Pick A Pic Challenge
Title: Little Miss Sunshine
Penname: LJ Summers
Rating/ Disclaimer: T
This is a work of derivative fiction for which I receive no compensation. I make no claim of copyright or ownership to characters or plot of this story. All things Twilight are property of Stephenie Meyer and/or her assignees.
Officer Edward Cullen meets a charming young lady buying flowers. She is sweet and beautiful and altogether appealing. He never felt the sting.
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I saw her at the grocery store's floral department. Kind of a lame kiosk, there were bouquets of carnations and roses – standards, right? – and some mixed assortments and some sunflowers. She dipped her nose into the midst of different arrangements, smiling as she straightened. Every single time.
That beatific expression captivated me. Her hair was a golden-brown shade like sunlight through maple syrup, her eyes a dark brown that made me think of hot, sweet things. She was all sweetness and sunshine and beauty as she chose a bouquet with sunflowers, carnations and daisies.
I tucked the badge away and made sure my piece was covered by the button-down Oxford I wore. Some women go for the whole "cop" thing, but to others it was a turn-off and I was man enough to care. I pushed my sparsely-filled cart behind hers as if I were on surveillance. Some sugar. A pair of bottles of matching shampoo and conditioner. Not the cheapest but not the pricey stuff, either. She looked like a college student, maybe.
She checked the lines out before she chose one. Number four. I wondered if the number had a significance for her or if it was the young man in the red shirt at the register that she was interested in. That made me jealous, to be honest. Which was stupid, but sometimes those pheromones don't take common sense into account, in my experience.
I cleared my throat, ran a hand through my hair and wished that the bronze thatch I had inherited from my mom was a little less obnoxious about staying where I told it. "Uh, hi," I said. What an opening gambit, right?
From in front of my cart, she angled her head and smiled at me over her shoulder. "Hi!"
I felt myself tighten just on that one, smoky syllable. Nodding at the flowers, I said, "Nice. For your mom or something?" It was the week before Mother's Day, so the question seemed reasonable.
She turned slowly as the person ahead of her started to go through the motions of paying for their sizable purchase with a card. After carefully moistening her lips, she shook her head slowly. "No... For my boyfriend."
Damn. My ears heated in my embarrassment. "He's a lucky guy. I never had a girl bring me flowers before."
"Thanks!" she said, seeming as happy as a pretty girl ought to be. Then, she put her few purchases on the conveyor belt and checked out. I did the same, shaking my internal finger at myself for being an overeager, lecherous buffoon. She couldn't have been more than twenty, and I was at least ten years her senior. Was I hitting on a college student?
You're an ass, Cullen. Get used to it.
I was driving home and passed the meadow where I had often seen groups of college kids get together for a game of pick-up ball – hell, I'd played there myself a decade past. Today, at the side of the road there was a red truck. It was a classic '57 that had been beautifully restored. I would have driven by with a nod to the guy lucky enough to have that baby when I saw Sunflower Girl trying to pry the hood open.
The sun was setting and you never knew, here, when the rain would return. At least that's what I told myself in justification for stopping my car and helping her. I unclipped my holster and badge first, though.
Hell, I was off duty, right?
"Hey! Sunflower Girl!" I called when she spun around.
"Oh! Oh, it's you! From the market, right?"
I grinned sheepishly. "Yeah. D'you need some help?"
She bit her lip and shrugged in a most alluring way. "I don't know. Maybe? And hey, before we get all dirty," she said, extending her hand. "I'm Isabella."
"Edward. Nice to meet you, Isabella." I shook her hand and wished I could just hold it for a while. Her skin was warm and firm. Before we get all dirty, she had said. I'd like to get all dirty with her.
Enough! Her truck? Remember?
I was an ass. Yep.
I found the release under the hood and pushed up the heavy red metal. "Is there a brace or spring or something?" I asked her.
She was watching me, not looking in her engine, and I felt my skin heat again. She made me feel like a teenager trying to work up the guts to ask a girl out on my first date. "Uh, yeah," she blurted. "There?"
I found the long metal lance-like things and braced them in the appropriate grooves. "Okay, how about you go try to start the engine and I'll take a listen."
"You are so sweet to do this. I mean, really. Thanks."
I waved off her praise. "Just the way I was raised," I said, testing the heat of the metal with the tip of my forefinger. "Can you try to start it?"
She bounced into the cabin and I heard her keys jingling. "Shoot! I dropped 'em. Just a sec."
Against my will almost, I chuckled. She couldn't be perfect, right?
After a couple of minutes, broken up by, "Damn! Sorry! I hit them under the seat. Lemme...just...uh! Yeah. Okay," while she hunted for her keys. Then she shoved them roughly into the ignition and the engine clicked and clicked and clicked.
I swore. "I think it's the starter," I called to her.
"Oh no! Those are, like, super expensive!"
"Well, yeah, but I can, uh, stay with you while you have someone come tow if you want, so you're not alone out here?'
Her cheeks were red when she emerged from her truck. "Well, okay. But here, have some Kool-Aid if you're going to wait with me. It's kind of warm today."
I laughed. "Well, aren't you a Girl Scout?"
She sipped at her bright red drink. "Oh yeah." I took a long swallow of mine so she knew that I wasn't ignoring her kind offering. Then, she fluttered her eyelashes in an over-the-top way I knew was supposed to be amusing. "Well, I was..."
We flirted and teased and I drank my drink and she sipped at hers and it wasn't until the sky began to darken that I realized she hadn't called anyone to come get her.
I felt all kinds of proud, I guessed, about that. Keeping a lively girl so engaged that she forgot about something so obvious was kind of a thing, you know? But, I didn't want her to get stuck, either.
"Uh, so did you forget to call someone?" I offered, feeling kind of drunk. "And hey, what did you put in this stuff?" I asked, laughing.
"You're just drunk on my personality," she said in return, leaning a little into me.
I didn't feel the sting. But I did feel the ground on the shoulder of the road, between the road and the meadow when I hit it with the back of my head. "Hey!"
Her smile was even brighter than it had been as she tossed the needle into the cab of her truck. "Finally! You know, I was beginning to think you weren't going to be affected, even with all my sparkling charm!" She rolled up on her toes, her short dress riding up creamy thighs that I, ridiculous as it seemed, was still interested in, even from my grounded position.
"Now, hm. Gotta make this work right. Let me think. Stay put!" she said, and giggled. "You know those flowers you asked me about?"
"For your boyfriend?" I whispered, as it became increasingly difficult to breathe.
"Yeah! Well, ah, there you are." She had climbed into my Volvo and come back with my wallet, badge and weapon. I was in a world of trouble. "Ah, Edward Cullen. Officer Edward Cullen. Forks Finest. Really? My dad was on the force. Used to be Chief. He was killed. Did you hear about that?"
Queasy, suddenly quite certain of what I had managed to stumble on to – or rather whom – I just couldn't turn off the law enforcement officer that I was. I drew a hard-won breath into my lungs. What the hell had she put in that Kool Aid? "Chief Swan was killed on duty a couple of years ago..."
"Yep! That was my daddy. Wasn't he great? He caught the biggest fish. Yum!" Still sounding like everyone's movie-version of a cheerleader, Bella Swan – had to be – bounced back to me, holding my nine millimeter. "He also taught his little girl how to shoot a pistol. Not a rifle – I didn't want to hunt big game or anything. It's dangerous. But you, now, Officer Cullen," she went on, kneeling beside me and brushing the backs of her knuckles across my cheek, "I bet you hunt all kinds of game, dontcha?" She grinned again.
She was the most terrifying person I'd met in my life. Absolutely buoyant, she opened the hood of my car and, with a couple of "Damn it's" and "Awesomes!" disabled the engine, even snaking my keys from my front pocket and trying to start the engine. It didn't turn over.
"Did you know Forks High has a great auto shop? I took shop my senior year. I told Charlie it was because I wanted to go to college and didn't want to spend a fortune on mechanics for the truck he'd bought me, you know?"
It was harder to breathe. I couldn't even move, but I kept talking as I could find air to do so. Just kept hoping someone would come. "You got an A?" I rasped.
"Well, of course! It's not like it's hard." Her laughter would have tickled my ears...if I could still feel them. "You are just the best, Officer Cullen. The best I've ever had."
She sounded as if she'd offered me sexual accolades or something. In the fading light, I could see that her lips seemed more red than they had been. She knelt again, next to me, her fingers lightly tripping over the buttons on my shirt. "The very best." She sounded like she was in the midst of a sensual experience. I know the sound and look of an aroused woman and Bella Swan, my sunflower-assailant, was throwing out all the signs.
"Why?" I really wanted to know.
She blinked, and laid her head on my chest, compressing my lungs still further. "Why did I pick you?" She beamed as if I had asked her to explain a prize-winning essay. "It's May and your eyes are green. Such a pretty green," she went on to say. A car finally drove by. It slowed down and Bella Swan ran her hand down one of my legs. The car moved on.
I wanted to scream. To cry out. Something. I was helpless. My gun was tucked under her short hemline and I couldn't even move my arms to reach it.
Then, she bounced up again and it fell to the ground. I tried and a finger moved and I tried while her back was turned. But I couldn't move anything else! I cursed my mother and her green eyes. I cursed my father and his wish for me to be a cop.
And I cursed myself as Bella returned, a piece of paper in one hand and a sunflower in the other.
"Y'see," she went, on, settling herself against me and clicking a pen from where she'd hooked it on the neckline of her dress, "I realized that I have needs. Just like any girl, you know? I like to have men in my power." She smiled down at me and bit that full lower lip again. My eyes were losing the power to focus though and she thoughtfully slid my eyelids shut. I could only hear her smoke-sex voice as she went on. "But you know, I'm not brave enough to really do anything with a man. I was really shy, before. I know," she went on, breathing on my skin, "I don't seem like it, but I was! I just thought, if I could just calm a guy down, right? Keep him from making me go away, then maybe he'd stick around and listen. But I guessed wrong. He didn't stay. He died."
"Ohhhh..." I breathed out. It was all I could do.
"So I left him a flower and signed my name to a note I tucked in his pocket. I signed my name after what my Girl Scout leader always called me."
With a gasp I finally realized it. Finally. "Little Miss Sunshine." Serial killer, wanted in three states. The killer – thought to be female because of the writing – left a flower and a signature and still no one had tracked them down. And lived.
"That's me!" Her lips brushed mine. "Now, I know you're going away, but really, your stamina is amazing. Thank you so much."
I think she said she loved me.