AN: This story is for DeeDee. :)
Chapter title is from "Closer" by Kings of Leon.
I do not own Twilight, Fleetwood Mac, or The Fairmont Olympic Hotel.
A Storm Bubbling Up From the Sea
The red neon numbers of the alarm clock were taunting me.
I sighed heavily and rolled onto my back, frustrated and jet-lagged and trying to remember why I ever agreed to this.
Alice and I had been ten years old when we sat in my tree house and promised to be each other's maids-of-honor on our respective wedding days. I think we even pinky swore.
Are pinky swears admissible in court?
I threw back the satin covers and walked over to the massive French doors that opened out onto the terrace. I didn't bother opening the doors, knowing the frigid Seattle air would rattle my bones. Instead, I looked through the glass and out across the vista of the Seattle skyline – the majestic Space Needle dazzling in the distance. It was truly a beautiful attraction – especially at night – and I was ashamed that I was a permanent resident of Seattle and had never once visited the landmark. Maybe I could rectify that situation this weekend.
I was wide awake despite tonight's late rehearsal dinner, which had gone according to plan except for the rogue groomsman. Jasper's cousin had failed to show to either the rehearsal or to the family dinner, and while I would have been pissed, the groom had shrugged off his disappearance as nothing out of the ordinary. Jasper had assured the bride that his cousin would be there tomorrow, and I was once again impressed that Jasper Whitlock was so efficient at taming Alice's Bridezilla tendencies.
He was good for her, and watching them together throughout the night only served as a reminder that I had chosen my career over everything else, and it was my fault that I was alone.
I was too restless to go back to bed, so I ran a brush through my hair, threw on some clothes, and decided to get a drink at the piano bar downstairs. I grabbed my room key and wallet and shoved both into my back pocket as I shut the door behind me. I ignored the elevator and decided to walk the spiraling staircase that was the focal point of the Fairmont Olympic Hotel. Chandeliers hung gracefully from the ceilings and the walls and furniture were adorned with rich hues of gold and red. Simple yet splendid. Classic yet sophisticated.
It was totally gorgeous and totally Alice.
When I pinky swore all those years ago, I was pretty sure I imagined myself as the maid-of-honor in a much cozier setting. A small country church. A lush, green park. Or, better yet, someone's backyard.
Had I known that this had been Alice's wedding plan, I would have kept my pinky to myself.
Alice knew better than to put me through this. She knew I was a nutcase. I was awkward and clumsy and the shoes she chose were about five inches taller than I was completely comfortable with. I hated crowds, and I certainly hated having eyes on me. This is why I worked as a reporter at the Seattle Times. I could hide behind the byline and never have to show my face. Thankfully, Alice is drop dead gorgeous, so all eyes will be on her tomorrow. However, I was pretty sure that I would fall at least once in those hooker heels, and then someone's eyes would invariably find me.
But I loved her, and for her, I would endure the looks and the heels and the fancy hotel.
The piano bar was fairly empty, which wasn't surprising given the late hour. I was disappointed that the piano player had obviously called it a night. Soothing music was exactly what I needed to relax me. I ordered my drink from a bartender who looked exhausted, but still managed to find the strength to blatantly flirt with me. I laughed and batted my eyelashes, all in a veiled attempt for access to free drinks and to the sterling white piano that was nestled in the corner of the bar. It took three martinis and my phone number (which was actually Alice's…she owed me after all), but finally, I found myself sitting on the piano bench, my fingers drifting aimlessly across the keys.
This wasn't like me at all. With my aversion to the public eye, you'd think that I would have been nervous about performing in a piano bar at one in the morning. But the place was practically empty…and my loneliness, my exhaustion, and my three martinis made me bold. I turned on the microphone, and began playing the opening verse of Fleetwood Mac's "Songbird," the very first song I had ever learned to play on piano.
"For you there'll be no crying
For you the sun will be shining
Cause I feel that when I'm with you
It's alright, I know it's right…"
I closed my eyes, allowing the music to soothe my tension. I had made it to the final chorus when I felt someone's eyes on me. It was the most incredible sensation – instinct alerting me to the penetrating stare of some stranger in the darkness of the bar. I slowly opened my eyes, and my fingers slipped off the keys as gleaming emerald eyes locked with mine.
He was seated at a table just a few feet away from me. The tie of his suit was undone, as were the first couple buttons of his shirt. He was gorgeous – tousled bronze hair, chiseled jaw, and devastatingly handsome. I watched as his long finger lazily trailed across his glass, his eyes never leaving mine as I struggled to remember the notes and the words to a song that I had played since I was five years old.
His stare was unnerving.
Suddenly, he rose from his seat – his eyes never leaving mine as he picked up his glass and walked over to the piano. I broke the spell, willing my eyes to concentrate on the keys beneath my fingers. His scent washed over me, stunning my senses and clouding my mind. Without a word, he sat down on the bench. Somehow, instinct took over, and I was able to finish the song.
Silence hung in the air between us, and I inhaled sharply as his hand brushed my hair away from my shoulder. He leaned in closer.
"Sing something else," he whispered – his voice velvet and smooth against my ear. His hot breath caused goosebumps to erupt on my skin, and I trembled as his fingers brushed across mine.
So I sang, paying no real attention to the words, as we gazed at each other – completely mesmerized and spellbound – neither of us willing to look away. I had no idea how long we sat there while I sang and played, but it was apparently too long for the suffering bartender, and he bitterly announced last call.
The man stood up from the piano bench and offered me his hand. I tore my eyes away from his face long enough to look at his hand. I was too captivated, too lonely, and probably a little too drunk to accept this man's outstretched hand.
Instinctively, I knew this.
But I was powerless to stop it.
Like a moth to a flame, I slipped my hand into his – and with that initial contact I felt a shock of electricity that stunned me beyond all rational reason. It was potent – the feel of his skin against mine – and suddenly, I wanted his hands on me….everywhere.
"Come with me, Songbird," he coaxed softly.
And so I did.
She was gorgeous with deep brown eyes and long wavy brunette hair that was just begging to be wrapped around my fingers. She was dressed appallingly in some thin 80s t-shirt and skinny jeans. This woman should be in satins and silks, all of which should be lying in a pool at the bottom of my bed.
She moaned when my mouth crashed against hers – possessive and hungry. Her eyes…her hair…her smell. All seemingly innocent and insignificant qualities. But when combined with that voice – her sultry voice that dripped with honey – I was sure that the universe had sent her just to torture me into submission.
Not sleeping with her was not an option.
I couldn't keep my hands off her, not for a single second. If I wasn't kissing her, I was sucking on her neck. The pressure against her skin was sure to leave a mark, and the notion made me insane. I was marking her…leaving a visual reminder that – for this one night – she was mine.
"You're entirely too overdressed," she breathed as her talented hands made quick work of my shirt. Her fingernails grazed along my chest, and I growled low in my chest.
"You should do something about that," I groaned as her hands slid the jacket and shirt down my shoulders and tossed them onto the floor.
"Open those eyes, Songbird," I panted hoarsely, lifting her against the wall. "I want to see you."
It had been a long time since I'd kissed any woman as softly as I was kissing her now, and I wondered if I would even be capable of such tenderness with anyone else.
I knew the answer was no.
I didn't do tender. I didn't do sweet. But for the gorgeous girl in my arms, I made an exception.
Just this once.
"Come to bed, Songbird," I whispered as I lifted her into my arms.
She snuggled against my shoulder and closed her eyes. I carried her over to her unmade bed, bringing the blanket around her. I laid down beside of her and adjusted the covers against her creamy skin. I watched as she snuggled against the pillow, her heart-shaped face relaxing into a peaceful sleep. Her lips were slightly swollen from my assault, and I gently traced her lower lip with the tip of my finger.
She really was a beautiful woman.
I looked at her left hand and saw that her ring finger was bare. I probably should have looked there before I slept with her, but it seemed a moot point now. Was she single? I found the prospect to be unbelievable, but she was obviously alone tonight. I wondered if – like me – she'd had trouble sleeping, and the bar had been a welcome distraction in the middle of the night.
She sighed softly in her sleep, and I was reminded of what an alluring distraction it had provided.
The night had been complete shit. I'd been stuck at the courthouse much longer than I'd expected, and I'd missed the rehearsal dinner. It was times like these that I was happy that Jazz had chosen Emmett his best man. I was unreliable and irresponsible, and I couldn't blame the guy for granting the best man distinction to someone else. It was ironic that he'd chosen my brother considering how big of an ass he could be and how immature he was at the dinner table. But, obviously, Jasper had made the right call, considering I couldn't even make it to the hotel on time. I felt like a jerk for letting him down. I'd apologized, and he'd shrugged it off. I assured him I'd be there tomorrow – when it counted the most. I'd checked into the hotel and immediately made my way to the bar.
I gazed down at her sleeping form, realizing that she had been – without a doubt – the very best part of my night. It was sad that I hadn't even asked her name, and it was a shame that I'd never get the chance.
"Sweet dreams, Songbird," I whispered softly, brushing my lips against hers one more time.
I granted myself one final look at the beautiful girl before opening her door, letting it close softly behind me.
The alarm resonated in my head, and I slapped blindly at the offensive clock as I rolled over onto my side. I winced as I stretched my arms above my head. My head was pounding, and my thighs were aching.
My eyes flashed open as images from the previous night flooded my mind.
I remembered three martinis.
I remembered the piano.
I remembered green eyes.
I slowly turned my head, expecting to see those same green eyes staring back at me. Or, at least snoring next to me.
The bed was empty.
I slowly climbed out of bed and turned on the hot water of the shower. I stepped in and allowed the water to sting my body and wash away the remnants of the night. As I washed my hair and shaved my legs, I couldn't help but feel ashamed. I didn't do one night stands. Ever.
I didn't know his name. I didn't even know if he'd used a condom.
As I let the scalding water flow across my skin, my shame swiftly turned to disbelief. I could remember the desperation of our kisses. I remembered his hands being all over me and causing little spikes of electricity to flow through my skin.
After that is when things started to get fuzzy.
I vaguely recalled being carried to bed, so I had to assume that was him. I remembered him calling me something. Not my name, obviously, but it was something sweet…
And then my disbelief turned into rage.
This man had ravaged me senseless and then just….left? What kind of cold, heartless bastard does that?
Thankfully, I'd never have to see him again.
I was still wallowing in my stupid lack of judgment as I made my way down to the bridal suite. Alice and Jasper had ignored all traditional beliefs, opting to spend the night together and treat everyone to something she deemed the "Bridal Breakfast." It was just like the rehearsal dinner…only at an ungodly hour and with scrambled eggs.
"What's wrong?" Alice's voice barked at me as I walked through the door leading into the suite. Jasper immediately handed me a coffee, and I attempted a smile in thanks.
"Good morning, sunshine," I murmured tiredly. "Please don't yell. What makes you think something is wrong?"
"Maybe because you look exhausted," Jasper's best man quipped from the far side of the table. His plate was overflowing with eggs and bacon, and the smell was revolting.
"Rough night," I muttered as I sat down next to him. I grabbed a piece of toast from the tray and attempted to chew it.
"You too?" Emmett laughed, and I closed my eyes as the booming sound of his laughter caused my head to pulsate. Normally, I really liked Emmett. He was fun and cursed like a sailor. This morning, however, I might just kill him. I picked up the butter knife and eyed it longingly before using it for its intended purpose. The buttered toast settled my stomach immediately.
"What is it with the members of my wedding party thinking it is okay to get totally smashed before the most important day of my life?" Alice whined as she flitted around the room. Jasper caught her in his arms, and it reminded me of a net catching a butterfly. He whispered soothingly in her ear as she buried her head against his chest.
I turned toward Emmett who was watching the scene unfold, and while we loved them both, neither of us could resist rolling our eyes in disgust.
"I didn't get smashed," I mumbled at Emmett. "I remember most of it…almost all of it…"
"Hmm," Emmett mused as he chewed his pancake. "Did you get laid?"
I grimaced at the memory. "Laid as in I was horizontal when it happened?"
Emmett raised an eyebrow, and I could see that he was intrigued. "Not necessarily. Vertical works, too."
"Then yes," I admitted with a disgusted sigh.
"Well, well…" Emmett chuckled as he finished gulping his juice. "I had no idea you were so wild, Bella baby, and I mean that as a compliment."
"I'm not, usually…" I argued pathetically.
Emmett laughed as he poured himself another glass of juice. "What is it about this hotel? My brother – he's the groomsman you've yet to meet – also found himself in the same predicament last night."
"Ahh yes," I muttered as I took another bite of toast. "The rogue groomsman. Where is he this morning?"
"He's on his way. He's apparently having trouble recovering from the hot sex he had last night. His words, not mine. Lucky bastard." He grumbled as he wiped his face with his napkin. "This hotel is the shit. I wonder if I'll find something at the reception that will satisfy my taste buds."
I was pretty certain he wasn't talking about the dinner.
"Bella…" Alice smiled adorably in my direction.
My radar instantly registered that this involved me doing something I really didn't want to do. It was easy to tell with Alice. She was normally a sweet person in general, but when she wanted you to do something, the manipulation was masterful.
"I was wondering if you'd try on your dress – just one last time?"
Emmett chuckled and I glared in his direction.
"Today is your wedding day, Alice," I reminded her sweetly. "If the dress doesn't fit me by now, it isn't going to fit. Besides, I tried it on yesterday, and it was fine. You said so yourself."
"But I didn't see it with the shoes," Alice whined. "Please please, Bella…."
I could not wait until this damn wedding was over. I threw my napkin onto the table and groaned, "Fine. Where is it? And where the hell is Rosalie?"
"Rosalie is dealing with the hotel wedding planner. Apparently, there was a problem with the music, and Rose offered to go kick someone's ass," Emmett explained, a note of awe in his voice. "Hey, is Rosalie single?"
I rolled my eyes as Alice led me to the changing room. The room looked as if a wedding superstore had exploded in this tiny space. It was full of dresses and tuxedos, and I wondered idly if the wedding party would be watching each other get dressed today.
"Just come out when you're ready," Alice grinned happily, closing the door behind her.
This would be the tenth time that I tried on this dress. At least it was pretty. It was an ice-blue halter dress that clung to me, accentuating what few curves I possessed. It made me feel sexy and powerful.
Powerful, that is, until I strapped the hooker heels onto my feet. They were pretty, too, I supposed. I was just scared to walk in them, and my best friend was forcing me to wear them in public.
I really hated her today.
I looked at myself in the mirror and pulled my hair into a twist, just to get the full effect. It was then that I noticed the small bite mark on the side of my neck. I gasped as my finger ghosted along the purplish bruise.
The bastard had marked me.
The bride was going to be so pissed.
I dropped my hair as I made my way back into the bridal suite. "Alice, I'm going to need some concealer, I think."
I heard the distinct sound of a fork crashing loudly against a plate. Every head in the room turned toward the table, and I stopped breathing when I saw the blazing green eyes of the rogue groomsman.