Title:An Ode to Love
Summary: She goes through life learning about love, only to discover the most valuable fact when life seems to unworthy of it. A story about finding yourself and your worth.
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer gave me the sand; I just added water to the mix.
Warning: Lemons - Angst
What I know of love cannot fill books, and it certainly cannot dispute Neruda or Shakespeare. But I do know something. Five things to be exact;
These are things I know of love, purely because I've lived to see them and to experience them.
But now though, there is a sixth thing that I just don't know how to decipher.
So I look into her deep green eyes, trying to figure out what the hell she's saying, because it's not making any sense to me at all.
"Can't you just tell me how you really feel?"
I look away now. Anywhere but her. The floor. The wall. The bed.
Shit, no, not there.
"Alice, please look at me."
"I have to go now."
And I flee the room.
I flee away from the person who is teaching me the sixth thing there is to know about love.
I'm afraid of it.
Afraid what it will mean for my future.
I walk down the hall, following a large lady who, frankly, scares me to death, but I dare not say anything about her monstrous size or the foul odor oozing from the spot of sweat forming on her lower back.
So I breathe with my mouth and do that trick with my nose my mom taught me when I was learning how to swim; I close it all by myself, no use of hands. Neither do I look anywhere but the floor. I hear her sneakers on the linoleum, yet my bright pink ballet flats make no sound.
I go by, unnoticed.
The classroom is loud and in a frenzy of children all over the place; books, pencils, snot, tears, mud. Mud is on the shoes stacked away against the wall, and my mom has packed me a rain coat for the pending rain that is to come. She's smart like that, and I love her for protecting me.
If only she'll protect me when I crave it the most.
The fat lady turns me over to a woman with a friendly smile and tired eyes, and I sit quietly down on my chair while the other kids enjoy their hour of homeroom – before we are all forced to endure math, and English, and P.E. Well, we all smiles at the jumping jacks except for one, who eyes me curiously when I defeat the monster yet again.
Her hair is in pig-tails, tied with red bands on the ends, and she looks slightly like a cowgirl. But the flannel shirt is too boyish, and none of the other girls is dressed like a boy. Me especially: pink from head to toe. She stands out from the crowd, and stands alone on the side, watching everyone around her with a pout and sad eyes.
During lunch she sits alone, yet I on my first day am surrounded by boys and girls asking questions. Curious children galore.
I'm from Chicago.
I live with my mom and her husband.
But there it ends, because their attention is drawn to the rain that suddenly falls outside, and they groan simultaneously. I step to the side when the clock rings, and my mother isn't here to pick me up. Yellow buses leave; car doors slam shut and fade away down the road. The fat lady leaves too, surprisingly spearing me a sympathetic glance.
It's not that far to walk, it only took ten minutes by car to get here, so I trot off down the road.
Police sirens sound behind me, but I don't realize it's because of me before a cruiser pulls to stop just yards in front of me. A man steps out from the side and walks over to me, and I shiver. What did I do?
"Miss?" he asks through a thick mustache, but his voice is kind and trusting, and I find myself relaxing. "Would you like a ride home? It's not safe to be walking on the rode in this weather."
I follow him, and he lets me into the backseat of the cruiser. There are no bars like on the movies, and he is the only officer in the car. But the front seat is not vacant, in its place sits a girl with red bands on long pig-tails.
"Hi," I whisper, suddenly uncomfortable, and direct my greeting to the police man. "I'm Alice Brandon, I just moved here."
He smiles in the rear-view mirror, introducing himself as Chief Swan, and the girl is his daughter; Isabella. She says nothing, but smiles timidly before turning to watch the road. I buckle up, and we hit the road again. The Chief doesn't even ask me for directions, but drops me off right in front of my house.
I thank him and head off to the front door, only to realize he is hot on my tail.
"Harry, I'm home!" I call out when I open the front door, and sure enough, my step father comes out from the kitchen in an apron. Kiss the cook. It's so embarrassing, especially when he comes over to shake hands with his counterpart; a uniformed man with daily work.
Not that I don't like Harry, I do, but a man who stays home all day and works at a bar all night isn't exactly what I've pictured for my mother. I see the Chief, and I imagine him to be the perfect fit. I already know he's nice and caring. Then again, I've never seen my mother with anyone else, so I suppose Harry is a good choice; steady income, nice, caring.
"Now, I don't butt into other people's business, but I suggest you pick up your little girl here tomorrow; it's not safe for her to be walking outside in the rain on the main road."
"Yes, sir," he replies with a smile, that just lights up the room, although concern is etched in his eyes.
The next day I go to school with a sweater, provided by my mother. It's long sleeved, thick, and white, covering the blue on my arm. It hurts, but not from the pain caused by the hand pulling on my arm, but from the emotional pain caused by that someone I love has intentionally hurt me.
Weeks and months pass by, and I get a lot of sweaters. Who am I to argue with new clothes?
Then comes the day when life is defined, when the bruises are too hard and too many, and Isabella is having her birthday party outside on a rare sunny day. I forget, and the swimsuit I wear for the beach trip shows it all. Even the scrape on the back of my shoulder.
"Who did this to you, Alice?"
I can trust him, can't I? Chief Swan, Isabella's dad, and even his wife pull me away from the beach and talk to me calmly, reassuring me that I won't get in trouble. But that's the point, I know I will, because every time I do something wrong I am awarded with a new bruise.
"Charlie, let me talk to her." He leaves, and I am left alone with the beautiful mother of my new best friend. "Now, Alice, I know what you're going through, if this is what I think it is. I'm adopted you see, and I used to live in foster homes when I was your age. And I know it's not easy to be with new family and new people, but you have to remember that it's not your responsibility to keep them appeased. Happy, I mean. You don't have to lie for them.
"Now, Alice, tell me the truth, did your step father do this to you?"
I gasp, and look her straight in the eye. How can she think such a thing? Harry is amazing; he's a great cook and fun. He's grown on me since the wedding, and he is the greatest and the only father I've ever known.
"No, no. He hasn't touched me once."
And I tell nothing but the truth, yet I let out white lies; ones of omission.
"I'm really clumsy, like seriously, I fall all the time."
It is my word against their suspicions, and in the end I win. I think.
Mom doesn't pick me up, again, and I sit on the beach all alone until darkness falls and chills set in. I cry, salt water staining my cheeks, and I freeze so hard that night. All night, seeking refuge amongst trees, crying out at the sound of animals nearby.
I am a good daughter.
I am a good daughter.
Mommy, where are you?
They find me in the morning, with Harry front and center in the search brigade. He scoops me up, chanting, "I'm sorry. Oh darling, I am so - so sorry", and carries me home, wrapping me in warm blankets and soothing words. I feel his love, love of a father, and I embrace it fully for the first time.
By the end of the week, I live with Harry. My mother is away, not allowed to see me anymore, and it's not until I grow older that I realize she never really cared for me, knew me, or loved me. She loved meds, the idea of a perfect family, but at least one of her mistakes has made my life easier.
I have a father...someone who loves me and takes care of me...someone who drives me to school and picks me up...someone who keeps me fed and clothed and sane.
At school, no one notices the subtle change in my life, how I'm happier and more outgoing in social settings. No one, except for Isabella, who apologizes for not knowing. Such a silly thing to be sorry for. Such a sweet way to become best friends forever.
I like her.
I love her, my friend.
It's an exciting thing to begin a new era in life. There are new challenges, new heartaches, new laughs, and new loves. High School brings out all of these in such an innocent manner, that no one truly realizes just how deep it can cut, how harsh it can twist, and for how long it can stay.
Me and my best friend, Sweets, we enter this era with bright eyes and naïve minds.
Miniskirts to appear older.
Make–up to appear sexy.
Chucks to appear grounded.
As underclassmen we are nothing, yet we try to be everything. Me and Sweets, we go overboard to fit in with the crowd, dressing up as sheep in the flock; turning away those who stand out. We do not care for individuals, but the group is strong. We are girls, we are cute, and we are everything in our world.
But, with new eras also come new experiences, and new thoughts pop into my head. We watch R-rated movies, and mush over couples kissing on the screen, touching each other in places I have never even considered.
The mouth, is that not enough?
It's so sweet and cute.
Sweet, like Isabella.
But no, she insists we are meant for greater good and greater men, and greater kisses than Lauren Mallory has ever had; those with tongues, with seniors in the back of their cars on prom night, down at the beach, alone in her own rooms.
Of course, we don't dare to approach them, yet, they flock to us.
Maybe it's because I've finally filled out; owning my very own push-up bra that frankly makes it look like more than it is. Some days, when it's warm and we wear nothing but sleeveless shirts, I stuff paper down the cups, shaping them to be bigger. Lauren has talked about it in the changing rooms, although she also said she didn't have to.
Because Lauren Mallory has big ones.
They look soft, even sensual in the shower stalls. But I avert my glance so she won't see. It feels wrong to be watching her.
I don't dare to ask anyone.
Not even Eric – a senior! – wh4o asks me to prom at the end of my sophomore year. Isabella stays at home that night, sulking in her room, I'm sure. But I don't want to care today, because he is older and handsome and popular. Everything I am not. We take pictures for a proud Harry, and he drives his own car to school, linking his arm with mine.
Still it doesn't feel complete; it doesn't feel like I thought it would. Where are the jitters? The butterflies? The sweaty palms and nervousness? I don't feel any of it, only a sick sense of pride and victory that Eric has asked me and not Lauren, who I know for a fact likes him. Even writes his name in her notebooks.
I do that too, but I've always thought Isabella's name is nicer to write.
We end back at a hotel, and I don't say a thing when we enter the scruffy room; rose petals all over the bed and the light dimly lit Although it's cheap; it's romantic, like in the movies, but it still doesn't feel…right. His smile is nice, but so boyish. His face is so angled and scruffy, broad over his chest and hair just…everywhere!
He doesn't turn me on, and his kisses are just too rough.
I don't feel excited, while his junk is grounding into my thigh.
Nausea makes a lump in my throat when his hand goes to my breast.
First I panic about the paper towels that are still inside my bra, embarrassed that he'll get mad about it. Then, when his hand just ventures on, I realize he doesn't care about that simple detail, because he's trying for the full run. He plays baseball – he'll always go for the homerun. Which he does.
I'm not even…wet.
But he's hard, so at least someone enjoys it. But I know. I know sex is supposed to be good. Lauren Mallory says so. She says it's the best thing ever; that she came on her first time and every time after that. Lauren Mallory, with fine round breasts and long blonde hair…
I feel something change, thinking of her while being with him. His touches, although strange, cause something inside me, when he touches me there with his fingers, where Lauren says the boys are supposed to touch girls.
Sweet, sweet girls.
I think about her, about how she looks naked in the locker rooms, all innocent and small like me, slightly lanky and not so full, and I think about how she makes me feel.
Combined, those thoughts and those touches, I feel good.
Of course, he pushes in and good is gone, replaced with bad, and hurt, and blood. I cry, but he offers no comfort once the deed is done. Just a "thanks" and a ride home, where I trail stealthily to my room without waking Harry, and cry myself to sleep.
That summer, I don't do much, hell I hardly even live. Sure, I wake up, eat, join Harry for fishing, but I don't return Isabella's calls, and never join in on the fun. How pitiful it is, but I don't feel like being a part of the world.
Because in my head there are thoughts so terrifying, so earth shaking, so defining, that to speak them out loud would shock the world. Well, at least it would shock my friends and family. You see, during my first time, my night with Eric, I discovered something about myself that stills me.
I thought of girls and it almost got me off.
Thinking of Eric – well, any boy – gives me no pleasure. Nothing except for shivers. Bad shivers.
Girls – good.
Boys – bad.
The realization of my thoughts startles me.
Is that what I am?
I feel real, I feel open, I feel excitement tingling between my legs when I see movies and replace the actors with myself and Sweets, my mind playing out our roles perfectly erotically. So alone, in my room I bring myself pleasure exceeding anything Eric evoked in me months ago.
So yes, I know.
It sounds so clinical, so cold and harsh in my ears, and I realize that is the word people will connect me with, and suddenly my stomach curls and empties with nerves. They are much delayed, and it all just comes up, stress and fretting taking up the hollow space inside.
All this keeps me up at night, with my eyes wide awake and tears streaming down my cheeks. Days creep like snails, the clock takes two steps back with every one step forward. Creeping. Torturing. Nagging. I can't even tell them apart.
Harry gives me money for new clothes, patting me on the back with a smile and saying I need a fresh start. So I hug him, because he has noticed that I'm different, when I thought he just looked right through me. For so long, he has been Harry, and now he is my father.
"Thank you, daddy" I grin, and he has never smiled so bright.
Still, I can only placate so many people, and in my antisocial state over the summer I have neglected the one person I truly care about; Sweets. Isabella. She has changed, turned into a full bodied woman with fuller breasts, long legs, and strong arms. Different, but oh, so much more perfect. Which I love, and lust after for weeks and weeks into the year, until I finally find the courage to approach her, with nervous hands and a half-ass apology that doesn't cover half of the shit I've put her through.
How many calls have I not missed?
How many messages have I not returned?
How many waves, glances, and shouts have I now ignored?
She is the best, she is angelic, and she lets me back in with open arms and a warm heart.
But this new era, this new stage of life, brings along something I never once thought of.
Once a wallflower, never even a fleeting thought in our minds; now a full on man with muscles and charm and good looks. Not to mention manners; of course that is a given when his father is a doctor, then you just have to be the best of the best. Which he is, in every class he attends and aces; creating the picture perfect object of Isabella's infatuation.
Her crush. Her first kiss. Her first date.
They smile. They walk down the halls with hands intertwined and swinging between them, laughing and looking at each other with such adoration and affection that it breaks my heart to see them so openly happy. Because I know, in my heart, that I can never look at Isabella the same way, and never expect the same look in return.
Reciprocation, highly doubtful.
Two years pass by, as do our last years in High School and Forks, surrounded by bigoted minds, and I stand by her side and act as the perfect best friend, taking every call in the middle of the night with news of amazing extravaganzas Edward has taken her to. I advice her on anniversary presents, Valentine's, his birthday, their first time. When she gets bold enough to ask me about lingerie for their night, I tell her white; because he is not the only one who appreciates the way it contrasts slightly against her fair skin and makes it glow, seeing her as an angel.
I don't cry, I try not to feel anger, but that night I flip.
"Mhmm?" I mumble, because it's two am and I'm sleeping, yet she sounds so alert.
"Alice, I need to talk to you."
"Hmm? Oh, yeah, I'm here," I yawned, "talk to me, Sweets."
So she tells me every single detail, from the minute she stepped into his parent-free house, to the dinner he had cooked for her, to the kisses, to the gentle touches on her legs. They have done things before – I know this because she's told me – but she has never gone so explicitly into detail. I want to hate her for it, but instead I direct my hate towards him.
Because he gets to have her, touch her like she wants and needs.
Because he can love her without shame or secrecy.
I hate him, but I stand by her side because I love her.
I really, really love her.
Maid of Unholy Honor
Isabella calls me up while I'm still in class, and after a decade knowing her it still feels shitty to put her on hold, to ignore her call. But Professor Richard Gerandy is not a man to interrupt. You don't cross him. You don't disappoint him. And by hell, you do not make him lose his trail during a lecture. He is, in every aspect of the word, a genius.
About understanding the fundamentals.
About realizing the effect this has on literature.
We have passed Shakespeare – something which ended in a fifteen pages long paper that scrutinized the playwright's irrational infatuation with true love that becomes eternal in the short span of three days – and have now moved on to more passionate lovers; Pablo Neruda. I got an A on my paper about Romeo & Juliet, but in his notes the Professor did note me to be a cynic, suggesting that I should be more open to the possibility of grand love. But I digress.
The class ends as always, with a quote from a famous writer, urging us to be happy and to explore, and he packs up his things faster than any of the students. Still, he stays for questions, answering every single one of them to the best of his ability.
I don't ask anything, though I really want to ask him a question if Neruda was portraying a selfish possessiveness in "Love One". I am, after all, a cynic.
All that is mine, my dear,
When you walk or rest,
When you sing or sleep,
When you suffer or dream.
Yet I rush past them all, out to the quad and the bright blue sky. "Hi Isabella, what's up?"
"Hi Alice!" she cheers over the phone, and my heart rests. "Okay, so, listen up, I need you to come over for dinner tonight. And no, I'm not cooking. Do you remember Jessica Stanley from Home Ec. in High School? Well guess what, she's coming over for drinks – and cooking, mind you – and you just have to come!"
I can't say no to her optimism, and I'm not one to pass up on a free meal. Anything is better than the cafeteria food I get with my school stamp card. Fine, it's partially free, but still. No, I take that back, I'll eat college food or even my roommate's cold noodles over Isabella's cooking.
I love her to pieces, but her food is to die for. Literally.
"Sure, sweets," I laugh and rush to my dorm. "But why Sticky Stan… Sorry, why is she coming over?" She laughs at the mention of her dinner guest's old nickname and though I know how hurtful they can be, it's still hard to forget the incident when Jessica had been 'occupied' in a closet with a girl…
Yes, a girl.
And still I name her something so bigoted.
In a way, am I not naming myself?
"Didn't you hear? She got in at Le Cordon Blu in Texas! And…oh, shit…I'll tell you later," she rushes over a blip of almost spilling something she's not supposed to, and hangs up quickly afterwards. But I will be there at six o'clock, just as I've promised.
Makenna, my roommate, is sleeping on her bed when I get inside, even though it's only four in the afternoon. Thankfully, for me, she spends most of her time in bed. Well, when she's here she sleeps, what she does in other people's beds is none of my business. Although she tries to make it my business.
He was sooo good, like, he had this trick with his fingers that…
Then he looks at me right, and calls for his friend, and you know I'm all up for…
It's not like I really liked it, besides I didn't have to touch her at all, he did all the work…
I so didn't expect it, like at all, but after I was stretched it felt kinda good and…
Like I said, none of my business, and most of the time I try to block her out, but she's loud and proud about her sexual endeavors. When she's not telling me about hers, though, she's asking about the lack of mine – sexuality, that is. So in the end I urge her on to tell me about her nights in the frat houses and sorority parties, all to avoid the topic of my non-existent sex life.
When I get out of the shower, she's awake and rubbing her eyes from sleep, probably just waking up from the night before. Even though that was Thursday, and the best parties are held on Fridays. So she tells me. Frankly I'm surprised she's here, and not in someone else's bed.
Maybe she didn't score.
Unlikely. Men gravitate towards women who exude horniness.
Like they can smell the moisture from between their legs.
Long, sensual legs, leading up to…
I shake my head from the thought, then get back to getting dressed. When I button close my jeans, I notice Makenna staring at me. Not at my face, like she can hear my thoughts, but at my hip. I turn away, flushed, and throw on a shirt.
I hope it's clean. I didn't get a chance to sniff it.
Meh, no stains. Acceptable.
"When did you get that tattoo?" she asks and rises from the bed. "I want to see. Come on, pull up your shirt."
I ignore her and grab my purse, although my hair is still damp and my makeup is in the drawer, I intend to leave as soon as possible. But she doesn't let me, and Makenna blocks the door with arms that are toned and strong.
"Come on, Alice, don't you want to show it off?" she sneers and nudges my shoulder. Harder. Harder. Until it's a full on push and I'm on the floor, with her straddling my legs, her weight keeping me down. Her hands cover my wrists, and I struggle to get out, but I'm useless.
Her breath is heavy and so close to my face, fanning across imperfections and grazing my hair. I've never noticed that her eyes are deep brown, very much like Isabella's. The thought makes me freeze, and I stop, and she stops, and she closes in. Her eyes don't leave mine, but I can still see her mouth curving up in a menacing grin.
She has me.
Her mouth is warm and moist against mine, and I push my head up to get closer. I want this, I want to feel this, and I want her tongue in my mouth. Her hands leave my wrists, and travel down my arms. Bare from the shoulder down, the fine hair raises.
I try to get more.
Then I hear shredding, and my front is exposed, my breathing is harsh, and my eyes are lost. She's sitting again, a glint in her eye that scares me although she really is pretty. And hot, especially when she's acting so dominating.
I never knew I liked that kind of thing.
Her hand traces the outline of the ink. "A Nautical star. Well, well, Alice, unless you recently joined the Navy, I'd say you're a dyke."
I wince. But I don't answer, and I don't meet her eyes. They are too much like hers and to connect those eyes with these words will render me broken.
She leaves abruptly, while I am still on the floor, crying.
I'm so confused.
She kissed me.
I kissed her back.
Such a hurtful word, and so confusing – she did kiss me after all, and I know for a fact that she has been with a girl. But she said it was disgusting, the threesome, yet she kisses me. Or is this her way of getting the full college experience? They do say it's the time to explore…
Arriving at Isabella's apartment, I still look like a mess, but she ushers me in without noticing and re-introduces me to Jessica, who smiles kindly but it is unfocused. Her eyes drift to Isabella when she turns around – her jeans a tight fit which I love – and I just know that Stanley is Sticky really. The name was given when Mike Newton walked in on her and an unknown girl doing the nasty in his bedroom. Sticky – from the other girl's juices that stuck to her hand, the hand she didn't get to wash before rushing out.
The door handle was sticky when she left.
We eat an incredible meal, all prepared by Jessica, and I wonder just how long she's been cooking in this kitchen today. I only got a two hour notice, yet a stranger is allowed in for hours? A stranger who obviously looks at Isabella the way I secretly do.
"So, sweets," I begin through a mouthful of Tiramisu – God this woman can cook! - "What's the occasion? Not that I don't appreciate the invitation, the food is incredible, Jessica, but this seems a little extravagant for an everyday get-together. Sweets?"
She blushes, and moves her hair away from the back of her neck, and reach to unclasp the necklace around her neck. It has been hidden under her top all night, and I have paid no attention to it before now.
It dangles from her hand, as she keeps it up, and something circular is hanging on the end. She places it in my hand, grinning widely and happier than I've ever seen before. It hurts, to see her this happy – when I am not the cause, or able to revel in her joy.
"It was so romantic, Alice. I've never felt so love in my entire life. He even went down on one knee, and oh, he said he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me!"
It's a ring.
Fifteen karats. Nothing too fancy, just a single diamond on a silver band.
Just like her.
There is rustling in the hallway, and she rushes over to throw herself in Edward's arms. I wipe my cheeks, realizing I've been crying. They both smile, mistaking them for tears of joy. Jessica is the only one who seems indifferent, although she looks at me instead of the happy couple.
"Isn't it wonderful?" Isabella asks, joy written all over her face.
"When?" I manage to utter.
"When he proposed? Oh, on Sunday, on our anniversary. It was so romantic! We…"
"No, when is the wedding?"
Her face halts, and glance up at her lover…fiancé…husband to be. "We're thinking summer. July."
The Chief will never allow this!
But I have no choice but to congratulate and laugh with them, aaawww-ing and oooh-ing at all the right places. Their favorite restaurant. Ring in the champagne glass. Down on one knee. The entire facility watching the proposal, erupting into cheers and applause at the immediate "I will, I will, I will, I will. God, Edward, yes."
"Oh, Alice, don't you cry," she laughs, brushing away my tears; standing so close and caringly. "Don't waste your tears on this. After all, you can't cry for the next half year every time we announce everything about the wedding."
"What do you mean?"
"Why, Alice, who do you think is going to be my maid of honor? There is no one else in this entire world I'd rather have by my side when I say I do."
There is no one I'd rather have on my side either. Unfortunately I'll be standing on the wrong side. The left side. Not the right side.
"I'd love to." Lie.
I spew them off like nobody's business, and they all swallow it whole with not a care in the world, all too happy with the new happy couple, and their impending happily-ever-after.
I leave the apartment, and though I should be happy; I can't make myself to be.
I leave Isabella's apartment.
Their place; Edward's and Isabella's.
And I am not a part of them.
Neither am I a part of Makenna, who has already moved out from our room when I return, just four hours since I left. A note on my bed, I don't do dykes, and the dorm's "den mother" knocking on the door just five minutes after my arrival, explaining that Makenna – though not using her explicit words – has decided to change to a single room. Daddy pays.
My new roommate rarely comes by, and I'm shocked at the end of term when she shows up with her parents to collect her things for the summer.
In a month, it's Isabella's and Edward's time to get hitched. It's seems too fast, to get married, so soon after just a few months of preparations, but everything falls easily into place; the decorations handled by her mother's floral shop, the catering fixed by Jessica, using the Cullen property for the reception, and the gown found on discount at Forks Bridal Shop.
It's just so perfect, yet my smile is fake.
I don't want her to get married, and though her father shares the same opinion, there is no discussion on the matter. They are in love, and determined to get married. In June, Isabella seems extra nervous and keen to get it over with; there are just two weeks left until the big day.
We go to a spa, her closest friends and I, in Seattle, and the weekend is spent on pampering. Massages by petit women, oils that cover our every inch and relaxes us into mud baths, baring our feet and hands to those who know just how to make them look spectacular. And as an extra special surprise for Isabella, we lure her in for a full wax.
Edward should thank me.
He should kiss my feet.
He should understand just how much pain I'm putting myself through so that she can be happy – with him – when all I want is for her to suddenly drop everything and run off with me.
It's all silly thoughts, but they harbor a big place in my hopes and dreams.
The last night, we decide to end our girl tour with a last hurrah, celebrating her last real night as a free woman, until marriage grounds her and makes her boring. Jessica's words, of course, who is very anti marriage of any sort – gay and straight. But no one touches the subject of her sexuality, because it's hush-hush, even now. Even when college is almost over and experience should have taught us more about acceptance.
Drinks go around the table, champagne is flowing, and the chatter is all over the place, topics shifting so fast it makes my head spin. I've never actually been around these many women at once, and it makes me uncomfortable that half of them are people I'd consider taking with me to my room – all curves and legs – but I stay next to Isabella, on her left, talking to her about the old days.
When we were just us, and there was nobody else.
Just friendship and love.
"Don't you like the champagne, Isabella?" I ask after a while, realizing her glass remains untouched when others have been refilled multiple times.
She shrugs. "I don't really feel like drinking." And I drop the subject with a curious glance, coughing up a joke of a memory from when alcohol was such a grand and exhilarating adventure.
Then the day comes, and I stand in front of a full length mirror in the Church, turning from side to side to see if anything sticks out. Is it a sin to think about panty-lines in the house of God? Oh to hell with it, according to most people here, I am sin.
But I stand tall.
But in secret, smoothing my hands over my hips to flatten out where I've let out.
The Freshman Fifteen stays put.
I blame it on ass and hips and breast.
The red dress looks good though, and the three inches on my feet make me appear taller than I truly am, and my hair falls in curls to grace my shoulders.
I spin around on my heel, almost loosing balance, and find Edward in the doorway looking at me with furrowed brows and his hands behind his back.
"Can you give this to Bella?" He's the only one who calls her that, his own endearment for her beauty. "When she's alone. But, it has to be before. Please?"
The blue box he leaves with me taunts me on the dresser, just asking to be opened. My hands refrain, only holding it as I walk across the hall to Isabella, who fortunately sits alone. Just as Edward hoped. Her back is facing me, covered in white, and her hair is up with pins and fastened with spray that shines in the fluorescent lights.
She sighs, and twists her body to me, and I see the paleness there – the distraught eyes and the small strike of sweat on her forehead. She looks so sick, and I hold her tight when the water works open. Thankfully she has no make-up on her face.
For a moment, I let my hope spiral up, thinking irrationally that she wants the wedding to be stopped. To go away, with me. To love…me.
"What's wrong. Isabella, please, tell me."
Snot and grime, that is the only response I get.
What other solution do I have, than to give her Edward's gift?
"Here, open this. It's from Edward."
"It is?" Of course, just the bare mention of her name lights up her face, and she already looks ten times better. She reaches for it quickly, and opens it with a smile and then new tears are flowing. In her hand, there is a golden locket, open, and I can vaguely see a picture on one side. She shows it to me, and it is them, a small portrait where they stand so close – not only in body but in soul – and now I am crying.
I'll have to redo my face after this, quickly, as the clock nears twelve.
"Flip it over," she tells me, and I do. Inscription, We love you, always.
"I don't understand."
"Inside of it, Alice, there's meant to be another picture."
I swallow thickly, but she never sees the tears that shred up my heart slowly, scorching my soul painfully.
By the altar, when I've walked up that aisle, my gaze never leaves as she ascends past the filled rows of people there to honor their union. Her face is glowing, now covered with concealer to hide those puffy red cheeks. Diamonds adorn her chest and waist, the white garment fills out and flows behind her, skirting her legs. Lilies and white roses wrapped with white band fill her clutching hands.
In the corner of the Church there is a beautiful harp playing alongside a violin, and for a split second as a beautiful woman sings out, I catch sight of blonde hair and a black dress.
Then Isabella's smile is accompanied by Edward's, who never takes his eyes off of her either, taking her hand and kissing it when the Chief reluctantly hands her over, in front of God, for holy matrimony.
My last shred of hope dies when the ring slips on her finger easily, and my heart is ripped into a thousand pieces when she says "I do".
Glanced by Glaze
The reception truly is beautiful, just as the house itself. Old, traditional, fabulous, their house is a white and light summer celebration of love. Outside is a party tent, hovering over circular tables, a wooden floor, and the long table where the bride, the maids, and the parents sit smiling.
I don't care.
I'm taking full advantage of the free bar on the porch, downing shots and vodka like it's water, and even on a full stomach I fall easily off my game and into a drunken stupor. I remain on the stool watching their first dance together on the floor.
Their first dance, a soft waltz, is accompanied by the same lilting voice from Church, and I see the blonde in black sitting by the piano, playing with her eyes closed, with the violinist – a blonde man in a tux –equally lost in the music. Soft tunes play out, the harmony in the chords and her voice chills me, tearing me up, because it's so beautiful to listen to.
When I close my eyes and focus only on the music, the wedding and the bride I've wanted for so long all fades away for a minute or two.
The song ends, more couples join the floor, and it's a sea of happiness and love, and I turn my back to them, focusing on the bar in front of me, and the very helpful barman who pours my drinks just the way I like it.
More Captain Morgan than Coca Cola in my rum and coke.
Fifty-fifty leaning on sixty-forty.
"They're beautiful, aren't they?"
I startle, looking beside me to see the violinist standing there with a wide smile and his body angled towards me and the dance floor. The bow-tie around his neck has been loosened, and the straps hang loosely down his front and unbuttoned jacket.
He's good looking, no doubt about it, but he is really not my type.
"Care to dance?"
Again, I'm startled, confused by what's going on around me, and can't place the new voice behind me. It's a woman, a deep sensual voice of a grown woman, and I can already picture her as beautiful, and I'll have no qualms about turning this 'Jasper' over to her.
"Yeah, Rosalie?" he asks over my head. "What's wrong? You look shaken up."
"Oh nothing," she replies, not very convincingly, but I keep my shoulders slouched and nurse my drink. "It's just that I think someone knocked over your violin-case back there. You might wanna go check it out."
He's off like a bat out of hell, but I don't care.
I feel the woman next to me though, taking over his seat, so I finally turn my head to look at her. By God, beautiful was not the right word at all. With long blonde curls flowing past her shoulders by several inches her face is lit up by the halo of her curls, and the light make-up on her face only serves to emphasize her natural beauty. Looking further down, the black dress she wears highlights her full cleavage, the triangles of fabric grazing over her firm full breasts. My gaze trails down to take in her shapely waist and flat toned stomach. She's not like Isabella, not by a long shot – but tall, broad, full, curvy. Voluptuous.
Older than me, by the looks of it.
But her smile makes her look so young, so carefree and natural.
"Did my brother bother you? I'm sorry about him; he seems to go after the girls who don't give him the time of day. He takes the whole "girls who ignore you, really like you"-stuff too seriously. I'm Rosalie, by the way, Edward's cousin."
"Alice. Maid of honor."
"I know," she half-giggles, "I was with you guys at the spa. Don't you remember?"
I quirk my brows together, trying to place her in my mind, but nothing comes up. She is nothing but a stranger to me. "I'm sorry, no. I've been a little preoccupied lately. My thoughts…" I ramble off, smothering the ending into my glass.
She buys me another drink, and another, and an hour later when all the small kids have left and the reception is nearing its end, I've sat and listened to her talk endlessly while keeping my eyes on the married couple. Sneering, sometimes, but causing me to drink more and more.
Everything is a blur after that, and how I end up in a bed I do not know, but I pass out on soft sheets in my dress and heels.
In the middle of the night I gasp as I wake, my mouth completely dry and feeling like sandpaper.
"Here, drink this."
I take the glass of water, chugging it like it's the last drops on earth.
Swiping my mouth and handing the glass back, I mumble a "thank you", until realizing someone is actually with me in the room.
"Where am I?"
"My hotel room. I didn't know where you lived and there was no one else there to take you. I hope you don't mind."
I don't, at all, because I see how she looks at me with hooded eyes and a slight cock to her head, her full lips drawn up to the side in a half shy, half seductive smile. And it's then that I make my decision, to make a move; because she is the opposite of everything that I love.
She is a real full bodied woman, while I have loved someone who, throughout my life, has been the only one for me, never aging in my mind, but remaining the sweet little girl who loved me innocently. Rosalie is real, but I love someone who never was.
She is willing, open, and here, while I love someone who's gone.
I crook my fingers for her to come closer, and she does so without question, stopping right in front of me where I sit on the bed. My head is leveled with her ample bosom, and I can't draw my eyes away, but my hands have other things in mind. They creep up wordlessly to her knees, drawing up slowly, inch by inch, to her hips, which I drag closer to me, until she falls. And I turn, so that she falls beside me and I can reach on top of her.
Still, she has said nothing, but her eyes scream for me to act.
Her hands are over her head, with golden locks strewn across, appearing as a halo. The zipper is easy to access, and even more easily pulled down, revealing more and more skin as it passes all the way down to her hips. We push it away together, our eyes locked until I can no more, and mine sweep across newly discovered deliciousness. Left in nothing but panties – black satin, nothing on her chest because her dress had no need for it – she is more than I have ever imagined.
Legs propped up on the sheets, feet flat on the mattress, thighs separated just slightly.
Chest heaving heavily, with tits perking and nipples rosy. Not plastic, but firm.
Stomach rising with each breath. Inhale, exhale. Rising, falling.
Excitement is obvious in her labored breathing, and mine is evident between my legs.
But I lie between hers, pushing them open with my hands, to cover her with myself, and hover above her head. I slip down, she inches up, and then her lips and mine are together. Chaste and smooth. Then urgent, wet, and tongues pressing together.
I don't know where they begin and end.
I don't know this about anything, once her hand reaches between us, to hike my dress to my waist and holding me in place.
And it's gone, lost somewhere in time and space, soon accompanied by her satin black and my rosy red. She is bare, except for a small patch just above – landing strip – and it's incredibly erotic, more so than anything I have ever seen before.
A hook-up here.
A one night stand there.
All faceless women I wouldn't give the time of day.
Never have I been so turned on, and I dive right in, my hands securing around her thighs; spreading them even more apart, and my tongue goes in for the kill. Her lips are drenched, and I slide up and down on them, my tongue in its own state of mind as it swipes up all that it can reach.
I work with vigor, even asserting my own moans into our frenzied acts.
Feeling her body around me, beneath me, under my control, it has me in a state I've never been before; where all I can think about, sense and feel, are her motions. How her thighs press around my head, her hands gripping tightly on my hair – pulling, pushing – and feeling the fine hair on her thighs stand alerted.
A fleeting thought – is she cold? – crosses my mind quickly, but a soft "Fuck" makes me forget, and I release one thigh to free my hand, and work it alongside my tongue. Teasing her entrance first, I press the pad of my index finger into her. Her clit tastes like heaven in my mouth, and I lick, suck, and do my best to hear her moans, grunts, and the sounds from the back of her throat gritting out "Yes!"
"Alice, Alice, please, oh god, yes!" she screams as her walls clamp down on my fingers when they stroke that sweet spot inside her, and my tongue laps up everything she gives me. She trembles, her thighs falling with a muffled thump on the mattress when I release her, and sit back on my heels to see her.
Legs spread apart.
Stomach rising and falling heavily.
Gasping for breath.
Moonlight shining in from the clear night sky outside, streaks of light illuminating the valley between her breasts, her navel, and one shimmer of light lighting up her face.
Cheeks flushed deep red.
Glowing all over.
It goes on for hours, and she gives me as much pleasure as I give to her. It's heaven and hell, because surely we have made a deal with the Devil to receive devices to pleasure each other this much. I come, she comes, we both exhale names and curses when frenzy overpowers us.
She lives in Seattle, surprisingly, so we see each other often – when we are forced to return to real life. But it's a good thing, because there in the big city we sit openly in cafés and restaurants, dressed up, clinking glasses and sharing desserts.
Days are spent with each other, and nights are no different.
A trip up to the Hamptons in the fall.
I've never been this content, and it frightens me to death.
Leafs change colors with the seasons, going from exuberant green to vast browns and fading orange. Pumpkins have been harvested and the nights of horror are spent in secret parties, dressed as secret lovers. That night, the best yet, was spent on the dresser in a co-workers bedroom, with her on top and a bright purple toy making us come simultaneously.
But now we are pilgrims, back with family, and friends, sharing a meal and thanking God for everything we have. Her hand squeezes mine beneath the white linen, and one corner of my mouth lifts up.
Alas, it is short lived once her brother approaches me again, more intoxicated this time, but we're in a social gathering and I don't stop him. She sees, the woman who shares my bed, sees me with a man who wants me in the same way. Fuck, her tears cause nightmares.
Five days after, she still hasn't picked up her phone.
Ten days after, she still doesn't answer her door.
Fifteen days of nightmare, and I collapse at work from lack of sleep.
A month has gone since the last time I've seen her and my heart is hollow. I can feel my soul draining of life. My skin is taut and transparent, and my bones feel heavy inside. This feeling of hurt and loss is worse than seeing Sweets share kissed with Edward, or hearing her laughter when he's a doofus, or see them getting tied forever.
It's worse than anything, even worse than when I see them walking hand in hand on a mall, her stomach pronounced and her skin glowing, with him tending to her and looking at her as if she's made of porcelain.
Before their wedding, before I met Rosalie, that image would have made me cry and my stomach twist, but now it doesn't. I stare blankly at them, frozen in spot, and I don't resent their love, no, I envy them.
Days and nights melt into one, and I lose count of the number of the bottles I consume each evening. One day I go out, because I need to see her in the club she always sings in, and she's wearing that same black dress with her hair in the same curls, but the tune has changed.
She's hurt, that much I can hear in her cracking voice.
Come to me now
And lay your hands over me
Even if it's a lie
Say it will be alright
And I shall believe
I'm broken in two
And I know you're on to me
That I only come home
When I'm so all alone
But I do believe
She doesn't see me, but her words still cut through me, and it feels so wrong, so bad. So devastating.
I bang with my fist, loudly and repeatedly, on her apartment door, begging her, one last time, to let me in. She opens, why I do not know, but she looks as bad as me. Socks on her feet, bathrobe still on even though it's past noon, and her hair is disheveled from disturbed sleep.
Although I am the one who has come to her, she is the one who speaks. But her words confuse me, they tear me, they make me feel what I have denied myself for so long. She has seen it in my eyes, commented on my self-hatred; wanting me to accept what I am. But I have shrugged it off, because the love she wanted me to feel for myself, I had poured into my feelings for her.
"Can't you just tell me how you really feel?"
I look away now. Anywhere but her. The floor. The wall. The bed.
I'm afraid to say the truth.
Shit, no, not there.
"Alice, please look at me."
"I have to go now."
And I flee the room.
I flee away from the person who is teaching me the sixth thing there is to know about love.
I'm afraid of it.
Afraid what it will mean for my future.
But she runs after me now, and I can hear her socked feet chasing after me down the stairs, before I am thrust into the door with force. And yet, I'm not afraid, because I know she doesn't intend to hurt me here.
"Look at me dammit," she seethes while turning me to her. Her face holds no malice, and despite her tone, tears run freely and heavily down full cheeks. "Don't run away from me. Don't do this just because you're afraid. Is it your precious Sweets that you fear so much? Do you really think she will disown you, that they will both turn you away because of this? No, they won't, because guess what; Edward has known about my preference for girls since I came out in College."
I say nothing.
"Is it, is it because of me?" she turns to sob, but keeps her eyes on me, searching my eyes for answers which she does not receive in my voice. Wide-eyed and tearful, I shake my head vigorously, saying "no". "Then what? Do I not give you what you want? Do I not kiss you the way you prefer? Tell me, Alice, please, what am I doing wrong?"
"Nothing," I squeak, because the doubt she holds in herself is too much for me to bear. "You are perfect, in every way possible. But don't you see? That's what's wrong, because I can't compare to you; because I am insignificant when you're around; because you deserve so much more than I can ever live to give you."
"Do you love me?"
"Do you trust me?"
"With everything I own."
"Will you leave me?"
"I will stay until you grow tired of me."
She sighs. "Then don't push me away. I care for you, so much, Alice. Can't you see that I will always be here for you?"
Yes, I see it, because her face holds truth I have never opened my eyes until now. Before, I was used to feeling nothing but love for someone else whose face never lit up in love for me. But now, after my heart has been broken and forced back together, I see that what I deserve is standing before me, in the sensual curves of a blonde goddess and the love she holds for me in her heart.
So I step forward, embracing her fists between our chests, and look up into her green vibrant eyes, full of adoration and hope, and hear her say, "As long as you'll have me, I'll be here, and I will hold so hard with all that I am."
Her smile brightens up my existence, which I have come to realize the end of the day revolves solely around her.
All I need to know
Three years later
We lie on the rumpled bed sheets, with our hands intertwined between us, keeping a hold of each other in the depths of night. She's sleepy now, with a sheen of sweat making her entire body glow in the dim moonlight shining in from the large window behind her. There, the stars are bright and shining – and here, we are exhausted and happy.
Two gowns, white, lain neatly in the chair in the corner; bobby pins and jewelry on the dresser, but our shoes have remained on, and there are marks in my ass from where she dug her nails into me, while my hand worked between us – both of us – with frenzy, lust, and craving.
Drunk as drunk on turpentine
From your open kisses,
Your wet body wedged
Between my wet body and the strake
Of our boat that is made of flowers,
Feasted, we guide it - our fingers
Like tallows adorned with yellow metal
Over the sky's hot rim,
The day's last breath in our sails.
Professor, I am a cynic no more.
I see the passion.
I see the truth.
Love is what we make it to be, love is what we make of it ourselves, how we see it and how we treat it, how we give it to others and how we choose to receive it. I once said this woman was everything I didn't want or not exactly what I craved, but I couldn't have been more wrong. 'Cause I know now, that love isn't about having a type; brunette, blonde, short, skinny, man or woman. It manifests itself just where there is a possibility for forever, where there is a chance.
All these are a part of trials of the heart, but in the end, there is only one thing I need to know.
All those things fade in comparison to reciprocation.
Love – I am loved, truly and fully, just like I love.