" Do I have to? Really?" I whined petulantly.
"Yes!" came the emphatic reply of my best friend. " he is smoking hot, and full of southern charm, whats not to like?"
My shoulders slump and I let my head fall into my hands.
I. Hate. Blind. Dates.
They are the most excruciating thing known to man. The awkward conversation, the tip toeing around each other as we try to figure each other out ... the whole thing.
I hate it.
It's like pulling teeth, with no Novocain. What's worst, is this is not just some random stranger ... this is Rosalie's brother!
The elusive and much lauded hotty Jasper Hale. OK, so yes, he was good looking ... he had gorgeous blond hair and piercing baby blues...dimples... he was tall and he was smart ... the list is endless ... or so I'm told.
" For the last time Alice, if you think he's so great, YOU date him!"
" I'd jump right the fuck on that if he had been offered to me on a silver platter, but noooo, Rose hand delivers his fine self to you ... you think you'd be more grateful... I mean seriously Bells ... when's the last time you got laid? And when the last time you went out with a hot guy ... and Jake does not count! I swear that guy likes shoes more than I do!"
I chuckle, thinking about Jake's seriously insane shoe fetish...I really think he DOES love shoes more than Alice. I look up and realize Alice is still ranting about this thing with Jasper.
"... I mean really, if I had a pass to the all you could eat Jasper buffet... I mean, shit... I'd gorge myself."
I stop her. "OK Alice, I get it..." sometimes I swear this girl is crazy nuts.
" Try to change the subject all you like, but woman, you are going on this date, if I have to drag you there by your hair myself, and don't fuck with me. You know I'll do it."
We hear the front door slam closed suddenly.
" I'm home bitches!" Jake walks into the living room, looking, for all intents and purposes, like santa was in our hallway giving out free Prada boots. " I met the cutest guy downstairs, he was tall, dark, and oh my fucking god did he have the tightest ass I've ever seen, I swear ladies ... it was applicious!"
" Oh great Jakey, your home! Now you can help me talk Bells into going out friday night with Roses brother, Jasper. Not that her frumpy ass deserves his godliness"
" Ooh, that tall blond hunk in the pic on Rosie's desk? Fuck Bella... I'd hop on that train in a heartbeat, whats your prob honey?"
I sigh deeply, " I'm just not into the whole blind date scene. I mean, I know he's Rose's brother, but it's just awkward, you know? What if we don't get along? He's a pysch teacher ... he'll probably spend the whole date analyzing my appetizer choice or some shit."
"Hmm, what about a group outing? You know, a bunch of us getting together to go to a club or something, after all we still haven't celebrated you girls graduating yet. And I know that little miss party pants over here never turns down free drinks and the chance to get her groove on." He waves his hands at Alice. " it would be a safe, neutral kind of date and we could all gaze at his gloriousness together. Hell, maybe I'll run into Seth again and he can join us."
Alice is bouncing in her seat...giving Jake the finger, grinning sweetly. She jumps up suddenly, easily missing the teetering glass of wine on the coffee table.
"Seriously Bella, I just had THE BEST idea! We could go to this little place downtown that I know. It's a new jazz club that opened last month. They are usually totally packed with no hope of getting a table, but I happen to have an in with their pianist. They do live music Friday night so that would be right up your alley..." she trails off grabbing her cell, mumbling something about calling Rose to set it up.
I do love jazz music. I have always wanted to be a jazz singer. I used to dream of singing in a smokey club, full of people ... just me and a mic ... singing slow, throaty songs about love and sex ... draping myself over a piano as I watch beautiful, long fingers tripping over the keys of the piano. Singing to the gorgeous pianist with his green eyes blazing back at me...
Whoa... I shake my head, coming out of my daze... I haven't had that thought in a while. Shake it off Bella, shake it off.
Alice bounces back into the living room " It's all set up! We are going to meet Rose and Jasper there tomorrow night at 7 and I called Edward and set it up at the club and Emmett is coming too..."
" Edward? Your brother?"
" Yeah dum dum... I told you I had an in with the pianist ... how many classically trained pianists do you think I know?"
"Oh, well I didn't..."
" He plays there on Friday nights sometimes as a favor to his friend Laurent, who owns the place. Just so happens he will be there that night ... so I set up a surprise for you..."
"A surprise? Alice ... what..."
" You know how you have always wanted to sing in a jazz club..."
" Alice ... no... I mean... I ... I can't ... not with..."
Jake cuts me off...
" Oh yes you can Bella ... you know you are the shit and when you sing jazz, well lets just say, your voice sounds like sex - slow, hot, sweaty sex, and I mean the good kind."
I look at Jake incredulously, "Umm, yeah, thanks for that ... but I don't think I can do it. That's two days away. Not even. It's like, one day away. I can't just get up there and do that in front of people."
" Well, Bella, It's done and your doing it. Edward says It's not a big deal. Plus, I picked the song for you already and you have no choice. So you might as well just play along ... you know I always win. Oh, and I'm dressing you too... I know just the thing." She smirked and headed to her room talking excitedly about dresses. Yeah, she does that alot.
Alice was the biggest clothes horse I knew. The girl had more clothes that Jake and I combined. When I think of both of Jake's walk in closets ... and my one ... that is saying something. She was always bring stuff home from work. She worked in Seattle as a clothing buyer and just graduated fashion school. She was the best designer I knew. So when she said she was dressing me, I was glad to have at least one part of Friday night not to worry about.
" So..." Jake begins, " You gonna tell her that you have the hots for her brother, or what?"
"Huh?" I stammer, " I do not have the hots for her brother."
"The fuck you don't... I was sitting right here when she said his name and you pinked up like a lobster in a pot, girlie. There is no hiding that. So whats the deal? You've only met him like once, right?"
"Um, not exactly. I have spoken to him twice. Once when I was like 12 and then again a few years later. But Alice and I have been friends since second grade, so I spent alot of time at their house growing up. Edward was just never around. Their parents sent him to some fancy private school for musical prodigies."
"And? Details please... I know he's a fox from the pics in her room but whats with the two of you?"
"Nothing. I barely know him. I met him once at his house and then he came to a talent show that Alice and I entered when we were 14. Nothing more to tell. He was always polite, we just never really had the chance to talk. He was always doing his own thing."
Jake looked skeptical. "Well, I know your full of shit but I don't have time to pull it out of you. If we are going to a jazz club on Friday, I have to go pick out something jazzy to wear."
My roommates, the clothes whores. Am I the only person I know that doesn't cream themselves over a cute pair of Gucci pumps? Probably. Even Rose knows more about this stuff then I do.
What the hell am I gonna do about Friday? It's going to be a total nightmare. I am going on a blind date, and I have to sing, while Edward fucking Cullen plays the piano. Fucking Alice. Fucking Rosalie. How the hell was I going to do this? I pulled my legs under me and sat there, my mind going back to the day I met Edward Cullen.
**********Ten years earlier*********
"Your voice is so awesome Bells! You could totally be on like star search! I mean you sound so good, let me go get my new Mariah Carey tape, I have to hear you sing Vision of Love again, it's my favorite." Alice says, bounding from her family's large music room.
I stood up, taking the opportunity to look around for the first time. It was the first time Alice had brought me in here. This room alone was larger than the whole first floor of the house I lived in with my dad. The room is large and rectangular with mirrors covering the wall opposite a baby grand piano. The largest wall had a large picture window and there were several guitars in a case and a set of drums in one corner, I guess Alice's family was bigger on music than I thought. I walked over to the piano and sat on the bench. I opened the lid and ran my fingers over the keys. I really wished I could play. I knew enough to pick my way through a few of my favorite songs but not enough to play well. There was a beautiful family portrait on the wall beside the piano and I couldn't help but stare at it as my fingers moved over the keys slowly.
Alice's family was beautiful. No. They were gorgeous. Every one of them. Her parents were stunning. Her mom, with her auburn hair and sweet loving smile, her dad just as attractive with his glamourous blond good looks and big blue eyes. Alice was the antithesis of her parents. Tiny, dark haired, Alice was the most energetic person I knew. She always had a ready smile for everyone she met and I could never get her to shut up. Where her parents gave the feeling of cultured civility, Alice was a wild child. Her clothes and attitude reflected her boisterous personality and everyone loved her. Alice's two brothers were just as attractive as his parents. Emmett was the oldest at 19. He was big and brawny with dark curly hair and the deepest dimples I have ever seen. He was a football player at school and you could tell that all the girls probably fell all over themselves when he was around. He was the funniest, loudest boy I had ever met. I liked him instantly. Next to Emmett and behind Alice in the portrait was Edward.
Edward was everything Emmet was not. He was tall and next to Emmett he looked skinny. But he wasn't that skinny. He wore a slightly rumpled white button down in the picture, that was pulled tight across his 17 year old chest. He had messy, bronze colored hair and the most mesmerizing eyes I had ever seen. They were green. Not like deep emeralds or anything, but a softer green like grass or the jade elephant my dad had on his mantle at home. His jaw was strong and smooth and he had an irritated smirk on his face as if he was telling them to hurry up and take the picture because he had better things to do. Alice told me he was still at boarding school, but was coming home today for his spring break. Everyone was excited to have him back and his mom couldn't stop talking about how accomplished he was at the piano and how his instructors were saying it was only a matter of time before he ended up playing with the symphony or something like that. Everyone was very proud of him.
It was his face that captivated me the most. When I looked at the portrait on the wall it was like he was looking back at me. Creepy.
I started softly singing Alice's favorite song, wondering where she had gotten to.
You treated me kind
I started slowly, softly.
Carried me through desperation
To the one that was
waiting for me
It took so longStill I believed
Somehow the one that I needed
Would find me eventually
I had a vision of love
And it was all that you've given to me
As I hummed and sang, I picked a few of the notes on the keys and sang a verse softly. I heard the door open and decided to belt out a chorus for Alice in Welcome.
Feel so alive
I'm so thankful that I've received
The answer that heaven has sent down to me
I turned, expecting to see Alice break out in dance at my welcome and instead was met by a pair of wide green eyes. I stuttered to a stop and apologized.
"uh..um... I'm sorry... I thought you were Alice." I stammered, flushed red, ducking my head to hide my embarrassment.
"Oh ... yeah... I saw her in the hall ... that's ... OK ... well, I just came in to play on the grand for a bit, but I didn't know anyone was in here." He said as he ran his hands roughly through his hair, smiling politely.
"I'm sorry... I didn't mean to play your piano." I couldn't breathe. Edward in picture format was gorgeous, but Edward in real life was breathtaking. Literally. I just stood there, rooted to the spot completely, unable to form a sentence.
Alice came running into the room and stopped short when she saw Edward. She ran and jumped up into his arms and laughed as he caught her. "Edward! You're home! How was your flight? Have you seen mom and dad or Emmett yet? Did you bring me anything? I see you've found Bella..."
" Wow... Slow down roadrunner...yeah I just saw Mom, Dad and Em are still playing golf and yes I do believe I just found Bella", he turned and looked at me. I felt myself blush again, so red my hair hurt.
" Well, I should get ready for dinner" he replied. Just then, a tall, slender, blond girl entered and sauntered over to Edward placing her red polished nails on his sleeve.
"Eddie, there you are. Are you gonna play for me now?" she said in a whiny voice.
"Can't Tanya, my little sister and her friend have taken over the music room." he turned to us and winked.
" Well, cant they go play outside or something? I've been waiting all month to hear your new song." She replied petulantly.
The blond girl, Tanya, had to be the most annoying person I had met. She was gorgeous and I could see why he liked her. Everything about her screamed model. But as pretty as she was, something bugged me about her. She didn't belong here. She wasn't...nice.
" Not now baby, let's leave the kids alone and I'll play for you some other time. Let's head up to my room." He replied as he turned her toward the door. He turned back to Alice who was sticking her tongue out at the back of Tanya's head. " Have fun guys, Ali I'll see you at dinner...and um... Bella it was nice to see you again." He favored us with a crooked smile and a chuckle at his sisters antics as he left the room, following the still whining Tanya into the hallway.
"Wow, what a jerk! I swear I don't know what he sees in that girl. I mean Emmett is dating her sister Irina and they are both totally pretty and all but my god, not a brain cell between them. I swear there IQ is smaller than their shoe size. Total wastes of space."
I said nothing. My eyes were still on the door. My mind was on Alice's brother. He was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and I couldn't help but think that something had just happened.
END OF CHAPTER ONE