Entry for "The Cherry Exchange 2010"
Title: Life in Technicolor
Word Count: 14, 563
Summary: In the summer of 1955, Edward and a thoroughly modern Bella meet, quickly discovering all that love and life has to bring. Five years later and a few bumps along the way, will it all be the same? *ENTRY FOR THE 2010 CHERRY EXCHANGE*
Authors Note: Thanks to Nic (owenic) and Connie (EverIntrigued) for using their magic beta skills. I'd be lost without you, chickies! As always, the characters and Twilight are the property of Stephenie Meyer – I just teleport them to the 1950's ;)
Sitting on a bench seat at Chicago Union Station, I looked at my watch for what seemed like the hundredth time. The minute hand had only moved one tick from where it was the last time I had glanced at my wrist.
"Excuse me, sir." I asked, grabbing the attention of the platform master. "Would you happen to know if the train from Seattle is on time?"
"Should be, mister. Sit tight and it'll be on the platform before you know it."
My heart thundered fitfully in my chest as I realized I would see her in less than twenty minutes. Tightly gripping the small bouquet of daisies I had brought with me, I swallowed, wishing I had a glass of water to sedate my parched throat. A gurgle resonated from the pit of my stomach and I briefly wondered if the people around me could hear my erratic breathing. With my fidgeting and nerves, I probably looked like I was having a mental breakdown.
I gripped the seat on either side of me, my knuckles turning white as I resisted the urge to glance at the station clock. Why the hell was I so nervous? I was being completely irrational.
"Are you okay, dear?" A voice from beside me inquired, snapping me out of my nerve induced stupor.
As I turned my head I was met by an elderly woman sitting on the wooden bench beside me. Her gray hair was loosely wound into a bun and a large Agatha Christie novel sat in her lap, her index finger bookmarking her place within the multitude of pages. Her kind eyes looked into mine and my brain fumbled for a response.
"Um, yes. I'm fine. Well, actually, no I'm not... but I'm just being a complete idiot really. I shouldn't be nervous. I know her for goodness sake." I garbled to the old woman, undoubtedly confirming in her mind that I was a madman.
"Ah, waiting for your sweetheart are you, young man?" I noticed a twinkle in her eye as my face betrayed the fact her statement was indeed correct. She was my sweetheart, but would she still feel that way?
"Yes. I mean, no. I don't know. Maybe I love her, but we haven't seen each other in five years... there's no way she could still love me." I doubted anything I was saying to the poor lady was making any sense, but she seemed to understand me perfectly. I wasn't even making sense to myself, with my mind running wild with all the possible worst possible scenarios.
"Five years. My, my, that's quite a long time." The old lady nodded, then adding, "But, for the record, I will let you know that old wise women like me tend to right about most things, and I will adamantly tell you that love spans all time and distance. I've seen it firsthand." I smiled a little at her conviction, already slightly calmer than before. "May I ask how you and this mystery woman met?"
A catalogue of memories filed through my brain as I recalled the summer I met her. I could almost feel the heat and humidity wash over me, the taste of ice-cream and the smell of mosquito repellent.
"We met in the summer of '55. I was on vacation with my parents in Washington State. It was truthfully the best summer of my life. I can remember it so vividly, like it was yesterday, even though I was just eighteen at the time." I replied.
"That was when I first met Bella."
The Summer of 1955
"Edward, would you like to play a game?" My step-Mom Esme asked me from the front seat of our forest green Chevrolet as she handed me a bottle of soda from the cooler. "Eye-spy is swell fun. Carlisle, would you like to play?" She added to my father.
"Yeah, swell." I rolled my eyes and popped open the glass bottle. "Esme, eye-spy is for kids. I'm eighteen, remember?" I turned back to my Hardy Boys mystery, trying to remember where I had left off.
I loved Esme with all my heart, regardless of the fact she was my step-mother. Truthfully, she was the only mother I had ever known since my birth mother died shortly after I was born. Dad remarried fairly quickly – maybe because he had no idea how to do housework and look after me, or maybe because he truly loved Esme. I don't know. Nevertheless, from the moment I could speak, I had called her Esme. At first Dad had encouraged me to call her Mom, but even at a young age, it had just never seemed right. She had always been Esme – a fact she didn't mind in the least.
"You may be a young man, but you will always be my little boy. Now, would you like to begin?"
I sighed, propping my feet up on the centre console like she hated, just to prove my point. "I spy with my little eye, something beginning with...G."
The game continued for the next forty-five minutes. After about ten of those minutes, I stopped participating and went back to reading, attempting to block out the noise of my parents voices in the front seat. Eventually the car returned to silence, only to be broken by Esme excitedly bouncing up and down in her seat and pointing out the windscreen.
"Look, boys! We're entering Forks! Not long now!" I swear I heard her mutter thank goodness under her breath, and truthfully I had to agree with her. Four days in the car was enough to drive anyone insane.
This summer marked the first time we were going on a true summer vacation as a family. All the summers in my life so far had simply been spent in the suburbs of Chicago, playing outside, reading, and last year working in a car garage. Dad's full time position at Cook County Hospital had placed many family trips on the backburner to make way for his duties. While I had minded his long absences a little when I was younger, I now understood the responsibilities brought by his job and the love he had for his position. Somehow, I had never truly felt neglected by him, despite his unusual hours – he's an outstanding father and I admire him wholeheartedly, even with his tendency to be controlling at times.
When he arrived home in early June and announced he was taking some leave for the summer, Esme sprung into her crazy hurricane organization mode and announced by the end of the week that we would be spending the summer in a little cottage just outside of Forks, Washington. We were to arrive in Forks in late June.
As we drove through the main street of the town, my first impression was that Forks was, well, small. United States flags flew outside of nearly every store as I looked down the straight stretch of Main Street. It was the epitome of a small American town. We passed a general store, a gas station and a diner before Dad pulled the car to the side of the road and parked, stepping on the brake.
"I'm going to the gas station to fill up. Did you say you needed to go to the store, Esme?" My Dad asked her.
"Yes, I must collect the key for the cottage and then stock up on some basic groceries. It won't take too long." She replied.
"Son, how about you take out that camera of yours and take a photograph of your mother and I in front of the car? It'll be a nice shot for the album." He got out of the car, walking around to stand in front of the vehicle as he placed his arm around Esme's waist.
I snapped the picture of my beaming parents before Esme went to run her errands. I heard Esme's yellow pumps tap down the path as I stuffed my hands in my blue jeans and began to walk in the opposite direction. I passed the Diner, a clothing store, a bank, an accountant's office and numerous friendly faces with warm smiles before stumbling across what resembled a book store. I quickly glanced up at the sign above the door which simply read "The Book Nook", before something in the window caught my eye.
She sat on a wooden stool behind the counter, intently reading a large textbook with her head resting in one hand, her elbow propped on the wooden countertop. Without realizing, I smiled to myself as I noticed the tip of her tongue poking out between her red painted lips in concentration. Her long brown hair was pulled into a high pony tail with a ribbon tied neatly into a bow around it, perfectly matching her short blue dress. I peered closer, attempting to get a glance at her eyes which were hidden behind thick eyebrow long bangs, to no avail.
I soon found myself walking in through the store's entrance, the bell signaling my presence and my eyes firmly fixated on the girl behind the counter. She still hadn't looked up.
"Would you be able to tell me where the mechanics books are?" A man in his mid-thirties asked her, attempting to grab her attention by waving his hand around in front of her face. I chuckled when she neglected to look up from her reading, merely pointing towards the rear left of the store and giving a curt instruction.
I made my way towards the counter, freezing moments before I reached it and ducked into a random aisle. If she wouldn't give a real inquiring customer the honor of her attention, why would she bother with me? I quickly grabbed a title off the shelf and ventured out of the aisle, pretending to flip through the pages as I gathered the courage to talk to her.
"Bella," An older man spoke in an exasperated tone as he appeared from the back of the store. "Why don't you get your nose out of that stupid good for nothing medical textbook and be of some help around here? Goodness knows you won't need to know about regpiratory system when you have a husband and three kids running around your ankles. Why don't you try something you'd actually succeed at? Perhaps nursing or secretarial work?"
Her name was Bella. It suited her perfectly. So sweet and innocent and –
"Excuse me, Mr. Varner." She snapped her head up from her reading, her eyes full of both frustration and warning. "You know very well I'm planning to become a doctor. I'm reading ahead so I can still achieve good marks - the majority of the lecturers will no doubt be completely prejudiced against me because I'm female . Please note the fact that none of the customers need assistance at the moment. God knows you men don't make it easy for women to do anything useful in this world." Mr. Varner succeeded in both looking partially amused and shocked. "And for the record, its respiratory, not regpiratory."
I laughed a little at her headstrong outburst as the bookstore owner disappeared with a stack of books. She continued on with her reading as if nothing had occurred.
"Nice comeback," I offered, placing my book on the counter.
"He's a misogynist, really." She huffed, never looking up. "He won't even let me price the books; despite the fact I know I have better math skills than him. When will society realize that women can be just as smart as, if not brighter than, men? We can do everything they can do. Truthfully, I only work here for the money so that I can go to college.
By the way, we have a half price sale on. Pick one of the novels over there on that shelf if you like." She added, resigned, waving her hand generally in the direction to her right, never looking upwards.
"I did advanced placement Bio in senior year. I guess I did okay but not well enough to become a doctor. I can't imagine spending however many years studying to become one. For the record, I think you'd make a fantastic physician." I rambled, attempting to make her look up.
"Yeah, well no one else seems to think so. My parents have no idea I've been accepted into the University of Washington." She glanced up quickly, her calm expression quickly turning to one of horror as she stared at me. Was I really that annoying and repulsive? She was the first girl I had met who hadn't thrown herself at me. Great, the one girl I meet who seemed to have a brain thought I was a complete dork.
After she blinked twice, she murmured a quick thanks and something about having to stock some shelves, disappearing out of sight. I rubbed my hand through my hair, wondering what I had done wrong.
"Oh, Edward. There you are dear!" I turned around, finding Esme standing in the book store entrance, carrying three brown bags in her arms. "Come on, hurry along. We have to see the house!"
She excitedly handed me two of the paper bags before smoothing down the front of her bright yellow dress. I followed quickly behind her, walking towards the car which Dad had reparked on the side of the street.
"From the way Mrs. Newton described the house, it sounds just glorious! There's a nice sunroom and she said the house is right near a quaint brook. Perhaps you and your father can do a little fishing?" I nodded, barely processing her words, as she turned to chirp to my father. "Oh, and Carlisle. You will never guess –"
"No, I'm sure I won't, dear." He noted quietly to himself as she continued.
"- I ran into the wife of the Chief of Police in the store and she delightfully invited us over for supper tonight. A little dinner party won't go astray on our vacation, will it? It's always nice to meet new people and Edward; they have a daughter as well." She winked at me as I inwardly cringed.
My step-mother was constantly trying to set me up with the daughters of her acquaintances. I knew she was doing it with the best intentions and a kind heart, but, truthfully, they were all the same. I knew by looking at them that their only life ambition was to marry a businessman and have three kids dressed up in sailor themed playsuits. While I completely accepted that as a life choice, I admired and truthfully only wanted to be with a woman who knew exactly what she wanted and strived for it, not because it was socially acceptable but because it was her ambition in life.
I wanted someone who challenged my intellect, someone who had opinions, and someone who didn't just sit back and let others run her life for her.
Someone like Bella.
I restrained myself from hitting my head against the seat in front of me as we drove through the tree-lined roads of ribbon. I had only spoken three sentences to her and had received a frosty reception in return, but my heart felt like it was doing back flips every time I thought her name. She was perfect and I didn't even know her.
We arrived at the cottage within ten minutes. The timber and lines of the white wooden structure, complete with flower beds in bloom, grasped my attention for a few moments, the budding photographer and architect within me standing in awe of its glorious simplicity. Too bad that Dad had his heart set on me becoming a lawyer like his father. I hadn't get discussed my differing future plans to him – an event which was looming ever closer due to the fact I had received a college acceptance letter from Northwestern for architecture as well as law. A minor detail he had no knowledge of.
I snapped a quick picture of the structure, situating Carlisle unloading the bags just to the side of the image. Without warning, my thoughts suddenly switched to Bella, my mind picturing her in the photograph instead of my father. I could see the wind slightly whipping up her hair in the breeze as she grinned, her blue dress offsetting the dark green of the woods behind her.
"Edward, come inside and help your father with the bags. We must be at the Swans' in an hour and a half!" Esme called out to me, breaking me out of my reverie.
I followed her inside, my head still swimming with impossible feelings.
We arrived at the Swans house with time to spare, much to my dismay. Extra time only meant more awkward silences to fill with their daughter.
"Son, at least attempt to look respectable." Dad said, motioning for me to tuck my white shirt properly into my slacks.
I shot him a pleading look in return, hopefully communicating to him that it was in his best interests not to put me through this torture. He responded by raising his eyebrows and giving a slight chuckle.
"How about this," he bargained, muttering to me. "If you behave properly, this will be the last time I ever let your mother attempt to match you with anyone." He quickly caught up with Esme just as she rapped on the door, adjusting his suit tie.
"Esme!" A middle aged woman answered the door. Her blonde hair was perfectly coiffed to the point where it eerily resembled that of Marilyn Monroe. I suspected that was exactly the intention. "Welcome, welcome. Come on in."
"Renee, this is my family. Carlisle Cullen and my son, Edward." Esme introduced us as we stood in the entrance hall, shrugging off our coats and handing them to Mrs. Swan who eagerly placed them in the hall closet.
After asking us if we wanted a refreshment – Gin and Tonic for Esme, Brandy for Dad and a Coke for me – we were ushered into the formal dining room where Renee introduced us to Chief Swan. I mentally reminded myself not to get on his bad side as I remembered eyeing his revolver, hanging on a hook in the coat closet.
I briefly wondered to myself where their daughter was, doing a little cheer when she still hadn't appeared twenty minutes later – a fact Mrs. Swan had also realized, judging by the fact she kept checking her wrist watch.
Without warning, a loud bang resonated towards the front of the house, causing everyone in the room to look towards the noise.
"Young lady, please don't slam the front door!" Chief Swan yelled towards the noise in a cheery tone, emitting a smile to us which indicated his silent apology.
"Sorry, Da – "A familiar voice called back, followed by an even more familiar body, before both froze.
Bella. Bella Swan. Bella Swan, the daughter of the Chief of Police of Forks. Boy was I in shitsville.
I stared at her as she stood frozen in the door way, clad in her familiar blue dress and saddle shoes. I followed her eyes around the room, taking in first her parents, then mine and finally me, causing her eyes to widen further.
"Bella, I thought I told you not to be late?" Mrs. Swan told her daughter. Though her tone was sweet, a warning lilt twisted through it.
Bella cleared her throat. "Sorry, mother. I was kept behind at work."
"Goodness knows why you would want to work, Bella darling. We can provide perfectly well for you, and soon enough you'll have a husband who will be the breadwinner. Nevertheless, go up stairs and change into something more formal - maybe your green dress - and come right back down. Dinner is only five minutes away."
My eyes followed Bella as she managed to unfreeze her body and ran up the stairs two at a time, her long pony tail bouncing with her. In the back of my mind, I registered the adults discussing the growing freedom of teenagers "these days", but could only focus on Bella. I had to at least attempt to befriend her, didn't I? Part of me – the sissy part – told me that I shouldn't even bother because she obviously didn't fancy me back. I forcefully pushed that part aside. I had to at least attempt to get what I wanted. I wanted her.
Bella returned moments later, the only difference in her appearance being a string of pearls around her neck and the refreshment of her red lipstick. I heard Mrs. Swan sigh in an exasperated way and chuckled to myself. Bella fully knew her mother wouldn't reprimand her in front of house guests.
Moments later, Renee disappeared into the kitchen and we were ushered to sit around the wooden, rectangular dining table. By some sort of miracle, or doom, Bella was somehow seated next to me. I forced myself to calm down, not wanting to risk her thinking I was some sort of spaz.
Five minutes went by. She still hadn't said anything, focusing instead on cutting her roast.
Ten minutes passed. She took a sip of her Coca-Cola and answered a question from my mother about her pearls, but still hadn't said a word in my direction.
Fifteen minutes ticked by. I had to say something. I couldn't spend this whole night sitting next to her and not attempt to gain her favor. I would be a complete idiot and loathe myself for the rest of my life if I chose that path.
I grabbed the courage from somewhere.
"Hi," I whispered to Bella.
"Hi," she whispered back, a faint blush creeping up her cheeks as she focused on her plate. I couldn't help but notice the way her red lips moved when she spoke. I had to see it again.
"So, this is a coincidence." I said a little more loudly, knowing there was little chance of the adults at the opposite end of the table hearing us through their animated and fairly noisy discussion. "Did you give that Mr. Varner a piece of your mind again by any chance?"
She choked on her food a little, shooting me an amused glance as I grinned at her. "No, I didn't. Smart choice, too. He kept me behind stocking shelves because of what I said today while there were customers in the store."
"If he was that put out, why didn't he just fire you?" I asked, genuinely interested as to how Bella had kept her job, guessing this wasn't the first time it happened.
"My mom's the president of the DAR and my Dad is the Chief of Police. Let's just say my parents think I'm planning to get a secretarial position at some firm somewhere and that I can do no wrong. They wouldn't believe him if he tried to claim I was less than perfect." It was my turn to choke on my food as I realized that not only was Bella head strong but that she was smart enough to continue to pull the wool over her parents eyes. I wondered whether her parents would go ape when they discovered Bella's true intentions.
"Edward, would you like a glass of water dear?" Bella's mom asked me from the other end of the table. I couldn't help but catch Bella hiding her smirk by dabbing her mouth with her napkin.
I shook my head no as I my coughing finally ceased and I regained some sense of composure.
As I went to continue my discussion with Bella, Chief Swan's voice boomed from the head of the table.
"So, Edward, son. What do you plan to study at college? Perhaps medicine like your old man here?" He inquired.
"Well, I actually want to study –" I began.
"Edward here wants to become a lawyer like his grandfather, don't you son? He was accepted into Northwestern in March." My father interjected, catching me off guard.
"Well, Dad I wanted to talk to you about –"I started.
"That's fantastic, Edward. I can almost picture you defending the citizens of Chicago. Study hard and you'll soon have your own firm!" Renee encouraged me, causing my father's face to spread into a beam of pride.
I wondered when would be the right time to bring the subject up with him.
As dessert finished up, Bella rose to clear the table, letting the adults continue their conversations. I quickly stood up to help her, taking the dessert platter and following her into the kitchen.
"Edward, I was wondering...would you like to hang out tomorrow? I have the day off, and was planning to meet some friends at the diner. We might go swimming at the beach or something. I mean you don't have to, of course. I just figured you might want some company other than your parents..." She trailed off, her fingers fiddling with the sleeve of her dress. I didn't respond immediately, wondering if I was hearing correctly. She wanted me to hang out with her? If she wanted that, why did she act as she did in the store earlier in the day?
I was snapped out of her thoughts as Bella quickly turned to the dishes and began stacking them in the sink loudly. "Don't worry. I was being stupid. I'm sure you wouldn't want to –"
"Yes. Of course. That would be...unreal. " I agreed. Her eyes shot up to mine as a little smile spread across her face. I decided right there and then that I would make her smile like that as much as possible in the time I was in Forks. "I guess I'm just a little confused. You ran away today at the bookstore. I thought you disliked me."
Bella blushed. "Oh, that. Forget about it, okay?" I nodded and she relaxed, smiling at me. "Meet at the diner at around midday?"
I nodded in agreement, my heart bouncing up and down inside my chest as I helped her with the dishes. I washed, she dried. We were a perfect team...and apparently I was turning into the biggest cheese ball on the planet.
I took one hand off the steering wheel of the Chevrolet and wiped it on my blue jeans. I was nervous. I had never been nervous around a girl before, but maybe that was because I had never actually bothered to pursue a girl – they always seemed to come to me and none of them really held my interest. Sure, they probably knew how to do laundry and primp themselves for when their future husbands would return home from their steady nine to five job, but they bored me.
Bella was far from boring.
I briefly wondered if perhaps I put too much promenade in my hair. Was I trying too hard? In that moment I felt so inexperienced and young that I second guessed every action I was making. The last thing I wanted her to do was to see right through me.
Approaching town, I pulled my hand down my face in frustration. I had hardly slept the night before, all thanks to the one and only Bella Swan. I had no idea what time it was when I finally fell asleep in my small loft bedroom within the cottage. All I could picture was her face, grinning happily back at me – thoughts which soon veered towards the shy expression she would wear after I kissed her, or the way she would bite her lip when she was thinking something mischievous. Even now, all my thoughts involved Bella in one way or another.
Boy was I in deep.
Parking the car on the opposite side of the road to the diner, I turned off the engine and sat for a moment, taking a few deep breaths.
Get out of the car, Edward. Just get out of the stupid car. Open the door. Get out. Cross the road. Go into the diner. Act cool. Don't say anything stupid. Just be yourself. I told myself, tapping my fingers against the steering wheel.
Before my head could decide for me otherwise, I threw open the car door and stepped out, slamming it shut behind me before I crossed the road towards the diner. Pushing open the door, I entered the building, immediately noticing Bella punching buttons on the jukebox, her hips slightly swaying to the tune playing. As Seventeen by the Fontane Sisters began playing, Bella closed her eyes and began dancing to the music, lifting her arms above her head and pivoting her hips to the tune.
Losing all my inhibitions, I walked over to her and placed my hands on her slim white blouse covered waist, singing quietly along to the song as I moved with her.
"Seventeen, she's a queen, cutest gal you've ever seen, all the boys are really keen, oh the hep cat doll of seventeen." I sang, following the well- known song.
Bella's eyes flew open suddenly, a blush creeping up her neck and into her cheeks.
"Edward, hey." She said, a grin spreading across her face as she recovered from her shock. She grabbed my hand and led me over to a booth where two other people were sitting.
"This is Angela," she said, pointing to a girl in a peach colored dress. "And this is Jacob, though everyone calls him Jake."
I received a wave from Angela but only a curt nod from Jacob who was slouched in the corner of the booth. I wondered what his problem was as I slid onto the bench seat, Bella following me.
"What can I get you kids?" A waitress asked us, pen poised over her notepad.
After we placed our orders, Bella and Angela fell into conversation.
"So, dude, what do you drive?" I asked Jake, feeling awkward listening in to whatever Bella and Angela were gabbing about.
"Just a Harley-Davidson hummer. Got it second hand, wasn't in very good shape, did it up m'self." He responded, playing with the zipper of his worn leather jacket and never once looking remotely interested. "I've got my dad's pickup truck today though. How 'bout you? You seem like the square type. Let me guess – a Ford?" He snickered to himself.
Our food arrived, and I dug into my fries, choosing to avoid Jake and his attitude as much as possible. Instead, I watched Bella as she talked animatedly with her friend Angela about everything from James Dean to Lucille ball on I Love Lucy. Truthfully, I didn't pay all that much attention to the actual string of conversation, preferring to watch Bella's animated expressions as she talked. She was the most interesting person I had ever come across. However, I couldn't help but notice her continual concerned glances towards Jacob as he continued to simply glare out of the window.
Once Bella had finished her burger and shake, she glanced at the clock handing above the diner counter.
"Oh!" She exclaimed. "We've been here for an hour and a half already! We should get going!"
"Yeah, I'm sure this is going to be swell fun." Jacob grumbled sarcastically.
"For goodness sake, cheer up Jake! What's got into you?" Bella snapped at him, a slight hint of hurt in her tone. "You love the beach!"
He cheered up slightly at Bella's scolding, scooting out of the booth behind Angela. "Yeah. Come on Bells. Let's go to the beach." He put his arm around Bella's waist in a way I definitely didn't like. I smiled when Bella spun out of his grasp in only a few moments.
"Oh, shoot!" She exclaimed, rifling through her beach bag. "I forgot my swimsuit! Now I'll have to go all the way back home to fetch it!"
"I'll drive you?" I offered. "If you don't mind that is."
Bella agreed eagerly, giving me a peck on the cheek in appreciation. I had to steady myself so I didn't begin making out with her right there and then. That would be a sure fire way to get a broken jaw from Jacob introducing his fist to my face. I could tell he was more than a little possessive of Bella, despite the fact Angela freely eyed him like he was covered in candy.
"Meet you at the beach guys?" She asked Angela and Jake as I steered her out of the diner towards my car.
"Uh huh. Meet you there Bells." Angela called back. As I turned around to say a goodbye to Bella's friends, I caught Angela throwing my girl a massive cheesy grin and encouraging thumbs up – a gesture she quickly stopped when she noticed I was watching. Maybe I did have some kind of chance with her after all.
Oh, geez. I just called her 'my girl'.
I drove carefully to Bella's house as she described her friends to me. I listened intently, wanting to know everything I could about Bella's life. I was enraptured. She rambled on about Jake and Angela and the fact they had been a trio since the first day of Kindergarten. She told me about her school, what subjects she took in her senior year, the fact that her English teacher Mrs. Cope was the only person who knew about and fully supported her plans to attend medical school.
"She was a nurse in the Pacific war," Bella explained to me. "There was a shortage of medical staff and so eventually she learnt and took on most of the doctors roles. She saw firsthand that women could do exactly what men can, if not more. When she returned to the US she fully intended to attend medical school, until her husband refused to let her go to study. She became a teacher instead."
"I would never stop you from pursuing anything you wanted, Bella." I told her as I turned into her street. Once I realized what I had implied, I clamped my lips together. Deep down, I knew I wanted to marry this girl. I wanted to let her live the fullest life she could.
Bella gave me a little smile, hopping out of the car once I had parked it in the driveway.
"Come on in." She said. "I won't be a moment."
I followed Bella into her house, waiting downstairs near the mantelpiece. I smiled to myself when my eyes fell on the pictures, lined up chronologically, one after the other. Newborn Bella with her Mom and Dad at the hospital; toddler Bella with a ragdoll; Kindergarten Bella with three teeth missing; Kid Bella next to a science project; Middle school Bella in an extremely pink fluffy dress and matching pink Mary Janes, presumably off to a school dance; Bella with a ginger cat curled up in her lap; Debutante Bella in a white gown, Jacob's arm around her waist; and finally Bella in her graduation gown, the excitement evident in her eyes as she held her diploma.
"Oh no, you found them." Bella said from behind me, her hair once again swept up into a pony tail. She had changed into a blue patterned playsuit outfit with canvas sand shoes on her feet. I guessed her swimsuit was underneath. "I'll let you know I did not do that by choice," she said, pointing to her debutante picture. "My mother is all into those things, being in so many women's societies. She felt it was 'proper.'" Bella rolled her eyes, hoisting her beach bag onto her shoulder.
"Ready?" She asked.
I nodded, taking her bag from her as we walked out to the car and opening her door. "M'lady," I said as she hopped into the passenger seat. Bella giggled a little as I closed her door chauffeur style and ran around to the driver's side of the vehicle.
"Just follow the highway out of town." Bella instructed as she tied a scarf around her mahogany hair.
"Mind if we open the windows?" I asked her, desperately wanting to feel the breeze to accompany the bright sunshine streaming through the windows.
Bella smiled, winding down her window, the wind instantly whipping in. "The weather is so beautiful out. Forks is usually pretty dreary."
"It must be reflecting my mood." I stated, only to have Bella snort beside me.
"Who actually says those things in real life?" She laughed. "They only say that stuff in flicks. It seems we have a movie star in our midst. Good day, Gregory Peck." Bella attempted a little curtsey in her seat.
"If I'm Gregory Peck, you're Audrey Hepburn. Care to go on a holiday in Rome?" I jokingly offered.
Bella smiled at me, the rays of sun illuminating her ivory face, making her look almost angelic. "Audrey Hepburn is much too pretty. I could never be her."
"You remind me of a lot of her actually." In reality, I thought Bella was much prettier than the actress I was comparing her to. She was nothing in comparison.
Bella smiled at me shyly, turning her head to watch the scenery whoosh by.
Before I knew it, we had arrived at the sunny beach. I was surprised to find the expanse was mostly pebbled, with very little sand.
"There you are Bella! You took long enough, girl!" Jacob yelled from the large log of driftwood he was sitting on. I could sense a hint of annoyance in his tone.
"Don't be so impatient, Jacob Black!" Bella jokingly scolded him, running down to meet her friends.
I had to remind myself to keep breathing when Bella began stripping off her clothes to reveal her green swimsuit underneath. How could anyone's legs be so long? It wasn't humanly possible. My thoughts began to head straight to my dick and I instantly started thinking about unrelated topics. My swimming trunks wouldn't hide anything if I kept thinking about Bella.
"Coming, Eddie?" Bella yelled as she stepped into the water.
Bella was the first person I hadn't scolded for calling me that nickname. I stripped off my shoes, blue jeans and shirt and raced down to the water, finding Bella waist deep in the surf. I hadn't gotten past my ankles before I froze.
"Darn it, Bella! This is freezing! How are you that far out?" I hopped from one foot to the other, my toes stinging.
"Edward, you swim in Lake Michigan for goodness sake! This is nothing!" She yelled back.
I shook my head.
"Get in the water, Edward." She said sternly. I shook my head at her again, resigned that I was never swimming in that ice bucket.
I noticed Bella's lips twitch as she tried to hide a smile. "Get in the darn water Edward or so help me!"
"Or so help you what?" I challenged, yelling across the expanse.
Before I knew it, a green blur was racing towards me. Bella jumped up, throwing her arms around my neck and her long, long legs around my waist. "Get in the water. Please?" Her tone turned sweet and sultry. Her face was so close to mine I could feel her breath washing over me.
"And what do I get in return?" I bargained.
Bella winked at me. "You'll see. Now, get in the water." Her legs unfolded from around me and she grabbed my hand, leading me into what felt like the Arctic Ocean.
Once I was chest deep in the surf, I actually began to enjoy the water temperature.
"See? Not so bad, is it?" Bella asked me, a smirk playing on her lips. She swam towards me, securing her legs around my hips once again. I could feel her warmth all around me and it was completely overwhelming. Her breath was on my face again, her little fingers playing with the hair at the nape of my neck. I had never encountered a girl who was so forthright, who knew exactly what she wanted and reached out to grasp it. It made me want her infinitesimally more.
Before I knew it I was kissing her, my lips molding perfectly to hers. On their own accord, my arms tightened around her waist, bringing her closer to me. I wanted to feel her everywhere in that moment. Until I realized that maybe Bella didn't want the moment in the first place.
Breaking away, I rested my forehead on hers. "I'm sorry, Bella." I muttered.
"What the hell are you talking about, boy?" Bella's slightly husky voice replied as she wound her fingers further through my hair. "You're not going anywhere."
Her lips crashed back down on my own. Bella emitted a little moan which made my nerves heighten more than I thought possible. Her whole body felt it was made for just my own, judging by the way she molded to me perfectly. Her breasts pushed into my chest, the space between us becoming smaller as she took large breaths into her lungs. Lazily, I dragged my tongue along her bottom lip, her mouth opening to give me entrance. My tongue swiped across hers, an action which she mimicked in return, as I explored her mouth. As our teeth bumped and noses crushed, I laughed a little into her mouth, wondering to myself how on earth I got into this position and how I could devour more of her in the same thought.
"Get a room! Or the back seat of a car! Something!" A voice hollered towards us from the beach. It sounded like Angela. We both broke away at the same time, looking towards the shore. Sure enough, Angela and Jake were sunning themselves, enjoying the little lust induced show we had put on. Well, Angela was. It appeared Jacob was scowling.
"Woops," Bella said quietly, burying her head slightly in my chest to hide her blush.
I groaned, wishing we hadn't been interrupted. "So what do I get as my reward for getting in the water again?"
"Well I was going to initiate that, but you kind of beat me to it." Bella grabbed my jaw in her hand and brought my face in line with hers. "We." Kiss. "Most." Kiss. "Definitely." Kiss. "Have to." Kiss. "Do that." She kissed me harder for emphasis. "Again."
I felt myself grin like an idiot back at her as we made our way back to the shore. She was the most amazing person I had ever met.
Jacob, however, was the most disagreeable person I had ever encountered. The difference between his expression and that of Angela beside him was almost comical. While she was grinning ear to ear, Mr. Bad Boy Extraordinaire James Dean was sitting on the log in a stiff position with his arms crossed over his chest. His scowl almost made me want to hoist Bella over my shoulder and take her away from him, then and there. Yes, Bella had grown up with him, but I could tell he had an extremely dangerous jealous side.
His demeanor didn't escape Bella's notice.
"Jacob. What the hell is your problem?" Bella asked him, her voice scarily even.
"Gosh, Bells. I dunno. Maybe the fact you're suddenly in love with this pussy with a trust fund! This is our summer, Bells. We have always spent the summer together, and this might be the last one we're gonna get." Jacob was advancing on my girl, his body towering over hers.
"Jake, you're my best friend. What's gotten into you?" Her tone had changed to one laced with hurt.
"The fact you don't seem to care anymore, Bella." He spat. "And guess what. I don't care anymore either." Jacob picked up his towel and marched over to his car, his hands in tight fists by his side.
Bella's eyes were wide and wet. "It'll be alright, Bells." Angela soothed. "How about I go with him and calm him down a little?"
Bella nodded a little. "Make sure he's alright, kay Ange?"
Angela nodded, and sprinted over to Jacob who had already started the ignition. Bella clutched my hand tightly as we watched the car disappear out of sight. Beside me I heard her take a shaky breath as she collapsed on a log.
"I'm sorry, Edward. He's normally so sweet. I don't know what's gotten into him lately." Bella apologized for her friend.
"It's okay, Bella. Really." I swung my arm around her shoulders, bringing her closer to me as the clouds darkened, heavy with summer rain. "Time go to, yeah?"
I gathered our things and moved to pack them in the car, deep in thought. I knew full well what was up with Jacob. He was territorial over my girl.
The rest of my summer with Bella passed in a blur, the days ticking down one by one. Stealing kisses off each other at unexpected times became almost like an unspoken game and her hand in mine became an entirely welcome extension of my body – I welcomed it like I welcomed air into my lungs. I fell head over heels for her. Over the hot days, we had grown irrevocably closer and I couldn't bear the thought of ever having to leave her.
In our third week together, Bella decided to cut off her hair.
"Guess what we're doing today, Eddie!" She said cheerfully when I showed up at her doorstep on my bike. On my third day in Forks, Carlisle had declared I would not be stealing his car for the rest of the summer and came home with a second-hand blue bicycle.
"What?" I asked inquisitively as she raced down the lawn with her bike, swinging her bag over her shoulder.
"We're going to the hair salon!" She squealed excitedly. I instinctively touched my unruly hair, wondering what she was going to do with it. She had said how wild it was about three times a day since I had arrived in Forks. "Not your hair, silly. Mine!"
I looked at Bella's long brown hair, as the wind caught it and blew it around her face.
"What? No! You can't cut your hair!" I had stammered. "It's too beautiful just to hack it all away!"
Bella smiled sweetly at me, but I could see she was set. "It will be just as pretty when it's short."
For the entire ride into town, I watched Bella's long stands blow furiously around her as I came to terms with the fact most of it would be gone in half an hour. Leaning our bikes against the hair salon, Bella waltzed into the shop, plopped herself down in one of the chairs to wait and grabbed a magazine.
"So, uh, what are you thinking of doing?" I asked her, as she looked at pictures of movie stars.
"How about Audrey Hepburn?" She asked, turning the magazine around to show a Roman Holiday-esque Miss. Hepburn with dangerously short hair.
I shook my head quickly. "Too short. Way too short. Why don't you just get a trim?"
"Edward. It's my hair. Not yours. How about this one?" This time Bella held up a picture of Ava Gardner, and I instantly saw Bella in her place. My smile gave my opinion away.
"Bella? Are you ready dear?" A lady called from within the salon. Bella confidently walked to the waiting chair and sat down, showing the hairstylist the picture in the magazine.
I intently watched Bella's expression as her hair went from long to short. At first a look of horror was reflected in the mirror as she looked at her lank short hair, but when the hairdresser put in all the necessary curlers and styled it, Bella's smile lit up her face.
"Oh, Mrs. Stanley," she exclaimed. "It's absolutely perfect. Thank you!"
My girl bounced over to me, turning this way and that so I could properly see her hair. "Do you like it?" She bit her lip, anxiously waiting for my opinion.
"It's perfect, baby." Bella blushed slightly at either my compliment or my term of endearment as she turned to pay.
And it was. It suited her perfectly and only made her even more beautiful to me. I quickly snapped a photo of my girl as she stood beside her bike in the sunshine, shooting the lens a cheesy grin.
The next week, Bella and I found ourselves lying on the grass outside my holiday home, making shapes out of the clouds.
"That's definitely an airplane," Bella stated.
I snorted. "Uh, no. It's a monkey. It's definitely a monkey."
"I'm not the one who needs reading glasses." Bella challenged.
She won the round – the cloud officially became an airplane.
"Edward, I think you need to tell Carlisle about your acceptance to study architecture." She said a while later, breaking the comfortable silence between us.
I sighed, stretching my arms above my head. "Yeah, I know. He's just so set on the whole prospect of me becoming a lawyer. I don't want to disappoint him. He's given me everything in life. I guess I feel I have to repay him somehow."
"Well, from what I've learnt about Carlisle after being around him for the past couple of weeks, he's a very understanding and accepting man." Bella reasoned. "I think he just wants you to lead a life that will make you happy, no matter where that takes you. He only wants the best for you, Edward."
Bella's encouraging words resonated with me for a few moments. While I ultimately knew my father would wholeheartedly support any decision I made in life, I wanted him to be proud of what I chose. Uncertainty continued to gnaw at my stomach as I realized he may be hurt that I didn't tell him of my acceptance straight away or even the fact I applied for the position in the first place. Nevertheless, I knew it was better that I let him know sooner than later – it was inevitable that I tell him, and now felt like the right time.
As I turned ideas over in my head, my thoughts turned to Bella.
"Bella, now that we're on the subject, you really have to tell your parents about your choice to become a doctor." I said to her, propping myself up on my elbow so I could look properly into her face.
Bella's enthusiasm suddenly dropped. "Except there's one major difference, Edward. My parents, the Police Chief of Forks and DAR President, will not be as nearly as enthusiastic about my news."
"Do you want me to come with you?" I offered, holding her hand.
"No. I think this is something I have to do alone."
The image of Bella riding her bike along the wooded trail and disappearing into the wall of trees replayed over and over in my mind. While I wished deep down her parents would support her choice, something told me deep down they would be less than enthusiastic. I wished desperately that I could be with her, but perhaps Bella was right – this was something she had to do alone.
As I sat down at the dining table for dinner, I knew I couldn't put it off telling my parents any longer. They had to know.
"Dad," I began, resting my knife and fork on my plate. "I'd like to tell you something."
My father instantly looked concerned, my parents mirror images as they turned towards one another with worried expressions.
"Son, is Bella pregnant?" My father asked me cautiously.
I looked at him in shock for a few moments, never realizing he would jump to that conclusion.
"What? No! No, no, no. Nothing like that!" I took a sip of water, wishing I had a tiny bit of liquid courage. "It's actually about college."
My parents looked visibly relieved. Esme even took another bite of her roast potatoes.
"Well, then," my father said in a more relaxed tone. "What is it?"
"You know that I applied to Northwestern to study Law, and that I was accepted." I began, receiving a nod from my father. "The thing is, I also applied to study architecture. I was given a place and I have decided that I'd like to study architecture after the summer instead of law." I took a deep breath, waiting for my Dad's response, hoping Bella was correct in her outside judgment of his character.
A smile crept across his face. "Well, Edward. While I have to say I'm a little hurt that you didn't tell me back in March, I wholeheartedly support your choice. Why didn't you let me know?" He wondered curiously.
"Ever since sophomore year, you never stopped talking about how proud you would be if I chose to follow in Granddad's footsteps. I simply didn't want to let you down." I explained, still in a little shock that my father wasn't convincing me to study law instead. Seemed Bella knew him better than I did, and she had only known him for a relatively short period of time.
"Edward, you always seemed as if you were set on studying law?" Esme interjected. "Your dad only expressed his enthusiasm for the idea because you never rejected it." Dad nodded from across the table.
"While I think you'd be a great lawyer, son, I think you'd be an even better architect. Think of it: My son designing the buildings of the future." My father grinned at me like he had never been prouder.
As dinner finished up, my thoughts once again turned to Bella. I wondered if things had progressed as well for her as they did for me, or if she was currently battling a hurricane within her house.
Deep down, I hoped things were okay.
I was jolted from sleep later that night by a noise resonating within my room.
Clink, clink. Clink, clink, clink.
As my groggy mind cleared and my eyes adjusted to the completely dark room, I quickly realized the noise was coming from outside.
"Freaking hell, Edward. Just open the darn window!" Bella whispered, throwing what I guessed to be another rock at the pane of glass. At first I wondered why Bella was outside my window, until I remembered that my loft bedroom was on the second storey of the cottage, with only a flimsy looking tree standing tall enough to reach the height.
I ran to the window, throwing it open to reveal Bella precariously perched in the tree.
"Bella, get inside, please."I urged her, scared out of my wits that she would fall and break something important. Like her back. Or her head. My heart pounded as she neared the tip of the branch and reached out for my outstretched hand, grabbing it as I helped to swing her through the open space.
Before I could register the fact that she was safe, her small body pressed itself to mine and small sobs ripped through her.
"Bella, Bella!" I shook her, my heart pounding with worry. "What on earth is the matter?"
She sobbed for a few more moments before taking in a shaky breath. "I talked to my parents," I quickly steered her over to my bed and sat with her on the edge, putting an arm around her. "It was horrible, Edward."
My girl buried her face in my chest as she cried for endless minutes. My heart broke for her as my brain screamed with the need to find out exactly what had happened. I held her as she sobbed, kissing her softly on the head as I tried to calm her. Eventually she surfaced.
"They said under no circumstances would I be attending University, that my life would be better spent finding a 'proper job' and then marrying before raising a family. They said that I don't need the distraction of frivolous ideas to keep me from being a proper woman."
Bella erupted into another round of sobs as I held her, wondering how her own parents didn't see the fantastic smart person she was and the potential she held. Why wouldn't they want to let her pursue her dreams? Did they not want her to be ecstatically happy?
Wondering made way for uncontrollable anger as I stood up from the bed, placing my hands on Bella's shoulders and looking her in the eyes. "Sweetheart, don't worry. I will go over there right now and let them know what absolute crazies they are for not seeing –"
"No, Edward. Please don't." Bella had now stopped crying, her voice now scarily calm and defined. "It will only make it worse. They are my parents. I have to accept their wishes."
I stood gaping at her for a few moments. "Bella, this isn't you. Where's your spark? You have to fight for what you want. I'll even get Dad to come with you. He has a few female interns in his department and comments on how fantastic they are all the time. You have to do something!"
"There's no point fighting against them, Edward. Plus, they're right. I have to be a respectable woman and respectable women don't have careers – their career is their family." Bella's voice had returned to normal. It broke my heart that she simply accepted the role her parents and society had chosen for her.
"Times are changing, Bella! You don't have to accept this path!" I pleaded with her.
Bella simply shrugged, shooting me a little smile. "Domestic bliss can't be that terrible, can it?"
While for some women it was all they had ever dreamed of, I knew that for Bella domestic bliss may just become her personal prison.
Within the next few days, Bella's demeanor returned to normal – she was bubbly and quick witted once again. I hardly even noticed the shadow of disappointment that would pass over Bella's eyes every once in a while. I knew she was bottling it all up and simply accepting her fate. Bella's parents continued to act as if nothing had ever occurred – a fact which made me furious.
The summer continued without incident. I only saw Jacob again once or twice – he chose to hang out at the garage rather than with us. While Angela came along on outings a few times, she too spent days with other friends leaving Bella and I alone most of the time. On the days when Bella worked in the bookstore, I often sat with her, helping to stock books or simply keeping her company. I never saw the medical textbook again. On the days when this realization became too much, I escaped the confines of the store, venturing out into the woods to take photographs on my own.
Soon after the immediate shock of Bella's choice rolled over, I simply came to accept her decision and realized that bringing the subject up only made things worse. While I mentioned it in passing, we spoke of it little and I came to understand I was angrier at the fact she was being controlled, rather than her decision to passively accept her fate.
All too soon, the number of summer days left entered single digits. I felt myself grasping at the time I had left in Forks and the dwindling opportunities I had to convince Bella she was making the wrong decision.
The day before I was due to leave, Bella showed up at the cottage, a picnic basket strung onto the handlebars of her bicycle.
"We're going on a picnic!" She announced, adjusting the huge straw hat she had perched on her head. It was forecast on the wireless to be an unusually warm day – almost a heat wave in comparison with the usual cool temperatures in Forks.
I laughed, her wide grin and tremendous enthusiasm leaving me no choice but to feel excited about her proposition. We rode our bikes a little into the forest, Bella leading the way along one of the many trails. The sun shone above us, its rays scattered into thousands of shining beams by the many branches above. I rode in silence, simply observing and treasuring the last day I had with my girl.
My heart sunk a little, realizing that time was ticking and that she would never truly be mine at all. After the summer, there was an enormous possibility Bella would simply become a memory.
Bella stopped a little way ahead of me, abandoning her bike on the side of the trail and untying the basket from her bicycle.
"We're going on foot from here on in!" Her voice boomed, sounding like a true adventure hero. "There's no turning back and danger lurks ahead. Are you sure you want to do this, comrade?"
I gave Bella a small salute. "Aye, aye. With you in charge, nothing can go wrong." Bella gave a little snort and I abandoned my character. "Yes, okay. A lot could go wrong. But I trust you."
We hiked for about ten minutes. I should have been focusing on the scenery around me, but all my eyes would focus on was Bella's hips as she walked ahead of me. My hands ached to grab her trim waist, to hold her in every way possible. I slowed down a little, taking out my camera to snap a picture of her a little ways ahead of me. I desperately wanted to capture everything that was Bella, hoping it might stifle the ache a little once I returned home to Chicago.
"Nearly there!" Bella yelled from ahead. I noticed the trees becoming a little sparser just beyond where Bella was walking. After a few minutes, Bella and I entered a clearing, almost like a meadow, in the middle of the woods. The bright yellow sun danced off the clumps of flowers and impossibly green grass causing me to smile instantly.
"Amazing, huh?" Bella stated from beside me. I simply nodded, taking it all in as Bella smoothed out a tartan picnic blanket under a tree, placing the picnic basket on top. "I come here to think a lot. I thought this would be a peaceful way to spend our last day. Something to remember, I guess."
"It's fantastic. Thank you, Bells." I stated, grabbing her into my arms as I gave her a heated kiss.
"I should have surprised you more often if that's what I get in return," she joked.
Together, Bella and I spent the next couple of hours lazing in the meadow. I felt utterly at peace as we played round two of cloud watching, dozed in the sun and eventually made our way down to the nearby brook to cool off. Somewhere between dangling our feet in the water and trying in vain to catch the tiny minnows swimming in the current, Bella began to unbutton her cotton dress.
I smiled crookedly at her. "Uh, Bella. What are you doing?"
"What does it look like? I'm going for a dip." She scoffed at me. "Care to join me, Mr. Cullen?"
As she made her invitation, Bella let go of her dress, the material pooling around her ankles and leaving Bella in only her brassiere and a cotton pair of underwear. If I was a character in a Loony Tunes cartoon, I'm fairly sure my eyes would have dropped out of their sockets. I could barely take her in all at once. If I focused on her stomach, I was immediately distracted by her shapely thighs, and if I tried to look at her face, I could feel my eyes begin to drift southwards to her breasts.
There was simply too much beauty to take in.
I quickly unbuttoned my shirt and unfastened my pants, leaving me only in my cotton boxer shorts, and joined my girl in the shallow water.
An hour and a half later, Bella and I found ourselves lounging on the picnic rug as we dried off in the sun. Bella began reading me Pride and Prejudice, her favorite book, as I ate my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, followed by a bag of potato chips. I found myself barely able to concentrate on the story as I noticed the wet patches seeping through her dress from where she had thrown it over her sopping undergarments. My mind kept wandering as I recalled the way my hands fit so perfectly on every part of Bella's body, whether it was around her waist, a hand splayed across her lower back or the way I held her head as she kissed me. Suddenly, simply kissing her and holding her wasn't enough.
"You're like Elizabeth Bennett," I interrupted her a while later, my head now resting in Bella's lap as she stroked my hair while she read.
"Why?" Bella sounded intrigued.
"Like you, I can't really imagine Lizzy becoming a mother and attending to the workings of the household. She's too headstrong and determined. I feel like she should be, I don't know, helping to invent the steam train or something. I can imagine her keeping that room full of male engineers in their place. Her sister Jane definitely fits into the mould – if Pride and Prejudice had a sequel I'm pretty sure she would have had twelve kids with Mr. Bingley by their second anniversary. But Lizzy? I'm not so sure." I explained.
"But that's Elizabeth's role," Bella stated. "Everyone expected Lizzy and Mr. Darcy to have children. She was destined to be a mother and create little heir sons from the moment she was born. Her mother would have probably disowned her if she decided to become an entrepreneur or a scientist."
"Lizzy is strong. It would have been hard to go against the norms of society, but she would have helped the world for it. She would have bettered society and the lives of those she helped. Even with the pittance she would have earned as a young single woman." I knew we were no longer talking about Elizabeth – we were cryptically discussing Bella's situation.
"Edward," Bella twirled a little piece of my hair in her fingers. "I know you're frustrated. Believe me, I am too. But there's nothing I can do about it. I'm emotionally defeated and even if I had the energy to fight their judgment, there's no way I could attend college without my parents support and well wishes. I have no money. I can't go without their financial aid. This is where the train stops for me."
"Come and live with me, Bella. Go to university in Chicago. My parents can support you and when I graduate and get a job, I can give you all the help you need. Take it as a loan, pay them back. I don't care. You have to follow your dreams...and truthfully, I don't know if I can leave you here tomorrow." I begged her, feeling utterly desperate in that moment.
"Edward, darling, you know I can't do that. I can't simply rely on your parent's generosity like that. And my parents would be heartbroken –"
"They should be heartbroken that they're crushing your future." I interjected angrily, barely noticing the darkening clouds above us.
"Please don't make saying goodbye even harder for me than it already is. Please," Bella asked.
I sat up and straddled Bella's lap, being careful to keep my weight off her. "Anything, my love. Anything."
She looked up at me with her big brown eyes as I cupped her face. "I love you, Bella."
At that exact moment, the sky opened up, rain soaking us through. Bella squealed, quickly picking up the picnic things and shoving them in the basket before running out into the middle of the clearing, spinning around in circles with utter delight. Throwing the blanket over my head and grabbing the basket, I ran over to her.
"We have to find somewhere dry, you crazy girl." I smiled, throwing an arm around her waist and dragging her under the blanket with me.
"I know a place," she stated, dragging me into the woods and down a path. "It's a hunter's cottage that woodsmen use in the hunting season. It'll do."
After a couple of minutes we arrived at a tiny log cabin, huddling under the eaves where the rain could not reach us.
"Darn, the doors locked. I'll try the window." She announced, disappearing for a few moments.
I heard a little whoop from the side of the cabin and went to investigate, finding Bella had pried open a side window enough for us to fit through.
"Give me a boost!" Bella ordered, as I bent down to hoist her into the opening. After a little maneuvering and hilarious sound effects, Bella toppled into the cabin and I followed soon after.
The cabin only had one room, divided into little living niches. There was a small cooking area to the front and a sleeping area to the back, complete with a dusty looking mattress. Despite the fact it hadn't been occupied for many months, the small dwelling had a homely feeling. Distant summer thunder rolled overhead as Bella and I simply looked at each other, taking in the soggy mess we undoubtedly were.
"Well," I started, breaking the silence. "I suppose we just have to wait it out."
Bella appeared to not hear me. "What did you say before, Edward?" Her voice was soft, and she twisted her fingers around each other presenting a shy Bella I had never encountered before. I didn't respond, not having a clue what she was talking about. "What did you say to me before it started raining, when you were sitting on my lap?"
It clicked. "I said that I love you, B –"
Before I could finish my sentence, Bella's lips attacked mine, her body latching itself to me so firmly I had to step back a little to keep my balance. Her hand was threaded in my damp hair as her mouth opened a little against mine, her sweet breath washing over my face and tingling on my taste buds. I finally willed my muscles to move, wrapping my arms tightly around her small frame and holding her impossibly closer to my damp body. Bella moaned as she wrapped one leg around my hip and shifted a little, causing me to emit a groan. I froze.
"Bella," I panted a little frantically. "We have to stop. If we don't I don't know where this might lead. I don't want you to regret this summer, Bella. We have to stop."
Bella lifted her face, her eyes portraying mischief. "But what if I don't want to stop?"
My breath hitched and I looked at her curiously for a few moments as her implication sunk in. "You mean - you want to - have you done this before?" I stuttered, the words coming out in a string of jumbled thoughts.
"I've never really wanted to do this with anyone else before. I want you to be my first, Edward. I don't want to lose my virginity fumbling around in the back seat of a car with a guy I hardly know. I want it to be with someone I love." She confessed quietly.
My heart thundered in my chest as I realized I was going to have sex with Bella. My first time was going to be with Bella and it made me dizzy with happiness.
"This...will be my first time too." I told her.
Bella giggled a little. "What? You haven't slept with some blonde bimbo back in Chicago?"
I shook my head. "I've never wanted anyone else but you, Bella. No one else."
Her shy smile erupted into a massive grin as she boldly reached down and stroked me through my pants. "So, you've never had anyone do this?"
"No. No one." I told her, finding it hard to stand.
"And you've never had anyone do this?" She asked me as she began unbuttoning my shirt.
"Well, there was a girl called Sandra who attempted –" Bella raised an eyebrow at me. "No, not a single person."
My shirt fell open, Bella's hands roaming over my chest and back. Hooking one finger under my girls chin, I brought her face to mine and kissed her softly, tasting the sweetness of her lips. Somewhere in the distance, the rain continued to pour on the tin roof as our kisses became more heated. My tongue explored her mouth as Bella's tiny hands fumbled with the buttons on my slacks, eventually freeing the clasp and pulling down the zipper, causing them to pool around my ankles and leaving me only in my cotton boxers. As her chest rose and fell against mine with each breath, I slowly hitched her up, Bella following by wrapping her slender legs around my hips. She was positioned right where I wanted her and it was driving me crazy. It was almost too much. I slowly guided us backwards, only pulling away for a moment to reach down and fetch the picnic blanket from the wooden floorboards.
The noises and movements Bella was making against me nearly sent me over the edge. I had never been this close to a girl before, never this intimate and the voice in the back of my head told me that I wasn't going to be good enough to please her. But somewhere in my inner war, the Edward hormones took over as I we reached the small cot and I threw the picnic rug on it.
Grabbing her face in both my hands, I kissed her harder, our teeth hitting as Bella fought for dominance. I sensed her hand reach behind her as she fumbled with the zipper of her dress. After a few moments she grunted in frustration and broke away from me.
"Stupid. Flaming. Zipper. Unzip dammit!" She cursed her dress. I chuckled softly, placing her feet back on the ground before taking over. Slowly I guided the zip down her back, revealing sections of her flesh inch by inch. As I ran my fingers over her back, I felt the goose bumps rise in a trail behind them. She shivered a little as she stepped out of her dress, leaving her only in her brassiere and panties.
Somewhere along the way, her expression had turned from mischievous to uncertain.
"Are you sure you want this, Bella?" I asked her softly, running my hands up and down her bare arms.
She nodded, undoing her bra from behind and revealing her breasts to me. I felt Bella laugh a little as I simply stared at her awe inspiring beauty. She was exquisite, small and impossibly soft. Slipping two fingers into the waistband of my boxer shorts, Bella guided me towards her as she sat on the squeaky cot and leaned backwards.
"Uh, that might be a problem." Bella stated, referring to the squeaking springs as I moved on top of her.
"I don't care about the damn springs." I told her, cupping her breast in my hand and testing its give softly. I was now pressed between her legs, her warmth surrounding me as every part of my body made contact with hers. I couldn't wait any longer as I leant forward and kissed her passionately.
"God, I want you." I whispered to her, causing a shiver to engulf her. I felt powerful, but more so, I felt in love.
Dragging my hands down her shoulders, savoring her breasts, down her stomach and over her hips, I pulled off her underwear, discarding it somewhere in the cabin. Leaning back a little, I appreciated every curve and dip in her body, now straining against my shorts. As I touched her wetness and felt her incredible warmth, I began to wonder how I could last once I found myself finally inside of her. Surely nothing could be better than that – heaven and hell at the same time.
I finally discarded the last of my clothing and leant back over her, kissing her collarbone, her neck, her jaw, the dip behind her ear and finally her mouth, savoring the feeling of her against me. I reached down and stroked her, causing her to gasp as I slid one finger inside her. Moments later, she contracted around me, shuddering exquisitely as she experienced her orgasm. I wanted nothing more to be inside of her.
"Shit, do we have, you know, a condom?" I asked her quietly. Reaching down beside the cot, Bella produced a small foil square from her book bag.
"Uh, my overzealous Health teacher handed them out at the end of the year." She explained, causing me to instantly feel relieved.
"All praise Bella's health teacher." I said loudly, causing Bella to giggle.
"We are not going to discuss my teacher right before we're going to have sex, understand?" She chastised me, causing me to kiss her furiously when I realized this was actually going to happen – I was going to make love to my girl.
Positioning myself, I slid inside her warmth, shuddering at the feeling. Bella's breathing hitched as I stretched her, a small tear running down her cheek causing me to freeze in alarm.
"Bella. Shit, Bella. Are you okay? We can stop!" I scrambled with my words, trying to make it better.
She shook her head taking in a shaky breath. "It's alright, Edward. I, I knew this would happen. Just go slowly."
Ever so slowly, I pulled out and pushed back into her, her walls making way for me much more fluidly this time. I felt dizzy with warmth and pleasure and Bella. It was almost too overwhelming. I slid in and out of her too many times to count as I kissed her and held her tightly. The springs squeaked and the noises I was making were almost embarrassing, but I didn't care. I was making love to Bella and it was glorious.
All too soon, I felt the pleasure coil up inside me. "Bella, I'm sorry," I whispered.
She sweetly stroked my face as she breathed heavily through parted lips. "It's okay, Edward. It's ok."
And I let go, collapsing on top of my girl as we breathed heavily in unison.
I felt Bella sit up with a start beside me, my body feeling the loss of her warm body.
"Darn! Edward. Edward." She shook me from sleep. "It's dark. Dammit. Oh, God. I was meant to be home for dinner. My parents will kill me."
We swiftly dressed and pedaled through the forest to Bella's house, my heart pounding at the thought of meeting an angry Chief Swan.
As we deposited our bikes on her front lawn, Bella's parents stormed out of the house.
"Where the hell have you been young lady?" The Chief boomed.
"Dad, I'm sorry. We were out in the woods and we fell asleep and –" Bella attempted to explain.
"Inside. Now." His voice was dangerously even as he steered his daughter inside. Bella shot me a tiny wave as she disappeared into her house.
I feared that would be the only form of goodbye I would get – one simple wave and the memory of her body joined with mine.
The next morning, I dragged my suitcase out of the holiday cottage, depositing it in the trunk of the car. I had thought numerous times of riding over to Bella's house and begging to see her, but Esme advised me that wouldn't be a good choice.
"Edward, look." Carlisle whispered beside me. I whipped my head around to find Bella, furiously pedaling her bike towards the house.
Depositing her bike, she ran over to me, beginning to breathlessly explain she had little time, that she had snuck out of the house to come, that she wanted to say a proper goodbye. I hugged her furiously, planting a heated kiss on her lips, not caring that my parents were bystanders.
"Will you write?" She asked me as she trailed her fingers down the length of my jaw.
"I will write every single day, Bella. I'll write until my hand falls off and –"
"Yes, yes. I get it." She huffed, grinning at me.
"Edward, time to go, son." Carlisle reluctantly told me as he got in the car.
"I love you," Bella told me, pecking me on the lips one last time.
"God, how I love you." I told her as I let go and got in the car, turning around immediately to look out the rear window.
I blew her a kiss as she gradually became a tiny figure, dwarfed by the trees, and finally disappeared.
The memories flashed by in my head like a movie, as I recalled the best summer of my life. We had written to each other religiously over the years, telling each other about our lives as each day apart ticked by. My father's job had once again grounded us in Chicago over the summers, and Bella's lack of funds and parents disapproval of my supposed twisted influence over Bella had caused us to be separated for five years. The four or so states that separated us seemed like light years apart. Not seeing Bella, not being able to hold her, made me feel like a starved man in desperate want of food. The picture album of photographs from that summer continued to sedate me for a little when it all became too hard, but the pangs of loss quickly returned.
As much as it killed me inside, all I could do was send my well wishes and support as Bella told me of the numerous men her mother set her up with in the hope that she would marry one of them. Soon after my departure, Bella began working at Cope and Associates, the main lawyering firm in Forks, as a secretary. She hated every minute of it.
Reaching into my trouser pocket, I produced the last letter she had sent me and began to read it again, despite the fact I knew it off by heart.
Five years ago, you took me by the shoulders and told me not to give up on my dreams. I saw myself reflected in your eyes – the vibrant, smart, and dare I say it beautiful person I was –and I subsequently witnessed your heart break as I stupidly chose the easiest way out. For some unknown reason, I thought pleasing my parents would somehow make me happy in return, but I was wrong.
These past five years without you, stuck in this good for nothing dreary town, have been hell. I have witnessed all my friends from school marry and start families – I see them at the store and they seem happy and utterly content with their lives.
Nobody but you ever understood that I wanted more from life than that. My mother continues to set me up with her friends' sons. I see her disapproving stare when I compensate with a little too much enthusiasm when they show up at my doorstep, knowing that I'm still not living up to her expectations. Of course I want that some day. Of course I want to marry and start a family. But I know it won't make me deliriously happy right now like it maybe should.
Edward, truthfully, you've completely spoiled me for choice. Ever since you drove away from Forks all I could think about was how different our lives could have been if I took you up on your offer of moving to Chicago with you. But the prospect of actually packing a bag and coming to you seemed like a fairytale. I thought that if I just held on for just another year, things would improve and I'd settle into the rhythm of my life – but that never happened. I always felt as if I was one beat out of sync with everything else.
I broke up with James last night. He proposed to me in the sweetest way possible, but it simply didn't feel right. Nothing has come close to what I felt when I was with you. When his mother rang mine twenty minutes after he dropped me home, Renee asked me whether I had some kind of glitch in my brain and told me I was throwing away my life. I snapped. Five years after I said goodbye to you that summer, your words still rang true in my mind and I snapped.
I told my parents what I should have told them five years ago.
I'm moving to Chicago.
I know it's without notice and I will understand if you'd rather distance yourself from my dramas. But something deep inside me tells me you'll be on the train station platform when I arrive, and I hope with all my heart that's true. I have five years worth of savings to support myself and I'll find some sort of accommodation when I arrive, but know that I have finally listened to you.
You were right, Edward. All along you were right.
From your ever thankful friend,
I refolded the letter, returning it to my pocket. Clutching the daisies in my hands, I ventured out on the platform to wait for her train, my heart pounding. She was like air to me – I needed her desperately, and she was finally, finally returning to me.
Slowly, the train pulled in to the platform and people began to mill out of the carriages with their belongings. Standing on my tip-toes, I searched for Bella, momentarily finding myself wondering if she had ever boarded the train in Seattle at all. I felt as if I was dreaming when I spotted her familiar hair in the crowd, slightly obscured by a hat.
Bella, Bella, Bella. My mind repeated in a mantra as I walked over to her, with my heart in my throat.
Our eyes locked as she recognized me, her hand flying to her mouth with emotion. Abandoning her luggage on the platform, she sprinted over to me, washing her hands over my face as if to check I was real.
"Bella," I breathed.
"You're here, you came," She whispered, tracing her fingers over my jaw. "The man I loved from the very beginning, from the moment I freaked out in that godforsaken bookstore."
"You're really, truly here." I whispered, still in disbelief. I realized in that moment that I had unknowingly existed in a black and white world from the moment I let Bella go. Her very presence seemed to light up my surroundings and outlook on life into vibrant Technicolor, just as she had during that summer so long ago.
My hands cradled her face and I kissed her thoroughly, right there on the platform with people milling all around us, as her arms twined around my neck. The colors danced behind my eyelids, as she smiled against my lips.
I was home.
Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed the story – it was my very first historical story AND first lemon *chews fingernails*. Feel free to leave a review :)
I've also put up some links on my profile to accompany the story, in case anyone is interested in any of the fashion or songs I mentioned along the way – most are things I found while researching.