Title: The Lobster and the Yank
Summary: AH. Sometimes you have adventures. Sometimes you have misadventures – like when your bus breaks down in the middle of the Egyptian desert. I guess the hot British guy will have to entertain you in the mean time.
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns the characters, I own the plot, Egypt owns itself.
Author's Note: For those of you who are actually British, I apologize for anything I got wrong in the way Edward talks. I might have gotten a little carried away, too. I used my Harry Potter addiction as well as my real experiences in England.
"Five - khumsa!" My friend Alice hissed in broken Arabic to our cab driver. He was trying to get us to pay five more Egyptian pounds than the ride to the Cairo bus station had been worth. Alice was determined not to be taken advantage of as a foreigner. Personally, I knew that even though it was overpriced, we could afford to pay well above the average price for a cab ride in Cairo. The exchange rate for the dollar to the Egyptian pound made us feel rather loaded. Technically, Alice was arguing with our irate driver about a meager extra American dollar charged. I sympathized with the cab driver, though I understood Alice's reasons.
Too bad Egyptian cabs didn't have the same technology as the ones in Seattle did. There was no set price for distance and time. It was all guess and check. And arguing: as was being demonstrated.
I studied the black and white cab. The seats were scruffy and worn, in addition to the dust that blew in from the desert that surrounded the outer edges of the city directly into the cab. The desert sand blew miles and miles into the depths of Cairo, creating a need for constant sweeping, beating of rugs, and occasional rubbing of eyes.
The driver began speaking furiously in Arabic, much faster and advanced than me or Alice's weak Arabic skills could understand. Alice was turning red in anger, her tiny fists clenched. I took that as an indication to step in. I butted Alice away from the window of the passenger door she was leaning into.
I passed the driver a beaten down ten pound bill. "Shokran," I said, thanking him shortly. He nodded at me without looking me in the eye, before speeding off out of the lot.
"Bella! You aren't supposed to give in!" Alice scolded me, readjusting her backpack that was larger than her, and dragging her rolling suitcase behind her towards the large bus station in front of us.
"I know, I know. I couldn't take the arguing any longer, though," I explained, dragging my own suitcase behind me. Walking through the doors a rush of cold air blew over us. It was late in the evening, since we were taking the night bus, but Cairo was still sweat-worthy in the dark. I reached in my back pocket, rechecking that my bus ticket was there. Assured of its presence, Alice and I went downstairs into the lower area of the bus station into the crowded waiting area. Buses were parked outside the building down there, awaiting passengers. All the seats were taken by Egyptian families, surrounded by a variety of forms of suitcases – from classy rolling ones, like Alice and I had, to cardboard boxes tied together with string.
Alice and I went to the area where our bus would be leaving from: number 2. I was glad they had both Arabic and English numbers labeling the bus port, seeing as we were still learning to read numbers in Arabic. It was difficult for me to remember that the English zero equated to the Egyptian five.
"The bus shouldn't be here for at least 20 minutes. Knowing the bus line, that means at least an hour," Alice said. She took a seat on her suitcase. "I'm going to go over our travel plans while we wait," she pulled out her guide book and various other papers that served as our rough itinerary. You never know what could go wrong when traveling, so plans were always rough.
"I'll go back to reading about the British occupation of Egypt," I muttered. I pulled off my backpack and started searching through it for my book. Alice and I were on a study abroad program and part of the university's curriculum required an Egyptian history class. The university was an all-English school; otherwise, I would be making absolutely no progress in my history book.
I had read several pages, arriving to the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936, when he caught my eye. Considering how few pale people there were in Egypt, seeing one from the corner of your eye alerted you to them immediately. Someone as pale as me was quite the anomaly, and many strangers had come up to me to comment. They would say, "Gameela!" which meant beautiful. Of course, I would blush, stuttering in my terrible Arabic before rushing off.
"Gameel," I whispered to myself, using the masculine version of the word to describe the spectacular piece of man leaning against a column of the bus station. He was sporting a five o'clock shadow, a healthy tan (while still pale), and bronze, tousled hair. A grungy hiking backpack was resting at his feet. A burly, handsome man was standing beside him, talking animatedly. They positively screamed the classic adventuring university students.
"Alice, look at those guys there," I said in a louder hiss, to get Alice's attention, but not draw any more attention to us than we were already getting. Several small children had been openly staring at us since we sat down. Foreigners get all kinds of attention in Egypt, much to my embarrassment.
Alice, taking cue from the Egyptian children, openly stared. "Wow. That blond is gorgeous!" she said in awe.
I did a double-take. "Blond? Who are you looking at?" The two guys I'd been eyeing were both dark-haired.
Alice turned to me, an incredulous expression on her face. "You nuts? Just look at him!"
She directed me to a tall, blond man. He was standing beside a beautiful blonde woman who was likely to be his sister. They shared very similar features and were both standing in the exact same position: left leg supporting their weight, arms crossed, and identical expressions of aloofness on their faces. The suitcases they had were both designer. If the two hunks I'd been eyeing were the adventuring university students, this pair was the typical children of wealthy parents, traveling abroad simply because they could. I'd met a lot of their type at my university in Egypt and didn't particularly enjoy their company, hence, why Alice and I were traveling together. She was the only person at my school who didn't talk down to me because I hadn't traveled extensively and learned three languages.
"I was talking about those two guys, sitting in front of them," I said.
"Oh." Alice averted her eyes from the blond. "Nice. I wonder what brings so many good-looking men together in a bus station in Cairo. God must be smiling down on us, Bella. Let's hope our seats are near the blond hottie."
"You don't even know if they're going to be on our bus."
"They will be. I have a feeling," she smirked.
I rolled my eyes. Our night bus trip would no doubt be full of outrageous flirting done by Alice with the man - who was probably heir to a Fortune 500 company. Maybe he wouldn't be so bad, though his expression didn't leave me to believe so. Then again, that might be because more people were staring at him and his sister than the rest of us foreigners. Blonds were a rarity here – I'm surprised I didn't spot the brother and sister before the two hunks. That truly gave credit to the gameel piece of man meat I kept surreptitiously eyeing instead of my history book.
Alice's feeling turned out to be accurate: all four of the people we'd been studying in the bus station were on the bus with us. Much to Alice's disappointment, however, our bus seats were at the very front of the bus, directly behind the balding bus driver. The blond hottie was about five rows behind us, on the opposite side of the aisle, and the two hunks I'd been ogling were in the very last row.
"Dang it," Alice moaned. "He's too far away." Within a split second, her face brightened. "Maybe I'll go up to him at the rest stop…"
While Alice bemoaned the seating arrangement, I worried more about the condition of the bus. The vehicle appeared to be a relic from the British occupation I'd been reading about. In the back of my head, panicked memories of headlines about tourist bus crashes in Egypt flashed through my head. I decided to squash those memories by listening to music. I popped my headphones into my ears, adjusted myself in the uncomfortable, questionably clean seat, and tried to sleep. The general bumping and sudden halting of the bus kept me awake for the first hour, but after that I slept fitfully.
I was jerked awake by Alice several hours later. "We're at the rest stop if you need to use the bathroom."
I blinked several times, my body unhappy that it was being awoken in the middle of the night.
"I guess I'll attempt it, even if I don't have to go," I said, stumbling down the steep steps. Immediately, I was shocked by the cold desert night. For all the few months I had been in Egypt, I had never felt such cold except in the overly air conditioned buildings.
"Holy crow!" I exclaimed, grabbing Alice for warmth. "Why didn't you foresee that I would need a jacket?" I complained.
Alice's teeth chattered as she spoke. "Who knew Egypt had the potential to get cold?"
An older man laughed at our conversation. "You are unfamiliar with the desert. Without the sun, it gets very cold." His words were oddly accented. He wasn't Egyptian - that was for certain.
"No kidding," I said, feeling goose bumps flare up on my arms.
He shook his head at us in amusement, before heading off in the direction of the rest stop. It was a large, plain building; the only one in sight. There was only desert for miles.
"Bugger!" I heard a loud, booming voice shout from our bus. I didn't bother to see who it was, I was just too cold.
"Someone else must not like the temperature," Alice said, craning her head to see the owner of the voice.
"Let's hope the bathroom isn't as cold as it is out here," I said, guiding her into the glowing rest stop before us. I saw many of the passengers smoking cigarettes and sheesha, known more as hookah in America. Thankfully, the building was quite a bit warmer than the outside, so I let go of Alice's arm as we went to the entrance of the bathroom.
A man stood in front of the bathroom, offering toilet paper for the cost of a pound. Used to this practice, Alice and I ignored him, our own toilet paper in our bags. We entered the bathroom and immediately covered our noses with our shirts. It smelled a little too much like a bathroom.
"Have they never heard of bleach!" Alice demanded self-righteously. "This is foul!"
"Tell me about it," a smooth, confident voice said from the sink. It was the young, blonde woman. She was armed with a bottle of hand sanitizer, trying to reapply her makeup with minimal contact of the facilities. "If it's an emergency, I suggest you buck up and squat," she advised.
Buck up and squat? Alice and I shared a look before giggling. "That's the perfect description for all my public toilet experiences thus far in Egypt," I said, amazed that this put-together woman had just told me to buck up and squat.
"Same here," the blonde said with a beautiful, model worthy smile. She probably was a model.
"I guess we can at least take a look at the toilets. You never know when you'll next find one," I said to Alice. Bravely, we went into two stalls that two Egyptian women had just left. The stalls didn't properly shut and there were no locks. I persisted, stepping into the stall.
I gaped in horror at the pit the rest stop called a toilet. It was a lidless toilet, covered in crusty brown…feces. There was liquid in the toilet, but I can only assume it was from urine and other bodily fluids. In the next stall over, I heard Alice choking.
"Mish mumkin!" Not possible! Alice and I cried out in unison, stepping out of the stalls.
The blonde's tinkling laughter filled the toilets. "I warned you," she teased. Already she was proving herself well above the stereotypical rich brat I had pegged her for.
"I don't think anything could have prepared us for that."
"I feel like I'll never be clean again," Alice whimpered. The blonde offered her hand sanitizer.
"I'm Rosalie, by the way," she introduced herself.
"Alice." No last names. They weren't really necessary when meeting strangers while traveling.
"Are you headed to Dahab as well?" Rosalie inquired.
I shook my head as Alice answered. "No, we're going to Sharm el-Sheikh." The bus made several stops around the Sinai Peninsula, which was why our bus was full of passengers.
"They're about the same city though. Very…touristy," I said, attempting to fix my hair that had tangled on the bus ride from Cairo.
Rosalie smiled. "That's what I'm hoping for! I need some pampering."
"We're on break from our university in Cairo, we thought it would be a nice vacation from school work," I explained. I liked Rosalie, even if I was secretly waiting for her to turn into rich-brat-monster any minute.
"You're studying here?" she asked, her eyes revealing her amazement.
"Yes, just for a year," Alice said. "It's been a great experience so far. You know, educational…So, uh, what brings you to Egypt?" I saw right through Alice's innocent façade. She was just fishing for information on Rosalie's hunky companion.
"My brother, Jasper, and I thought we'd tour through Egypt before meeting our parents in Jordan. Our father heads a company in Amman, but we're originally from Rochester, New York - where our mother still lives." I had been spot on. They were definitely wealthy.
"Rochester? My friend Angela goes to school there. I'm from a small town in Washington State that you've probably never heard of," I said.
"Where are you from, Alice?" Rosalie asked politely.
Alice had gotten distracted after Rosalie mentioned her brother by name. Alice had started frantically fixing her hair, makeup, and straightening her clothes. Smooth, Alice, I thought.
"Oh, Mississippi, originally."
"I've never been there, but my brother's always wanted to take a tour through the South to visit old Civil War sites," Rosalie said. I think she knew exactly what was going on with Alice. Rosalie fluffed her hair one more time. "I think I'll head back to the bus. I can't stand the smell of the smoke out there," she took one last look at herself in the dirty mirror, then said goodbye to us and exited the bathroom.
"Are you about finished?" I asked Alice. "If you're ever going to make a move on this Jasper guy, you better do it before the bus is ready to leave."
The smell of smoke filled our nostrils, yet it was still an improvement from the stench of the bathroom. Alice searched for Jasper, spotting him purchasing a bottle of water. Excitedly, Alice nudged me in his direction. Displeased with being dragged along into her pursuit of Jasper, I grudgingly did as I was told.
Jasper was the last in line for the water, so Alice and I were well situated behind him. I have no idea what Alice was going to buy – the rest stop food and water was extremely expensive, I assumed we could hold out until we arrived at our hotel to eat breakfast in the morning.
"Hello, are you Jasper?" Alice asked, tapping him on the back. He was well over a foot taller than her and he nearly looked over her as he turned around.
His pretty face was befuddled. "Yes…Um, do I know you?"
"We," she gestured to me and herself, "were bonding with your sister, Rosalie, in the bathroom."
"You women and your bathroom bonding sessions," Jasper said. I could tell he had a good sense of humor.
I was going to say something, but suddenly a sexy, British accent filled my ears from right behind me. I turned around just enough to see if it was who I expected it to be.
"That lav was dodgy, mate," the bronze god said to his burly friend.
"Definitely dodgy," the burly one agreed.
An impulsive bout of courage overtaking me, I jumped into their conversation, leaving Alice to her flirting antics.
"Do you mean the bathrooms?" I queried.
Green eyes met mine in surprise, then confusion. "Bathrooms?" he repeated. "Oh, you mean the toilets."
"Americans," the bigger one said with a booming laugh. That solved the mystery of who yelled out, "Bugger!" when we got off the bus.
I scrunched up my nose. "What do you mean by that?"
"Nothing rude, pet, just that you say bathroom, but you don't actually mean a bathroom. There was definitely no bathtub in that place. If there was, it wouldn't be fit to wash a dog."
The green-eyed hunk grinned crookedly at me. "You may not make sense, but your accent is adorable."
I blushed in pleasure. "Um, thank you?"
He kept on grinning. "It's your turn," he nodded at the cashier who was looking at me expectantly.
My blush deepened. "Oh, I'm not in line for anything. I was with my friend…" I glanced around, finding Alice wrapped up in deep conversation with Jasper at a table nearby.
"You've been abandoned, Yank," the green-eyed Brit said, ascertaining what had happened to me.
I crossed my arms, stepping out of line, while his friend bought a package of candy.
"Yank?" I asked, raising an eyebrow. I ignored the rest of his comment, focusing on what had confused me.
"Yank, you know…You're a Yankee."
"Well, fine, if I'm the Yank, you're the Lobster back, Lobster," I taunted, completely amazed at my ability to sound coherent and recall historical facts about the nicknames of the British army from my high school education.
Lobster made a face at his new name. "That's a lot worse than Yank."
"I'm from Washington State. We weren't even part of the Civil War, much less the Revolution. I'm no Yank," I corrected him. I wondered if Rosalie's mentioning the Civil War sites had rekindled my memory of all this information.
"Well, I'm from England, but I can safely say I have never eaten lobster. Or even owned a red coat for that matter," he was enjoying our conversation enough that he left the line for food without buying anything. His friend gave him a manly thump on the back and left for the bus after making his purchase. That left me alone to talk to Lobster.
I bounced on the heels of my feet, debating whether or not I should continue our conversation. Lobster decided for me.
"Tell me, Yank, what brings you to Egypt?"
Used to hearing this question, I answered automatically. "Studying abroad for a year."
Usually, that was all I needed to say, but Lobster persisted. "What do you study?"
"Political science." His eyes widened, so I elaborated. "I want to teach college someday."
"College as in…uni? I know we have a different system than you Yanks."
"Uni? As in university?" I mimicked him lightheartedly. "Yes, university," I affirmed. Desperate to get the attention off myself, I rerouted the topic back to him. "What are you doing in this part of the world, Lobster?"
"My mate, Emmett, and I are backpacking from Morocco, East through Egypt, up to Jordan, and looping back through Europe back to Mother England," he said, as if rehearsed. I'm sure, like me, he's answered the question a couple dozen times.
I was still completely floored by his answer. "I am so jealous! That sounds fantastic." I imagined it was me living by my wits and intuition, traveling from country to country. I gave it a minute. I would probably be found dead in a dirty public restroom within a week, but the idea of backpacking across Africa, then up through Europe was hard to resist. Lobster and Emmett had to be swimming in cash to afford their trip, or else extremely careful with expenses.
Lobster shrugged his shoulders. "We wanted to take some time off before we go back to our respective educations. I'll be starting medical school next fall – and Emmett's going into law."
Adventurers AND scholars? "You've got to be kidding me." Maybe he was. British humor was a little hard to understand sometimes, from what I've experienced.
"I kid you not, my little Yank," he patted my head. "I'll soon be Dr. Lobster to you."
I giggled. "Dr. Lobster? I'll be a doctor, too, you know. Just not the kind you are."
"I suppose you're right, Dr. Yank."
We stood there, sizing one another up. A voice broke us out of our staring contest, startling me.
"OI! WANKER! GET ON THE BUS OR WE'LL LEAVE YOUR SMELLY ARSE HERE!"
"Emmett." Lobster said, shaking his head. He looked around at the near-empty room. "Hell, everyone is already on the bus. We better hurry." I followed him out, wondering how our conversation had distracted us from the 40-plus people boarding the bus.
Back into the cold night air, I shivered and walked speedily to the bus's protection. I took my seat next to a smirking Alice as Lobster made his way back to his own seat.
"What?" I asked, playing innocent. Her face stated clearly that she wasn't buying it. "Am I not allowed to talk to the hot British guy?"
"No, that's not it. I'm just awaiting details."
I lowered my voice to a whisper. "He's going to be a doctor and he's traveling from Morocco to Jordan, North then West back to the UK. He's either lying or perfect."
"What's this British feller's name?" she asked.
"No idea," I said sadly. It's not like I was going to seem him again after tonight. "How was your conversation with Jasper?"
She pulled out a piece of paper with the name Jasper Hale scribbled on it. "It's true love. He gave me his Skype ID."
"Go Alice!" I said. I peeked back at where Jasper was sitting with his sister. "I'm surprised he's still back there."
I felt the bus lurch to a grumbling start as we pulled out of the rest stop.
"He and Rosalie both get carsick if they sit up front."
Our eyes were drawn to our balding bus driver's shiny head. Then to the wide, open windshield in front of him.
"Oh, yeah, on this bus they'd be puking on the driver in seconds." I said, pretending to be very grave.
Alice stroked her chin. "They'd be kicked off the bus for sure."
"Stranded in the desert."
"Starve to death."
At that moment our lively conversation about carsickness was put on hold as the said bus sputtered and grinded into a stop. The bright lights of the rest stop were still in view, so we hadn't gotten far.
Dread filled me. "Did it breakdown?" I wondered aloud.
Alice's brow furrowed. "Maybe it needs a jump."
From out front row seats, we watched with increasing dread as the bus driver tried starting the bus five more times. He was complaining in Arabic as he stood up. I grasped a few words, realizing he was going to try and fix the bus. He addressed the bus in a short speech, explaining that the bus might be delayed for an hour. At least, that's what Alice and mine's combined Arabic skills told us. Plus, the general sighs of dismay from the Egyptians were a dead giveaway.
"Hey, Alice, did you get what he said?" The voice came from right beside me. I gawked up at Jasper, who towered over me in the aisle.
"It might be an hour," Alice said sweetly. "You want to sit up here while we wait?"
She never missed an opportunity.
A sincere smile lit up his face, "Yeah, I'll go tell Rose…." He stopped and checked with me. "You don't mind switching…um, sorry, what was your name, again?"
"Bella," I filled him. "And no, I don't mind. I'll tell Rosalie what's going on. You can go on ahead and sit."
"Thanks," he said sincerely.
I gathered up my bag and let Jasper take my spot beside Alice.
Upon standing up, I realized my intended seat was already taken by a large Briton named Emmett. Unsure, I approached with caution. I relaxed a smidgeon when I saw that they were joking. More like outrageously flirting- what was this, the love bus?
"Excuse me, Rosalie?" I began. "I'm supposed to tell you that we may be delayed an hour, according to the bus driver."
Her blue eyes were confused. "Where's Jasper?"
"In my seat, chatting up my seatmate no doubt," I said conspiratorially. Rosalie pushed herself up to peer above the seats at her brother and Alice.
"I see," she said thoughtfully.
"Does that mean I can sit here for awhile or do you want me to faff off?" Emmett's charming grin would have been hard for me to resist and it wasn't even aimed in my direction.
Rosalie nodded hesitantly. "Only if you promise to explain to me what the hell faff means."
A thrill of excitement ran through me. "I guess I'll be in your seat for the time being," I said to Emmett, trying to act indifferent.
"That's fine. My seatmate won't bite, luv," he said with a wink.
A flutter of nerves filled me as I climbed through the crowded aisle. Many of the other passengers had stretched their legs out into the middle of it, so I had quite the obstacle course to complete before I reached Lobster. He was practically leering at me by the time I arrived.
"Back for more, Yank?"
"It seems both my other seats have been commandeered. First, by a real Yank, seeing as Jasper is from New York," I said, giving Lobster another history lesson. "And second, by an oppressive Briton who was about twice my size. I wasn't about to go Bunker Hill on his ass."
"Bunker Hill?" Lobster asked curiously.
I squirmed in my seat. "I'm a bit of a nerd, aren't I? It's a battle from the American Revolution."
"We don't learn much about that in school back home. It's probably…" He thought for a moment. "A page in the course book," he informed me.
I gaped. "No way! I think I probably spent an entire year of my life learning about it."
He shrugged. "The British Empire had so many colonies vying for independence that we have limited space in our books for every single one."
"Well, we did it first," I said childishly. "We deserve more than a page."
"Americans are so full of themselves."
I laughed. "We can't help it we're the best country in the world."
"Right-o. Best country in the world." His face was so serious I was thrown.
My nerves started to get the best of me, and I reached inside my bag for my book. "Do you mind if I read? I would go to sleep, but who knows how soon I'll just have to wake up again."
"You can read if you want…what book is it? I saw you reading it in the bus station," he flushed as he said that. I did, too, for that matter. We'd both been ogling one another back in Cairo.
"It's a book for class. Ironically, it's a history on the British occupation of Egypt."
His eyes lit up. "Now there's a subject I know something about. That is privileged enough to have more than a page in my class history text."
"Funny, I didn't hear about it until I first got this book."
It was his turn to be dumbfounded. "Really? What a cock-up these historians are. Americans need to know exactly how mad Prime Minister Eden went because of the Suez Crisis."
He grabbed the book away from me, opening to where my bookmark was.
"Ah, I see. You're only at 1936. The good stuff will come in 1956."
"Okay…" I said, as he handed the book back to me. "I can hardly wait."
"Yank, do not question my superior knowledge of British history. You will love it."
He was speaking in such a way that I was unsure if he was angry or joking. British humor or…British anger?
I opened my book.
I had read two sentences when he distracted me again. "You think the bus will be fixed in an hour?"
I didn't need a second to answer. "Nope."
Lobster was baffled by my automatic response. "Why do you say that?"
Closing my book, I turned to face his pretty green eyes again. "Egyptian time. They're never, ever on time."
He sniggered. "I have found that this is a common ailment in Northern Africa."
I clucked my tongue at him. "Don't let the Egyptians hear you referring to them like that. They're Egyptian, not African."
I had once again confused him. "Sorry? I suppose maybe they're not African, per say, I would be more likely to label them as Arabs."
"They are, but they're more…Egyptian. I read a headline once in the newspaper. It referred to an Arab man, yet in the same title, an Egyptian woman. There was a clear difference in identity."
"You are a fountain of knowledge," he said, amused. I felt my blush acting up again. "How old are you, Yank?"
Abruptly, I was on guard. What if he was put off by how young I was? Should I lie? That option was immediately thrown aside: I was an appalling liar and he'd see right through it. "18," I said, jutting out my chin like I didn't care what he thought of that.
Lobster's eyes bugged out of his head.
"Bloody hell, are you taking the piss?" he gasped out. He literally scooted back in his chair, away from me. His back was pressed to the window as he stared at me in shock.
I had successfully transformed into a tomato by that point. "Piss? Is that another one of your British idioms?"
"I mean – are you joking? You can't be that young and running around in Egypt by yourself."
Now I was annoyed, embarrassment gone. "I'm perfectly capable of taking care of myself, thank you. For your information, I skipped a grade. And I probably speak more languages than you ever will." With that, I pulled out my iPod, turning the music up loud, before reopening my book and pointedly ignoring Dr. Lobster.
Reading was a complete failure. I kept rereading paragraphs over and over, unable to absorb the material. I finally gave up and closed the book. Lobster was looking at me when I chanced a glance at him.
"What?" I asked. He laughed. "What?" I repeated.
He tugged by headphones out of my ears. "I'm not deaf, little Yankee. I'm sure Emmett and his bird heard you halfway up the bus."
"Bird?" I blurted, staring at Emmett to see if there was a bird beside him.
Lobster sighed, patiently. "I mean girl. It's slang, to further your education."
"Oh," I said quietly. I felt stupid and immature next to him now that he had overreacted about my age. He couldn't be too old, he looked young. Maybe a tiny bit older than Jasper, who I suspected was around Alice's ripe old age of 20.
"I'm sorry if I hurt your…feelings, earlier," Lobster apologized. "I felt like a right tosser after I said it."
"I hope tosser means a right jerk-off," I said.
Lobster was just as clueless. "If jerk-off means tosser, then yes." Little did we know exactly how aptly we had defined our slang words.
I felt my lips curving upward. His accent made even jerk-off sound like a nicer word than it was.
"Ah, I see that smile. You've already forgiven me."
"No, I haven't," I lied. "Not until you tell me how old you are."
He chuckled at that. "I bet you have the same horrified reaction I did. Then we'll see who's the jerk-off-tosser."
"We'll see," I provoked him.
Lobster ran a hand through his wild bronze locks, appearing unsure. Then, he looked at me with an almost guilty expression. "I'm 23."
I kept my reaction calm. In fact, I wasn't thinking he was too old; I was relieved that he wasn't any older than that.
"When's your birthday?" I said, having an idea.
"June," he replied, seeming happy that I wasn't running away from him screaming.
"Well, mine's in September. That makes you a little over five years older than me." I paused. "That's not that great a distance."
Lobster was guarded. "It'll seem greater when you're older."
I tried to negotiate. "My mom always told me I was old for my age, does that make a difference?"
"It could add a few months to your age," he conceded. He stared at me a long moment, lost in thought. In his eyes I could almost see the potential, the brink of our two lives intertwining, but then he blinked and it disappeared. The hope inside his eyes went out with the blink and he shook his head, as if shaking out any reminisces of that potential. "What are we worrying about age difference anyway? We're only sitting on a bus."
"Exactly. Sitting on a bus," I agreed. I don't think I prevented the bitterness from slipping out.
We both settled back into our seats. What were any of us doing on the so-called love bus? Jasper and Alice at least were able to contact each other on Skype – and they were both American. Rosalie was rich and could probably just move to England if she wanted to see more of Emmett. Lobster and I…hadn't even exchanged real names. I still had two years left of college, then on to graduate school. Lobster was going to medical school. I was feeling stupid by simply thinking about the distant future. I'd only just met this man, but I already couldn't let go of him.
It was hopeless.
My melancholy thoughts resulted in my dozing off. I dreamed I was locked out of the bus, banging on the door. I saw Lobster, Alice, Jasper, Rosalie, and Emmett, all inside it. They were laughing and pointing at me.
"Let me in!" I shouted, but they continued laughing.
The morning light awoke me, shining through the brownish-yellow curtains. I was leaning against something warm. I snuffled into it, breathing in a glorious scent.
"Excuse me, little Yank, but I believe that's my shoulder you're snuffling."
It dawned on me where I was and who I was snuffling. I squeaked in fright as I jumped away from him. My iPod, book, and bag all tumbled to the unclean floor.
"Sorry, I didn't meant to startle you," he said.
"Are we there yet?" I asked, unable to believe that I had slept through the rest of the trip.
He chuckled. "Not even close. We've been in this same spot all night."
I groaned. Alice and I only had a week for vacation. At this rate, we'd only be at the beach for a day. I looked at my watch: 8:13am. "Dang it," I said to myself. We should have been in Sharm el-Sheikh by now.
Then my bladder made itself known.
"Dang it!" I muttered again. I did not want to use that poor excuse for a toilet. However, my options were limited and while men were frequently seen taking a pee on the side of the road, the same standard was not acceptable for women in Egypt.
Without a word to Lobster, I stretched, picked up my bag, and headed into terrors heretofore unknown. I saw Rosalie and Emmett cuddled together, asleep on my way to the front of the bus, followed by a similarly situated Jasper and Alice. Goodness, this really was the love bus.
It was slightly warmer outside, now that the sun had risen, as I made my way to the rest stop. The distance the bus had made the night before was very short, not even a quarter of a mile. As the rest stop drew nearer, I psyched myself up for my bathroom adventure.
I summoned up my inner lioness and strutted into the bathroom. I held my shirt over my nose.
"You can do this, Bella," I encouraged myself. "You can do this. Buck up and squat." My bladder was in vital agreement. I propped the stall door into a spot that provided me the most modesty. Locks were not a luxury I would be enjoying today, among other things.
With a heavy sigh, I undid my pants, bucked up and squatted.
The relief of the call of nature was enough to make up for the disgusted sensation I had over hovering so near such a dirty surface. I dabbed a little hand sanitizer on my butt and thighs for good measure.
Next, I braced myself for what was to come. I needed to brush my teeth.
"Ew, ew, ew," I chanted, as I turned on the sink. The water was thankfully clear. I sanitized my hands once more, before pulling out my toothbrush and toothpaste from my bag. I refused to set my items on the counter; the grime that coated it had probably been there since before I was born. I brushed my hair into a messy bun, hoping to cover up the fact that I needed a shower.
Once that particularly difficult chore was over, I escaped the bathroom of terror into the clean Egyptian air. If by clean you meant filled with cigarette smoke, of course. There was a new man behind the counter that was selling food and drinks. My stomach growled, giving me its two cents.
The bathrooms may have been unbearable, but thankfully this part of the rest stop was relatively decent. I bought a few packaged food items (overpriced) and a bottle of water. Loaded, I trudged back to the bus. There were two men assisting the bus driver in fixing the bus. It didn't look like the diagnosis would be good. They might need to order another bus.
I stepped up into the bus and was overcome with how stuffy and stale the air had gotten. I peered down at the men working on the bus. This wouldn't do.
I balanced over Jasper and prodded the sleeping Alice.
"Hmm? What?" she asked groggily.
"I'm going to go read in the restaurant. I can't breathe in here," I said. "Don't let the bus take off without me," I added. I purposefully ignored looking at the section of the bus where I knew Lobster was sitting.
"Okay," Alice muttered. She promptly fell back against Jasper, asleep. I almost wanted to warn her that a little bit of drool was dripping down her chin to his shirt. Oh, well, she doesn't embarrass as easily as I do.
Back once more at the rest stop, I found an empty table and sat down to eat my make-shift breakfast. I munched away for a few minutes, simply basking in the comfortable warmth that I knew all-too-well would soon develop into unbearable heat. In preparation for the Egyptian sun, I pulled out sun block from my bag and applied some to my face. Looking like a ripened tomato would do nothing for my ego after my incident with Lobster.
Putting the sun block back into my bag, I wondered if perhaps I should ask the bus driver to get out my suitcase from beneath the bus. I felt a little dirty in my clothes from yesterday, but after a moment's debate, decided that pressing the driver for such a trivial thing would not be wise when he was wrestling with the ancient bus.
I wished Alice was awake to entertain me, so I made due with my book and MP3 player once more. The book grew more and more dull the longer I read.
Lobster and the others eventually drifted into the rest stop to buy breakfast. I pretended not to see him and hid myself away in my book. Alice and Jasper came to sit at my table, but they basically ignored me in favor of one another.
I sat there with my book the whole morning until a replacement bus pulled up. The luggage was rotated from one bus to the other and our new bus driver had significantly more hair than the last one. Alice and I returned to our seats directly behind the driver, enjoying his thicker head of hair for the next several hours of the drive.
I said nothing to Lobster as he and Emmett got off in Taba (the border crossing into Israel), though I waved to Emmett the one moment he took his eyes off Rosalie. In Dahab, Alice tearfully said goodbye to Jasper, while Rosalie and I shared a laugh at their pitiful faces, although I could tell she was thinking of her goodbye to Emmett.
"Skype me as soon as you can!" Alice commanded him. He nodded vigorously. I knew, then, by their shared glances, that they would be together for a long time to come. Lucky bastards. I had never been quite so jealous before.
The road to Sharm lay ahead of us, bleaker than I could have anticipated. Alice slumped into her seat next to me, devastated.
A lurch of the bus began our journey, but we had hardly gone twenty feet when I heard a distant, masculine voice shouting.
"Jasper?" Alice cried, leaping from her seat to rip open the curtains. Sure enough, keeping pace with our slow moving bus was Jasper Hale. He was waving his arms at the bus driver frantically.
Neither Alice nor I had a clue how to stay stop in Arabic, so we, with equal franticness, made ourselves understood by gesturing in his face. Grumpily, the bus driver stopped.
Jasper bounded up the stairs onto the bus, looking at Alice.
"Did you forget some luggage?" she asked, confused.
"I forgot you. Come with us Alice. We'll pay for an extra room for you and Bella. Just come with me," he begged, taking her hand.
The ten other people on the bus were all peering with eager interest, some of them even moving a few seats closer to watch. None of them probably spoke a lick of English, but they got the gist that he was giving her a very romantic question.
Alice looked at me, her eyes a pitiful question. "Bella? Can we?"
I threw up my hands in the air. "Why not? Let's go to Dahab," I said. The bus cheered as we gathered our things and joined an exasperated Rosalie.
"My dumb brother, such a nitwit for a girl," she laughed.
Jasper pulled Alice into a brief hug, knowing that the locals would not approve of much PDA. Over her shoulder, he said, "You're just jealous Emmett didn't run after the bus for you."
She glared at him. He was spot on.
I can't say I hadn't been hoping a handsome Lobster hadn't chased after me, but…not everyone was a man of grand gestures, like Jasper. With suitcases in tow, we piled into a taxi, which took us to a fabulous resort. The receptionist spoke reasonable English, and was able to give us two rooms beside each other, when I asked.
I wasn't sure who would be in which room, but the look Rosalie gave me hinted that I would be her new roommate.
We were escorted to our rooms in a golf cart, since the resort was huge, though exceedingly beautiful. It was far better than where Alice and I had planned to stay in Sharm. We shared grins as we saw a sign for a diving class.
"Are you into diving?" Alice asked Jasper.
"I have gone once before, in the Caribbean," he said. "It's wonderful. Have you - ?"
"Oh, no, but Bella and I were hoping to take a class. Would you and Rosalie be interested?"
Rosalie rolled her eyes. "Do you even need to ask? He's going to follow you around for the rest of the week."
A whole week with two near strangers. The intricacies of traveling would never cease to amaze me.
"But first, we're going to the beach!" Alice said excitedly, as we arrived at our rooms.
"Make sure you put on sunscreen," I warned, disappearing into the room that would be mine and Rosalie's. Once the door was shut, we wasted no time making ourselves at home.
"I hope you don't steal the covers," Rosalie laughed, noting the bed. It was huge and looked comfortable. It didn't change the fact that there was only one.
"Um, I don't. Do you?"
"No, but I can't believe there's only one bed! They knew there were two of us."
I chewed my lip, thinking. "I think it was because of our attempts to make sure the rooms were close to each other. These were probably the only rooms free. I'm just glad that Jasper and Alice are across the hall from us, instead of beside us."
Rosalie choked. "Ugh! God, we should have made sure the rooms were as far apart as possible!"
We discontinued our conversation to find our swimsuits. I ransacked my suitcase in search of my most modest swimsuit. I had learned from a local girl at the university that bikinis should never, ever be worn in Egypt. If we did, there would be more attention than I would be able to handle.
I saw Rosalie had the same idea, because our swimsuits were both one-piece and each had a wrap for our thighs.
"Ah, modesty," she giggled. "And my brother says I don't have an ounce of it."
"Jasper…he isn't the type to just have vacation flings, is he?"
Rosalie shook her head furiously. "Not him. He's a hopeless romantic to a fault. His last few girlfriends have taken advantage of that, in a negative way. I hated all of them. Alice seems like a sweet girl, I think…I think they could handle the long distance. It will be hard, but if it's true love…" she trailed off wistfully. I began to think she wasn't talking about Alice and Jasper anymore.
"Did you get Emmett's number?" I asked.
She smiled guiltily, realizing I had figured her out. "Yes, plus his email. He said he won't be using a phone until they return to the UK. But he does check his email as regularly as possible, at least."
"That's good," I said, trying to be happy for her. I couldn't help my jealousy that Lobster had given me nothing to contact him with.
"You didn't get his friends number? Oh, what was his name? It was a traditional sounding name…James? Richard? I can't remember at all. I'm awful with names, and Emmett only said it one time."
I shrugged. "We didn't exchange names, so I'm as clueless as you." On the outside, I looked disinterested. On the inside I was restraining myself from shaking the name from her.
"Oh?" Rosalie was intrigued. "You looked rather…comfortable in the back when I saw you two," she said slyly.
"He was just being nice. He's five years older than me. It wouldn't work."
Rosalie raised a perfectly plucked eyebrow at me. "Age was the barrier? You don't like older men?"
"It was more him than me. An eighteen-year-old made him feel like a pedophile, I guess."
"I thought every man wanted an eighteen-year-old."
I didn't tell her I had always thought the same thing. That made me feel even more undesirable after his rejection.
Eventually, Jasper and Alice knocked on our door. They were positively shimmering with the after effects of something that had made them happy.
"Ew, you two totally did it, didn't you?" Rosalie hissed at her brother.
Alice turned pink, but didn't deny it.
"Oh my god!" I gasped, smothering my laughter. "No wonder it took you two so long to get ready."
"Shut up and let's go to the beach," Jasper said, putting an arm around Alice and leading the way. We had to follow maps to find the beach, which was half a mile away. It was gorgeous. Clean and sparkling with the afternoon sun hitting the waves. This section in particular was owned by the resort.
"I love it! C'mon Bella, let's jump off that dock!" Rosalie grabbed my arm and hurried me away from Jasper and Alice. I was glad for an escape from the lovebirds. I doubted they would manage to keep their hands off each other long enough to stay at the beach. They would have to leave the beach for more PDA.
The heat from the sun was powerful, so slipping into the salty water was a pleasurable change. Rosalie and I tread water beside each other.
"My brother is so gross," she said, wrinkling her nose. "If we're lucky, we won't see those two the whole week we're here."
I nodded. "Very gross, but…where do you go after Dahab? On your way to Jordan?"
"Yes, we're stopping at a couple more places, but Amman is our destination."
I thought of something. "Isn't Emmett heading to Jordan?"
"Yes, but he's going through Israel. Jasper and I were planning to go across the gulf here, straight to Jordan."
"Hmm, that's too bad. But maybe you can meet up in Jordan?"
"Maybe, I don't know his plans." She sighed.
We began slowly swimming back to the beach. "He could have joined us here in Dahab, before continuing, that would have been fun."
"He did think of that, but they're trying to save as much money as possible. These tourist areas are not cheap," she told me. "He avoids them like the plague, he said."
Rosalie and I sloshed through the waves, stepping back onto land. We were considering lying on the beach chairs before going back in, when I spotted a familiar, burly figure.
"You're sure he avoids it like the plague?" I asked, a grin attempting to break my face. I couldn't believe it. There Emmett stood, dumbstruck by Rosalie's beauty. I could imagine what she looked like to him: a dripping, wet dream. Beside her, I probably looked like a dripping, wet dog.
I knew the moment Rosalie noticed him, because she sucked in a squeaky breath. I wondered that I had ever picked her out to be a snob.
"Emmett!" she cried.
"Rosalie!" he hollered back. He waved stupidly, but his dimpled smile was contagious. They practically ran toward each other.
"What are you doing here?" I heard her ask. I stood watching awkwardly at the side, unsure of what I should do.
His smile never faded, although it turned slightly sheepish. "I couldn't give up the opportunity to spend more time with you. We caught the next bus here," he informed her.
"I'm so happy you did!"
We? I thought. WE? Was that Lobster hiding around here somewhere? I searched for him on the busy beach, but didn't see anyone with his obvious bronze hair.
I glided up closer, since Rosalie and Emmett looked like they were about to go shake up a hotel room themselves. I had to ask before he left.
"Hi," I said. "Before you two run off, you said your friend was here with you?"
Emmett nodded. "What's your name again? Sorry, I'm pants with names."
"It's Bella," Rosalie answered for me. "I can't believe you're terrible with names, too!"
"Something else we have in common," he smirked. "Want to go see my room? I paid a whole country for it, since I knew you were here, luv."
Rosalie was imitating her brother's love struck expression. "I'd love to see it."
They were running off before I could get a good answer out of Emmett.
"How rude," I grumbled to myself, deciding to lie out in the sun on my own. I looked for Alice and Jasper, but I deduced they had returned to their room as well. It figured everyone I came into contact with was getting laid this week, except me.
I borrowed a towel from the resort and laid it carefully over the hot chair. I reclined on it, shutting my eyes to the bright sun. I would need to get out my sunglasses the next time we were at the beach.
I soaked in the sun eagerly. It was the best part of Egypt. Coming from a cold, cloudy, rainy town, this was paradise. I tried not to think about Lobster, but instead flicked through memories of home. I needed to contact my parents soon, to update them. They liked me to check in as often as possible, especially my dad. He hated the whole study abroad idea, but my mother had loved it. She envied the chance I had to travel.
I was contemplating swimming again, when a voice shook me from my thoughts.
"Ah, Yank, it seems we have been cut off from society with our mates."
I widened my eyes.
"Oh! Hello," I said sitting up. I was abruptly self-conscious of my swimsuit. It was modest by American standards, but still a rather revealing up top. I crossed my arms, peering up at him. I had to squint, thanks to the sunlight. I was doing all kinds of fantastic at tempting him with that look on my face.
"I hope you weren't hoping for a kip before dinner. I was hoping you could join me in the waters," he said. I noted for the first time that he was in an attractive pair of trunks, a tropical array of dark greens. His bare chest was a display of trim muscles.
"I, uh, s-sure," I stuttered, trying to remember what I was agreeing to. The muscles had distracted me. His graceful walk to the water alerted me that he had wanted to go swimming. I followed after, not unlike a panting puppy. Despite knowing ahead of time that I would see him, I was ill-prepared for our meeting. I had gone from believing I would never be with him again, to getting a once in a lifetime opportunity of having a whole week. I prayed we would be spending a lot of time together. After all, my new best friend was banging his best friend's girlfriend's brother. That had to be a connection, right?
"I can't say I wasn't surprised to see you here," he commented as we splashed into the sea.
It occurred to me that they had been expecting only to find Rosalie and Jasper here.
"Did you hear about Jasper?" I asked.
"Jasper? The…the blond bloke?" I nodded. "I didn't hear anything about him. Is he why you're here?" He took a moment to dunk his head in the water, so I did the same. It felt heavenly, cooling my warm body (not all of it from the sun).
"You're going to love this," I began. "It's the most romantic event I have ever witnessed."
"I didn't know you were into theatrics," he teased.
I threw him a warning look. "Do you want to know why I'm here or not?"
He gave me a crooked grin. "Go on, I'll try to behave."
I paused, pretending to think it over. "Alright, I'll tell you." I retold the scene of Alice and Jasper's almost separation. I explained how he ran along the side of the bus, which probably hadn't even reached ten miles an hour before he was chasing it. It wasn't like it was moving at high speeds, but the intention was still there.
"And Alice asked me if we could stay, and I said yes. My part in the story was extremely important, you understand," I laughed.
Lobster nodded. "Of course, I see that you were vital for the enduring love that Jasper and Alice will share for the rest of their lives," he said in his serious British voice.
I giggled. "I hope Jasper puts me in his will. I'll be rich!"
"Aren't you already rich, Miss Study Abroad?"
I shook my head. "I can't say I'm poor, but my mother is a kindergarten teacher, my father a cop. That doesn't add up to enough money for my college, let alone a trip like this."
He was puzzled. "Then how are you paying for it?"
"Scholarships. People who know Arabic and politics are hot property right now," I admitted, shyly.
"Hot property?" he repeated. "You mean…that with America's relations with the Middle East, people like you are needed?"
"Yes, although, that's not why I'm here. I am fascinated with the history of this part of the world. It's so rich and full. American history leaves a little to be desired," I said.
"I would have to agree," Lobster chuckled. "I liked history in school, but I found myself more taken with helping people."
"So you always knew you wanted to be a doctor?"
"No, to tell the truth, my father is a doctor, so at first I fought the medical career. I wanted to be different."
He swam farther away from the beach, away from where a flock of children were floundering in the waves. I chased after him.
"At first. I didn't think it was what I wanted. I thought it would…be difficult. I eventually figured out that I was in denial. It was the only thing I wanted to do with my life. Nothing would make me happier than…" His green eyes followed the edges of my swimsuit. "Than being a doctor," he finished. A wave of heat went through me.
He wanted me.
My revelation sent my heart pounding. He wanted me; he was going to be here for a week –
As a rolling wave came toward us, Lobster had taken the opportunity to dunk me under the water. He was laughing as I came sputtering up, flicking water in his face. There went my first chance to be seductive.
"Jerk!" I shouted.
"C'mon, little girl, it's time for food. I'm feeling peckish."
I wanted to stay with him longer, but I realized I hadn't had a good meal since the day before. Discouraged, I found my towel and returned to my bedroom. Rosalie had returned, sans Emmet, and sans her unhappiness.
She was singing when I came in.
"You hungry?" I asked hesitantly, hoping she wouldn't make me join her musical demonstration. She didn't, and she even quit her own awful rendition of a love song from the eighties.
"Yes, incredibly! I think everyone is going to meet at the resort's restaurant at six."
I checked the clock. "Good, that gives me enough time to shower." I was happy to strip out of my salty swimsuit, washing out the grit from it, before hanging it up to dry. Then I took care of washing it off myself. I also took care to wash myself thoroughly. I wanted to look better than Lobster had seen me the past twenty-four hours…
I froze, my hands tangled in my hair as I shampooed.
I still had no idea what his name was.
To remedy that situation, I went first to Rosalie. She said she and Emmett hadn't mentioned him again, so she still couldn't remember. I grumbled, wondering if I would ever learn his name.
We ran into Jasper and Alice on our way to dinner. Alice was glowing with happiness. "Can you believe it? Me and Jasper? Rosalie and Emmett? All these strangers finding love on a bus."
"That sounds like a bad movie," I said in a dark monotone. I had yet to find love, only lust. Lust that the older man was possibly still disturbed about. I would have to Lolita my way into his arms…
"What about you and Emmett's friend? He might be nice," Alice giggled, nudging me emphatically.
"I don't even know his name," I said.
"I don't understand how that can happen."
"It never came up. Mostly we discussed history and the differences between America and the UK."
Alice eyed me suspiciously. "Bella. You didn't."
Jasper and Rosalie looked between us, confused. "Didn't what?" I asked innocently.
"Talk nerdy to him. Tell me you didn't."
"I was just being myself!" I argued.
Alice threw her hands up. "No wonder you can't get laid!"
"Alice! Shh!" I hushed her. "You don't talk about that stuff in public in this country!"
She glared at me. "Don't talk nerdy to him anymore."
I gulped at her threatening grimace. "Okay…then how do I talk?"
Rosalie and Jasper laughed quietly at our conversation. "Like a normal person, Bella, a normal person!"
"Ah! At last, the Yank's name is revealed," A lofty voice said, interrupting our conversation. I blushed as Lobster stood a few feet away from us, Emmett beside him.
I sighed in relief. "I'm so glad I'm not the only one who didn't know names. Please, tell me yours before I forget to ask again."
"Edward," he said, taking my arm as the other four paired off. We found a table together in the restaurant, which was beautifully decorated, so I was glad I had tried to look my best (for Edward). I had put on a pretty sundress. It was one I couldn't where in Cairo because it bared my shoulders. Tourist towns like Dahab were a little more accepting of the liberal style.
"How did we go so long without knowing names?" I asked as we sat down.
He stroked his chin in deep thought. "I have no idea. I hadn't wanted to get too familiar with you, which is why I didn't introduce myself right away. Then…well, I had no idea how to bring it up."
"Same here," I confided. "I was afraid I would refer to you as Lobster forever."
"I'm still going to call you Yank," he teased, tugging on a strand of my hair. I could think of better places and positions for him to me tugging my hair, but the waiter appeared to take our orders.
After dinner, we moved to the bar and each tried a different type of cocktail. My favorite was the mango.
"This doesn't have any alcohol in it! I can't taste any," I pouted. "I need another!"
Beside me, Edward snorted. "That's what you said the last time. That was your second. A third will have you pissed out of your mind."
"Why would I be pissed? I don't get angry when I drink." I confusedly looked at my empty glass, like it held the answers to Edward's terminology.
"He means, you will be trashed, Bella," Rosalie translated.
Then it was the British boys' turn to be confused. "Trashed?"
"DRUNK! DRUNK! I get it!" I erupted into a flurry of girly giggles.
Alice covered her own loud giggles. "She's such a lightweight."
"It's not even legal for either of us to be drinking," I faux whispered. "I'm not 21...and neither is Alice!" Egypt didn't mind turning a head to tourists drinking, although their country had less drinking than America.
Edward sighed. "Of course you aren't 21. How could I forget?"
I whirled around, getting rather dizzy in the process. "You have something against young people? We're better looking and more fun than you OLD people? Is that it? Huh?" I held up my empty glass at him angrily.
The bartender assumed that meant I wanted more and brought me another mango cocktail.
"I have nothing against your age. It's more…" he drifted off.
"Forget it, Lobster! I'm over it. I already have a new, exciting idea that young people like myself and Alice will like." I grabbed Alice's attention. I held up my new mango cocktail. "Mango."
She nodded again, more excitedly.
"Let's go get the vodka!" Alice cheered, jumping up, much steadier than I did after her.
"Oh, bugger," Emmett chortled after us. I was glad all my drinks were on a tab, because otherwise I would have forgotten to pay. Alice and I linked arms and went barreling out of the resort's bar.
The other four followed us, amused at our antics. Edward ran his fingers through his hair. "Why didn't we just ask the bartender to make them these ridiculous drinks?"
"Because he wouldn't do it right. This takes screwing expertise," I informed him.
Emmett guffawed loudly, taking my wording a little differently than I intended.
"You know what I meant," I grumped. "Where do you think a liquor store is? Did anyone see one?"
"I think I saw one about a block away," Jasper said, leading the way. We walked through the streets, with Alice and I being obnoxious, yet adorable, tipsy girls. I never drink, so I was more intoxicated than Alice. Those cocktails were my second, third, and fourth drinks ever in my life.
Needless to say, the Egyptian Screwdrivers would be dangerous.
With our purchases in hand, we went back to the resort. We had several bottles of mango juice, and one large bottle of cheap vodka (the only kind we could find). We ended up in my room, the only one untouched with all the crazy sex that had gone on earlier that day.
We grabbed the plastic cups from under the sink to put our Egyptian Screwdrivers in.
The mini party had been going on for a couple hours when Edward and I finally got a chance to have a private conversation.
"This is a bloody stupid idea," Edward sighed, drinking his halfheartedly. I stumbled over to where he was sitting on the bed. Alice and Jasper were on the balcony, while Emmett and Rosalie were on the floor talking beside us. I had had two Egyptian Screwdrivers, and was borderline drunk.
"Why do you think it's stupid? It's fun!" I said, wagging my drink in his face again. I gulped it down, ignoring the unpleasant burn. Make that three Egyptian Screwdrivers.
"I'm just imagining how sick you're going to be in the morning."
I grinned. "Then this next one will be only mango juice," I promised him. I went and refilled my cup, with just mango juice. "See?" I said proudly.
"Very good," he said indulgently. "I don't want you to be hurling your innards up when we go snorkeling tomorrow."
"We're going snorkeling?"
"Emmett signed everyone up on our way to dinner. We could start with that, and then do some diving later in the week? I heard that's what you four had planned before we arrived."
"Yes, yes, diving." I'd like him to dive in up my dress, and thatwas all I could think of. Edward was incredibly attractive at that moment. He was leant back against the pillows, looking at ease. His bronze hair was tousled from the sea breeze, and his mouth wet from his drink.
He raised his eyebrows at me. "You aren't sick already, are you?"
I flushed. "No." How embarrassing. He mistakes my look of lust for one of illness. Great leaps of progress I was making. Then again, perhaps it was better he hadn't noticed. He would be leaving at the end of the week, I had to remind myself.
The night dragged on in much a similar manner. The alcohol wore off slowly. In the end, Edward and I were the only ones abstaining – from drink and from sex. Somewhere around midnight, Jasper and Alice excused themselves. They endeavored to look innocent, but failed when Jasper was busy grabbing her ass.
Rosalie and Emmett were much better at it. They not only got away without Edward or me noticing, but they also ran off with the vodka. I was pleased they left me my mango juice.
"They took the vodka!" I exclaimed, when I went to the dresser we'd been keeping the drinks on. I refilled my cup with juice. I clucked my tongue, chiding at their absence. I crawled back onto the bed with him. "Do you think they're all sexing each other as we speak?" I whispered.
He tossed his head back in laughter. "Bella, you're a funny bird. Of course that's what they're doing."
"Huh." Then a thought struck me. "Emmett and you…aren't sharing a room?"
"How are you going to get any sleep? They're probably blowing the birds and the bees out of the garden right now."
"I suppose," he said slowly, "I'll have to stay here until Rosalie returns."
I blinked. "How will I get any sleep?"
"Why don't we both try and get some sleep? I'm shattered from trying to sleep on that bus. If Rosalie comes back before morning, which I doubt, she can kick me out."
My face, still warm from the alcohol, grew redder. "Um, well, I guess that will work."
"You don't mind?"
"It's a big bed, we can share," I said. And it was the perfect opportunity to get in some diving practice. Age difference or not, I was going to seduce Edward.
"It's not that big," he muttered to my back, as I moved to ready for bed. I carefully picked out my cutest pair of pajamas (sadly, just a tank top and shorts). I left off the underwear, a usual habit of mine, but left on my bra, which wasn't. I knew this pair of shorts was a bit snug in the rear, so after brushing my teeth and gently washing my face, I made sure to bend over to put my dress away.
"You can get more comfortable if you want," I said, with my ass still facing him. I was giddy with excitement and anticipation as I felt his eyes admiring the view. I pressed my thighs together as warmth began to spread to my lower regions.
I turned to him with a smile. "I think I'm fine how I am," he choked. I studied his outfit, not trying to hide my blatant stare. He had his knee propped up just so, that I wondered if he was hiding something.
"Those shorts can't be comfortable to sleep in. They might be rather constricting," I emphasized the last word, while crawling into the bed beside him.
"They're fine," Edward repeated, nearly leaping out of the bed. "I need the toilet!" he yelped. He disappeared in a flash.
I flung myself back into the blankets, wondering how this was going to work out in my favor. What was I even trying to do? I knew I wanted to seduce him. I wouldn't say no to more than seduction, but the long distance was not appealing. We both had plenty of schooling ahead of us, so I had to accept that this week was my only week with him, and I was going to enjoy it to the damn fullest - whether he liked it or not.
I climbed under the blankets, chilled as the air conditioner kicked on. I tried to look innocent and sleepy when Edward returned. He pursed his lips, taking in my position.
"Should I turn off the light?" he asked.
He clicked off the light, but a radiance still came in from the balcony door. I could see perfectly as Edward shuffled toward the bed, a worried expression on his face.
"Maybe I should sleep on the floor," he suggested.
"We're both adults, even if you seem to have a misapprehension that says otherwise. We're both tired from the traveling; we can sleep in the same bed," I said, exasperated.
Edward shuffled even slower, but eventually did maneuver himself onto the left side of the bed. He kept as much distance between us as he could manage.
I reached out, taking his firm bicep in my hand. "Being a silly American isn't contagious; you don't have to be so far away," I said softly. I pulled him closer. I didn't wantonly press my body against his, but I wanted to. He was skittish, so I thought to be slower in my seduction. Not too slow, I did want to get some action that night.
"Bella," he warned. "This…shouldn't happen."
"This?" I questioned.
"Who said anything about sex?"
He growled. "You didn't have to. You're being rather obvious."
I propped myself up on my left arm, looking at him. "Maybe, unlike some people, I know what I want and go for it."
"I'm not the type for shagging a girl and leaving her hanging a week later." Edward had sat up partially, looking at me.
"It's a vacation. You're meant to be doing things you wouldn't usually."
"I'd planned to spend this holiday not meeting any birds at all. And…I like you too much," he admitted. "You're also at a completely different time in your life, from a completely different part of the world. I'm afraid to look back on this week with regret if I give in to you."
His tone was sincere, pained. For a moment, he almost had me convinced to see things his way. But only for a moment.
"Would you rather regret having lots of carefree sex or not having lots of carefree sex?"
"There's no such thing as carefree sex," he answered automatically.
I wriggled closer to him, giving into my wanton urges to lean into his body. I wrapped my right leg around his waist and felt a prominent part of him that disagreed with his last statement.
I went for the brazen temptress approach: "I would be much obliged to be allowed to show you exactly what carefree sex is."
Edward let out a moan, and I knew I had convinced him. He reached for me and crashed our lips together; our mouths and tongues making love, while our bodies raged to keep up shamelessly. The heat of the desert had nothing on what was developing between the two of us in that bed.
There was little finesse in our actions. We were eager to touch every patch of skin that we could. His hands caressed my face, neck, arms, down my sides to my ass, before slipping down my thighs and up again. I raced to get his shirt off, remembering how his muscles had taunted me at the beach. I needed both hands on his abs to receive the full experience of his physique.
"God you feel amazing," he murmured.
"You too," I said distractedly, working on getting my bra off for him. His large hands were at my waist a moment later, pulling me on top so that I was astride his hips. I smirked, feeling seductive as the one in power. I trailed my hands down his now naked sides, grinding our centers together repeatedly. Our shorts were the last obstacle of what was soon to come.
I groaned, panting on him. I was working myself into a frenzy, wanting to go on forever yet to end it immediately at the same time. His fingers crept up my shorts. His surprise that I was going commando was simultaneous with my orgasm. I let out a most unladylike moan and fell forward onto Edward's bare chest. I was boneless, free, and revved up all at once. It was the easiest, best orgasm I had ever had.
I kissed him while I regained my senses. I hadn't gotten everything I wanted just yet. I squirmed out of my shorts, feeling audacious with my nakedness while he impatiently removed the last of his clothing.
I was about to straddle him again, when Edward made a grab at me, flipping me on my back. A second later he was between my legs, while bestowing me with another hot kiss.
"Bollocks," he said cursed, hoarsely. "I haven't a rubber."
"A – a condom," he reiterated shortly. "
"You were trying to speak American?"
"Shut up, do you have one?"
My eyes widened with how little we had thought this through. "Oh, well…I'm on the pill, and…I've only done this with one other, and we were both – inexperienced," I cringed, praying that last part wouldn't kill the mood any more than the entire conversation already had.
"You have to have all sorts of tests done on your health to get into medical school. I'm good," he said with relief.
I reached down, to ascertain if our tangent had softened him.
Nope. "You're huge!" I blurted out in a squeak. Seeming to know that I was speaking about him, his erection twitched. I looked at Edward in disbelief. His response was a self-satisfied leer.
His muscled rippled as he removed my hand. I tilted my hips up, brushing my wetness against his hardness. I whimpered in pleasure, talking down my anxieties that had showed up at the size revelation. I wanted this more than any fear I might face. I was soon consumed by the delicious friction as he rubbed himself on me, still afraid to enter me.
"I've never…done this before."
In my haze of desire, I almost didn't understand what he meant. Clearly, he was no virgin.
"Without…a condom?" I confirmed.
"Yes, love, so I apologize if this is about to be the shortest shag of your life."
With that, he gave a long, heavy thrust inside me. My head fell into the pillow beneath my head, which I eventually had to grab to hide my increasingly loud screams into. I wasn't sure what it was – his size, the Egyptian Screwdrivers, the desperation of only having a week, or if it was just Edward – but it was the hottest, most blissful occurrence of my life.
Although he had worried he wouldn't last long, Edward held out until I found myself coming for the second time, my porn star screams muffled into the hotel's pillow. In comparison, his enticing grunt was quiet.
He removed his heavy weight from me a moment later. We lay there, the blankets having disappeared sometime during the foreplay, sweaty and naked. The hum of the air conditioner threatened to cool us off. I stretched an arm over Edward's chest, my head rested on his shoulder.
In the silence, I felt compelled to inform him, "I had never done that before, either."
"My sweet yank," he sighed, wrapping his arms around me. "I don't know how I'll let you go at the end of the week."
The conclusion of our week together went by faster than I imagined. Edward and I spent every available second together. Rosalie and Edward gladly switched rooms, so we were able to make love every night. During the day we explore the gorgeous Red Sea and the various souvenir shops that littered Dahab.
Edward and I agreed not to attempt lengthening our relationship past the week. As much as we hated it, we both acknowledged that the burden of a long-distance relationship wasn't something either of us wanted. We understood we were dissimilar from our four companions. They had resources that we didn't. Rosalie and Jasper were wealthy. Rosalie's wallet wouldn't be dented by constant trips to the UK, and a trip back to Egypt or to Mississippi was nothing for Jasper to see Alice.
Edward had money, but all of it was being thrown into his schooling. My finances had already been excavated. I lived off of scholarships. At most, Edward thought he could scrounge up enough money to fly and see me once or twice a year.
And then what?
That had been the barrier. Would one of us eventually move to the other's country? I had never been to the UK; I had no clue if I would like it there. He had never even been to America, let alone Washington State.
Our logical explanations did nothing for the heartache we felt, when we finally said goodbye.
Once again, the six of us were seated on a rickety bus. We were headed North this time. Rosalie had convinced Jasper to follow Emmett and Edward through Israel and to Jordan, but once in Jordan, they would have to split so the Brits could make it home. That meant Alice and I would be dropping them off at Taba, before returning to Cairo.
And then I would never see Edward again. We hadn't exchanged information, knowing the temptation might break us. We wanted to end it as thoroughly as we could.
It didn't make it any easier to say the words. The bus putted and lurched to the stop in Taba. Edward and I had been holding hands tighter and tighter, the closer we go to the town.
"This is it," he said at last. I followed after him
"Habibi," I whispered into his ear, my love. The effort to keep the tears at bay, made my throat swell. "I'm going to miss you, more than I…" My voice cracked, and it ended my sentence.
"I'll miss you, too, love. I'll be sure to think of you whenever the Americans are in the news. You'll probably be in the news some day, working for the president or something," he teased, but his heart wasn't in it. His green eyes were tortured as I peeked up at him. He was so beautiful, so perfect – perfect for me.
"I can't believe I'm letting you go," I gasped out, laughing at myself as the tears finally escaped. "I can't believe I'm crying, either."
Edward wiped at the offensive tears. "Don't cry, we don't have much time to say goodbye - the bus is about to leave."
"I hate goodbyes," I croaked.
"Then let's not say it. Even if we won't be together…I know I'm going to see you again, Bella."
I tried to smile. "Edward…"
"Take care of yourself," I said. He clutched me close, hugging me so that the air left my lungs.
We separated, our hands clasping one last time before letting go. I turned slowly, boarding the bus. Right behind me was Alice, pale and lonely. Our four new friends stood out amongst the darker complected locals around them. Emmett and Rosalie were leaning on each other, and I knew they were dreading the separation their friends were going through first.
Alice and I waved to them from the window until they were out of sight. We knew there wouldn't be a Jasper to chase after us. I would have settled for Edward, even as I told myself that was a ridiculous notion.
"It's not the end, Bella. The six of us will be together like this again, maybe not very soon, but we will."
I shuddered, wrapping my arms around my chest to hold in a completeness that was rioting to escape. A completeness I had felt with Edward.
"I wish I had your optimism, Alice."
"It's not optimism, it's hope."
I grabbed my history book from my bag, a book I had neglected during our brief vacation in heaven. "I haven't a chance of seeing Edward again, I don't have his information."
"You could get it from Emmett, via Rosalie, via Jasper, via me," she said authoritatively.
"True," I said. "But that's not what he and I thought was best. We wanted a clean break."
Alice glared at me. "You'll at least have to see him at Rosalie and Emmett's wedding. I'm sure we'll both be invited. The Hales will probably pay for the flights, too."
I scoffed at her, while secretly I was hopeful. I was hoping that Rosalie and Emmett wouldn't be the type to have a long engagement. With that first positive thought in mind, I opened my book, ready to continue my education on the British occupation of Egypt.
A small piece of paper slipped out of one of the back pages of the book. Wondering what it was doing in my book, I picked it up.
It was a sloppy, yet detailed drawing of a cartoon lobster. It was even wearing the British tri-corner hat from that time period. Beneath it, he had written:
The name's Edward Cullen, in case you're ever in the UK, Yank.
He had snuck that in my book, no doubt when I had been asleep while the bus was broken down.
My heartache lessened a little. Even if he and Emmett hadn't come to the resort, I think our destinies had already become too tangled. We would have met again, under different circumstances. Now wasn't our time, probably not next year, and maybe not even after college, but eventually, Edward and I would be together.
I smiled, my humor returning as I realized I would one day have my Lobster back.
Author's Note: Cheer up! They clearly are meant to be together at a later time. This just wasn't their moment. I originally intended for them to be together by the end of the story, but it wasn't meant to be. Sorry, I am a happily ever after type myself, but my stories have minds of their own.
Funny thing, I've noticed I keep writing a Bella who seduces an Edward. What does that say about me?