The ramp to the San Jose airport came up suddenly and Bella Swan slowed to merge into the right lane and had a sinking feeling when she was jarred by a bump from behind. "Oh no, I don't need this." She thought. Her heart was thumping as she pulled over to the shoulder and got out to look at the damage. She and the other driver met at the bumper. Thank goodness it wasn't too bad; it was a small little dent and the other driver's limo was just slightly scraped.
"It doesn't look too bad. Our deductible will probably cover this anyway, I don't think we should report anything." Bella proposed to the limo driver.
The other driver was adamant. "Sorry, I have to report it. Company requires that I get your info." Bella went back to her car to dig up for her insurance and license. She could not for the life of her find the new insurance card. Bella was about to scream in frustration when the limo passenger came and peeked into her window to inquire what was taking so long, complaining that he would miss his flight. She didn't even glance up as she pushed the door open and climbed out. "Sorry." Bella said as she hurriedly stepped around him and walked over to the driver. "I could only find my old insurance card but not my new one. I must have left it in the house. I have insurance, but this is the expired card. It's the same company and the same policy number."
Bella wrote down the driver's info and waited while he wrote hers. She didn't spare a glance at the passenger who was waiting quietly by the limo, she was more worried about what this would mean for her insurance rates. Had Bella looked over at him, she would have been surprised by the intense look on his face.
Edward Cullen couldn't believe his stroke of fortune. Here, right in front of him, stood the woman who had haunted his dreams for almost three years. The woman whose image eclipsed the face and body of all the women he had taken into his bed since he first saw her nearly naked body move sensuously, undulating and swaying just for him. The woman he fantasized about whether he was alone in the shower or with someone else. The woman he knew for sure could bring him to his knees if he ever gave into temptation and made love to her. He returned to the safety of the back seat of the limo where he could get away from her and try to think clearly about what his next move would be. As he sat on the cool leather seat he wavered briefly. He could choose to never pursue her and never risk his sanity. But as he thought about it, he realized that was no longer an option, he had avoided her for far too long.
He would pursue her and he would bed her and maybe he would finally be able to get her out of his mind and cure himself of this addiction. Then another thought occurred to him, maybe it would become far worse. Maybe she would prove to be his downfall, his Achilles heel. Maybe he'd sink so deeply into the obsession that he would never be able to do without her.
A few minutes later, the driver got in and Edward instructed him to follow the little gold Geo. He rewarded the driver with a generous tip when he turned over Bella's driver license information to him.
Bella felt inadequate just looking at all these women in the fashion magazine. She smirked her lips and put down the magazine. She'll never be a size two. She reached for her romance novel. "Why feel bad about your own life when you can live vicariously through another?" she thought to herself. A hot romance novel will put excitement into the next two hours while she waited for her sister's very late plane to arrive. She bought the one that seemed the steamiest. The redhead on the cover was wearing a negligee and the super hot guy was looking down at her with DESIRE in his eyes.
Bella curled up in a corner seat of the airport waiting area and opened the book. She placed her textbooks and bags on the seat next to her creating a buffer from any unwanted company. She was transported right away to the hot tropical climate of Bermuda and in her mind she became Kay the spirited hotel manager who just can't stand the bossy new owner and CEO of the hotel chain, who she was of course wildly attracted to. Bella sat there in the corner reading and smiling and unaware of her surroundings. She did not see the many male (and female) glances that were sent in her direction.
Her long legs curled up under her. Her comfy yoga pants slouched lower and her stretchy halter top drifted upwards to reveal the smooth skin of her midriff. The delicate pink and red lotus flower tattoo on her hip blade peeked tantalizingly over the waistband, beckoning the viewer to wonder about what else was under there. She was not even slightly athletic, her body was definitely curvy. She was five-six and a healthy size six. Her long thick brown hair was braided over her right shoulder down to her waist, her straight bangs framed her pretty face, and a line of hooped earrings dangled from her left earlobe.
Had she been able to see herself as others saw her, she would have seen a gorgeous creature. Her mahogany hair and amber-colored almond- shaped eyes; skin that is golden and glowing with health. She inherited that golden glow and her straight dark hair from her mother's family who were Choctaw and French Creole. She inherited her light golden eyes from her father who was family were French Canadian. Her nose tilted up and caused her upper lip to appear pouty, enticing many to want to explore more. Her lips were very full and soft. All in all the word which best described Bella was "erotic."
Bella, of course, had no idea how much attention she was attracting, just sitting there reading in the quiet space she had made for herself. She sometimes stretched her arms out and craned her neck to see the board, or check the clock but always returned to her novel. But many passersby noticed the attractive young woman who was in a world of her own.
One traveler in particular was determined to jar her out of her world and into his. He knew his flight would connect with an incoming flight that was already delayed and he wanted to sit down and chat with this beautiful stranger. He sat on the seat next to her bag and leaned over.
"Hello again" he greeted her. She glanced up and he could see her wide amber eyes.
"I said hello again, we ran into each other a little while ago." he repeated.
"I don't think so." she shook her head. She would have definitely remembered meeting this guy. Not only was he huge, well over six feet, but he was unbelievably handsome. His light grey eyes were all the more striking because his skin was tanned. Nope, there was no way she had ever seen this guy before. Nervously she re- opened her book and started reading.
Edward wasn't used to this. Usually women looked for opportunities to talk to him and if he made an overture they always tried to engage him in further talk. He decided to press on.
"Hello," She looked up again and their eyes met and held. "We did just meet, I'm the passenger in the limo you just hit."
"You mean the limo that hit me?" She countered.
"That's not how I saw it, as a matter of fact I have a backache." He reached down and rubbed the small of his back and grimaced in pretend pain.
"Oh geeze, you're joking, I hope." Bella felt sure he was teasing, but was more than a little concerned that the passenger would want to sue her.
"Yeah, I am." He smiled. "Where are you heading?" he asked.
"Sorry?" She couldn't follow his question she was still wondering if she was going to have to pony up some money.
"I asked if you are heading home?" He smiled to reveal quite a nice set of teeth and a deep cleft in his left cheek. His wayward bronze hair was temptingly touchable with just a touch of grey at the temples and his grey eyes were inquisitive, he was beyond beautiful. Bella frowned a little as she wondered why he was bothering to talk to her, a lowly mortal.
"No. I live here."
"Here in San Jose?"
"Mmmhmm", she smiled. She didn't want to give too much information away. She was in an airport after all, who knows who this guy was.
Now that's better he thought to himself, she's smiling. "So you live in San Jose?'
"Well, not really San Jose. The Bay Area." Again she was being evasive.
"Well, I live in Berkeley." He offered. Courtesy of the limo driver, he knew where she lived, her exact address in fact; but he offered this info, hoping to get her to open up and tell him a little about herself.
"Really? So do I." She responded. She looked at him more warmly. She smiled wider.
"Well, it seems as though we have something in common." Edward said. "Were you born there or are you a transplant like me.
"Oh, I'm Berkeley, born and bred. I'm blessed." She smiled.
"You know, I think I've seen you before the limo incident…" He was about to say something else but she interrupted him with a scornful laugh before he could continue.
"Are you trying to pick me up?" He could tell that she was annoyed.
He changed the subject. "So, where are you heading, vacation?" he asked.
"No, I'm just waiting for someone."
"Aaaah. The protective boyfriend?"
"No," she paused, "the girlfriend." She said with sarcastic emphasis, indicating a relationship that was more than just friendly. Then she returned to her book. "I can't believe this, he is trying to pick me up at the airport! And he looks a little old too, I could be his daughter."
He was quiet for a long time. She looked up after a few minutes and saw that he was staring at her with a slight smile. He seemed to be laughing at her.
"Is there something else?" She asked.
"Not really." he responded. "I was just thinking." He still had a slight smile on his face.
Bella knew exactly what he was thinking. It didn't take much to figure out that he was thinking of her and another woman making love and imagining himself in the fantasy. Men are so predictable. "Why don't you tell me what you're thinking?" she pursed her lips and rolled her eyes.
"Just wondering why someone with a "girlfriend" would be reading and enjoying a romance novel about a man and a woman, that's all". He asked with a little laugh in his voice as he indicated her choice of reading material. Busted.
"Maybe I want to see how the other half lives." She replied suggestively.
"I can show you how the other half lives, if you want." His voice was low and even more suggestive.
Bella almost swallowed her tongue. Her heart started to pound. He was looking directly into her eyes, and very seriously, no more light flirting. She was stunned by his bold come on. Her mind started to click and she went on the offensive. This guy had to be at least forty years old. But still, the way he said it so quietly got her all nervous.
"You know what? I think you're a little too old for me." She said rudely.
"Age is just a number, plus I would guess your age to be about twenty. Old enough."
"Good guess, but still way too young for you." Bella liked bantering with him despite his forwardness. She inwardly wondered if this guy was a mind reader. He had hit it on the button. "Why twenty and not nineteen, or twenty-one or even twenty-three?"
"Just a good guess. You're a horse and I'm a snake."
"I bet you are!" That one slipped out.
He laughed. "I mean that I was born in the year of the snake. And you know what they say about the snakes and horses." He leaned in and challenged.
Bella shook her head and swallowed, overwhelmed by his sudden nearness. "No, what?" she whispered.
He stared at her lips and breathed. "Together we're like tigers in the bedroom." His eyes lifted to hers and she knew he could be very dangerous to her peace of mind. "So, you see, we have too much in common to never meet again. Here's my card, give me a call."
Bella's heart started to pound, this guy was bold. She shook her head and refused to take the card. "I don't think so. And anyway, at thirty-four don't you think you're a little too old for me?"
"Thirty – three." he corrected her. "I'll be thirty-four in October. And I don't think I'm too old. And neither do you." He smiled at her. "Anyway, I have to catch my flight, but it was really nice talking to you. I'll see you around -in Berkeley." And he picked up his bags and walked away. Bella stared after him as he left. He had a nice, solid, muscular body, wide shouldered and very tall. He moved with graceful ease down to the gate.
Almost immediately after he left, Bella started to feel ashamed of calling him old. She felt a little sorry that she had been so difficult and rude and for no reason at all, except that he made her nervous. Sure he was trying to talk to her, she said to herself, but that's no crime is it? He probably just wanted to pass the time.
She'd lost interest in her romance novel and stared at the clock. For the last few months she had become an expert at keeping men away. She rethought the conversation and saw that it could have gone another way. She could have been pleasant. She made up her mind there and then to be more open to the possibilities of life and to let things flow.
Alice's plane finally landed and Bella went to the baggage claim to meet her sister. Alice was laughing and talking to a good-looking guy as they waited for the carousel to start. Bella observed her from far away. Alice had no problems letting things flow. Alice with her green eyes and her short curly caramel brown hair looked every bit the fun-loving woman that Bella longed to be. Alice was older and wiser since she had lost her husband of just eight months to the ongoing conflict in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Alice knew what Bella didn't, life is short and if you don't let life happen it won't. Her greatest regret is that it took so long for her and Mike to get together because she had her eye on her unattainable boss and her career. If she had just let it flow she and Mike would have had a lot longer than just eight short months.
"Hi, sweetie." Alice greeted Bella with a kiss on the cheek. " Bella, this is Emmett. I ran into him on the plane and he lives in Berkeley. I promised him a lift." Bella eyed Emmett suspiciously but shook his hand.
"Hey, how are you?" Emmett smiled.
"Good, how are you?" Bella smiled.
"Could you excuse us for a sec?" Bella asked Emmett and grabbed her sister by the arm and pulled her a few feet away. "How do you know this guy isn't a crackpot. Are you freaking nuts? He could be giving you an alias and he probably doesn't even live in Berkeley."
"Bella." Alice sighed. " What do you take me for? A fool? He is a professor of engineering at Cal and he is Jasper's brother-in-law."
"Jasper Hale, you know, my boss."
"Oh, why didn't you say so?"
"You didn't give me a chance before you started calling me names."
"Sorry. I just worry about you, you're too friendly. But you're right, I need to lighten up." Bella told herself and went to help get the bags.