A/N: A huge "Thank You" to everyone who read/reviewed/asked for more of the original one-shot of this story!
Based upon what everyone asked for, here's what going to happen:
A little bit more of what it was like when Bella arrived on the farm, before hiring Edward
What Edward was doing before she hired him
More details in the tension between B&E before she remembers him
Learn about their pasts
Progress the story after she recognizes him/work to save the farm together
I have plans for all this (& more) but I will need to change one thing about the o/s: It will be slightly longer than 4 days between when Bella hires Edward & when she lets herself remember him. Not forever longer. The story isn't going to end where the o/s did.
End result: We're treating the o/s as a weird kind of prologue. A little story will take place before it. Some will expand upon what is in it. More will happen after.
This will be an alternating BPOV & EPOV story. B is up first.
Thanks again for letting me know you want this story made!
Oh, everything that happens later in this chapter might make more sense if you've recently read the o/s. Just a suggestion.
UU ~~ UU
Chapter 2 – Nothing to See Here Folks
2 days before start of Prologue
When ancient cities became buried under sand and soil, this must be how it sneaked up on them.
I can't imagine finding anything interesting here.
Slow moving and dust coated. Summer sun bakes it all in place. Dull seeps into the split paint siding, the spiderwebbed sidewalk cracks. Forgotten, fallow memories.
Old brick streets intersected with hot pavement. Country roads. Grey gravel.
Each ping and ding on the undercarriage of my car hits as if pelting the tense muscles of my back. A percussive hum. I grit my teeth. The car lease is up in a couple of weeks. Surely a few more trips down this gravel road won't affect anything.
The single venture down this road earlier today was the only one I've ever, personally, driven. When I left last, I was too young to drive.
A recurring theme of my youth. Too young for anything.
There's a niggling there. I think of kittens. I'm not sure why.
Being practically raised by my grandparents had only emphasized my youth.
The road, the farm, the life. I left it all behind. I changed.
I made myself.
Nothing has changed here. Only aged.
The moms and pops don't run their shops; they stay home and watch Wheel.
Apart from what might be a new stop light at the corner of sixth and main, everything seems exactly the same. As if the entire town awaits its future glory as an archeologist's life-time find. I shudder to think this might be labeled as a typical town of our time.
Or…maybe it is.
Maybe most towns and townsfolk live like this, but there are no film crews or photographers or news crews capturing the slow sunset, the front porch swings, the auctions, the craft shows.
I drive to the hospital. No injury. It's the only place in town where I can get a signal on my phone.
I need a new plan.
The papers that the executor left on the kitchen table need notarized. They're more in order than the entire farm.
"Weber." The notary I'm calling answers with this single word. Music pounds in the background so loudly it distorts his voice.
"Hello, Mr. Weber. This is Bella. We spoke on Tuesday regarding your services and you suggested I call you at this time. I've seen the property and am in town now. It would be best for me to finalize all the testacy matters without delay. Are you available now?"
"Well, now don't that beat all? Here already?" He shouts over the music. "Sure, sure. You're welcome to come on in to the bar now, but I won't really be able to read anything over until after I close down for the night."
I imagine myself weaving through a crowded country bar in this navy suit and heels. I agree to meet at closing time, 2am.
Four hours to kill.
It's dark now. I have no desire to go back out to the farm. Alone.
I drive around town. Repeatedly. I bask in the car's air conditioning; it's so different than the sultry farmhouse.
I pull into the near empty bar parking lot. Gravel. It digs into the leather of my pumps.
A short man slouches near a truck, emptying himself. I make my way inside.
I didn't expect to see much here, so there's no room for disappointment. So, to see this beauty here among the vice and vile, the boors and more, is startling.
But, it's here nonetheless. As am I.
I want to touch it, but I won't.
Underneath, glory screams.
The barren bar is covered in wet rings, soggy coasters, empty highballs. Its surface all deep mahogany and serpentine marble and reflected in an ancient beveled mirror. It seems to stretch on forever into the darkness. Such finery has no current business in this burg; it's a relic of a prosperous era, a vestige of the past carried over, clinging on for today.
The best of the past demeaned, debased and unappreciated. It doesn't belong here.
Neither do I.
Despite the late hour, the fume of booze and the cumulous of smoke linger in the air, dank and dark. My pumps crunch on floor grit.
The elusive proprietor, Mr. Weber, is nowhere to be seen.
The hollow clank of bottles in a concealed portion of the main floor draws my attention.
In the far corner, past a pale hanging tarp curtain and a backlit mechanical bull, the shadow of a female stretches out from a lit doorway, spreading across the floor and onto a pine wall coated in ornate Budweiser mirrors and other old brewing company placards. The shadow floats between unseen, darkened tables and gathers up what sounds to be empty longnecks and cans into a bag.
I'm about to go ask her if she knows where I can find Weber - I don't have anything else to do but I don't really want to hang out here at this late hour – when a second, decidedly masculine, shadow appears framed in the same doorway.
I still. I don't hear any sounds, but she appears to be aware of his presence nonetheless.
She turns to him briefly before resuming her task – this time opting to bend at the waist and stretch languidly to gather nearby bottles.
The man must take note, the brim of his cowboy hat tilting as he watches her repeated display.
His shadow arm bridges the small space separating them, runs slowly down the expanse of her bent back, between her shoulder blades, marking a thin line down her spine. It's beyond erotic…I want…no…I do feel as though he's touching me.
The first human sound, a slow moan, resounds from her and she arches back into his touch.
I realize I've halted to point of holding my breath only when I hear Mr. Weber's vaguely familiar voice behind me. "Ms. Swan?"
I blanch; I haven't used that name in years. I left it behind when I left this town. I'd opted to go by my mother's maiden name, choosing it as it seemed as good as any other…just so long as it was other…other than that farm than bore the name. The farm, the land that has managed to drag me back here again.
My odd, tenuous kinship with the shadows is broken. I blink away my surprise at the assumption that I am still a Swan because I've inherited the farm, then watch my hand shake Weber's.
The portly Weber leads me past his coolers and kegs to the office that is tucked away between a mop closet and clustered shelving area. A stack of yellowing porn magazines catches my eye. Hustler. Game.
The din and clink of bottles fades into the night. His office radiates stale and must, like he's only in there to pretend to balance the books, otherwise he's out mingling with his people, his clients, his brethren.
"Sorry," Weber begins, and waddles to his desk."Everything's all messed up being Lauren's last night and all." He says this name as if I should know to whom he's referring. "She'll be hard to replace." He looks strangely wistful for a moment then clears his throat. "Must admit, I was surprised when you called. So, ol' Charlie's seed's come home to roost, now?" He's leaning back in his chair, its front legs probably six inches off the ground behind the cluttered desk.
I shrug. This is not what I've come here for, this bonding. This is not my home. I refuse. Until yesterday, I've not thought of this area as home, not even been in this state, when it would be legal for me to put a toe in a bar.
The papers he needs are burning inside my shoulder bag. I pull them out and hand them over a bit quicker than intended. Weber doesn't seem to notice - or be bothered by - my anxiousness. I want to leave; more accurately, I do not want to be here. Unexpectedly, my mind jumps to the shadows I've just left behind.
Weber flips through most of the pages, gets out his notary stamp and signs away. I'm still reeling that he's a notary public, the only notary, in town. The other one moved away after a divorce, so I'm told. I want to file these papers first thing tomorrow, not wait until Weber wakes up at the crack of noon.
"Pert-near everything seems to be in order now," he says, handing the wad of papers back. "So, you're gonna try and make a go if it, huh? I reckon you'll be setting up the usual weekend Squirrel and Bart account for your boys, right? It's a tradition."
It's barely a question and most of it makes no sense to me.
I straighten in the rickety plastic chair and smooth my pencil skirt, its navy linen catches on the slick of my hosiery. I realize my wardrobe doesn't jive with a 2am meeting in the local… watering hole.
A moment later, I'm looking Weber directly in the eye.
"You must pardon me, Mr. Weber, as I'm neither familiar with the local vernacular nor have any point of reference for your customs. I can assure you, however, that I do have every intention of, as you put it, making 'a go of it.' Further, I haven't any 'boys.'" Surely he knows this. That I've chosen to be single and childless. Everyone here seems to know everything about everyone. There was actually the cliché neighbor who had dropped by with rhubarb pie before I'd even unloaded my second box yesterday. Rhubarb! Like the first drop on a rollercoaster, my stomach dips at the memory.
Weber stares, then guffaws. "You were a young sprout when you headed out, now weren't ya?" He slaps his thick thigh as if this is some stellar comic material he's unearthed. I can't even imagine my face.
Fifteen excruciating minutes later, I leave Weber's office alone with the contact info for one Billy Black, local feed store owner and the main go-to guy for hiring ranch and farm hands, cowboys. Also, I seem to have already christened a squirrely bite account, or whatever it was, for the as yet non-existent workers to use when they come to the "traditional" weekly standing reservation at the bar.
Tradition. Ha. Tradition had done nothing for the farm. Traditionally, it's a cash drain, a tax write-off at best.
Near the vintage porn, I laugh aloud at the ideas of needing a reservation and the hiring of workers in the plural. The farm is emaciated, if such a thing could be.
The quiet scuff of my pumps against the sandy bar floor gradually fades to the background, overcome by a low rhythmic whirling and thump. My pace slows. Around the corner of the bar, I see the shadows, charcoal but clear, cast on the curtain tarp.
The sounds continue. Whirl. Clink.
The mechanical bull, undulate and unhurried, slowly tosses the entwined pair of shadows.
The female is in front and leaning her back flush against his chest, face turned into his and her arms woven back and around the male's arms and pulling the hair that she can reach under the back of his now downturned hat.
He's surrounding her, engulfing her.
Even through the screen I can tell his muscles clench and flex at the right moments, keeping them anchored to the rolling machine. On a downturn, they pitch forward. The machine slowly bucks to the side and he moves his hand to reveal the clear outline of her naked breast. Oh my God…is she? Are they…?
The answer arrives before I finish the question. She moans on a down thrust and breaks away from their kiss. He moves to hold her around the waist and angles her hips. Her round breasts brush against the saddle.
"Hmmm…Yes…you like that, Ren."
His voice in low, throaty.
A velvet hiss.
My eyes widen as it all resonates within me…this man's voice, the scene playing out in front of me. My hand braces against the cool marble bar.
The machine rocks them.
They rock themselves in counterpoint.
"Lean forward, hold the saddle horn. I want deep in you…like that Ren…mmm, fuuuuck yeah…you should see this, Baby. You should see how good you look wrapped around me."
A flutter of movement and I can tell he's still wearing a shirt. It appears to be hanging wide open.
Moaning and competing with the bull, she bucks forward and attempts to slam herself back into him on the next roll.
The pair move… and moan… and slide.
The bull slows and dips low, grinding to a near halt. Her whimpers become prominent as the engine winds down.
I will myself to leave, to take the few steps toward the door. The fight to stay is strong. None of this is mine to see; I'm no voyeur. Well, not before. Only this. Everything in this town is uncomfortable…except this. Their pairing, their coupling rivets me, vibrates in my very core.
After a few feet forward, my peripheral catches their true forms beyond the tarp. My eyes flutter closed and I mentally curse this new weakness as I crane to glean more…just more. They are facing away and most of what I can see is the man's black shirt covered back - fabric flowing like a robe or a cape – black jeans and what appears to be a very nice suede hat. This assessment, "nice," this adjective I've assigned, surprises me. A cowboy…a hat… so foreign from my typical turn-ons.
His long, low cursing growl swells as the bull freezes with his still jeans-clad legs clamp down and hold them at the summit of the metal beast. As he runs his palms around her sides, the loosed fabric of his open shirt billows and reveals bunched denim and a chiseled hip. His skin is near iridescent under the stage lights. I notice for the first time the leather strap of belt jutting out from his open jeans.
He's murmuring near her ear now; all I can make out is cadent beats. Her bare arm stretches to the thin ribbon band of his hat and retrieves a silver coin nestled there. She giggles and tilts, exposing her utter nakedness in contrast to him. It's striking, stark.
Lurching to life, the bull begins again, they resume, resume the sliding thrusts that never had truly stopped. She twines her bare, toned legs around his jeans, hooks her heels around leather boots.
With the increased sounds of the motor covering my scrapes on the dirty floor, I continue to the door. Behind me, their voices follow.
"Hmm, fuck Ren… may not let you move to Springfield… should've done… this…before."
A building and swirling moan punctuates the air. I involuntarily turn around, half-in and half-out of the exit. The tangled forms, again cast silhouettes on the shade, have melded into one.
She's wearing the hat now and her fingers are twisted back into his havoc of hair.
His fingers dig into her ample breasts, anchoring them, as he pounds up into her, shaming the bull's speed.
My knees are near liquid.
Her cries are fierce and long. Then, near breathless, she breaks out, "You should've spoken to me before."
He throws his head back from her neck, breaks what appears to be suction…and growls, deep, guttural, thick.
"Is. This. What. You. Wanted. To. Talk. About?"
Each word is punctuated with the impact of skin on skin. He grabs between her legs and thrusts into her fully from behind.
He throws his head back, his sharp jawline is piercing.
I praise the distance between us.
I want to touch him, but I won't.
I know if I were nearer, I'd be unable to stop. I'd have to trace his lines, preserve them in my skin.
"You won't feel this again….Remember me…Tell me how much you'll miss me." His voice is a rasp.
Her reply is lost as sanity finally reins me in and I ride it into the wide open night, into a space and place that suddenly doesn't seem so empty.
Well, that's not something you see every day.
UU ~~ UU
A/N: Well… how was that?
Please, please tell me you know who the bull rider is…