Author's Notes (August 1, 2010): Welcome to SotPM's outtakes! This particular outtake is from chapter five ("Man vs. Self"). Originally, I'd planned to write Bella and Edward's meeting from Bella's point of view, but I changed my mind. Still, I figured some of you might enjoy (or even prefer) broken-lovely-bitchy Bella's take on things, and so here it is. For those curious: most outtakes from SotPM will be from POVs other than Edward or Bella's and will contain interesting tidbits that aren't necessary for understanding the story, but might give you some insight into the characters that you might not otherwise have.
"SINS OF THE PIANO MAN OUTTAKES"
CHAPTER 05 OUTTAKE: THE MEETING
I slept deeply…for an hour, and then I was awake with a full bladder and a pounding head. Coffee. I fucking needed coffee.
I found Ian in the kitchen, humming some tune to himself as he fried bacon in a skillet. Ironically, I thought it might be "I Kissed a Girl" by Katy Perry, but it was too early for me to really assess anything accurately. "Good morning, Bella! In the mood for breakfast?" Ian said cheerfully when I rounded the corner. Turned as he was, I could see the khaki apron he had on, which had a small sketchy shape of a T-Rex on it beside the phrase "Gay marriage killed the dinosaurs."
Any other time, I'd enjoy his peppiness, but not this early and not this hung over. I forced a smile to my face. "It was a long night, so I think I'll pass on the food for now. Do you have coffee?"
He snickered and nodded toward the full and waiting pot. My salvation. I trudged over and took one of the set out mugs and began pouring. Unfortunately, and despite all the practice I'd had at pouring coffee as a waitress, I wasn't fully functioning yet and over-filled the cup, so that coffee spilled all over the countertop. "Motherfucker," I said under my breath. What is it with me and coffee lately? At least I wasn't boiling mostly-innocent nut sacks today.
A quiet chuckle made me look up toward the long, rectangular breakfast table. Sitting there, reading a newspaper, was the most beautiful man I'd ever seen. And he was staring straight at me, a look of combined amusement and curiosity on his flawless, ghostly-pale face. I immediately felt the heat rise to my cheeks. Surely he hadn't heard me…
We stared at each other for several long seconds, and his stare morphed into something harder the longer he looked at me, until he was glaring at me with his strange, golden eyes. It was uncomfortable, as if he was trying to unlock all my secrets, just by staring me down. What the fuck is your problem? I wanted to ask—but didn't. I was only ever that ballsy in my head.
I managed to tear my eyes away from the man and back to the evidence of my clumsiness. "Uh, Ian? Do you have something I can clean this up with?"
Ian looked over, gave a laugh that only furthered my embarrassment, and tossed me a dishrag from the kitchen sink. "Use this."
As I cleaned up my mess, I found myself wanting to look back at the breakfast table and Mr. Greek God. I bit into my lip until I felt pain. Don't look over. Don't look over. Don't look over.
So I didn't.
I used my peripheral vision, instead. Maybe if I don't look at you straight on, I won't be blinded.
The flawlessness of the man's skin was only interrupted by the bronze stubble that was littered along his angular jaw, chin and upper lip. It matched the hair on his head, which sat in a chaotic yet somehow perfect mop, small licks sticking up in every direction, as if he'd just walked in from the wind outdoors. Or a photoshoot with fans. Maybe he hadn't brushed it since waking. Or perhaps that was sex hair… I sighed. I bet he had a supermodel girlfriend. Lucky supermodel girlfriend.
He had stopped looking at me and was instead reading his newspaper again, a pair of black wire-rimmed glasses settled low on the bridge of his straight, Romanesque nose. They were pulled down so low that I suspected he wasn't even using them, given the angle of the paper. I wondered if he was wearing non-magnified lenses for vain aesthetic purposes, as Renée had for a few months when I was eleven. She'd thought they made her seem more sophisticated, which I believed was a crock of shit until—sure enough—she started getting asked out by men with college degrees and "real" jobs.
I stared at the man's hair again. You're probably a prick, I thought. The good looking ones always are. Jacob had been, after all.
"Would you like a cup of coffee, too?" I suddenly heard myself asking him. What the hell was I doing?
Even though I felt the blush creeping in again, I tried to force my face into a relaxed smile, even as I internally chastised myself. Oh my God, shut up! I don't want him looking at me. I'm still in this floppy ass shirt. Not attractive! And he was obviously annoyed with me a moment ago.
His face didn't tilt away from the paper, but his eyelids lifted up to reveal those stunning, golden irises that I immediately got lost in, like some silly, virginal teen. I had only seen eyes like this among one family, and that was the Cullens. They were beautiful, too, like models or perfectly crafted dolls—or, hell, gods. I wondered if this man was related to them somehow and how that might be possible, considering all the Cullen kids had been adopted by Carlisle and Esme.
Although I had always wondered why they all looked so much alike, if that was the case…
A brilliant, crooked smile lifted his lips, as if he was aware of how uncomfortable he was making me—as if it amused him. "No thank you. I don't drink coffee." His voice was just as perfect as he was, smooth like velvet.
His eyes returned to his newspaper. I'd apparently been dismissed, like the scummy, oversized-shirt-wearing, hung over, clumsy girl I was.
Yep, he's a prick.
I spooned sugar into my coffee as I tried not to feel disappointed by his unfriendly demeanor. I nodded absently, pulling myself from the trance-like state he'd put me in, and shuffled over to the table. I told myself to ignore him, no matter how beautiful he was. There was nothing there for plain, dead-end-job me.
I sat opposite of him with my cup of coffee, on the other far end of the table, near a window that overlooked Gary and Ian's immaculate backyard. Putting as much distance as possible between me and the other guest helped clear my head.
There were a few white and yellow flowers blooming in the gardens as they enjoyed the last month or so of warmth and light that autumn could impart. Too bad it wouldn't be warm again anytime soon. I thought about how I used to lie in the sun on cooler, early-spring days in Phoenix. The thought of the warm sun made my eyes flutter. No matter how long I lived in these cold and cloudy places, I longed for sun and warmth.
"Not a morning person?" the beautiful man suddenly asked me.
My eyes snapped open wide. Well, I was fucking awake now, wasn't I? My heart pounded in tandem with my head. "No, I guess not." I frowned. "You sure seem to be, though." He was in dark jeans and a light blue, knit shirt that fit snugly along his muscular arms, and though it was all very simple attire, he looked perfect—crazy windblown sex hair and all. My wandering gaze saw that the top two buttons of his shirt were undone, revealing a few dusty-colored hairs that I definitely wanted to see more of; from then on, it was nearly impossible to look at his face.
I'm such a hypocrite. Couldn't stand Hal's objectification, but here I am eye-fucking this complete stranger. Classy. Real classy.
He smirked slightly and shrugged. "I'm not sure about that. I keep rather…odd hours." Removing his glasses and setting the newspaper down, he leaned back in his chair and rubbed at his eyes. It looked strange, somehow out of place, as if he were performing an act, rather than actually relieving tension.
I wanted to hear his voice again and so asked, "What brings you here?" I took a sip of my coffee, in an attempt to give my sweaty palms something to do. The liquid nearly burned a hole in my mouth, and I almost felt sorry for Hal. Almost.
"Well, this was one of the few quieter places that allowed pets," he said, while looking to the backyard, where his dog Lucky was now in view. His gaze was soft and loving, and I melted a little at the expression. "And music," he added a moment later with a genuine, infectious smile that had me grinning with him. "Gary and Ian have a lovely instrument in the room I'm staying in. I've been helping a pianist with some composition work."
He was a composer? He was so young—my age, give or take a few years. Either he was a prodigy or a workaholic. Either way, he was light years out of my league with that shit. I couldn't even hold a fucking job at Hal's.
"So you were the one in the music room," I said, attempting to keep our relatively friendly conversation going, if only to hear more of his voice. "You were playing last night."
"Did I wake you?" He frowned deeply. "I'm sorry, I—"
I waved a hand at him. "I sleep a little strangely when I've had a lot to drink…and, well, I did last night. Besides," I said, my voice quieting in my shyness, "you play beautifully. I'm glad I was awake to hear your music. Even if a lot of it is very sad."
"Not everyone thinks it is. There are many opinions about what my music means and sounds like."
How could anyone think that his music wasn't heartbreaking? "I don't think they're really listening, then," I muttered stubbornly.
He grinned. "You're right. Most don't." He leaned back in his chair again, but this time the action seemed genuine and tired. His eyes grew distant and pensive as he stared out at the gardens. "Many listen because others do or because they believe that listening to piano music somehow makes them more sophisticated, either in reality or just through social perception. Few try to read between the lines, when it comes to instrumentation."
I snorted. "That sounds about right." I was no musician, but I understood that people saw and heard what they wanted to, ignoring facts whenever it was easier and more convenient to do so.
Charlie had been the chief for the Forks Police Department for twenty-five years, but the day he'd had to retire because of the lung cancer, it was as if everyone he'd ever worked with or taken care of took that to mean they could move on or glaze over the ultimately fatal outcome of his illness. People didn't want to look deeper and deal with the truth. Maybe it was that thinking of Charlie's mortality made them face their own.
Really, only the Cullens—and to a lesser extent, the Webbers and Lauren's dad Edgar—had continued to be there for Charlie and me. Everyone else just acted like everything was okay, unthinkingly asking my father when they saw him if he was "enjoying his retirement." It's pretty fucking hard to enjoy your retirement when you're vomiting because of chemo.
Beating down my depression, I asked, "What's your inspiration?"
The man's brow furrowed slightly before he coughed against his fist. "So, you're here with friends," he said, completely changing the subject.
What? Don't want to reveal your secrets?
Pfft. Talented, gorgeous prick.
I answered him, anyway. "They surprised me. Coming here was a birthday gift."
"Your birthday, then?" he asked.
I frowned down at my coffee. "Yeah." I hated getting older.
"Well, happy birthday," he said, sounding somehow shy and insecure. It was in complete contrast to everything else about him.
I looked back up at him slowly, happy to know that even Mr. Greek God had moments of awkwardness. "Thank you," I told him.
We were silent for a moment before I heard Lauren and Angela's voices mixed in with a deep baritone that I assumed was Gary's. They entered the kitchen as they discussed the weather.
Angela and Gary seemed comfortable with the early morning hour, but Lauren still had messy hair and bleary eyes. I watched sadly as she looked nervously at the man at the other end of the table. New men always scared her a little.
"Did you have a good night?" Angela asked me with a smile.
I wanted to groan, because, despite the symphony-worthy concert that I'd listened to, last night had been hell. I returned her smile, though, and said, "Yeah, I slept really well." I was a better liar than I used to be, and I didn't want Lauren or Angela to feel like they'd wasted their money on me.
Angela started in on her chemistry class, then, fretting over the upcoming tests and asking for my notes, since I'd already taken the class during my freshman year of general studies, but she was coming up on it as a part of her core requirements. I'd already agreed to give her everything I had—three times—but she was pedantic that way. A B to Angela was the same as an F.
Lauren looked at me sympathetically as she stabbed a fork into some scrambled eggs. "Have you had breakfast?" she asked, interrupting Angela's academic breakdown.
I shook my head as she offered me a piece of bacon. "Thanks, Lauren, but I'm not hungry." Really, I just fucking wanted coffee and some quiet…and maybe to ogle the piano player across from me.
But life isn't fair, so I knew I wouldn't get that.
Gary, who was thick around the middle and built like a lumberjack, placed a plate of apples and oranges on the table. "Warm in here," he said, while going to lift the kitchen window open.
A comfortable morning breeze sifted through the window onto my face, and I let out a deep sigh.
I heard a quiet crack at the other end of the table a moment later, the sound of snapping bone or wood. I nearly gasped at what I saw.
Gone was the golden-eyed piano player. In his place was an equally beautiful man, the same man, but somehow darker, angrier—hungrier looking. Coal black eyes stared out of the pale-skinned face, looking inhuman, like a demon, a possessed man from some horror movie. This wasn't a B-grade one, either. There were no funny Wilhelm screams here, no cheap and cheesy ketchup blood. His glare was sinister, the lines of his mouth and jaw so hard and angular and menacing that I knew there was a good chance that I'd have nightmares about it.
I was frozen, my eyes locked with the man's, my skin tingling.
The kitchen and the people around us buzzed with life and sound and conversation, but we were caught in a bubble, a world of our own.
I'd never felt so intimidated, so confused, so frightened and excited before. I imagined a million scenarios in his black vortex stare.
Many of my imagined scenarios were horrific, borne of the anger I saw in his eyes, and filled with blood and gore and flickering, cinematic film grain. I thought of Hannibal Rising, of Hannibal Lecter wiping splattered blood off his face, only to lick it a moment later.
I should have been more unnerved than I was—more unnerved by the man's black-eyed stare, more unnerved by my vivid imagination.
Other scenarios were more enticing, even if still brutal in their own right.
Him fucking me—hard—against the wall, on the kitchen countertops, on the breakfast table, on the floor; above, below, behind. I'd never even done anything that wild before, and I'd only ever seen russet-colored native skin against my own paleness, but I imagined this man's pallor now—covering me, entering me, consuming me.
I knew I was tomato red, but I couldn't look away.
It was a slow and very subtle change, but I eventually saw the man's gaze soften. His eyes remained black, his nostrils still flared like a bull's, but the muscles around his brows relaxed just slightly. Ignoring his black eyes, he almost looked sad.
Suddenly, he rose from the table, his movement as swift and fluid as a dancer's, but so abrupt that it made his chair fall back behind him. It crashed loudly to the floor, snapping me out of my haze. The room went silent as conversation came to a halt. Everyone who'd been previous unaware of what was going on turned and stared, wide-eyed, at the man at the other end of the table.
"Mr. Masen?" Gary asked cautiously, his baritone voice an octave higher.
But the beautiful man—Mr. Masen—was already leaving the house through the door that led to the backyard. His legs moved in long strides, almost faster than my head could keep up with.
"I'll go make sure he's all right," Gary said to Ian, but I put a restraining hand on his forearm to stop him from leaving the room.
"I think he's okay," I said, not really knowing if he was or not, but knowing that I didn't want Gary to go after him.
Breakfast continued, then, albeit somewhat more quietly than before, and as the minutes passed, I decided that the most logical explanation for how fucking trippy my encounter with Mr. Masen was, was that alcohol from the previous night must still be affecting me. Somehow…though I didn't know how that was possible.
Either way, no matter how many logical explanations my brain came up with, I didn't forget his coal black eyes or the way they'd made me feel so alive.
Closing Notes: If anyone thinks Ian's apron is bizarre and/or hilarious, you might be interested to know that it's real, and I saw it for sale on Zazzle ages ago. I'll add a picture of it on the SotPM blog eventually.
By the way, even though I have the song "I Kissed a Girl" in my iTunes library and have had it stuck in my head before, I fucking loathe Katy Perry and her music (I have the deep-set need to express this to you all.), but it was absolute fate that her silly, attention-whore-grabbing song happened to be in the "hot 100" in August 2008, shortly before the time this chapter is set in. It seemed like a humorous song for Ian to be humming, and so that's that.
Finally, I admit to inserting a horribly geeky, silly Easter egg in this. If you want in on the "hilarity" (it's probably only hilarious to me), do a search for "Edgar Mallory." I await your one-handed clapping.
Hope you all liked Bella's POV of their meeting. I know these are only outtakes, but I'd still love to hear from you in a review, so please consider leaving one if you've got a moment. :)