A/N: This is a companion piece to my story titled You Should Know. Originally, Edward's POV consisted of 5 scenes, bought by uscmam in an auction. I recently decided that Edward needed to tell his side of the full story. This is a more in-depth look at You Should Know from his perspective. It's not 100% necessary to read either story before the other, but it might be helpful in some cases if you know what they're both thinking and what goes on when they're not together.
Thank you for reading!
A good song for this chapter: "The Moon" by Cat Power
Sneak Peek: "Why am I weird? You're the one pining over girls you find crying on the sidewalk."
Running has always been my form of escape. Mostly from my brother and sister, who think they have it all figured out. With them, it's always, "When are you going to decide what to do with your life, Edward? You'll have to graduate at some point and become a contributing member of society." Even though it's usually in jest, I can't stand it. Just because my siblings know what they want out of life, they expect me to have some sort of direction. A planned path through life. I'm only twenty-three. Who the hell says you're supposed to know what you want to do with the rest of your life when you're barely a quarter of the way through it? The only path I'm following right now is through downtown Charleston, South Carolina. The one that takes me from the Battery to the Market and back.
My runs consist of nothing but me, the heat, and the scenery along Meeting Street, or whichever street I happen to run down on any given day. No running partners. No iPod. Nothing but fresh air and a clear head.
On this particular evening, I'm on the last leg of my run when I see this girl. One second she's running and the next second she's on the ground, doubled over with her arms wrapped around herself. I keep back, not wanting to intrude, but the longer she stays there, the more I think she might really be hurt. I run faster to get to her, and as I get closer, I hear these gut-wrenching sobs.
"Hey! Hey, are you okay?" I shout over the sound of a passing motorcycle.
She just keeps sobbing, taking deep, raw breaths. My heart breaks for her. I doubt she even has the capacity for speech at the moment. I kneel down next to her, far enough away that she knows I'm not a creeper.
"Are you hurt?" I ask. "Do you need help?"
She shakes her head and sits up after a minute, and when she looks at me, a pang shoots through my chest. She's beautiful, even all red and teary and broken. Long brown hair only a shade lighter than her deep brown eyes. Plump, pink lips and long lashes. Though her eyes are swollen and red from the tears, they tell me everything I need to know.
"I'm okay," she says. "I just…oh, God, I'm so embarrassed." She sniffs and wipes her eyes with the backs of her hands.
I smile, relieved to see she's not injured. "Hey, we all take a tumble every now and then."
I know good and well that's not why she's embarrassed, but I want to take the sting out of it—her obvious discomfort. Though it sounds stupid, I feel this weird pull to her. She says something, but I'm kind of mesmerized in a weird way. I blink and realize she's holding her hand over her nose and looking at me like she's made some request.
When my brain catches up, it registers that she's asked for a tissue. "Oh, shit. Hang on a minute, okay? Don't go anywhere." She shakes her head, and I run over to a nearby gelato cart to ask for napkins. The girl who pushes the cart grins at me and gives me a handful of paper towels and a bottle of water.
"You look hot," she says. "It's on me." The double entendre is obvious. I'm sure she's expecting something else, but I just smile, tell her thanks, and rush back to the pretty brunette.
I crouch next to her sort of awkwardly while she blows her nose and dabs at her eyes. "Here," I say, holding the bottle of water out to her. "Drink some of this. It'll help." I'm not sure what I think it'll do for her, but I need to feel helpful in some way. She smiles weakly and takes it from me anyway. "I'm Edward, by the way."
She sniffles again and draws in a shuddering breath. "I'm Bella. And thank you."
"Don't mention it." I turn my gaze downward during an awkward silence and notice thin streams of red running down her knees. "You're bleeding," I tell her. It doesn't occur to me until after I take some of the napkins to help clean up her bloody knee that she might not want a complete stranger touching her. "May I?"
She nods, and I pat at her scraped knee gently. "Doesn't look too bad. Just some scrapes, but you'll have some pretty bad bruising."
"Are you a doctor?" she asks.
I can't stop the laugh that bubbles up from my gut. Me—the guy with incredibly ambitious siblings and parents (a neurosurgeon for a father, for fuck's sake), the guy with the least direction of anyone else I know—a doctor. That's rich.
My laughter seems to ease her somewhat, and we fall into easy conversation. "That would be a big no. My dad's a doctor, and he'd love nothing more than for me to follow in his footsteps, but…I'm majoring in floundering undecidedness at the moment."
"So you're a student."
I nod and take a fresh napkin to dab at her other knee. She winces slightly.
"Yeah. College of Charleston."
"Me too," she says.
"Oh?" I ask, interest piqued. "What are you studying?"
"Oh," I say again, somewhat surprised but also impressed. "That's really cool. So you want to work for NASA or something?"
She casts her eyes downward in a way that tells me she'd be blushing if her face weren't already flushed. "That'd be pretty amazing," she answers. "But I'm not sure what I'll do. I just find it interesting."
"Are the classes hard?" It's small talk, but something inside me just wants her to keep talking.
"Sometimes. But it's stuff I'm really interested in learning, so…" She shrugs, and silence falls over us. When she looks down at her knee, where my hand still lingers, I realize I am being a creeper after all.
I remove it and clear my throat. "Are you okay now? Sure you aren't hurt anywhere else?"
She nods. "A few Band-aids and I'll be all fixed."
It's weird, but I don't want to leave her. "Can I help you get somewhere?" I ask instead, knowing she's not in any condition to be running now. Though I'm acutely aware of how insensitive it is, I can't help thinking the whole time about how pretty she is. But when she looks up at me, her eyes hold a deep sadness. "My car's just a block away. Can I drive you home?" She stalls for a moment, and I wince when she's not looking. "I promise I'm not a freak or anything. I'll be a perfect gentleman."
"Mom always told me not to get into cars with strangers," she volleys sarcastically.
"Well, we aren't strangers. I've seen you bleed and blow your nose. In some countries, that's considered a first date."
She laughs a little, and it warms me. "Crying to laughing. Definitely a step in the right direction."
When she agrees to let me drive her home, my heart almost leaps out of my chest. I want to spend more time with this beautiful, broken girl. I want to be near her in whatever capacity I can. My thoughts border on stalker behavior, I know. But I can't help it.
I stand and help her up. As we walk the block to my car, she leans against me slightly as she limps along. I want to be the one she leans on for everything.
As we make our way to her house, I finally muster up some courage to ask her what had her so worked up. "Would it be too forward of me to ask what happened?"
She draws a deep breath. It's a struggle for me to keep my eyes on the road. I want to read her expressive face. "No, not too forward." But she falters.
"Boy troubles?" I ask, not doing a great job at hiding my ulterior motive.
"Something like that." She heaves another sigh, and just when I think she's going to drop the subject, she spills. "My boyfriend…well, he's…seeing someone else."
I sneak a glance at her at a stoplight. "I take it it's not a casual thing."
She shakes her head and looks down at her hands without elaborating.
"I'm sorry," I say and turn my eyes back to the road. "I'm prying."
"It's fine," she says. "It's just…it's new. Hey, what's this song?"
Her rapid change of subject catches me slightly off guard. "Uh, I'm not sure. It sounds like Band of Horses."
I can take a hint. The boyfriend thing is off limits.
When she directs me to pull over at a blue three-story house, I insist on helping her out of the car and up the stairs to her front door. It's an apartment at the top of a shotgun house—the kind that looks tall and skinny from the front and broad from the side. It's common for owners to separate the floors into single apartments. Her level has its own outside entrance and a long porch that spans three sides of the house.
"Crap," she says, patting the pockets of her running shorts. I look down at her bright pink shorts, but my eyes wander down the length of her toned legs. She's definitely a regular runner. I kick myself mentally. She's scraped and bruised both emotionally and physically, and I'm checking her out like that whistling cartoon wolf whose eyes bulge out of his head.
"I forgot my key," she says, bringing me out of my thoughts. She rings the doorbell, and a pretty blonde with a charming smile opens the door right away. I start to grin back, but her open smile turns into a wide-eyed, panicky expression as she takes in Bella's appearance.
"Bella! What the hell happened to you?" She narrows her eyes and purses her lips at me, but I'm more amused than intimidated. "Who are you?"
"Rose, this is Edward. I fell when I was running, and he helped me." She gives me an apologetic smile. "You'll have to excuse Rosalie. She's a bit of a drama queen. Theater major."
"Hello! Standing right here," Rosalie scoffs.
Bella ignores her and turns back to me. "Thanks again for all your help."
"It was nice meeting you. I wish it had been under better circumstances," I say, sticking my hand out for her to shake before I remember the scrapes on her hands.
"Nice to meet you, too," she says, taking my hand in a delicate manner. "Maybe I'll see you around campus."
"Hopefully. See you around." I hesitate for a second, unwilling to leave. But I have to. We have no connection, really, and she doesn't owe me anything. So I turn to go, resolving to make an effort to see her again. We go to the same school, run the same route… I console myself with the thought that I'm bound to run into her again. Hopefully when she's less defeated.
When I walk through my front door, my little sister Alice is sitting on the couch with a magazine and a glass of wine. I say little, but she's actually only a year younger than me. At barely five feet tall, though, she technically is little, an anomaly in a family of fairly tall people. Our older brother Emmett is the antithesis of Alice. He's a hulk. She's a hobbit—minus the hairy feet and all. He's loud, laid-back, good-natured, and loves to tease people. She's excitable and melodramatic. I'm somewhere in between. The typical middle child. Introverted. Pensive. They call it broody.
The three of us live near the beach in a house our parents used to rent out to vacationers. It's close to downtown, where I go to C of C and Alice goes to the Art Institute, so living there saves money in the long run. Campus housing and downtown apartments are expensive. Em graduated from the Citadel a few years ago. He's an engineer. Don't ask me what he does, because I don't actually know. I've never been a math and science guy. Alice is a fashion major, and she's pretty good at that stuff. She even makes her own clothes.
"Edward!" she exclaims as soon as I shut the door.
I toe my shoes off and go to sit next to her.
"I'd hug you, but you're all sweaty," she says with a wrinkled nose. "I feel like I haven't seen you in days. What have you been up to? How was your run?"
I shrug. "It was all right." Those are the only words I intend to say on the matter. I stare straight ahead as Alice cocks her head at me. She knows there's something on my mind. It's useless to ignore her; she has a way of getting information out of anyone. Suddenly, it's like my brain is an erupting volcano and my mouth is the crater. "I met this girl. She fell and was crying, so I helped her. I drove her home and met her roommate. She's beautiful."
I shake my head and turn to her. "No. Bella. The girl who fell."
"Is she okay?"
"Alice, she's gorgeous. Brown hair and these deep eyes, and… I sound ridiculous." I lean my head back on the couch and run my hands over my face roughly.
She laughs her tinkling little laugh. "No, you don't. You sound like you've met someone you really like."
I shake my head. "She's not available."
"What, like she has a boyfriend?"
"She does. Or did. I don't know."
She gives me a strange look.
"I think they just broke up or something. She was crying. I drove her home." I'm repeating myself, but I'm kind of in a daze.
"Ah," she says as she sips her wine thoughtfully. "So what's her name? Do I know her?"
I roll my eyes. "I don't know if you know her, Alice. She goes to my school."
She shrugs. "I know lots of people."
"You're so weird."
"Why am I weird? You're the one pining over girls you find crying on the sidewalk."
I screw my face up into a scowl. "I'm not pining. And you're the one sitting here alone with booze and a magazine."
I grin and pull her into a hug. "You know I love you, sis."
"Gross! Stop it! You're all sweaty."
I let go of her and stand up to go shower. "Any dinner plans?"
She shakes her head. "You guys wanna get Chinese food and watch stupid TV?"
"Fine by me," I say. "Call Em and make him pick it up." I smirk at her and trudge down the hall to my room to brood like a loser. There's no reason for this. It's ridiculous of me to want so badly to see her again. This girl…Bella. She resonates with me. And there's nothing I can do about it.