A/N: Hi everyone! This is an outtake we wrote for two of our readers, Swino16 and ChiTwiGal, for The Fandom Gives Back auction. We want to thank them both for their donations to such a wonderful cause. This chapter covers Chapter 1, and then some, of the first chapter of Beautiful Stranger from Edward's POV.
We should have the next regular chapters of both Beautiful Stranger and WhereThere's Smoke posted soon.
FGB Outtake Beautiful Stranger- EPOV of Chapter 1
If anyone had told me when I was growing up that by the age of twenty-seven I would be a divorced, single father to a five year old daughter, I would've scoffed and told them, "No fucking way." Don't get me wrong, it's not like I never wanted to have kids or anything, but shit, having a kid at twenty-two? I had my whole life ahead of me, practically mapped out for years. I was going to USC and intended to study Architectural Design. Marriage and kids just did not factor in for a long while.
Nope. Not me.
Well…life threw me one surprising curve ball, and by the time I was a senior in college, I was married with a baby on the way. I did end up going to school in California. Having been born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, I'd wanted to branch out and explore my college options. I wanted out of the hustle and bustle of city life and had always dreamed of going out west. Not to mention, I was sick and tired of the harsh winters, and since Florida and other places like that along the East Coast were way too humid for my liking, the only other option for me was California.
I met Tanya my freshman year at USC when we were placed randomly in a group in an art appreciation class. She was everything I loved in a woman…smart, feisty, and beautiful. Man, was she fucking gorgeous with her wavy, long strawberry blonde hair, eyes as blue as the ocean, and a body that literally stopped traffic. Jesus, just looking at the way she sauntered into a room, commanding the attention of everyone, hypnotizing them with the sway of her hips had me practically panting for her. From the moment she challenged me on the meaning of the painting that was up for discussion, we ended up in a heated debate for the duration of the class. When the professor dismissed everyone I immediately asked Tanya if she wanted to grab some coffee. I couldn't get enough of her and her free-spirited attitude. I had no clue what would happen between us, if anything at all, but I did know that I needed to pick her brain a bit to see what made this interesting girl tick.
Coffee turned into lunch, which turned into dinner the next night. Tanya and I had hit it off, having some things in common, such as our passion for art. Tanya was a true Californian whose first mode of transportation was a surf board. She had eclectic taste, right down to those long, flowy skirts with different patterns on them that she would wear. Not caring what anyone thought about her, Tanya was extremely opinionated and wasn't ever afraid to really tell you her feelings on any given subject.
Yes, Tanya was a breath of fresh air for me, teaching me it was okay to relax and let loose a bit. I never could quite think outside the box in life like her, yet I still understood her on some level. It was the artist in both of us, I guess. She was studying to become a professional photographer and dreamed of traveling the world, going on various photo shoots, while I was extremely passionate and dead set on becoming an architect. We were both so driven, so focused.
Don't ask me how I became so obsessed with the structural aspects of buildings. From the moment I could remember, I was fascinated with how buildings were designed and built. I was the kid in pre-school who most definitely would not share the blocks, as I was too busy creating the next Sear's Tower. I was the kid who always looked up towards the sky admiring the delicate etching on a skyscraper, essentially pissing off anyone who I accidentally bumped into because I wasn't paying attention to where I was walking whenever I visited the city with my parents. I was even the kid who would admire my friends' houses, remarking on the slope of the roofs or the ornate details of the columns. Shit, I even knew what fucking wanes coating and molding was and especially loved it when I saw it in bathrooms. What can I say…it gave it a certain character? It was safe to say that parents loved me and the way I could embark on a discussion of what type of trim they should consider getting to outline a doorway.
Yet oddly enough, I wasn't a complete dork in school that was constantly ridiculed or beaten up by my peers. I was actually quite well-rounded. I excelled in all areas, not just the fine arts. I was an honor roll student my entire life who was also the captain of the baseball team and the football team in high school.
I also held my own in the ladies department, if you know what I mean. No, I never had a problem with scoring chicks, and some even considered me quite the player. Enjoying playing the field, respectfully, mind you, I didn't have that steady girlfriend in high school. Rather, I chose to see a couple of girls at a time. It was about limits…and I wasn't about to limit myself when I had the world at my feet and my whole life ahead of me. Besides, I was going to go to college practically on the other side of the country. Why would I want to break some nice girl's heart come graduation?
Please…I was going to USC to succeed in living out my dream of owning an architectural design company. I would create massive structures from my own musings, my sketches, and watch them sprout to life from the drawing board to something real and extraordinary. There would be plenty of time for diving into a relationship.
Certainly I would date, but I really didn't have the time to tie myself down in a relationship. Someday…way into the future after I had established a name for myself and started my business would I even consider marriage and having children.
Of course, all those carefully thought out plans flew to the wayside the moment Tanya informed me that she was going to have a baby…my child.
After our first dinner date, Tanya and I became inseparable, an instant power couple amongst our group of friends. We were entering our junior year when Tanya took four different pregnancy tests that indeed declared her "with child." I'm not going to waste time and try to say that the condom broke, or that she had forgotten to take her birth control pill…she wasn't even ever on it. The truth was that we were simply careless, both of us knowing the tremendous risk it was with me riding bareback occasionally, pulling out whenever I was about to come. But I loved the feeling of skin on skin and once in a while, Tanya would tell me to not wear a condom because she, too, reveled in that feeling.
The effect of that wondrous feeling was going to be there in roughly nine months.
I realized I was going to be a father…and I hadn't even graduated college yet. I hadn't even done any of the traveling I had wanted to do. I couldn't even imagine what my parents were going to say.
Thankfully, my parents took the news without lunging for my jugular. Were they disappointed in me for my thoughtless choice in having unprotected sex? Yes, they were extremely disheartened by my decision. How could they not be? Out of my mother's three boys, I was the most driven, determined to succeed in everything I put my mind to and not letting anything or anyone stand in my way. So, they were shocked that I would behave in such a manner. I knew deep down my parents blamed Tanya and her carefree way of thinking. They liked Tanya, accepted her into the family even, but it was to an extent. My mother had always had this suspicion that Tanya was not one to settle down with, but rather than argue and pull her hair out trying to persuade me into breaking up with her after dating for a year, she remained very supportive. Silent…but supportive.
My father hadn't given me a real problem, either. He immensely enjoyed getting into heated political debates with Tanya whenever she accompanied me for a visit. My dad remained a true, steadfast Republican, while Tanya was fiercely Democratic. Their discussions were all in good fun, more like food for the brain, but I knew, along with my mom and my brothers, Emmett and Jasper, to stay away once any news topic accidentally spewed from someone's mouth.
Instead of my parents barking expletives at our stupidity, they immediately tried to help in any way that they could, offering us as much financial support as possible so that both Tanya and I could finish college and graduate as scheduled. Tanya's parents weren't exactly thrilled that their daughter was so careless, but they were extremely supportive. They didn't want Tanya to have to drop out of college, as they believed that just because we were going to be parents at a young age didn't mean that we had to drop everything, especially school. They had faith that she would be able to continue her classes. Tanya felt lucky to have parents like she did. They even agreed to keep on paying for her education, which was a huge relief for her being that the last thing she needed was added stress.
Then there was the issue of housing. We lived in the dorms, each of us living in a single at the time. My parents insisted on coming to California with us in order to help us look for and secure a decent apartment that was suitable for a newborn. They were a phenomenal emotional support for me; it wasn't just about money with my parents. They wanted to make sure that I was taking care of myself, as well as Tanya and our unborn child.
Since my younger brother, Jasper, was attending school at the University of Washington in Seattle, my parents thought it would be great if they moved to the West Coast to be close to my brother and to me. I think a major part of their decision to uproot themselves from the only home they had known for years and years was due to the fact that they were going to be first time grandparents…albeit unexpectedly, but grandparents all the same. My older brother, Emmett, felt as though he should move, too, since our family was so tightly knit, but he had recently finished college and just started his own contracting company, getting that off the ground in Chicago. It was best for the time being that he stayed put, but ever since Emmett was a little kid, he had always envisioned himself living out west. He loved Seattle, having visited there with Jasper and my dad when Jas was looking at colleges. Naturally, he was stoked when Jasper informed the family of his decision to attend college there.
Carlisle secured a Chief of Staff position, dazzling the hospital board with his knowledge and impeccable performance under pressure. My father was a very likable man, proving to be loyal, hard working, and honest. Not to mention, his old hospital gave him such a glowing recommendation that Seattle would have been stupid not to hire him. Marcus Aro, a longtime family acquaintance from Chicago, tried to use his persuasions to get my father to have him help put in a good word at the hospital, but my father declined. He knew Marcus' game a long time ago from schmoozing around that the country club they both belonged to. Carlisle knew that Marcus most likely offered his assistance for purely selfish reasons – to get in good with the hospital board and make a name for himself. The Aro family was not to be trusted, that was for sure. My mom really disliked those people, and as much as she tried to give them a chance, the benefit of the doubt, the Aros proved that they were selfish, power and money hungry people. They thrived on accumulating more wealth and influence, and making it to the top of the social food chain without any regard as to who they stepped on and backstabbed to climb their way to the top.
They were utterly disgusting in my opinion, and their no good son, James, wasn't any better. Man, that idiot would constantly complete with me in practically anything I did. The strange thing was that James wasn't even my age. He was younger than me, in Jasper's grade, in fact. But for some reason, James had always been fixated on me. Emmett's extreme strength and sports ability didn't even impress him as much. He had always wanted to challenge me. If I said I took a two minute piss, James said he made a four minute piss. If I wanted to date a specific girl, he desired the same one as me. Of course, he never won in that department.
Sports were the same damn way. It seemed as though James wanted to be on the opposing team so he could show off and show all the coaches or whoever cared to watch him play who was indeed the better athlete. What a complete douche. However, my mother had instilled being kind and respectful to everyone in us, teaching my brothers and me that it was always beneficial to be the better person, never stooping down to one's lower level. Mom always said that you will come out on top and look infinitely better than acting in the same low class manner. Yeah, that was my mother's polite way of talking about the Aros without really ever mentioning any names.
Thank the dear lord James was not accepted into USC. When I heard he wanted to attend where I went to school, I nearly transferred. His grades weren't good enough and his parents had a total shit fit, so they sent him to UW so they could keep a close eye on him in Seattle. I just felt sorry for Jasper. My brother would mention him over the years, but Jasper was always the peacemaker, choosing not to get involved in any petty bullshit and truly allowing people to redeem themselves.
According to my brother's girlfriend, Alice, James was a pretty decent guy who was trying to win the affections of her friend. Jasper didn't like idle gossip, but did think Alice's little tidbit about thinking James was an okay guy was quite funny. Jasper hadn't bothered filling Alice in with stupid shit that happened when we were kids, wanting her to formulate her own opinion. In fact, James had avoided Jasper at a few parties, so my brother got the hint that he was trying to start fresh in a place where no one knew him. I knew that it was only a matter of time before Alice and her friend figured out for themselves who James really was, and what he was really like. But thankfully, James wasn't my problem…or I had thought at the time at least. At the time I was happy to be going to school in a different state as him, and I was confident that I wouldn't have to deal with him anymore…little did I know.
But back then the only pressing matters to attend to were things like getting married in a rushed ceremony, moving into a new apartment, and becoming a father way too early in my life. Sure I wasn't some teenaged father, but I certainly had felt like one. How the hell was I going to ever succeed in being a father? Was Tanya even ready?
I hadn't had time to idly ponder my fears and concerns because on a seasonably hot, late June morning, Katherine Esme Cullen burst into this world like the shining star she was. We had decided to name our daughter after the two most important women in our lives: our mothers. From the moment Kate entered my life, I was forever a changed person. Nothing was the same as it was before.
Suddenly, everything that seemed so majorly important to me before took a backseat to my wife and child. I'd still had my dream of being an architect, but it wasn't as much of a priority anymore as it didn't consume my every waking thought. Kate and Tanya were more important and as long as I was providing for them, it didn't matter what I was doing.
Tanya, on the other hand, had other plans and didn't feel quite the same way as me. She had gotten post partum depression, which urged me to jump into dad mode right away. Holding Katie in my arms was one of the single most amazing moments in my life. She was so small, so innocent with her tiny, wrinkly fingers and red chubby cheeks. She even had a little sprinkling of auburn hair sprouting on the top of her delicate head, taking after her dad.
Dad. I was a dad now…and I fucking loved it. All of a sudden, thoughts of raising a kid didn't freak me out as much. I was responsible for someone's life and I wasn't about to take advantage of that. I needed to step up and take charge considering my wife and daughter both needed me.
In the beginning, Tanya wouldn't even hold or change our daughter. She was holed up in bed for weeks. It was tough because Tanya wasn't able or capable of bonding properly with Kate, and being the mother she…and I…if I were really being honest here, thought and knew she could be.
My mom had come for a few weeks to help out, especially with Tanya. She had gotten post partum depression after she had Emmett and she told me what had saved her was having people around who were understanding and supportive to talk with. Tanya definitely appreciated Esme's presence and ability to listen. She felt awful that something was holding her back from being the best mom she knew she wanted to be. Tanya's mother also came to stay with us. She wanted to make sure that her daughter was okay and she also wanted to help me with Katie. With the moms' efforts, Tanya was able to make strides here and there and remove the dark cloud looming over her.
My thoughts wavered from empathy to downright anger. I just wanted Tanya to fucking look at this amazingly beautiful creature we had created. She wouldn't even look at Katie. Then I realized that Tanya's depression wasn't her fault. I had remembered reading in a baby book that postpartum depression was actually quite common and that eventually the mother gets through it, but it would take some time.
Once our classes started up in late August, Tanya was feeling better. She had improved in the sense that she could actually hold Kate and feed her a bottle, but she never changed her. She never sang our daughter to sleep like I did. She never even nuzzled her nose softly against Katie's neck, reveling in that natural powdery essence of baby smell. It seriously does exist…you couldn't bottle it even if you tried.
Photography is what woke Tanya back to life, awakening the fierce woman I had met a few years ago. She was definitely happier and she stormed through her classes with gusto and vitality. My mom had come to live with us, serving as our nanny while we worked and studied hard during our last year of college. My direction was focused towards creating a future where Katie would never have to worry about anything. I was acing my classes, as was Tanya.
During the spring semester, Tanya was offered an amazing opportunity through one of her classes to study abroad, assisting in photo shoots in Paris. Tanya was definitely in her element and appearing to be happy for the first time in a long time. How could I fight her in leaving? She wanted to follow her dream if not for one semester.
Not to mention, if I was truly honest with myself, Tanya and I loved each other, but I never thought she was the one I would spend the rest of my life with. I never felt that spark with her. There was definitely some passion and life to our relationship, but deep down I knew we were never soul mates. I think we rushed into marriage and that just kept us in this limbo.
Perhaps we needed a little space between us to figure things out…for me to see if we should even stay married. So, Tanya and I had a long talk and we decided that she should go to Paris and take that time to clear her head, as well. Everything happened to quickly between us that we hadn't had time to properly process the past year's events. She promised to come back a changed person and ready to be the mom that our daughter deserved to have. Little did I know just how much going to Paris would change her life…and the lives of me and Kate.
Coincidentally, the photographer she had interned for, Garrett, was the photographer she was going to assist. So when Tanya returned indeed changed, it was no surprise that she was leaving me for him. She admitted to having an affair while abroad with Garrett, and oddly enough, I wasn't furious enough to fight to get her back. She was hardly there when she was physically in the house and hardly a real mother to Katie, so why would I force her to stay in a marriage and live a life that she clearly checked out of a long time ago? Truthfully, I don't think I even checked into the marriage, leaving me just as much to blame as Tanya was.
Our divorce wasn't messy at all. Tanya didn't want sole physical custody of Katie, but did want regular visits with her. She knew our daughter would have a better, fulfilling life with me, knowing I would have that strong family support. Not to mention I was the parent who had been raising her anyway. I couldn't have been happier. By the time we graduated from USC, we parted ways amicably with Tanya living in California with Garrett, who was actually a really decent guy, and with me returning to Chicago to get back to my roots. Emmett had proposed an amazing opportunity – co-owing a contracting company - me being the architect and my brother acting as head contractor.
I was ready to build my life with my daughter being the center of my universe. Frankly, I didn't mind being a single father, considering I wasn't ready to dive into another relationship. I was a divorced, single dad, in his early twenties. That kind of stuff warps your perspective on relationship and women. Who knew when I would ever be ready. Katie was the most important aspect of my life, and I vowed to not rush into a dead end relationship. She deserved the best which included anyone that I decided to date.
Even if I wanted to go out and play the field wantonly, I couldn't because I had to tread carefully and understand that not every woman desired a single father. I didn't want to parade a barrage of women around my little one, undoubtedly sending her the wrong message about my lifestyle and confusing the shit out of her. It was bad enough that when she was of the age where she would start questioning the whereabouts of her mother, I would have to think of a suitable explanation, making sure my daughter's feelings weren't hurt. It was imperative that Katie knew that even though her mommy and daddy were not living in the same house, we both loved her very much.
That's when I came to the conclusion that I wouldn't be serious with anyone unless they had a child as well, or who definitely wanted children. Plus, she needed to be good with children and know how to be loving and nurturing.
"Daddy! I wanna go inside now!" my little three year old demanded, pulling at my black cape.
I chuckled. "Okay Katie-Pie. Let's see where Grandma is."
Taking her little hand in mine, I tugged her along and used my house key to let myself and her inside my parents' house. It was a little under two weeks before Halloween and we were visiting the rest of my family in Seattle. Jasper and his fiancé, Alice were throwing their annual Halloween bash, coinciding it with my and Emmett's visit from Chicago purposely in order to get our asses to that party. They had recently bought a house not too far away from the neighborhood in which my parents lived.
"Gamma Essie!" Katie squealed, her hand slipping from mine as she jumped into my mother's arms, giving her a tight embrace.
"How's my girl? Oh, I missed you so much. Are you ready for a fun night with Grandma and Grandpa?"
"Yes! I wearing my new Hawoween costume. See?" My mother set her granddaughter on her feet so she could inspect my daughter's outfit.
"Oh my, what a pretty Sleeping Beauty you make!" my mother gushed, smiling from ear to ear as my little one twirled around, allowing the bottom of her dress to flare out, flashing the thin bottom trim of white crinoline.
Katie turned to me, her cute little button nose all scrunched up. She was thinking of something. She was adorable.
Yes, I was a twenty-seven year old man who now described people and things like Mary Sunshine. Shit, I need to get laid and feel like a man again.
"Uh…Daddy? Where my crown and my wand? I wanna show Gamma and Gampa."
Bending down, I opened her overnight bag and retrieved the items that completed her outfit. I extended my hand, handing over the crown and wand to her. She took them with vigor and ran into the other room, headed towards the sound of the television, knowing my father would be sitting there.
Upon standing up, I let out a huge sigh. I was so damn tired and it was only eight-thirty at night. How was I going to last at that party?
Following my mom into the kitchen, I opened the refrigerator and grabbed a bottle of beer. Maybe something cold containing alcohol would awaken my senses, livening me up a bit.
"I take it Emmett is already at Alice and Jasper's?" my mother began, taking a seat at the table, pulling out a chair for me and patting the cushion. I had the feeling I was about to get one of my mother's famous pep talks. My mom was extremely observant, so she could probably sense that I was feeling apprehensive about this evening.
I moved to sit in the seat next to her. "Yes, he wanted to go early to scout out the available women so he could stake his claim." I shook my head and smiled. Emmett was quite the ladies' man, the girls constantly swooning over him. I was convinced it was his dimpled little boy smile that hooked the women every time. He was by no means an asshole towards women, but he was picky about who he wanted to date. He had that mass appeal to him that attracted the ladies in his direction like flies on shit, I swear.
"You could have dropped Katie off earlier, you know, and gone with Emmett to the party. It's already started. Not that I don't love your company, but aren't you going to go soon?" my mother inquired, leaning one arm against the table, tilting her head slightly to one side.
"I'm just tired, Mom, that's all. In fact, I was thinking that maybe I should hang here in case Katie needs me or something," I hedged, focusing really hard on peeling at the beer bottle label.
My mother sighed. "Edward, honey, please don't take this the wrong way, but you are acting like you are an old man. You're so handsome and have a lot of wonderful things to offer a girl."
Resting her hand on my forearm, offering her comfort, her support, my mom continued in a soft, soothing voice. "You have to put yourself out there eventually, Sweetheart. It's been a few years now and you have yet to introduce a girl to us, much less mention you are seeing someone."
I took a large chug, the beer's carbonation stinging my throat. I faced my mother, setting the bottle back down on the table. "That's because I'm not seeing anyone, Mom. I mean, I've gone out on a few dates and had Emmett babysit Kate, but it never really goes any further than that. I don't want to confuse my daughter by bringing home random girls. That's not fair to her."
"I didn't say you had to parade a gaggle of women around everywhere for goodness sake. I only meant that you should think about getting out and dating someone. Enjoy life, Edward."
"I am. I have a thriving company that gets more and more recognition by the day. And I get to work closely with my brother, to boot," I said indignantly. "I have my daughter and the career I always dreamed of pursuing."
"Well, Kate's a given. As far as the job…well, your father and I knew you would become successful. You're the most driven out of my boys. Yes, you are living your life, but are you enjoying it? There's a difference." My mother's eyes, like slits, spoke volumes as they were piercing mine, willing me to confess what I had tried to suppress for a long time because I felt a little guilty.
"On some level, no, I'm not," I admitted quietly, my head hanging low. I couldn't believe I had just uttered those words. The image of my daughter filled me head and I immediately felt guilty for saying that. As a parent you want all your happiness to revolve around your children, and when you realize it doesn't always work that way…you feel guilt. I missed going out and letting loose with my friends or my brothers. I craved female attention like you wouldn't believe, but I couldn't go out and have meaningless sexual flings. I couldn't get shitfaced once in a while just for the hell of it. I couldn't even smoke a cigarette in my home if I felt like it. I couldn't scratch my nuts inappropriately or curse, or watch porn in my living room if I wanted to – not that I would have done that on a regular basis under different circumstances.
I couldn't do any of those things out in the open because I had a child, a daughter. I wasn't placing the blame on Kate or resenting her in any way, but I would have been lying if I'd said I never thought about what it would be like to be single without a kid. My daughter was my greatest achievement by far, and that's why I felt so fucking guilty for feeling the way I did. One night, just one night I wanted to feel as though I had no attachments, nothing preventing me from doing whatever the hell I wanted to do.
My thoughts evaporated once my mom began speaking again. "It's not a crime to feel that way, you know. I used to tell you and your brothers that I was going to fly away to some island for a while to be by myself. You boys would believe me and beg for me to take you, and every time I would say no. So, you see? Anyone who is a parent, no matter how old they are, has had the same thoughts as you."
She laughed at recalling her memory, taking my beer and stealing a small sip before placing it back down.
"I want you to go to that party tonight and let loose for once, Edward. For goodness sake, it's time. Who knows…you may even meet a girl. A girl who you would want to get to know and kiss maybe?" Her voice raised an octave, the hope seeping from it.
"Mom, are you giving me permission to go and have sex?" I belly laughed.
"Good god, no. But if that's what the mood calls for, then by all means. The point is that I want you to use this party as a start to changing the course of how you enjoy your life. You need to think about what's fair for you, too and find that happy balance. If you truly aren't happy, then how can you show Katie what happiness really is? How is that fair for the both of you?"
I smiled warmly at my mother. She was such an incredible woman, and I was very lucky to have her. "You're right."
She giggled and gave me a toothy grin. "Of course I'm right; I'm your mother." She had a contemplative look on her face as though an idea was percolating. "You know, you may be surprised to find at this party there will be some people like you that are in your type of predicament."
"Oh really?" I asked, my eyebrows rising in question. I wasn't sure to believe my mom or not.
"Yes, really. In fact, one person in particular comes to mind, but I would rather you see for yourself. She's such a wonderful girl and she knows your brother and Alice."
"Uh, Mom…they are the party hosts. Everyone there will obviously know Jasper and Alice." It didn't go unnoticed that my mother referred to this person as a she. My mother was up to something without trying to show that she was up to anything.
She winked in my direction, giving me some Cheshire cat smile. "Mm hmm…I am aware of that. But this girl is special and that's all I'm going to say," Mom explained rather cryptically.
"Mom. Please don't try to fix me up with anyone. Those things never really work out and can be really uncomfortable if it gets ugly, you know?" I got up to throw away my beer. It was do or die time. I had to get into party mode and have my game face on, ready to mingle and be charming. Thing was, I wasn't sure if I was truly in the mood, but my mom would kick my ass if I didn't go.
"I wouldn't dream of setting you up. You will probably gravitate in the right direction anyway, if I know you." Her award winning smile tugged on her face. She was hoping something would happen for me and I couldn't be upset with her for that. But did she have to be so damn cryptic?
I pulled up outside of Jasper and Alice's house at ten o'clock on the dot. The party started at nine, but I'd decided to be fashionably late…or whatever the hell you want to call being held up by your three year old daughter.
I parked the Mercedes that I'd borrowed from my parents and got out.
Even from outside I could see that the party was in full swing. Music from inside was pulsing, lights were flashing, and I could see the silhouettes of people dancing through the curtains. I had to give it to Alice…she really knew how to throw a party. The entire outside yard was decorated in creepy Halloween decorations. There were fake tombstones scattered on the front lawn, a coffin that opened and closed as a mummy popped out, and an animatronic witch who was holding a broom and cackling as her arms waved guests towards the front door. There must have been fog machines hidden in the bushes, because there was a thick, smoky haze lingering in the air.
I laughed to myself as I made my way up the front steps. I would have knocked, but I knew the music inside was too loud for anyone to hear the doorbell, so I just let myself in. As soon as I got inside I was greeted to a large crowd of people who were standing in the foyer, drinking, talking and dancing.
I walked straight through the foyer and back towards the kitchen where I found Emmett and Jasper filling a few bowls with chips.
"Hey!" they both shouted simultaneously.
"Look who finally decided to grace us with their presence," Emmett added.
I greeted him politely with my middle finger as I made my way closer to where they were standing.
"I love you too, Bro," Emmett said as he threw his arm around my shoulder, squeezing me hard enough to almost crush my bones.
"I had to get Katie settled in at Mom and Dad's," I explained as Jasper handed me a beer. "Nice costume," I laughed as I saw that Jasper was dressed like some sissy Disney prince.
"Fuck off! You know how Alice is. We had to coordinate, and she was going as Belle from Beauty and the Beast. So it was either the human form of the beast or else I had to wear a fucking hairy mask all night," he shot back at me.
Emmett and I both broke out in hysterics as Jasper mumbled expletives at us while he gathered the bowls of chips and stomped out of the kitchen. Poor Jasper would always be the baby of the family, which meant we would torture him until we were old and gray in the nursing home.
I took a swig of my beer and turned towards Emmett. "So, where's Alice?" I asked. "I want to say hello."
"Last I heard she was upstairs helping her friend get ready," Emmett replied. "But Bro…you gotta get a look at Alice's friend Rosalie…she's fucking hot as hell!"
He dragged me to the doorway of the kitchen that opened into the living room. All the furniture had been moved out to create a makeshift dance floor. "There she is," he pointed across the room, "the one dressed like Cinderella."
My eyes followed in the direction of his pointed finger and I saw a tall, slim, blond-haired woman, who was wearing an extremely skimpy version of a Cinderella costume. I had to admit, even though she wasn't my type, she was definitely gorgeous. When I looked back over at Emmett he was smiling ear to ear as he stared across the room at her.
"Uh oh, I know that look," I told him.
"What look?" he asked as he looked at me.
"That look that says that chick has you by the balls and you will be putty in her hands by the end of the night," I chuckled as I took another sip of my beer.
"Whatever dude…she can do anything she wants if my balls are in her hands," he told me as he waggled his eyebrows suggestively, before walking away towards Rosalie.
I shook my head and laughed as I walked out into the room, making my way through the crowds of people. I wanted to introduce myself to Alice's friend, but I figured I would do it later since Emmett was trying to make his move on her; I didn't want to cock block him.
I finished my beer and handed the empty bottle off to one of the servers that Alice and Jasper had hired for the party.
"Excuse me," I said to the man, "could you tell me where the bar is?"
"It's right back there in the corner," he answered as he pointed in the direction of the dining room.
"Thanks," I told him, heading in that direction.
I ordered myself a scotch on the rocks and walked around the party for a bit, taking in all the different costumes people were wearing and also the interior Halloween directions that Alice had set up. After about a half hour of wondering, I decided I would venture outside to call home and check on Katie before I headed back to find my brothers and Alice…who I still had yet to say hello to.
When I walked outside the back door, onto the patio, the cool breeze hit me immediately and felt great. It was kind of hot inside with all those bodies packed together, so it felt great to get outside and have some fresh air. Being so close to the house made it difficult to hear anything due to the music blasting from inside, so I walked across the grass towards the back edge of the property line, where I could hear better. I quickly called home and was told by my mother that Katie was fine. The three of them had made popcorn and watched a movie and she was now passed out on the couch with my father. My mother laughed about having to get off the phone so she could put them both to bed.
After we hung up, I decided that while I was outside I would have a cigarette. I didn't smoke on a normal basis, only sometimes when I drank. I reached into my pocket and pulled out a smoke. After I lit it I took a long drag, followed by a slow, soothing exhale.
I wasn't more than thirty seconds into my smoke when I heard the backdoor open. I looked across the yard and saw a young woman walk outside. I couldn't see her face clearly from this distance but she looked as if she were wearing a Snow White costume…well…a more revealing version of Snow White.
What was up with all these scantily clad Disney Princesses tonight?
Not that I was complaining, because as I watched her pull out her cell phone to make a call, I couldn't help but take in her amazing body. She had her back towards me as she appeared to be waiting for whoever she was calling to pick up. She bent over to adjust the strap on her shoe and god damn! She was wearing little ruffled panties!
I instinctively reached down and adjusted my dick that had hardened immediately at the little peep show I just got.
"Mrs. Cope?" I heard her shout. "I was just calling to check up on Elyse," she said as she stuck her finger in her free ear. She walked off the patio and towards my direction, stopping halfway in the middle of the lawn.
It was obvious she didn't see me since I was standing off in a shadow near this giant gazebo that Jasper had put in the yard last year, so I remained quiet as to not startle her while she was on the phone. As I continued to smoke my cigarette, I listened to her conversation. She appeared to be talking about her child.
Was it possible she had a kid? She looked kind of young, but she definitely wasn't a teenager, so I guessed it was possible.
My eyes kept roaming over her body and up to her face. She was beautiful and I couldn't stop staring. If she had a kid then most likely that meant she had a husband too. I couldn't help but acknowledge that the idea of her being married sort of bummed me out. Unlike the blonde inside, who was definitely hot but not my type, this girl was definitely my type. She was exactly who I would gravitate towards if I were in the position to be picking up girls at a party…if I were a guy who didn't have to make decisions based on a beautiful three year old who was asleep at her grandparents house as we spoke.
I was snapped out of my thoughts when I heard her phone snap shut. I figured she would head back inside, but instead she looked around, and after spotting the gazebo that I was standing behind, she made her way towards it, stepping inside and taking a seat. I watched her quietly as I exhaled another breath of smoke, and when I did, she startled slightly. I realized now that she was closer to me, so she would probably smell the smoke…and I was right. Her head turned so she was now staring right in my direction.
"Hello?" she called out.
I debated what I should do because now that she realized that someone was standing outside with her, I was afraid that I would appear creepy for hanging in the shadows. However, before I could even realize what I was doing, my feet started walking slowly in her direction on their own accord. She started to get up when I finally stepped out into the dim light that was being given off by the twinkling lights hanging from the gazebo, ultimately revealing myself to her for the first time.
She seemed caught off guard for a moment, but when she took in my Halloween costume, realizing I was another party guest, she relaxed. Now that I was closer and could really get a good look at her, I couldn't get over how gorgeous she really was. Despite the sexy costume she was wearing, she had a classic beauty that couldn't be duplicated with makeup or revealing outfits. Her skin was pale and flawless, her hair was long with soft, cascading curls, and her eyes…they were the color of melted chocolate…big, warm and inviting.
We stood their silently, taking each other in. My normal self would have introduced myself to her and then politely excused myself to go back into the party. But standing here before her in a costume that covered half my face gave me a sense of anonymity, a chance to be someone else for just one night. I would probably never see this woman again after tonight, so I felt myself starting to slip into the character of a mysterious stranger who could let go of reality for just this one moment in time.
"What's a beautiful woman like you doing sitting here by her lonesome in the dark?" I asked in a seductive, yet soft tone.
"I needed some cool air," she responded simply.
A smile spread on my lips at the sweet sound of her voice. "Mind if I join you? I'm not one for big crowds." I should have gone inside, she was probably married after all, but something kept me from doing so. Instead, I walked into the gazebo and sat down, patting the spot next to me as an invitation for her to join me.
Once she sat, she asked me if she could bum a cigarette. I offered one to her, and she leaned in slightly towards me so I could light it for her as well. I watched her closely as she inhaled and then perched her lips into a tiny "O" shape, exhaling the smoke back out.
I couldn't help but be mesmerized by her lips. They were full, pouty, and extremely sexy. It took all I had in me to not lean forward and capture them in my own.
What the hell was wrong with me? I didn't even know this woman and I'm already thinking about kissing her?
We began talking playfully about her costume. God she looked so fucking hot in that costume. I wonder how she would look without it…
I intended on keeping the conversation off anything personal, but before I could catch myself I blurted out, "I couldn't help but overhear your phone conversation before. You have a daughter?"
She confirmed to be that she did. Her brief description of her daughter reminded me so much of Katie. I wanted to share with her that I too had a daughter, but I tried to remind myself that I should keep this conversation from getting too personal. With that in mind there was one thing I had to know…was she married? So in my most suave way, I asked her the question that would get me that answer without being too obvious.
"How is your husband handling the task of raising a little girl?" As soon as the words left my mouth I started feeling nervous, and from the look she gave me, I think she could tell.
She put out her cigarette and turned her body so it was facing me more directly. "No, I'm not married. The father is actually out of the picture," she responded, looking up at me from through her lashes. She had her bottom lip between her teeth as if she were just as attracted to me as I was to her.
Was she just as nervous as I was? Was she feeling the same pull to me as I was to her? This was insane! I'd just met this woman less than ten minutes ago, didn't even know her name, but I couldn't deny the intense attraction I was feeling to her.
It had to be the alcohol, right?
I hadn't even had much to drink, but what I was feeling for this woman was unlike anything I had ever felt before. It had to be a mixture of the alcohol, the anonymous situation of our costumes, and the fact that we would never see each other again after tonight.
I apologized to her immediately for my comment. I didn't know if I was crossing some line by asking her questions about her child and her love life, but as if sensing why I was feeling the way I was, she reassured me that it was okay.
"Don't be. I'm certainly not sorry. It was for the best and I am perfectly content having my daughter all to myself. Listen, if you don't mind, I would rather not have us share our sad stories. I'm enjoying your company right now and I would hate it if our time was spent disclosing unpleasant aspects of our lives," she told me.
All my anxiety flew away with that last comment. I knew we were both on the same page. We were both just as interested in talking with each other, playfully flirting with each other, and the need to forget about our lives outside of this little bubble we were in was apparent. She wished to remain anonymous as well, and that worked just fine for me. We were both young, single parents who probably didn't get the chance to socialize much outside of our children and work. So in a silent agreement, we both decided to throw caution to the wind and for one night we could be whoever we needed to be for each other.
We fell into a comfortable conversation, discussing everything from sports, books, music and just life in general. We left out any topic that would suck us back into the realities of our everyday lives. I was surprised at how much we had in common, even in discussing the safe topics. I realized that the more we spoke, the more I wanted to know about this beautiful woman. I pushed that down and allowed the fantasy to remain.
After a while, our conversation quieted and I saw her wrap her arms around herself as she shivered. I immediately felt guilty keeping her out here for so long when she was wearing next to nothing. I had a strong urge to wrap my arm around her shoulder and pull her close into me so I could warm her with my body. I wanted to take off my own cape and drape it around her small frame, but both options seemed really intimate, and I didn't want to scare her off, but I couldn't let her go just yet.
Reluctantly, I suggested that we go back inside to the party. I didn't really want to because I wanted her all to myself, but the fact that she was cold won over in my head. I felt the need to protect her and I knew she needed to get warmed up.
As if she could read my mind, she said, "I do want to go inside, but I don't feel like joining the party. To tell you the truth, I've had such nice time sitting here and talking with you."
Our eyes locked, and we stared at each other intensely. My overwhelming need to kiss her was burning its way through my body. I hadn't had a one night stand since I was younger, but the look in her eyes told me that she was thinking the same thing I was…she didn't want this night to end without being in each other's arms.
She took her bottom lip between her teeth again and looked at me with such lust and passion that all the resolve I had crumbled to the ground.
"Me, too," I breathed out. "I have an idea. Why don't we take this conversation inside and try to find an empty room or something so we can continue." But we both knew damn well that conversation wasn't what either one of us wanted once we found a private spot inside.
She gave me a slight nod of her head, and a beautiful smile, before she stood and followed me out of the gazebo, across the lawn, and into the house.
Once we entered the house, we both looked around nervously as we made our way through the party, towards the stairs leading to the second floor. I was by no means ashamed to be seen with her, but if my brothers had spotted us it would have been like the proverbial pin to pop our little bubble. I didn't know who she was here with, or how she even knew Jasper and Alice, but I could only imagine she was feeling the same way as I was. We both just wanted to slip unnoticed up the stairs so we could continue this anonymous fantasy.
Luckily, neither of us ran into anyone we knew, and when we finally reached the stairs, I pressed up against her back and leaned down to whisper into her ear. Her hair was soft on my face and she smelled like what I imagined heaven would smell like if you could bottle it up. "Once you get up the stairs, follow me."
She closed her eyes, obviously experiencing the same intense electricity I was feeling being so close to her, and simply nodded in agreement.
I walked up behind her, but when we got to the top I moved ahead of her. I led her down the hallway to enter the room that Jasper told me I could sleep in tonight if I had too much to drink and couldn't drive home. I knew we would have privacy in here and no one would come in if they saw my car outside, thinking I had stayed and was asleep.
When we entered the room, I debated turning on the lights, but since we had spent most of the evening in the dim light of the outdoors I felt that we should keep with that ambiance. It just added to the romantic mystery that the night was taking. I turned to face her, as she was still standing in the doorway and with our eyes locked on each other, I slowly removed my mask…revealing my face to her for the first time.
Her breath hitched and she licked her lips slowly as she took me in. I smiled, feeling happy that she apparently liked what she saw, as I sauntered towards her, removing my cape in the process and discarding it onto the floor. Before I reached her she stepped inside the door and closed it behind her. When I finally reached her, I slowly leaned in. She stopped breathing, clearly thinking I was about to kiss her, but I teased her a bit by brushing my lips by her cheek as I reached around her to lock the door.
When I leaned back to look at her, my own heartbeat sped up as she brought her hands up and untied her own cape, allowing it to slide off her shoulders and pool to the floor by her feet.
That was my moment…I now knew without a shadow of a doubt that she wanted this just as much as I did. I no longer stumbled on my nerves and uncertainties. I needed to touch her, needed her to touch me. I reached out and grabbed her wrist, bringing her hand to rest on my face. She stroked my cheek softly before bringing her free hand up to cup the other side of my face. She ran her gentle touch along my jaw line before tracing my lips with the tips of her fingers.
My need to taste her won out as I ghosted the tip of my tongue along her fingertips. Her breath caught and egged me on further as I took her finger between my lips and sucked gently, tasting the sweet honey flavor of her skin on my tongue. When she let out a little moan, my body acted instinctually. I reached out and pulled her flush up against me.
Her body, although much smaller than my own, somehow fit against me better than the actual skin that covered my bones. She grabbed onto my arms with her small hands at my sudden move, but gradually relaxed into my embrace. It was like two magnets snapping together as if there was nowhere else they belonged other than pressed up against each other.
I backed her up until she was pressed between me and the door behind her and my lips finally found hers, like a lost ship finding a lighthouse in the middle of a stormy night. It was electric. Her mouth was soft, warm and inviting…and it was definitely one invitation I was accepting.
We kissed softly at first until my hands started to roam her body; that was when we both became more aggressive and impatient. I cupped her breasts over her dress and dragged my fingers over her nipples. She responded immediately by arching her back, pushing herself further into my hands.
I knew this was supposed to be an anonymous one night stand, but if I was being honest with myself, it was definitely turning into something much more. As if my heart suddenly took over from my head, I spoke. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to come on so aggressively, but I've wanted to kiss you ever since I laid eyes on you. You looked so lost…so alone, and I felt as if you were echoing my own feelings."
"I wanted to kiss you, too," she panted.
"So, you don't mind my hands becoming acquainted with your amazing body?" I asked, becoming bolder as my hands began roaming under her dress, finally coming to a rest on her amazing ass.
When she told me she didn't mind, I pushed further. I began to remove her clothes. I wanted to take my time and relish undressing her, but I also felt a certain frantic need to see her bare before me. When she lifted her arms up in an invitation for me to remove her dress, I did so in a hurry…and holy shit…she wasn't wearing a bra!
After her dress was removed my mouth dropped open as I took her in. Her breasts were a perfect size. Not too big, and not too small. I could tell before even trying that they would fit perfectly into the palm of my hand, but right now…I wanted them in my mouth. I bent down slightly and took her nipple between my lips, running my tongue round and round, reveling in the feeling of it tightening as I went. My hand found its way to her other breast, making sure that both were being given the same amount of attention. When her hands found purchase in my hair I let out a soft moan.
She tugged me up so that our mouths could meet again. Our tongues slid and caressed each other. I couldn't kiss her deeply or passionately enough. If I crawled inside her skin I don't think I could have been close enough to this mysterious and beautiful woman.
Our hands were everywhere…kneading, squeezing, touching every inch of skin we could find. I finally decided that I needed to taste this woman more intimately. I hooked my fingers into the edge of her panties and slowly pulled them down as I kissed my way down her body, worshiping every inch of her along the way.
As I sat on my knees before her, looking at her body completely naked in front of me, I felt desire for this woman unlike anything I had ever felt before. I glanced up at her, and even in the dark I could see the shy look on her face - the blush of nervousness ran from her cheeks down her chest. It was not only erotic but it was endearing.
Did she have no idea how beautiful she was?
She had absolutely no reason to be shy in front of me. I slowly lifted her leg and hitched it over my shoulder, running my hands comfortingly along her skin to try and relax her. I smiled up at her and she returned one back to me.
My eyes slowly drifted down from her face until I was looking at the sweet, glistening masterpiece in front of me. Without any further hesitation I leaned in and ran my tongue over the entire length of her. She gasped and gripped my hair again. She tasted delectable… better than any dessert at a five star restaurant. Her moans pushed me on as I continued to swirl my tongue around her sensitive, swollen center. Her hips started to move with me in a sensual rhythm as I licked, sucked and nipped at her. I knew she was getting close because her grip on my hair tightened to the point that it almost hurt, but what a sweet pain it was.
"Ungh…shit…so good," she moaned out, as she removed one of her hands from my head to touch her breast. "You feel so fucking good…"
Seeing her touch herself as I pleasured her with my mouth was the most erotic thing I had ever witnessed, and I almost came spontaneously. I increased my efforts as I grew more and more turned on.
"That's it! Oh, right there…mmm…I'm going to cum soon…" she said in barely a whisper, and I swore I could see her eyes role back into her head.
"Let go, beautiful. I want to feel you cum on my mouth," I told her, and after a few more strokes of my tongue, I felt her still and then tremble as her orgasm took her over completely.
Her body slumped, and I gently removed her leg from my shoulder, before standing up and pulling her into me. I placed my hands on her backside, and she jumped slightly, wrapping her legs around me. "Come. Let's go lie down," I told her.
"Good, because I haven't even started with you, yet," she responded seductively.
I honestly didn't expect anything from her in return. Her allowing me to pleasure her was enough for me, but as she crashed her lips to mine, my desire doubled and I returned her kisses with fervor. I laid her down on the bed, never breaking my lips from hers, and as I rolled over to the side so we would face each other, she pushed me onto my back and straddled my waist. She started to grind against me, giving me some beautiful friction to my aching erection. Seeing her above me naked, in the light of the moon coming through the windows, was like waking up to a dream that continued into real life.
She rubbed my chest up and down with her hands before leaning down to ghost her lips beside my ear. "My turn," she whispered.
Holy shit! I'm in love! Wait…what?
I snapped out of my thoughts, pushing them to the deepest part of my mind. I didn't want to think right now, I just wanted to feel…and feel I did!
She had slid down my body and unbuckled my pants. I lifted up my hips as she pulled them down, along with my boxers, discarding them onto the floor with the rest of our clothes.
I watched her as she took in my body, and I swear to god I think I saw her lick her lips when she got a look at my dick. Her eyes lifted and locked with mine as she reached out and wrapped her tiny fingers around my length, slowly moving them up and down. I didn't take my eyes off of her once, until I saw her lower her head down, and with her eyes still on me, took me into her mouth. At that moment my eyes snapped shut and my fingers gripped the blankets underneath me.
"Holy shit…that feels amazing," I moaned out. I wanted to say her name, but I didn't know it, and calling her baby seemed a little too personal. I didn't want to freak her out.
I pried my fingers off the blanket and placed them gently into her hair. I didn't lead her, I didn't need to, I just twirled her hair, hoping that my gentle touches would relay to her that I appreciated what she was doing for me, and that I respected her.
I looked down at her, watching as she moved up and down, swirling her tongue around the tip in the sexiest way. Her lips were plump and swollen…so utterly luscious. She continued her torturous pleasure of me and I started to feel that tight coiling feeling in my stomach. I knew I wouldn't last much longer, so I rubbed my hand along her cheek bone gently.
"Hey, Beautiful," I said softly, "you have to pull back."
She stopped momentarily, looking up at me with her big, beautiful doe eyes. She seemed confused for a moment, but when I saw realization in her eyes as to why I was telling her to stop, she just smiled at me.
"You took me in and now I would like to do the same," she said softly before giving me a small, reassuring smile.
She resumed what she had been doing and within just about a minute the intensity was so consuming that I removed my hand from her hair again and gripped back onto the blanket so that I wouldn't hurt her. She slid me in and out several more times, and when I felt her hands move down and squeeze my balls, I lost it. I exploded deep down into her throat with a ferocity I had never experienced in an orgasm before. I know I yelled out, but for the life of me I have no idea what I said.
When my orgasm subsided I threw my arm across my eyes and tried to collect myself. My breathing was labored and I was sweating. I felt the bed dip slightly, and when I removed my arm and looked, I saw her climbing up towards me.
"Hi," she said shyly as she laid her head on my shoulder.
"Hi, yourself," I responded as I wrapped my arm around her, pulling her tight into my chest.
We lay in silence for a few minutes before she spoke. "Do…do you think we should head back down to the party?" she asked. I could hear the reluctance in her voice. I knew she didn't want to leave and neither did I. I wasn't ready to end this evening with her.
"No," I told her. "Let's just rest here for a little while."
I felt her lips smile against my skin and she immediately relaxed and melted into me. "That sounds like a good idea," she said.
I reached out and pulled the blanket over us so she wouldn't get cold, and before I knew it we were both out like a light.
I was awoken several hours later when I felt movement next to me on the bed. My eyes fluttered open and it was still dark in the room. I looked down and saw my beautiful Snow White sleeping peacefully in my arms. I was lying on my back, so I carefully turned onto my side so I was facing her. I watched her silently as she slept. Her brown, wavy hair cascaded like waves over the pillow, and her lips were settled into a cute pout as she breathed.
I reached out to tuck a stray stand of her hair behind her ear, but stopped short because I was afraid I would wake her. I just wanted to enjoy this quiet moment to myself. I really wasn't the type of guy who did the whole "one night stand" thing. It wasn't something that was really possible even if I was that type of guy, due to the fact that I lived with a three year old. I would never parade women in and out of my home in front of her. Plus, one night stands were always the thing that people found hot and exciting in the moment, but they usually ended up feeling awkward and uncomfortable afterwards. But with this girl…it didn't.
I hadn't even been drunk when it happened, so it wasn't like I was waking up now thinking "What the hell did I just do?" It was actually the opposite. I felt just as comfortable with her now as I did all evening when we were outside talking. It felt so natural to lay here with her in my arms. It was like she was meant to be there.
I lay there just watching her sleep, processing everything that had happened last night. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that last night had been more than just sexual tension. I knew that if I lived here I would ask her for her number and take her out.
I had this overwhelming desire to make her mine, and if I was being honest…that scared the crap out of me. I had dated a few women since Tanya and I divorced…but nothing serious. Yet here I was after meeting this woman just last night, and I was dreading having to say goodbye and walk away from her. I didn't think I could look into her eyes and act like last night was nothing more than just some anonymous fling. But we lived in two different states and we both had small children. It wasn't a practical idea to think that we could do a long distance thing.
I'm not sure exactly how long I lay there watching her, but slowly the light of the sun started to creep in through the curtains over the windows. I don't know what it was…maybe it was the morning light finally popping the little fantasy bubble we were in, or maybe it was just me being scared of having to say goodbye to this girl and watch her walk away from me when there was nothing I could do to keep her…but I started to panic. The last thing I wanted to do was to leave her, but the more I wanted to stay, the more I knew I had to go. I was in too deep, too quickly, so I took the coward's way out.
I carefully got up out of the bed, grabbing my clothes from around the room. After getting dressed as quietly as possible, I picked up her clothes and folded them neatly, placing them on the chest at the end of the bed. I walked to the door, ready to make my cowardly escape, but as my hand hovered over the doorknob I turned around to take one last look at the woman that I would never forget. Without knowing it, she had singlehandedly turned my world upside down in one night. I took several long strides across the room until I was hovering over her on the bed.
"Goodbye, Beautiful. I'm so sorry for leaving you like this," I whispered as I ghosted my fingers gently along her cheek.
She stirred slightly but didn't wake. I pulled the covers up over her more securely so she would be warm, before I kissed my hand and placed it gently on her forehead. After several more seconds of hesitation, I turned and walked out of the room, leaving behind the most fascinating and beautiful woman I had ever had the pleasure of meeting…and it certainly wasn't done without a heavy heart.
I returned to Chicago the following day and slipped back into the routine that was my life. I still thought about my mystery girl from time to time, wondering what she was doing, how her life was, and if she hated me for leaving her that morning. I regretted every day my decision to leave like I did, but in the end I knew there was nothing I could do about it now. I just hoped she was happy and that she and her daughter were doing well.
Apparently, Emmett had kept in contact with the blond named Rosalie, who he had met at the Halloween party, and she even flew out to see him a few times. They seemed to be getting pretty serious, so it didn't exactly shock me when Emmett approached me about relocating our company to Seattle. At first I wasn't sold on the idea because we were quite successful in Chicago, but when Emmett explained that we would keep the business going in Chicago, but expand it into Seattle because we had already been approached by several large commercial projects out West, I knew financially it made sense.
We even decided to venture into buying real estate on the Seattle waterfront where we would design and build our own residential building that would house top of the line, luxury condos. But what was the real deciding factor to me was that we would be back near our family. I loved living in Chicago, but I missed my parents and little brother. Emmett also seemed like he was ready to go with or without me, so if I stayed I would ultimately be all alone. I wanted Katie to grow up around family, and I knew the only way to do that would be to move where they were.
It took about six months for Emmett and me to tie up loose ends at our Chicago office. We had a very capable, reliable staff that could certainly handle things without us being there on a daily basis. We would both fly back and forth as needed, but most of our business could be handled through conference and video calls. The building we were constructing would be our new home, but unfortunately it wasn't ready to be moved into when we arrived in Seattle, so we both had to make other arrangements in the meantime. Emmett stayed in the guest house at my parents' home, while I made arrangements to sublet a condo of old family friends. They were retired now and had a home somewhere in Europe where they spent most of the time, so they told me I could stay in their condo for as long as Katie and I needed.
Two weeks after arriving in Seattle, I found myself getting ready to start my first official day at the new office. Emmett and I had been working non-stop since we arrived, but today would be the first day all our new employees started. We also had a few people from Chicago agree to relocate here temporarily in order to help set things up and train new employees.
Alice had helped me find an excellent daycare center for Katie. She was still too young to start school, so I had no choice but to choose the daycare route, but obviously I was very particular where I would send her. When Alice suggested the place where a friend of hers worked and Jasper immediately agreed that it was the best in the area, I knew I could trust their judgments.
I wanted to drop Katie off myself that morning, but I had to take my car to be inspected so I could get my new Seattle registration, so Alice offered to drop her off.
"Thank you so much, Alice, I owe you," I told her.
"Oh, Edward, it's no problem at all," she said as she zipped Katie into her jacket.
I handed her Katie's lunchbox and frowned. "I know, but it's a big day for her, and I want to be there. I would also like to meet the ladies who work there. She is precious cargo and I would like to know who is watching her."
Alice stood up and placed her hand on my arm. "Edward, I'm picking you up after work, before I go and pick her up, so you will be able to meet everyone at the end of the day. Plus, one of her teachers is my best friend in the whole world…so you have my word that she is in perfectly wonderful hands."
She gave me a warm, sincere smile, ultimately putting me at ease.
I kissed Katie goodbye, wishing her a wonderful day at school, and they were off.
That day at work went a lot smoother than I had expected. We had several staff meetings with the different departments, set up meetings with existing and potentially new clients for the following week and just settled into our new space. I was actually really excited when five o'clock rolled around, as I was pretty much done. Katie was to be picked up at five-thirty from daycare, so I would definitely be able to join Alice to go and get her.
I said goodnight to everyone and headed down to the lobby. Alice's yellow Porsche was sitting right in front. She waved when she saw me, and after making my way across the sidewalk, I jumped into the passenger seat.
"How was your first day?" she asked.
"Good…long, but good."
We made small talk as Alice drove in the direction of the daycare center.
"I heard Katie had a great day today. She adjusted really well and already made a new best friend," she told me.
"Really? She has a new best friend?" I laughed. "Well that's good to know."
"Yeah, I spoke to my friend at lunch time, you know…the one who is her teacher? Well, she said that Katie and her daughter, Elyse, hit it off right away and have been inseparable."
"Oh, your friend has a daughter that attends the daycare as well?" I asked casually.
"Yes, Bella is a single mom, so working somewhere that she can bring her daughter has been a huge help to her," she responded.
All of a sudden something snapped in me and my mind started to race. Alice's best friend…she is a single mother…probably around Alice's age. The wheels in my head started to turn at a startling speed.
"Uh…so Alice, this friend of yours…Bella, I think you said her name was…did she happen to go to your Halloween party last year?" I asked cautiously, trying not to make her suspicious as to why I was inquiring.
Alice turned into the parking lot of the daycare, pulled into a spot and turned the engine off.
"As a matter of fact she did," she said cheerily, as she unbuckled her seatbelt.
"Even though I didn't see you all night, perhaps you saw her," she continued as she opened her car door and stepped out. "She was the one dressed as Snow White."
A/N: Thank you again for your bid on our outtakes for Fandom Gives Back. We truly appreciate your support of us and our stories. We hope you enjoyed Edward's POV, and also the little bit of new background information we included. Thanks again Nikki & Tracy!
Review and let us know what you thought!
Holly & Pauline