Disclaimer: Twilight and its characters belong to Stephenie Meyer. Thank you for the inspiration, SM. Everything else is original and belongs to me, Cosette Cullen.
A/N: Before hitting the complete button on this story, I went back and cleaned up previous chapters and removed most of the A/N notes, as they don't really apply any longer since it is no longer a WIP. This is why you won't see any thank yous to readers for their reviews or info about when readers can expect the next chapter. No longer will there be pleas, asking for readers to leave reviews each chapter. However, though the story is now complete, I do hope that you'll take the time to leave at least one review, letting me know if you've enjoyed the story. I respond to each and every one.
ADVISORY: This story is for adults only. It contains lots of foul language and very explicit, graphic sex scenes.
This is an Edward/Bella HEA story. However, there will be one non-canon couple, albeit minor characters. Just an fyi for those of you who are not open to non-canon couplings, but I hope you'll give it a chance. I think these two are perfect for each other!
Pickwicksociety, JenKB, and Guitar Girl are my talented betas. Credit and thanks to Mel/mcc101180 and Scorp112 over at Project Team Beta for polishing this chapter up even more!
"That I Would Be Good"
That I would be good even if I did nothing
That I would be good even if I got the thumbs down
That I would be good if I got and stayed sick
That I would be good even if I gained ten pounds
That I would be fine even if I went bankrupt
That I would be good if I lost my hair and my youth
That I would be great if I was no longer queen
That I would be grand if I was not all knowing
That I would be loved even when I numb myself
That I would be good even when I am overwhelmed
That I would be loved even when I was fuming
That I would be good even if I was clingy
That I would be good even if I lost sanity
That I would be good whether with or without you
Chapter One - Baguettes and French Fuckery
"What the flying fuck is going on?" Alice ranted as we looked out the slowing train's smudged window.
"Calm down, Al. There's nothing we can do about it, so chill."
She smirked at me, and as best friends usually do, I knew exactly what she was thinking. Alice would love it if I'd jump on her "the world is effed up, and I'm gonna let 'em know it" bandwagon. Sometimes I obliged, but for the most part I was her personal Lorazepam - chilling her the hell out when needed, which was pretty much every day.
But there would be no tandem cursing of the unexpected train stop; I was too content to allow anything to pull me from my reverie. Ignoring Alice, I stuffed my earbuds back in, settled into the cushy seat in our private compartment, and indulged in another bite of warm, freshly baked, nearly orgasm-inducing French baguette. Who knew there was bread so exquisite anywhere on Earth? The French rock, even if they are cocky asstards.
Popping into the bakery in Calais, France before boarding the train had been my brainchild. Having ferried over from Dover, England, my mild seasickness prevented me from eating on the way over. It appeared that the bakery was a brilliant move considering the currently immobile train. Who knew how long our two hour trip might end up actually being before we reached our destination. We could have starved to death if not for our baguettes.
Feeling the train come to a complete stop, I looked out the window again. This was most definitely not Paris. I surveyed the scene, but there wasn't much to see except the beautiful French countryside dotted with trees, a few farmhouses, and grazing sheep but no real civilization. There were no buildings except for one teeny-weeny train depot without any activity on the platform. We were in the middle of no man's land. Do people actually get off trains here?
I removed my earbuds but didn't hear any announcements on the intercom system explaining the reason for the stop. I glanced at Alice as she gave me her infamous eye roll. Closing my eyes, I settled down once again to the sounds of "Für Elise" coming through my iPod.
I still couldn't believe I was actually living in England and on my way to Paris during our school's spring break. After Paris, we would spend the rest of the week traveling to different cities around Europe.
When my professor at Arizona State University announced the exchange program that allowed a select few to fulfill their student teaching requirement in England, I had immediately begun my supplication to the gods that I would be one of the lucky chosen. What more could a soon-to-be English teacher ever want? Long before I'd decided to teach English, I dreamed of visiting England because of my British ancestral heritage.
Alice and I both had applied to the exchange program, which required perfect grades and a stellar essay explaining why we should be selected to represent both ASU and the USA overseas. The gods must have felt compelled to compensate me somewhat for the hell I'd been through a few years prior because–miracle of miracles–not only was I chosen for the exchange program, but Alice was as well. Three months in England with my best gal pal, teaching and traveling. My life was perfect–almost.
The only downside was this little exchange program wasn't exactly free, but, then again, living in a college dormitory and eating cafeteria food was about as cheap as living abroad could ever get. Luckily, my student loans paid my airfare and traveling expenses as I explored England and Europe.
A hand on my shoulder shook me from my thoughts; I looked up to see a uniformed man in our compartment.
"Excusez-moi, mademoiselle. Vous devez sortir du train."
"What? Uh, I speak . . . uh, l'anglais, um, English." I looked at Alice's perplexed expression and then back at the train dude.
Pointing out the window, he spoke in a thick French accent. "Ex-it. Ex-it."
"Oh my god, Alice. Look!" Through the window, we saw a large crowd of train passengers with their luggage standing on the tiny train platform.
"Ex-it. Baggage," he urged, pointing to our luggage.
"Well, as I said before, Bella, what the fuck is going on? Obviously we have to get off the train," Alice shrieked at me as she stood to pull her suitcase down from the overhead bin.
With two heavy pieces of luggage each and baguettes in hand, we left the compartment and followed the conductor guy through the narrow hallway with Alice bitching all the way.
"Are you fucking kidding me that I have to drag this luggage off the train? Are we really the last ones off? Doesn't anybody speak English around here? I thought it was the international language, for fuck's sake!"
Alice's frequent cursing always cracked me up. When she goes all crazy-woman dropping F bombs everywhere, I can't help but laugh my ass off. Something about this petite little thing, who looks like she'd float away if you blew on her, cursing like a sailor is all kinds of comical.
The two of us were complete opposites in many ways; Alice's swearing was just one example. I rarely cursed but not because of any moral dilemma. I suppose I felt that swearing had more impact if reserved for special occasions, like to express extreme anger or even lustful desire. Everyone who knew me was well aware that I meant business if I said the F word.
One thing Alice and I had in common was our love of literature. We had met during the first week of classes at ASU a couple of years ago. Because we had the same major, we were in almost every class together. After a few days of seeing Alice every time I turned around, we'd struck up a conversation. We had been inseparable ever since; we studied together, edited each other's essays, confided in one another, and eventually became roommates.
Alice's cursing halted as she approached the door. She exited the train first. Well, more accurately, she fell out of it first. There were three stairs and then a friggin' three foot drop down to the ground. As Alice tried to finagle her two suitcases down the steps with those short legs of hers, she biffed it. Yep, she sprawled out on the gravel with her bags next to her for all the passengers to see. The depot, where the passengers waited, was a good twenty feet away across an uphill, gravel-covered embankment.
"Oh, my god, Alice. Are you okay?" I asked sincerely, looking down at her from the train steps.
She grumbled more profanities, assuring me she was just fine as she yanked her blue t-shirt down to cover her exposed waist.
I giggled. "Good, because now I can laugh at you."
Having a little more length to my legs than Alice, I exited the train without falling, still chuckling aloud at the hilarity of it all. I even laughed at myself because I no doubt looked ridiculous as I grunted and pulled my luggage through the rocks all the while trying to hold onto my half-eaten baguette. I swear I could feel every friggin' eyeball on me as we trudged our way to the depot to join the rest of the passengers.
Quickly, my amusement turned from genuine appreciation for this comedy to pure nervous laughter; I felt like a bug under a microscope. I didn't want to even look at the crowd, but I had to in order to see where the flip I was going.
I raised my eyes. Yep, every last pair of eyeballs was looking straight at me and Alice. Just before embarrassment overtook me, my eyes locked onto him. Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with another emotion entirely - lust. Is that an emotion? Or maybe it was love. Is there such a thing as "love at first sight"? I didn't think so, but I would definitely have to rethink that.
I was just close enough that I could make out the green of his eyes. Hmm, green like emeralds, like my birthstone. But it wasn't the color of his eyes that stunned me; it was the way they bore into me as he met my gaze. Out of the emerald pools flowed amusement perhaps, kindness definitely, and something else I couldn't quite identify.
I broke from his stare as I followed Alice to the back of the crowd. Once I got my luggage situated, I searched the group until I spotted him a few people in front of me and to the right. Fortunately, even with all the bodies between us, there was a space where I could view him from head to toe. I started at the top because his hair was screaming for attention.
It was short but long and messy on top as if he had just woken up or maybe had wild sex. It was brown. No, not brown. Bronze. Do people have bronze hair? With a bit of copper. Brownish-bronzish-copperish, I suppose.
I vaguely heard Alice's continual cussing at my side, but it was muted as though I were underwater. I was dazed and dazzled as I continued my lusty analysis.
His profile was stunning with a strong, angular jaw line and prominent cheekbones.
His full, pouty lips were a deep red shade. Holy mother of–I seriously don't think I've ever seen lips like that on a man.
And he was rockin' a serious five o'clock shadow times two days at least. Good Lord, I love some scruff!
He was tall, like climbable tall. I felt my cheeks warm as I envisioned literally climbing him and wrapping my legs around his waist, while running my hands through that hair.
He wasn't buff in a bodybuilder kind of way, but I could tell he was lean and muscular. He wore a snug, long-sleeved, black Henley shirt paired with button-fly jeans and black hiking boots. He was Adonis personified.
The entire mental undressing I gave him without his knowledge couldn't have lasted more than 30 seconds when Alice punched me in the arm.
"C'mon, asshat, they said we can get back on the train," she screeched, pulling her luggage off the concrete platform and back through the gravel.
I followed behind her, quickly scanning the scattering passengers, looking for him. My Adonis entered a train car several ahead of my own.
Back in our compartment with the door closed, Alice was clearly still agitated.
"What kind of French fuckery was that? Making everybody get off the train with their fucking luggage for all of three minutes and then get back on? The asswipes were probably sitting in their little caboose watching us and laughing their asses off the whole time."
I numbly stared at her. I heard her, but I couldn't gather enough energy to reply because all my brain cells were still focused on him.
"Okay, spill, Bella. What was with the zombie stare out on the platform?" Alice smirked as she took off her shoes and curled her legs up into the seat.
"Um, was I that obvious?"
She laughed dramatically. "Obvious as a bitch in heat . . . but probably only to me."
"It's nothing. I just saw a really hot guy, that's all." I reached for my iPod, but Alice stopped me before I could tune her out.
"Wait a minute there, girlie! I didn't see any hot guys. Give me deets. What did he look like?" Alice pulled a compact mirror from her purse and began spiking her short, black hair.
"Of course you didn't see any hot guys, Alice. You were preoccupied with cursing the French and their trains for stopping in Timbuktu for no apparent reason."
"Yes, and–?" Alice urged.
"And he was mouth-watering." I shrugged. "It doesn't matter anyway."
I jammed the earbuds in my ears and cranked up the volume before Alice had a chance to further interrogate me. My explanation to Alice was brief because what was the point in going on about him? It wasn't as if I would ever see him again. It wasn't as if I had never seen a handsome man before, for Christ's sake.
Honestly, I was somewhat embarrassed by both my physical and emotional reaction to this stranger, so I chose to keep those details to myself. I would never see him again, and even if I did, I wasn't available. Remember your promise, I chanted to myself.
As the train started again and gained speed, I watched the French countryside in a beautiful blur through the window, but all I could see was the green-eyed Adonis in my memory.
A/N: Thank you for coming along on the journey.
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