Disclaimer: I dreamt I owned Twilight once. But, unfortunately, my dreams do not come to life like Stephenie Meyer's do; however virtually. Now, move along; nothing to see here ;)
La Bella Ragazza Di Caffè
I smiled to myself as I iced the words 'Happy Birthday Millie!' slowly on a large vanilla cupcake, losing myself in the music that floated around me and humming softly to myself. Once I had finished the writing, I gave the cake the once-over, checking that it looked presentable before pushing it along the desk to Alice where she carefully put it in one of the pre-made boxes, sticking the label on the side of the box. This particular cupcake was for a little girl called Millie.
Alice gave the man the customised cupcake, thanked him and wished him a good day before he left.
I rested my elbows on the countertop and sighed wistfully. "You know who else's birthday it is today, Al?" I asked her quietly, so as not to disturb old Mrs Jenkins who, I knew, was sat just around the corner in her favourite chair reading one of her romance novels.
Alice glanced up at me through her long, black lashes and smiled. "I have an inkling. It's not like you've been counting down to this day for months or anything."
I poked my tongue out at her. "Al, he'll be in the same country as me! The same state, even! Maybe even the same part of Cali!" I could feel the adrenaline pulse through my veins at the mere thought. "Wouldn't it be amazing if he came in here?"
She smiled and shook her head. "You're obsessed, Bells. And, as brilliant as I'm sure that would be, I don't really want to have to scoop your fangirling-self off of the floor when you melt into a puddle at the sight of him. So, hopefully, Edward Cullen has better things to do than come in here to read a book and drink a coffee."
"Whatever," I said irritably, resisting the urge to flip her off. I was only annoyed at her because I knew that she was right, though. If I ever got to meet Edward Cullen, I would probably hyperventilate or do something really stupid, or pathetic, or embarrassing. To an average person, Edward Cullen was a British musician. To me, Edward Cullen was a God, put quite simply.
I had been in the middle of trying to think up a name for the café-slash-book-store that Alice and I had been in the process of setting up on Huntington seafront when I had first found his music. I had been browsing YouTube one evening for a song and had kind of fallen upon his cover of it. He was sitting on a stool in his kitchen, just playing his acoustic guitar and singing with a beautiful voice that was a gorgeous mixture of gravel and velvet. But his voice wasn't the only thing about him that I had found beautiful; the entirety of him was stunning. He had wild reddy-coloured hair that stuck out in every conceivable direction; and sharp, defined features; and incredible, shocking green eyes. He was a pretty boy and a handsome man at the same time. I had never seen anything like it. Intrigued by this beautiful boy, I had clicked on his profile, where I was directed to his website.
His name was Edward Cullen, and he was a year older than me, and he lived in London. He wrote his own songs and dreamt of becoming a big musician one day. He had posted some of his songs on his site so that people could download them for free. I had jumped on the mp3s like they were water and I had been stranded in the desert for weeks on end. And, within hours, his music had become my obsession. I made a playlist dedicated to this English boy and played his songs on repeat. I subscribed to his website and read every blog post he put up. Then, one day, he posted a new song called Meet Me at Twilight. It was a love song, a romantic one, a slow song crooned softly in his gorgeous voice. I fell in love with it at once. And then I listened to the lyrics properly.
Meet me at twilight
Along the Californian shore
I'll hold you close, hold you tight
'Til you need holding no more
I thanked the heavens for Edward Cullen and his incredible music, and then called Alice straightaway, insisting that we named the store Twilight. She listened to the song and let me call it Twilight. I think that we both knew that I had picked the name Twilight in the hope that he would meet me there and hold me close, and hold me tight, until I needed holding no more. His song suddenly felt like a promise spoken only to me; even though I knew that it wasn't.
That didn't stop me from mounting a small, golden plaque with the words to the chorus of Meet Me at Twilight on the wall of the café/store the day that it opened, though.
Seven years had passed since then, and Twilight had developed hugely. We were nearly always busy and loads of people loved to come and buy a coffee and sit in our lounge to drink their coffee and read their books because it was a peaceful little place. Alice and I were proud of everything we had achieved with our little store and worked hard to keep it a nice place to be and work in.
Our store wasn't the only thing that had become successful in those seven years, though. Four years after I had initially found his music, Edward Cullen shot to stardom within the UK. He was suddenly a national treasure to the Brits and everyone loved his indie music and gravelly voice. He got so popular that he became too busy to blog regularly and – after a while – the little site was shut down in favour of big fan pages and communities. I didn't like those so much. In fact, I didn't really like what Edward had become. It seemed hugely selfish that I didn't want him to be famous, but I missed the days where he would write his own lengthy blogs about what he was doing, and the days where he would post his music online for fans like me to download. Now, it was rare to get 160 characters from him on Twitter. Not to mention that it was really hard to get hold of his music because he was British and I was American and he wasn't well known enough in this country for me to go to the store and buy his album. More than once I had had his CD sent from England only to find that the format didn't work on my CD player, or computer. And there was something massively unsatisfying about downloading the album from iTunes and not having a hard copy.
But that was how it was. Edward lived in England, played in England and was known about in England. To England, he was a hero. To the vast majority of the USA, he was another guy who talked posh and drank tea while sticking his pinky finger in the air. To me, he was pretty much everything.
So when I received a Google alert telling me that Edward was planning to visit the states for a quiet birthday getaway, I freaked out. And when I read on to find that he had a penchant for California and had wanted to visit Orange County since he was little, so he was vacationing there, I had shrieked and fallen off of my chair in excitement.
He was flying in today, the 20th June; his twenty-eighth birthday.
True, Orange County was a pretty big place and the likelihood of him coming to Huntington was pretty slim but a girl could dream, couldn't she?
Alice reached under the countertop and retrieved the magazine that she kept there, flicking through the glossy pages to see which celebrities had been dressing wrongly this week. I rolled my eyes at her and grabbed my copy of Pride and Prejudice instead. It was nearing closing time and there was just Mrs Jenkins left to leave now, and by the time she went all we'd have to do was clear up and shut up shop.
I had read less than a paragraph when the bell rang, signalling a customer. Alice and I looked up simultaneously, and a big grin spread across Alice's face. "Jasper!" she sang happily, skirting around the serving desk to leap into her boyfriend of four year's arms.
"Ssh!" hissed Mrs Jenkins.
Alice stuck her middle finger up at the wall dividing her from the old hag and I mashed my lips together to hold back the giggle.
"You ready to go, baby?" Jasper asked her quietly, his light blue eyes adoring.
She pushed a hand through his fluffy, blonde hair and sighed. "No, sorry. We've only got twenty minutes 'til we get off, though, so do you want a coffee or something while you wait?"
I waved a hand at them. "Ah, just go already Alice. I can clear up myself; it's no trouble."
Alice looked at me hopefully. "Are you sure, Bells?"
"Certain," I insisted. "Go… have fun."
She beamed at me. "Okay." She hopped out of Jasper's arms and stood on her toes so that she was tall enough to peck him on the cheek. "I'll be right back," she said before dashing through the door behind the desk and up the stairs; Alice and I shared the rather spacious apartment above the store, though I had an inkling that Alice would be moving out to be with Jasper soon and leaving me all by my lonesome.
"Do you want a drink while you wait?" I offered. "We both know how long she can take."
"No, it's fine," Jasper refused. He came over and leant casually against the desk. "So, Bella, how are you dealing with the fact that you are not very far from your lover boy?"
I flushed embarrassedly. Alice insisted that she hadn't told him of my unrequited crush but either she was lying or Jasper could see right through me because he had totally guessed years ago. "Um…"
"Excuse me," I was cut off by Mrs Jenkins. "I would like to pay now, if you don't mind."
I rolled my eyes at Jasper and turned to her with a customer-friendly smile. "Certainly." I ran up her bill and took her money, thanking her as I did every day even though she had never once tipped either me or Alice, before she sniffed at me and stalked out of the store.
"What a pleasant lady," Jazz remarked.
Just then, Alice came back in. "Okay, I'm ready."
I noticed that she had slicked on a little more lip gloss and she must have gotten her trusty GHDs out because some of her short, black layers were sticking out a little further than they had been a second ago. She had also changed out of the compulsory white top with Twilight written across the left breast in brown into an elegant-looking suave black halter-neck top.
"Looking good, Al," I complimented as I pushed the till shut again.
She smiled shyly. "Thank you. Are you sure you're okay by yourself?"
"Yeah, sure, I'm fine. I think I'll shut up shop early, to be honest. I don't think anyone else is gonna come in."
"Okay. See you later?"
I nodded, though I had a feeling that she probably wouldn't come back. Very rarely did a date with Jasper end with him bringing her home before the next morning.
Alice faffed around for a few more minutes, insisting that she cleaned all of the tables before leaving, but then they were gone and it was quiet. A few people, young couples mostly, wandered past in the early twilight. I bent down and plugged my iPod into the speaker system we had under the desk, scrolling to my Edward Cullen playlist and sticking it on shuffle. And then, just because I could, I turned it up until the music was blasting through the speakers; but not loud enough to be heard outside.
Then, I collected together the bits of the coffee machine that needed washing, carrying them through to the kitchen. I propped the door open as I went through so that I could hear the full blast of the music. I hummed along as the warm water ran over my fingers, washing the dark brown sludge of coffee off of the machinery.
I was so lost in the music that I almost didn't hear the bell ring as someone stepped inside. I groaned as I realised that I had forgotten to turn the 'Open' sign to 'Closed' again, and shut off the water, drying off my hands before going to tell the customer that we were shut.
"I'm really sorry, but we're…" I trailed off as I walked through the open door and saw the man stood before me.
His eyes were trained on the plaque on the wall and, though his back was to me, I knew who he was. Hell, I would know who he was from a second's glance at his little toe, probably. Then he turned around and saw me staring at him. He smiled a little, looking kind of nervous. "Hi."
I blinked at him, unable to speak.
He rubbed the back of his beautiful neck anxiously at my silence. "I'm sorry are you closed? I can go…"
"No!" I exclaimed too fast. "Um… no, we can be open for you. I'm always open for you." Shit, why did that sound like an innuendo? I hurried to rectify the awkward situation by scurrying around the desk and silencing the music. "Um… I'm Edward Cullen. Shit! No, I'm not. You're Edward Cullen. I'm…" Oh my God, I had forgotten my own name.
"Bella?" he suggested, one perfect eyebrow raised.
I stared at him. "You know my name?"
"Uh… no… it says on your… name tag." He gestured to my chest as his amazing accent reduced my knees to jelly.
"Oh." Right. Stupid Bella.
His lips twitched and he looked around again, probably wondering why there was a shrine to him in the form of a café along California's seafront.
"What would you like?" I managed to get out a coherent sentence.
Edward looked back at me. "Can I have a coffee, please?" God, he was so polite! Mom would love it if I brought him home… "A proper American coffee."
I snorted in a completely unladylike manner and then flushed. "There's nothing special about America's coffee." I turned to the coffee machine and filled up the coffee holder, twisting it back into place and automatically pressing the button to fill the cup with coffee. What I had forgotten, was that the tray and the cups and practically every other bit of the coffee machine was in the sink in the kitchen and, as a result of this, the black coffee started to pool on the countertop and drip down the sides.
"Shoot!" I exclaimed loudly, pressing the button to try and get it to stop. That just made it worse and the coffee started dripping out of the other nozzle as well. I held my hand out and tried to catch the coffee but that was stupid because it was very, very hot. "Ow!" I shook my burnt hand and started to dance around like a maniac. "Ouch, ouch, ouch! Holy hell, that's hot!"
"Are you okay?" Edward asked concernedly. He looked completely bemused.
"No. I mean yes, I'll be fine but no, not really. My hand is burning. I'll be right back." And I dashed back through to the kitchen, tripping over something on the way and thanking the Lord when I managed to right myself and not end up on my ass in front of this perfect man. I ran my hand under a stream of cold water and then quickly grabbed the tray and other machinery bits and a couple of tea-towels.
I half-expected Edward to have left by the time I got back into the front of the shop. But he hadn't. He was wandering along a bookshelf, checking out what books we had. Thank goodness; yes, look at the books, please ignore the idiotic girl/manageress.
I hastily cleaned up the mess with the tea-towels and then slotted all of the machinery bits into place. "Okay, let's start this again," I muttered to myself, re-filling the machine and turning it on successfully now. "Woop-de-fucking-doo."
"Can I ask you something?"
I started at the sound of his voice and looked up. He was stood right by the counter. How in hell's name had he gotten over here so fast? Oh shit, had he heard me talking to myself? "Um… sure?"
"This-" he tapped the plaque "-how long's it been here?"
I looked down so that I wouldn't have to meet his eyes. "Since we opened seven years ago."
"Hmm. I guess your manager put it there?"
"No," I said indignantly. "Well, yes, but I am the manager. Manageress. Was this to takeaway?"
"Uh… yes, please," he answered my question after a slight pause. Then he fell into a contemplative silence.
I poured his coffee into a takeaway cup and then rang it up. "That's two dollars, please."
He reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of dollar bills. He extracted a couple and passed them over to me.
"Thanks," I mumbled, putting the money in the till and passing him his coffee.
His lovely long guitar-fingers wrapped around the polystyrene cup to take it off of me but, for some reason my fingers seemed stuck; I just couldn't let go of it, couldn't surrender it to him. It was as though I knew subconsciously that, when I let him take his coffee and leave, I'd never see him again.
"You can let go now," he said softly.
My cheeks glowed red. "I know," I replied, but I still didn't let go. I hesitated and then said, "I just want you to know that I'm not always this… um… well, I do always manage to embarrass myself, but I'm usually kind of sensible, and I don't always burn my hands, and I am capable of making a cup of coffee, and…" I sighed and forced my fingers to unclench before I made an even bigger fool out of myself. "I'm sorry. It was really nice to meet you. Surreal, but nice."
One side of his mouth lifted into a beautiful crooked grin. I had seen that grin in photos many a time before, and it was my favourite expression of his. He was so damn beautiful. "It was nice to meet you too. And… um… yeah. Bye." And then, with a ring of the bell, he was gone.
I sighed and let my head fall into my hands. I wished that Alice would come and scoop my-fangirling-puddle-of-a-self off of the floor. But she didn't. She was out enjoying her real life with her real boyfriend instead of obsessing over a celebrity who was going to remember her as 'that obsessive klutz from the weird American coffee store.'
That night, as soon as I climbed into bed, I pulled up twitter on my BlackBerry and went straight to Edward Cullen's profile, reading his last tweet. It said:
Well, what do you know. There's an actual coffee shop on the Californian seafront called Twilight. Lovely little place, too.
I smiled hugely at his compliment, and then I took a deep breath and did something that I had never done before; I sent Edward Cullen a tweet.
(at)TheReelEC Cali's full of freaks, huh? Have a great vacay; speak to scary coffee baristas at your own risk.
I pressed 'tweet' before I could chicken out and then silenced my phone before placing it face-down on my bedside desk and lying down, praying that I wouldn't spend all night dwelling over my disastrous meeting with Edward Cullen.
The next morning, I awoke to find that I had a reply on Twitter. My pulse started racing as I clicked on the right tab and read my new replies… from Edward freaking Cullen.
(at)JustMeBella Cali is even better than I imagined. And the coffee baristas I have met so far have been lovely. A tad strange, but lovely.
(at)JustMeBella PS- thank you for making my trip worthwhile already la bella ragazza di caffè
La bella what? Confused, I pulled up Google and typed his words in. After a moment, Google translator popped up to tell me that the words were Italian and meant 'beautiful coffee girl'. I was shocked for a moment, wondering what that meant. But then I came to the conclusion that he was – clearly – just referring to my name.
I dragged myself out of bed and got ready for another day at work. Our part-time girls – Jane and Heidi – would take over from Alice and I at nine o'clock, though, so that we could take a break; Jane and Heidi did from nine until five three days a week.
When I got downstairs and went into the store, I was surprised to find that Alice had already opened it and was sat at one of the tables with Jasper, each of them drinking a latté. Alice looked up as I shut the door behind me and waved. "Hey Bella!"
I went over to her. "Alice. You will not believe what the fuck happened to me last night."
She rolled her eyes. "Did Edward Cullen tweet your username in one of his shout-outs again?"
"No. He came into the fucking café!" I still couldn't believe that it hadn't been a dream. Or a nightmare, depending on which way you looked at it.
Alice raised an eyebrow. "Right."
"Seriously! I was a complete idiot." I brought my hands to my temples and started to rub them wearily as I remembered what had happened. "I told him that my name was Edward Cullen, and then I spilt coffee everywhere and burnt my hand, and then I wouldn't let go of his coffee." Hell, it sounded even worse when I said it out loud. "Oh God." I sank into a chair beside Alice, letting my head fall into my hands.
"Ha ha, Bella, really," Alice said nonchalantly.
"Can you prove it?" Jasper asked. Laughter gleamed in their eyes; they were both one hundred percent convinced that I was teasing. And I couldn't prove that I wasn't.
But then I realised that I could. "Yes!" I lifted my head so fast that I saw Jasper jump out of the corner of my eye. I reached into my pocket and fished out my BlackBerry, pulling up Twitter again. I scrolled across to Edward's tweets and then passed the phone to Alice.
She scanned the words, and then looked up at me seemingly still sceptical. "And this isn't an account that you made up?"
I sighed exasperatedly. "No. It's verified and everything. You can check."
"Oh. My. God," Alice said, surprise finally drawing her eyebrows up. "That is so cool!"
"Tell me about it."
"Wait," Jasper said, "what did you say you did?"
I groaned. "I was playing his music really loud and when he came in I introduced myself as Edward Cullen and then forgot my own name. He had to read it off my name tag and tell me what it was." I felt my cheeks redden at the memory as I took my phone back. I saw that he had tweeted again and refreshed the page before adding, "And I spilt coffee everywhere, and burnt my hand, and swore at him, and then I wouldn't let go of his coffee when he tried to take it."
"Hmm," said Jasper.
I ducked my chin to read Edward's new tweet.
Good morning America :) I'm going for a run and a coffee. Catch ya later tweeps
I sighed wistfully, wishing that I hadn't been such a moron. Then maybe, just maybe, he'd come back here for his morning coffee.
Alice reached over and patted my hand sympathetically. "God… the one time you'll ever get to meet Edward freaking Cullen, too."
"Don't say that," I whined, though I knew that it was probably true.
"Yeah, I'm sorry too. God knows what he thinks of me. He probably thinks I'm some kind of freak who would… I don't know, lick the ground he walks on or something."
Jasper snorted. "Bella, you would so do that."
I blushed, but said nothing.
Jasper and Alice took my silence as a confirmation and both laughed loudly.
"Whatever," I muttered, "it's not like he's going to come back."
They stopped laughing then, and looked at me sympathetically. "It'll be okay. He's probably an asshole anyway."
I instinctively knew that he wasn't, but agreed with Alice anyway. "Probably. He probably has his head stuck up his ass." I snickered at my own immaturity.
We sat in silence for a moment, them drinking their coffees. I decided to get myself one, and pushed my chair back, slipping my phone into my pocket as I wandered around the little wall to get to the serving desk. I was surprised to see that there was someone stood there, and even more surprised to see that it was Edward Cullen.
Well, shit. Don't screw up this time, Bella.
I blushed when he caught my eye and smirked a little, praying that he hadn't heard any of what we had just said. "Uh… hi. What can I get for you?" I asked politely, manoeuvring my way around the desk to serve him.
Edward glanced up at the menu speculatively. "What do you recommend?"
"Um… well, the cappuccino is pretty good. You can have cinnamon on top instead of chocolate if you want?" I picked at my cuticles nervously; I couldn't meet his eyes for anything, though I could feel them on me now.
"Sure, I'll try that. Thanks."
"No problem." I turned to the machine and checked that the right machinery was there this time.
Apparently Edward was on the same wavelength as me because he quipped, "Got all of the right equipment now?"
I'd have bet my life that that was an intentional innuendo. I blushed bright red. "Yes. Take-away again?"
"No, actually, I'll sit in. It looks nice here."
"Thanks," I mumbled embarrassedly. "You can go take a seat; I'll bring it over to you." Then, I focused on making his coffee and not spewing any more stupid words out of my mouth.
But Edward didn't go to a table. He seemed to be in a chatty mood. "So, Bella – it was Bella, right?"
I nodded vacantly, not wanting to embarrass myself by opening my mouth more than was absolutely necessary.
"I'm here on holiday. Is there anywhere local that you can recommend visiting?"
I didn't mention that I already knew that for fear of looking like a creepy stalker – even though I was. Instead, I thought about that for a moment. "Um… well… the beach?"
He chuckled quietly and the sound melted my knees. "Awesome. Anywhere else?"
My mind had gone completely, utterly blank and I was going to make a fool of myself in front of him again. Thankfully, I was saved by Alice coming round. "Bella, what's taking so…? Oh." Her mouth fell slightly open when she caught sight of Edward.
"Hello," he said to her smoothly.
"Hi," Alice squeaked, and then turned around and darted quickly back to Jasper, looking mortified.
I sighed. He probably thought that we were all as cracked up as each other. I shook my head and got back to making the coffee. My hands shook because I could feel his eyes on me again.
"Relax, Bella-" his voice pierced my silence "-I'm not gonna bite."
I smiled shyly at him just as the coffee machine dribbled the last bit of his coffee into the cup. I turned and put it on the plate. "Sugar?"
"No, thanks." He paid me and then went to sit at a table.
I poured myself the same drink and then nervously went to take my seat again. Thankfully, Edward was sat on the other side of the room drinking coffee and reading a book of some kind.
"Holy shit, Bella," Alice murmured. "You're right. He is dreamy."
Jasper nudged her side and she smirked at him.
"Yeah." I sighed wistfully.
Edward Cullen didn't glance our way again, nor did he do anything particularly interesting. He drank his coffee and read his book, and then he left. I would be lying if I said that I wasn't disappointed that he didn't kiss me, let alone speak to me. I supposed that I should have taken my head out of the clouds before I died from the sting of being let down.
I sighed and went to clean his table. Alice and Jasper watched me, waiting for me to lick the table or something. I rolled my eyes and picked up his napkin, ready to take the damp cloth to the tabletop. But then, some words on the napkin caught my eye.
La bella ragazza di caffè – meet me outside at 7pm? I'll be waiting, beautiful… x
My mouth dropped open and my whole body tingled with anticipation. "Alice! You're never going to believe this…"
Hi guys :) Long time no see, huh? I'm sorry I've been gone so long :( Been busy with my original story and RL has been kicking my ass :/ BUT I hope to update PTP very soon and FOM hopefully before Christmas, for those of you waiting so patiently :)
Anyway I wrote this so so long ago… like, August/September and I found it while procrastinating from my homework (lol) and finished it up today and thought I'd post it :) I'm not entirely sure whether you'll like it, especially the second part, but I feel I should post something and I really hope that you do like it :)
I don't really have anything else to say here… so I'll post the next bit tomorrow; and please let me know your thoughts! :)
Love love love, as always :)