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thanks to my beta, Nic. te adoro.
this is highschool as i knew it. there will be a lot of shenanigans, especially of the herbal persuasion. if this bothers you, well, i apologize in advance.
a foolish and usually extravagant passion or love or admiration
temporary love of an adolescent [syn: puppy love]
an object of extravagant short-lived passion
Attraction's random and it's fickle. I mean, we can't help who we're attracted to. If we could, we'd make smarter choices, using our heads and not our hearts. We also don't choose when it happens. The only certainty is that it will happen, at one point or another.
I'd imagine some of us fall more frequently than others –like me. I'm the textbook example of the hopeless romantic, in love with love like Romeo before he met Juliet.
But none of these lofty pontifications – pretentious crap –prepared me for Edward Cullen.
I was fourteen when I first saw him.
I was at an outdoor concert with friends, standing around on the itchy, damp grass, when the girl in front of us turned around. It was Rose's cousin Heidi, and kind of a coincidence that she was there at all. She was a little older than us and went to a different school with a completely different scene going on. She and Rose talked back a forth a minute, shouting over the music while Alice and I swayed and sang along to some cover band's emo lament.
Eventually the guy with Heidi turned around to see who she was talking to.
Tall, lanky and lean. Skin somehow both creamy and gold. Hair messy and awesome and weird, like it didn't know what color it wanted to be: sunsets or pennies.
I made the mistake of looking up when I should have been looking down, or to the left –or anywhere else – and saw his face and that was it.
Squashed like a bug on the highway of love.
We've all heard of love at first sight. Yeah, that's lust. But when you're fourteen and starry-eyed innocent, it's love. The world spins faster, leaving you dizzy and desperate. When I think about that day I remember the feeling of my stomach falling out from under me, and how I'd never, ever felt anything like it.
He barely saw me but I sure saw him.
We found out later that his name was Edward Cullen and, like Heidi, he was a sophomore at Martin County High, the rival school.
I stared at the back of his head for the rest of the night.
Alice sweetly indulged my gushing on the way home, same as she'd done for years. This was our typical M.O. – I'd talk and she'd listen. She was used to my falling in love every few months, but it was usually with movie stars, not real people.
Summertime on the Treasure Coast meant everyone was in chill mode, hanging out at the beach or the mall, so I saw Edward from time to time. Sometimes I saw him with his friends, sometimes with a girl.
It didn't matter. Just seeing him made my mouth go dry… my heart pound… my stomach clamp up.
And I liked it.
Like all good things though, summer break flew by way too quickly and before we knew it, we were staring ninth grade in the face.
A group of us decided to have one last hurrah before school started the following week. Alice and I got her brother to bring us to the beach since he was going fishing anyway. He dropped us off at a little stretch along the Intracoastal, saying he'd be back for us later.
We laid out our towels and slathered on the sunscreen. Jessica and Lauren showed up with wine coolers they'd swiped from Lauren's mom and we spent the next hour drinking them and wondering what high school was going to be like.
Alice got the giggles because our mouths were stained from the strawberry daiquiri flavor. She took a few pictures with her phone and was digging around for the camera when we heard obnoxiously loud booming bass in the near distance.
Seconds later a pickup truck with a bunch of boys in the back cruised by, extra slow. They practically erupted when they saw us, whistling and catcalling and acting like idiots. Maybe I liked it, maybe I didn't, but I damn near pissed my pants when I saw Edward Cullen with all those boys, his eyes this ferocious green.
In the midst of all the music, the hormones, the flirting … Edward was silent.
He was looking at me, an almost-smile on his face.
I finally understood why it was called a crush; it was difficult to breathe.
It was like one of those movies where time is suspended and there was nothing, nothing else in the world but Edward and his pretty eyes and me.
The driver gunned it and took off. The truck disappeared, beautiful boys, offensive rap and all.
Rose turned fifteen a week after school started.
She begged her parents to let her throw a party and, because she was a spoiled brat, they let her have one. She invited everybody.
Then of course because these things are exponential, the people she invited told other people until the party was spilling out the back door and on to the deck. Her parents were around but I realized pretty early on that they were only there to keep an eye on things, not to enforce any sort of rules.
Sort of shocking, really. My dad would've pulled his shot gun out at the first sign of debauchery.
A few upperclassmen set up bars in the trunks of their cars. People were smoking up left and right –and I don't mean cigarettes. Rose appeared in front of me with two purple Jell-O shots; I downed one and then the other. They tasted so nice we made it our mission to find more, like, immediately.
Heidi showed up with a bunch of her friends, and even though she was no longer seeing Edward – per Rose's information – they still hung out. I nearly died when he walked in, stupidcool in sunglasses at night, his arm slung around some girl. The rest of their entourage followed right behind and I realized I recognized some of the guys from that day on the beach.
I wondered if he'd recognize me, too. I wondered if I mattered enough.
It changed things, this awareness of him, like the night was more magic because he was there.
Some guy asked me to dance and so I went, nervous because he was cute but too tipsy to care. I let him turn me around and press his body close to mine, his hands loose on my hips. It was a relief to have my back to the nameless wonder behind me; I didn't think I could sustain eye contact. Instead I let my eyes roam around the room, faltering when I noticed my friend Angela talking to Edward by the punch bowl.
Oh, no. Anonymous hoochies I could handle but Angela Weber?
My heart sank into a sea of drunken, melodramatic betrayal.
I almost wanted to cry and that made me feel stupid and really, really small.
I needed fresh air.
No one was out by the pool. The music from inside was barely audible. I sat down and rolled my jeans to my knees before dangling my feet into the water. It was cold and that was good; I was tempted to go in all the way just to clear my head.
The lights inside the pool were on, an unnatural turquoise that was soothing to look at. I skimmed my fingers across the water, wondering how long it would take for one of the girls to notice I was gone.
Someone sat down beside me. I looked up and right into Edward's clear green eyes.
My stomach knotted so tight I thought I was going to puke.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm not drunk," I mumbled.
"That's… not what I asked. You're sitting out here by yourself…" He paused, running his fingers through his hair. "I just wanted to know if you were okay."
"Oh." My face warmed. "Yeah, I'm okay."
He looked at me like he knew. Maybe he did. "So you're not upset."
"And you're not drunk."
I laughed a little, biting the inside of my cheek. "It just…I was too hot inside. It feels good out here."
"Yeah, it does," he agreed, slowly getting to his feet again.
My heart squeezed; I didn't want him to go.
He smiled ruefully and walked away, and it took all that I had not to turn and stare like a lovesick goon. It was wholly possible that he'd figured me out, that he knew I liked him. Though I tried to be, I wasn't exactly subtle; he'd probably seen the way I looked at him.
Maybe I should have been embarrassed, but all I could feel was my flushed face and my racing pulse because he'd actually talked to me. Like, on purpose.
I grabbed my shoes and got up, suddenly tired. The effects of the alcohol had worn off, leaving me calmer and a lot less prone to histrionics.
The crowd had thinned considerably back inside. Alice saw me and motioned me over, frowning at the shoes in my hands.
"Where'd you go?"
"By the pool. I needed fresh air."
Her eyes widened and she leaned in closer, examining me. "Did you hurl?"
"Okay, because, some kid totally threw up out by the deck and Mr. Hale got super pissed and made him leave …"
I made a face. "Can't say I blame him."
"Yeah. But you're okay?"
"Everyone keeps asking that. I'm fine," I promised, dropping my flip flops to the floor so I could slip them back on.
Rose materialized from the shadows. "Let's get a picture before Jess and Lauren have to leave."
Soon everyone was gone, with the exception of the girls who were sleeping over. Rose ushered us into the kitchen where a pink and white cake sat untouched on the counter. We stuck candles in it and sang happy birthday and I took more pictures, loving how the flames made Rose's hair look like a messy blonde halo around her face.
We ate cake until we were sick and then stripped down to our underwear to go swimming in the pool. We splashed quietly and talked about the high (and low) points of the evening, agreeing that it had definitely been the party-to-end-all-parties. I told the girls about my pseudo-conversation with Edward Cullen and Angela gasped, almost swallowing water when I mentioned my freak out.
"He knows my brother… it wasn't even like that!" she cried, pushing wet hair from her face. "Why didn't you tell me you liked him?"
"I haven't really told anyone," I sighed, feeling dumb all over again.
She nodded, accepting my lameness, and I was glad. It was bad enough I was a moron with out of control, unrequited feelings. The last thing I needed was to alienate my girlfriends.
The chatter faded after a while, naturally ebbing until we were floating in silence, losing ourselves in our thoughts and the starry skies. Late summer, not yet fall; a warm breeze hesitantly blew over us, jostling the trees, rustling their leaves.
I don't know if the others felt it, but I bet they did. There was this undercurrent of anticipation, like things had somehow shifted.
Almost, like…our lives had finally started.
Naked Eye - Luscious Jackson
Are You In - Incubus