Entry for "The Cherry Exchange 2010"
Title: Everything She Does Is Magic (a Halloween o/s)
Word Count: 14,954
Summary: Bella and Alice have a secret: they hail from a long line of witches. But Bella doubts her heritage. When she casts a spell, the results cause her to question all she's ever believed about life and love. AH/supernatural
Disclaimer 1: I know nothing about witchcraft or the occult. Everything in this story is a figment of my own imagination or generalized representations of information that I have picked up from TV shows, movies and books. No offense or misrepresentation is intended by any terms or rituals described within. In some ways, my non-knowledge plays into the story well, as Bella has not been properly trained by her mother in the ways of magic.
Disclaimer 2: The Twilight Universe belongs to Stephenie Meyer. I'm just borrowing her creations for a little while…
A/N: On Friday afternoon (10/29/10), I decided to write a Halloween o/s, just for the hell of it. I originally envisioned that this would be a short story. But… as many of you know, I'm a wordy bitch, and before I knew it, this was a novel. LOL. After all was said and done, this story turned out far better than I ever imagined! So, when I was I finished, I ralized it might also be a good fit for a contest I had been hearing a lot about lately, the Cherry Exchange.
Special thanks to my betas Kaydee1005 and Duskwatcher2153 and my pre-reader Legna989 for turning this bitch around in a few hours and making it possible for me to post this on Halloween. You guys are the best!
Friday, October 31, 2008
I can't believe I'm actually doing this… It's such a load of crap!
I roll my eyes and shake my head, but the hand holding the pencil continues to fly over the paper, almost of its own accord. The words flow easily, as if I'm recalling them from memory rather than making them up as I go along. Unconsciously, each stanza I write is balanced in meter and ends with a rhyme. It's actually quite lyrical.
Of course, my years of writing unrequited love poetry probably help with that…
I snort at that particular thought. How ironic. The object of my one-sided crush is the reason for this particular poem yet again.
I have no clue what I'm supposed to do next, so I just wing it. Laying my pencil down, I memorize the words I've written before I fold the sheet of stationery in half, then in half again, seven times total. While I might be a complete novice at this witchcraft bullshit, even I know that seven is a sacred number, so I figure that using it in my spell can't hurt.
Yes, I'm attempting to cast a spell.
Supposedly, I'm a witch. As was my mother before me. And her mother before her. Spanning back for at least ten generations. I have to admit that I thought my mother had gone completely batty when she came to visit for Alice's seventeenth birthday last spring and told us the crazy story of our heritage: on our seventeenth birthdays, women of the Higginbotham line inherit special powers. Although she couldn't tell us what 'gift' we would receive or when they would manifest for the first time, since prediction of powers was a difficult endeavor. The entire conversation had been ridiculous, and I wondered what kind of drugs she was on at the time—it's a well-known fact that Renee enjoys a wide variety of illegal substances, which is why Charlie has full custody of Alice and me. And when she insisted that we not tell Charlie of her revelations, that it was 'our little secret', I knew it was a big ol' crock of horseshit. So had Alice.
Until my sister had her first 'vision' a month later.
Needless to say, we'd both been freaked by that particular incident.
We'd also started to wonder if my mother hadn't been high at the time she told her bizarre tale. In fact, Alice's premonitions, which became increasingly more frequent—and more reliable—as time went by, strongly suggested that my mother had actually been telling the truth.
Now, eighteen months later—six weeks beyond my seventeenth birthday—I'm beginning to wonder when my power, if I have one, will manifest itself. If I'm honest, I have to admit that I'm a bit freaked about what might happen to me. But at the same time, I find myself excited as well, impatient to find out whether I actually do have any magical capabilities.
All of this might explain why, at 12:15 am on Halloween morning, I find myself clutching a folded piece of paper that contains a poem and kneeling, naked, on my bedroom floor next to a pentagram I created with hair ribbons.
Hokey, I know, but I've gotta try to be authentic, right?
This also explains why the only light in my room comes from candles—all in soothing, natural aromas. I obtained all of them from the holistic shop in Port Angeles yesterday afternoon, with the help of the clerk who claimed to be a medicine woman. She instructed me on the significance of fragrances, and I chose ones that I thought would best aid my effort: Lavender to calm (I am a bit nervous); Ginger to energize; Vanilla to refresh; Rose to balance; and Sandalwood, an aphrodisiac, to represent love. One candle for each corner of the star.
I might have gone a bit overboard.
Placing a metal trashcan in the center of the star design, I drop the folded paper inside, along with a sprig of dried sage. The sage is just for good measure—I like the way it smells—but I've also heard that it has purpose in magicks. Before I can change my mind, I light a match and drop it onto the objects in the container. A tendril of aromatic smoke spirals up, and a moment later, a small flame bursts into life, igniting the paper and herbs. As soon as the fire is established, I close my eyes and recite the words I wrote just moments earlier.
In this night and in this hour,
I call on the ancient powers.
Ancestors of the Higginbotham line,
Watch over and guide me through space and time.
I come before you this All Hallow's Eve
With a humble heart and on bended knee.
Clear of mind and with soul on fire,
Grant me my heart's one true desire…
I close my eyes and focus on the only thing I have desired for the past three-and-a-half years. From the first day I set in Forks and encountered his wild copper-colored hair, his lean and lanky form and his newly-sprouted grass-green eyes, he's been the only one I have ever wanted. Unfortunately, he's also the one person who never seems to give me the time of day.
His handsome face comes into clear focus, and in my mind, he smiles at me, his green eyes twinkling warmly in welcome. I sigh.
"Edward," I whisper.
Squeezing my eyes even more tightly shut, my envisioned Edward becomes squished and distorted, but I can still see him smiling and waving at me. My heart clenches just a little. I voice my request.
"I wish that Edward Cullen would fall in love with me."
A sharp, cold breeze slithers across my naked skin, and I shudder in response. My eyes snap open to find that I'm now immersed in absolute darkness; all the candles—and the fire in the trashcan—have gone out. The only evidence that they were previously burning brightly is the smoke I can smell in the air. My heart begins to pound rapidly, and goose bumps erupt on my exposed skin. I inhale sharply, and gasp at the sharp pain in my lungs; the room is now freezing cold.
With wide, frightened eyes, I look around. Everything looks the same. But at the same time, it feels different.
Oh shit! What the hell have I done?
Swiping my hand blindly across the floor, I gather the candles, trashcan and ribbon with my arm, destroying my makeshift altar. I shove all the items unceremoniously under the bed, then search for the sweats that I shed before starting this… ritual. Finding the pile next to the bed, I yank them on before I jump into bed and bury myself under the covers.
The rapid pounding of my heart doesn't slow for quite some time, but even when it does, I remain huddled in a tiny ball in the center of my bed, completely wide-awake. In my hyper-aware state, I can hear the empty howl of the cool breeze swirling in my room. I can also feel the freezing air seeping through the blankets. It freaks me out a bit, because everyone knows from TV shows, movies or books dealing with the paranormal that cold air is never a good sign.
I must eventually drift off, because I have a strange dream involving Edward. It's all hazy, like a movie playing on a screen way too small for the projected image, with only the center of the picture in focus. Things in the periphery are wavy and unclear, so I can't figure out where I am, or what's going on around me, but that's unimportant anyway. In my dream, we're in a dark room together—alone—and Edward's hands are on my hips, pulling me close. When my lips finally meet his, we are instantly engulfed in a ball of fire. It's probably just some subconscious metaphor for teenaged lust, but I really do feel as if my entire body is on fire, for him. He urges our smoking bodies across the room, kissing the entire time, and lays me down on a very tall and very soft bed. I arch up into him as his body comes to rest atop mine, and his hands—
Alice chooses that exact moment to burst into my room.
"C'mon, Bella, rise and shine!" she greets me cheerily. Then, "What the hell? Holy shit, it's fucking cold in here!"
I groan as I pop my head out from under the covers, still somewhat groggy from sleep and completely disappointed to be torn from that particular dream. But I'm awake enough to needle my older sister.
"Jeez, Alice, you're letting me down. You missed 'damn' in your ten second tirade." I shake my head at her. "Such a shame… You were so close."
"Damn it, you're right," she agrees with a mischievous grin. "How the hell did I miss one fucking four-letter word in that shit-storm of cursing?"
We both laugh. Cursing is one of Alice's pitfalls. That girl has the foulest mouth of anyone I've ever heard. Her mission in life is to see how many curse words she can use—in the proper context—in the shortest amount of time.
"But seriously, why the hell is it so cold in here? Is your window open?"
Her question reminds me of why it is cold in here. I was tampering with spirits last night, and I'm afraid that I might have pissed them off. I shake my head at her, but she strides across the room to my window anyway.
"Damn it, Bella. You do have the window open! It frosted last night. No wonder it's so fucking cold in here." She slams the window shut, latching it closed, and turns to me with hands on hips. "What the hell were you thinking?"
I'm looking in confusion at the now-closed window. I don't recall opening the window last night. But now, in the light of day and with Alice's info, I begin to look at the events of last night differently. Had the window simply blown open and extinguished all the flames? It's beginning to look that way. Was my sleepless night solely due to my own stupidity? But it all felt so… real. The cold air snaking across my skin in defined tendrils that felt serpentine in nature, the sense of… something… in the room with me. I shake my head in confusion.
"I guess so…" I muse quietly, but I'm not convinced.
Luckily she changes the subject.
"You dressing up today?" Alice asks as she scurries back across my room.
It's Halloween, and we're allowed to dress up at school. I nod in response.
I tilt my head toward my closet door, where a costume is hanging. Alice takes one look and snorts in derision.
"A witch, Bella? Seriously? And a boring witch at that!" She stalks to the closet, where she yanks the hanger from the door and looks disgustingly at the costume. "Look at this. It's disgracefully discreet. Long, shapeless gown. Check. Pointy black hat. Check. Boots with heels and big buckles. Check. God, Bella, this is a travesty. If you're gonna flaunt our heritage, you should at least have fun with it. Go as a 'sexy witch' or 'slutty witch' or something like that!"
I rolled my eyes. "Jeez, Ali. I'm not at all sexy—much to your, and believe me, my own, disappointment—so why would I want to wear a costume like that? This seemed…" I pause, cocking my head in contemplation, looking for the right word. "safest. Normal. No one's gonna question a generic witch costume."
"But that's just it, Bella. It is generic. You are not. Far from it, even if you don't believe that yet."
With that final statement, she turns and storms from the room, pulling the door closed behind her. I smile ruefully as the small tornado exits my room. I really think she meant that last comment as a compliment, but her dig hit me right where it hurts the most. What if I am? Generic that is. A generic witch with no special powers? For the past month, I have been waiting for whatever will happen to happen, but nothing has, and I'm starting to get impatient. Any powers I might possess have not manifested yet, which does make me feel generic. Not that that is anything new… All my life I've felt average, like I'm nothing out of the ordinary. This is my chance to feel special—to be special—and I can't help but be disappointed by the fact that is hasn't happened yet.
I huff in irritation, troubled by my thoughts. Then I force myself from the comfort of my bed and head toward the bathroom to get ready for school.
An hour later, Alice and I are on our way to school. Even though the car is technically Alice's, I'm behind the wheel. Ever since her precognition manifested, I've done the driving; she had a vision one time while behind the wheel, and it scared the shit out of both of us. Luckily we were on a deserted road and I'd been able to guide the car safely to the side of the road while she was out of it. But since then, she's been scared to get behind the wheel, terrified of having a wreck.
It's a good thing I'm driving today, because five minutes after pulling out of the driveway, Alice stiffens in her seat, her eyes glossing over. I know that she can't see the road ahead of us, or even the prominent dashboard of her old '57 Chevy Bel Air. A few moments later, she resurfaces.
"Holy shit!" she gasps, turning to me with widened eyes.
"What?" I ask, slightly alarmed by her demeanor; her disbelieving look has now turned into something else, something knowing.
"Well, Bella, I don't want to get your hopes up, but it looks like today is gonna be your lucky day."
"What? Will my powers finally manifest?" I ask eagerly.
She smirks, and her all-knowing grin has me twisting up inside. "I don't know about that. I mean literally. It looks like you're gonna get lucky today."
Her eyebrows waggle and my jaw drops in disbelief.
"What?" I practically squawk.
"And are you ready for the best part?"
She looks at me intently, her excitement palpable. Her eyes are sparkling, and she's bouncing in her seat. The look frightens me just a little.
I don't think that I am…
I stall for a moment, and her bouncing increases. I swear, if she doesn't stop, she's going to bounce right out of the damn car. I roll my eyes in irritation.
"Sure, Alice," I concede resignedly. I know she'll tell me anyway.
"You're gonna get lucky with Edward!"
This time, I can't help but jerk the steering wheel at her declaration.
"What!" I screech, whipping my head to look at her.
"Yup!" she confirms, tapping her index finger to her temple. "I just saw it."
I'm so focused on Alice and her words—her premonition—that I forget I'm driving. I'm reminded of the fact when I hit a patch of gravel and the car spins out. For a moment, while the back end fishtails sickeningly, I'm terrified. Then my common sense returns, and I take my foot off the gas and apply it gently to the brakes.
Thank God for Charlie and the safety courses he insisted we take.
When all is said and done, we're in the wrong lane, facing the wrong direction. But at least we're stopped, and neither of us is hurt. I take a calming breath and turn back to my sister.
"What precisely did you see?" I ask.
"You and Edward Cullen. Locking lips. Sometime today. Man, it's about fucking time! I don't think I can take any more of your mooning over that boy."
I ignore the majority of her rant, focusing only on one phrase. "How do you know that it happens today?"
"Because, stupid, you were wearing that lame-ass costume." She waves her hand in my direction, indicating my physical appearance.
I have to admit that my heart is practically pounding out of my chest with excitement and anticipation at her announcement. This really might be my lucky day! But then my brain kicks in, and I start to think. Does luck really have anything to do with this? It doesn't escape my notice that the day Alice predicts I will hook up with Edward Cullen just happens to be the same day that I cast a spell for him to fall in love with me.
What if this is just magic?
Then I start to worry some more. I mean, even with no experience, I've watched enough reruns of Charmed to know that there are repercussions to casting personal gain spells. And don't things usually come back in threes? In my selfishness, did I doom us to experience bad things today? Oh! What if this almost-accident is the first of many bad things to come?
My brows pinch into a freaked-out frown, and I can feel the color leaching from my face. I begin to hyperventilate just a little. Alice's happy smile fades as she takes in my pale features and shaky.
"Bella, sweetie, it'll be okay. It's just a kiss," she reassures.
"It's not that."
Her frown deepens. "Then what the fuck is it?"
I don't even know where to start. Just as I open my mouth to try and explain, her eyes leave my face to look out the window. The smile returns.
My words are interrupted by a knock on my window. I scream in surprise and whip around to discover a dark body standing at the door. I scream again in surprise. Then I register the deep green eyes that are peering into my window, looking at me in concern, and my breath catches in my throat. Alice just laughs at me.
I roll down the window. Slowly.
"H-hey, Ed-d-ward." I'm mortified by the way my voice catches.
He smiles in response to my greeting, and I find that my voice has nothing on my heart, which begins to stutter erratically in my chest. That smile alone is enough to cause my knees to go weak. It's a good thing I'm sitting down, because I don't think my legs could hold me up if I was standing. His eyes rake down my form, his smile widening as he takes in my Halloween costume. While I was in the shower this morning, Alice took matters into her own hands, altering the boring black gown slightly; it's now substantially shorter and shows quite a bit more leg than I'm comfortable with. A blush blooms on my cheeks at his attention.
He laughs softly and lowers his hands to rest on the window ledge of my door, squatting down to meet me eye-to-eye.
I shiver in awareness at the sound of my name on his tongue. It sounds good there, right, and a wave of soothing calmness descends upon me. A smile touches my lips.
"Hey," I respond, dreamily.
He chuckles again, his eyes twinkling at me. But then the smile fades, and his gaze turns serious. He's staring at me intently, as if he's trying to read my thoughts; it almost feels as if he can see straight through me. He frowns in concentration.
"Are you okay?"
"Huh? What?" I ask at the abrupt change in not only his demeanor, but his voice as well. Instead of silky smooth and seductive, it now sounds worried and overly concerned.
"Well, Isabella, you're kind of blocking the road…"
He indicates the street, and I turn my head to look out the windshield. His silver Volvo is idling in the road, in the same lane as I am parked, facing in my direction. His brother, Jasper, is in the front seat, eyeing me suspiciously. Or maybe he's shooting daggers at Alice. No surprise there; Jasper and Alice hate each other. Or maybe it's really attraction disguised as animosity, because even separated by the distance and metal hulls of the cars, it's impossible not to notice the awareness shimmering between them.
I'm torn from my musings when Edward clears his throat. I look back at him. What? Oh yeah, he just asked me a question. Unable to tear my gaze from his, I feel my blush deepen and spread to my chest. I know I need to answer him, but my brain just doesn't seem capable of forming coherent thoughts right now. Not when those jade green eyes are searching my soul.
"Huh?" I finally manage to choke out.
He chuckles again at my obvious discomfiture, his gaze softening. I come back to myself quickly, almost as if he has released me from a spell. I jerk upright at the thought, breaking our eye contact. The fiery blush that has been warming my skin quickly retreats. I do not need to be thinking along those lines right now.
"Um, yeah… Thanks, Edward. I'm fine, we're fine," I answer quickly.
My eyes dart around, looking anywhere but at him. I hear frustration and possibly resignation in his voice when he speaks again.
"Yes," I assert. "I just hit a patch of gravel and spun out, but obviously, we're okay. No harm done."
I look to Alice to confirm and she nods. Yet I can see confusion on her face as well. Her eyes dart back and forth between Edward and me, as if she is trying to solve a puzzle. Her frown deepens, and she scowls at me. Then she nods her head slightly in his direction and hits me with an eyebrow-raising glare. I sigh and turn back to him.
"Thank you for stopping," I state.
Slowly, I raise my head, and when my eyes meet his, his green gaze softens once more, the corners of his eyes crinkling in a smile. His lips join in the effort, twitching invitingly at the corners, and I feel myself slip back into an Edward-induced trance. My heart trips excitedly in my chest, and my breath comes in small, ragged gasps. His lips twitch even further, as if he is completely aware of the effect he has on me.
How the hell can this be happening? I put a spell on him, yet I feel as if I have no control over my reactions. It's very odd. I shake my head quickly, trying to break the trance.
He chuckles once more, then straightens. Relieved to have some distance from his all-knowing gaze, I sigh in relief. But then he reaches in to brush my cheek with his fingers, and a startled gasp escapes my lips. Intense awareness surges through my body like a bolt of lightning. My eyes dart to his, and I'm relieved by the look of astonishment on his features. He doesn't immediately remove his hand from my face, and I find myself leaning into his touch, drawing on the energy that is surging between our fused skin. With a small gasp of his own, he finally pulls his hand away and takes a step back. Ducking down as he begins moving backwards, he addresses me one final time.
"Drive safe, Isabella. I'll follow behind you, make sure you get to school alright. And I'll see you later, okay?"
I just nod, unable to form any words in response to his caring gesture. As soon as he gets back into his car, I reach down and slide the car back into gear, then ease my foot off the brakes. The car begins to roll, and I twist the wheel so that we make a big U-turn, accelerating once we're facing in the right direction.
Lost in my own thoughts, it takes me a few minutes to register the absolute silence coming from the seat next to me; Alice usually talks a mile-a-minute, and once she gets going, it's next to impossible to shut her up. I chance a glance at her and find her staring at me, smiling smugly. As soon as we make eye contact, she laughs, the happy tinkling of her voice echoing through the cab of the old car.
"Oh yeah, you're definitely getting lucky today! Bella, the way that he was looking at you—wow! Just, wow!"
The smug smile turns dreamy, and I shake my head at her.
"Oh, Ali, I don't know…"
She huffs. "Um, hello? Where were you during that conversation? Oh, honey, he's got it bad!" she enthuses. "It's like the stars finally aligned in your favor. How long have you been waiting for this, Bella?"
It's no secret that I've harbored a not-so-secret crush on Edward since the first time I saw him three summers ago, on our first day in Forks. Charlie had moved us here, hoping for a change and some distance from Renee and the whirlwind lifestyle that she led in Phoenix. The first thing we'd done upon arriving in town was hit the Thriftway for some food. Alice and I had trailed behind him, scanning the items on the shelves, looking for the 'good' food, not the crap that Charlie was tossing in the cart. But in our explorations, we'd lost track of Charlie. Breaking into a jog, we'd run down the aisles in search of our father, and when we rounded the corner between the cereal aisle and the pasta aisle, I had run smack-dab into another body. We both ended up sprawled on the floor.
"Oh! I'm so sorry!" I apologized quickly to the boy I'd bowled over.
He looked at me with confusion and suspicion pouring from his bright green eyes. "Who are you?"
I stuck my hand out for him to shake, but his eyes never left my face.
"Isabella Swan?" he asked on a choked breath.
He made no move to shake my hand, so I allowed it to fall back to the floor. Unable to hold his intense stare, my eyes dropped to my lap, and I scrambled to push myself up and brush myself off. He did likewise. As soon as we were both on our feet, I addressed him.
"Yeah, but you can call me Bella. Everyone else does."
I was met by silence, and with my head still facing the floor, I slid my eyes to the side to look at him surreptitiously. He was still staring at me, an almost frightened look on his face.
I snapped my head up to meet his confused look head on. "No, what?" I demanded, crossing my arms defensively on my chest.
His eyes softened, a small crooked smile twitching at the corners of his lips. The transformation in his appearance was startling, and my breath caught in my throat. With his wild hair, bright green eyes, and crooked smile, he was beautiful. My defensive stance relaxed, and I smiled in return.
"You will always be Isabella to me."
The way he said it caused my heart to jump. We stood there for a few moments just staring and smiling—until Alice snorted under her breath, breaking our intense connection. Then Charlie called out for us, effectively ending any further interaction. With one final smile, I turned away from Edward.
"Nice to meet you, Edward. Guess I'll see you around?"
He nodded. "I'm sure you will."
And I have. I've seen Edward Cullen just about every day for almost three-and-a-half years. I frown as it suddenly dawns on me that until the events of this morning, that incident at the grocery store on my first day in Forks has been the only direct interaction that Edward and I have ever had. The only real conversation we've participated in; every other interaction has been nothing but a necessary exchange of information in the classroom or at the Newton's sporting goods store, where we both have jobs. It's almost as if he's purposely avoided me, or at least avoided talking to me. Yet at the same time, he's always been there, hovering on the periphery, always on my radar. However, he's never touched me before, not once. In fact, he's been just as careful to avoid contact as he has been to avoid conversation. I recall the sensation that coursed through my body at the initial skin-on-skin contact, and I can't help but smile. It was electric, stimulating… I snort at that particular comparison.
Alice laughs. "You back now?"
I turn and shoot her a sheepish look. "Sorry. Just thinking."
She laughs louder. "Yeah, I figured that. About Edward?"
I nod. "I was remembering the first time we met, do you remember that?"
"The grocery store? How could I forget? He knocked you off your feet that day, and he's been doing it every day since."
I shake my head ruefully, but I know she's right. Edward somehow got under my skin that day—even though he never touched me—and I haven't been the same since.
I finally reach the school and pull into the parking lot. A quick glance in the rearview mirror reveals that Edward has turned toward the other side of the lot. As I nose into my assigned space, Alice continues on with the conversation, unaware of my own musings.
"But today, it looked like he was just as affected as you," she continues. "In fact, he looked completely smitten. If I didn't know better, I'd think that he was in love with you."
Her words cause me to flinch, making me wonder if my 'spell' last night actually did work. I yank the keys from the ignition and drop them into my backpack with shaky fingers. Then I shove my door open and duck out of the car in an attempt to hide the guilty flush that swims up my neck to warm my ears. But Alice is observant and notices my response. Luckily, she interprets it as a positive reaction, and she laughs knowingly.
"Yup… I have a good feeling about today!" she declares as we begin walking towards the building.
First, there was the almost-accident, then the disturbing encounter with Edward. A frisson of unease creeps up my spine. Or maybe it's awareness, because when I sneak a peek over my shoulder, Edward is standing by his car on the other side of the lot, staring intensely at me. When he catches my gaze, he winks. I stumble slightly and frown when I register the laughter shaking his body. Scowling slightly, I break our eye contact and hurry towards the school entrance. Only when I finally pass through the doors, and out of his sight, do I relax.
Five hours later, I'm finishing my lunch. It's been an interesting morning. For some reason, each and every one of my teachers has decided to throw pop quizzes. I also tripped in the hallway between Trig and Spanish, completely embarrassing myself when I face-planted. In front of Edward, no less. Somehow—thankfully—I managed to push myself upright and scurry away before he could come to my aid. To make matters worse, I can feel Edward's concerned stare burning into my back right now. I shiver in awareness. Even though I haven't given in to the desire to turn around and see if I'm right, my suspicions are proven correct when Jessica Stanley leans across the table.
"Edward Cullen is staring at you."
I attempt to play it off, and just shrug as if I have no interest. "So?"
Her eyes narrow suspiciously. "No, like he's really staring at you. I've never seen Edward look at any girl like that before. Is there something going on with you two?"
"No," I retort defensively.
She's scowling openly now. This might be because Edward took her to the Homecoming dance a few weeks ago. It was only one date, and he hasn't asked her out since, but Jessica was convinced that she was well on her way to becoming his girlfriend. That said, practically every girl in our class wanted to be Edward Cullen's girlfriend. And while he went out a lot, it was usually with a different girl every time. Some lasted a few dates, but no one ever lasted more than just a few weeks. His elusiveness was apparently a highly desirable thing, and every girl yearned to tame the most notorious member of Forks High School's junior class: one Edward Cullen.
"Yes, I'm quite sure," I snap. "Edward has never paid attention to me before. Why would he start today?"
She seems to accept my response and goes back to staring over my shoulder. When she winks—I can only assume that she's winking at Edward—the burning sensation in my back subsides. I guess he's finally given up on staring at me, or at least looked away so that he doesn't have to see Jess.
As I ponder the words I just spouted off to Jessica, I realize that I know. I know exactly why he would start showing interest in me today of all days. It worked. That damn spell worked. I say it that way, because for some reason, the victory feels completely hollow. The only reason he's looking at me like that is because I cast a spell on him to fall in love with me, not because he really cares. It's not a decision made of free will; it's something I forced upon him. A force he can't resist, a false force… I sigh in dejection and push my chair back in order to stand up. Gathering my books, I trudge off to Biology class, where I suspect the object of my affection will be eagerly awaiting me.
I'm not mistaken. Edward is waiting for me. In fact, he's sitting at my table, a table at which I'm usually the sole occupant. I drop my book and glare at him, without sitting down.
"What are you doing at my table, Edward?"
"Hello, Isabella," he greets. Ignoring my rude question, a smirk twitches at the corner of his mouth before he continues. "It's good to see you again, too."
I continue to stand, and his smile expands. Raising his eyebrows at me in question, he nods to my chair, inviting me to sit. I huff as I plop down onto the seat, his quiet chuckle the only acknowledgement of my rudeness. As soon as I am settled, he continues.
"I just wanted to make sure that you were okay. You seem to be having a rough day. First the car, then tripping in the hallway?"
"It's these damn shoes," I retort, dipping my head to indicate the boots that Alice had insisted I wear, implying that the moderate heel they sported was at fault. There was no way that I was going to admit to the truth—that I had seen Edward in the hall, staring at me so intently that I tripped over my own damn feet.
"Ah," he replies. I can hear the smile in his voice, and I once again suspect that he knows more than he lets on.
"And yes, I'm fine. Thank you," I finally concede. He makes no effort to move, so I repeat my earlier question. "But why are you sitting here? You could have asked without claiming the empty seat."
I turn to him and find him staring again. It's disconcerting to be the focus of such intense concentration, and I feel embarrassed heat bleed across my cheeks and trickle down to pool against my neck and chest. His eyes flare as they follow the incriminating blush that floods my body. Glancing back up, he spears me with his heated stare, and despite my best efforts at resistance, I find that I can't look away. This is a force that won't be denied.
Even though I fear that it's not real, this is something I have desired for so long that I decide to just go with it. He must recognize the symbolic waving of the white flag in my own confused gaze, because suddenly I am drowning in the emotions that are blazing forth, unchecked, from his eyes.
"Because, then I couldn't do this…"
My breath catches when he reaches up to brush his finger across the hot skin of my cheek. Once again, an electric shock sears my skin and races throughout my entire body, invading every single cell, causing me to quiver in absolute awareness. I close my eyes and lean my head into his palm, inhaling the spicy scents of cinnamon and sage, and the underlying sweetness of something rich, like honey, that clings to his fingers. The scent of Edward. I take another deep breath, and his scent saturates my senses. I feel his fingers tremble against the sensitive skin of my cheek.
He whispers, but the fervor behind that one word touches a place inside of me that has never been touched before. I open my eyes, raising them lazily to meet his gaze, and I suck in another shaky breath at what I see there. His pupils have dilated almost completely, and I'm reflected against the obsidian surface; the look on my face is the same as the one that he is no longer trying to hide.
I jerk upright, startled by the realization. He must register my shock and confusion because his face is suddenly wiped clean of all emotion. In the blink of an eye, he has returned to the coolly aloof Edward Cullen of old. Just as quickly, he reverts to the business at hand.
"Tyler is out sick today, and I might need a partner for today's lesson."
He turns to the front of the room, and I belatedly realize that the rest of the class has filed in to fill their seats, and that Mr. Banner has already begun today's lecture. A quick glance around the room shows that several of our classmates have taken notice of our odd—because in no way is this normal—exchange.
Somehow, I manage to pay attention to the lesson. Correction. I manage to appear as if I am paying attention, but my brain is completely scattered, unable to concentrate effectively on anything. I'm too close to Edward to focus on anything other than the heat that radiates from his body, warming my own, and the heady aroma that is solely Edward. I breathe it in, over and over, until I am aware of nothing else.
I am yanked from my Edward-induced euphoria when the sounds of scraping chairs intrude into my thoughts. I look around in a daze to find that class is over and everyone is departing the room. Edward's knowing chuckle causes me to frown. I snap my eyes to his and find that he is eyeing me in an all-knowing way that is somewhat disturbing. Embarrassed to be caught daydreaming—by the object of said daydream, no less—I snap at him.
The smile fades into a confused frown.
"Isabella, are you sure you're all right? You've been acting a bit… strange… today."
I snort. As if he hasn't been acting strange himself—staring constantly, going out of his way to be close to me, and falling over his feet to inquire after my wellbeing. Then I remember why he's acting like that, and the blissful feeling that has been embracing me snugly for the past hour slips away.
"Yes, Edward, I'm fine. Just having an off day."
I shove my lab bench back and stand to my feet. Grabbing my bag, I sling it over my shoulder and head toward the door without looking in his direction. I hear Edward scramble to gather all of his stuff, followed by the slap of his shoes on the tile as he rushes to catch up with me. Just as I pass through the door, his voice rings out.
"Are you coming tonight, Isabella?" he asks.
I pause and turn to look at him. "Huh?"
He rolls his eyes. "To the Halloween party, of course."
Oh. That. Every year there's a big Halloween party out at the Cullen's house. I'd always wanted to go, but never felt like I should. Even though there was an unspoken understanding that everyone in Edward and Jasper's class was invited, I was one of those people who wanted a personal invitation. One had never come.
"I wasn't really planning on it," I answer honestly.
"I'd really like it if you would. You haven't been to any of my parties in the past."
Huh? I frown a bit. I figured that no one had ever noticed that I wasn't there, let alone Edward. I guess I was wrong. He must be able to sense my wavering resolve, because he shoots me another killer smile and does that voodoo thingy with his eyes that causes me to go all dreamy. Then he goes for the kill. Leaning in, his hands come to rest on my shoulders and his lips brush the shell of my ear as he whispers.
My answer slips from between my lips before I can stop it.
His fingers squeeze my shoulders gently, and I swear that I feel his lips brush lightly across my cheek before he straightens up and smiles ecstatically at me.
All I can do is smile in return. We grin like idiots for a moment, until Mr. Banner chastises us about being late for our next class. Reluctantly, we take leave of one another; he turns to the left in order to get to his sixth period Spanish class, while I go to the right towards the gym. I sleepwalk through gym. My classmates do their best to keep the volleyball away from me, not that that is anything new. But today, it's probably for the best anyway. All I can think about is Edward—his beautiful smile, his intoxicating smell, the feel of his lips on my cheek.
When I reach the car at the end of the day, Alice is bouncing even more than usual. I frown at her.
"What's up, Ali-cat? You got fleas or something?"
She throws a wad of paper, hitting me in the head, and then laughs at her for-once good aim.
"No, jelly Belly," she sing-songs in her musical voice.
She only calls me that when she's in an insanely good mood, so I know something's up. I stare at her pointedly until she calms down.
"I'm just really excited."
"As if you need me to tell you," she pffts. "You already said yes. I saw it."
She looks at me pointedly.
"Oh… the party?"
"Fuck yeah, the party! I've wanted to go to these for the last three years, but I never did because you didn't want to go."
I look at her in shock. "You've wanted to go? Why didn't you say anything?"
Her smile fades a bit. "Because I knew you weren't comfortable with it."
"But, Ali… if you wanted to go, I would have."
"And you would've hated every fucking minute of it." She shakes her head decisively and throws her hand up to cut me off when I would have interrupted. "Yes, you would've, Bella. Don't lie. I know you. But this year, you agreed all on your own!"
She resumes her obnoxious little happy dance, and I just roll my eyes at her. "Get in the car, Ali," I instruct as I slide in.
She joins me in the car, the infernal bouncing not slowing in the least even though she's now sitting down.
"What to wear, what to wear?" she muses.
"What's wrong with what you have on right now?" I ask, indicating her 70's disco get up.
"This?" she asks with a disgusted tone to her voice. "This shit is so not party-worthy," she declares decisively.
I don't understand why. The six-inch platform heels give her artificial height, and the teeny-tiny top that ties beneath her breasts reveals a lot of skin—and cleavage. It's an outfit I would never dare to wear, but Alice pulls it off with aplomb.
"No…" she pauses, scratching her cheek thoughtfully. " I need something really fucking fabulous."
She squeezes her eyes shut and begins rubbing her temples as she concentrates. I conveniently leave my mouth shut, enjoying the momentary silence. But within five minutes, Alice's loud "Ah ha! I've got it!" startles me from my peaceful drive. Then I'm plunged into an entirely worse situation.
"Now we've gotta figure out what you're gonna wear!" Alice declares. "We need to find something that will really make Edward sit up and beg."
I really don't want to do that, and I'm perfectly happy with the costume I am currently wearing. Besides, I am scared shitless to see what kind of a costume Alice would create for me.
"I don't think that's necessary, Alice."
She scowls. "Of course it is."
"No, it's not," I assert. Then inspiration strikes. Remembering her vision from earlier in the day, I deflect. "Besides, in your vision, the one where you saw Edward kissing me, I was wearing this costume."
"Huh? Oh yeah. Damn. I guess you'll have to keep it on then."
For a moment, I savor the thrill of victory over my sister. Then she turns to me with an evil smile a suggestive wiggle of her brows.
"But I will be making some… adjustments."
At seven o'clock Charlie inspects us before we leave the house. He smiles indulgently, declaring us beautiful, and tells us not to leave until he can get his camera. I have a feeling that he's commemorating more than just our Halloween costumes—I never go out, so this is a pretty big deal for me.
Even I have to admit that I'm impressed with Alice's modifications to my boring costume. She already shortened the skirt this morning, but tonight she's clinched it with a wide, tight-fitting belt that provides some shape and shortens it even more. I'm a bit concerned that I'm showing too much leg, but at least the funky, designed leggings provide some modesty. And the platform Mary Jane's give me a wholesome, yet sexy look. I've thrown on a bunch of dangly jewelry, which jingles in a friendly manner as I walk. At Alice's insistence, I've curled my hair, and it falls in soft ringlets from beneath the oversized, pointy witch hat.
If I exemplify a decorum of witchly modesty, then Alice must be sin incarnate. She's the devil in disguise. Or maybe not… Dressed all in skin-tight red pleather, she's sporting a set of red horns and a spiked devil's tail. Her hair is spiked crazily, making her look somewhat deranged, or as if she's just gotten out of bed after a very satisfying romp. And the five-inch red stilettos again give her height and make her stand in a way that enhances all of her curves.
Charlie rumbles down the stairs and snaps a few photos. As he ushers us out, he tells us to have a good time and warns us not to drink and drive, to stay at the Cullens' house if necessary. Before I know it, we're on our way. My nerves start to kick in as soon as we pull out of our drive. The deer that jumps in front of our car, causing me to scream in surprise, probably doesn't help—once again, I find myself facing the wrong direction on a gravel road. By the time we reach the Cullens' house, I'm shaking like a leaf.
Pulling off the driveway, I park next to the last car in line—Jessica Stanley's white Corolla. I shut the engine and huff dramatically. Alice grips my hand firmly.
"Bella, calm down. It's just a party. And you know everyone…"
I take a deep breath. "Yeah. Okay… let's do this."
We walk up the drive, into the house—the doors are thrown wide for easy access—and into the throng of bodies that is milling around inside. It's somewhat jarring to be in a place packed with this many people, but at the same time, it's a relief to find myself lost in a crowd. Since this is the first time I've come to one of these shin-digs, I'd like to remain incognito for a while.
Alice and I make our way to the kitchen in order to get a drink. She shoves a plastic cup into my hand and fills it with blood-red punch.
"What is this?" I ask suspiciously.
"Don't ask," she remonstrates. "Just drink."
I do as I'm told and find that it's not bad. Hawaiian punch would be my guess. I suspect that it's spiked with something, but not a lot. I raise my eyebrows at my sister, and she smiles encouragingly. I glance to her hand and see it fisted around a bottle of water.
"I'll drive home tonight, Bella. You have fun."
My heart clenches just a little. Alice hasn't been behind the wheel in more than twelve months; she must want this for me really bad. Raising my glass in a silent toast, I down the contents in one long gulp. She squeals in excitement and quickly refills my glass. Not wanting to end up smashed beyond belief, I take a small sip this time, vowing to take it slow. Grabbing her hand, I tug Alice to the door, wanting to explore the party.
We drift from room to room, taking in the activities. A group of people are piled onto the couches and lounging on the floor while watching scary movies on the big screen TV downstairs. Another group—mainly guys—is shooting pool in the billiards room adjacent to the media center. There are clusters of people in every open room on the main floor. The den is full of people who are standing around talking over the stereo, which is playing scary tunes. Another group is sitting at the dining room table playing poker. I lose Alice here, when she decides to stay and watch the action, see if she can predict how people are playing. Wandering to the final remaining room in the front of the house, I find that a crowd surrounds the piano in the living room. The flare of electricity that skitters across my skin lets me know exactly who is sitting at the bench. I turn away quickly, not quite ready to face Edward, and come face to face with the only other person I really don't want to deal with.
"Bella," Jessica addresses me snidely. "What are you doing here?"
"Um, partying?" I state, but I know that it comes out more like a question.
She snorts. "That's not what I meant. You never come to these. Why now?"
Her eyebrows are raised in haughty condescension.
"Um, Edward invited me?"
Her eyes narrow and she flips her hair behind her shoulder. "Well, duh… Edward invited the entire class, Bella."
I attempt to blow her off. "Whatever. It's Halloween, and Alice wanted to come."
I shrug my shoulders and attempt to bypass her, but her arm shoots out and locks on the wall, effectively halting my departure attempt. Her eyes narrow even further.
"Wait a minute… When you say Edward invited you, what exactly do you mean?"
Getting irritated at her snooty attitude, as well as her obvious attempt to 'claim' Edward as her own, I huff in frustration. Then tell her the truth.
"That when he asked me if I was coming, and I told him 'probably not,' he asked me to come. He even said 'please'."
I lean in and say that little please in a breathless manner, imitating his tone from earlier. There's great satisfaction in seeing the surprise on her face, and for a moment I revel in having the upper hand. Then fire explodes between my shoulders, and I know that he's spotted me. My breath catches in my throat, and I quickly duck under Jessica's outstretched arm, hurrying off down the hall in search of a restroom.
When I emerge some time later, I turn to the left, heading towards the back of the house, hoping to avoid Edward for a little while longer. But when I enter the sun room, I realize my mistake—the now-familiar tingles of electricity tickle at every nerve ending, causing my skin to feel alive. When I glance to my right, I find him leaning against the wall. He looks good. Really. Damn. Good. Dressed all in black, he looks like he's channeling James Dean. Black jeans, black t-shirt, black leather Jacket. Sunglasses and slicked back hair. Five o'clock shadow. He looks dark, dangerous, and my tongue darts out to swipe at my lower lip. His nose flares in response, and he reaches up to remove the dark glasses. When I finally meet his gaze, I read the message in his smoky green eyes easily.
There will be no escape.
Not this time.
My heart stutters erratically in my chest when I realize that he was aware of my earlier flight from the piano room. It dawns on me that he probably figured out exactly where I went, and where I would go after finishing. I sigh in resignation and accept the truth: This is inevitable. I have to play out the events that I put into motion with my stupid spell last night. I only hope that I come out on the other side unscathed.
He nods towards the group of people in the room, his eyebrows raised in question. Reluctantly, I turn my gaze toward the people sitting in a circle on the floor. It takes me a minute to figure out what they are doing, but when I do, my eyes dart back to his, surprised. The look he sends me in return is dark, daring. Straightening my back in resolve, I dip my head infinitesimally and take a step forward.
"Can we play, too?" Edward asks smoothly.
A murmur of assent ripples around the circle, and everyone scoots back a bit in order to make more room. We take our seats, me between Angela Weber and Eric Yorkie, Edward between Lauren Mallory—who turns to him with a wide smile that makes me want to rip her head off—and Emmett McCarty, who gives him an enthusiastic fist bump. The game resumes when Ben Cheney grabs the bottle in the center of the circle and spins. It finally stops, pointing at Leah Clearwater. Angela huffs in disappointment as Ben leans across the circle in order to kiss Leah. He passes the bottle to the left, and Rosalie Hale spins. Everyone sighs in relief when it points to Emmett; Rose is a bit… possessive… of her boyfriend, and no one really wants to experience her wrath if he had to kiss someone else. Those sighs quickly turn into disgusted groans as the public display of affection becomes pretty graphic.
"What?" she snaps when she finally sits back, and everyone laughs.
Eric reaches for the bottle and gives it a spin. Lauren snorts derisively when the bottle points to her, but she leans in and kisses Eric briefly on the lips. She smacks him on the cheek when he attempts to stick his tongue into her mouth, a deliberate attempt to provoke her. We all laugh again. I'm sitting there wondering what happens next when Eric turns to me.
"Your turn, Bella."
"Huh?" I mumble, startled and a bit apprehensive.
"It's your turn to spin the bottle," he reminds me gently.
"Oh!" I exclaim.
Another ripple of laughter circles the room, and my cheeks flush slightly in embarrassment, but I reach forward and grip the bottle in my fingers. Taking a deep breath, I spin it as hard as I can. I watch it turning around and around, and though I know that it's going pretty fast, it seems as if it's in slow motion. The faces around the circle begin to blur as I focus on the one face—the only face—I want my lips to touch. Edward. The bottle begins to slow, and I hold my breath as I watch its descent. When it appears as if it's going to end up pointing to Mike Newton, I focus on the bottle intently, wishing for it to turn half a tick more. To my surprise, it wobbles slightly, then flicks sharply to the right, pointing directly at Edward.
Mike is sporting a look of complete disappointment, so I shoot him a small, apologetic smile. Then I raise my eyes to Edward, and the absolute triumph on his features takes my breath away. He leans forward, and I meet him half-way. Just before his lips meet my own, he tilts his head to the side and brushes them across my cheek. For a moment, I feel humiliated. Then he whispers into my ear, so quietly that I doubt anyone in the close-knit circle hears him.
"Not like this, Isabella. I want our first kiss to be private."
His lips brush my cheek one final time as he pulls back. A collective of disappointed groans fills the air, as well as a few "boos." But Edward just shrugs. However, the gaze he fixes on me is anything but nonchalant; it is burning in its intensity, and my cheeks flush in response. I suddenly find it hard to breathe. Sliding back from the circle, I abruptly push myself to my feet.
A few people look up to me with curious expressions.
"Sorry, guys. I guess this game just isn't for me…"
Turning my back to the circle, I flee.
Edward is waiting for me outside the bathroom door—a different bathroom this time—fifteen minutes later. I jump when he steps out of the shadows and cups my elbow, halting me in my attempt to flee once more.
"I'm sorry about that," he apologizes.
I'm not sure which part he is apologizing for—the game, the almost-kiss, the smoldering look that almost suffocated me—but I nod my head in acceptance. He steps closer, bringing his lips to my ear. His thumb rubs small circles on the sensitive skin on the inside of my elbow.
"I meant what I said, Isabella. We will kiss. Tonight. But it will not be somewhere where prying eyes can see. I want you alone, just the two of us."
"Yes…" I practically moan.
His fingers clutch roughly at my elbow, and I can feel his jaw clench where it is resting against my own. He takes a step back and looks into my eyes. His jaw clenches again, his nose flaring. Tugging gently on my arm, he leads me to the back to the house, to a small staircase out of the way of prying eyes.
"Where are we going?" I ask, breathless.
My heart is slamming in my chest, my breaths coming in desperate little gasps as he ushers me up the stairs to the second floor landing. He leads me to the second door on the left and extricates a key from his pocket. Sliding it into the lock, he twists the handle, pushes the door open, and ushers me through. I hear the quiet snick of the latch as the door closes behind me and realize that there really is no going back now. I suck in a shaky breath and lean back into Edward's firm body; at this point I am relying on his strength, because I have none of my own. His arms circle my waist, squeezing gently.
"Are you okay, Isabella?"
I shut my eyes briefly and nod.
His cheek slides against my own. "Are you sure?" he whispers against the corner of my lips.
"Y-yes…" I whisper shakily.
It's not just my voice; my entire body is shaking, trembling in his arms, and my teeth begin to chatter in anticipation.
"Good," he declares, as he slowly spins me around so that I am facing him.
I want to duck my head, but I'm mesmerized by the intense, possessive look in his now-black eyes. As he dips his head, I focus on those intense orbs, never looking away. They get closer and closer, oh so slowly, but I never flinch. In fact, our eyes are still wide open when his lips finally, finally brush against my own.
The contact is sweet, chaste. My reaction is not. The fire I experienced in my dream last night is nothing compared to the burning flames that ignite inside of me at that first contact. I literally feel as if I am being burned alive by the intense feelings that course from my lips to each and every cell of my body. He groans softly, and the sound spurs me into action. My hands fly to his head, fisting in his hair and yanking his face to mine, smashing our lips together violently. Parting my lips, I touch my tongue to his bottom lip. With another groan, he parts his lips and sucks my tongue into his mouth. His hands snake around my waist, pulling my lower body flush against his. A desperate moan escapes my lips at the feel of his arousal pressing insistently against my stomach.
Not breaking our frantic kiss, he begins walking me backwards. When I encounter resistance at the back of my legs, he breaks the kiss long enough to lower me gently, reverently, to his bed. He lowers himself atop me, and even though I've never done anything like this before, I arch up into him eagerly, craving the contact and knowing instinctively what to do. My body jumps beneath him when he nudges my legs apart and settles himself against my throbbing center. I moan deeply, sucking his tongue further into the recess of my mouth with the desperate sound. My body is on overload, unused to this kind of stimulation, unable to process each of the sensations.
My hands are still fisted in his hair, holding his face against mine. He's whispering encouraging words between open-mouthed sloppy kisses, his hands running up and down my arms, dipping down to feather against my waist. But when he slides his hands up to brush the undersides of my breasts, I experience a twinge of unease. And when he cups my breast fully in his hands, squeezing gently and groaning in the process, I'm shocked back to my senses.
"Wait," I whisper, tugging gently at his hair.
I don't know why, but suddenly, this doesn't feel right anymore. He is so focused on his task he doesn't register my words, or my stiffening body. The hands that felt so warm and welcoming before now feel cold and calculating, foreign. My body cools immediately, and I begin to shake in trepidation.
"Edward," I call, tugging sharply at his hair.
He grunts, but still doesn't register the change in me; he's now kissing my neck and palming my breast, mumbling about how beautiful I am, how long he's waited for me.
His words cause me to recoil. He's been waiting for me? Yeah… For like all of eight hours since Biology class this afternoon, when he asked me to come to the party. Before today, he's never even noticed me. This isn't him. It's the fucking spell I cast last night.
Realization crashes down on me like a tidal wave, drowning me beneath the heavy water, pulling me back under every time I feel like I might finally break the surface.
This. Isn't. Real.
I finally snap back to the present situation, completely freaked out by the fact that I seemingly have no control over what is going on.
"Edward, please. Stop!" I beg, shifting my hands to his shoulders, pushing as hard as I can.
He finally registers my noncompliance and pushes off me quickly.
"Isabella? What is it?"
By now, I'm crying softly, tears running down my cheeks.
"What, baby? What's wrong?" he cries. He puts even more distance between us, but he reaches out imploringly, and his eyes are haunted.
"This!" I cry, waving a hand between the two of us. "This is all wrong." I sniffle loudly and bring my hands to my face to wipe ineffectively at the river of tears flowing down my cheeks.
I shake my head sadly.
"It's not real, Edward. You only think it is."
"No," he denies more firmly this time.
I shake my head sadly, but I'm glad that I've put an end to this nonsense before I did something like have sex with him. He already has my heart. I don't know if I would survive giving him my body as well, only to have him realize later that it was all a hoax.
The imploring look on his face morphs into anger, and he shoves a hand into his hair, pulling it roughly. His voice, when he speaks, is clipped. "Just what are you saying, Isabella?"
I sigh. It's now or never.
"Oh God… " I start. I push myself from the bed and start pacing the room. "This is gonna sound crazy, Edward, but I need to tell you the truth, so I just need you to be quiet and listen." I turn to look at him and ask, "Can you do that?"
He nods stiffly and remains sitting on the bed. I resume my pacing.
"How do I even start to tell you this shit," I mutter agitatedly as I pace. I decide the straight-up truth is the best bet. "Fuck! Well, here it is: I'm a witch, Edward. I come from a long line of witches, all of whom have powers. Last night, I cast a spell—" My feet come to a halt, and I turn to face him, looking him straight in the eye. "Last night, I cast a spell to make you fall in love with me."
A smile twitches at the corner of his lip, even though I can see he's trying his best to contain it. It irritates me immensely that he's laughing at me while I'm trying to tell him something this important. I throw my hands on my hips and glare at him. The smile widens and a small barking laugh emerges. His hand flies up to cover his mouth, but he can't contain his laughter any more. Tears begin to seep from the corner of his eyes, he's laughing so hard.
I fight to hold my own tears back; I'm now so angry that I can't contain them, and once again they pour down my cheeks. I swipe angrily at each and every salty drop.
"Fine, laugh at me. I know it's hard to believe, but I am a witch," I assert as I turn my back to him and stomp towards the door.
"Isabella, wait… it's not what you think."
He reaches me right as my hand connects with the doorknob, his hand closing over mine.
"Don't go! I promise it's not what you think."
I turn to face him warily. "You're not laughing because I told you that I'm a witch, because you don't believe me?"
"No," he assures. "Isabella, I knew you were a witch the moment I met you."
His smile softens and he nods.
"I just did. Now, let's talk about this 'spell' you cast first. Which one was it? The Eternal Love spell? Or a more generic version from your Book of Shadows?"
He's talking like there are specific love spells already written, ones I should be able to find in a book.
"What? What the hell are you talking about, Edward. Spells from books?"
Now he looks confused. "Don't you have a Book of Shadows? Your mother should have given it to you when you came into your powers."
I shake my head. "She told us she'd explain everything when we were 'ready', when we got our powers. We haven't asked her yet."
"Jesus," he mutters.
"Wait, how do you know about this stuff?" I ask suspiciously.
"Isabella, I am a witch, complete with a family history of my own."
My mouth pops open in surprise, and he chuckles lightly. Taking my arm, he guides me to the bed, and we sit down side by side.
"So back to the spell?" he prods.
"Well, it was just a poem calling on my ancestors and asking for guidance. I burned it in a trashcan sitting at the center of a pentagram."
"Is that it?" he asks, eyes twinkling. It's almost as if he knows I'm not telling him everything.
He looks at me pointedly.
"I was naked," I whisper.
He laughs heartily. "Oh, Isabella! There are rituals necessary to cast spells like the one you wanted to do. Old magicks that you must invoke. I think it's pretty safe to say that you did not put me under any love spell."
"B-but…" I stammer. "What about the cold wind that blew out the candles?"
"Probably coincidence," he responds. "Was your window open?"
I nod. Then I search for another argument. "And the bad stuff?" I tell him about the things that transpired today.
He chuckles. "Coincidence again. I promise, you did not invoke the ancient sprits, and they are not mad at you."
"But you never paid any attention to me until today, the exact day I cast that spell!"
"Oh, Isabella," he says softly, reaching out to take my hand. "I have paid the utmost attention to you each and every day since we first met. I just couldn't let you see it until you were ready."
"How did you know I was ready, today?"
"I don't know… I just felt it this morning when I saw you on the side of the road. You scared the shit out of me, by the way, with your car all turned around. And when I touched your cheek, saw your response to me, I knew my waiting was over. It was time."
"So my spell had nothing to do with your interest?"
I sigh in relief and slump to the side to rest my head on his shoulder. "What did?"
He sighs. "That is a long story…"
"Tell me?" I ask, settling back on the bed.
He sighs again and stretches out next to me on the bed. He reaches over to take my hand, giving it a small squeeze when I lace my fingers with this own. I can't help the smile that tugs at the corner of my lips when he turns to look at me and repeats my words from earlier, word-for-word.
"This is gonna sound crazy, Isabella, but I need to tell you the truth, so I just need you to be quiet and listen. Can you do that?"
I nod eagerly, and he smiles in return. Then he begins talking.
"My mother is a witch, and like yours, comes from a long line. Unlike you, my father is also a witch."
My eyes widen in surprise.
"Don't be surprised, Isabella. He's a good witch, and a good doctor. His supernatural gifts aid in his practical medicine."
I nod again.
He continues. "Anyway, we all have talents, my parents, my brother and me. Jasper can manipulate emotions. I felt him use his gift on you this morning when you began to freak out in the car. Remember the wave of calmness?"
"That was Jasper."
I look to him imploringly, and he grins, instinctively knowing what I want to ask.
"Me? Well, I can read minds. It's not just a random thing, it takes a lot of concentration and effort, and I can only do it for a little while at a time."
My mouth pops open, and the words pop out before I can stop them. "I knew you were somehow able to hear my thoughts earlier!"
A small frown tugs at his lips. "Well, Isabella, I, um… actually can't hear you at all. That was one of the first clues that you were special when we first met. No matter how hard I concentrate, I can never get a read on you. It's like there's an empty space where you should be standing. It's very frustrating."
"Is something wrong with me?"
He chuckles wryly. "Only you would wonder if there was something wrong with you when I tell you that I can't read your mind. But no… I've come to realize over the years that this is likely one of your powers."
"But I wasn't supposed to get powers until I turned seventeen…"
"Some things are just inherent," he explains. "I don't think this is an active power, at least not yet. It's just a protection mechanism. We'll have to explore your capabilities in the future, see if you can manipulate your protective shield."
"If you can't hear me, how'd you know I was talking about you earlier? I felt you watching me, right after I spoke your name."
He smiles. "I may not be able to hear you, but I can hear Jessica."
"Yes… Oh. Anyways, back to the story. So, my family are all witches and we all have powers. We also have a very colorful history that dates back for several millennia. At some point in the past, we were cursed, and some of our powers were lost. That's really nothing uncommon, it happens all the time. It usually involves jealous lovers or wronged spouses. But that's beside the point.
"One of my father's ancestors was a prophet, and she predicted centuries ago that our family would join with another powerful family through a love match, restoring the lost powers to our line. I grew up hearing the story told over and over again. In the legend, the future member of our family would meet and fall in love with the girl who would fulfill the prophesy on his fourteenth birthday. Jasper and I used to laugh at the absurdity of the entire tale. I mean, really, how likely is it that two random people will come together in the same place at that one particular moment in time?"
He chuckles ruefully and looks at me expectantly. I join in his laughter. "I'd say the odds are probably, like, a million to one?"
"Exactly! That's what we thought, too. We thought it was crap. He'll never admit that is why he did it, but on his fourteenth birthday, Jasper never left the house. He told Mom and Dad that he was sick and stayed home from school that day."
He chuckles heartily, and I join in again, imagining Jasper locked up somewhere so that he would not be the one to fall in love.
"What about you?" I ask curiously.
The smile fades from his face, and he rolls to his back, throwing a hand over his head. He squeezes my fingers gently. My heart begins racing in my chest, alerting me to the fact that he's about to reveal something big.
"That, Isabella, is where you come into the story."
I gasp, and he sighs heftily.
His voice, when he speaks again, is so quiet, I have to strain to decipher his words. "My birthday is in the summer, so I thought I was safe. No school equals no girls, right? I thought I would just stay home and play with Jasper."
"What happened?" I whisper, my fingers clutching tightly to his, my heart galloping madly in my chest.
"We were playing a little too rough, and somehow Jasper fell out of our tree house. He broke his arm and had to go to the hospital. My mom stopped at the pharmacy to pick up his pain killers on the way home."
By this point in I can barely breathe, and my heart is racing so frantically, I'm beginning to feel faint. The silence drags on for an uncomfortable moment.
"And…" I prod.
He huffs again. "Isabella, the pharmacy my mother goes to is in the grocery store. The Thriftway on Main Street…"
Suddenly, it all falls into place: the day in the grocery store, the suspicion and fear in Edward's eyes when we ran into each other that afternoon. An atomic bomb detonates in my chest, waves of energy pulsing out from my heart to ignite my entire body in awareness.
"That was the afternoon I met you," he states softly, significantly, confirming my thoughts.
"But how do you know for sure?"
He turns to look at me, and I roll to my side so that we're facing each other on his bed. We're not touching anywhere except for our interlocked fingers, but I feel him all around me. His love surrounds me, hugging me tightly.
"I think I knew the first moment I looked at you that you were the one," he declares fervently. "But when you told me your name… In that moment I knew that I would love you forever, that you were the key to our family becoming whole again."
I frowned in confusion. "But what does my name have to do with anything?"
Reaching up with his free hand, he pushes an errant strand of hair from my cheek. I close my eyes and lean into his touch, reveling in the exchange of power that occurs when his fingers brush my skin.
"In our Book of Shadows, the legend is depicted with images of animals. It's how the ancients worked, and our book is quite old. The Cullen family has always been represented by the Lion—a pillar of strength and courage, a resolute creature of magnificent power."
He pauses, and I open my eyes, silently willing him to continue. He takes another deep breath.
"Take a wild guess at what animal represents the family of the girl who is destined to find one of our line?"
I gasp. "A swan!"
"Oh, my God," I whisper.
"I know," he agrees.
"But why didn't you say anything before, Edward? Why did you avoid me? I don't understand."
He groans slightly and squeezes his eyes shut. "It wasn't fair, Isabella, putting that kind of pressure on a thirteen year old girl who knew nothing about her own power. I couldn't do that to you. I wouldn't do that to you. Besides, what if you didn't like me back? Or what if we started dating as young teens and it didn't work out? There were too many variables, too many risks. My family and I discussed the situation, and we decided that it was best for me to keep my distance until you got older and figured out what you wanted. Of course, we all still hoped that you would feel the same way. But we weren't willing take the chance. Not until we were sure."
"And today, you were sure?" I ask.
"I told you earlier, I don't really know how I knew, I just did. There was something different in your eye today. It was as if you had finally made your decision, had finally chosen me."
I gasped again. That is exactly what had happened. I'd finally decided last night that I wanted Edward—that I wanted to love Edward—and I'd wished for him to love me in return.
"I guess my spell worked after all," I muse. "Just not in the way I anticipated. If I hadn't cast that spell last night, I never would have gotten the nerve to talk to you today, despite Alice's vision."
"Huh? Alice has visions?"
"Yeah, that's her power—premonitions. She can see the future. Not the whole thing, just snap-shots of future events, and only after a definitive decision has been made."
"Hmm… interesting. And what exactly did she see this morning?" he asks with a smile in his voice.
I blush furiously and drop my head. He slips a finger beneath my chin and tilts my head so that my eyes one again meet his.
"Isabella," he remonstrates.
I huff in resignation. "This… She saw this. You and me, kissing. In fact, I even had a dream about this last night."
"You did, huh?" he asks as he scoots a little closer to me. Our thighs are now brushing, and our arms are intertwined.
"Uh huh," I agree, inching closer to him in return.
"How did it compare?" He tilts my chin so that our faces are aligned.
"It didn't," I murmur before closing my eyes and leaning forward to brush his lips with my own.
Once again, the all-consuming fire explodes in my chest. I can feel the heat, the awareness, in all of my extremities—my fingers, toes, and even my nose are tingling—and the electric sparks are transferred to every inch of Edward's skin that I touch. He whimpers at each of my touches.
After a moment he pulls back.
"What about you?" he asks.
"What do you mean?"
"What about your powers?"
I groan. "I don't know. I don't think they've manifested yet."
"Really? You mean you didn't purposely make that bottle point at me tonight? I was sure you were going to have to kiss Mike, then BAM, the damn thing just moved, all on its own."
I sit up abruptly. "I was concentrating really hard, hoping that it would point to you. Do you think that I did that?" I ask excitedly.
"I don't know. You want to try moving something else?"
"Yes!" I practically shout. "What should I try to move?"
He chuckles enthusiastically, then sits up and turns on his bedside lamp. "Let's try something small," he suggests as he pulls a pen from the top drawer of his bedside table.
Placing it in his palm, he extends his hand. I stare at it intently, but nothing happens. To be honest, I'm not exactly sure how this is supposed to work. He chuckles again.
"Your powers are usually tied to your emotions, Isabella. Concentrate on something that makes you feel."
I close my eyes and focus all my energy on recalling the feel of Edward's lips on my own. An intensely hot ball of energy pools in my chest. I focus on it, forcing it smaller and smaller until all the force of that emotion is contained in one small spot within my chest. I open my eyes and turn my focus onto the pen. As I channel the energy, the pen begins to shake, twisting slightly in Edward's hand. I stare intently at it, trying to recall what I did downstairs in the spin the bottle game. With one final burst of concentration, I think please.
The pen jumps off Edward's palm and hovers for a second or two above his hand. Elated by my accomplishment, I turn to Edward and tackle him with a hug. The pen falls forgotten to the bed.
"I did it!"
"Yes, you did!"
My lips crash to his, and suddenly we're kissing again. Only this time there's no restraint on either of our behalves. Our hands roam eagerly, touching, exploring, and learning the little quirks of the other's body. It's a celebration of discovery—of my abilities, our love, and our burgeoning sexuality. Rolling us over, he once again comes to rest on top of me. Like before, his hand trails from my waist to my chest, caressing reverently. Only this time, when his palm cups my breast, there's no hesitation on my part. Arching my back, I push my aching flesh firmly into his hand. But it's not enough. I want more. A lot more. I need to feel the exchange of power that comes only when he touches me, skin-to-skin. And I want to feel that electric awareness everywhere.
Suddenly impatient, I tug at his shirt, and he quickly sheds it. Between desperate kisses and caresses, his pants, my witchy shrift, and our remaining undergarments soon follow. When he lowers himself onto me, I gasp at the incredible sensation of his naked, exposed skin covering mine. Shimmering awareness embraces us, providing a protective cocoon that contains all of our combined energy. He nudges my legs apart once more, and suddenly, he's poised at my entrance, ready to join us, body and spirit.
I tilt my hips up to meet him, more than ready to experience the magic.
"God, Isabella, I have waited so long for you. Only for you," he mumbles against my neck as he places warm kisses up and down the column of my throat.
"But the other girls…"
He rears back. "What other girls?"
"Edward, I'm not stupid. You've dated. A lot. And you're like the most popular boy in school. I know there have been girls before me."
He shakes his head, but it's the look in his eyes that convinces me. "No, Isabella. I never did more than kiss any of them. I couldn't. I couldn't do that to you. I love you, Isabella, only you. Only you," he repeats over and over again as he worships my face with his lips and his fingertips.
A tear seeps from the corner of my eye at his fervent words. "It's only been you for me, too, Edward. Ever since that day in the grocery store, you're all I've been able to think about, all that I've wanted. The only thing that I've wanted."
"Isabella…" he groans as he finally pushes forward, filling me.
My hands clutch at his shoulders when I experience the stinging pain of his initial possession. I cry out softly in discomfort, and his lips cover mine in order to drink the sound from me. His hands settle on my wrists, his thumbs rubbing soothing circles as he struggles to remain immobile within me.
"You okay?" he asks in time to his short panting breaths.
Inhaling deeply, I just nod. His jaw is clenched in restraint, much in the same way as my inner walls are clamped tightly around him. The pain eventually subsides enough for me to tilt my hips experimentally. I feel him move within me, and he hisses in response.
"Isabella.…" he groans again, this time in warning. "Please don't do that right now. I'm not gonna last as it is."
My fingers release his shoulders and slide slowly down his sides and past his waist to rest upon his backside. I tilt my hips again, digging my fingers into his pale skin, urging him forward.
"Oh shit," he groans, as his hips buck forward uncontrollably.
He was right; it doesn't last long at all. In fact, he only manages three thrusts before he is arching above me, calling out my name in pleasure. I watch the corded muscles of his neck and shoulders strain with the strength of his release. A second later, he slumps onto my chest. I raise my hands to his hair, stroking soothingly.
"I'm sorry," he whispers against the skin between my breasts. "I should have made this better for you."
"It's okay, Edward. I don't think it's supposed to be good the first time, at least for the girl. But you were kind and gentle, and took the time to make sure that I was okay. That makes this perfect in my eyes. So, thank you, Edward."
His lips brush the curve of my breast before he rolls off me. He tilts his head to look at me, gratitude spilling from his eyes. I smile widely at him in return.
"I should be thanking you, Isabella, for everything you've given me tonight. I feel like you've gotten nothing in return."
I lean down to kiss him on the lips, then grasp his face between my hands. "You've given me everything, Edward."
He shakes his head and opens his mouth, and I drop my hand to slide a finger against his lips.
"Yes, you have," I assure. "You gave me you. And that's the only thing I have ever wanted. The rest will come. We have a lifetime to work on it."
He smiles at me. "A lifetime… I like the sound of that."
"And believe me, Isabella, I will work my ass off to make it up to you, to keep you happy."
"I know you will. Your family's future depends on it."
"Our future depends on it. I love you, Isabella. You, and only you. Forever."
"Forever?" I ask with a wry smile. "That's a long time. Are you sure about that?"
"I've never been more sure of anything in my life. Besides, it's written in the book, and I've learned my lesson where that thing is concerned…"
I look at him with raised eyebrows.
"You can't fight fate, Isabella. I knew the moment that I first saw you that you were my fate."
"Me, too," I admit softly.
Later in the night, I lean back into Edward's naked body, sighing contentedly.
"Are you ready to start working on that forever? Don't you have some happiness to make up for?"
He laughs. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah, I'm sure."
"Then, hell, yeah, I'm ready."
For a while, the only noise in the room is the quiet rustle of the bed linens, the smacking of lips, the sliding of skin. The sounds of love.
This time, I reach the heavens and float dreamily amongst the stars for quite some time. While I'm there, I swear I see images of our future. Our happy future: college, marriage, children. Everything I've ever wanted with him. When I finally float back to earth, I know that everything will work out fine. That our life together has just begun.
I swear, it's even better than magic.
A/N: This story was quite different for me in many ways. I have never written anything supernatural/fantasy before, so I hope I didn't butcher the mythology behind witchcraft. In that regard, for simplicity's sake, I have chosen to refer to males as "witches" in this story, even though I think that some people refer to them as wizards.
I chose to set this story in 2008 solely b/c Halloween was on Friday that year. I needed them to be in school during the day, then have the weekend to follow.
And yes, they were protected! I am a safety girl all the way, 100% of the time! I just hit the word limit, and decided that 'reaching for a condom' was something that could be eliminated for the sake of space.
Charmed is an American television series that originally aired from October 7, 1998, until May 21, 2006, on The WB Television Network. The series was created in 1998 by writer Constance M. Burge and was produced by Aaron Spelling and his Spelling Television company, with the show runner being writer-director Brad Kern (from Wikipedia).
My favorite movie about witchcraft is The Craft. What's yours?