:::x::: I'm going to dedicate this chapter to the wonderful Sian (xXEternallyDazzledXx) because she pestered me to death to update every day on twitter and she's a wonderful writer and a brilliant ff friend :) Also, I sort of haven't beta'd her chapter yet 'cos I was busy editing this; I'll send it tomorrow, I promise! :::x:::
Warning! This is a packed chapter… there's a lot of fluff, a lot of drama, and a little angst. But! Bear in mind that this is only a two-shot (ahem… may have forgotten to mention that… sorry if you expected more :/) so whatever angst may haunt you for a few paragraphs will have dissolved into a lovely happy ending by the time you get to the bottom and (hopefully) click that wonderful little button that is like the epitome of happiness; at least, for me ;)
Now, with that aside, please enjoy this little bit of fluffy drama-ish mush :)
La Bella Ragazza Di Caffè
When seven o'clock rolled around, I was nervous almost to the point of standing up the man of my dreams. But, luckily, Alice was standing by to tell me to "get my shit together and fuck off to go meet the man I had only been dreaming about since forever."
So I was sat on the bench outside of the café at seven on the dot, wearing a deep blue blouse and faded blue jeans. I had worried that it was too casual, but Alice had rolled her eyes and assured me that it was the perfect attire for our date. I had blushed and insisted that it wasn't a date. Alice then pointed out that he had called me beautiful in the note. I blushed even deeper.
Suddenly, a pair of hands covered my eyes and a soft voice was in my ear. "You came," it whispered, sounding astonished. His accent sent shivers down my spine.
I hesitantly reached up and took his hands away from my eyes. "Of course," I said softly, keeping my eyes on the ground.
Edward came to my side and sat down. The length of his left leg pressed against mine and I practically melted into a puddle. He was quiet for a while and it would have been awkward had it not been so comfortable. Then he murmured, "Tell me something about yourself."
I looked up at him, blushed, and looked down again. I was breathless. "What?" I whispered.
"Anything. You seem to know your fair share about me."
My blush deepened. I could have sworn that I'd never been so red in my life.
Edward chuckled and then his finger stroked my cheek.
"Why are you here?" I blurted out.
A blank look came over his face. "I'm on holiday… I've wanted to come here since I was-"
"No, I mean… here. Like now."
"Oh." Edward turned and looked over at the waves as they crashed up the sand. One side of his mouth turned up. "Because… I wanted to get to know you better."
"But I'm just… me. Just Bella. I'm… just a coffee girl. And you're…" I waved my hands at him. "Well, you're you."
He looked back at me, his green eyes glowing in the twilight. His eyes searched my face and settled on my lips after a moment before flickering back up to meet my eyes. Eventually he said, "Walk with me," and stood up, taking my hand in his.
His hand was warm and much bigger than mine and it sent sparks up my arm when our skin was touching. He pulled me up and I went gladly, letting him lead the way along the beach I knew so well. "Bella," he said after a moment as we continued to walk. He didn't say anything else.
He gestured to the beach. The sun was at its lowest point – you could only just see the very top of it – so it was mostly dark, but some of the sky was still stained with pink. It was beautiful. "What do you think that all of this looks like to me? The sand, the sun, the sky… Bearing in mind that I come from London. And while London is glamorous, and brilliant, and endlessly fascinating; it's also bleak, and grey, and repetitive. There's no beach, no sand, there's rarely sun and even when there is you can't really see the sky for all of the lights of the town. Every day on the tube, you see the dreary faces of people who want to be anywhere else." Edward sighed. "Taking all of that into consideration, how do you think this beach looks to someone seeing it for the first time rather than someone who lives and works right in the thick of it?"
I knew that there was a reason his songs were adored by many; his words were just so poetic and beautiful. And I also knew the answer to his questions. So many tourists came by the café saying how picturesque the beach was, how beautiful, how incredible. But I shut my eyes for a moment all the same, imagining London as he described it. Dull, and samey, and pessimistic. It was difficult to see the city of my dreams that way, but not impossible. And then, I opened my eyes. I looked at the beach through Edward's, imagining what it would be like to see the sun reflecting off of the water for the first time.
And it was stunning.
I nodded in response to his question. "It's beautiful."
"It is." Edward moved so that he was in front of me, cupping my face in his hands. I loved his touch; I craved it. "So beautiful. And when I came down here the other night, I was sure that I'd never see something more beautiful in my entire life… but then I walked into your café. And I saw you dancing. And I was so wrong. Because you, Bella-" his mouth pulled up into that lopsided grin again as he bent down to whisper in my ear "-you are remarkably stunning." His eyes gazed into mine and it seemed as though he was telling nothing but the truth.
My knees melted. "What are you doing to me?" I whispered.
His smile softened. "Can I kiss you?"
All I could do was nod.
He closed the small gap between our faces, his nose brushing mine briefly before he tilted his head and his soft lips were pressed against mine. At first, it was chaste. The pressure against my lips was amazing for a second and then they were gone, though his forehead was still pressed flush against mine. I kept my eyes shut and my lips parted of their own accord. Then his were back on mine. He kissed me once again, and then twice, and then a third time. And then I wound my arms around his neck and made sure that he couldn't pull away. He took the encouragement on board and didn't pull away this time.
His lips felt incredible. He pushed my mouth open and pulled me closer and the kiss vacillated between soft and sweet and hard and passionate as our mouths moved together.
It was my ultimate fantasy, and it was so much better than I could have imagined.
After what felt like no time at all, we parted for breath. Neither of us spoke for a moment. Then I breathed, "This is surreal."
Edward smiled. Then he became serious. "Can you get time off work?"
I thought of Alice and how she would probably encourage it. "Probably. Why?"
"Because I'm only here for another week, and I want to spend every second of it with you."
I beamed, feeling lightheaded at the thought. This amazing, incredible, dazzling man wanted to spend time with me. And he was one hell of a good kisser.
"But," he said, making my smile drop for a moment, "I want you to forget anything you've read about me, even if I wrote it myself."
My brow furrowed and I cocked my head to the side. "Why?"
"Because I want you to know me; not… not that singer guy. I'm the same person but… well, you said that you're 'just Bella,' but really I'm 'just Edward' too." He lifted our hands and pressed our palms together; his fingers were longer than mine by quite a bit. "I don't want you to think that… that I'm different. Or… have high expectations."
"High expectations only lead to disappointment," I quoted a lyric from one of his songs quietly; automatically. "Sorry," I said instantly, the blush in my cheeks reigniting.
The corner of his lips twitched and he looked away at the horizon.
I did too. "You know-" I sighed "-I keep waiting to wake up. It's all so…" I waved my hands around searching for words that would describe how I felt without embarrassing myself.
"Surreal?" Edward teased, using my word from earlier.
"More like a dream come true." I stood in silence for a few moments, thinking about what he had said about spending every minute of his week with me. Then, abruptly, I pulled away from his side, biting hard on my lip.
I looked up at him, shaking my head slowly. "You're here for a week. A week!"
I sighed and looked at my feet instead. How to admit to him that I couldn't bear the thought of spending time with him and then having him leave me behind? There wasn't a way I could tell him that without sounding completely selfish. Which, I supposed, I was essentially being. There was really only one thing I could do here: suck it up, have the best week of my life, and hold on to the memories for the rest of my life. I raised my gaze and gazed into his eyes through my eyelashes. Summoning all the courage I had, I lifted my hands and buried my fingers in the hair at the nape of his neck and whispered, "Kiss me."
And, oh, he did.
As I had predicted, that week was the best of my entire life. I spoke to Alice and she drafted the girls in to take my shifts that week and I spent every day with Edward. We went everywhere and did everything you could in Cali. For the first few nights, he dropped me home, leaving me on the doorstep with a passionate kiss. Then, I would go upstairs and try not to think that another day had passed and the number of days I had with him was one less than the day before. But, on the third night, we stumbled across the most beautiful meadow in the middle of nowhere. Even after living in Cali for so long, I had never seen anything like it. We almost got carried away in that meadow, and Edward had begged me to come back to his hotel room.
I didn't have to think twice about it. And I was right not to, however risky I realised it was afterwards; his incredible kisses had nothing on his other-worldly love-making.
But I discovered, as the time passed, that Edward was a lot more than a pretty face, a gorgeous body and an excellent kisser. He was the sweetest, kindest and most intelligent man I had met in my life. We talked about everything, from his childhood to my increasingly-embarrassing obsession with him. Amazingly, he wasn't deterred by it. He chuckled and said that I was 'adorable' and then kissed me. He surprised me in so many ways and spending time with him was more than I could ever imagine. But, despite spending a whole week with him, at the end of it his presence still seemed as surreal, as perfect, as the first time I had met him.
Did this man have no faults?
On his last morning, I woke early to his lips on the back of my neck. His arms were circled around my waist, his hands resting on the smooth plane of my stomach. "Good morning," he murmured when he became aware that I was awake.
I twisted in his arms so that my eyes could drink in their fill of his face; I was well aware that this would be the last time I would see him, at least for a long time. And then he bent his head forward and kissed me. We spent as long as we could get away with holed up in his hotel room but eventually it got to the point where we couldn't procrastinate any longer. I drove him to the airport in my truck – much to his dissatisfaction (I had refused to let him buy me a faster car) – but we drove in silence, neither of us wanting this whirlwind romance to end.
When we got there, we both got out of the truck. Edward met me around the front where he took me into his arms and pressed a kiss to the top of my head. "Don't come with me any further, okay?" he murmured.
I looked up, feeling dejected. "Why not?"
"There'll probably be paps inside. Waiting for a snap of any mildly famous person and their life story." His fists clenched at the small of my back as he said that and his body tensed.
I reached up and brushed my fingers through his hair to calm him down. "Okay," I whispered, even though I wanted more than anything just to leave my life behind and go with him. We stood in silence for a moment and then I got the courage up to ask the question that I had been avoiding all week. "Will I see you again?"
"Yes," he answered with certainty. "You have my number, I have yours, and I'll call you every day if I can. I'll come back when I can get time off work and if you can I'll send you airline tickets to visit me in London." He held my shoulders and looked intensely into my eyes. "I want to make this work, Bella. I'll do anything to make this work."
I still couldn't believe that this perfect man could want me. "Me too."
He glanced at his wrist watch and sighed. He kissed my lips chastely and said, "I guess this is it, then."
We stood for a few awkward moments, and then Edward hauled his backpack further up his shoulders and smiled. "I'll call you," he promised, and then he turned and walked towards the airport building, slipping dark sunglasses on as he did.
I watched his back disappear behind the revolving doors and leant back against the hood of my truck, trying to ignore the way my heart broke at seeing the back of him. I turned away and got into my truck, tears I wouldn't allow to fall stinging my eyes. I started the engine and checked my mirrors. But then, just as I was about to release the hand break, I hesitated. And that moment of hesitation was all it took for me to turn off the engine again, get out, lock the truck and run for the building.
I had never run so fast in my life. As soon as I burst through the doors, my eyes darted everywhere, looking for his unusual hair. I checked one of the boards and saw which gate his flight was leaving from and I ran in that direction.
As I neared it, I saw his hair. It stood out in the queue full of average-looking people. My stomach plummeted as I realised that he was close to the front of the line. I ran faster towards him, ignoring peoples' complaints as I pushed them aside. "Edward!" I gasped when I was a few feet behind him.
He turned round just before I ploughed into him, crashing my lips to his. He tensed momentarily and then kissed me back. Just as his tongue brushed along my bottom lip, though, I felt him tense again. His hands tightened on my hips and he pulled away.
Disappointed, I broke away too and that was when I noticed the flashing even from behind my eyelids. My eyes flew open and I saw that there was a barrage of people with cameras. I instinctively flinched away from them into Edward's chest.
"Bella, get out of here," he said quietly, but harshly.
I looked up at him, panicked, and saw the same harsh firmness in his eyes. I opened my mouth to ask him what was wrong but then some airport personnel came out of nowhere and bustled Edward away out of the way of the flashes, leaving me alone in the line with people staring at me and flashes going off everywhere.
Overwhelmed, I turned and fled back the way I had come.
Edward didn't call the next day. I told myself – and Alice – that he probably had jet lag.
He didn't call the day after that either. He must have been busy that day.
Nor the day after that. His phone was broken, then.
When a week passed and he still hadn't called, I started to become a nervous wreck. I was convinced that my little stunt at the airport had pissed him off. The Google alerts that poured into my inbox speculating about the mysterious brunette who kissed Edward Cullen at the airport seemed to support my theory. Some of them declared that I was an impulsive fan, while others suggested rightly that Edward and I had been somehow involved. The worst of them, though, said that Edward was a player and had only picked me up to make his holiday even better. If that was what my actions were doing to his reputation then I wasn't surprised that he hadn't called.
I cancelled my Google alerts then. I didn't want to read their speculations any more.
But believing that my rash action had led to his not-calling was better than the alternative, so I did. The alternative being that it had been a fling; that he had never intended to call at all and had just said that to placate me.
Eight days after Edward had left, Alice suggested – not for the first time – that I called Edward rather than waiting on him to call me. I had wanted him to make the move first, not wanting to bother him, but now my curiosity won out. I held my breath when I heard the dialling tone, nervous about speaking to him, but that was unnecessary in the end because he didn't pick up.
After that, I called him every day and tweeted him a lot too. But he never picked up and he never replied.
"Bella," Alice said one day in early September, "maybe you should just delete your account. It's only making you dwell on things."
I was stood at the counter of Twilight, my BlackBerry in my hand. I continuously checked it for a twitter reply, or a call. I looked at Alice, alarmed. "I can't!"
"You can. At least, you should. This… obsession… it's not healthy, Bella. It's taken over your life, even more so than it did before."
"But what if he goes to reply and I don't have an account anymore?"
Alice's eyebrows crunched up sadly. "Look, honey," she said really quietly, "if he hasn't replied by now, I don't think he ever will."
"He will!" I insisted. "He's just… busy."
Alice pursed her lips but said nothing. She was worried about me, I knew. She was moving out to live with Jasper in a week – just four days after my birthday – and worried about leaving me alone. I assured her that I would be okay, but I knew that she didn't believe me; I could see it in her eyes.
That night, I couldn't sleep. Every hour I checked my phone, paranoid that I'd miss something. At four o'clock in the morning, I realised that Alice was right. He was taking over my life. So, with shaking hands, I pulled up twitter on my phone. I went to his profile and read his latest tweet.
Yes! The new single's gonna be released in the US as well; international success here I come ;)
My heart ached. Great. Now I would be hearing his music on the radio as well. It seemed I would be unable to escape the fresh torture that was Edward Cullen. I took a deep breath and wrote out a tweet to him; my last ever.
(at)theReelEC: Okay. You win. I'm deleting my account and I'll delete your number, too, and quit bugging you. But, just so you know, I love you. I think I always did. Bye.
I sent it, and then I logged onto my computer to delete my account. I checked my replies one more time to see if he had replied telling me that I had gotten it all wrong already. He hadn't. Wishful thinking, I supposed. I deleted my account on twitter. I deleted his number and blocked it, too. I opened up iTunes and deleted every single song of his that I owned. I went downstairs and took the plaque off of the wall, hiding it under my bed.
I wouldn't obsess over Edward Cullen any more.
I licked the icing off of my personalised cupcake until it was just a smear, no longer reading Happy Birthday Bella! I wasn't really in the mood to celebrate. Alice was. She had taken the week off to move her things from here to Jasper's and had apologised profusely for leaving me alone on my birthday but decided that the best way to make it up to me was by booking a table at the best restaurant in California for us. I wanted to sit alone on my couch and watch crappy TV, scoffing cake, or brownies, or ice cream. Or cake, brownies and ice cream.
I sighed and slumped forward on the counter, taking a bite out of the cake and wondering how I could get out of this meal out. But then, the bell tinged and I stood up straight and looked up to see the one person I never thought that I would again. I looked away, balling my fists up angrily. So now he wanted to show up, huh?
"Bella," Edward said quietly, stepping closer, "are you busy?" His voice – his accent – was still the same as I remembered; it still melted my legs.
He didn't go anywhere, sensing my blatent lie.
I grabbed a cloth from under the desk and started wiping the surface. "See? Please leave now."
"You can't tell customers to leave. And I'm a customer."
"If you're a customer then hurry up and buy something before I kick you out for time wasting."
"Okay," he said, "I'll have one of those cinnamon cappuccinos."
I grabbed a takeaway cup without asking whether it was takeaway and set about making it. I didn't look at him or speak to him as I made it, and he did the same. I wondered why he was here. "That's three dollars, please."
"No discount this time?" he had the nerve to ask.
I shot him a dirty look.
"Okay, okay." He handed over the money.
I put it in the till and slammed it shut before holding out his coffee. He reached out to take it, and his fingers curled around mine, holding them against the cup. We stood there for a moment, our touching fingers buzzing with electricity. Just like the first time. Then I said, through gritted teeth, "Can you please let go?"
Finally, he let go, a dejected look on his face. He stood there for a long time, silent. When I looked at him, his eyes were lingering on the wall where the plaque had hung. Eventually he murmured, "I love you too, you know."
Though a surge of hope followed by a hot sting of pain shot through me, I kept my face expressionless and acted as though he had said nothing. I wiped the surface again, even though it was so clean that I could practically see my face in it.
There were so many things that I wanted to say to him; some nice and embarrassingly mushy, but most not very nice at all. I wanted to demand to know why he had ignored me so thoroughly after promising otherwise, why he had ignored my calls, why he had come back if he hated me so much. But I just couldn't. I didn't want to hear his response.
The bell rang again and I thought that he had finally gotten the message and left but, when I looked up, he hadn't left; Alice had come in. She gaped at Edward for a long moment and then, bless her, did the thing I wanted to but couldn't. She glared at him. "Where the fuck have you been?"
Alice didn't let him speak. Her glower intensified and she stepped closer to him, shoving his chest hard. "What the fuck? You can't just reject Bella like that and then turn up out of the blue you heartless asshole! You have no idea what you've done to her, do you? God, she was fucking catatonic! And now she's trying to be normal again and you have the nerve to come in here? You bastard."
He put the coffee down and held up his hands in defence. "I came to explain myself, actually. I came halfway across the world to tell Bella why I haven't spoken to her even though I may well lose my job for leaving that suddenly."
Alice looked to me. "Have you heard this 'explanation' Bella?"
I hesitated and then sighed. "Alice… just… let it go."
"So you have?"
"Exactly." Alice looked back to Edward. "I think you better fucking start explaining yourself unless you want to be kicked out of here faster than I can say 'fuck off.'"
Edward turned back to me. "Will you listen?" he asked softly.
I looked into his eyes. His beautiful, glowing green eyes. But they weren't glowing. They had lost their spark. And, suddenly, I wondered whether I had jumped to conclusions all this time. He had just said that he loved me; perhaps he had a reasonable explanation, like he said. Perhaps I was painting him in a bad light, so that our separation wouldn't hurt so much. I swallowed, and nodded.
Edward glanced nervously at Alice, but then turned his attention fully to me. "You know… at the airport… they took pictures of us?" He didn't wait for my response before continuing, "The day after I got home, all of the tabloids had it as their front page news. There were so many different stories, some of them incriminating towards you, some towards me; none were particularly nice."
I nodded to tell him that I knew this.
"I read some of the stories and I saw what they said about you; some of it was awful. I didn't want to subject you to that, didn't want you to be a part of this life I had where one false move can jeopardise everything, can turn your life around. I didn't want you to be on the front page of the tabloids every day, rumours spread about you. You're too good for that."
Alice snorted in disbelief. "That's it?"
"No." Edward sent a disgruntled look in her direction, but his expression softened when he looked back to me. "That was why I didn't call in the beginning. I told myself that I'd call when it all blew over, when I could introduce you to the world as my girlfriend and the girl at the airport would be long forgotten."
"You could have called," I squeaked. "Just called. No one would know but you and me."
He groaned. "I know, I know. But I thought that if I called I wouldn't be able to stay away." Genuine regret shone from his eyes.
I was still doubtful. "What happened after it blew over?"
Edward bit his lip. "Um… I… I started getting these letters. But these letters… they were addressed to you; 'that brunette girl', 'that girl you were kissing', 'the girl at the airport'… I opened some of them and…" He blew out a long breath. "They were horrible. They called you all sorts of names, telling you that… that I was too good for you-"
"You are," I muttered.
"No," he said firmly. "I'm not. Everything in those letters was bullshit, Bella. This is exactly why I didn't call! I was going to invite you to London but if you saw them…" He shook his head. "Anyway, I told my agent to intercept the letters, and she did. But then somehow a magazine published a photo of the outside of my bungalow. Suddenly, there were all these girls outside screaming for me, and screaming about you. It was pandemonium. I was escorted out of my apartment straight away. I was told that other people would have to get my things out of there and I couldn't go back.
"But, before they could get anything out, some girls broke in. I had some things taken; including my phone." His eyes were desperate to convey his point. "I called up the service provider as soon as I knew it had been taken and had the phone locked so that they couldn't access anything on it, but I didn't have your number, Bella. I couldn't get it back."
I was quiet for a moment before I said, "You could have told me. On twitter."
He pushed a hand through his hair. "Those girls stalk my twitter, Bella! If they saw I was talking to you, worked out who you are, what do you think they would have done? The exact thing I was trying to prevent."
"Oh," I said quietly.
I looked over to Alice whose brow was furrowed.
"It seems like a tall story," she offered bluntly, "but it's believable, I guess."
I let out a shaky breath. "I… I don't know what to think," I admitted. I looked into his eyes. "Can I have some time? To think."
"Of course." Edward pulled his backpack over his shoulder and undid the zip. He reached inside and brought out a flat, rectangular box wrapped in blue paper with a shiny blue ribbon around it. "If you decide you don't want to talk to me again, I'll understand I guess. But please let me know sometime. And, if it does turn out that way, then… well, have a nice time on me." He put the present on the countertop. "Happy birthday." And then, after flashing a small smile, he turned and left.
I blinked after him, and looked down at the present. I looked back up at Alice, my sight blurry with tears. "He remembered," I whispered.
"Open it," Alice said.
I lifted the gift and pulled the ribbon undone. The paper came away easily as I pulled it. Inside, was a white box. Tentatively, I raised the lid and looked inside. There was a note on top, reading:
Happy birthday. I'm sorry things turned out this way. I love you.
And then there was a bunch of numbers. His new mobile number. His current hotel's phone number and the pseudonym he was staying under. His agent's number. Hell, even his parents' numbers!
And, underneath the note, were three return airline tickets to London.
I wiped away my tears and looked at Alice. When I met her eyes, we both knew what I had to do.
She nodded. "You can't let that one go, Bella."
"I won't," I croaked.
Alice laughed then. "And to think I only came to pick up the next lot of boxes! You go; I'll take care of things here for a bit."
"Thank you," I whispered, and then I darted out after Edward.
He hadn't gone far. He was sat on the bench a few feet away, overlooking the seafront. The bench I had waited for him on before our first date. I went up behind him. "Edward."
He stood up and turned around.
I moved around until I was right next to him and his arms came out and around me, as though he knew just what I needed.
"That was a quick think," he teased, but his voice was strained.
"I love you," was all I needed to say.
"God, I love you. So much." And then his mouth was on mine, his tongue pushing into my mouth, one of his hands burying itself in my hair as mine snaked into his. My whimpers were absorbed in his mouth, his moans in mine as he kissed me hungrily. I imagined that this would be how rain felt after a drought in Africa.
"We can make this work," he vowed after we broke apart. "We will."
I nodded against his forehead. "Yes. We will."
And he bent his head and took my lips between his again, kissing me sweetly. In that moment, I knew that we would make this work out; Edward was about to branch out into international territory and I had an inkling that America would welcome him with open arms. And that would lead to gigs, interviews, advertising… I had a feeling that he'd be spending a lot more time here than a week.
I smiled blissfully against his lips, and then lost myself in his kiss.
An automatic smile spread across my face when I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. I put down my icing pen and reached in to pull it out. "Hi," I said into the phone, my tone fully expressing the smile on my face.
"Hey yourself," Edward's smooth voice replied. His accent still sent shivers down my spine, even though I had spoken to him every day for months now. Four months and ten days, to be exact. Since Edward had come back to Cali on my birthday, we had made it work as we vowed we would. We had seen each other as frequently as we could, managing to see each other every few weeks. The longest we had been apart was three weeks, and that was ongoing right now; I hadn't seen him since I had been to London with Alice and Jasper for Christmas and the New Year. That had been incredible. Despite Edward's fantastic description of London as a dreary, bleak, repetitive place I really didn't see it. It was beautiful, especially when the night sky was alight with fireworks and Edward was right next to me, his arm around my waist and his lips at my ear. But when I told him so, he laughed and told me that nothing would ever be beautiful in comparison to me. I had reached up, cradled his chin and placed a sweet, soft kiss on his lips. He was full of shit but I loved him all the same.
"How are you?" I asked, tucking the phone under my ear and grabbing the icing pen back up to continue icing the cake.
I saw Alice glance at me out of the corner of her eye and duck her head to hide her smile. She had been doubtful of Edward at first, but after she had seen how Edward was with me, all of her – and, admittedly, my – doubts flew out of the window. Now I was happy, and Alice was happy to see me happy. Alice was happy with Jasper, too, and Jasper had even admitted to me that he was thinking of proposing.
"Good, good." He paused and I heard a rush of a car in the background. I wondered whether he was walking home from the studio. Then he said, "Guess what I just finished recording today?"
I squealed, my musings of his whereabouts forgotten, and had to stop myself from jumping up and down, trying to gather control of my hands again so that they wouldn't shake and destroy the cake I was icing. "You finished it?"
His smile was prominent in his tone. "Yep. Gonna be track number nine on the album; your lucky number."
"God, Edward." I couldn't think of anything else to say. I sighed happily. "Please send me it as soon as you can. I want to hear our song!"
"Sure, sure, when it's been edited."
"No! The first version."
Edward chuckled. "Okay. But if it's awful, don't complain to me."
"Come on. Nothing you do is awful. Or anything less than good. And stop rolling your eyes!"
"How did you know I was rolling my eyes?"
I grinned at how in tune we were. "I just did."
"Actually-" Edward's voice turned serious then "-there was a reason I called. I want to ask you something. Two things actually."
"Well, first, I was speaking to my producer today. See, he came to the studio while we were recording our song and he heard it and really liked it and he wants…" He took a deep breath and then said fast, "He wants to release it as the first single from the album."
I was stunned for a moment. They wanted to release our song as a single? They thought that a song that I had half-written (well, quarter, really) would be popular? "What? Really?" Then I bit my lip. "No, Edward…"
"I know, I know," he said quickly, cutting me off. "It's personal and it'll be all over the radio and stuff but… God, I agree with them Bella. I honestly think that this is the best song on the whole album and I think it will do well, and releasing it is only one step further than just having it on the album, don't you think?"
I was stunned again. "What? That's not what I meant. I… Edward, the lyrics I did are… well, kind of awful. I'm happy – ecstatic, actually – for you to release it if you don't think it's going to halve your album sales. Which I do."
"What?" he parroted. "God, no! Bella, it's fantastic."
"No, we're not arguing about this now," he said firmly, that anger in his voice that only appeared when I spoke about myself in 'derogatory terms'.
I rolled my eyes now, and changed the subject. "Oh yeah, what was your second thing?"
He was suddenly hesitant. "Well… uh…"
I put my icing pen down and caught Alice's attention, signalling that I was taking a break by tapping my wrist. She nodded and I went around the corner and sat on a sofa, curling my legs up underneath me. "Well uh what?" I imitated with a smile.
"Well… you know the Grammys?"
"I never told you because… well, it just never came up, I guess… but… well…"
"You got nominated? I know. I didn't say anything because you didn't say anything."
Edward chuckled nervously. "Of course you do. Well… I was wondering… will you be my plus one?"
And I was stunned for the third time in just as many minutes. This time, though, I was stunned into silence.
I stammered out nonsense before my mouth found words. "But… Edward, that's… red carpets, photographs, fans… hell, it's on TV! That's everything you've tried to keep away from us… from me."
"I know but… Bella, I'm fed up of hiding. I love you and nothing can change that. I want to show you off, I want to give you half the proceeds of this song and I want all those girls to know that I'm not available to them. I'm only available to you, Bella. Always."
I felt my hands shaking slightly. I took a deep breath. "Edward, I… I don't know what to say…"
"Say you'll come with me. Be my date. Tell me that you wouldn't let me go with anyone else."
"Well… maybe you could take your mom…"
I giggled. I imagined that this was what it felt like to be high. "I'll come," I said breathlessly. "And I'll be your date. And I wouldn't let you go with anyone else. Ever. You're mine."
"And you're mine, baby," he said, sounding relieved.
Suddenly, a deep sadness overwhelmed me. "God, I wish you were here with me."
This time, his reply didn't come from my phone. "Turn around." His mouth was at my ear.
I twisted round so fast that it was a surprise that I didn't fall. I could feel my eyes lit up as they met his, and I saw his reflect my ecstasy right back. "Hey," I whispered, stumped for anything else to say.
Edward grinned that wonderful crooked smile. He reached for my hand and took my phone, hanging up on himself and tossing the phone on the nearest table. "Hi."
"Hey," I protested, "I was talking to my boyfriend on that!"
"Oh, sorry." His tone wasn't apologetic at all. And then he bent his head and his lips closed around mine. Just like every other time we kissed after being apart, sparks flew between us and I curled my body towards him, my hand reaching up to entwine my fingers with his hair.
"I love you so much," I said when we broke apart, both of us breathing heavily.
"I love you, too." He pressed a square-shaped case into my hand. I looked down to see a CD case with no cover, no detail, no features but a CD in it. The CD was blank, too, aside from for two words in Edward's now-familiar spidery handwriting: To Bella.
I gaped up at him. "Is this-?"
He beamed back. "Sure is. First rough cut. Obviously it won't be perfect, but-"
I placed a hand over his mouth. "Don't be silly; of course it will be perfect." And then I went through to the cafe to find that Alice had vanished. I noticed that the open sign had been changed to closed early and wondered how long Alice had been in on this. But I didn't ask, merely slipping round to the sound system and putting the CD in. Edward came over to the counter and took my hands in his over the top of it. And we stood together, linked at the hands as we listened to Edward's perfect voice sing about a beautiful mystery he met in a cafe in California.
When the ending trailed off into silence, I had to bite down on my lip to stop the tears from coming.
Edward's voice broke the silence after a moment. "I know we didn't discuss a title, but I think I have one, although it isn't actually in the lyrics."
"Yeah?" I prompted.
Edward leant his head closer, so that his chin brushed the part of my jaw close to my ear, and whispered, "La bella ragazza di caffè."
I swooned at his Italian accent and beamed from ear to ear as Edward's mouth drew mine back once again. And I knew that this… this was perfection.
Well, there you go :) I wasn't as pleased with this chapter as the last one (the main reason why it took me so long to update, though I promised the next day), but I guess it's acceptable now ;) Or, at least, I hope :/
Now, I just have to say… holy Edward with a cherry on top! I was completely blown away by the response for this! Thank you thank you thank you! Since I've been absent from here recently, I was so sure that you'd all have forgotten about me or at least not cared anymore so the review total (80!) was absolutely staggering! And your words were just so lovely, as always. It shocks me (in a good way) every time that you think this drivel is any good. So huge, huge thank you :)
Yes, I changed the summary :) I couldn't think of one last time, and this is what I came up with now :)
Oh, also, I'm so sorry I forgot to mention that it was a two-shot. I posted about it on facebook and just kind of presumed that you'd know :/ But, judging by some of the reviews at least, it seems as though some of you were expecting a proper story :/ I'm sorry. I did consider it because there is a lot I could do with this, but I thought it would be wiser to nutshell it lol
So, you see this bold writing above? That's a little glance into my insane head; I'd love it if you'd allow me a glance into yours again ;)
Thank you all so much again!