A/N – I don't do long author's notes (I don't think, well not yet anyway) but I must say thanks to Mystic for putting up with me and sorting out my repetition, and to Never for her pre-reading.
Disclaimer: SM owns Twilight. Jasper so owns me. I own nobody.
I stood on the roof terrace, looking out over the lights of the city below me. Looking but not really seeing.
Actually, I say roof terrace, but really it was more of a roof garden, stretching the remaining length of the building with tropical plants, sofas, a small fountain - I kid you not– and oriental screens making up smaller secluded areas.
Stupidly, I had worn a strapless dress and it was getting cool out, a few drops of rain falling. I used to hate the rain. I had always loved the sunshine; when I moved to Forks, Jake had become my own personal sun – bright, warm, comforting.
Now, I craved the rain. Craved the cold, the darkness, the misery.
Now, it always felt like it was raining somewhere deep inside me.
Although I hadn't heard the glass doors of the apartment doors closing, suddenly the sounds of the party within were muffled, and I sensed a presence.
Even before he spoke, and although I had never heard his voice before, I knew who it was.
From my vantage point near the kitchen doorway I had seen him arrive, with a small dark-haired woman, although they didn't seem to be a couple. Everyone in the room turned to stare as they entered, somehow draining the previously bright atmosphere in the room. His stunningly beautiful companion flitted away from him the moment they got there, circulating and making small talk with ease, driving away some of the disquiet arising from their very presence.
He seemed disinterested, bored and uncomfortable. His presence seemed to instil fear and jealousy into the men in the room, who all instinctively put an arm round their partners' shoulder, and held their hands a little tighter whenever he neared. The women, although somewhat apprehensive at first, visibly fawned over him. Every one of them wanted to talk to him, to be near him. When someone did manage to engage him in conversation (although conversation was not the correct word, as he would just occasionally nod or give mono-syllabic answers) the girls nearby would hang on his every word, like schoolgirls meeting the object of their fantasy crush. In fact, I'm sure I saw Lauren actually drool just a little bit.
Something about them seemed a little 'off', like they didn't really belong there. I had been watching him all evening. And he had been watching me. But whenever we made eye contact, I pulled away, shocked. It was as if he were looking right into the pit of my soul and was trying to pull out all the sadness hidden away in there. I wanted to run and hide from him and his searching eyes, but I couldn't - I was completely transfixed.
I had told Jess I didn't want to come tonight, that I would be poor company, but she had insisted I needed to get out even though it had only been a few months since Jake had ... No, I had promised her I wouldn't dwell on that tonight. Other than Jess and Angela (and therefore by default Mike and Ben) I wasn't even particularly close to many of my old school friends. I had lost touch with many of them when I went to live on the reservation. The only reason I had agreed to come to this stupid school reunion was because Jake had gone to a different school and there was no chance of running into him. Jess had even insisted I stay with her last night, on the pretence of getting me to help get things ready, but I knew it was just to make sure I did actually make it to the party.
I had planned to help Jess hostess so I could hide in the kitchen, and then make a quiet early exit. Jess can be annoyingly perceptive though, and she had caught me watching the stranger. I had tried to be nonchalant in my questioning as to why I didn't remember him. I had only spent one year – my final year - at Forks High. "Right, the Cullens left the summer you started so you wouldn't have known them. I'm surprised any of them came actually – they were always quite aloof and kept themselves to themselves. There are four or five of them I think. Alice – the pixie over there with the short dark hair – was probably the most sociable and would have been in our year. She and I got on fairly well. Though she was a bit weird sometimes," Jess whispered the last sentence as if afraid Alice would hear her from across the room. "He would have been in the year above us but like I say, they left at the end of his final year. Come on, I'll introduce you."
But I couldn't take it any longer. The laughter and the smiles and the happiness that surrounded me in that party. I couldn't bear the happy, smiley people, and I couldn't bear the compelling man searching my soul. So I had sought refuge out here.
But now he was only a step behind me. I hadn't responded to him and he hadn't spoken again. He ran an icy cold fingertip down my arm, barely touching me. I shivered. He closed the step between us and my back was pressed against his solid body. Instinctively I dropped my head onto one shoulder, closing my eyes, sighing softly. His fingertip feathered from my exposed ear, down my neck and down my arm, once, and then again. He was tall and his body shielded me from the view of my friends inside, trapping me between himself and the railings around the edge of the building. Nobody could see me. Nobody would hear me through the closed glass doors.
"Someone did a real number on you, didn't they? Heartbreak just emanates from you, and you won't let me in to take it away." I'm not sure whether it was his touch or his voice – low and smooth with a hint of an accent - that caused the goosebumps. He was right – someone had 'done a number' on me. I quickly closed down the part of my brain that I had shut Jake away in – I didn't want my memories of him or the feelings they evoked anywhere near me at this moment. "There y'all go again. Shutting me out." His voice was gentle, soothing. I could feel myself calm almost instantly.
His lips were on my neck, my shoulder, feather-light as his finger had been. Now he was running both hands down both my arms, intertwining his fingers with mine, all the time gently kissing my neck and along my shoulder. He wrapped his arms around me, entangling our arms and hands, pulling me, gently, further into him.
"Let me take care of you." It was barely a whisper, his lips on my ear.
I moaned softly. He let go of my hands while his travelled over my hips, down my thighs. His fingers trailed up the inside of my legs. Some distant part of my brain registered that I shouldn't be doing this, that anyone could come outside at any minute. I should have been nervous, scared even. Instead I felt completely centered.
"Let me in."
He caught me round the waist with one hand, just as I was sure my knees could no longer support me, while his other hand continued the trail up and down my thighs. Down my hips and thighs over my dress, up the inside of my thighs under my dress, returning just before touching my now hot, pulsing core. With each pass he applied just enough gentle pressure to inch my legs apart. I bucked my hips to meet his fingers, trying to get some contact, and he pulled me back against him, against his erection.
My breathing hitched, my heart was beating out of my chest. I had never felt like this. I didn't even know this man, and here I was ready to give myself to him in the most carnal way. I wanted to give myself to him. Oh God, this is wrong, I'm still aching with the loss of the only man I had ever loved. The shame and guilt had barely started to build, when I could feel it being pushed away, replaced by something more primal as his fingers started expertly stroking my slit, giving some friction but not nearly enough.
"That's better. Doesn't that feel better?" I could feel his lips curve into a slight smile against my neck. His supporting arm moved up around my ribs and his fingers stroked gently over the light fabric of my dress, across my breast, across my hard nipple.
I whimpered again in response. I was getting hotter and damper with each caress of my thighs and when he ripped off my panties, I barely noticed, let alone cared. His thumb started circling my clit, gently at first, gradually getting harder and faster. A finger slid into me, once, twice then another finger. Sliding, pushing, twisting, curling. Despite my heat, his fingers were still cold, heightening all my sensations.
I ground my hips into him, torn between wanting to thrust forward to give his fingers deeper penetration and driving back into him with my ass, to feel more of his hard erection, settling in a kind of joint rocking motion.
"Come on, baby. Come, now. Just for me."
He ran light kisses down my neck, driving and manipulating his fingers with more force. Withdrawing them, he squeezed gently on my clit, pushing me nearer the edge. His fingers were inside me again before I could catch my breath. I could feel the wave rising in me, my muscles clenching around him, when he bit down sharply on my shoulder.
"Aaaah." It was part-scream, part-relief as my orgasm finally took me, sending me slumping against him as he held me close, my head leaning against his shoulder, my face upturned to the rain.
He lovingly kissed the spot where he had bitten me, before scooping me up in his arms in an over-the-threshold lift, crossing the roof and depositing me tenderly on one of the sofas. Realising we were screened from the people in the apartment and knowing that they wouldn't hear me if I screamed, I suddenly felt vulnerable and afraid. My seducer was partially lit in the dim glow of a nearby light and only now could I truly look at him. His pale skin was eerily luminous in the faint light. In the shadows, he was coldness and darkness personified. Shocked, I tried to scramble back away from him but only succeeded in digging myself deeper into the seemingly millions of cushions that made up the sofa. Damn Jess and her cushion-fetish!
His eyes snapped up to meet mine and I was stunned by how light they were: they glowed a dark, golden colour unlike any I'd seen before. He smiled softly and knelt down on one knee next to me. As he held my eyes I could feel the fear subside, and he seemed less threatening.
"Good evening." With a flourish and a dramatic bow he introduced himself, somewhat belatedly it must be said, and grinned at me. He took my hand, bringing it to his lips.
I couldn't stop myself from grinning back. He was so beautiful when he smiled, those eyes lighting up from within.
"Bella Swan. Do you normally seduce women before you introduce yourself?"
He laughed a little. "No. But I won't apologise for it. I've wanted to do that all night and you needed it." His eyes darkened minutely. "In fact, that is not all I wanted to do but it will suffice. For now. Why are you so sad?"
"Are you always so forward?"
"Do you always answer a question with a question? You have to answer mine first." The dazzling smile lit up his face again.
"I don't want to talk about Ja ...it."
His eyes narrowed, and the darkness was back in him for just a moment before he seemed to shake it off. "You shouldn't feel ashamed. You've done nothing wrong."
"Yeah, right. Because allowing a complete stranger to grope me while my closest friends are just yards away isn't shameful at all."
"Isabella, you know as well as I do that that was not just a 'grope'. And frankly I'm offended you see it like that," he feigned indignation.
"Oh, no! I didn't mean it like that. It was ... " I tried to come up with an adjective to describe how he had made me feel in those few moments. " ... all-consuming. Probably the most intense sexual experience I've had in a long time." Actually ever, I added silently. I flushed bright red and looked down, biting my bottom lip. I couldn't believe I was talking to a stranger about my sex life! Somehow, he was bringing out things in me that I would never usually dream of doing.
"There you go again, with the shame. These negative emotions are draining you, despite my best efforts to keep them at bay. You keep repelling me. I've never experienced anything like it. " He seemed to be speaking more to himself to me.
I couldn't figure him out at all. I'd never met anyone so direct. So empathetic . So attractive. I should have run screaming from him as soon as he had started to touch me yet I was still here – panty-less and a little afraid – but here. With him.
Maybe it was because he was the antithesis of everything I had previously known – the shade to Jake's light, the coldness to Jake's warmth, the rain to Jake's sun.
He came back from his reverie and looked skyward. "You're getting wet. You should get back inside."
"No. I want to stay here." I could hear the whine in my voice and inwardly rolled my eyes at myself.
"Come on, I don't want you getting sick on my account. Go on, back to the party."
He stood up and offered his hand. The rain was getting pretty heavy, and I was getting cold. But I could think of better ways to warm up. Just the thought made me blush to my roots. I pressed the heel of my hand to my forehead, silently scolding myself. Reluctantly, I took the hand that was offered to me and he pulled me up hard, catching me easily and holding me against him.
He brushed my hair back off my face and put his palm on my cheek. Once again the coolness of his skin momentarily shocked me, but I was somewhat distracted by his lips pressing on mine. I had been kissed before, many times, but this was the first kiss of my teenage daydreams. He kissed me sweetly, gently sucking on my bottom lip, his tongue softly teasing against mine. I wouldn't have been surprised if fireworks had gone off around us. He pulled back suddenly, leaving me wondering why he was stopping. But he just smiled at me again and led me indoors.
"I really have to go. Alice is waiting for me." His eyes were nearly black. Hadn't they been much lighter earlier?
"Wait! Will I see you again?"
"I will see you again."
"How do I find you? Oh, I'll give you my number. Do you have a pen? Or your phone?" I was panicking. He was walking towards the door.
"I'll find you," was all he said before disappearing out of the door, and for all I knew out of my life.
Once he was gone, I felt strangely disconnected from the people around me. I wandered through to Jess' bedroom, into a drawer in her closet and grabbed a pair of her knickers. I knew she wouldn't mind if I asked her but I had no idea how to explain what had just happened. That had just happened, right? It all seemed so surreal.
After straightening myself out as best I could I went to find her and make my goodbyes.
"You're not going already, are you? Why don't you go speak to Tyler?"
"Jess, tell me you are not trying to set me up! I'm tired and not great company. I've already stayed later than I intended to."
Angela came up to us. "You didn't look tired when you came inside just now. In fact, I'd say you looked dazzled."
I blushed furiously and mumbled another goodbye before turning on my heel and practically sprinting for the door with Jess shouting at me "Swan, I'll call you tomorrow. You better spill out the details." Throwing a quick wave back at them, I left.
Outside the rain was falling more heavily now. I stood for a minute, giving myself up to the feeling of the cool drops on my face and the sound of the splashing on the sidewalk. As I opened my eyes, I was looking up at the roof and shivered at the memory of his touch, the rain serving as a tangible reminder.
A feeling of being watched crept up on me. Looking around, the only people I could see were a couple walking arm in arm across the street, huddled under an umbrella, oblivious to anyone else. The rain had driven everyone else indoors, but I couldn't shake the feeling. Get a grip, Bella. But I was relieved to get to the safety and familiarity of my car, and drove probably a little faster than I should have back to Forks.