship to Harvard, the guy who walks through the corridors at school and has every single girl swooning after him. He's the guy who all the girls want to be with and all the guys want to be."
"That's what he is. Not who he is," he shifted forwards so that his feet were on the ground then pushed up and started to wander away towards the pitch, turning back briefly and shooting me a look that invited me to go with him.
I hesitated for a moment, unsure whether to follow him. I was having trouble reconciling the Edward Cullen I had just described to the one who seemed to know more about me than I had ever consciously shown. The guy who hung out with my brother and his friends was confident verging on cocky; he never ever spoke to me except for basic manners when he was around at my house. So why would that guy follow me out of a party because he saw that I was upset? Why would he care?
Yet here he was. Here he was, being kind to me and I just insulted him by talking about the guy I had thought he was when evidently that wasn't the case.
"I'm sorry, Edward, I didn't mean to..." I struggled for words as I clambered off the bench and approached him shyly. As I reached him he started to walk again, he seemed to be heading for the end zone furthest away from the house but angled his body towards me when I joined him. We fell into step easily and although he didn't say anything, the silence was comfortable, not strained like I expected.
We hit the end zone and Edward sat down, his legs stretched out in front of him, resting on his elbows. I stood awkwardly, wondering what he was doing, until he patted the ground next to him and took my hand, tugging on it gently until I slumped down beside him.
"That's not me, you know, that stuff," he started, his voice unusually wary. "I mean... it is, I am those things, but I don't... I mean... I think that..." He trailed off as his voice became more and more flustered. I put out my hand, placing it lightly on his arm in the hope of calming him. Both our eyes dropped to the point of contact when that electric feeling shot through me once again.
"I'm sorry, Bella," he whispered, his eyes not moving from where they were fixated on my hand on his arm. "I just, I hate that that's all that people ever see. I'm not just Edward Cullen - Quarterback. I do other things too."
"I barely know you, Edward. I can only go from what I see, which isn't much."
"Yeah, I guess," he sighed. "Nobody sees, everybody looks, but nobody sees."
"So show me," I returned, taking my hand from his arm and leaning on it. Edward's eyes followed the movement with an expression that could have been mistaken for disappointment.
"OK," his voice was so quiet now I could just barely hear him as he began to show me the real, no holds barred Edward Cullen.
"I don't want to go to Harvard," he shrugged, "I don't want to play football forever, I want to be a doctor like my father, but everybody has it in their heads that I'm going to be a great player and that I can make the NFL someday. I haven't told anybody that that's not what I want because I hate the thought of disappointing everybody. I would rather stay home and watch a movie or read a book than go to parties, I have no interest in any of the girls that throw themselves at me every day and I try so hard to let them down gently that at least three of them think that they're my girlfriend. I won't tell anybody why I'm not interested in those girls because if my best friend found out that I was crazy about his little sister then he'd probably tear me limb from limb."
His eyes gazed into mine, his final words hanging on the breeze and dancing around us as I tried to make sense of all he was saying.
"But, Emmett's your best friend," I stuttered, lamely. My mind reeling with what I thought he was trying to say.
"Yeah, he is," was his only reply as he lay back onto the grass, his eyes closed against the setting sun. I stared at him as he laid there, his perfect face taking on an orange hue in the fading light of the sun. His long elegant lashes were nestled against his high cheek bones and his lips were curved upwards in a soft smile. One hand lay down by his side, the fingers picking idly at the grass there; the other was at his head, his long fingers absent-mindedly running through his unruly bronze hair.
"Edward, I...I don't understand," I broke the silence, finally, his words making no sense to me.
"You, Bella. Emmett doesn't have another little sister does he?"
"No, no he doesn't, but I... I'm not... I'm just..."
"You're not just anything, Bella. Newton is a prick if he can't see what everybody else sees. You're beautiful and smart and funny as fuck when your guard is down. And you know what the best thing is?" I shook my head, my eyes wide, taking in all that he was saying and the intense look of truth in his eyes as he spoke.
"The best thing is that you don't realize how special you are. You walk around every day completely oblivious to the fact that half the male population of Forks High would give anything just to talk to you, or to hold your hand. You make me want to be a better person, just by being you. You're the most amazing person I've ever met, Bella and you have no idea."
I was about to respond, probably in incoherent grunts and mumblings since my brain couldn't think of a single intelligent response, when his lips pressed against mine, the soft velvet of his hands cupping my face as he kissed me. I hesitated for a moment, my mind going into overdrive at the impossibility of what was happening. This was Edward Cullen. Edward Cullen! My brother's best friend and the most popular guy in school. And he was kissing me, Bella Swan, awkward and painfully shy and apparently not as good at fading into the background as she thought.
But he liked me. And he knew me. Not just knew me in the sense that most people knew me, but he saw things that I kept deep inside, things that I doubted even my brother knew.
As his lips moved against mine I felt myself giving in to the moment and kissing him back. As he felt my hesitation pass he moved his hands from my cheeks, the fingers of one hand tangling in my long, loose hair, tilting my head back and deepening the kiss as the other arm snaked around my waist, pulling me in tighter to him. My body ran all over with sparks and tingles as his body pressed up against mine; a perfect fit, like two pieces of a puzzle which slotted together exactly.
As the kiss broke apart so that we could both come up for air he brought the other arm down and pulled me into a tight embrace, his chin resting on the top of my head as he whispered words that I had never heard before.
"You're beautiful, Bella."
His perfect lips dropped a soft kiss on my forehead before he buried his face in my curls, breathing in deeply several times and making soft contented crooning noises. I relaxed into his arms, the power of the connection between us intense and soothing in equal measure. But one thing struck me forcefully, lying there in his arms; that nothing had ever felt so right to me before, nowhere had ever felt quite so much like home.