WriteOnTime is the Queen of Commas and Hyphens.
Sparglekun stays up with me and lets me pick her brain.
I love them both.
Twilight's not mine.
Every Wednesday morning I make sure to leave the house wearing the jeans my sister brought back for me from her last trip to Seattle. They look better on me than the rest of the pants I own, with the sole exception of another pair I save for Sunday afternoons. This morning I couldn't find my Wednesday jeans. It turns out that my mother decided to wash them, even though I had washed them myself last week. I tried to control my temper, but ended up snapping at both her and my sister. They looked confused, but didn't ask any questions. I had to wear my Sunday jeans.
It's almost five o'clock and the movie starts at five-thirty. There is nothing much for me to do until then. Starting next month I'll be working in the ticket booth. Running it, actually. Until then, I'm just an usher. I tear the ticket stubs and politely welcome our 'guests' until the doors close and the movie starts. When Mr. Denali isn't in I have to run the projector, but today isn't one of those days. Once I'm done with my usher duties, I have to go to the office and do whatever work Mr. Denali has assigned to me. On Wednesdays and Sundays if I get my work done quickly, I sit in the back row of the theater and watch the movie. And by 'movie' I mean her.
She comes to The Majestic every Wednesday for the fifty-thirty show and every Sunday for the four o'clock show, the only times we show old movies and foreign films. She wears the same pants and hoodie, only changing her shirt and sneakers sometimes. When it's cold, she wears a navy pea coat. When the rain is particularly bad, she wears a yellow raincoat. She sits in the second row from the back, pulls her hair up and twists it around on the top of her head. She sits like that, completely still for the most part, until the credits are almost over. If the movie is sad, she walks out with her arms wrapped around herself. If the movie has a happy ending, she has a wistful half-smile on her face that she tries to shake off. Twice, there were tears in her eyes, and I wanted to offer her a tissue, but I don't carry any, and her sleeve seems to suffice. I would offer her my sleeve, and it wouldn't gross me out because she would just sniff twice and take a deep breath. But she doesn't know me, and that would be awkward.
Five-twenty. She should be here in a few minutes. She's never early. She doesn't buy anything at the concession stand. She carries her water bottle with her and she doesn't like candy. I know this because I overheard her telling a friend that candy is 'eww' in the cafeteria. She never wears her hoodie in the cafeteria, or anywhere else in school. She wears sweaters and a leather jacket sometimes, but never the hoodie. She has her friends who are loud and annoying and all male. They are seniors. She's a junior, like me.
Even though we don't have any classes together, I recognized her when she first came to The Majestic because she was the new kid at a pretty small school this year. She started showing up on Wednesdays and Sundays in December and I remembered her smile from the first day of school in September. We were waiting for Mrs. Cope to discuss our schedules. Our elbows brushed and she turned and smiled. I never really ran into her again until the Wednesday before Christmas, when she handed me her ticket stub. She was here to see It's a Wonderful Life, and I ended up sitting behind her for the duration of the movie. I'm not sure why I just sat there, focused on the form of a girl I didn't know, for over two hours. But every time she tilted her head or made any slight movements, I smiled.
I know she doesn't recognize me, or know who I am. I've seen her speaking to my sister once or twice, but I've never brought her up with Alice. I don't think they're friends. Alice is eccentric and cares only about her art and colorful earrings and her boyfriend Jasper. She likes cheesy romances and Twizzlers and hopefully doesn't have a boyfriend. Her name is Isabella, but people call her Bella. She never wears colors, unless she is wearing her navy pea coat or yellow raincoat. Her ears didn't look pierced when I saw them up close last Sunday. She was distracted and couldn't find her ticket. As soon as she handed it to me she pulled her hair up, took a deep breath, and almost ran inside after I handed back the stub. Before she ran, I let my eyes rest on her neck, and noticed her ear. Her skin was pretty. It looked soft and reminded me of my nine-month-old nephew. That sounds creepy, but that's just how soft her skin looked.
I always want to say something, talk to her, but I know it's never going to happen. "Hi, I'm Edward. We have ten seconds to make a connection, so I'm going to keep this really short…" or "Hi, I'm Edward Cullen. We haven't been properly introduced. We are both juniors at Forks High School…" or "Your hair is an interesting shade of brown. May I touch it?" or "The drycleaner I take my coats to gives me a big discount. Your coat has that stain in the back, right above your…"
I smile at the two old ladies who hand me their tickets and tell me I look as handsome as ever. I roll my eyes at the jerk who brings a different girl every week, feeding her the same lines about the theater, its history, how he remembers coming here with his mother as a kid. When she stands in front of me I stare at my feet. Our hands don't touch during our brief biweekly exchange. She's gone before I know it, but I notice that she wasn't carrying her water bottle. On the Waterfront depresses me, but as soon as the movie starts I speed through the orders I have to make for Mr. Denali and take a seat one row behind and two seats to her left.
She isn't sitting like she usually sits. Her body is tilted to the side and her head rests on her hand, her fingers constantly raking through her hair. She moves around a lot, like she's unsatisfied, uncomfortable. I want to move to the seat next to her and hold her until she is calm again. She always smells like cinnamon buns and I always want to press my lips to her hair, inhale, feel. I think I could comfort her. She shouldn't have to be alone all the time. Being alone sucks.
As much as I'd like to sit here forever, I have to get up a few times and make sure things are fine out in the lobby. Sure, Eric is there eating all the popcorn and pretending to run the concession stand, but he causes more harm than good, letting his friends hang out when they stop by to pick him up half an hour before his shift is over. They do nothing but harass women and mock posters for movies they probably won't watch and will never understand. On my second excursion to the lobby, light footsteps follow me out. I turn and see her rushing towards the restrooms. Halfway down the long corridor leading to them, she stops and turns, clearly having changed her mind about her destination. She looks pale, upset, and when she walks past me towards the exit, I reach out and touch her shoulder.
"Excuse me, are you alright?" I ask.
"Uh, yeah. Yeah, I'm ok," she replies. Her voice is shaky and she seems nervous, running her hand through her hair multiple times in the few seconds since I stopped her.
"Are you sure? Can I get you something? I work here, I'm not…"
"I'm just… I didn't eat or drink anything today, and umm… I felt a little sick. I'm gonna run to my car and grab something. I'll be fine," she tries to assure me.
"Why don't you sit down? You don't look well. I'll get you something from the concession stand. Anything you'd like. It's on me – on the house. I don't want you running out into the rain when you're…"
Not wearing your raincoat? Looking deathly pale?
"Uhh, thanks. Wow. That's really sweet of you. Um, but I have to pay you. Here…" she reaches into her pocket and pulls out a five dollar bill. I shake my head.
"It's fine," I say, but she insists, a tight smile on her face.
"I'm… I need sugar. Something sweet? No hard candy, please. But I like chocolate. Hard chocolate is ok. Thank you, so much." I watch her sit on the carpeted floor with her back against the wall, making sure she is okay before I jog over to the concession stand.
I wonder what's wrong with her. Is she diabetic? But why would she want something sweet? She's always eating Twizzlers. I wonder why that doesn't fall under 'candy'. Does she just hate hard candy? I buy her whatever I can find. M&M's, a really long Rice Krispies Treats bar, and a bottle of water. I spend more than the five dollars she gave me, but it doesn't matter. I just want her to be okay. Her cheeks should be pink again.
"Thank you," she says, tearing open the Rice Krispies Treats and sinking her teeth into the marshmallowy goodness. Then she opens the water bottle, attacking it like she hasn't had anything to drink in days. Feeling slightly uncomfortable all of a sudden, I look away and scratch my head. I realize that I should say something, introduce myself, or just walk away, because standing here just seems creepy. I don't want to walk away.
"I'm Edward Cullen. You're Isabella. Bella. Swan. Chief Swan's daughter. Junior."
She knows who she is, asshole.
Nodding, her eyes back on her snack, she speaks. "Yeah, I'm Bella. Nice to meet you, Edward."
Bella looks up and smiles. Her breathing has calmed and her cheeks are pink again, but not in the way they usually are. I stand in front of her, unsure of what I want to say next. She surprises me by being the first to speak.
"I'm sorry. I'm actually being rude. I know we go to school together, I just… I'm not the most outgoing person, I guess? I try to avoid most forms of human interaction. You just seemed that way too, you know… Forget it, sorry. See? I shouldn't speak," she laughs.
"No, I mean. You're right. I do too… I don't like…"
"People?" she suggests, smiling.
"Most people," I admit.
"Yeah. I mean at school I have my buddies. They're cool, but they're more like family. My stepbrother and an old family friend. I think…" she stops, shaking her head and blushing.
"Nothing. It's pathetic. I was gonna say I think they almost feel sorry for me," she finishes.
Is she crazy?
"N-no… they don't feel… I really don't think they feel sorry for you. They look at you like…"
Like you're something to eat. Especially your creepy 'stepbrother'.
Shut up, Edward. Shut up before she thinks you're a freak.
"Like?" she asks, confused.
"Forget it. Are you feeling better now?" I want to know.
"Yeah, I am. Thank you," she says, offering me some M&M's. I take two, and hold them in my palm.
Bella stands up before I can offer her my hand to help.
"I'm sure. I'm just gonna go home now, actually. There's, what? Twenty minutes left of the movie? I've seen it; I should go and… eat."
"Ok. Well, I'm glad you're feeling better. I guess I'll… see you around?"
She shrugs and nods, looking away. Her eyes rest on a poster, and she is smiling.
"Oh, that's cool. You guys do a Valentine's Day thing? Man, I love Casablanca and Doctor Zhivago, but I guess it's pretty lame to show up that night, huh? Alone on Valentine's Day to see a romantic movie."
"No," I tell her. "Actually, that's Friday night. You know the second Friday of every month is like date movie night, or something. Romance, drama," I mumble, blushing. "The theater makes a lot of money that way… Mr. Denali considered doing this on Valentine's Day, but our regular patrons complain when he switches stuff around. You know, the ones who come for independent films, or documentaries," I explain.
"Well, I'm a regular patron, I think? And… and I think every night should be romance night – romance classics night. Or foreign romance night," she giggles. I giggle too, stopping only when she notices and gives me an odd look.
Stop giggling in front of the pretty girl.
"You should come. Friday night, I mean. I don't work Fridays so I wouldn't… but I could… I mean, I'm sorry. You don't need me here."
Her eyes are on me, on the floor, left, right, ceiling, shoes. She breathes really fast.
"I would, except I promised Seth and Jake I'd hang with them. Not that I want to hang with them outside of school, they're pretty boring. But they couldn't get dates to the dance," she snickers, "wait, why am I making fun of their inability to find dates to the dance? Not like I have one. I… am I being annoying? I mean, do you have work you have to do? I'm totally taking up your time. I was just trying to explain that, um… I don't know."
"The dance. Right. My sister is involved with the decorations, I think."
She is tugging on her hair until she notices me watching, and stops.
"Are you…? I – I, you know, do you go to those things?" she asks me, staring at her dirty sneakers.
"No. I went to a couple of dances freshman year, and back in middle school, but they're boring," I tell her. Her eyes get big and she nods so vigorously that I am worried her head will snap off.
"Boring, exactly. I mean, if you have someone fun…like someone you can talk to for two minutes without wanting to kill yourself, or them, or both of you, then maybe… but yeah, boring. I – I, no. I've never been to one, but I can imagine…"
"You've never been to a school dance?" I ask, surprised.
"No…" Bella almost whispers. "I'd get… bored. Bad company. I'd be bad company. Terrible. No one wants… that."
Is she crazy?
"Are you bored now?"
She blinks a few times and it's really distracting, so I look away.
"Now?" she repeats. I nod.
"No, I'm…" She laughs. It's perfect – her laugh. "I don't want to kill you yet. I don't really want to die, either. I'm cool."
My heart races at her admission. She doesn't want to commit murder or suicide, and it's been more than two minutes since I brought back all the snacks.
"You've never been to a dance because you think you'd be bad company? Have you ever wanted to go?" I ask her.
Her left shoulder comes up until she is almost caressing her own cheek with it. "Yeah, I used to really want to go, but no one would ask when I lived in Phoenix. Now it doesn't really matter."
"You should go to one," I tell her, my voice cracking like I'm thirteen again.
"Thanks err… Edward. I'll see what I can do."
"The decorations are pretty cool," I state, in a firm, masculine voice, which is my normal voice unless she's doing things to it just by standing in front of me.
"Not cheesy. My sister is an artist. No red heart balloons. You know Van Gogh's Café Terrace at Night? My sister loves it, so… she uh, is making the gym look like it's outdoors? With stars and a French theme? Little tables and ch – It sounds lame, but –"
"No. It sounds cool. It… I like French things. Like, on Sunday… I'm excited for A Man and a Woman? And Van Gogh is cool, though not French, but still cool. Yeah. Your sister is so random. But cool. Not…boring," she finishes. She has been staring at my shirt for a good five minutes now.
"So you should go," I say.
She finally looks up at my face and furrows her brows, looking annoyed.
"You love telling people what to do, don't you? First it's 'go see the movie' then it's 'go to the dance' – what are you doing?"
"I'm…" hanging out with Emmett and the baby because Rose is working late. We'll order pizza and play video games until she calls and they have to leave.
"Nothing," I tell her. She's tapping her foot and shoving the rest of the M&M's into her pocket. I look at the M&M's I have in my palm. The skin is bright red because they're melting. She starts to say something but I stop her.
Ask her. Or tell her. Suggest it.
"I think we should go to the dance, Bella."
Her body twists away from me, then it twists to the other side, and she finally looks at me for a second, and goes back to staring at her shoes. I can tell she's just trying to come up with a nice way to let me down. It's fine, she said she had plans. I annoyed her and told her what to do. But if Bella says no, I'll have to run away and get away from her. Maybe change my shifts. My hands in my pockets, I kick an imaginary ball around and wait for her to speak.
"I have a dress. It's pretty fun. And it's… pretty."
"Ok," I say, after taking a few seconds to calm down, "you should wear that dress."
"It's black, and I found it at a vintage store in L.A. when I was visiting with my mom. The skirt is wide and flares out and it's really romantic, even though it's black. And I like to twirl around in it, like in the movies, and I can put my hair up like Audrey – it looks nice like that, I did it as a part of my Halloween costume two years ago, guess who I went as – and you look like you could totally be in a movie. Are you ok? You look flushed. Are you warm?"
Yes, Bella. So warm.
"I'm fine," I croak.
"You'll really take me to the dance?" she asks.
"Yes, I want to. You… I've –"
"Are you sure?"
"I'm sure. I'm positive. Please wear the dress. And you really look like Audrey sometimes, even when you wear this," I say, pointing to her hoodie.
Her smile hits me deep in my belly. In a good way. A really good way. She is everything I thought she was but nothing like I imagined her to be.
"Um, well. People are coming out, I'm sure you have to get back to work." She frowns.
"Yeah, I should get back. I should pick you up, right? Friday? I think the dance starts at eight. So, quarter to eight? Will you be ready?"
She is nodding again and I look away before her neck actually snaps off this time.
"I live –"
"I know where you live. Wow, that sounded creepy. I mean I know you live with your father. Chief Swan."
"Yeah. Ok. Cool. Thanks for everything," she tells me.
"Anytime, Bella. Please drive safely."
I hold up my hand, ready to wave the second she's five to ten steps away from me, but she walks towards me instead, and stands on her toes to give me a kiss on my cheek.
"Bye," she breathes. And she's gone.
The lights are on in every room of the Swan house. I wonder if her stepbrother and his friends are in there, and if she likes any of them or if they like her. Emmett says that competition is always a good thing, but I doubt I could compete with people like Jake or Sam. I'd like to think that Bella wouldn't be interested in guys like that, but I don't really know her at all.
I've been sitting out here for five minutes and now I have to get out of my car and knock on the front door. Shaking away my doubts and anxiety I step out and notice all the lights going off upstairs. By the time I'm at the door, I hear footsteps thundering down a staircase. She opens the door a second later, a little out of breath and very pretty. Beautiful. Just like she described to me the other day.
"You look really nice," I tell her. And hot. She looks down at her silver shoes and hides a smile.
"Thank you," she says, "I was worried you weren't going to come. I mean, I didn't see you at school these past two days and people tend to forget things, and this isn't that important. Hi, come in."
"Hi, thanks. Of course I was going to come. I was worried that maybe you'd forget. This is important," I try to assure her. I notice her hoodie hanging by the door and wonder if it smells just like her.
She stares at my hand and I remember that I'm carrying a rose. Just one. Alice said it's romantic. "This is for you," I tell Bella. The color of her face makes my stomach do a big flip-flop, and her voice as she breathes 'thank you, Edward' makes me hard.
"You're welcome. Is your dad here?" I ask.
"No… he's out with my stepmother. I umm, ok, let me just ask you. I just have this blue coat, but I also have a black leather jacket. It's nicer. I think I'll wear that. Is it really cold? I'd rather not wear the blue coat."
Her eyelashes are longer than they usually are. They flutter and dance when she looks at me.
"Yeah. The leather jacket is hot – cool. It's a cool jacket, I think you should wear it."
"Oh. You know what jacket I'm talking about?" she asks, surprised.
"Yeah… I've seen you wear it at school," I admit.
Bella takes a deep breath and grins. I notice her eyes. Dark, smoky. The shiny stuff on her lips. No earrings. I was right.
"Are you ready?" I ask her. She nods and tells me that she will be right back. She takes the rose with her, and it is still in her hand when she comes back with her jacket. I try to help her put it on, but it's unnecessary and only complicates things. She sets the rose on a nearby table to make it easier, and then walks back towards me. We are standing very close as I try to pull up the zipper. She's almost trembling. Almost. Barely. Maybe barely trembling. Like my hands.
Bella picks up the rose from where she had left it, and offers me her hand. I take it, and it's soft. And small. And a little sweaty, like mine.
I try not to freak out.
She sighs, and I follow her gaze to wall from which the hoodie is hanging. She bites down on her lip a few times, and I wince, because that looks painful.
"I hate going anywhere without it, especially when it's this cold," she explains, looking very embarrassed.
"If you hate leaving it here, you should bring it with you."
"I can't wear that to the dance," she says. I can tell how much she wants to bring it.
"You can keep it in the car. Just in case," I tell her. Bella nods.
"Ready?" I ask. Bella nods again.
"You look very handsome. I like your tie," she says, her smile quickly turning into a frown. "No, you're always handsome, but you look… I like your tie," she repeats.
"Thank you. It's my brother's tie. I wore it to his wedding," I explain, holding the door open as she steps out.
"Actually," I continue, "I wore these pants to the wedding too. We were supposed to hang out tonight, but he was relieved that I… he was glad… he said I'd have a great time, and let me borrow the tie again."
I'm not sure she's listening to a word I say. Since I let go of her hand to hold open the door she has her arms crossed in front of her again, staring at the rose and touching the petal to her mouth and chin. I can't look away. She is perfect. Strange, but perfect. I want to take her hands and I want to kiss her and I want to feel her in my arms and I want to sit with her at lunch and I want to play with her hair and I want to sit next to her on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons.
"I'm glad he let you borrow it again… you look lovely, Edward."
"So do you, Bella. You really… I've wanted to talk to you for so long…" I stop myself before she figures out that I'm boring, too shy, socially inept, a nervous wreck. She takes my hand again and squeezes it. I remember to breathe, and when she releases it, I place my hand on the small of her back and walk her to the car.
The drive to school takes less than ten minutes, and we are both quiet until I park the car. I open my door and jump out, hoping I can open hers before she's out, because she likes old movies and Audrey and probably wants to be treated like a lady. So she probably wants a gentleman, even if she is wearing a leather jacket and even though she doesn't seem old fashioned or girly. I realize how stupid I sound in my own head. Everybody wants a gentleman. And even if they don't, I wouldn't know how to be… ungentlemanly.
Her door is already open but I still make a gesture, holding it and waiting for her to get out, reaching for her hand. She takes it, her bottom lip between her teeth, a frightened expression on her face.
"Is everything alright?" I ask.
"Yes, sorry, I'm just nervous. Let me leave this in the back. I don't need two jackets."
I watch her neatly place it in the backseat. Bella manages to keep my hand in hers.
"Edward," she begins, "would it be strange if I brought the rose inside with me? I really like it and don't want to leave it here," she tells me.
"Of course. Anything you'd like," I manage to say, the excitement of having her hand in mine and the knowledge of how much she likes the rose I gave her almost too much for me to handle.
We walk hand in hand and when we get to the gym she moves closer to me, like she wants to hide behind me, or just wants to be closer, or maybe she didn't even notice, but it feels nice and her fingers squeeze mine like they did earlier, and I can't help myself, so I bring my arm around her waist and remember to breathe when she leans further into me. I think about the handful of dates I've gone on with girls in middle school and freshman year, even that one date with Mr. Denali's niece last summer. I remember touches and kisses feeling off and uncomfortable even if they ultimately felt good. Then I look down at Bella and realize this is nothing like those experiences. She can move closer, as close as she wants. She can kiss me if I don't kiss her first. She can put her hand anywhere, and ask me to touch anything.
I have no idea what to say to her. I have no idea how to act when I'm around her. The thing is, though, that no matter what I say or do, it seems to work. That makes me feel good. Happy. I feel calm.
"It looks… it looks nice," she says, reminding me that she's a living, breathing person I'm touching and feeling and talking to.
"Yeah, it does."
"I'm not a fan of the music," she tells me, crinkling her nose like she just smelled something foul. She reaches her hand up to her hair, but probably realizing that she can't touch it tonight, brings it quickly to her side.
"No, I'm not a fan either," I agree, noticing my sister standing across from us. She whispers something into Jasper's ear. He smiles and waves, and I nod to let him know that I saw them.
"You're so tall. I don't think we could dance even if I wanted to dance. I should have worn heels, but Sue's shoes were too small and her daughter took all her things with her when she left for college in the fall. Maybe it's better this way, I don't dance. And this music is really bad. It should be more romantic. Your sister did such a great job, and it almost, it almost feels like we're outside, under the stars, but the music…" Bella stops, sighs, escapes from me.
"I – please be honest with me. Why are we here? Were you that desperate to find a date?"
She really is crazy.
"Desperate? Thanks, Bella. I never planned on coming tonight. It hadn't even occurred to me… I'm really happy… I'm really glad you agreed to come. You are beautiful and I want you to have a nice time, and – " she cuts me off.
"Ok. Listen, I'm going to be very weird now. Stop me if… if you want to pause to get something to drink or if you want to go home. I'm being weird because… because I have all these ideas in my head. I don't date, I don't know how to, and I have stupid ideas about romance and kisses and boys and dances and if you're going to ruin them, ruin my little world by being a jerk, or, or I don't know, being… a jerk, yeah… well then, let's just agree to be friendly and have a nice time and then go home and be polite at school or at your work. Or, maybe if you'd like, we can pretend like tonight is special and romantic and maybe you can kiss me and then we can go back to being polite. But decide, because I have a wild imagination and watch too many movies and listen to too many pretty songs and read too many pretty words, and you are so pretty, and you can't ruin that for me."
She looks up into my eyes and it takes me a minute to figure out what I want to say. I don't quite figure it out, but I begin to speak anyway.
"I sit behind you when I'm done with everything I have to do at work, and you watch a lot of movies, but I watch you. When my boss, the owner, asked if I wanted more shifts to make more money, I turned him down, because that would change my schedule and you come on Wednesdays for classics and Sundays for your French movies and I like sitting behind you. I'm not a jerk, but I don't date either. I don't know what to do. If I ruin anything, it's unintentional, because this is special to me and I want to kiss you like they do in the movies you love. You know, when your body slumps a little in your seat and I know you're sighing and probably smiling and hugging yourself…"
I stop, noticing how upset she looks.
"I'm sorry, Bella. I'm not a stalker, I just –"
"We should dance."
She starts the crazy neck-snapping nod but I stop her this time with my hands. She blushes and her cheek is warm against my palm.
"You don't mind the song?" I ask. It's an old Mariah Carey song I can't name. She shakes her head and takes off her jacket. Her skin. Her throat. Her cleavage. I must have been too busy staring at her eyes back at her house. That hoodie… hides things. Hides a lot. Like, post-baby Rosalie a lot.
"I don't care."
I look down at her, not sure just how to do this. It's not like the slow dancing we had to do at Emmett's wedding. Everyone else here is just rubbing up against his or her partner, barely moving. I don't want to attack her… yet. I don't want to attack her to a Mariah Carey song in the school gym. I see my sister and Jasper a few feet away from us, panicking for a second that they're walking over to say hello, but they stop and she raises an eyebrow and motions between herself and Jasper, telling me to watch. Jasper places his hands on her hips and she wraps her arms around his neck. I smile at my sister and she winks. I pull Bella closer to me, holding her like Jasper is holding my sister, and Bella reaches up, but her arms don't go around my neck because she's not wearing heels like Alice. Instead, she places her hands flat against my chest, resting her head on them, on me. And I move my hands from her hips and just hold her close, closer, as close as I can without hurting her. And she smells like cinnamon buns and girl and life. The song is annoying but I have her here, and her hands are warm and soft, and if the music changes and I have to let her go I'm not sure that I'll be able to.
Then she moves. Her arms reach around me and she's holding me and we are swaying, and I move my hand up her back to her neck and touch her skin. She likes it, and I want to be somewhere else, where it's just me and Bella, and the stars are real and it's quiet, so that I can hear nothing but her. Her voice, her breaths, the sounds our movements make.
The song is over and we stand in front of each other, I grab her hands and hold them between us.
"Happy Valentine's Day, Bella."
"Two more days…" she reminds me.
"I guess I can say it again, in two days."
"Are you, um, working on Sunday?" she asks.
"Yeah. Are you coming?"
She nods. "Yeah, I love that movie. The song…" she hums it. She's a little off-tune but it's cute and it turns me on for some reason. I decide that I must be next to her on Sunday, maybe move my mouth to her ear and tell her she's a thousand times more beautiful than Anouk Aimée, and that we can go to France together one day, if she'd like, and do French things. But hopefully I won't have to wait that long for that…
"So, Sunday," I say, "it's a sort of date?"
"I don't know… Not really. Won't you be working?"
"Yeah, but… I'd love to see a movie with you. We can sit together…"
"Maybe… maybe we should have gone tonight," she whispers.
"Are you having a bad time here, Bella?"
"No!" she cries. "I got to wear a dress and I got to dance with you. I… I just love how quiet it is at the movies. And, when we were dancing I was thinking how nice it would feel if you hold me like that in the dark. I don't know…"
Hold me like that in the dark… Wow.
"It's only eight-thirty. The movie starts at ten. We can still go," I tell her.
She's excited and pink and soft.
"Yeah. In fact, I know that my friend Angela is working tonight and she hates dealing with the projector. I can offer to cover her shift, and we can watch from up there, just us. It's not as nice, but it's nicer, in a way. I can show you where everything is. It's fine if you –"
"You're like, like the best boyfriend ever. Oh God… I know you're not my boyfriend. I meant you're the best friend or acquaintance who's also a boy and who takes me to dances and…"
She stops and stares, and I turn to see what she is looking at.
"Hey guys," my sister says, "just stopping by to say hello. Do you like what I did with the place?"
"It looks great." Bella smiles.
"Yeah Alice, very nice. Um, you guys know Bella, right?"
Alice nods. "Yeah, I know Bella. You're a junior like Edward, right? Jasper, this is Bella, Edward's friend."
"Girlfriend," I correct, knowing she'll like this, positive that her newest smile is for me, a reaction to what I just said.
"Girlfriend, Jasper. She's Edward's girlfriend."
I think I'll beat her up when we're back at the house for the laughter they are both trying to suppress. Assholes. But if Bella notices, she doesn't say anything or look upset. On the contrary, she appears to be calm, laughing softly and talking to Alice.
"– well, um, we're uh going to see a movie at The Majestic. He's going to show me the projector room and um, how things work there. I want to see everything. But Edward, won't it be really dark in there? I mean –"
Jasper and Alice explode, and once they start laughing they can't seem to stop. Bella arches an eyebrow in annoyance, and I feel my face burning when I realize why they're laughing.
"Edward," Jasper says, "you make sure to show Bella everything in the dark. If you have any questions about how everything works, you have my number. Ali, stop! You're hurting me!"
"Oh God, Edward," Bella says when they're gone, "I sounded so stupid. I… wait. Is that what you meant?"
"No! Those two. They're perverts. It's disgusting. All they do is have sex and make loud noises and…"
Her eyes are wide and then she's blinking again.
"Really? Wow. I've never…"
"Neither have I…"
"No?" she asks.
"No," I repeat.
Are we really having this conversation?
She looks away, her arms folded across her chest again, and I count all the fake stars and the Christmas lights on the wall behind her. Bella makes a sudden movement and her arm is hanging loosely and unnaturally to her side, like it's seeking something. Maybe some attention. I grab it and pull her close to me.
"So that's a 'no' then? To the movie? I'd have to call Angela…"
"No. I think we should… we should go. If you'd like, of course. Call her…"
"Right." I walk Bella over to a chair, and ask her to wait for me while I make the call. Angela is happy, and tells me to hurry up because she has better things to do on a Friday night than… her job.
Thirty-five minutes later we are at the concession stand. Bella is now wearing both her hoodie and her jacket, because the theater is cold. While I have no problem with the jacket she has been wearing all night, Bella is now the Bella I've been waiting for and watching from afar for the past two months.
I buy her favorite snacks and she buys us a soda. She doesn't think we need two. I take her to the projector room where we find that Angela has already left. I have to get everything ready for Casablanca, so I can't afford to be distracted. Bella sits and watches. She watches me, not the screen. I explain some stuff, but it's not like I know what I'm doing. She nods, asks questions, goes through everything, and I reorganize after she's done. It's distracting, almost annoying, but then her hoodie and jacket come off and she bends over to look at a box of old posters under a table. She uses the light from her phone and my eyes are glued to her chest and when she looks up she notices. She smiles.
"You – you're not watching the movie, Bella," I manage to whisper.
"It just started. I um… you're not watching it either," she points out.
"I know what happens. It's not one of my favorites."
"It's definitely overrated, but I still like it a lot," she says.
"You know, you can always look at those posters later."
"Ok, but you're working, I don't want to disturb you. There's really nowhere for me to sit now and –"
"Bella, I'm so sorry, I needed this seat for a few minutes and forgot to get up. I'm an idiot. Please come sit." I'm already off the chair and trying to pull her up from the floor.
"No, no, no. I'm fine, really. I wouldn't want you sitting on the floor. I'm here for a reason. See? The box. It's ok, sit," she insists.
"You could… sit on my lap?" I suggest. "You can't see the screen from down there. I don't, I don't mind."
"Really? I mean, I'm… heavy, and your legs are –"
"What? What's wrong with my legs?" Are they too skinny? Is that what she thinks?
"Nothing! Nothing's wrong with your legs. I just don't want to crush them."
"Bella, you're really small," I tell her, thinking that not all parts of her are small but it would be awkward to point that out. "I want you to be comfortable. I'll just move if you don't want –"
"No, no. I'll sit."
I push my chair back and sit very still as she settles down on my lap. Her back is very straight and I can tell she's trying hard keep her weight off me. She looks uncomfortable. Not what I had in mind when I suggested this. I want to hold her, I want her to relax in my arms and watch the movie.
"Bella, sit back. Can I…" I don't need to finish, she nods. She leans back against my chest and I hold her close, watching her watch the movie. Humphrey Bogart isn't looking too happy, he told that guy a thousand times not to play that song. It makes Bella sigh. I am dizzy and drunk and stupid being so close to her. Soft girl in my arms. Pretty girl snuggling closer. Big, big eyes looking up at me. Nice, pink lips so, so close.
I kiss her. Her mouth. Your mouth, Bella. So soft. It feels so nice. You feel so nice. Can I do it again? Yeah? One more time? What is she doing to me? She's making your heart beat, beat, beat with her hands and her skin and her mouth. Closed lips. Just pressing against mine. Once, twice. A thousand times. Fingers pulling my shirt. More, more. Bella, don't stop.
"Sorry," she mumbles into my chest. I take four deep breaths before I can even attempt to speak.
"Why are you sorry?" I ask her, finally running my fingers through her hair. I mess it up, but it looks amazing.
"I'm such a loser. I can't even kiss you…"
"What are you talking about? You were kissing me."
"I know, but I stopped. I felt like I was going to explode or fall or disappear or pass out or –"
I laugh at her admission.
"Me too. I want to try again," I tell her.
"Can I face you? It's easier," she whispers.
She moves too much and I try to hide the effect of her breath and kisses and ass in my lap, but there's not much I can do. I just kiss her again, and again, and again until her mouth opens and it's wet and warm and she's moving too much and her dress rides up and I touch her knee. That's her tongue I'm feeling, and we fumble and it's too wet, I think, but it's nice and we'll figure it out, and nothing feels better than her hands in my hair and her mouth. Her mouth. I can say those two words all day, and still fail to describe what it's like each and every time. She takes it away from me to breathe, and I frown, but I see her neck. My mouth wants that neck. My tongue wants it too. Even my teeth, but I don't want to scare her away with my teeth. And she makes noises before she realizes and stops herself, and she's holding me, like she needs me, like she can't let go, and her skin tastes like light, like sunshine, like every brilliant thing. And she's moving too much, and I try to stop her hips but she moves again, and she feels me because she freezes, and I want to say 'please Bella, please move one more time' because that is the best. And she knows, or maybe she's just curious, because she moves again and again and again, and holds me closer and tighter, and I'm moving too. Hot. No longer just warm. Hot and fast and skin and shit. They're right in front of me and I have to acknowledge them. One kiss in between. Nothing is softer. Bella. Flesh. Round. Can I touch them, please? I don't ask but I reach and I'm not pushed away. Stupid, stupid dress, but it's alright. I'm lucky. Too lucky. Pretty girl rocking on top of me, my cheek against her chest. Then fingers in my hair, on the nape of my neck. I bring my tongue out and she jumps and I smile. She kisses me and I kiss her again, holding her hips and bringing her close. Back and forth and back and forth and shit shit shit shit those were nice pants. Bella, Bella, Bella. That feels, that felt… What is she doing? I open my eyes and watch her. Pushing again and again. She wants more. Pushing against me. Help her Edward, she looks so sweet. I reach out. Is this even ok? Are you sure? I'm sure. God, she feels wet. Oh my God. Oh my God. Do I touch? Do I listen? Do I feel? Bella. I know where it is. There. Yes. She likes it. Touch, touch, touch, yes. She's so sweet. It's ok, Bella. Breathe and relax. I love your tits against my chest. Tits. Boobs. Titties. Fuck. Those words are nice. Maybe next time…
Her head is on my shoulder, she is silent and so still. I have to run to the bathroom, because sitting here like this is disgusting. But how am I supposed to tell her to get up? I'd rather smell her hair and touch her neck with my mouth. After I take a few deep breaths that make me grin and give her a kiss or two that make her sigh, I tell Bella that I'll be right back. She shakes her head and giggles, hiding her face in her hands.
No matter what I do in the bathroom, the sad reality of the situation is that I just came in my pants, and you should never come in grey dress pants. I untuck my shirt in an attempt to cover the stain, and it almost works, but then I make the mistake of leaning too close into the sink. Now the front of my pants are wet. I should care. I should be freaking out and embarrassed to go back and face Bella, but I've never felt this light and carefree before. Man, she just – I don't even know what that was. I suppose I can just be crude and say she humped me. How hot was that? Not just hot as in that entire experience was the hottest thing ever, but hot like her body against mine going back and forth and up and down, side to side. She felt hot against me. There was really no rhythm. Just… just… whatever felt good. Her hips going round and round. She just let go and moved and moved until there was nothing else I could do. I came in my pants. And it was glorious. And then my hand. I should have checked to see if it smelled like girl, like Bella. She wanted me to do it, and although I didn't actually touch her skin, I touched enough to know… She is the eighth wonder of the world. It didn't even take much. I closed my eyes and thought of all the porn I've watched and I knew… I definitely wasn't off. She wanted my fingers right on that spot, on that part. And now I'm hard again. I shouldn't think about what happened next. How she sounded, how she moved one last time, how everything was silent for a few seconds until life began again. But I want to think about it. And I want her to think about it. Mostly, I want to be in that room with her again.
Bella is sitting with her knees pulled into her chest when I walk in. I stand behind her, considering whether or not to put my hands on her shoulders. She hears me, and turns around.
"You're back. Wanna sit?" she asks, getting up. I sit and pull her back on top of me.
"Wow, the movie is almost over," I point out.
"I'm sorry you didn't actually get to watch most of it," I say, staring at her chin and cheekbones and freckles, making sure I have everything right for when I close my eyes.
"Don't… don't apologize. I had the best time." She smiles.
"Me too. I didn't mean to –"
"Let's just watch the rest. Don't let go, ok?"
I mumble 'ok' against her shoulder, and she holds her breath for a second as I kiss it. What's going to happen with us once I drop her off tonight? I'll see her on Sunday, unless she realizes she's not interested and avoids the movies altogether. I hope this doesn't happen, not just for my sake, but hers as well. I'd hate to be the reason why Bella can't do something she enjoys. I want to interrogate her, make sure that everything is going to unfold like a fairytale, but I don't go against her wishes, remaining silent until the movie is over and it's time for me to perform my final duties of the night. She asks me more questions about how things work, and I answer them to the best of my knowledge. We kiss one more time before leaving the room.
"Edward! You can't go anywhere like that," she laughs, immediately doing her best to hide her laughter from me. I freeze. My face is hot.
"Shit, is it bad? I thought my shirt was covering it."
"It's not bad, but you should wear darker pants next time." She giggles.
"My jacket should be enough…" I mutter, trying to adjust it, but failing to cover anything that's not already covered.
"Here," she says, struggling to get out of her own jacket. "Wear my hoodie. It's long, even for a boy. It's unisex. I mean, it's something, right? Better than nothing."
I agree to try it on, but it doesn't solve the problem. Bella is much shorter than I am; it doesn't offer me the same amount of coverage it offers her.
"This is comfy, and warm," I tell her. It really is. No wonder she wears it all the time.
She grins. "Keep it on."
"I'm not… you need it to stay warm, Bella."
"No. Please keep it on. It's so small on you, but cute. You'll give it back on Sunday."
Six words out of her mouth effectively establish a future – at least one that extends from this exact moment to Sunday.
"Are you sure?" I ask Bella.
"I'm sure," she laughs. "Are you sure about… everything? I want to ask a thousand questions, and maybe draft a contract because I loathe uncertainty and I'm certain that I liked tonight a lot. Like, a lot. But I don't want to scare you off."
She stops for a moment and thinks before she continues.
"I don't want to scare you off, but if you do run off because of something like that, maybe this is actually a fairytale in my head."
I consider what she just said, realizing quickly that we have a lot in common. We both want to know, to be sure, certain. I'm probably two kisses away from giving her my heart, my life, my world. I want to be sure that this is something she wants, that she feels at least half of everything I am feeling right now.
"Yeah?" She blinks, placing a hand over her chest and taking a few short breaths.
"I really like you," I tell her, "I need to know that you're –"
The vigorous neck-snapping nod is back, but I stop it with my hands in her hair, looking into her eyes as she reaches out to do the same to me. I pull her close and watch her take deep, heavy breaths. Mostly, I'm watching her chest. Her fingers hurt my scalp, but ultimately they make this moment perfect. I stare at her mouth, wondering why it's not touching mine. There is absolutely no reason why. So I close my eyes and hold her tight, and in the dark corridor of the second floor of The Majestic, I kiss Bella like they kiss in the movies she loves.
So this is something I wrote back in February for a Valentine's Day thing my friends and I did (Cupid's Little Ficsters). It's complete - just a o/s.
Thanks so much for reading!