Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight.
I pushed my glasses up my nose and looked myself over in the full length mirror. Alice had dressed me in black dress pants and a light blue button up shirt. My long, gangly body looked somehat decent in the outfit, but I knew that no matter how well my sister dressed me up, I would always be awkward. This I was certain of; it was my lot in life.
With my glasses, puny frame, and distressingly unmanageable bronze hair, I was classified as a geek, a nerd, an undesirable. I had utterly no luck with women whatsoever; not one of the Cullens lucky enough to be bestowed with the charm, charisma, and dashing good looks to pick up any woman I wanted. I was not blessed with the coordiantion to play any of the sports that women seemed to find appealing, nor did I seem to possess the personality that they looked for in a partner. I was a fumbling, bumbling idiot, who had absolutely no skill when it came to wooing the fairer sex. I was inept around women, awkward and unattractive in their eyes. And I was okay with that or so I had convinced myself to believe.
However that case may be, my sister had still insisted on setting me up on a date for tonight; a new girl in her History class. She recently transferred from somewhere back East and Alice had taken it upon herself to attach herself to the poor, unsuspecting girl. They had become pretty fast friends but I still had yet to meet her. Alice had described her as shy and funny, clumsier than a blind elephant, and sweet as pie. She was a History major, and that knowledge gave me some hope that we would have something to discuss during what was sure to be an uncomfortable dinner at an Italian restaurant that I had never been to or heard of.
"Edward, get your ass out here," my sister yelled from the living room. Her high-pitched whine was painful against my eardrums. "You're going to be late picking up Bella."
I sighed and rolled my eyes. She was such a pest. "I saw that," she bellowed. "Don't roll your eyes at me, Edward Cullen."
I stopped in my tracks. How the hell did she see that? Sometimes, I swore that girl was psychic. I had a mind to just lock myself in my room and refuse to come out, but what could I do? She was my sister. Without her incessant nagging and repeated insistence that I tag along with her and her friends on the weekends - invitations that I declined more than accepted - I would have been a total recluse instead of just the semi-anti-social butterfly I was now. The least I could do was escort her friend around Seattle.
I finally stepped out of the safe confines of my room – my sanctuary, my haven - which contained all my Star Trek paraphernalia, my science ribbons and awards, and bookshelves filled with comics, sci-fi books and graphic novels, and looked back at it with longing. I tried to keep most of my geeky material back home in Forks, but a few of my more precious items I took with me, to keep close. They were a nice comfort to me when I was home alone while everyone else was out on a date or at another party. Parties weren't my scene and I was more than glad to avoid those situations when I could, but dates with girls were few and far between and I found myself alone most weekends. I put up a good front for my family, not letting them see how much it truly hurt to be alone, but on the inside, it stung more deeply than they knew. I knew I wasn't the most attractive guy around, but I wasn't so bad to talk to after I finally found my voice, and I've been told I'm a great listener.
I looked at my sister, waiting for me at the end of the hall, her eyes conveying her annoyance. She was practically screaming at me with her eyeballs. "You're a real pain in the ass, you know that?" I asked her, fidgeting with the collar of my dress shirt as I walked past her into the living room.
She nodded as she came around me and seated herself on the arm of the couch where Jasper – my roommate and her boyfriend - was watching the game. "I do know that. But that's why you love me." She smiled sweetly and flipped her short hair dramatically for effect. I rolled my eyes, as was custom when I was in her presence. She just brought it out in me.
"Well, how do I look?" I raised my arms out to my sides briefly before letting them fall back against my legs.
She eyed me meticulously as she appraised my appearance. Jasper's eyes were fixed on our wide-screen, all his attention focused entirely on the Dallas/Giants game he Tivod from last Sunday. Jasper was Texas through and through; from his Southern drawl to his unending love for the Cowboys, and he never missed a football game. And if he had to, he was sure to record it somehow, some way. It was s habit Alice was determined to break him out of, even if it killed her.
Alice lifted off her spot on the couch and began circling me. I felt uneasy as she carefully stepped around me, brushing at my sleeve, pulling at my shirt, messing with my hair. I felt under attack.
"Alice," I said, catching her attention.
Her head rose up slowly in my direction, her mind and eyes still focused on my attire. "Hmm?" She was clearly distracted. Clothes did that to her often.
"It was more of a rhetorical question. I don't really care how you think I look."
She fixed a steady gaze on me as she placed her hands on her hips and scowled. "I will not have my own brother looking a mess while on a date with my best friend."
"Best friend? You just met the girl," I reasoned with a roll of my eyes.
She crossed her tiny arms over her chest. "She can still be my best friend, Edward," she shot back sharply. "And I won't have you looking anything but your best." With that she unbuttoned the top button of my shirt.
I immediately buttoned it back up, more comfortable with it closed. "I like it like this."
"But it looks-"
"Geeky?" I finished for her.
She grimaced at the word. She never did like how I saw myself and repeatedly told me so. "Stifling was the word I was going for." And she unbuttoned it once again.
"Whatever," I mumbled under my breath. I left it unbuttoned. Because I knew that some how, some way, she would find out if I buttoned it back up.
She continued to poke and prod me, but for the most part, the button was the only real issue she had with how I looked. I just didn't understand why she set this date up in the first place if I wasn't up to her standards.
The thought tumbled around in my head over and over, begging for an answer, and so I finally voiced the question out loud. "Why did you set me up with her, anyway?" I asked dejectedly.
She sighed, obviously picking up on my tone. "Listen, I know you have a very poor opinion of yourself, but contrary to popular Edward belief, you're quite a catch." She raised an eyebrow, daring me to object. I didn't. She finally eyed my hair, transfixed by something on the top of my head. "Besides, it wasn't my idea," she mumbled, playing with an errant lock of hair on my head.
I stared down at her, not entirely sure what she meant. "What is that supposed to mean? Whose idea was it, then?"
She shook her head quickly and grabbed my keys off the table behind the sofa. "Nothing. Forget it. You're gonna be late." She dropped my keys in my hand, threw a sports jacket in my arms, and opened the door, ushering me out quickly.
I turned to face her, mouth open, ready to demand an answer, when the door closed in my face.
I listened to the radio while making my way through the streets of Seattle, my stomach doing somersaults the whole ride to Bella's dorm. I didn't date much, having only been out with a handful of girls, and my nerves were getting the better of me. I'd had one girlfriend, my senior year of high school, but after a couple of months of awkward conversations on the phone, four really uncomfortable dates, and one disastrous kiss, Angela and I realized we were more suited to be friends than anything else. We ended things amicably, and to this day, I still occasionally receive an email or text message from her telling me about her time at Louisiana State. She was currently dating the head of the golf team, and from the way things sounded, she was well on her way to becoming Mrs. Ben Cheney in no time.
I pulled into an empty spot in front of Dormitory Four on the South side of campus. I cut the car's engine and quickly began doing some deep breathing exercises to prepare myself for another catastrophic evening. I was used to dates ending terribly, and this was soon to be just another one to add to the short list of epic fails.
It had been almost a year since my last date, which ended in ruin, though I would venture to say that was a rather loose term to describe the evening. Due to circumstances out of my control - bumper to bumper traffic - I was over twenty minutes late picking up my date that evening. If that wasn't bad enough, she was thoroughly displeased with my venue choice for dinner at a local sushi place, referred to me by my brother Emmett as the perfect place to impress a girl.
The meal was unbearably quiet; neither of us having anything in common other than her cousin was dating my brother. She would make backhanded comments about my taste in music and literature, and was appalled by the fact that Rosalie would set her up with a Trekkie; a snide remark she did not keep to herself but was oh so gracious enough to speak aloud for me and our neighboring diners to hear.
I had planned on taking her to a movie following dinner, which she grudgingly agreed to go to. We were only an hour in when I unintentionally spilled my soda all over her, ruining her designer skirt that apparently, had gone out of season. I still to this day don't know if it was entirely an accident or if on some subconscious level, I did it on purpose in retaliation for the Trekkie comment. I'd like to believe that I had the balls to do that sort of thing, but I'm sad to say, I just don't have that sort of vindictiveness in me, no matter how much someone may deserve it.
Needless to say, she demanded to be taken home immedaitely, and I never heard from her again. Not that I would have inquired about another date had she contacted me after that eventful night. I was under the impression Tanya only went out with me as a favor to my older brother's girlfriend Rosalie. It was sweet of Rose to look out for me, but I had hoped that my family would eventually realize that dating wasn't high on my list of priorities. Ever since then, Emmett and Rose have stayed out of my love life. Alice was another story entirely. She never listened to anything I asked; hence, the date tonight.
I made my way up to the sixth floor, the light in the elevator flickering on and off with each pass of a floor level. I wondered if it would make it all six flights. The elevator dinged as it stopped at my desired destination, and the creaky doors slid open with some obvious effort. I stepped out into the corridor and took a quick survey of my surroundings. Just as I noticed the blonde-haired, hockey jersey clad kid at the opposite end of the hall, a football whizzed by my nose, missing it by mere centimeters. I stumbled back against the elevator doors, thanking God above that they weren't still open for me to fall straight through and onto my ass.
"Nice glasses," someone commented snidely from my left.
Pushing said glasses up my nose, I turned to the person in question. He was a few inches shorter than me, but his build was larger by a landslide, reminding me of a slightly smaller version of my brother Emmett. He wore a pair of cut off jean shorts, a wife-beater, and sneakers with no socks. His tan skin was much darker than mine, his dark hair slicked back. He glared at me from his spot next to a half-empty vending machine.
I cleared my throat and pulled at the hem of my jacket. "Which way is room 6C?" I asked nervously.
"What ya need to know that for?" His narrow eyes scanned me suspiciously.
I didn't see how that was any of his concern, but not wanting to be late, I answered him. "I'm picking someone up."
He continued to eye me warily as he pointed a thumb over his shoulder. I briskly walked past him without another word, his gaze remaining steady on me.
I quickly made my way down the hall and found Bella's dorm room easily. I reached a shaky fist to knock. I rapped on it twice, and after about a minute, the door opened to a girl with reddish-brown curly hair. Her hazel eyes looked back at me, one eyebrow raised questioningly, her arms crossed over her chest. I swallowed uneasily. She had an oval, egg-shaped face, and thin, almost non-existent, straight lips. Her hairline overtook her brow, leaving very little space between her eyebrows and hair. She began to tap her foot impatiently. I looked down at her slipper-covered foot as it beat against the tan carpet.
"Well….can I help you?" she snipped.
My eyes shot up to hers. "Uh-I-uh….." I found my self immensely frightened by this girl and I couldn't help the ensuing stammering that followed. Though, I firmly feel that anyone would have been afraid of the wild banshee that stood before me. "Are you Bella?" I finally managed to say.
Please, God, no. If this was her, I was walking away right now and completely writing Alice off as my sister. Lord knows I wouldn't miss her pestering.
She snorted and opened the door wider. "Yeah, you wish."
I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I certainly dodged a bullet there. I was thankful beyond belief at the news, but at the same time, I was highly insulted by her comment. I may not have been a ladies man - which was apparent to anyone who took a look at me - but I had much higher standards than that. I would rather die a bitter old man with nothing but my action figures and books to keep me company than ever spend a moment with her. I would rather die a virgin, which was bound to happen regardless. I should have told her off, said something, anything, but being the pussy that I am, I couldn't bring myself to do it.
I followed her into the den, which consisted of a sofa, two lounge chairs, a TV stand with no TV, a small fridge and a microwave, and no sign of anyone else. Bella's roommate plopped down onto the couch and picked up a gossip magazine, flipping through the pages.
"Um….do you know when she'll be ready?" I asked cautiously, not really wanting to hear her speak again, but at the same time, needing to know how much time it would be before I was out of her vicinity.
Without sparing me another glance she called out to Bella. "Bella, your date's here!" One of her boney fingers turned another page.
I rolled my eyes and leaned back against the wall opposite the only closed door. I stared resolutely at my feet as I let myself be consumed by the deafening silence of the room, periodically broken by the sound of pages flipping through the air. I didn't dare try start up any kind of conversation with the witch sitting ten feet away from me, so instead I focused my eyes on the floor in front of me and thought of what I would do later in the evening after what I was certain would be a train wreck of a date. It was a toss up between the Next Generation marathon that was running on the SyFy channel tonight or playing Halo online until 3:00 AM.
Definitely Next Generation.
Fortunately, after only a couple of minutes the door in front of me opened with a small creak. I lifted my eyes slightly and caught sight of two small feet in open toed black heels. I trailed my eyes further up to long milky white legs that got lost beneath flowing purple lace. I followed the billowing skirt from the top of the knee up to the waist of its owner. The body of the dress hugged her curves sinfully, a small V dipping down toward her breasts. The capped sleeves cupped her shoulders, leaving the rest of her arms bare and exposed. I followed the column of her neck up to her face, only to be stunned by her radiant beauty.
All I could think was, I owe Alice a shopping trip, or two….or perhaps a hundred.
She had deep, expressive brown eyes, and long flowing light brown hair. It hung in loose waves over her shoulders and down her back, reaching just to the middle. Her skin was creamy and looked unbelievably smooth. I had to clasp my hands together to keep from reaching out and touching it to see if it was indeed as soft as it looked. The deep plum color of the dress made her skin jump out at me. It was luminous. Her pink lips glistened in the faint light of the room, her lips full and pouty. And I watched, captivated, as they began to pull into a heart-stopping smile, revealing a perfect set of teeth.
She definitely had braces in her youth.
"Edward?" she asked, her eyes lighting up, the brown melting into a rich chocolate.
I swallowed thickly and nodded, completely dumbstruck by her beauty. Was she seriously my date? I cleared my throat after an uncomfortable amount of time staring at her and straightened myself up from my lean against the wall. I raked a hand nervously through my hair and reluctantly made full eye contact.
"You, uh, you look lovely."
Her cheeks tinted a light pink and I couldn't help but smile. I did that to her.
"Thank you, so do you," she said softly. She leaned into her room and grabbed a small black purse before shutting her bedroom door. She glanced over at her roommate. "See you later, Jessica."
Jessica waved her hand at us, her nails covered in blood red polish. "Have fun," she mumbled.
We walked out into the hall and made our way back to the elevator in deafening silence. I occasionally peeked at her from the corner of my eye, stealing glances of her when I could. Why in God's name would Alice set me up with such a ravishing woman? Why would Bella even agree to go? This date was sure to be a disaster. I was positive I would make a complete fool of myself.
As we came upon the elevator, the two guys from earlier were still tossing the football back and forth in the hallway, and still inconveniencing those trying to get by. As we edged carefully around them, the burly one from earlier called out to Bella.
"Bella, who is this guy?"
We both stopped at the sound of her name, Bella looking up at me apologetically as we turned to face him. He ran up to her quickly, a scowl set on his face, his eyes fixed on me.
"Is he your date or something?" he pried.
Her eyes became slits. "How is that any of your business, Jake?" she demanded, her body becoming rigid as she crossed her arms in front of her.
His gaze softened slightly as he tore his eyes away from me and set them on her. "It's my business because you're my girl."
He threw me another glare and I instinctively took a step back. I raised my hands in defense, wanting to avoid any unnecessary trouble. "I had no idea she had a boyfriend, man. I don't want any troub-"
"He's not my boyfriend," Bella said stiffly through clenched teeth, cutting me off and glowering at the imbecile before us. "He just thinks he is." She continued to leer at him, clearly miffed at his comment.
"What are you talking about?" he asked bewildered. "We went out. You said you liked me." He gave her what I assume he thought was a charming smile.
I watched in amusement as Bella rolled her eyes and sighed heavily, throwing her hands up dramatically. "We went out once, Jake," she said, holding up a finger to emphasize her point. "It was only ice cream. And I said I liked you as a friend."
His triumphant expression disappeared and his shoulders fell in defeat. "So you'd rather go out with this geek instead of me?" he asked, gesturing to me with a curt nod. "You can do so much better than him."
His words stung. I shouldn't have let him get to me, but he did. It's not that I didn't know I was a loser, but I didn't need it thrown in my face, especially in front of Bella. It was blatantly obvious that she was way out of my league, and I didn't need the reminder.
"I'd rather have a giraffe spit in my face than date you." I snorted, holding back my laughter. Charming, I know. Bella smiled up at me before turning her attention back to Jake. "And for your information Edward is extremely smart and caring and courteous. He has a 4.0 GPA, he's pre-med, he volunteers at the local animal shelter on the weekends, and he's an absolute gentleman. When was the last time you opened a door for a woman, huh, Jake? Or even walked by one without checking out her chest?"
My eyes widened in astonishment. I gaped at her. I was completely floored by her rant. How did she know so much about me? More importantly, why was she defending me? She barely knew me.
Jake was noticeably shocked and he could hardly find the words to respond. "I-I've opened the door for plenty of girls," he stuttered out. "And I don't check out anyone's chest."
"Please. You were practically drooling as the girl bent down to get our ice cream. Your face was pressed so tightly to the glass I thought you were gonna fall right through." She turned and pressed the button to the elevator as she mumbled, "Her chest wasn't even that impressive."
He spluttered something unintelligible and then, "You saw that?"
She gave him an incredulous look. "You're kidding, right?"
He tried to to say something else to defend his actions, but Bella wasn't interest. "Whatever," she said, turning away from him completely and pressing the elevator button over and over, willing it to arrive. "Just leave us alone."
I looked at this Jake character and shrugged my shoulders, a small smile threatening to break out across my face. His face was contorted into a strange mash of anger and embarrassment as he stared back at me, his coloring beet red. He again grumbled something incoherent under his breath and quickly turned away, slamming the football into the tile floor and stomping off. The blonde-haired guy picked up the discarded football and ran after Jake, who disappeared around the corner.
As I turned to Bella I could see she was fuming. I could practically see her shaking with anger. She kept shaking her head and mumbling stuff under her breath. Her arms were crossed as she fixed her eyes on the elevator doors, her left foot bouncing against the floor. I touched my fingers to her shoulder; a tiny gesture I hoped would comfort her. She looked up at me and her eyes softened immediately.
She was too beautiful to look so angry. "Are you alright?" I asked.
She smiled and nodded. I nearly melted into the floor at the realization that the smile was for me.
"I'm fine," she said with a wave of her hand, as if dismissing the whole incident. "It's just that Jake has been like this ever since we went out. It was three weeks ago. You'd think he'd have gotten the hint by now."
The elevator doors opened and I placed my hand against the small of Bella's back as I led her in. As the elevator swept us downward, she continued to explain.
"We went out after a class one afternoon. I was new, so I agreed to go, hoping to make a new friend." She shrugged. "I thought I made it perfectly clear that I wasn't interested in him in that way, but he seems to hear what he wants." She shook her head and laughed bitterly. "He's such an idiot."
"Well," I began. "Do you think he got the hint tonight?"
She shrugged again. "I'm not sure. He's kind of delusional," she said on a laugh.
"You can't really blame the guy, though. You're quite beautiful." I had the sudden urge to slap my hand over my mouth. Had I just said that? I am such an idiot.
But she quickly put my mind at ease when her face flushed once more and her lips drew into a smile. "Thank you," she whispered, biting her lip. The action sent a chill up my spine. I looked away from her and closed my eyes momentarily, but images of Bella were all that swam behind my closed lids.
When the doors opened on the bottom floor, I waved my arm in front of me, gesturing for Bella to exit first. She smiled as she walked by me and I soon fell in line next to her. As we walked towards my car, the wind picked up, blowing Bella's hair gently around her, sending her scent in my direction. I breathed in, catching the mesmerizing scent of freesia and just a bit of strawberries. I wanted to dip my head to the crook of her neck and breathe in deeply; to completely indulge myself in her aroma. But I refrained. That would have been creepy.
I shook myself out of those thoughts as we approached the passenger side of my pride and joy. I opened the door before she even had a chance to reach for the handle and the gesture obviously took her off guard. I may not have been the best catch, but I was raised to treat a lady right.
Bella's smile widened and her cheeks heated up again as she stepped around the door. She glanced up at me, touching my hand that rested on the top of the door. Her skin was warm and soft against my own. It startled me, eliciting a small gasp from my lips.
"You are a gentleman," she said softly, bowing her head as she slipped into the Volvo.
I felt my skin heat as well, a blush sweeping across my own cheeks. I wasn't used to compliments. Clearing my throat, I closed the door just as she settled herself in. I raced around the back of my car, completely befuddled as to how in God's name I was set up with Bella. Did my sister actually think we would hit it off? How could Alice possibly think we were compatible? It was quite clear to anyone who wasn't blind that she was far too good for a geek like me. Either way, whatever the motivation behind my sister's insane plan, I was going to go with it. However little time I had with Bella Swan, I was going to savor it.
I entered my car and started the ignition, buckling myself in as the car warmed up. The gentleman comment was still whirling through my mind, making me giddy with euphoria. She thought I was a gentleman, and she knew quite a bit about me, which brought up the question that had been nagging at the back of my mind ever since she told off Jake. How did she know so much about me? I was certain that it was my sister who must have informed her of some of my more redeeming qualities, but the way she spoke about me made it seem as if she knew me personally.
"Bella?" I asked, nervous now to say the question aloud.
I swallowed and fiddled with my galsses on my face. "Um, how do you know so much about me?"
She turned to me and frowned slightly. "What do you mean?"
"Upstairs," I said, throwing a thumb over my shoulder in the direction of her dorm. "You seemed to know a lot about me. Did Alice tell you all of that?"
She blushed again and I couldn't help the smile that formed on my lips from the sight of it. I loved that I was able to do that to her.
"Well, actually, Alice did tell me some of it," she answered shyly. "But, to be perfectly honest, I've actually seen you around campus quite a bit; in the library studying, in the cafeteria reading, opening doors for all the girls." She smiled timidly and tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear.
I cringed slightly at the last remark. If she had seen me being courteous to the girls on campus, then she had seen how they completely ignored me when I did so. Not that I minded really, but it was still rude to not even acknowledge someone who was opening a door for you. Though, at the same time, I couldn't help but be a little flattered that Bella had taken notice of me, especially since no one else ever had.
"We're also in the same philosophy class," she continued. "With Mr. Johnson."
I looked at her, perplexed. "We are?"
I didn't remember ever seeing her. Not once. And I was certain that had I seen her, she would have been forever imprinted on my mind from that day on.
She nodded. "You sit in the back, me in the front. Our paths don't really cross. I notice you usually keep to yourself and then duck out of class through the back door as soon as it ends."
I closed my eyes in embarrassment. "That sounds like me," I confirmed with a nod. "Not exactly the social butterfly."
Could I be anymore of a freak? I was so consumed in my own little Edward world - not taking the chance to get to know anyone in the class - that I completely missed out on the fact that this ravishing creature sitting in my car was in my philosophy class. If it hadn't been for Alice, I may never have met her. That would have been a travesty.
As I turned, embarrassed, to put the car into drive, I felt Bella's small hand on my arm. "It's alright, Edward. I'm not that social, either. I like my solitude. I prefer to sit at home with a good book rather than follow the party circuit."
I smiled crookedly. "I guess we're just two peas in a pod then, aren't we?"
She nodded and smiled. "I guess so."
Throughout the entire meal, I was utterly enthralled with Bella Swan. Not only was she intelligent, but she was incredibly funny, sweet, kind, and absolutely breathtaking. Her stories enraptured me to no end, and I found, that if given the chance, I could converse all day and night with her on books and music. Even movies. And I have never been able to talk to anyone about the movies that I love to watch. But there I was, on a date with a gorgeous woman who shared my taste in cheesy cinema. I was on cloud nine.
I was pleased to learn that she enjoyed classical music, though she confessed to not being able to play any instrument or carry a tune. However, she did possess the strange talent of playing water glasses; something I begged her to show me at the table, which she reluctantly agreed to. She was rewarded with a round of applause from me and the rest of the patrons and staff that crowded the small pack patio of the restaurant. She was mortified at the attention, but took it all in with immense grace.
She spoke very highly of her parents, who both lived back in Albany where she grew up. She described her mother as vibrant and fun-loving, always keeping her father on his toes with her crazy antics and new hobby of the week. Last week it was Stand-Up comedy, this week it was currently soap making.
She depicted her father as very down-to-earth and happy-go-lucky. He enjoyed the simple things in life like fishing and watching football on Sundays. He loved his family deeply, a trait that Bella clearly inherited from him. Her love for her parents shone brightly during that conversation.
I was surprised to find that the evening was going so well, never in a million years thinking I would be on a date with someone so absolutely captivating. I could feel myself slowly beginning to fall for her, try as I might to avoid it. It wasn't difficult, once you knew the kind of person she was. I just couldn't help that I liked her. I had always tried to avoid falling for girls so out of my league, but then again, I never came across anyone like Bella.
She was kind and funny. Her intellect astounded me on more than one occasion, and her surprising interest in Spider-Man comics made her that much more appealing. She was utterly breathtaking, that much was obvious, but there was a hidden nerdy side to her that I found positively intriguing. I wanted desperately to ignore that we had so much in common, if not to avoid embarrassment when I realized she was not interested in me in the same way that I was interested in her, than to at the very least, protect my heart. I had not had much experience with women, but I knew better than anyone to guard my heart. Girls just weren't interested in guys like me and it was easier to avoid the inevitable than to take any risks.
After dinner we took a walk through the streets of Seattle. We meandered down the sidewalks, our conversation continuing to flow as it did in the restaurant. I may have decided early on that I wasn't going to pursue Bella, but I was still determined to spend as much time as I could with her until our night ended. I wondered - after knowing how amazing Bella was - if I could really settle for just being friends with her. At least I would still have her in my life in some way, if not the way I wanted.
"So, Edward," Bella began shyly as we gazed at the windows in the darkened shops. "Alice tells me you want to be a doctor."
I nodded as I fixed my eyes on the sidewalk. "Watch your step."
I gestured toward the shattered remains of a beer bottle ahead of us as I lightly placed my hand on her elbow and guided her around the shards. She smiled. I watched, enthralled, as goose bumps peppered the skin on her arms. For just a moment I imagined it was my touch that had done it to her. But I knew better than that.
The night air was growing chillier by the second and the wind had kicked up a notch. I quickly removed my jacket and placed it gingerly on her shoulders. She smiled and pulled the lapels more securely around her body, her fingers touching mine gently as she did. My breath caught in my throat at the skin on skin contact and her eyes immediately found mine. She tilted her head down, breaking eye contact, and bit her bottom lip. My attention was drawn to that simple action and I couldn't help but imagine what her lips would feel like against mine.
"Thank you," she said softly, almost inaudibly, breaking me out of my musings.
I swallowed the lump in my throat and ignored the hairs that were currently standing up on the back of my neck. "You're welcome."
"So, a doctor, right?" she continued, her voice breathy.
I cleared my throat, shaking my head minutely to gather my thoughts. "Uh, yeah…..a doctor."
"Have you always wanted to do that?" Her lips wrapped themselves sinuously around the words, and my mind was once again drawn to her enticing mouth. I wondered briefly if she would mind if I kissed her.
I closed my eyes momentarily to regain my composure and turned my gaze to the sidewalk ahead of us. I thought over my answer. What was her question again? As I recalled the words that left her lips I eventually found my voice. "Not always, no. I used to want to be a writer, but I'm not very good at it." Bella nodded and I let the silence stretch between us for a few heartbeats. "What about you? What are your plans for after school?"
She shrugged. "I'd like to be a teacher."
"History?" I implored further. She nodded again.
Once again the silence descended upon us. I didn't know where things had unexpectedly gone wrong,but our conversations began to seriously falter. I didn't know if perhaps she was suddenly bored with our evening, or if it was my fault, considering I'd been spending the last five minutes imagining her mouth on mine. Whatever it was, I needed to remedy it quickly.
I caught sight of a diner up ahead and motioned to it. "I know you said no earlier, but are you interested in some dessert?" I asked, hoping that my conversation skills would pick up once inside. I seemed to have better luck when food was placed in front of me. I had knocked dinner out of the park.
Her eyes brightened and she nodded enthusiastically. "Sounds great!" Her eyes sought mine. "I think we worked off dinner, don't you? I could go for a milkshake."
I held the door open as she brushed by me and over the threshold. The gust of wind that sailed by kicked up her scent and blew it around me. The aroma was beginning to do funny things to my head and I groaned softly at the sweet smell. Bella's eyes flicked over to me and I froze, embarrassed that she heard that noise come out of me.
Her brow furrowed slightly and her lips turned down fractionally. "Are you alright, Edward?"
I nodded as my mind raced over possible excuses for my barbaric behavior. "I'm fine, just a headache, is all." I hoped beyond hope that she bought my absurd lie.
Her frown deepened and she turned to me, worry etched in her features. "Do you need to go home? If you don't feel well I don't want to keep you out."
I began to panic, my excuse biting me in the ass. I was both ecstatic and devastated at her genuine concern for me. I was over the moon that she seemed to care enough about my well-being to want me to go home and get some rest, but I was worried that she would force me to actually go home and do just that when all I wanted to do was spend a little more time in her company.
I shook my head quickly. "Nope. I'm fine. It'll pass."
"Are you sure?" Her eyes searched my face. "We can cut the night short if you want." Her expression seemed sad and dejected. Did she not want the night to end, either?
I nodded quickly and ushered her through the door before she could insist. "Definitely."
She smiled warmly and shrugged nonchalantly as we seated ourselves at the counter. "Alright. If you're sure."
"I am," I assured her as I motioned for the waitress.
The short plump woman waddled over to us and smiled pleasantly, her name tag reading Enid. She pulled out a pad and pen and asked, "Need any menus or do you know what you want?" Her voice was hoarse and rough. I pegged her for a smoker. The pack of Parliaments peaking out of her apron proved my suspicions. She began tapping her pen against the pad and snapping her gum in her mouth, all the while her eyes flitting back and forth between Bella and I, a knowing gleam in her grey eyes.
"I think just a couple of milkshakes," I answered. "Chocolate for me." I turned to Bella.
She nodded. "Chocolate sounds great." She licked her lips involuntarily as she said it and my heart stuttered at the sight.
"Alright," Enid chirped. "One chocolate milkshake, two straws. Got it, kids."
My head snapped toward the waitress as she repeated our order incorrectly, but before I could rectify that and tell her it was two milkshakes, Bella leaned in closer to me, elbows on the table and beamed up at her saying, "Yup, that'll do it."
I bit back my words and swallowed as I nodded in agreement; two straws, one milkshake.
Best. Dessert. Ever.
I began rapping my fingers against the linoleum countertop as I glanced at Bella sideways. She mimicked my movements, tapping her fingers in time with mine. She breathed in deeply and let out a long sigh.
"So, what are your plans for tomorrow night?" she asked, her eyes on her fingers. Her voice was an octave higher than I'd heard it all night, and I once again saw the blush sweep over her body.
"Probably just staying in and watching some movies. It's what I usually do." It was lame, but it was the truth. I watched the same movies over and over again. Normally I didn't mind, however, this time, I wished very much to be spending that time with Bella.
I found myself letting my mind wander. I let it concoct unrealistic scenarios of Bella and I together. I knew better than to get my hopes up, especially when it came to girls, but I couldn't stop the images of her and I as couple from passing through my mind. I was setting myself up for disappointment. There was no way that anything could possibly form between us. I would bet the farm on it.
"Want some company?"
My mouth fell open as I turned to her. I gawked at her in surprise. I searched her face for any sort of confirmation that what I thought I just heard her say actually came out of her mouth. She only smiled as she rested her chin in her hand, her lids opening and closing as she blinked at me.
"Wha – excuse me?"
Her smile broadened as she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. She placed her hand back down beside mine, tapping her fingers once more against the cool surface. The heat emanated off her creamy skin and licked at mine like tiny flames, setting my blood boiling.
"Would it be alright if I joined you? I was supposed to go to a party with your sister and Jasper, but I'd much rather stay in with you." Her smile was coy and embarrassed at the last part of her statement.
Had she really meant that?
I scratched the side of my head and pushed my glasses up my nose. "Um…yeah. I'd like that."
Enid came back with our order and slid the milkshake in front of us. She placed two straws down between us. "Enjoy," she rasped, winking at me before waddling over to another table.
I pulled the wrapping from my straw and sank it into the thick concoction. Bella did the same. She ducked her head to the glass, my eyes never leaving her lips as she molded them around her straw and sucked the milkshake into her mouth. Her throat bounced with each gulp she took. I kept my gaze on her as I too bent down to the glass. I took a pull on the straw and drew the chocolaty mixture into my mouth, all the while wondering if Bella would taste just as sweet. I bet she did. Her eyes met mine over our shared treat, the warm brown orbs swirling and dancing as they pulled me in. She broke free of the milkshake and smiled, her lips parting as she spoke.
"You have really beautiful eyes, Edward." I smiled a lopsided smile at her. I didn't know how to respond to that. "I think green just became my favorite color."
I moved about my room, stuffing dirty laundry into the hamper and removing any and all dirty dishes that had piled up in my room over the last week. I lived on Mac n Cheese and bagel bites. What could I say, I was in college. I made the bed, my Batman sheets peeking out at the bottom. How humiliating. I probably should have changed them.
I hadn't planned on using my TV for movie night, but the DVD player in the living room had been broken for last week in a half and I had no choice but to bring Bella into my room. I had planned on taking it apart sometime this coming week to fix it, not anticipating another date night, especially in my apartment, so I had no choice but to use mine. And boy was I nervous. This was all very new to me. I never had girls over. I was a total freakin' wreck.
I did a quick once over with the vacuum, not needing Bella to see all the stray bits of food that landed on the carpet over the past 2 months since school started. I wondered briefly if I should hide any embarrassing objects, but realized quickly that that would end up being everything I owned; from my first place trophy in the second grade spelling bee (I was still abundantly proud of that to this day) to my vintage Chubaka mask that I kept on display on my desk.
I sighed, grabbing my hair in both hands and falling back onto the bed. What the hell was I thinking agreeing to tonight? I was lucky enough to get through one date without Bella thinking I was a total lost cause, but having her in my room, with plenty of evidence to my reign as King of the Dorks, would surely prove to her that I wasn't worth her time.
I moaned to myself, rolling onto my stomach and planting my face into my Batman pillow. Luckily I was wearing my contacts tonight. I normally prefer my galsses, but I was trying to impress Bella and could use all the help I could get.
"What the hell is wrong with me?" My words were muffled by the pillow.
"Well, plenty. But I think your question was rhetorical, am I right?" my sister's voice sang. I looked up in time to see her fall onto the bed beside me, her feet crossed at the ankles, her hands behind her head. She was dressed in all black, bangles hanging from her wrists, dark purple eye shadow covering her eyes; her usual for a night out on the town with Jasper, or to the library, hell, even just to go get the mail. My sister was always dressed to impress.
"What do you want, Alice? You can't possibly make me feel any worse about myself than I already do." I buried my face back into the pillow and willed myself to melt into the bed. I was seriously considering calling and cancelling.
"You're an idiot," she quipped and I could practically hear her eyes rolling to the back of her head.
I flipped myself over and frowned up at the ceiling. My ceiling fan needed a serious dusting. "Thanks for kicking me while I'm down, sis."
Her tinkling laughter only cut deeper and I tried my best to control the urge to sneak into the bathroom later tonight and dump all her makeup down the toilet. Not only was it extremely irritating that she took up more space in this apartment that me or Jasper, considering she didn't live with us, but I really couldn't stand her always giving her two cents when it wasn't needed.
"Was there a point in you coming in here; aside from laughing at me?" I asked her, my voice bitter and dripping with resentment. I would never forgive her for fixing me up with the most perfect creature on this planet, knowing full well I was doomed from the beginning to fail.
"Yes, there was a point. The laughing was a just an added bonus."
I shot her a deathly glare, but from the look on her face, it didn't have quite the same effect as the ones she usually gave me. I sighed. "What is it then?"
She smiled and tapped her foot against my leg. "I came to calm you down. I know how worked up you get when you're nervous and I can only imagine it's doubly worse because Bella's coming over tonight."
She was right. I couldn't tell you how many times I threw up before having to go up on stage and give the Valedictorian speech to my graduating class. I was lucky Alice was there to talk me through it. "Why do you say that?"
She rolled her eyes, which I could only imagine was for the millionth time today, and said, "Because you like her. That's gotta make it worse."
"I don't like her," I replied quickly. "Why would you think that?" I couldn't for the life of me tell you why I was denying it.
"Oh, please, Edward. You were glowing when you got home last night, practically giddy as a school girl. Don't tell me you don't like her. I think I even heard you humming some silly love song."
I opened my mouth but closed it once I realized there was no point in arguing. She was right….again. I knew it. She knew it. Of course I liked Bella, and I was practically glowing last night. It had been the best date that I had ever been on, not that I had been on many.
"Listen," Alice started. "It's bad enough I'm letting you take my best friend away from me two nights in a row, but I won't let you go messing tonight up just because you're you."
"Excuse me?" I sat up and looked at her. "What's that supposed to mean?"
She crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow. "You think too much. You're gonna screw this up again, and all because you think you're not good enough."
"I'm not good enough."
"That's bullshit, Edward," she spat. I gawked at her vocabulary. It wasn't often that she cursed. "It may not have been my idea to set you two up the other night but don't think I wouldn't have done it had she not thought of it first. You two are perfect for each other."
My eyebrows pinched together as my eyes narrowed in on her. "She who?" I asked.
She slid off the bed and turned to me before heading out the door. She was smiling at me. "Think about it. She's the one who asked to get together tonight, right?"
My jaw slackened and I felt my eyes widen. "Bella asked you to set us up?"
Alice's head bobbed up and down as she confirmed my suspicion. "Yup. So don't sweat tonight, Edward. She's probably just as nervous as you are." She opened the door but I was off the bed and by her side in a heartbeat. Grabbing her tiny little arm, I turned her to face me, shutting the door with my other hand.
"Explain yourself, squirt."
She glared at me and pulled her arm from my grasp. "You know I hate it when you call me that."
"I promise to stop if you tell me everything you know." I raised an eyebrow at her and knew she couldn't pass up this opportunity.
She sighed and the sound was exasperated, like I should know what was going on. "Edward, why the hell didn't you kiss her last night?"
I took a step back and averted my eyes, glancing at her sideways as I awkwardly put my hands into my pockets. I looked down at my feet, shuffling them like a child. "Did Bella say something?"
She nodded and crossed her arms, sticking out her hip. "Not in so many words. She said that she thought you guys were having a great time last night and that she was really looking forward to seeing you again. When I asked her if you made a move, her silence told me everything."
I fell against the wall and let my head drop back. I looked up at the ceiling and let out a long breath. "I wanted to." I shrugged my shoulder in defeat. "But I chickened out."
I looked over at her and gave her a pitiful smile. "Because, I'm not good enough for her."
She rolled her eyes and shoved her palm against my forehead. The force of the blow sent my head backwards and into the wall. "Owwwww," I bellowed, rubbing the back of my head and then my forehead. I didn't know which was more painful. "That hurt. What the hell was that for?"
"For being an idiot. I thought we'd gone over this already." She shook her head and pinched the bridge of her nose. "You've always seen yourself as a loser, Edward." She looked up at me. "But no one else does." She paused. "Bella likes you just the way you are."
My heart immediately leapt at the thought and I couldn't help the small hesitant smile from forming on my lips. "Really?"
She laughed at the goofy look on my face and nodded. "Yes, really. Now stop being stupid? You're smarter than this. Let her know how you feel." I raised an eyebrow at her. "She thinks that maybe you don't see her in that way, that maybe you just want to be friends; which she said she'll take if that's all you want to give."
Well that changes things.
After Alice and Jasper left for the evening, I paced the length of my room while I waited for Bella to arrive. I wasn't sure exactly how I was going to make my feelings for Bella known, and I was planning on just winging it, considering I had know real past history when it came to dating. As I continued to circle my room, beads of sweat trickling down my forehead, there was a knock on the door. I made a beeline for the living room. I ripped open the door, nearly taking my arm off with the force of it, and was met with a smiling Bella.
"I followed someone in when they opened the door. I hope that's okay." She began chewing on her lip, and I was so transfixed by the action that I left her standing out there without inviting her in. I just stood there, gawking at her. I finally shook my head and moved aside to let her by.
"That's fine." I cleared my throat as she swept by me. "What's that?" I asked, indicating the dish in her hand.
She smiled again and held it out to me. "I made some chocolate chip cookies. I thought it might be nice to have a snack after the pizza."
I breathed in the sweet aroma of the cookies and closed my eyes and sighed. They smelled delicious. "Thanks, they smell great," I said, taking them from her hands and turning toward the kitchen. "I'll just put them in here until later."
"Hey," she said, startling me. I turned to her. "You're not wearing your glasses."
I smiled nervously. "Yeah, uh, I'm trying something new."
She quirked an eyebrow. "Well, I happen to like the glasses, Edward."
I turned back toward the kitchen as the blush swept over me. I placed the cookies on the counter and when I turned around Bella was standing in the doorway. She had her hands behind her back and she was nervously looking around the open space.
"I ordered the food about 30 minutes ago. The pizza should be here soon," I offered, not knowing what else to say. Things went so smoothly last night, but now that I knew the meaning behind all of Bella's little actions from our previous date; the way she touched my arm at the restaurant, the way she looked at me when we shared the milkshake, or even how I caught her smelling my jacket after I had given it to her. They weren't just insignificant gestures.
I thought nothing much of them last night, but tonight, knowing that she felt the same was as I did, everything was different. Everything held meaning now; every touch, every laugh, every spoken word, even every unspoken word. I wanted her to know how I felt, I wanted her to know how much I wanted to kiss her, but at the same time, I didn't want to scare her away by being to forward or coming on too strong.
She came up to me hesitantly and leaned against the counter beside me. "How much do I owe you?" Her eyes met mine and I smiled.
"It's on me, Bella."
She shook her head. "No way. I'm the one intruding on your evening. The least I can do is pay for the pizza." She slid her hand into her pack pocket and came out with a twenty. "Here, this should cover it, I think."
I took the money from her hand and reached around her, slipping it back into her pants pocket. And as my finger dipped into the denim pocket that was so tight against her backside, her chest flush up against me, her breath fanning my neck, I realized just how inappropriate a move that was. But as I looked down, ready to remove my finger from her jeans, an apology on the tip of my tongue, I found it caught in my throat as I gazed at her.
Her eyes danced with something indecipherable. Something I had only seen in movies and on TV, but never in person. Her brown eyes had somehow become darker, if that was even possible. Her skin was flushed and her lips parted. A small gasp reached my ears just as her eyes darted to my lips. Her small tongue swept out and across her lower lip. It glistened in the light overhead, beckoning me closer. I felt her fingers curl around my upper arms in a way that begged me not to stop, to not pull away. And I didn't want to. I couldn't if I tried.
I dipped my head down to hers and I felt her lean up on her toes, bringing her tantalizing lips closer to mine. I breathed in a ragged breath as my eyes remained locked on hers, her lids getting heavier, dropping slowly over her eyes. I felt my eyes close as my lips touched hers faintly, but before I could press further into her to deepen the kiss, the buzzer went off, alerting me that the pizza was here.
"Shit," I hissed under my breath, pulling away from Bella abruptly. I watched her turn away quickly, the blush on her cheeks only deepening as she hid her face and turned toward the counter.
"I'll be right back," I said and she nodded without looking at me, busying herself with finding dishes in the cabinet.
I ran to the intercom and buzzed in the delivery guy. I fell against the door and raked both my hands through my hair roughly. I could only imagine what it looked like at that moment; standing on end like some electroshock therapy patient. The word obscene came to mind. I slid to the floor, resting my elbows on my knees and hung my head between my legs.
Shit, shit, shit. We almost kissed. My lips had only just ghosted over hers when we were interrupted. I wanted to go back and finish what I started, desperately wanting to feel her lips more firmly pressed against mine, but I didn't know if the moment was lost now. Could I just go up to her and kiss her? Was she waiting for me to come back in and finish the job? Why wasn't I better at this?
A knock behind me brought me out of my thoughts and I swung open the door. A pimply-faced kid from my Psych class stood in the hall holding a pizza box in hand.
I nodded. "Hi, James."
"Another night in?" he asked, handing me the pizza.
I nodded again and handed him a twenty. "Same as every Saturday."
He looked over my shoulder briefly and smiled. His eyes flicked back over to me and he said, "Not exactly the same, bro." He waggled his eyebrows and I glanced over my shoulder, catching sight of Bella in the doorway to the kitchen.
I rolled my eyes. "Keep the change," I barked at him as I slammed the door in his face. I heard his laughter fade away down the hall.
I placed the pizza box on the coffee table and turned to Bella, who was looking exceptionally nervous as she played with her fingers and bit her lip. The kiss was lingering in the air, hanging over us like an unanswered question. Her eyes penetrated me, they had a hold of me and I couldn't look away. I knew I needed to say something.
"Listen, Bella." I swallowed the lump in my throat and raked a hand through my hair again. Remembering too late what my fingers had done to it prior, Bella giggled at the disastrous mop atop my head. I quickly ran my fingers through it, trying my best to tame of it what I could. "Uh, listen, Bella, about what happened in the kitchen…." Why was I talking about it? Wasn't it taboo to talk about it? Why couldn't I just be a man and kiss her?
I watched as her face fell slightly. "What about it?" She looked somber, her eyes losing the life I had seen just seconds ago.
"It shouldn't have happened."
Her face turned fierce and she glared at me. "Why not?" I felt like reaching out and touching my finger to the spot between her eyebrows, my fingers itching to smooth the crease there.
"Because, you're out of my league, Bella."
Her expression chnaged to one of surprise and she stepped closer to me. "Why would you think that?"
I waved a hand between us. "Just look at us. Look at you and then look at me."
She stepped a little closer, her body so close I could feel the warmth radiating off of her. Her scent consumed me and I inadvertently breathed her in. I was such a pervert.
"I am looking at you, Edward. And I don't see anything I don't like."
I wanted to smile at her words, but the reality stopped me from doing so. "I'm a loser, Bella. You deserve someone worth your time, someone more like you."
She crossed her arms and looked at me. "And who am I, exactly?" she questioned with a quirk of her eyebrow.
"You're smart, funny and absolutely gorgeous. You're kind and caring. You're the kind of girl who dates the popular guys."
"And you don't think you're any of those things?"
I shook my head. "I'm nobody."
She frowned. "You're somebody to me." She took my hand and the spark that ignited between us jolted me. "Now, I don't know where the low self-esteem comes from, Edward, but we're seriously going to have to work on that." She smiled up at me as she laced her fingers into mine. "I don't care how little you think of yourself, but I am not as amazing as you make me out to be." I opened my mouth to protest, but she wasn't finished. "So here are a few things about me that might make us equals in your eyes. And I hope that you won't think any less of me after you find these things out."
I stayed silent, eager to hear what she had to say.
"You think I'm so gorgeous, huh, well, I didn't look like this in high school. I was a good twenty pounds over weight until I got mono my senior year. And the extra weight left behind some pretty horrendous stretch marks on my hips and ass." My lips twitched at the rye comment and her eyes lit up when she saw my demeanor change.
"I had braces until I was sixteen, and I'm talking rubber bands and everything." A laugh left me and she smiled. "I still wear a retainer to bed at night which causes some major nighttime drooling. I mean, my pillow is drenched in the morning."
I laughed a little harder, feeling my shoulders relax. She gazed off to the side, rummaging through her mind for some more tidbits to tell me. She glanced up at me sideways. "Oh, yeah, and I rocked the side ponytail for most of my freshman year."
I raised an eyebrow. "Really? The side ponytail? Didn't that go out of style in the early nineties?"
She shrugged. "You're just lucky I didn't try to bring back jellies." She looked up at me through her lashes and gave me a half smile. "So, what do you think of me now? Still think I'm perfect?" She was nervous. I could see it in her eyes.
I smiled down at her. She looked up at me anxiously and bit her lip. That was easliy becoming my favorite thing in the world.
I could see the doubt clouding her eyes. She was worried she had revealed too much. I wanted to dispel any fears she may have had about sharing these things with me. So to ease her mind, I leaned down and gently touched my lips to hers. She instantly melted into me, pressing harder against my lips. The kiss was gentle and chaste; just a tender coming together of our lips. And as I pulled back, her eyes lit up. She was beaming.
"You're even better than I imagined, Bella."
Hope you liked it. :D Review if you get the chance.