Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: This was my entry in the 2010 Age of Edward Contest. It won 3rd Place, as well as a Judges' Choice award. Thanks to all who voted!
Thanks also to my wonderful beta Tiffanyanne3 for her help with this story. There's a glossary at the end explaining some of the terms used, for those of you who are unfamiliar with the period.
Madonna, Metal, & Molly Ringwald Movies
The blistering sounds of Judas Priest pounded through my headphones and I adjusted the volume on my Walkman, not realizing Jasper was talking to me until he shoved my shoulder slightly. I popped one of the phones off my ear. "What?"
Jasper rolled his eyes. "I was asking who the new guy was at the Jock table."
I flipped my headphones down so they circled my neck, Living After Midnight now sounding a little tinny in my ears. I scanned the cafeteria, passing over the New Wavers and the Brains… the Computer Geeks… and the Breakers huddling in the corner about to go outside and start spinning. Of course, the jocks had the table in the dead center of the room, where any and all could come forward and pay homage to their athletic prowess. There was Emmett McCarty, big buff football and wresting star. Next, his girlfriend Rosalie Hale, buxom blonde head cheerleader and president of the Duran Duran fan club. I circled the table with my eyes… Tyler… Jake… Jessica… Lauren… all the usual suspects. But then Emmett leaned back, and I saw the guy Jasper was asking about.
"Looks like a Prep loser," Ben muttered from the other side of Jasper. "Like we need another airhead jock at this school."
"I don't know, I think he's kind of cute," Alice piped up. Alice was Jasper's girlfriend, but not a Rocker like the rest of us. She lived and breathed Madonna. She straightened her fingerless lace gloves as she leaned across the table to kiss Jasper lightly. "Not as cute as you, of course," she added with a grin. He smiled back at her and I rolled my eyes, turning my attention back to the new guy.
He was cute, I guess, in that preppy, collegiate, straight-laced way. He had dark hair, kind of reddish and wavy – not cut in a bi-level like most of the Preps, but kind of messy all over his head. The collar on his green Izod polo shirt was flipped up and his Levis looked like they'd been ironed, with sharp creases along the front of his legs. My eyes followed the line of the fabric downward and I stifled a gasp.
Instead of Pumas or Nikes, or those gross, disgusting Topsiders, the guy wore a pair of green Converse All-Stars… just like mine.
I was shocked. Preps didn't wear All-Stars. I was even more surprised when I looked back up at his face, only to find him staring right back at me. I snapped my gaze away abruptly, leaning on my hand and hiding behind my hair.
"What's wrong, B?" Alice asked, popping her gum and playing with one of her huge hoop earrings. Her armful of bracelets jangled loudly.
"Nothing. The new guy just caught me looking at him," I said quietly, shooting a glance at Jasper, Ben and Seth. The three of them were discussing plans for the Rush concert in a couple of weeks, and not paying attention to us. Alice blew a bubble and her eyes flashed over my shoulder briefly. She sucked the gum back into her mouth and smiled.
"He's still looking," she said, wiggling her eyebrows.
"He is not," I argued.
"I don't know," she sing-songed, blowing another bubble, then popping it loudly. "I think he might be interested."
"Get real," I muttered.
Jasper turned back to us. "Who might be interested?"
"Nobody," I muttered.
"The new guy," Alice said at the same time.
Jasper slouched down in his seat, frowning as he glanced surreptitiously at the new guy. "Like Bella wouldn't have any better taste than that," he grumbled. "Jocks are only interested in three things: sports, beer, and easy girls. And they only use the first two to get the third. Bella's too smart to fall for that."
"I'm not falling for anything," I moaned in exasperation. "The new guy is not interested in me. I'm not interested in him. End of story. Okay?" I looked around the table expectantly.
Everyone just shrugged, mumbling in agreement.
The bell rang, eliminating any further conversation – thank God – and we got up to head to class. The guys had wood shop… also known as, mess-around-for-an-hour-and-see-if-you-can-get-a-bathroom-pass-so-you-can-go-smoke-out-behind-the-gym. Alice and I headed to English. We sat in our usual seats in the back row, and thankfully Alice was distracted from talk of the new guy by Mr. Banner's order to spit out her gum.
She stomped to the front of the class, blowing one last bubble before spitting the gum in the trash can. As she began to walk back to her seat, her attention was drawn to the door. I followed her eyes to find the new guy entering the room.
I couldn't explain the nervousness I was feeling. I mean, sure, it was embarrassing to get caught checking him out, but he was new… it wasn't like I was the only one curious about him. Still, my stomach twisted as he approached Mr. Banner's desk and handed him a piece of paper.
"Ah, yes, Edward, I've been expecting you," the teacher said, signing the paper and handing him a textbook, as well as the copy of Romeo and Juliet we were currently reading. "Take any empty seat, and we'll get started."
Edward nodded and turned to walk down the aisle, nodding politely at Alice, who was still standing by the trash can pretending she wasn't eavesdropping. He came toward me on my right, while Alice followed behind him slightly on my left. She glanced at his butt and mouthed, "Nice!" with wide eyes. I ignored her, and tried not to look like I was watching him.
It was pretty difficult to do, though, because he sat down right next to me.
"Hi," he said quietly. I jumped slightly, and turned to him with a nervous smile. The smile froze on my face when I finally got a good look at his eyes.
They were green… kind of… not like mossy green or grassy green, but almost the color of the ocean. You know, where you could say they was either blue or green, depending on the moment and the way you tilted your head?
I must have been unconsciously tilting my head, because Edward was looking at me funny. "Are you okay?" he asked, tipping his head a little to match the angle of mine.
I blinked. "Oh… yeah… sorry. Hi," I said, feeling heat stealing up my cheeks.
"I'm Edward. I'm new here… obviously," he added with an embarrassed eye roll.
I laughed. "Yeah. I got that. I'm Bella." I heard Alice practically bouncing in her seat next to me, and gestured toward her. "This is my friend Alice."
"Hi Edward," Alice said, leaning across the aisle. "Welcome to McKinley High."
Edward smiled back at her. "Thanks."
"It must suck changing schools in the middle of your senior year." Alice flashed a quick glance to the front of the room before unwrapping another piece of bubble gum. "You are a senior, right?" she asked, popping the gum into her mouth.
She chomped on the gum, then slid it into her cheek before asking, "So, do you have a girlfriend?"
I choked. What was she doing? My eyes flickered to Edward briefly and I noticed a telltale reddening of his cheeks.
"Ah… no… no girlfriend," he said finally. I didn't know why that almost made me feel… relieved.
"Good to know," Alice said cheekily, sliding back in her chair to face the front of the room.
"Is she always like that?" Edward asked quietly. I turned to find him grinning slightly, the left side of his mouth lifted to reveal a glimpse of even, white teeth. For some reason, it made me swallow hard.
"Alice?" I asked, confused as to why I was finding it so difficult to speak. "You mean pushy and invasive? Yeah, that's pretty much normal for her."
Edward laughed and the sound made me smile.
"Oh, by the way, I wanted to say something earlier in the lunchroom, but then you disappeared," he said, lowering his voice as Mr. Banner started to write on the chalkboard.
In the lunchroom? He wanted to talk to me in the lunchroom? I tried really hard to appear nonchalant and cool.
Cool… and nonchalant.
"Yeah?" I said, thankful that my voice didn't crack.
"Yeah," he said, his eyes dipping to the floor as his grin grew. "Nice shoes."
I burst out laughing, then clapped my hand over my mouth as the whole classroom turned to look at me. Mr. Banner frowned and I mumbled an apology, flushing red in embarrassment.
Once the teacher had turned back to the board and attention was diverted from me, I hazarded a quick glance in Edward's direction. He just grinned and winked at me before pulling a piece of paper out of his Pee Chee and beginning to take notes.
After class, Alice and I walked out to the locker we shared across the hall. Edward had stayed behind to talk to Mr. Banner – I'm assuming to find out how to get caught up with the rest of us on Romeo and Juliet. Alice was uncharacteristically quiet, so I knew something was on her mind.
"What is it, Alice?" I asked, as I put my English books away and got out my Chemistry text. "Just say it."
Alice bounced up on her toes, her bracelets jingling loudly. "It's just so Sixteen Candles," she said with a dreamy sigh.
I rolled my eyes. "This is not a Sixteen Candles situation," I argued, my eyes scanning the hallway to make sure no one was listening.
Alice and I had a secret. Well, it was more my secret than Alice's. We both loved Molly Ringwald movies… and I mean really loved them. As in, we'd both seen every movie she'd ever made… and most of them we'd seen multiple times – like double digit times. Even P.K. and the Kid, which even I had to admit was not her best work.
Molly was, after all, the most underappreciated actress of her generation. It was just a fact.
Anyway, Alice had no qualms about shouting her love for Molly from the rooftops. After all, second to Madonna, Molly was her biggest hero.
I, however, would die if anyone ever found out. I mean, I was Bella Swan: Rocker, Head Banger, Metal Head. My life was about concerts and heavy metal and jamming with Jasper, Ben and Seth. (They called it a band, but we actually hadn't played in front of anyone yet, so I just called it jamming.) If the guys found out I was addicted to sappy love stories, I'd never hear the end of it. I couldn't help it, though. I loved them.
So when Alice said it was so Sixteen Candles, I knew what she meant… she saw Edward as Jake Ryan, the hunky guy that Samantha (played by Molly, of course) had a huge crush on. Of course, she had no idea he was interested in her until the very end of the movie when he showed up at her sister's wedding.
And then he kissed her over the candles flickering on her birthday cake. It was magical.
This was not a similar situation. Sure, Edward was hot. But he was a Prep. I was a Rocker. Never the twain shall meet.
Whatever the heckl a twain was.
"Here he comes," Alice whispered. I deliberately didn't look over my shoulder toward Mr. Banner's door, but got very preoccupied with lining up my books just so on the upper shelf on my locker.
"Hey! Cullen!" Emmett's booming voice rang down the hallway. A quick glance over my shoulder revealed him and his friends walking toward us. I pulled out my Chemistry book and turned around, attempting to leave with Alice before the Jock hoard descended. I was surprised to find Edward standing right behind me.
I squeaked slightly. "Oh, sorry. I didn't know you were standing there." I cast a nervous look at Alice, then at the nearing pack of Jocks. "I'll… uh… see ya," I muttered, grabbing Alice's arm and turning to walk away. Alice, however, was surprisingly strong for her size, and held her ground.
"Did you need something, Edward?" she asked pointedly, bracing herself against me. I didn't want to drag her down the hall, so I relented with a sigh.
Edward's eyes flitted between us quickly. "I was just uh… wondering…" He rubbed the back of his neck nervously, but never finished his thought because Emmett chose that moment to punch him in the arm and grab him in a headlock.
"Hey man," Emmett said with a grin. "How's McKinley's newest basketball star?"
Edward flushed, his eyes darting to me quickly. "I'm not even on the team yet, Emmett."
"Yeah, well," Emmett continued, finally releasing his neck. "From what I hear, that's a done deal." He playfully punched Edward a couple of times in the stomach. "There's talk of all-state, my man." His eyes shifted to me. "Hey, Bella."
"Hey, Emmett." Emmett and I lived next door to each other and actually used to play together when we were little. Even though we now ran in different circles, he was always decent to me. The same could not be said for Rosalie, who was now pointedly ignoring me. That's pretty much how she usually treated me. For some reason, though, she really hated Alice, and was always looking for an excuse to torture her.
"Nice outfit," she sneered, her critical eyes running up and down Alice. "The Material Girl look is so bogus."
Alice reddened in embarrassment, but she snapped back, "At least I'm not a lame photocopy of the back-to-school issue of Seventeen Magazine."
"Wannabee," Rosalie snarled.
"Vapid lemming," Alice retorted. Rosalie blinked for a moment, and I tried not to laugh when I realized she had no idea what that meant.
She recovered quickly though, her confused look evaporating as her eyes narrowed, and I knew it was about to get ugly. I grabbed Alice's arm and pulled her away from the group.
"1954 called, Rosalie," I said, glaring at her – all blonde nastiness in a pink twinset and pearls. "She wants her sweater back." I caught Edward's eye for a moment and was surprised to find him smirking slightly.
I heard Rosalie hiss, "Stoner witch" behind us, but ignored it as Alice and I rushed to class.
I didn't see Edward again for the rest of the day, but as I drove home from school, my thoughts kept drifting back to our brief encounters. I couldn't understand why I was so… intrigued by him. He was definitely not my type. I doubted if he knew the difference between Styx and The Stones. Still, I felt oddly drawn to him for some reason, and that made me nervous. I knew from past experience that any sort of friendship between us could only end badly.
It was a year earlier, just after my seventeenth birthday when it all came crashing down. James McElroy was a senior – gorgeous with blonde hair and blue eyes, star quarterback, straight-A student and all-around big man on campus. When, that summer, he approached me at a party, I was stunned. I had always been pretty much invisible to the Jock crowd, but James was nice to me, and I had to admit I was flattered. We'd shared a joint and a few laughs, and made out a little in the back yard. I thought that was it, but he called me the next day. We ended up hanging out quite a bit and I fell for him… hard.
Long story short, it turned out he was just after me for my pot connections… and to add to his list of virgin conquests. Once I gave in on the sex front, and he got the number of my dealer, he left me by the side of the road.
Worse yet, when I saw him in school the morning after, he pretended he didn't even know me. He and his Jock friends looked right through me like I wasn't even there.
I'd gone back to being invisible.
Alice had been there for me. I cried on her shoulder, ranted at the unfairness of it all, and swore I'd hate James for the rest of my life.
Like he cared. He graduated, took a scholarship at UCLA and never looked back.
Me, I quit smoking pot. I focused on getting my grades up, and looked forward to a future as far away from McKinley High and it's stupid cliques as I could get. In the meantime, I withdrew into my own little group – Jasper and Alice and the others.
It was safe. It was home.
So, Edward Cullen was an unwelcome distraction… and I couldn't understand why I couldn't just ignore him.
The house was empty when I arrived home since my dad, Charlie, was still at the police station. My mom left when I was three, so it was just the two of us. Overall, Charlie was okay. Sometimes he'd look at my torn jeans and black eyeliner with concern in his eyes, but for the most part he trusted me. Over the past year, I'd done a better job of not breaching that trust – the occasional curfew violation notwithstanding.
I got through my homework relatively quickly and decided to go for a walk to clear my head. We lived on the edge of a forest, and I followed a familiar meandering path through the trees to my favorite spot in the world. A small creek bordered the back of our property and I'd sit on a huge boulder there for hours at a time, just thinking or writing in my journal. I pressed the play button on my Walkman and carried the worn notebook with me as I stepped over tree roots and dodged a few nettle bushes. The air was cool, but the sun broke through the canopy overhead occasionally, sending shafts of filtered sunlight through the trees.
The unmistakable sound of water trickling over rocks made me smile as I came to the end of the trail, but as I emerged from the trees I stopped short in surprise and the smile fell from my face.
Someone was already there.
Edward Cullen was standing on the other side of the creek, his arm drawn back to throw a stone into the water. His surprised look mirrored my own, and he dropped the rock at his side.
"What… what are you doing here?" I stammered, pulling the headphones from my ears.
He ran a hand through his hair nervously. "I… uh… I'm sorry. I was just out walking. I didn't realize I was trespassing." He turned to leave.
"No!" I swallowed, unsure why I'd stopped him. "I mean, you're not trespassing. At least not on my property. It ends here… at the creek. I don't know who owns that side. I never see anyone else here, so maybe no one does… or they just don't like to come back here…" I shrugged, embarrassed at my rambling.
"You do what?"
"I own this side," he explained. "Well, my family does. We bought the house on this land."
"Oh," I replied intelligently, disappointed that I wouldn't have my favorite spot to myself, but disconcertingly happy that Edward was apparently my new neighbor. "Okay, then… well, I should go. You were here first and I… yeah. I should go."
This time he was the one who yelled out, "No!"
I stared at him blankly and he shrugged with a smile. "You don't have to go. I mean, there's no reason we can't both be here, right? That is, if you don't mind."
I tried to respond nonchalantly. "I don't mind." I walked over to my boulder and climbed up, flipping open my notebook as Edward resumed throwing pebbles into the creek. I tried to concentrate, but instead I could only doodle as I became increasingly aware of Edward's presence… every scrabble on the ground as he searched for a rock, every plink when it hit the water. I swore I could almost feel his eyes on me, and I finally looked up to find he was actually watching me intently.
He flushed slightly as his eyes fell before rising to meet mine once again. "What are you writing?"
I shrugged. "Nothing really. Just my thoughts. Songs sometimes."
"You write songs?"
"Sometimes. I'm in a band with some of my friends."
"Yeah? That's cool."
I smiled. "Thanks."
Before I realized what he was doing, Edward had crossed the creek, stepping lightly on a few larger rocks that stuck up above the water. Self-conscious, I closed my notebook as he approached. His gaze fell to the cover, where I'd drawn the logos of some of my favorite bands. He zeroed in on the largest one in the center.
"You like Van Halen?"
"Sure. They're awesome."
"Eddie's an amazing guitar player," Edward said, leaning on the boulder next to me. "Plus he's done me the huge favor of making the name Edward somewhat cool."
I laughed. "I can't believe you listen to Van Halen."
"Fair Warning is their best album."
My eyes widened, and I opened my Walkman to reveal the Fair Warning tape inside. "It's my favorite… really underrated as far as I'm concerned."
"Oh, yeah… everyone likes 1984, but it's so commercial. I mean Jump and Panama are cool, but nothing like Unchained and So This is Love."
My mouth dropped open in shock. I thought for a minute he was just trying to impress me for some reason… but the guy really knew his Van Halen. And I was even more surprised that I agreed with everything he said.
I must have been staring, because Edward flushed nervously. "What?"
I shrugged. "It's just… I had you pegged as more of a Hall & Oates kind of guy."
Edward scoffed. "You can't be serious."
He looked genuinely offended, so I couldn't resist teasing him a little. "No? The Pointer Sisters? The Go-Go's? Culture Club?"
"Now you're just being insulting," he said reproachfully, but I could see he was fighting a grin.
That afternoon began a pattern for Edward and me. We never made official plans, but still, just about every day we'd end up at the creek. Sometimes he'd be waiting for me when I emerged from the woods, a smile brightening his face when he saw me. Other times, I'd be there first, writing in my journal or listening to music, and he'd bound nimbly across the creek to sit next to me on my boulder.
We'd talk about music and books and college plans, but avoided taboo topics like the people at school. We had a tacit agreement that what we shared would stay between us, and both seemed loathe to allow any of the McKinley garbage into our little bubble. I still feared that bubble was likely to burst, but I bottled up those fears until I was alone at home in my room, and just tried to enjoy the time we spent together.
The truth was, I enjoyed it a lot.
Edward was smart and funny and had great taste in music. He listened to me like he actually cared about what I had to say, and sometimes he looked at me in this strange intense way that made my stomach flip and my cheeks burn.
Then, one day Edward was telling me this crazy story about him and his cousin Irina sneaking backstage at a Motley Crue concert, and ending up hiding in a smelly bathroom in the hopes of getting an autograph from Nikki Sixx. We were laughing hysterically, when all of the sudden, Edward's eyes grew serious and he reached out tentatively to touch my cheek.
My eyes widened, and I felt the heat rush to my face as his fingertips barely brushed my skin. Neither one of us said anything. Instead, ever so slowly, Edward leaned in, his eyes locked on mine until the moment our lips touched gently. My breath caught and Edward pulled back a little, his eyes popping open as he tried to gauge my reaction.
"Is this okay?" he murmured.
All I could do was nod jerkily. Then his lips were on mine again, his fingers sliding from my cheek to cradle my head, tangling in my hair. Our breaths mingled, and when I felt the tip of his tongue slide along my bottom lip, a surge of electric warmth shot through me, clear down to my toes.
I raised trembling hands to slide them under his Member's Only jacket and around his strong back, shifting slightly on the boulder to face him more fully. I could feel the tension in his muscles as he pressed against me, and his scent – musky, male, and delicious, enveloped me. His tongue slipped into my mouth, and I whimpered slightly at the sensation before I rubbed mine against his slowly. Our breaths grew shallow and I could feel Edward's heartbeat pounding as heavily as mine as we kissed. Breath… tongue… lips… all moving together in a heated dance that made me dizzy and the world around us fade away.
I'd been kissed before. But it never… never… felt like that.
Finally, the pace slowed and we pulled apart, panting and flushed. My eyes fluttered open to find Edward watching me intently.
"Wow," he said.
I chuckled. "Yeah."
The corner of his mouth lifted in a cute half-grin. "If I knew it was going to be like that, I wouldn't have waited so long."
I laughed. The tension lifted. And we sat and talked for the rest of the afternoon, side by side on my boulder… holding hands with our fingers intertwined.
"Okay, Bella. Spill it," Alice commanded the next day at lunch. She fiddled with the half a dozen or so necklaces she was wearing and watched me carefully. My eyes immediately darted to where Edward sat at the Jock table, but I tried to play it off, pretending I was just looking around the cafeteria.
"Spill what?" I asked innocently.
"What's going on with you and Edward Cullen?" she asked bluntly.
I was glad that Jasper and the other guys had run across the street to the burger joint for lunch and weren't sitting with us.
"What makes you think something's going on?" I hedged, taking a bite of my peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Alice rolled her eyes and held up a finger. "First, he said 'hi' to you in the hall this morning and you blushed and got this goofy look on your face." She held up a second finger. "Second, he keeps looking over here, acting like he's not looking over here. You keep doing the same thing, by the way." She added a third finger and wiggled them all. "Third, you seem… I don't know… different… happy, I guess."
I bit my lip. "Do you think anyone else noticed?"
Alice smiled softly. "No one else is really looking, so no," she replied. "There is something going on, isn't there?"
I sighed and nodded. "We've kind of been… hanging out."
Her eyes widened. "Really?"
"And he… ummm… kissed me."
Alice squealed and I hushed her quickly. "We don't want anyone to know," I whispered.
"You know why not," I answered, pulling off pieces of my sandwich. "His friends wouldn't understand. He's new here and I don't want to make trouble for him. Not to mention Jasper and the guys would freak out."
Alice's eyes narrowed. "Jasper wouldn't do that. He would want you to be happy."
"You know how he feels about Jocks, and Ben's even worse."
"Don't worry about them," Alice argued. "If Edward's what you want, they'll just have to deal."
"It's just so complicated," I told Alice. "And if everyone else found out about us, it would only become even more complicated."
"It's very Pretty in Pink," she said sagely. "How Duckie jumped on Andie about dating a rich guy? And Steff told Blane he was too good for her?"
I just nodded in agreement.
"So how long are you going to keep this a secret?" she asked.
I shrugged, stuffing the rest of my uneaten lunch back in my paper bag. "As long as we can."
The next few weeks were amazing. Edward and I continued to meet at the creek when the weather allowed. If it was too cold or rainy, he'd come over to my house or invite me to his. Our relationship had definitely taken a turn, though. Once we finally kissed, we couldn't get enough of it. We'd start off studying or reading or watching TV… but inevitably, we'd end up making out on the couch until we were both breathless and crazed. Edward would be stretched out on top of me, pressing into me deliciously from head to toe as his mouth devoured mine. More than once I'd been surprised to find myself writhing against him, my legs wrapped around his hips and my hands tugging on his hair before sanity returned and we realized our parents could walk in at any moment.
We were losing control. And I loved every minute of it.
Edward had started talking about going public, though, and that made me nervous. He said he wanted to go out on a real date… to walk through the halls at McKinley holding hands like a real couple. The thought terrified me, if I was to be completely honest. I could just imagine the look of betrayal on Jasper and Ben's faces… and the derision on Tyler and Jake's… not to mention Rosalie's.
I really didn't care about myself. I was an outcast anyway. But they could make life miserable for Edward.
He had finally made the basketball team, and it was important that he get along with the other players if he was going to be successful. He had hopes that basketball and baseball, combined with his impressive GPA, would be enough to pay his way through college. If the jocks turned on him, he could lose it all. I knew from personal experience that they could be ruthless, and I didn't want to risk it.
I'd never say it to Alice, but that was one of the things I hated about The Breakfast Club. Sure, all of those kids became friends after spending a day in Saturday detention, but who really believed that friendship continued on Monday morning? Did the Jock really start hanging out with the Nerd? The popular princess with the school bad boy?
It just didn't happen. It wasn't reality. Come Monday morning, the bonding they'd gone through was all but forgotten. At best they ignored each other… retreated to their comfort zones, their own kind.
It was just the way of the world.
I didn't say that to Edward though. Instead, I made lame excuses about wanting to protect our privacy… that it wasn't anyone's business what we did… that I liked our time together to be protected and special.
I don't know if he totally bought it, but Edward gave in – although he did talk to me more at school, and seemed to go out of his way to pass by my locker between classes.
Alice ran interference for me with Jasper and the others. She knew I wanted to see Edward play basketball, but she told Jasper that she was the one who wanted to go. She told him she'd read an article where Madonna had said one of her biggest regrets was not being more involved in high school.
It was a total lie, because everyone knew that Madonna was a cheerleader and a straight-A student, but Jasper didn't have a clue. He just shrugged and told us to have a good time.
The game was exciting, in more ways than one. Edward was phenomenal – fast on his feet, and it seemed like when he took a shot, he couldn't miss. And seeing him in those little shorts? Well, let's just say I had developed a brand new appreciation for the game.
The score was close the whole game, and in the last few seconds, Edward sank a three-pointer to win it for McKinley. The crowd went crazy and Alice and I jumped to our feet, screaming as loud as we could. The cheerleaders were kicking and jumping and flashing their pom poms, and the team surrounded Edward, lifting him up on their shoulders. He scanned the stands, and I was surprised when he locked eyes with me and raised a hand to wave, a huge smile on his face. Caught up in the moment, I waved back frantically. I watched as the team ran into the locker room, but my smile fell when I turned back to the floor and saw Rosalie Hale watching me closely, her pom poms propped on her hips and her eyes narrowed in suspicion.
I schooled my features into a bland expression and scooped up my leather jacket. Then, I carefully ignored her as Alice I walked down the bleachers and out of the gym.
That night Edward's parents were out of town, and he'd invited the whole senior class to a party at his house. I'd been leery about going, but Edward had been so sweet when he asked me to come that I just couldn't disappoint him. Of course, Alice – good friend that she was – agreed to go with me.
I knew there were going to be a couple of kegs at the party, not to mention a big bucket of spodie, so we decided to walk to Edward's house. We walked down the street, instead of through the woods, because Alice was dressed in lime green mini-dress, leggings, and high-heeled booties. I was comfortable in my jeans, t-shirt, leather jacket, and red high-tops, but I didn't think Alice could navigate the path, let alone make it across the creek.
Our reception was about what I expected. We walked into Edward's back yard and the eyes on us ranged from curious to surprised, to just plain hostile. I took a deep breath and heard Alice do the same next to me. I was so glad she was with me. I would never have had the nerve to come alone.
To my surprise it was Emmett who broke the ice. He walked over with a big smile on his face and handed a cup of beer to each of us. Rosalie was on the other side of the yard talking to Lauren with a venomous look on her face.
"Didn't think you guys were into this kind of thing," Emmett said, taking a gulp of his own beer.
I shrugged. "Just thought we'd come check it out, you know. Few more months and we'll be graduating… gotta get the whole high school experience."
Emmett grinned. "Makes sense." His smile faded a little when Rosalie walked up and linked her arm through his.
"What are you doing here?" she all but snarled.
I heard Alice sing-song "Ben…ny," in a quiet voice, and I giggled slightly. Benny was the villain Steff's evil, blonde girlfriend in Pretty in Pink… and at that moment, Rosalie resembled her not only physically, but in her level of snottiness as well.
I chose to ignore her, addressing Emmett instead. "Have you seen Edward?"
Rosalie snapped, "What do you want with Edward?"
"I don't think that's any of your business," I replied with a glare.
"Ummm…" Emmett intervened with a wary look at his girlfriend. "I think he went into the kitchen to check the spodie."
"Thanks," I smiled at him, and Alice and I turned to walk toward the house.
I sipped at my beer, then frowned and dumped the rest on the ground. "Rosalie is such a hag!"
"I've never seen her be like that with you," Alice observed. "Usually it's me she's after."
I sighed as we wove through the crowd on the back deck. "I think she knows about me and Edward."
"Yeah," I agreed. "Not good."
"So what are you going to do?"
I grinned wryly at her as we walked through the sliding door into the kitchen. "Ignoring her seems like a good option at the moment." A figure leaning against a tree at the far end of the yard caught my eye. "Is that Jasper?"
Alice whirled around, her jewelry jingling at the movement and a slow smile lit her face. "I wonder what he's doing here. I thought he was hanging out at Ben's tonight." She stepped back out onto the deck before turning to me. "Will you be okay for a minute while I go talk to him?"
I rolled my eyes. "I'll be fine. I'll catch up with you guys later."
Alice nodded and skipped down the steps into the back yard, jingling the whole way. I chuckled as she threw herself into Jasper's arms.
"What are you looking at?" Edward leaned against the wall next to me, his eyes twinkling.
I smiled at him. "Nothing. I was just coming to find you."
He reached out to take my hand, pulling me into the kitchen. "You found me." He leaned down to kiss me softly, pulling back when a group of laughing kids came into the room, but he didn't release my hand. I tried not to stare, but Edward looked awesome… like Andrew McCarthy mixed with Rob Lowe and just a bit of Emilio Estavez kind of awesome. He wore a pair of dark jeans, a red button-down shirt, open at the collar, and a skinny, knitted black tie. I raised an eyebrow at his shoes. Like me, he was wearing a pair of red All-Stars.
"Nice shoes," I murmured wryly.
He grinned, extending his leg to tap my toe with his. "You too." He tilted his head toward a metal tub sitting on the kitchen counter. "Want some spodie?"
I wrinkled my nose, looking into the tub filled with purplish liquid and floating pieces of fruit. "What's in it?"
Edward laughed. "It's spodie. What isn't in it?"
I shrugged and Edward scooped up a cup for each of us. I really didn't drink much – pot, at least in the past, had been my release of choice – but the spodie was sweet and fruity, and really didn't taste much like alcohol. I took a big gulp.
"You might want to take it easy with that," Edward warned, chewing on a piece of pineapple. "It's pretty strong."
Edward was right, and I really tried to take it slow, but the spodie went down so smoothly that I found myself refilling my cup several times over the next hour. Before long I was feeling no pain, and Edward seemed to be in about the same situation. We were giggling hysterically over something ridiculous when Emmett and Tyler came in to take the spodie tub out to the back yard, leaving Edward and me alone in the kitchen. After that, it was a matter of seconds before Edward had lifted me up onto the counter, planted himself between my knees, and was kissing me like he couldn't get enough.
There was no slow, sweet buildup to passion. Instead I grabbed at his hair while he clutched at my hips. Our tongues, sweet and cold from the spodie, slid against each other, twisting and tangling aggressively. It was only when I felt a wave of dizziness that I broke away to take a much-needed breath.
"Edward," I gasped as his teeth scraped along my neck. "Anyone could come in here… we need to…"
His lips cut off my words, and for a moment I thought he didn't hear me. Suddenly, though, he lifted me from the counter, staggering to the kitchen doorway before releasing me to slide to the floor.
"My room," he rasped, question and longing in his eyes. I just nodded, too swept up in the moment to do anything else.
He grabbed my hand and we practically ran up the stairs. I slipped on the carpet and we both started giggling again. Edward had set the second floor off limits to the partiers, since there was a bathroom on the ground floor for everyone to use, so fortunately, we didn't meet anyone on our mad dash for his room. He swept me inside, slamming the door shut, then pressing me against it harshly as his thumb pressed the lock.
We were desperation personified… lust and teeth… passion and heat. Edward was relentless, one hand twisted in my hair, the other clutching around my waist as his mouth consumed me.
I was lost. My mind swam from the combination of the alcohol and Edward's drugging kisses. All I could do was cling to his shoulders as my head fell back against the door and Edward bent to lick and kiss my neck.
It was all so fast – a blur of hot longing and teenage hormones. I ripped at Edward's tie. He swept my jacket to the floor… my t-shirt over my head. Tugging at the buttons on his Levis… groaning as he slid my own jeans down my hips.
Somehow we made it to his bed – Edward in a pair of white boxer shorts, and me in my plain white cotton bra and panties. Tangled limbs and groping fingers. Flesh revealed… lips and tongues… nakedness pressed together… sweat… yearning… desire.
Afterward, we lay in the damp sheets, tangled together as our breathing slowed, and Edward pressed a kiss to my shoulder before rolling off of me.
"Holy..." he mumbled.
I laughed a little giddily. "Yeah."
I laughed again. "Yeah."
Edward turned his head to look at me. His eyes were dark in the dim light of the bedroom, but I saw the flash of his teeth as he smiled. He started to say something, but the sound of police sirens interrupted him.
"Oh no," he groaned, getting out of bed and pulling on his pants as the sound of the doorbell drifted up the stairs. "Somebody called the cops. I've gotta go deal with this." He grabbed a t-shirt out of his drawer, swaying slightly and catching himself on the edge of his desk. "Man, I'm wasted," he muttered. He leaned against the wall for stability as he tugged the shirt over his head and slipped his feet into his shoes. "I'll be back," he said, bending over to kiss me sloppily before leaving the room.
I curled up under the covers, hugging Edward's pillow and inhaling his scent deeply with a smile on my face. I closed my eyes, but they flew back open as the room began to spin.
Crap. I hated the bed spins.
I stook up shakily, walking around the room a little to try and get control of my dizziness. The sounds of shouting in the backyard grabbed my attention, and I peeked through the blinds to see Edward and two cops walking out onto the back deck. One of the officers shouted into the crowd. I couldn't hear exactly what he said, but by the groans in response I could guess that the party was over. Clumsily, I picked up my clothes and sat on the edge of the bed as I got dressed. I peeked out Edward's door and seeing no one in the hallway, made my way down the stairs.
As I neared the kitchen, I heard two girls talking and laughing. I was going to ignore them, but when I heard Edward's name mentioned, I stopped in my tracks.
It was Rosalie.
"You don't really think he likes her, do you?" I recognized the other voice as Lauren's.
Rosalie laughed. "Be serious. Edward could never go for a pothead loser like Bella Swan." A mixture of anger and despair made my stomach churn.
Could she be right?
"Trust me," she continued. "He'll have his fun slumming with the stoner, but it's all just a game. You're much more his type."
"You think so?" Lauren asked. "He has been really nice to me in math class. He even said he'd tutor me after school sometime."
Rosalie giggled. "I bet he did."
A flash of movement out of the corner of my eye drew my gaze, and I blinked in surprise when I saw Rosalie's reflection in the sliding glass door. She was looking directly at me with a smirk on her face. A wave of nausea swept through me and my skin grew clammy. I turned and ran down the hall to the bathroom, slamming the door, and barely making it to the toilet before puking my guts out.
I don't know how long I sat in the bathroom, but eventually the house grew quiet and I gained control of my roiling stomach. I stood up shakily, splashing some water on my face and rinsing my mouth out before reaching for the door. I jumped when I saw Rosalie sitting on the floor in the hallway.
"What do you want?" I glared at her.
She just held up a can of Sprite. "Thought you might need this."
"No thanks," I muttered, stepping around her to head down the hall.
"I'm not just being mean, you know," she called out, stopping me in my tracks. I turned around as she got to her feet. "It's just a fact. Edward is way out of your league. You're only going to get hurt. I'd have thought you would have learned that after what happened with James."
"What do you know about James?" I asked angrily.
Rosalie shrugged. "Just that you were mooning over him like a pathetic groupie, and he got sick of your childish fantasies. Face it, Bella. You and Edward live in two different worlds. It could never work."
I stalked away from Rosalie, unwilling to let her see how her words had shaken me. I looked into the kitchen and the living room, wanting to say goodbye to Edward before I left, but the rooms were empty except for Emmett snoring on the sofa. I realized Edward must have thought I'd left and gone to bed. He was as drunk as I was and I really wanted to make sure he was okay. So, I turned to go up the stairs, thinking I'd look in on him to make sure he was comfortable before I went home.
"I wouldn't go up there if I were you," Rosalie warned.
"Get bent, Rosalie," I growled, starting up the stairs.
"Suit yourself," she said, shrugging. "But he's not alone."
My stomach sank and I warred between calling Rosalie a lying witch, and running up the stairs to prove her wrong. Instead, I climbed the stairs calmly, irritated when I heard Rosalie's footsteps behind me. I approached Edward's door and knocked softly.
A female voice called out, "Yeah?" and I felt like I was going to throw up again. I turned to leave, but Rosalie stopped me, reaching around me to quietly open the door. I didn't want to look.
I tried not to look.
There he was, sprawled out on top of his covers, dressed only in the white boxers I'd seen just a short time before. He was asleep, breathing softly, and curled up into his side in her underwear was Lauren. She lifted her head. "What?"
I swallowed, frozen in place and unable to move. Lauren smiled and bent her head to kiss Edward's neck. He moaned softly, wrapping his arm around her waist to pull her closer. I stepped back, fighting the growing nausea.
"I warned you," Rosalie said quietly as she pulled the door shut.
I didn't look at her. I just turned and ran down the stairs and out the back door toward the trail through the woods. I stumbled down the path, tears streaming down my face as I sobbed uncontrollably. Once I reached the creek, I splashed across it, not even bothering to try and stay dry. I leaned against my boulder, dry heaving and sobbing until I collapsed to the ground in a shuddering heap.
I'd fallen for Edward Cullen. I'd risked my heart for him. Given my body to him. And it was all a joke… a game.
James had nearly destroyed me. He broke my heart and he knew it. I was pretty sure he laughed about it.
I lay there amidst the damp leaves and dirt for hours, until the chill sank into my bones and the tears finally slowed.
Then, vowing that Edward Cullen would not get the satisfaction of knowing he'd destroyed me, I pulled myself up, brushed myself off… and walked slowly home.
Charlie had worked the night shift, so he had no idea that I stumbled in just after four in the morning. He also spent the day sleeping, so he didn't know I unplugged the answering machine after Edward called twice, then curled up in bed crying for the rest of the day. He went fishing on Sunday and I painted on a smile, telling him to have a good time, only to return to my bed once his car left the driveway.
Alice showed up Sunday afternoon after I didn't return her calls. She took one look at me and pulled me into a tight hug.
"What happened?" she asked. "I saw Edward before Jasper and I left and he told me he was going to walk you home. I thought things were going great."
I sobbed through the story, sparing no details and Alice didn't interrupt. She just listened, as Alice always did, holding my hand and stroking my hair.
"It doesn't sound like Edward," she finally said. "I mean, James? No offense, but I kind of always thought he was an jerk. But Edward? I don't know. He's a nice guy, Bella. I don't think he would do something like that."
I scrubbed at my eyes. "I saw him, Alice. In bed. With Lauren!"
She had no reply to that. She just pulled me into another hug. When my tears finally stopped, we watched all of my Molly Ringwald tapes and she pretended not to notice when I cried through all the romantic parts.
I dreaded Monday morning. Well, not so much Monday morning as the first time I'd see Edward. I took some deep breaths as I sat in my truck and smiled shakily when I saw Alice waiting for me outside the front doors.
She hugged me quickly. "Are you okay?"
I nodded. "Yeah. I can do this."
"It's just like Molly at the prom in Pretty in Pink," she said.
"'I just want them to know that they didn't break me,'" I replied, quoting the line from the movie.
Alice smiled reassuringly and we walked toward our locker. My steps faltered slightly when I saw Edward standing there, apparently waiting for me. He was just as beautiful as ever in a pink Izod polo shirt, black jeans and black All-Stars.
Why did he have to wear the All-Stars? Was he trying to torture me?
"What is he doing?" I said under my breath.
"You can do this," Alice said firmly.
I squared my shoulders and forced myself to smile at Edward as I spun the dial on my locker. "Morning, Edward," I said brightly.
"Hi," he said, a concerned look in his eyes. "I tried to call you this weekend."
"Yeah?" I said indifferently, pulling out my books. "Sorry, I was busy."
Edward ran a hand through his hair, stepping back as Alice pushed her way between us to get to her books. I fought a smile at my friend's protectiveness.
"Look, Bella," Edward said quietly. "I can understand if you're mad…"
I laughed, trying not to strangle on it. "Mad? Why would I be mad?"
"Well, I just wanted you to know that Friday night… that wasn't me. I mean, it was me. That's just not something I usually do. I'm sorry if I hurt you."
Alice pushed her way back away from the locker, and I thought I might have heard her grumble, "Jerk!"
I shut the locker door, leaning against it casually. "Edward, it's no big deal. It was just a party. We were all out to have a good time, right? I mean, I had a good time. You had a good time. I'm sure Lauren had a good time."
Edward's brow crinkled a little in confusion at that, evidently surprised I was taking it so well.
"So you're… okay with everything?" he asked hesitantly.
"Edward, you need to learn how to relax," I said with a laugh, touching his shoulder lightly, and immediately regretting it as a surge of longing swept through me. I quickly snatched my hand back and wrapped it around the books I held in front of me like a shield.
"We had some fun." I shrugged. "But let's not try and make it into something it's not, right?"
Edward's face fell slightly and he looked almost hurt. I guess he didn't like the fact I wasn't fawning over his sexual prowess.
Little did he know I was about thirty seconds from a meltdown.
"Look, we've got to go," I said quickly, linking my arm with Alice's and praying I could hold off the tears until I was out of his sight. "I'll see you around, okay?"
We turned to walk down the hall and I heard Edward's mumbled "okay" behind me. I breathed deeply, trying to keep control.
"You're doing great," Alice whispered.
We turned a corner. I saw the bathroom door ahead of me and quickened my steps.
"Almost there," she encouraged.
I pushed through the door and into a stall before bursting into sobbing tears. Alice just rubbed my back until I cried myself out.
As the days passed, I did my best to ignore Edward. He'd try to talk to me in English class or in the halls but after my repeated one-word answers, he finally got the hint and stopped trying.
I was even afraid to go the creek, because I didn't want to run into him.
I did watch him, though. In class, out of the corner of my eye. In the halls, as he joked around with Emmett and the other guys. At basketball games, where I'd stand in the shadows under the bleachers so I could stare at him unobserved. I was always highly aware of his presence. And I was pathetically obsessed with him.
The fact was, in spite of everything, I missed him.
"B, are you listening to me?" Alice waved her gloved hand in front of my face. She brushed crumbs off her tulle skirt and tugged at her elbow length gloves covered with silver and gold bracelets. We were in the cafeteria, and I was picking at my turkey sandwich and wearing my sunglasses so I could steal glances at Edward.
"Sorry," I replied. "Daydreaming. What did you want?"
Alice rolled her eyes, pulling out a compact to add another layer of bright pink lipstick. "Do you want to ride to the dance with Jasper and me tonight?" she asked.
"I'm not going to the dance."
Alice huffed, snapping her compact shut. "Bella, you need to stop living like a hermit. Come out with us. Have some fun… please?" She turned a serious case of puppy dog eyes on me and I moaned.
"Alice, I won't be any fun… really."
"Yes, you will," she said gleefully, bouncing a little in her seat because she knew I was giving in. "Come on, Bella!"
I rolled my eyes. "Okay. But I'm driving myself so I can leave when I want to."
Alice clapped her hands and squealed in excitement.
I sighed, resigned to another night of lame music and staring at Edward.
Just before last period, Alice came running up to me in the hall. "Did you hear what happened in P.E.?" she asked in an excited whisper.
I shook my head, not really interested.
"Edward and Emmett got in a fight!"
My eyes widened and I couldn't resist asking, "Why?"
Alice shrugged. "I'm not sure. Jasper said they started yelling at each other – something about Rosalie and Lauren, but he said it didn't make much sense. Then, Edward called Rosalie a bitch, so Emmett shoved him into a locker. Mr. Bemis had to break them up!"
"That's weird," I murmured.
"And then, when Edward came out of the locker room, he saw Rosalie and Lauren talking in the hall," she continued with wide eyes. "And I couldn't hear what he said to them, but man, was he furious. He kept his voice down, but you could tell he was just cussing them out royally about something. Then he took off and they were both so pale and freaked out afterward."
"Bizarre," I said in confusion. "I thought he liked Lauren."
Alice shrugged. "I don't know what's going on, but from what I saw, no. He does not like Lauren."
The bell rang, so Alice and I didn't have any more time to speculate about the strange happenings in P.E. and immediately after. I couldn't figure out what Rosalie and Lauren could do that would make Edward so mad. I was distracted all through my typing class, but fortunately it didn't take much concentration to roll a piece of paper into the typewriter and copy the paragraph that Ms. Ledesma put up on the overhead projector. She let us out early, since it was Friday, and I drove home still wondering what had happened.
I'd only been home for about a half an hour when there was a knock at my door. I opened it, surprised to find Emmett and rather uncomfortable-looking Rosalie on my front porch.
"Hey, Bella," Emmett said quietly.
"Uh… Hi, Emmett." I looked between them in confusion. "Rosalie," I added coldly.
"Sorry to bother you," Emmett continued, and I noticed he had a rather firm grip on Rosalie's elbow. "But Rose had something she needed to say to you." He nudged her forward slightly and Rosalie reddened.
"I… uh…" she began hesitantly.
"Just tell her, baby," Emmett encouraged.
Rosalie took a deep breath, then blurted out, "Edward didn't sleep with Lauren."
I blinked. "What?"
Rosalie shifted uncomfortably. "He passed out that night at the party. Lauren snuck into his room so you would see them together. We set it up."
In the distance, I vaguely recognized the sound of the phone ringing, but my mind was swimming at what Rosalie had said.
Rosalie shrugged. "Lauren liked Edward… and you… I didn't think you were good enough for him," she said in a quiet voice. I was shocked to see shame on her face.
"I'm… I'm sorry, okay?" she added, finally meeting my eyes.
I just nodded slowly. "Okay."
Rosalie turned to Emmett, who kissed her gently on the cheek. "Go wait in the car, okay?" Rosalie nodded and with one last glance at me, walked back to Emmett's Trans-Am.
"I know she can seem pretty awful," Emmett said, watching her walk away. "But she's got a lot of pressure on her at home, you know. Her parents expect her to be the best of the best... and she doesn't want to let them down."
He turned back to me. "She sees you and Alice… and you guys don't care what anyone thinks of you. You do what you want… wear what you want. You have a freedom she doesn't, and she'd never admit it, but she's jealous of that."
My eyes widened at his admission, but I said nothing. I was too shocked. Rosalie Hale… jealous of me?
"Anyway," Emmett said, rubbing the back of his neck, "I didn't know about any of this until I heard the girls laughing about it. Edward was super pissed when I told him what they had done. I told Rose we had to try and make this right, you know? I hope you can forgive her… and that things work out with Edward.
"He's a good guy, Bella," he added sincerely. "And I think he really likes you."
I swallowed thickly, my stomach flipping at this new found knowledge.
"I better go." Emmett pulled his keys from his pocket. "I'll see you around, Bella."
"Bye, Emmett," I said weakly, clearing my throat before calling out to him, "Thanks!"
He waved a hand in acknowledgement as he got into his car and backed out of the driveway.
I walked back into the house in a daze, finally collapsing into a chair at the kitchen table.
Edward didn't sleep with Lauren.
Edward liked me.
Edward liked me.
And I'd blown him off.
My heart sank as I realized what I'd done… how I'd hurt him. I stared into space, wallowing in my self-pity, until I noticed the tell-tale flashing on the answering machine that told me a message had come in. I'd forgotten someone had called while I was talking with Emmett and Rosalie.
I pressed the button, only to hear Edward's frantic voice come through.
Bella, it's Edward. God… I don't know what to say. I tried to catch you after school, but you were already gone.
You have to believe me. Nothing happened with Lauren. Nothing. It was all some kind of sick prank or something. I don't know. Please, Bella. You have to know I would never do that to you. I don't want anyone else.
Damn! I have to get back to practice, but I had to call and tell you the truth.
Bella, come to the dance tonight? Please? I have to be there because they're doing some thing with the team, or I'd come see you myself. I need to talk to you… I need to tell you that I-
Please come, Bella. Give me a chance to explain.
I played the message three more times, tears running down my face.
Then I picked up the phone and called Alice.
"I need your help."
My hands trembled as I walked down the hall to the gym, my heels clicking loudly in the tiled hallway.
That's right. Heels.
I decided if I was going to talk to Edward I'd have to do more than tell him I was sorry for believing he could do something so terrible. I had to show him that I didn't care if we came from two different worlds… that I was willing to live in his - or at least meet him halfway - if he would have me.
So, instead of the torn jeans and Judas Priest t-shirt I had intended to wear to the dance, I was dressed in a knee-length dress with wide shoulder straps and a pair of kitten heels.
And it wasn't black… or even red.
It was pink.
Alice had helped me do my hair, curling it in big waves, then pulling the front back away from my face with a barrette. My black eyeliner was gone, replaced by pale shades of brown and pink. When I looked in the mirror, I barely recognized myself.
Charlie hadn't either. He choked on his beer when I came down the stairs, but did manage to tell me I looked nice once he'd recovered.
I took a deep breath before I pulled the gym door open. I paused just inside to let me eyes adjust to the darkness. I walked in slowly, searching through the crowd for a familiar head of messy hair. I leaned back against the wall, waving when I spotted Alice and Jasper dancing in the middle of the floor. The song ended and Madonna's Crazy for You started to play. Of course, Alice squealed, throwing her arms around Jasper's neck as they started swaying to the music. I watched the slow-dancing couples, but saw no sign of Edward.
Then, like the clichéd climax of a movie, the crowd parted and I saw him. My hand flew to my mouth in shock as our eyes met.
He wore a pair of black jeans, black high-tops, and a tight Van Halen t-shirt with the sleeves ripped off. A wide leather cuff with metal studs wrapped around his wrist and a matching belt hung low on his hips. His hair was even wilder than usual, if that were possible, and the green of his eyes was intensified by a sweep of black eyeliner. As he walked toward me I caught a glint in his earlobe.
Oh my God. He had an earring. I really felt a little faint.
My knees wobbled as I started toward him slowly. We finally met in the middle of the dance floor, and Edward's eyes dipped briefly before his mouth lifted in a crooked grin.
"Nice shoes," he said.
I smiled. "I can't believe you got an earring."
He shrugged. "It's a clip on."
"It's hot," I blurted out before blushing and looking away.
Edward reached out to take my hand. "Dance?"
I nodded, resting my hands on his shoulders as he gripped my hips lightly and leaned down to whisper in my ear. "You look really beautiful."
"Thanks," I replied. "Edward, I'm... so sorry… about everything." His eyes softened as he swept his fingers down my cheek.
"Nothing happened with Lauren," he said. "You know that, right?"
I nodded. "Rosalie told me what she did. But… I never should have believed it. I should have given you a chance to explain. I was just so hurt."
He pulled me closer. "I know. I should have tried to find out what was bothering you. But you just didn't seem to care. It was like what happened between us was no big deal."
"It was a big deal. A very big deal."
"For me, too."
My fingers found their way to the hair at the nape of his neck. "There's something I don't understand," I said. "That Monday morning… you apologized. I thought it was because of Lauren."
Understanding lit his features. "That explains a lot."
"But what were you apologizing for?"
Edward looked a little embarrassed. "For what happened between us. I mean… not that it happened," he clarified. "I was really glad that it happened, don't get me wrong. But I felt bad that I was so smashed. I wanted our first time to be special."
"It was special."
"I wanted to take my time with you," he said softly, his hands rubbing gently up and down my back. "I wanted you to know how I feel about you."
My stomach flipped. "How do you feel about me?"
Edward brought his hands around to cup my face, his thumbs tracing lightly along my cheeks. "Don't you know? I love you, Bella," he said sincerely.
I felt a wave of joy and couldn't keep the smile off my face. "You do?"
"Do you think I'd put on eyeliner and a clip-on earring if I wasn't crazy about you?" he asked with a wry grin.
I laughed. "Good point." I lifted up on my toes so our mouths were a breath apart. "Just so you know, I love you, too."
Edward's grin widened before he lowered his lips to mine in a tender kiss. My whole body sighed at the sensation.
He straightened, and wrapped his arms around my waist, swaying to the final strains of Crazy for You. I rested my head on his chest, my eyes closed and a small smile on my face.
"Next time I'll be sober," he promised.
I lifted my head to raise an eyebrow at him. "Next time? Pretty sure of yourself, aren't you?"
Edward smiled. "Just hopeful."
The music changed to a horrible Culture Club song that would normally have had me running for the door.
I barely noticed.
Edward just held me close and we rocked back and forth as everyone else bounced around us. Preps… Rockers… Wavers… Geeks… none of it mattered. All of a sudden, cliques and clichés just didn't really seem that important anymore.
Edward loved me. I inhaled his scent and sunk into the feeling of his warm chest on my cheek. It was better than any movie I'd ever seen.
I think Molly would have been proud.
A/N: For those unfamiliar with some of the terms in this story…
New Wavers – Fans of a type of heavily synthesized pop music performed by groups like A Flock of Seagulls, Thompson Twins and Erasure. They wore lots of mouse or gel in the hair, makeup on the face, loud colors, etc.
Breakers – Break dancers.
Prep - A collegiate type, someone who wore Polo or Izod shirts, deck shoes and a cloth belt.
Rocker/Head Banger/Metal Head – Fan of hard rock or heavy metal music.
PeeChee – an inexpensive folder with two inside pockets: www . ipadrblog uploads/image/peechee3 . jpg
Wannabee - A person who desires to be, or be like, someone or something else. Made popular in the 80's referring to girls who dressed like Madonna.
Member's Only jacket - borrowingtrouble . files . wordpress 2009/07/44tanmembers-1xl . jpg
Spodie - A mixture of several kinds of alcohol, fruit juice, and cut up pieces of fruit, often fermented overnight in a large vat or garbage can.
Get Bent – Get lost, leave me alone