I'M SO SORRY! This isn't another update, and I'm sorry for posting this chapter twice, and giving you all even more false hope! I'm ridiculously sorry... But thanks for all the fab reviews! I'm almost at 100, which is pretty amazing! The main purpose of reposting this chapter originally was to let everyone know that I'm now on Twitter: LarissaElenaS I'll be tweeting my progress with the story, leaving some previews ;-) and answering any questions you might have. And of course, if you guys have any suggestions - you can let me know! Enjoy! And if you go to twitter and can't find me, go back again later, because it's a new account, and it takes a while to register me. Anyway!
AN: I am so sorry for the ridiculously appalling wait I've put you guys through! There's no excuse for it, except an absurd bout of writer's block. I was seriously suffering from a drought of creative juices! But here it is anyway. Bella's a bit all over the place guys, and she will be for a while. She's just been thrown into a completely different situation to the one she's been used to, and she's experiencing all this stuff with no chance to breathe. So her emotions are just all over the place. But stay with her please, and ride it out with me!
And by the way - I finally have a Beta! So many thanks to livelovelaughalot for editing and whipping my chapter into shape!
I hope you guys enjoy it, and again, forgive all of the below!
I have an intense love/hate relationship with any songs, books and movies that touch on romance. Because hearing, reading or seeing a couple who are just so in love... makes me hunger for that. I want to fall head over heels in love with someone who'll love me back just as intensely. Who'll make my heart skip a beat every time I see him, and flutter every time he touches me – whether it's a simple touch of the hand or a full blown make out session. Someone who I'll grow old with.
And all those romantic songs, books and movies just rub salt in the wound – because I know I can't have that.
Which is why after my evening with Edward, it feels like someone's poured lemon juice, salt and vinegar in the wound, because I got a taste of what I know I can't have. A relationship.
Edward took me to a sushi bar – my first ever sushi bar. I was excited to say the least, and having his hand holding mine had nothing to do with that (of course not). Whilst we ate, I almost felt as though we were playing twenty questions. Except it was more like a hundred. And being the considerate person I've gradually been getting to know, Edward only asked me yes and no questions.
My only regret was that I was unable to ask him any questions.
The concert was brilliant. There aren't enough words to describe the brilliance. I've never been to a concert before, but I'm glad Bon Iver was my first. Because although I'd love to go see a band such as Kings of Leon – where the energy is so vibrant it's reverberating off everything tenfold – I loved the quiet energy of Bon Iver's sinuous tones. There were no electric guitars, loud drums or heavy bass beat, but there was no need – you could feel his passion and his meaning in every word and note that came from him and his guitar.
Edward plays the guitar. He'd recognized the make of Bon Iver's, and I'd silently gestured to ask if he played. He'd ducked his head, shrugged, and mumbled 'a bit'. I felt the frissons shudder up my body at this seemingly insignificant and yet so meaningful detail about him – a musician. It made me want to smile and cry at the same time.
Mum used to play the guitar.
After the concert, we'd returned to the car pack in silence, his arm casually wrapped around me, me nuzzling into him as the wind whistled and bit my cheeks. And then once in the car and back on the road, I fell asleep. The next thing I knew, Edward was gently rousing me to signal we were back home. I'd blinked around, disorientated, before gathering it was time to go, so I'd clumsily kissed his cheek, and stumbled my way inside the house, dead on my feet.
I let myself in, and as soon as I was in my room, had promptly collapsed on the bed and fallen into a deep slumber, dreaming of Edward's touch and things that could never be.
"Bella. Bella? BELLS!"
I grumbled and whined internally, and rolled over only to fall with a thud on the floor.
"Bells? You okay in there? Decent?"
I gathered myself up from the floor and slowly limped my way to the door, cracking it open to reveal my dad.
"Ah. Good morning." He glanced at my warily. "I think."
I raised an eyebrow at him, silently asking him to get on with it. He shook his head and cleared his throat before speaking.
"So, ah, I didn't hear you get in last night," he mumbles, flicking an invisible speck of dust off his t shirt. "Late night date?"
I frown. He glances up to gauge my reaction, and takes an automatic step backwards at the look on my face.
"Right, not a date then, clearly..." he says, lifting his hands up in surrender. "Have fun though? What did you guys do?"
I tap my ears.
"Concert?" he smiles. "Cool, who?"
I shrug and shake my head, indicating it's no one he'll know.
"Cool, then," he says, and we stand there awkwardly for a minute. "Right, then, I'm, er... gonna go see Billy Black."
And then he's shuffling off, and a few seconds later I hear the door slam. Silence reigns once more, and I sigh, before traipsing to the bathroom. I look a mess. I'm still wearing the clothes I was wearing the night before, and my eyes have dark circles under them – a combination of smudged mascara and lack of sleep. My hair's in a tangle, and I feel slightly grimy, so I decide to have a shower and clean up.
As I stand under the searing hot water, the steam swirling around me and fogging up every surface in sight, my brain goes over the previous night. It works at a furiously fast pace, remembering his touch and the feel of his lips on mine. In hindsight, and without Edward's frustratingly distracting presence near me, I am able to go over each memory and analyze it. He touched me – and god, did he touch me... He certainly knew what he was doing. Practice...? And then, through the cloudy veil of new found contentment that had been hovering over my mind since Alice befriended me, two faces emerged: him, and Rosalie Hale.
Why did I not react to his touch? Why did I not flinch, feel repulsed, frightened, threatened? I recalled Jasper's rough grasp earlier this week and how I had flinched away from that. So what was different with Edward? He was... gentle. Passionate... Caring. His touch was sweet, and soft, and sunk right to my bones. Did my body make the automatic distinction between his abrasive touch and Edward's gentle one, recognizing the lack of threat from the latter? But... Edward might not be a threat to my body – but what about my mind?
The heat makes me feel dizzy, so I finish rinsing out my hair and step carefully out of the shower – too many times have I slipped and fallen in this bathroom. I dry off, and throw my hair into a bun, traipsing back to my bedroom.
As I ponder what to wear, the second face returns. Rosalie. I'd forgotten her. Are she and Edward still together? Is this a conspiracy between them to toy with mute Bella Swan? Does she know? If she doesn't, what will she do when she finds out...? I know none of these questions will be answered for the moment, so I file them away for future pondering, and pull out a pair of straight jeans, a grey t shirt, and an over-the-head navy hoodie.
It's Saturday, which usually means very little to me – laundry day, return and borrow more books from the library, and loll about doing nothing. But today I actually have homework to do as well – something that rarely occurs, as I usually complete it during lunch periods at school or on Friday evening. But with my newly acquired friends, and newly busy social life, I have two essays to finish off before Monday.
So, I settle down with my computer, geeky glasses, and mug of steaming coffee, and crack onto dramatic irony in Romeo and Juliet.
Three hours, four cups of coffee and twenty three pages later, I'm finished. I shut down the computer, slide off my glasses and rub my eyes and temples, a headache beginning to pound at the sides of my head. I sigh, and check my watch. It's three twenty, which means I have enough time to do laundry, and go to the library before it closes.
A sad development has occurred in the past week at home: our washing machine decided to have a death. So by three thirty, I'm dragging a basket full of laundry to my car, and heading off to the only Laundromat in Forks. The air is slightly warmer than usual, so I permit myself the luxury of rolling down the front windows, listening to the Stones. I arrive at the small Laundromat halfway through 'Gimme Shelter'. Parking the car across the road, I notice there seems to be no one inside – score. No old dears staring at me weirdly when I refuse to talk about their cats.
I slip my sunglasses on, and pull my basket of washing off the passenger seat, ambling across the road. I've never been to the Laundromat here before. So it takes me a good fifteen minutes to work the thing out. Finally though, it seems to be washing my first load, and I settle down on the bench, pulling out my iPod and a book.
Nothing like a good book to pass the time.
"You deserve this..."
A harsh rough phrase repeated over and over. I'm trying to regain my bearings, pull through the thick blanket of darkness that swept over me. And once I do, I wish I hadn't. I manage to look down at what he's doing, to me, to my body, and want to be sick. I can't feel it though... Maybe that's a good thing...
"You're so easy, Isabella..." he whispers roughly in my ear. "And you know why..." he continues, still moving above me.
I shake my head, tears spilling out the corner of my eyes as I look up at my ceiling, swallowing the bile that rises to my throat with every shift of his body.
"Because you enjoy this..." he laughs, short hard pants. "You love the way I make you feel... And only me, Isabella. Only me."
I can feel it now. Every movement he makes. His voice is clearer too.
"Bella... Bella... Bella... Bella? Bella...? Bella!"
The voice and movement of someone's hand rubbing my arm jerks me back to reality. I shove the arm away, and try to move backwards, only to find that I can't – I'm lying on the bench, my book lying crumpled on the floor. I bolt upright, and stare into the face of the person who woke me.
It's Jasper Hale.
What is Jasper Hale doing at the Laundromat?
"Hey." He grins, but his gaze is steely.
I sigh, and run my hands through my hair, then over my face, trying to wake myself up. Jasper leans against one of the machines, still watching me. Feeling his stare, I raise my eyes as if to say: 'what?' He just chuckles.
"I can see you're in a great mood," he says, to which I just roll my eyes.
I'm in no great mood, my nightmare still lingering in my mind. I pull myself up off the bench, stretch, and check the machine. Seeing it's finished, I pull out the clothes, and dump them back in my basket. Grabbing my iPod and long forgotten book, I start to make my way to the door.
"Hey!" Jasper is in front of me in a matter of seconds. He grins. "Weren't planning on leaving me, were you?"
I raise my eyebrow at him.
"Wait until I finish my load at least," he says, exaggerating a pout. Seeing I'm not going to budge, he sighs. "Alright, well let me take you for a drive whilst my load goes, and then I'll bring you back here to get your car."
I obviously don't look convinced, as he feels the need for more convincing and borderline pleading.
"Please? C'mon, it's a beautiful day," he says, pointing outside – and he's right, the sun has come through, "It'd be a shame to waste it."
I bop my leg slightly, indecision making me waver. Taking advantage of this, Jasper grabs my basket, placing it on the floor, grabs my hand, and pulls me out the Laundromat. And then I'm sitting in his car – which I don't think I've ever seen before – and we're driving off into the sunset, literally. I'm not quite sure what I'm more surprised by, the car or the fact that I'm in it with Jasper Hale; but I content myself with stroking the interior softly.
"You like it?" he asks, glancing at my wandering hand.
A vintage Aston Martin convertible? I love it. But I settle for nodding emphatically. And then I notice the music. And I'm even more confused. I gesture to the stereo, a question clear in my eyes and expression. Jasper chuckles upon seeing it, before glancing back to the road.
"Thought I'd be solely a rock'n'roll guy?" he assumes – correctly. "Nah, I dig Leonard Cohen."
I stare at him, as he stares at the road, and slowly, a smile spreads across my face. Speeding down the 101 North, the sun glistens brightly orange as it slowly approaches the horizon, the wind whips my hair behind me. It doesn't cross my mind to ask him where we're going. He's driving with purpose, which suggests he has a destination in mind, but the fact that I don't know doesn't bother me. My mind briefly jumps back to that encounter on the bleachers, but I dismiss the thought. For once, I want to do something on the spur of the moment... I want to just enjoy the moment...
So I slowly raise my arms up and behind me, letting my head fall back, and close my eyes, relishing the feeling. And Jasper doesn't say anything – which is perfect too. The silence filled only with soft guitar playing.
Half an hour later, the sun is just touching the horizon, and we're parked in the lot by the beach in La Push. Leonard Cohen still sings for us, and the silence still rests between us. It's so beautiful, the scene fills me with a kind of calm. I feel at peace, even if it's just for a moment.
Jasper pulls something out of his pocket, but I'm transfixed by the burnt orange sun. Only when I hear the click of a lighter do I realize what he's holding, and I turn my head to search out a cigarette. He offers me one, and when I nod, he places it lightly between my lips, before lighting it for me. The flame glows to match the sunset, and I smile around the cancer stick. Once lit, I move to pull away, but Jasper drapes an arm around me, and keeps me fixed to his side. I rest my head on his shoulder, and return my gaze this time to the sea, the ripples causing the sun's reflection to twinkle and dance.
"It's beautiful, huh," Jasper says, his deep throaty voice rupturing the silence, and yet pleasantly rather than disturbingly. I nod against him.
And then the song changes, and the mood shifts, and I begin to move away. But Jasper manages to catch my hand before I've completely shifted back to my seat, and the jerky movement he uses to yank me back to him is a complete contrast to the feeling of his face so close to mine, and his other hand – rough and abrasive – cupping my cheek, drawing me to him until our lips meet.
It's hardly a kiss. It's lips brushing. We separate, but still a mere inch apart, and Jasper's lip is pulled up slightly in the corner, indicating a small smile. And his eyes are on my lips, and mine are on his eyes, as he says:
"See," a whisper, "I can be gentle too."
And then I can't help but focus on the lyrics of the song, and he's singing:
I met a woman long ago
Her hair, the black that black can go,
Are you a teacher of the heart?
Soft, she answered 'No'
And I watch the expression in Jasper's eyes as he watches the word my lips form but do not utter:
I smile slightly, sadly, and kiss his cheek, before returning to my seat, turning the music up and taking a drag off my cigarette.
The sun's almost down.
There's no awkwardness following my minute kiss with Jasper. He just sighed, and we finished our cigarettes in silence. The atmosphere had changed again though, and was filled with a disappointed tension.
I did not know what Jasper wanted, nor why he wanted it. But I knew my small rejection would not keep him away forever – I was sure we'd be seeing more of each other. Hopefully I'd found out his motives soon. He dropped me off by my car at the Laundromat as promised, and I left him with another brief kiss on the cheek. He just gave me a sad smile, and I felt his eyes on me as I left. Driving home in the dark, the washing starting to emit a slightly damp smell beside me, I felt reality once again start to sink through the cloudy surreal haze that had been surrounding the past few days. Tomorrow was Sunday, and the day after would be Monday, and who knew what Monday would bring...? I could only wait for the rest of the weekend to pass, and bury myself in book after book after book, secretly hoping the fantasy worlds I read about would swallow me whole, and I would never have to face reality again.
I'm not sure what it is that changed over the weekend, but somewhere amid having an intense kissing fest with Edward Cullen, and sharing a brief kiss with Jasper Hale, I've started feeling a slight knot in my stomach every morning before school starts. It's like a little ball of nerves, that gets bigger and bigger as the clock ticks slowly forward towards my impending doom. Because being snogged senseless by Edward Cullen and romanced by Jasper Hale – albeit unsuccessfully – cannot come to any good in the aftermath. So, like the coward I am, I put my off going to school until the very last minute, hoping that in the process I will avoid all the people contributing to my present emotional dilemma.
So I drive to school slowly, and when I arrive, there's no one in the parking lot. The heavens start to open up slowly, and rain spits at me. I glare at the sky, and slowly amble towards the front doors. If I'm already late, no point in rushing right?
'This is a first.'
I start, and spin to find the source of the voice – a voice I'd recognize anywhere now.
He's leaning against the wall, crouched down, apparently tying the laces on his shoes. And my heart starts to race. Glancing up at me from under his lashes, kneeling before me, literally, droplets of water glinting in his insane bronze hair, his eyes twinkling with some unidentified emotion at me, I'm lost to him. I do nothing but stare, and his mouth lifts slightly. He rises slowly, and my eyes follow the line of his body unravelling as he does so. That dangerously enticing lifted corner of his mouth raises more as he seems to notice my eyes follow him. He's wearing a simple grey tshirt, that is just the right amount of tight and loose, a black leather jacket slung over his shoulder, black slightly faded jeans slung low on his hips, and my eyes finally come to rest on his shoes. And holy hell, he's wearing the same shoes I am. Black adidas sambas. Possibly my favourite shoes ever.
He registers our matching shoes at the same time I do, and chuckles, running a hand through his hair, looking away for a second, seemingly frustrated.
When he turns to me again, he takes a step closer, eyes trained on my feet. He comes to a stop right in front of me, and our breath mingles together. He finally raises his eyes to mine.
'Look at that,' he whispers, his delicious mint and tobacco and unique Edward breath fanning over me. 'We match'.
And then his lips are on mine and its Friday night all over again.
I was seriously late for class. Edward and I parted half way through first period. I stumbled to my class, lips bruised, panting, and dazed. And when I looked in the mirror before lunch, I realised it wasn't surprising why everyone had been gaping at me. I looked thoroughly snogged. My lips were swollen and red, my hair a tangle from Edward's hands running through it repeatedly, and my shirt askew. I splashed some cold water on my face – which in hindsight did absolutely nothing – straightened my shirt, and tried to tame my hair (failing). Giving up, I left the bathroom to find Alice tapping her shoe impatiently, apparently waiting for me.
'Finally! God, I've been waiting for forever! We have so much to talk about! Firstly, where the hell were you all weekend? Apart from Friday night of course... By the way what did you wear that night? You have to tell me what happened! Edward gave one of his extremely annoying 'mind your own business' answers when I asked. Well, he didn't say that exactly, but something to that effect. He is so annoying like that, I mean the other day – '
'Christ Pix, let the girl breathe,' a voice drawled from behind her.
Standing towering almost a foot above her, was Jasper. He grinned at me over Alice's head, while Alice spun around right into his chest. He chuckled, and steadied her. I moved to her side, and hid a smile as I watched Alice try to glare at him. It just looked slightly silly.
'Look here, dude,' she began, poking his chest with a brightly painted turquoise nail, 'How many times do I have to tell you not to call me Pix?'
Jasper just glanced to me, a twinkle in his eye.
'Don't you think its appropriate Bella?' he asks me, grinning. I glare at him, simultaneously biting a smile. 'C'mon, you gotta side with me, otherwise Pix is gonna stay pissed at me! Which is just all wrong, cause I was coming here to ask you guys if you'd like an escort to the cafeteria.'
'An escort?' Alice squeaked. 'We are independent young ladies, excuse me...'
I tuned Alice and Jasper's bantering out as we slowly made our way together to the cafeteria, despite Alice's objections to Jasper's accompanying us. I was more focused on what was coming. Jasper was one less thing I had to worry about – I had been worried that things would be awkward, but he'd winked and thrown me his usual grin when I'd seen him in Chemistry this morning, so things seemed alright. Jasper was simultaneous enigmatic – I thought back to his weird arm grabbing on the bleachers, the kiss at La Push – and easy going. He managed to give me things to worry about, and yet his nature just erased that worry afterwards. I filed every confusing thought I'd had about him away though, hoping that sometime in the future – when I wasn't so nervously twisted about Edward – we'd be able to work the out, but for now, I was okay not knowing what went on in his head.
I was just desperate to know what went on in Edward's head.
Best case scenario... He's in the cafeteria, and we what? Kiss and show we're a happy couple in front of the entire population of Forks High and live happily ever after? No. That shit only happens in movies. Best case scenario... We pretend like everything is normal. And no one knows any better. Rosalie doesn't come murder me in my sleep, Jasper doesn't do something weird again, Alice doesn't pester me with questions, and all is well in the world. For lunch at least.
But I can't hope that's what happens. There are a lot of 'worst case scenarios' that I'm not even prepared to contemplate, and because I can't read the future, I settle for chewing half my nail off as the doors to the cafeteria seem to get bigger and bigger, looming overhead.
I feel like we're moving in slow motion, as Jasper goes to open the door for Alice, Alice giggling at something he says, while he makes some extravagantly gallant motion for us to go in first, and then the hustle and bustle of the cafeteria engulfs us. And the sound of girls and boys talking and chatting and laughing seems to ring in my ears, and I'm frozen, rooted to the spot, Alice and Jasper dancing ahead of me. I can hear my own heartbeat pounding.
And just as quickly as the slow motion comes, it goes. But I'm still rooted and frozen, staring at our now usual seats, where Edward is half hidden by Rosalie, his hand on the small of her back as she shoves her tongue down his throat.
I jump at Alice's gentle voice, starting me out of my staring. She's staring at me, confused.
'Are you okay?'
I just shake my head to rid it of the image that's now burned forever into my brain, and into my heart it seems. I force a smile, and shrug, and take her hand as we line up in the lunch queue.
Jasper hasn't noticed anything it seems, busy arguing and flirting with the lunch lady, and I quickly glance around to see if anyone has noticed my little episode. But people are too wrapped up in their own spheres to notice me clutching the remains of a wounded heart.
And I don't know if Alice had actually noticed the reason for my episode, or if she just didn't want to have to witness her brother's snogging session, but for the first time since Alice and Emmett arrived, we sit somewhere else.
Looking back, 'a wounded heart' may have sounded slightly over the top. But I'm not trying to make out like I was in love with him or anything. Because I wasn't. But I had let him into my mind, and a little into my heart. He, and Alice, and Emmett, and Jasper had invaded my mind and heart, and each of them held a little place there. That feeling when certain people make your chest warm, make your heart warm – as cheesy as it sounds – was something I'd come to experience with them. And witnessing Edward and Rosalie doing something he and I had been doing only a few hours prior just made that special place he held feel cold, and hurt. Watching them kissing had also made me realize that there are very different types of kissing. I wasn't sure what our kissing had looked like, but it sure hadn't felt like what their kissing looked like. Theirs was fast, their faces constantly moving one way and another, never pausing, never slowing. They made it look... dirty. And not just a sexually on fire dirty. An unhealthy, revolting dirty. I never wanted to kiss like that. Ever.
I don't know what I did the rest of the day. I don't know how my dazed look managed to escape the notice of the teachers, and Alice – but I was starting to think that maybe she noticed a lot more than she let on, and just chose not to call me out on it. If this was the case, then I was eternally grateful.
But she was making me go to the bonfire at the beach later on that evening.
I was so caught up in my thoughts of Edward, and Rosalie, that I only realized the absurdity of such an idea driving to La Push. A bonfire? On the beach? In the middle of September?
Alice had come over to dress me and make me up. Those actions cemented my thought that she had noticed my withdrawal, for she knew I was averse to such things, and took advantage of my absent composure to play doll with me. So, sitting in her car, realizing all these things at once, I glanced down to see what I was wearing, and was immediately grateful it was nothing too ridiculous. Warm, at the very least. A black sweater dress that fell mid thigh, leggings, my adidas shoes, and a rather fashionable black parka.
'Do you like the outfit?'
I turned to Alice, who glanced at me smiling, before returning her gaze to the road. I just chuckled, and smiled, nodding my head.
'Good,' she said softly. 'I tried not to take too much advantage of how much you've been out of it this afternoon.'
I looked down at my lap. She had noticed, as I'd suspected.
'If you need to tell me anything, you know I'm here,' she said simply, before cranking the music up. 'No more of this moping though. I was slightly worried your dad was going to be weird about us going out on a school night, but he was totally cool! I mean, for a police chief, he was awesome...'
I half listened to her ramblings, rolling down my window to feel the cool twilight breeze fanning me. It had rained all day, and the sun had finally broken through the cloud, the horizon looking bright and clear in the orange and blue glow of the setting sun. I stared ahead as the horizon seemed to get closer and closer, and felt something sit heavy in my stomach suddenly. A lump of worry that hadn't been there a moment ago, and a lump that got heavier and heavier as we approached La Push.
We arrived at La Push around seven. Despite the fact that there were clearly already some people at the beach already, Alice insisted it was still too early to turn up, and instead we went to one of the diners further down to eat.
At the diner, I was able to forget the heavy lump in my stomach. Alice and I sketched a bit in my notebook what we were thinking of painting in her room. Something I loved about Alice was the way she managed to make our interactions lack any kind of awkward vibe because of my lack of speech. She effortlessly carried conversations, always having ways of involving me physically – we'd compare pictures on our phones, or compare music on our iPods, or sketch, or look at some homework together, or look at one of my books or one of her fashion magazines. We were never not communicating in one way or another, and it made me feel included, and easy.
We stayed at the diner for an hour or so, and after splitting the bill, we ambled down to the beach. We could hear and see the bonfire from the diner, and walked slowly along the shore towards the throngs of people.
I had to admit the atmosphere was great. People were milling together on the beach. Alice and I weaved our way through people, occasionally waving or greeting a certain person or other. Some people were smoking, others were dancing, others were kissing, others were chatting, other were eating... We headed for where the music seemed to be coming from – finally finding Jasper and Emmett, sitting on top of a cooler.
They hollered at us as soon as they saw us, and from the loudness of their voices it was obvious they'd obviously already had a few drinks. We slowly drew nearer, giggling at their silliness.
'Ladies! Fashionably late, of course,' Jasper drawled more than usual, waving a beer in his left hand. As soon as we were close enough for him to touch, he hooked a finger in my pocket and drew me closer. I stumbled slightly, and he laughed.
'Beer, my lovely?' he asked.
I nodded, and took a swig from his whilst he searched one out for me. Once he'd turned towards me again, offering me a bottle, I nodded towards the boombox nearby and tilted my head in question.
'Ah, yes, the fabulous soundtrack to our teenage antics,' he said seriously. 'That would be courtesy of Edward, the little shit.'
I sighed. Of course. Who else would play a rare demo of one of my favourite songs?
'Why, do you approve?' a voice said behind me.
My head flew up, and my eyes widened slightly. I slowly forced my limbs to unfreeze themselves, and took a deep breath. Running a hand through my hair, I slowly pivoted on the spot to face him.
He looked sinful. The orange flames of the bonfire danced and reflected in his eyes, and made them burn.
I wasn't sure if the fire made them burn, or if it was the expression in them that was one of burning, but either way, his eyes did things to my insides. And they seemed to be focused on Jasper's hand, which though I had not noticed before, I was now hyper aware of, locked around my wrist.
I cleared my throat, and his eyes snapped back to my face.
'Well?' he croaked out, his voice suddenly gravelly.
My mind fumbled for the question, and remembering it suddenly, ordered me to nod my head.
So I nodded, as Florence and the Machine sang 'My Boy Builds Coffins' from our left.
'Good,' he said finally. 'Come, I'll show you what else I have.'
I noticed he didn't offer, he ordered me to. As I processed this, he seemed to decide I was moving too slowly, and grabbed my hand, yanking me out of Jasper's hold. I stumbled hard into him, and suddenly a voice echoed in my mind, and a face drifted across my brain – him. I recoiled at Edward's forceful grip, and tried to pull my hand away. Edward wasn't letting go however, and that's when I started struggling. He didn't seem to notice however, staring behind me at something.
I was panting now, my heart pounding.
'Dude, get your fucking hand off her,' Jasper said, his voice suddenly much closer than I thought it was. His abrasive, suddenly sober voice seemed to jolt Edward out of whatever reverie he was in, and he let go of me suddenly, as if burned.
His eyes lost the intense, angered and far away look that had been present only seconds beforehand, and they focused on me, concerned and gentle. He cupped my face, and inspected me slowly.
'I'm so sorry, Bella, are you okay?' he mumbled. 'I just lost it, seeing you – '
He cut off abruptly, and let go of me, looking at his shoes, and stuffing his hands in his pockets.
I was frozen, again. But I recognized the desperately agonized and guilty look in his face, and stepped forward, slowly, hesitatingly raising my hand to stroke his arm. I spared a glance at Jasper, whose hard gaze turned back to Emmett and Alice when I met his eyes, the latter pair oblivious to our entire interaction. Turning back to Edward, I noticed his eyes had raised to mine.
'I'm sorry,' he murmured again.
I forced a smile, and shook my head, gesturing to the boom box. He nodded, and started leading the way, and I followed him.
Only halfway to our destination did I remember what had transpired earlier that day, so that by the time we were seated, an awkward and nervous tension had settled over me.
I managed to maintain a calm and nonchalant façade as Edward showed me the music he had. I nodded and smiled at some choices, and shook my head and frowned at others. All the while, I clutched my beer in my hand, and slowly drained it. When Edward lit a cigarette, I eagerly took the one he offered me, desperate for the release it gave me, my nerves wrought and twisted into a knot in the pit of my belly.
As I lit it, Edward placed his iPod in my lap, gesturing that I choose the next song. I immediately knew from scrolling through the choices he had on his playlist which one I would play, the tune had been festering in my brain ever since I'd spotted it.
He fiddle with some buttons on the boombox, and the song slowly rolled in. We'd had a couple of mellow songs, so it merged nicely with the previous ones. Edward didn't show any signs of approval or disapproval at my choice, but merely stared at me. I stared back shamelessly. The song seemed to bring out the emotional exhaustion I'd been feeling all day, and so I didn't resist when Edward pulled me down to lie my head in his lap. He lay back as well, and a quiet settled over us as Kate Havnevik sang Nowhere Warm.
The rain had cleared the sky, and despite the bright glow from the bonfire, the stars were visible above us.
And lying there, my tension with Edward seemed to lift for just a moment. Maybe he sensed it, or maybe he didn't, but for whatever reason, he started to point out the various constellations above us, and for a while, I let everything go, closing my eyes as Edward's voice floated over and in me. I let myself enjoy his melodies and tones, and prayed the moment would stay with me.
I hope you guys enjoyed it, and that it was slightly worth the wait! Again, serious apologies for the ridiculous wait!
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Xxxx lots of love to you all!