AN: This is my second take with writing for another One Shot contest on FFFW. Discovered a rare jewel, jkane180, who beta'ed for me - have fallen for her madly. Thank you J for putting up with me.
Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Stephanie Meyers for all the characters of the Twilight Saga, particularly Bella and Edward. And my sincere apologies for having them endure my imagination.
It's Mar 25, 3:05 pm,Chicago O'Hare International Airport, US Airways Flight, Terminal 2, Concourse E, Gate 12 and the story is told in Bella's POV.
"Excuse me… Alicia? How long until the boarding call for Flight 6550 to Seattle, Washington?" I always address flight attendants by their names as well as repeat the complete itinerary - wouldn't want to get on the wrong flight - it happens.
"I'm sorry Ms.…" the attendant trails off as she takes my boarding pass, "Voltura. That flight has been delayed. It's now scheduled for departure at 8:45 pm."
"Five hours? What am I going to do here for five hours? I'm tired and… thank you." Taking my pass back from her with a forced smile, I turn and walk away. I know better than to argue with her; she's just reading off a computer screen. It's not like she's the pilot or air traffic control or whoever, whatever it is that has me stuck in Chicago for another five hours and thirty-five minutes.
I decide to call Marcus and tell him my flight is delayed.
"Bella? Shit! Are you here?"
"Yeah, it's me. No, I'm not there yet. I did tell you the take off time was 3:20 pm and it's 3:20 pm now, so… But it doesn't matter now because it's been delayed until 8:45 pm."
"Then why are you calling me? I'm in the middle of a class, this isn't an emergency. You kind of interrupted my lecture on anatomy. Speaking of which… got a thingy tonight with the guys… Maybe Alice could pick you up."
"What? You answered the phone; I was just going to leave a message. I know you have a class right now. I'm interrupting you? Are you serious?" I'm whisper screaming - if that's at all possible.
I glance around to see if I've gotten anyone's attention. I notice a man in a business suit closing his laptop, folding his glasses and placing them in the inside, breast pocket of his suit coat. He sighs in frustration before looking up to meet my glare. I quickly look down at my phone to check to see if Marcus has hung up. As I turn to walk toward the large airport window, away from the annoyed passenger, I speak into my phone again, "Marcus, what thingy tonight?" I bump into something or someone - the same man, and he's now scowling at me for bumping into him and knocking his coffee out of his hands.
"Oh! Please excuse me; I'm so sorry. I wasn't paying attention…" I turn a little away from the man, cupping my hand over my earpiece at my ear. "Marcus, I need to call you back. I just caused an accident. Can't you just come and get me and then go back to your fun with the boys? It's Thursday for goodness sake, and you have school tomorrow, right?"
"Spring Break. Come and get you later - after 8 pm? I could, I suppose, but I don't want to miss the free peanuts and beer at the lanes. The guys and I are thinking about going camping and leaving after that."
"Oh yeah, Spring Break begins. Excuse me! Fine. I'll just rent a car or catch a cab. Don't worry about me."
Three… two… one… And Marcus hangs up right on cue.
I turn around, remembering the man I've just bumped into, only to find him gone. Where did he go? Half expecting someone to answer me. I look around the terminal at the other passengers in limbo, like myself. Gone. I walk back to my carry-on, still looking around for him. He's just disappeared. I must have burned him. Oh no, I cringe, he probably needs medical attention. Or maybe he's at security talking to Barney Fife. No, airports have real Security now - I'll be arrested. Perfect. I flop down on the couch, feeling exhausted because of this delay, because of the argument with Marcus, and now…flashes of emerald green eyes, frustrated and scowling. "I am not going to cry; I'm not," I repeat to myself. Besides, if I cry, I'll fall asleep and probably miss my flight. Coffee and something to eat, I decide.
I enter the airport Starbucks just down from my terminal. It's a little crowded with travelers seated and engaged in conversation. There's music playing softly - Patti Labelle… "I just might change my mind…" I haven't heard that one since the late 80's, early 90's; I bet I still have the cassette. Céline did a remake, but no one can put their heart into a song like Patti. Mmmm, cozy, music, familiar smells - such an inviting place. Perhaps all Starbucks are like this inside; I've only seen the inside of the drive-through windows.
"Welcome, may I help you?" The café barista asks as I approach the counter.
"Yes, Carmel Macchiato, medium in Grande cup, extra foam and drizzle. And can I have a Double Iced Cinnamon Roll please?" The barista smiles at me. I smile back, "I know - if I'm indulging I might as well go all-out. I deserve it after the day I'm having."
Reaching into my bag, I pass payment to her. She tries to give me my change, and of course, I drop a couple of the bills. I bend to retrieve my fallen money at the same time my bag hits something behind me.
"Awww! Oh, you must be kidding me!" I hear from behind me. I recognize that irritated voice. I'm afraid to turn around, but I must, and yes, it's none other than the man from back at the terminal, now rubbing his forehead.
"Oh my, I'm so very sorry. You probably should press charges or have a restraining order taken out on me; I am clearly a threat."
"Nothing, it was…nothing. I'm really sorry. Let me take a look at your head?" I ask as I reach to remove his hands from his head, so I can see the damage. When I touch him I feel some kind of jolt and immediately withdraw my hand. My fingers tingle.
Have I just been struck by lightning?
Still holding his hand over his forehead, he stops rubbing and looks at me. "No. No, I'm fine. What do you have in that bag, by the way?"
"Just an umbrella, my day planner, personals, small laptop…a notebook." I suck in a lungful of air, having expelled it all to list the contents of my bag so quickly. I turn to the barista who is watching, clearly finding the scene amusing – she's barely containing her laughter. "Miss, can you get me some ice, please?"
"What? I'm fine, really."
"Yes, I can see that you are, but your head there is beginning to form a nice little knot - not so fine…see?" I try in vain, again, to touch his head and the knot forming above his brow, but even as my fingertips near him, I feel the slight tingling begin.
Fire does indeed burn. What is with this electricity?
He begins to compress his head and the knot gently. "You might be right." He takes the cloth containing ice from the barista, thanking her while placing it on his head, and turns toward me. "Are you a nurse?"
"A little more to the left. Who, me? Oh, no. I've just had my fair share of bumps and bruises. Hi, I'm Isabella Voltura, the klutz who spilled your coffee back at the terminal," I introduce myself, extending my hand out toward him.
He warily reaches out to shake my hand with his unoccupied one. "I'm Edward Cullen, the recipient."
The moment his fingertips brush mine, the jolt, lesser in intensity, happens again. This time it sizzles, then cools - lightning and a gentle breeze. There's a storm coming, I think.
We grasp each other's hand at the same time. There's an instant pull, a shift in the Universe, time stands still - he's metal to my magnet or the other way around.
We stand there, both staring at our hands still in shaking motion. Then we both stop the shaking but still hold each other's hands. Looking up to his face, I see him staring at me with wide eyes. "Are you okay?"
I shake my head, winded. "No. No… but I haven't been for a long time now."
Moving closer, our hands still together, simultaneously we turn them. I imagine to an onlooker it looks like we're in an arm wrestling competition, a fight neither one of us would win with the gentleness of our grips. "Me neither."
My heart begins hammering so loudly that I can't hear anything else. I see his lips moving, but my heartbeat echoes in my ears. I watch his lips as I try to make out the words he's mumbling to me. He grabs my shoulders, shaking me. "Isabella? Isabella?"
"Yes…I'm sorry. What did you say?"
"I said, 'I think you should come and sit down… with me'…you seem a little out of it. Are you okay…I mean feeling okay?"
"No. I'm fine, but maybe I should sit down. Can you get me some water?"
He ushers me to a table by the window. "Certainly. Will you be okay while I go get it for you?" He sees something that assures him I will be, and then he leaves.
I fan myself, trying to get this heat flash to subside. Am I starting menopause early? My body temperature must be at least 100 degrees, and all he's done is ask me if I'm okay. After being electrocuted, I began to word vomit with my pathetic and private life - too much information, you think, Bella? But wait, he said, "Me neither…"
In all my internal rambling, I don't notice he's back already, holding a glass of water. "Penny for all your thoughts." He smiles as I look up to him, taking the water.
He looks at his watch, then back to me. His face holds an array of emotions. With a decision made, he smiles and leans forward, as if to tell me a secret. "Would you like to have dinner with me? What time does your flight leave?"
"I'll be here until 8:45 pm. Yeah, five hours, and yes, I would, actually. I'm starving."
"Good. Great!" he says, smiling. "There's Sky Bridge or Stefani's just down the concourse, both not too far and really good. Or we could venture to Terminal 3 to the Fox Skybox for a sandwich. Your choice, Isabella." He smiles again, waiting for my answer.
Gosh, that smile. I could really wake up to that everyday, see it all during the day and close my eyes nightly only to dream of it… and him.
"Well, you seem like a veteran traveler… you choose. I'm sure whatever you decide will be fine."
"After you?" He extends his arm for me to take. I stare at his arm though not in confusion as to what he's asking. I know very well what it is he's doing. He's being a gentleman, like in the movies and love stories I've seen and read about - such as in a few fan-fiction stories I've been reading. I envy other couples being affectionate – I've been living through them really. No, I'm not confused, and I want to take his arm. I want to be electrocuted again, and that scares me.
I look up to see him staring at me. He touches his head and then quickly moves his hand down to his neck.
My eyes follow his fingers, wondering where they might go next.
He clears his throat to break my trance. "I… I think we should address the elephant that's standing in the airport with us before we continue. I can't believe I'm about to be this forward. I mean, in my line of work I have to be, but I'm not in my personal life, which…"
"…and you can run away from me…"
"Edward, you're rambling." I place my hand on his arm then position his arm around mine. As expected, snap, crackle, pop - the electricity zings.
I barely allow my eyes to look up to him. He looks content. "There it is…I'm growing addicted to that." He looks down at our adjoined arms to make sure I understand his meaning.
After placing my carry-on bag and his suit coat and brief case in an airport's customer locker, we walk further down the concourse to the restaurant he chose - Stefani's. He leads me to a small table for two in the far back corner. It doesn't go unnoticed that he leads me with his hand on my lower back - true gentleman, yeah.
It's a lovely restaurant - the décor elegant and rich with color, dimly lit by a small tabletop candelabra surrounded by a petit version of my favorite flower arrangement, soft music playing, not too crowded, and it smells delicious. "This is a lovely restaurant, Edward. Wonderful choice."
"Great food and a beautiful dinner guest - Yes. Yes. Yes, on all accounts." He perches his hands up in a tent on the edge of the table in front of him. Cue the blushing. I duck a little to hide.
"Am I making you uncomfortable?" He asks, moving the flower arrangement from his view of me.
"No, I was admiring the flowers - they're my favorite."
"You're a terrible liar; I can tell already. I'll let it pass if you tell me what these flowers are - your favorites you say?"
A challenge? "This is a Bird of Paradise arranged with Asiatic lilies and Alstroemeria in shades of burgundy and orange - plus Hypericum, Galax and Ti leaves, Equisetum and Moss."
"I'll take your word for it. Beautiful and poetic. You love flowers then?" He smirks.
Is he flirting with me or talking about the description of the flowers? He's used the word "beautiful" twice now – he's flirting, and I like it.
"I used to work at a florist when I was in college, and this became my favorite arrangement to make." I wave my hand over the arrangement.
"A florist? I bet you're hard to buy flowers for; nothing would wow you."
"I wouldn't know."
We fall into a moment of silence to gather our thoughts, until he speaks. "Tell me about yourself."
Conversation flows smoothly all throughout dinner.
We start with where we're from. He was born and raised in Philadelphia, and I moved from Forks to Seattle when I finished college. We talk about our careers, climbs and achievements to where we are today. He's a Market Analyst for a company with international ties, and I'm a Forensic Physio-psychologist.
"What exactly does a Forensic Physio-psychologist do? I'm not familiar with that field."
"Dr. George Huang, Law and Order: SVU? No… you don't watch that, do you? You know what Forensics does? I take it a step further by collecting and analyzing information including symptoms, causes, diseases, treatments, and other medical and health issues to diagnose a murderer's psyche. I'm a published author; I wrote How to Catch a Murderer."
He tells me about his daughter, who's in the Air Force, and I tell him about my son, who's in Texas, enrolled in his freshman year at UTT. We talk about our hobbies, places we've traveled to for business, his vacations abroad. "You've been to Paris three times?"
"And Italy twice - once in the summer and then one winter on business."
We're both forty with birthdays yet to pass the year. We discuss our spouses briefly - the reasons for the rings we both wear - giving only basic information. He's been married for nineteen years to my twenty. His wife is a socialite whom he met and married in college. I tell him about my husband being a High School Physical Education and Sports Coach, that I have known him since high school, and married him shortly after. Neither of us asks the other more questions than the information volunteered.
"You collect first editions… how many do you have?" He seems genuinely interested.
"I have fourteen. I just bought Poe's "The Raven," 1884 first edition, last month - a rare find. And what do you love?"
"I love the outdoors and any sport associated with it: golf, skiing, hand gliding and the likes."
"You have issues with being trapped in one place too long. You don't smoke, but you get coffee or water or whatever it takes at regular intervals throughout the day just to take a break. You don't have to travel, but you do occasionally for a change of scenery…"
"Should I have a lawyer present, Dr. Voltura?" He laughs.
"Sorry, my work has been pretty much my lifeline. I don't know how to turn analyzing everything off the majority of the time. For what it's worth, I sum up that you like schedules, precision and perfection - you're always in control."
"Isn't it everyone's dream to be the master of their own fate?"
"It is - until you wake up and realize you have as much control as a toddler before they're potty trained. Though some people have never had the luxury of even living the fantasy for a little while."
We end by talking about our week in Chicago - him having been here many times to this being my first trip.
We fall into silence as we finish the last portions of our meals. He seems a little anxious. "Dessert?"
"No, thank you. I'm too full," I say, folding my napkin to place it beside my plate.
"No. Thank you for asking. You feel free to get some dessert or coffee for yourself." He shakes his head 'no,' not wanting anything more either.
"Yes?" he answers quickly.
"I'm having something which can only be described as…withdrawals… can I sit closer to you?" My voice wavers, uncertain about his anxiety but certain I have to be closer to him - how embarrassing.
"I would… Really?"
"Only if you want to. It's just that we've talked about everything except the…" I gesture in a circle around us. "The elephant following us, leaving trails of peanuts shells."
He makes a small, nervous chuckle then shifts slightly in his seat. "'Thy words have moved my heart to its purpose to bring it up again.' Thank you. I started second guessing myself earlier during dinner; I wasn't sure if I should bring it up again."
"Dante's Inferno." You're cultured and rare, sir."
He sits up taller, and with one sweep - not even taking his eyes off me, he moves the table candelabra and our dishes toward the end of the table. He leans over toward me, reaching across the table. I take his hand and, like the drug the electrical connection between us has become, his touch intoxicates and inflames me – I'm addicted.
"My wife," he begins, "Jane, I think she's having an affair with her personal exercise trainer. I haven't caught her with him, but a man knows; I know. It started out unnoticeable at first, or maybe I just didn't want to believe it was possible. Her three sessions a week became five. She insisted that she still needed his services instead of the physical therapist when she broke her ankle six months ago. My radar bleeped then. Then there are the little things that started to show up in her extravagant jewelry collection, things she would never buy for herself or allow me to give her. But what are gold pendants and bracelets adorned with tiny symbolic charms doing amongst diamonds and jewels?" And she has more excuses more nights than I can admit to." His shoulders sink with his admission. This is probably the first time he's shared this with someone, and he's chosen me
"I'm sorry if she is cheating on you; no one deserves that. Have you considered confronting her? You know in my profession, sometimes circumstantial evidence doesn't make the case." I give his hand a squeeze of reassurance.
She's a fool.
"Has…your husband ever cheated on you, or given you reason to suspect him? Reports and books written say that everyone cheats one time or another. Maybe you cheated on him?" he quips. His jaw line shifts, his lips sealing tight, and one eyebrow lifts.
I pull my hand away from him. "I have never cheated on Marcus, regardless of what I've suspected or how he's made me feel. He's broken my heart in so many ways; I can't begin to detail it all to you. You know, this is wrong; I think I should go back and wait at the gate."
I get up and stumble, trying to get around the table to get out. I begin to fall sideways, but something stops my descent. Edward has gotten up to stop me and has one hand holding my wrist securely, but gently, while the other is holding me steady on my waist.
"Isabella, I shouldn't have said that. I'm sorry; I didn't mean to offend you. Finally admitting to my wife's indiscretions is a fresh wound. I'm so angry and insanely hurt and desperately lonely - please, I'm enjoying your company so much."
He looks down at his hand - not the one on my wrist, but his right hand. Yes, that one - the one around my waist. He flexes his fingers as if to stretch them, or is it a simulation of fingering piano keys? Whatever it is he's doing, I want those hands on every part of me, over and over again. I'm enjoying his company too - way more than I should.
Even though we've been talking about our lives back home, I've been lost in our conversation, listening to his voice with rapt attention and a longing to feel its vibrations everywhere - forgetting reality was just the bonus. I wonder if I could somehow make that happen. 'Be bold,' my inner goddess screams, 'you're going to hell anyway after today; make it worth it.' I clear my throat to break the moment. His fingers still. "Edward, do you dance?"
There's no one dancing; this isn't that type of establishment. But there's music, and the ambiance of the restaurant - a shame to waste it. I want to feel him closer. I hope to be so close to him that the sound of his voice vibrating from his chest will sound and feel like a Seattle thunderstorm, perfectly matching the lightning bolts of electricity of his touch. Paradise lost… no… found – I've been captive here for the last hour or so.
"My wife is a skilled socialite; for me, dancing is a requirement," he muses.
"Marcus can't dance and has never cared for any place where dancing might be involved. We've chaperoned a few proms over the years - those were fun. But…care to dance with me?" I blurt out my intent before I lose my newfound boldness.
Instead of answering me, he slides the hand on my wrist down to embrace my hand, without releasing my waist from his hold. I suppose there's no need; we're about to dance to a song that seems to be in constant rotation in this airport. I heard it at Starbucks, sometime during dinner, and again now. I like it - it's quickly becoming our song.
Edward leads us toward the center of the room and releases the hand around my waist. I'm shocked and let out an involuntary whimper at the loss of contact there. He chuckles before he begins to loosen his silk tie; he pulls it up from around his neck and places it in his pants' pocket. Man, it's sexy but nothing compares to what he does next - he unbuttons three buttons of his ocean-blue piqué, cotton shirt, keeping his facial expression frozen and eyes on me.
He's a Greek Adonis, missing from the museum.
He draws my attention back to his hand. In a series of movements, he grips my elbow, sliding his hand down to mine. He simultaneously squeezes both my hands, gliding and lifting them up his chest and to his shoulders, only to pause and squeeze them again. I shiver; he's trembling slightly. He lifts our joined hands to his neck - a movement that brings me closer to him than respectable. He keeps his hands atop mine for a few seconds more, and then with a pat, he releases his hold on them to interlock his fingers behind my lower back.
Except for our elevated breathing and our synchronous heartbeats, we stand there completely still. I'm not sure why he is, but I'm reveling in the complete feel of this intimate position we're in. We're crossing another line - a few innocent brushes against each other, then holding hands, now this. I'm glad he's in the right frame of mind and body to have some control because I'm losing mine.
After what seems like a minute, maybe seconds in truth, I feel him begin to sway to the music playing. With magnetic energy, I move in time and step with him thereafter. I lean forward to lay my head on his chest. He's warm, strong and everything male. He smells inhumanly wonderful, not of Glacier Falls Old Spice body wash, which Marcus dubbed as timeless, but a fragrance hypnotic, crisp, and clean. I immediately think of the earthy smells of fragrant wildflowers I encounter on my morning runs - never again will I miss a daily jog.
In the position he's placed my hands, how can I not take advantage and touch the reddish-brown pasture of soft-looped curls in his well-groomed hairline? Just an index finger, maybe both, I bargain with myself - nothing more.
My senses, every nerve, are tantalizingly alert from the glorious electricity between us firing and sizzling. These feelings are home, comfortable in front of a fireplace Marcus has never allowed me to have in any house we've shared. Marcus who?
We remain in each other's embrace through three songs, both fast and slow, our pace never changes. He occasionally moves one or both of his hands up and down my spine in rhythm with the music or his own playing in his head. Before he ends his ministrations by interlocking his hands at my lower back, he squeezes my sides with his forearms. It takes all of my sanity not to moan – I'm surprised that I can remember to make such a sound…it's been so long.
Sometimes we stare intensely into each other's eyes, and other times I put my head back down to his chest, and he puts his head on top of mine. There are no words spoken between us. What more could we say? We're in a world of our own with no one in the room but us. Perhaps those in the restaurant, if they wonder at all, assume we're just a couple traveling together, dancing in a restaurant for dining only and madly in love.
When we're satiated with our newfound closeness, if that's even possible, we move on to faster and more playful dances. Still, we're never a breath apart. Whether he breathes in my ear, laughing at a dance move I've shown him, or his breath washes down the right side of my neck as he leans over from behind me to hear something I've knowingly only whispered. All the while, he keeps one of my palms to the side of his face, or he presses his face and lips into my wrist.
Yes, this thing between us, this attraction, is becoming more intimate as time ticks away - an hourglass emptying steadily. We've been in the restaurant, dining and dancing, for three hours; it's 7:15 pm, and I have only an hour or so left in Chicago…with Edward.
As if my tension transports to the atmosphere within the restaurant, the song we're dancing to ends, and I feel Edward slow to a complete stop, his body accepting and absorbing my tension. "Walk with me, Isabella." I look at him to discern the tone in his voice, solemn, and it doesn't match his visage. "Come," he says, offering me his hand. I take it and follow him out of the restaurant.
We walk down the terminal in silence when suddenly I wonder when Edward's flight is scheduled to depart. "Edward, when is your flight home?"
He stops walking. I turn to stand in front of him. He runs a hand through his well-groomed hair, a nervous but controlled habit he allows to occur this time. Oh, the sight of his fingers laced in is hair overwhelms me. His hair explodes in all directions, and it's sunshine on planet Mars and possibly the source of the electricity between us. I imagine this is its natural state - unruly, untamed, and just out of bed looking - from a restless romp. Mmmm, it makes him over-the-top sexy. I want to run my fingers through it, feel its softness on my face. But I digress. "Edward, sweetie, when is your flight?"
"It was at four o'clock… the last flight for the day," he answers, looking away - anywhere but at me.
"Four o'clock? Edward, I don't understand. It was a little after three o'clock when I found out my flight was delayed. I bumped into you at the gate, spilling your coffee on you… and when I hit you with my bag in Starbucks…" I gasp, covering my mouth with my free hand; our first encounters are all coming back to me. "You checked your watch for the time. I wondered what the look on your face meant. Did I cause you to miss your flight? Oh, my…"
"No, no, sweet girl, I didn't board on purpose." His gentle fingers caress my face.
"But why?" Why would he miss the last flight on purpose, making him stranded here overnight? Why is he still in the airport and not in his hotel room's Jacuzzi?
"I told you how things were at home for me… with Jane. Philadelphia wasn't really where I wanted to be then, and I'm convinced that's still true after spending the last four hours with you. There's no one there waiting for me with open arms to welcome me home, no one to sit and talk with me about my week - or anything else for that matter - as you've done, no one that will hold me the way you did as we danced, no one whose touch electrifies me so deeply my soul cries…"
I blush and smile with understanding.
"I've never felt these feelings before. My feelings for Jane must have come from some other place. Maybe because we became friends and spent every waking moment together in college we just made sense then. I was comfortable and never questioned us… never doubted what we had. I didn't know there could be more - so much more." He gestures between us. "I'm alive, Isabella. How was I living, if that was what it was called… I think about that guy in Philadelphia and marvel at the person holding your hand right now - I don't want to go back to that life. I'm in love with you."
'Stop!' I scream inside my head. Unspoken words I can deal with but not this. "Edward, you've… We've only known each other for just over four hours. You just realized your wife is being unfaithful; it's understandable for you to be confused…"
"I know that …and it has nothing to do with being confused or hurt. I'm not running."
"You live in Philadelphia. I live in Seattle…"
"I know. I know…doesn't matter."
"You're married and have been for 19 years. Your daughter, Edward…" I have to find the words to make him stop.
"And you, you have a son who's studying to be an Architect, and you're married." He holds his finger up, asking me to let him reason with me. "I know all of that, and I hear you, love; I do. Answer me this - are you happy? Bubbly, silly, overwhelmingly happy? Even remotely happy enough to…"
I place my fingers over his lips; my thumb grazes the length of his jaw line tenderly as my tears begin to fall. I've held them at bay since the start of his declaration with strength I didn't know I was capable of. I've felt the anxiety over our time ending building with each passing minute since our last dance at the restaurant. How am I going to return to my life? I merely existed too, trying to make it through day after day.
He's brave in taking a stand – he's addressed the elephant in the room. We've talked about many things, but we've never fully discussed the immediate attraction we felt when we touched each other in the café and the intimacy thereafter. I've surrendered to the reality that silence is a better option, and that fate is indeed cruel. I kept bumping into him. Thank God I bumped into him. It's a blessing and a curse; the elephant is free to go away now, but only after it's trampled over our desolate lives, clearing a path for… what? - The impossible in an impossible situation. Yes, he's stronger and braver than I am. God had taken from Adam to give to Eve - Marcus has made sure my portion was given in rations - I was still receiving.
"You said you weren't 'okay,' Isabella. You said you hadn't been for a long time… I can't read your mind; say something, please. I went out on a limb here; please tell me I'm not out here alone? You can't deny it."
Lifting both hands to my face again, he silently but frantically asks for my feelings…and a response to his bravery. His eyes, seemingly darker now, jade green, holding me hostage with their intensity and desperation as he searches my eyes, looking from one to the other for the truth I can't find the words or courage to give. My tears begin to increase in speed. I'm on the brink of sobbing. "Edward."
"I know, Isabella; I feel it too. Don't shut down on me." He bends down eyelevel with me, pleading.
Not trusting my voice, I whisper, "I'm afraid. I…" I'm interrupted by the first boarding call for my flight. I have to go. I have to get away from him. I turn to start walking toward the lockers we've left our belongings in.
He still has my arm. I shouldn't be surprised when he pulls me back and into him. "Listen, you don't have to be afraid. You're safe with me - your heart is safe with me. I'll never hurt you. I'll cherish you everyday, every moment…"
"You don't know me. I'm not…you just don't know me enough to say that to me. I don't know you enough to trust you with my heart. I'm broken. I'm damaged. No one can repair that damage. No one has the time to put into fixing me." I'm sobbing at this point; it can't be helped. I've never told anyone this or shown anyone the depths of my despair.
"Shh. Shh, baby, shh." He begins to try to calm me down. He wipes my tears delicately from my face, rubbing each cheek with his thumbs until I'm calm enough or my tear ducts are exhausted – more so the latter.
Once again he captures my face tenderly in his hands, lifting my chin up to look at him. "I shouldn't have pressed you like that; I'm truly sorry. Just because you bumped into some traveling stranger twice and tried to convince him not to press charges by disorienting him - the electrical charge was a good touch by the way - doesn't mean…" I can't help the faint snicker that erupts. "There it is - that smile I will replay over and over again. It will be embedded into my memory."
"Final boarding call for Flight 6550. Destination Seattle, Washington. Boarding at Gate E-12."
"You'd better go; I believe they're waiting for you." He places his hands on my shoulders, anchoring me to him… or him to me. "You have my number; call me anytime. Anytime okay? It's been a really amazing evening. I'm really glad you bumped into me." His smile never fully reaches his eyes; he's chosen his words - parting words carefully. "Yeah, so, give me a hug? Take care of yourself. Promise me?"
I'm frozen in place – like a zombie – until he pulls me into him. He's shaking so fiercely - a betrayal to the soothing timbre of his voice trying to make this easier for me. He knows I'm already dead inside, but he still continues to keep this flame burning however he can.
'Give up, Edward. When I leave your presence the flame dies too.'
I close my eyes in deep concentration, wanting to just feel and record every plane of his muscled upper body - his chest, arms and back into memory, while he sniffs my hair and soaks the top with quiet tears. My eyes must remain closed. I can't look into his expressive eyes, nor can I hurt him further with my own replenished tears. "I will. You take care of yourself too. I'll miss you so much. So much, you couldn't know." I smash my face to his chest - his pretty blue shirt be damned. He's holding one hand to my head and the other on my back.
"I'll think of you always," he whispers, kissing my forehead. He bends to lovingly kiss both my closed eyelids and cheeks, never grazing my lips.
Funny, we haven't even kissed. We haven't crossed that line. Technically, we really haven't done anything wrong… but by whose definition? Do I even care now? We may never have kissed nor made love, but he owns me nonetheless.
I release my hold on him. His hands come to my shoulders and slide down my arms. Then, just as we started this airport love affair, our fingertips brush against each other - lightning jolt, shock, electricity, magnetism – goodbye, Edward.
I gather my carry-on bag, forcing a mirror of the smile he gives me and proceed to Corridor E-12.
As I reach the gate, I hear Patti singing the chorus of our song. I'll always think of it as ours. I wonder if he thinks it's our song…
"You didn't ask me," I whisper, as if he can hear me.
Just as I find the ability to move, I turn around. He's still standing there, watching me intently with his eyes wide and confusion displaying across his beautiful face. I walk at a slower than necessary pace, ignoring the attendant trying to ask me if I'm staying or if I've left something - I have. I'm still not sure what I'm doing though. What if Edward has come to his senses? I have to try, right?
He starts to walk, then runs to meet me but stumbles to a halt, not daring to come closer than five feet because of the uncertainty and his insecurity with why I've turned around. I've done this to him. I've broken the only confidence in himself he had left. I'll make it up to him if he gives me the chance. "You could have my heart, my mind, my life, my whole world, anything…"
"Oh, please, I want all of that. What more can I do? What can I say to you that I haven't?" He takes a step, holding his hands out at first but quickly pulls them back - as if he's afraid I'd reject him again. 'Never…but it's your decision this time,' I answer his hesitancy in my mind.
"You did everything you could - said everything you could have said, but…" He takes the last few steps to me and drops to his knees, grabbing onto me so fast we both nearly tumble. Always cautious of me, he braces me against his entire body with his arms encircling me and his face smothering into my stomach.
He's squeezing me so tight I can barely breathe, but I couldn't care less. "But what, Isabella? Tell me. I'll beg you if that's what you want."
He has my arms captured in his strong grip. I lean my head to his hair so that I have every part of me touching him. "You didn't ask me. If you ask me to, Edward, I'll change my mind. If you want me …"
"Oh, my God, thank you! Yes! Yes! I thought I was imagining things; that song just kept playing over and over again. Everywhere we went it just kept playing." He lifts me up as much as he can in the position we're in and looks up, waiting for me to look at him. "Stay with me, Isabella. Please stay with me."
"Forever." He releases my arms only to hold my face in his hands just as tightly, pulling my face to him as our lips smash together. It's forbidden fruit, a point of no return, unbridled passion of lips, teeth, tongues, thirsty and ravenous. We remember that we're in an airport, in between the airline attendant's desk and waiting area - Edward still on his knees - we pull apart with a quick final kiss.
"You've been holding out on me." He gets up from the floor, smirking at me with that signature grin and those blazing green eyes of his.
"I couldn't allow you all my secrets; I needed to make sure you weren't just after me because of a fascination with electrical shocks the green life way - naturally." We laugh.
We pick up our carry-on bags; he wraps his arm across my shoulders, and I place mine around his waist as we begin to head out of the concourse. "Isabella, dare I ask? Are you sure?" He asks but squeezes me tighter to him.
There's no need for me to answer him, but maybe he needs to hear it. "I can't return to a life without you in it." He smiles. "What will you say to Jane?"
"What will you tell Marcus?"
We look at each other, as if we need to think more than the second it takes and say, practically in unison, "Kiss my ass!"
"I'm thinking we should just get divorced and married tonight," he states playfully, but I can hear the serious tone of his voice just beneath the surface.
"This isn't Vegas, you know."
"Is that a 'yes, you would…' if we were in Vegas?
"I think I just might… if you asked me to."
Have you ever been some place crowded and felt like someone touched you?
AN: I didn't win either contest: Cupid's Arrow and the Luck of the Irish, but my virtual friend did, SaritaDreaming. She has stories on this site - go check them out; you'll love them.
The title of the song Edward and Bella heard throughout the story was Patti Labelle's original song "If You Asked Me To." Please go listen to it and reread if you like www(dot)/watch?v=Da-RjeCObyA or for Betti and hopefully it works www(dot)vevo(dot).com/watch/patti-labelle/if-you-asked-me-to/USMCV0400019. Because I want to continue I am working on a blog.