Summary: College roommates Leah and Rosalie despise each other, but could their personality clash be hiding deeper feelings? One night, two enemies will discover that desire is more powerful than hate.
Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns all publicly recognisable characters settings, etc, and the original plot was hers. No copyright infringement intended. I'm just playing with her girls and making them do things I doubt she'd approve of. Regretfully, I don't own them.
Warning: Brief, non-graphic reference to rape (nothing surprising, hint to canon).
The instant I met Rosalie Hale in our first week of college, I disliked her intensely. She was exactly the kind of girl I'd always hated at school – vapid, popular, a different guy on her arm every week. On that first day, she shoved past me in the line at orientation and thrust her ample cleavage at the skinny, pimply RA who was handing out the welcome packs so she could get hers first. He handed it over eagerly, caught like a rabbit in the headlights, and I let out a snort of disgust that was loud enough for her to hear. She wheeled to face me, her carefully-coiffed blonde hair swishing like she was in a shampoo commercial, but I met her gaze head on. I'd known too many girls like her to be fazed in the slightest by that steely look and frosty smile she flashed me as her eyes raked over me. With my hemp headband, Anti-Flag t-shirt and the vegan stickers and anarcho-punk patches all over my beat-up satchel, I knew I couldn't be further from her, and I merely grinned back as she sneered at me.
"Watch where you're going, princess," I told her coolly, before deftly nudging her to the side with my elbow so I could tell the RA my name and grab my own pack off the table. A little distance away, I ripped the envelope open and started skimming my class schedule, pleased to see I'd managed to get in to the Environmental Science class I wanted to take. Presently, I became aware there was someone nearby, and looked up to see the queue-jumping girl standing right beside me, tapping her manicured nails on the folder she was holding. She had a face like thunder, and when I smirked at her, her irritated frown only deepened.
"Why so glum? Didn't get on to Modelling 1-2-3?"
She rolled her eyes. "Hardly. I just thought I'd warn you, unless you want me to make things very hard for you around here, you'd better not talk to me like that again."
I snorted. "Was that a threat? It's not high school, blondie. You might find that it's harder to muster up a legion of adoring fans here."
"Were you always such a bitch, or did you really have to work at it?" she shot back, and I almost wanted to laugh. This chick gave as good as she got.
"If people are rude to me when they don't even know me, that tends to be my response. My bad, I guess I just don't like people very much."
"That's self-evident," she observed, shooting a disdainful gaze at my scruffy appearance.
"Look, I'd love to sit around all day comparing levels of bitchiness, but I actually have to go to my resident's introduction," I said abruptly, scrutinising the piece of paper that told me where I needed to be. "Let's just say you win."
"Run along," she muttered as she turned away and headed back over to a group of similar-looking girls. I ground my teeth in irritation, but resolved to forget about that stupid bitch.
Unbeknownst to me, that decision had been taken out of my hands. Later on, when we were shown to our rooms, I was dismayed to find that the "Rosalie Hale" on the list next to my name was the bitchy blonde I'd met on the quad earlier. It was fate's cruel joke that of all the thousands of students here, I'd end up with her. Obviously the resident's office hadn't matched us on interests or anything liked it claimed on the form. I inwardly groaned at the prospect of spending a whole year sharing a room with her.
Surprisingly, for the most part we managed to not kill each other, mostly by rarely being in the room at the same time. We kept to our own halves that we'd marked down the middle with the line and the thin curtains around our sleeping areas that indicated when we wanted to be left alone. Rosalie had her Channing Tatum posters on the wall and her role in the varsity cheerleading squad, while I covered my side with PETA leaflets and rock posters and volunteered part-time in the campus co-operative project. We made snide remarks to one another, but it didn't usually get any worse than that. There were even occasional moments where she surprised me for the better – like when I found out that she was majoring in Theoretical Physics. After finding that out, I almost respected her, but not quite. She was clearly smarter than she looked, and it was obvious that playing dumb was deliberate on her part.
Just weeks into the first semester, I'd already lost count of the number of meathead guys who'd knock at the door to pick her up for a date. I'd invariably end up opening it while she was busying herself something important like a curl of hair that wasn't quite right, and then I'd try to ignore it as she simpered at whatever guy it was. She was good, that was for sure – in seconds, any of those idiots looked like they'd won the lottery. In some ways, I didn't mind those nights, because it meant I had the room to myself when she spent the night at the guy's place. I had no idea how she dated all those guys as well as maintaining a high GPA. I might not have liked her, but she was certainly impressive. I struggled enough with my workload myself, and it wasn't as if I had a glittering social life. I was grateful for the several good friends I'd made from some of my classes, of course.
Rosalie was beautiful enough, I supposed, but she was never the type of girl I went for. It wasn't as if I had much to compare it to, but the only girl I'd ever been with was certainly very different from my statuesque blonde roommate. Rachel had been stunning, with the honeyed skin and coal-black hair that I possessed myself, except it looked far better on her. I was awkward, with my short hair and skinny limbs and hips that seemed too angular, but Rachel was all woman. Just thinking of her rounded hips, her soft breasts and the way her nipples felt when they were taut against my palm made my breath catch.
I'd known her for years, from when she used to babysit for my little brother Seth, but we'd never been close. But when I was sixteen, my world changed forever. After my father's sudden death from a heart attack, I withdrew completely, and my old school friends quickly dropped me. They probably wondered what had happened to the carefree Leah who laughed all the time. I still didn't know what had happened to her, really. At least in college I had friends, unlike those months I'd spent being a complete misanthrope after my dad died.
Perhaps it was just a standard rebellious reaction, but I'd cut off my hair, pierced my lip and nose in addition to the line of rings already in my ears and started listening to punk. Sometimes I'd drive out to a really remote stretch of road where it overlooked the cliffs, park my car, blast some Bikini Kill on the speakers so nobody could hear and scream at the top of my lungs. One day when I was walking on the beach alone, I bumped into Rachel, and unlike all the others who looked past me, she spoke to me kindly. After that, we became friends, and it gradually developed into something more. She brought me back from the brink, and despite the fact everyone we knew was surprised by our relationship, they quickly saw how much happiness it brought me and didn't stand in our way.
Sticky kisses after ice creams on First Beach and holding hands while watching the waves crash against the cliffs at sunset defined our love and friendship, and for a while, it was perfect. One hot summer night, just weeks before we left for different colleges, we laid a blanket out under the stars on a deserted stretch of cliff and ate a picnic she'd prepared for us. She told me I was beautiful and then we slowly undressed one another with shaking hands. We were tentative at first, but inexperience and nerves quickly gave way to passion as our hands and mouths explored each other's bodies. It was the most intense night of my entire life, and our sexual connection only became more solid over the weeks that followed as we counted down the days and hours till we would have to part.
We couldn't afford plane tickets, and I wouldn't be able to visit except for the summer, so we knew it couldn't last. The last kiss we shared tasted like salt water from the tears that were pouring down both our faces. She went to Seattle, and I crossed the country to Boston. At first we sent friendly emails, but then the contact dwindled to nothing, and after a few months, I knew that it was time for me to move on. I wasn't into the LGBT scene at college as I disliked labelling myself in that fashion. I guess I didn't feel like I fit in there. My veganism and alternative lifestyle already made me enough of a cliché. Besides, none of the girls I met ever held more than a passing interest for me. The truth was that I still wasn't over Rachel. I knew I needed to be, I just didn't know how to get there.
It was coming up to the end of the year, and that was the last day before finals ended and we all moved out. I knew Rosalie had already finished hers and had gone to spend the day with yet another guy, but I'd had my Marine Biology exam that day. Walking out of the exam hall, I breathed a sigh of relief. It was a good day - done with finals, and we were moving out the next day.
I sighed, trying to awaken my overloaded brain as I made my way back to the dorm to pack. I'd already started the previous night, but there was still a lot left to do. Rosalie being Rosalie, she'd packed most of her possessions into boxes and neatly labelled them already, so my side of the room was looking pretty chaotic in comparison. Oddly enough, I realised I was starting to actually not mind her too much. We weren't friends or anything, but we exchanged the occasional friendly word or two and managed to get along okay sharing the same room. She probably still thought I was a bitch, but the feeling was mutual and in the end, was that really such a bad thing? It was probably part of the reason we hadn't gotten along well to start with – we were both tough, incredibly self-reliant and didn't take bullshit from anyone. Too alike, almost, despite our different interests and styles.
Fiddling with the oversized safety pin holding my bag strap on, I made my way up the stairs to my room. Students laughed, music blared from open doors, and boxes littered the corridor. We'd all shared this building for a year, but just like life, college was so transitory, and tomorrow night the freshman dorms would be empty and devoid of the life that had inhabited them. Come September, we'd all be moving off-campus. A couple of girls from my Environment class, Bella and Maggie had suggested I share a place with them, and I'd gladly accepted. When I reflected upon it, the past year hadn't really been too bad. I'd made a few friends I'd be keeping in touch with over the summer, attained good grades in my classes and got involved in a lot of the activism on campus. Despite the fact I hadn't opened myself up to the possibility of any other romantic relationships, I'd been happy enough.
However, the thought of being in La Push for the whole summer still made my stomach churn. I was looking forward to my summer break, yet unsure of how I'd feel when I saw Rachel. Living in such a small place, it was inevitable, but my heart would start pounding every time I imagined our first meeting and what it would be like. The most common scenario I dreamt was walking along the beach and bumping into her and her new girlfriend, who was of course far more stunning than me. Of course, it had been so long it was likely she'd probably forgotten about me. Rachel was so beautiful and captivating that there was no way she hadn't caught anyone else's attention while at college. It used to make my chest tight to think of someone else loving her, but I'd almost grown used to the likely possibility, as much as it still hurt.
Finally, I paused in front of the door, catching the faint sound of The Cranberries drifting through the wood. I'd hoped for a solitary afternoon to pack, but apparently Rosalie was here. I pushed open the door and saw her through the pale curtain, sitting on the end of her bed with her back to me, oddly still. Despite the fact she must have heard me enter, she didn't even react, so I shrugged, deciding I'd just leave her to it. Chucking my bag on the floor, I turned to the pile of stuff that covered my bed, thinking I might as well just get started.
I absent-mindedly hummed along to the song playing over Rosalie's speakers as I started stacking my books in the boxes I'd laid out. Every so often I looked up, and she was still sitting like that, silent and still. It wasn't like her at all. Normally she'd be on the phone loudly to one of her dumb friends or be IMing some guy she met in the cafeteria, if she wasn't poring over her books. I knew her finals had finished a week earlier, but that still didn't explain why she was here alone and not out celebrating with her cheer team or something. After I'd been in the room about ten minutes, a soft sound made me glance in her direction again. It was barely audible over the music, but it sounded a bit like a sob. There it was again. I could see her shoulders shaking, and it was obvious she was crying.
Oh God. How awkward. I had no idea what to do, but felt as if I couldn't just pretend to ignore it. Leaving the book I had in my hand on the top of a box, I crossed the room, pausing in front of the curtain that shielded her space from me.
"Are you okay?" I asked tentatively.
"I'm fine," came the acerbic reply, but her voice shook and it was obvious she was anything but. With a resigned sigh, I pulled the curtain aside and made my way over to her.
"I can't exactly concentrate on packing when my roommate's sitting in the corner sobbing her heart out, can I?" It wasn't like Rosalie to act like that, and I had to admit, I was a little worried about what on earth had made her that upset.
Clumsily, I reached out and patted her arm. She stiffened at the contact at first, but then mumbled "Sorry," and turned to face me.
Her normally perfectly-styled blonde hair had come down from its neat ponytail and was curling around her face in wispy strands, and her makeup had run, leaving grey smudges beneath her eyes that extended to her cheeks. It was the entirely wrong moment to think it, but in that second, I saw what made Rosalie Hale so beautiful. Her eyes were a violet-tinged blue, her skin stunningly white against her pale hair, and her full, pink lips were slightly parted. She frowned, and I blinked, realising I was staring.
What had gotten into me? I'd roomed with Rosalie the whole year and had never previously felt attracted to her. Perhaps it was the fact that she was crying. That sounded so fucked up and weird, but there was something to knowing that the steely ice princess had emotions just like the rest of us. She wasn't so tough after all, and instantly I didn't feel so ashamed of the many nights I'd cried silent tears into my pillow, thinking of Rachel.
"Um." I cleared my throat. "Look, I know we don't exactly like each other, but I can listen, so if you want to talk about it or anything, I'm here."
She grabbed a Kleenex from the box beside her and blew her nose loudly, not answering me at first, but then she nodded slowly. "You'll just think I'm stupid, but it's not something I really want to tell anyone about. It's your bad luck you're here right now."
"Try me," was all I said, settling back on the comforter and folding my legs under myself. She twisted the tissue in her fingers awkwardly, and looked as if she was struggling to find the words. I wasn't really sure how I felt about Rosalie Hale pouring her heart out to me – it was one of those completely surreal moments. But I was here, and if she needed someone to listen, I'd do that.
"I've been seeing this guy called Jason on and off for a few weeks," she began, her voice dull and hollow. "He's one of the cornerbacks on the football team. Last night, we were just in his room watching a movie and he told me he wanted to have a threesome with me and this girl he knows called Irina. Wondered if some of his friends could watch." Another tear slipped down her cheek, and I felt a sudden spike of anger at whoever this asshole was. She blew her nose loudly before continuing.
"So, I got up and told Jason he could fuck off if he thought I was doing anything with another girl – especially for him and all his creepy football team-mates to get off on. At first he was all, 'Come on, Rose. You're so sexy - I'd love to watch you with another woman,' and so on. But I still said I wasn't interested, and that's when he started to get really nasty. He just kept saying he thought I'd be up for it because, well...it doesn't matter." She broke down into noisy sobs, and I reached out and took her hand, thinking not for the first time how odd and unusual the moment was.
"He sounds like a real jerk. Want me to go kick him in the balls? I'm sure I already have my scary lesbian credentials, so that'd work."
Even through her tears, she laughed. "He is a jerk. And you're not that scary, you know. I'm sorry about this – I know you probably feel a bit weird."
"To be honest, I think it's the most we've spoken all year," I mused, and she nodded. Rosalie really wasn't as bad as I'd thought. Under different circumstances, and maybe if we weren't both stubborn as hell, we might have even been friends. "Well, for what it's worth – that Jason guy isn't deserving of your time. I'm sure you can get any guy you want."
She smiled sadly. "I can't always get the ones I want to like me." Her normally cool, composed face was wearing a soft expression, and she was looking at me a little strangely. I had no idea why, but I felt a flush creek up my neck, flooding my cheeks as they burned. Why the hell was I blushing?
"I know how that feels." Getting up, I remembered the bottle of vodka I had stashed in the bottom of my wardrobe. I couldn't remember what I'd been saving it for, but now seemed about as good a time as any. I felt incredibly awkward after that whole episode with Rosalie, and I was sure she did too. Drinking was the perfect solution. "Hey, how about a drink?" I asked, rummaging around and triumphantly brandishing the vodka. "Seeing as we're moving out and everything, and to be honest, you look like you could use one."
"Alright," she agreed, sounding a little cautious. It wasn't as if we even talked much, but now I was about to hang out and drink with Rosalie Hale. The universe sure could be strange sometimes. She grabbed some Coke out of the fridge and I measured out the vodka into glasses. My TV was still set up as I hadn't gotten round to packing it yet, so we got out my DVDs to find one to watch. I thought to myself how I didn't really own the right sort of films for such occasions as we thumbed through my titles. City of God, Maria Full of Grace, Requiem for a Dream, The Pianist – nothing particularly cheerful there.
She picked out Requiem and I raised my eyebrow incredulously. "You do realise that's pretty much the most depressing film I own, if not the most depressing film in existence?"
"Yeah, I know, but it's got that cute guy from My So-Called Life in it, so it can't be all that bad, can it?"
I snorted. That was typical Rosalie. Just when you thought she was all smart and insightful, she'd let her airhead ways betray her. But at that moment, I found it strangely endearing. Whether that had to do with the fact I'd just seen her vulnerable side, or to do with the drink I was currently sipping, I didn't know.
"Don't blame me when you feeling like killing yourself afterwards," I warned, leaning forward to turn the TV on and put the DVD in. I shoved some of the stuff off my bed and we settled back onto it, sipping our vodka and Coke as the film started. As always, I loved it, the slow, heartbreaking slide of the characters from idealism and promise to despair and hopelessness through their addictions. While we watched, we chatted mindlessly about all sorts of things like life, college, our hometowns – she was from Rochester, New York. It was turning to evening outside but the sun was still bright through the open window. There was no sound in the room but the film, the murmur of our voices and the clink of glasses as we poured, the level on the vodka bottle getting lower and lower.
As it finished, strings soaring through the film's climactic scenes, I heard her breathing hitch beside me.
"God. That's so sad," she remarked as the opening credits appeared.
"I know. It's still one of my favourite films, though. I like that it doesn't pretend about human nature – it's raw and harsh while being kind of beautiful at the same time."
"You really are so serious, aren't you?" she observed in amusement, and I noted that her voice was slightly slurred. "But no, I agree. It was good. A chick flick might have been a little better at cheering me up, but it was nice to just hang out and talk. We've never done that, despite being roommates all year."
"Well, I was pretty sure you couldn't stand me."
She shook her head. "You know, I don't hate you, Leah," she said suddenly, and her piercing eyes locked on mine, violet meeting brown in an intense gaze. "We're just different – that's all." I blinked, realising I was starting to stare at her once again. Damn, she really was beautiful. That Jason was obviously a total moron if he didn't realise how lucky he was to have someone as pretty as that.
"Thanks, I think," I replied, taking a gulp of my third or fourth vodka and Coke – I'd lost count of how many we'd had by that point. "I don't hate you either. I suppose I was a bit jealous of you in some ways. You're popular and beautiful and find it easy to get people to like you. I'm just quiet and like I said to you that time, I don't like people much. Big groups freak me out, so I put on a tough act and pretend I don't care. Of course, most people just think I'm a bitch. They don't bother trying to get to know the real me."
"You'd be surprised how often that happens to me," she said softly. "I know I go to a lot of things, and seem like I know a lot of people, but it's pretty superficial. I know very few people I'd trust to know the real me. Sometimes it's just easier to be the confident, perfect Rose who was homecoming queen and took part in every varsity cheerleading event. I'm not false or anything, just afraid of letting most people see what I'm like underneath. I pretend like I don't give a fuck what people think of me, but sometimes I'm brittle as hell on the inside."
I couldn't explain why, but a single tear pricked at the corner of my eye. It made me really sad to think that someone as beautiful as Rosalie could have moments of such unhappiness and doubt.
Just like me.
"Sometimes I am too," I responded, blinking as the ceiling light swam a little in my vision. We were both pretty drunk by that point, but not in the unpleasant way, just in the comfortable, relaxed way. Although I didn't believe that the easy flow of our conversation was only due to the alcohol. Rosalie and I had more in common than I'd originally thought, especially the desire to seem really "together" on the surface even when we were anything but. I got the feeling I wasn't the only one who'd ever had a silent cry into her pillow in the middle of the night.
"I wasn't always like this," she said, her voice barely a whisper. She drew her knees up to her chest, hugging them close to her in a comforting gesture as she continued to speak. "I was pretty much the good girl at school – popular, all about school spirit. Then Royce King transferred to the school. He was attractive, popular, and his father was my dad's boss at the investment bank where he worked. My parents were pretty much over the moon when Royce noticed me one day. His family were super-wealthy and respected in the community, so I guess they'd figured I'd done well for myself. We started dating, but we were mostly around other people. I used to wear a purity ring back then. My parent's beliefs were pretty strong, and I knew I didn't want to sleep with Royce unless we were married. So we got engaged after a few months, when I was seventeen. It's strange, but I never really knew him that well. I suppose I was naïve and in awe of him. I know it sounds ridiculous to get engaged at such a young age, but it was how I was raised, and it was what I wanted. I wanted a family and a happy marriage, even though I was young."
"It doesn't sound that ridiculous. You were in love."
"I thought I was," she said bitterly, her beautiful features hardening. "Soon after we got engaged, I went to visit a friend one night. I was on my way back afterwards, but didn't feel too worried as it was a warm night and not too late. I heard some laughter from a nearby alleyway, and walked quicker, not wanting to attract any trouble. But then someone called out my name, and I realised it was Royce and his friends drinking in the alleyway. When I drew closer, I realised he stunk of beer, and I didn't even drink then, so I didn't want to be around him. His friends were leering at me and I started to feel really uncomfortable, so I told him firmly I was leaving and I'd see him in the morning. But as I was walking away, he grabbed my arm and dragged me back. And then they...well, you can imagine." She was trembling in revulsion, and when I looked at her, her eyes filled with tears.
I gasped, utterly horrified at what I was hearing. It was obvious what her fiancé and his friends had done to her. Christ, no wonder she was the way she was.
"They left me in the street for dead, and I just lay there, too numb from both the pain and shock to move. A doctor from the hospital was passing by on his way home, and he found me there and called an ambulance. I didn't go to the police as I didn't want any trouble. My parents made me keep quiet about it as they didn't want me bringing shame on them, like it was somehow my fault that sick bastard and his friends had done that to me. It was almost the end of the school year, so I just stayed away until the end. I couldn't face seeing everyone in case they knew what happened to me. And I was afraid I'd see him. For that whole summer I had panic attacks whenever I tried to leave the house, and I was so glad when I got to move away for college. I don't know why I'm telling you this now, but I guess I just wanted to explain why I'm such a bitter, twisted bitch. It's kind of why I got so upset when Jason asked me that, too. It reminded me of Royce, and how he never asked me what I wanted before him and his friends did...that."
As she finished speaking, I had tears in my eyes. It was heartbreaking that had happened to her, and without thinking, I reached over and laid my hand on top of hers, brushing my thumb over her knuckles. Her skin was so soft and silky to the touch, and she didn't even flinch.
"I'm so sorry. That's just so fucking awful. I had no idea."
"I don't like people knowing. I wouldn't want them to treat me differently because of it. Especially guys. I know you probably haven't always approved of my behaviour, but sometimes I want to feel needed. Even if it's just for the night. At first I suppose it was to prove to myself that what they all did hadn't affected me, that I could be a normal, attractive girl who dated just like any other."
"At least you were determined not to let it beat you."
"I think in a way, it has, though," she said thoughtfully. "I'm scared to let anyone get close to me emotionally. I don't want them to see how damaged I am on the inside."
I didn't know what to say to that, so I remained silent, still holding her hand in a light grasp.
"Can I ask you something?" she said quietly, breaking into my thoughts. I turned to face her, the room all at once seeming overly warm from the scorching heat of the summer night outside. Or maybe it was the alcohol – either way, my skin felt like it was flushed, heat flaring along my neck and collarbone.
"Sure," I told her, feeling nervous but unsure why that was.
"How come I don't ever see you with anyone? Do you have a girlfriend or anything?"
That time, I really did flush, feeling my cheeks burning even though it probably wasn't so visible through my russet skin.
"I did," I said dully, feeling the familiar twisting sensation in the pit of my stomach whenever I allowed myself to think of Rachel. "Me and this girl from back home, we had something really special together. But I went to college on the opposite side of the country, so we knew it couldn't last. We broke up right before I moved away."
Rosalie's face twisted into a sympathetic expression, but it wasn't pitying, just understanding. "I'm sorry – breakups are terrible. Do you still miss her?"
"Every day," I replied truthfully, embarrassed though I was to admit that. "Are you feeling better than earlier?" I added, partly wanting to deflect the conversation away from myself, but also genuinely wondering if she was okay.
"Yeah, I'm a bit better," she said calmly. "About tonight – Jason and I weren't serious or anything, but it really hurt that he just assumed I'd be fine with that without asking me what I thought. I'm sure he probably just saw me as a cheap whore like everyone else does."
I opened my mouth, not sure what I was about to say, but hastily closed it when she shot me a sharp look.
"Don't say you've never heard that. I know plenty of people think it. I make no apologies for myself. I like sex, so what? Lately, I guess I'm just tired of how meaningless it all is. I don't want to grab my clothes off someone's bedroom floor and slip out quietly in the morning before they wake up. I want something more than that– someone who'll hold me before I go to sleep, kiss my neck and whisper sappy things in my ear."
My chest ached as she described those things, because that had been exactly what Rachel and I had shared. Unfortunately, it was nothing but a whispered echo of a fantasy that was long gone, a mere forgotten dream. I'd been hanging on to it for far too long, afraid to move past it and get on with life. But I'd let someone in once and maybe, with time, I could again. Even if it would hurt to let the memories of Rachel fade, I knew I couldn't keep clinging to them or it would destroy me. I'd shut myself away emotionally this entire year because I was afraid to give my bruised heart to another. I was in no way there yet, but for the first time, I felt like someday I would be. I wanted something more, too.
My eyes focused on Rosalie, and I was far too drunk now to pretend I didn't find her incredibly attractive. She was fucking gorgeous – her curtain of silvery blonde hair that fell down her back, those burning blue eyes, cobalt and silver in the dimming light, the reddened, inviting lips that were almost begging to be kissed. I breathed out shakily, noticing her breathing was also uneven, her chest rising and falling rapidly. Of course, that only drew my attention to the swell of her beautiful breasts that were visible above the neckline of her low-cut tank top.
She was nervous, too. Her hand that was still clasped in mine twisted so it was laid on top of mine, and her fingers stroked soothing patterns that made warmth surge beneath my already overheated skin.
She opened that beautiful mouth to speak, and to my surprise, a pinkness crept up her luminous, pale cheeks. It was the first time I'd ever seen Rosalie appear to be embarrassed about anything, and it was strangely attractive.
"I didn't tell you the whole story about what Jason said," she began shyly, flicking her tongue over her lip in an unsure fashion. I sighed inwardly, wishing she hadn't mentioned that douchebag again.
"What?" I asked, and my heart fluttered. She dropped my hand, and I immediately ached from the loss of contact.
"He figured I'd be up for a threesome with Irina, because well...he thought I had a thing for you."
I blinked, hardly able to believe what I was hearing. "M-me?" I stuttered, and she shifted away from me on the bed.
"I shouldn't have said that.
"Is it true?" I couldn't suppress that question as it fell from my lips, and my heartbeat thundered in my ears as I waited for her to answer.
"Leah, I made fun of you the first day I met you because I couldn't believe I was so attracted to you. You weren't my type at all – I mean, well, firstly, you were a girl."
I clapped a hand over my mouth to muffle my drunken giggle, not wanting to put her off her serious speech.
"But you were so different from me I couldn't help but be drawn to you. Your dark hair, your honey-coloured skin. You're beautiful, even if you do wear some crazy clothes sometimes."
"I wish I hadn't acted like such an asshole, now," I admitted, starting to feel like we'd truly entered a parallel universe. A universe where Rosalie Hale was telling me that she was attracted to me – admittedly, with a jibe about my fashion sense thrown in, but then, that was par for the course. "The truth is, I thought you were pretty hot, too, even if I made fun of you. But I was too wrapped up in missing my ex."
"I know there were all those guys, but they never meant anything," she said earnestly. "I know sometimes I was unfriendly, but secretly I was angry because I thought you didn't want me like that."
My hand darted out of its own accord to caress the inside of her elbow, my fingertips curving round the soft skin.
"I want you," I said quickly, not wanting to leave her in any doubt about what I thought of her. "But we're drunk off our asses. How do I know that you're not just using me? I hardly know you and you're expecting me to trust that this isn't just some weird experiment of yours? If this happens, how can I trust that you won't laugh at me and tell everyone?"
"You can't," she replied simply. "It's up to you whether you believe what I say, but maybe you can believe this."
Before I'd even registered what was happening, her delicate fingers traced my jaw line and she drew closer to me, so our faces were almost touching. When she breathed out against my lips, I could smell her sweetness laced with the sharpness of vodka – a heady and irresistible scent. Leaning forward, she pressed her lips to mine. My first thought was that I didn't want to take advantage of a drunk, supposedly straight and emotionally vulnerable girl, but all rationality left me when her tongue slid into my mouth. The warmth and wet of her mouth melded with my own, and I couldn't help the tiny groan I let out against her lips. Rosalie was fucking delicious. Moving my hands to smooth them over her soft hair, I relished how good it felt under my fingers as we kissed.
All at once I didn't even damn well care whether this meant a thing to her or not. I just wanted her – to taste those sweet lips of hers, to run my hands and mouth over the curves of her body and bring her pleasure. I wanted all those things so desperately, so when she tugged at the hem of my Against Me! t-shirt and inched it up above my waist, I didn't resist. I let her pull it over my head, leaving me in just a bra and my old denim cut-offs. She made for my waistband, but I gently pushed her hands away, stopping her.
"Let me take something off you first," I said with a smile, and she let me remove her tank top. The bra underneath was pink satin and hugged her cleavage in an utterly delectable manner. It had started to grow dark outside and her pale, flawless skin gleamed in the muted light from the setting sun.
Rosalie pressed an open-mouthed kiss to my neck and her hands reached for the clasp of my bra, but I seized her wrist, preventing her movements. A wave of self-consciousness washed over me – I felt too boyish, skinny and unattractive. I couldn't even compare to her luscious, feminine hourglass figure.
Her hand slipped under my chin and lifted it so I had to meet her eyes. "Leah, you're gorgeous. Stop worrying. Remember, I'm the one who doesn't really know what I'm doing here."
Warm fingers unfastened my bra and I shrugged out of it, letting the scrap of fabric fall. She cupped my small breasts, running her hand over them, and I sighed. I slid my hand beneath her bra and felt the soft peak tauten under my fingertips. Was this really happening?
I heard her breathing grow heavier as I pulled one bra cup to the side and dipped my head to taste the silky skin there. Her scent was floral, with a hint of the violets that darkened her eyes – it was hypnotic, sensual. Immediately, I wanted to run my tongue over every inch of her porcelain skin. Placing her hands on either side of my head, she encouraged me upwards and then our lips met again, pressing, kissing, exploring.
"Are you sure this is okay?" I muttered breathlessly, and she nodded, sliding her hands through my hair that I'd grown out to my shoulders over the past year.
Moving so I rested on my knees and faced her, I leant forward and she shifted further up the bed, her head resting against my pillow. I watched her bite down on her lip and for a moment she looked so vulnerable it intensified every emotion swirling within me; need, want, lust, greed. The next minutes passed in a blur of kisses and wandering hands and unfastened buttons and zippers, until my cut-offs and her skirt lay on the floor and only underwear was left. I was glad that night had fallen and the light in the room was dim, for otherwise I'd feel too inadequate next to her model-like beauty. Resting one elbow on my comforter, I bent to place an open-mouthed kiss in between her breasts, my lips brushing the pink marks where her underwire had cut into the skin, soothing them.
"God, Leah...," she murmured, letting out a strangled gasp, and I already knew I wanted to hear her say my name many more times that night. I dotted kisses downwards, traversing her stomach and then the curve of her hips with my warm mouth. Rosalie involuntarily shifted her hips towards me, and I smiled as my tongue traced along the waistband of her matching pink satin panties. They were held together with these impossibly girly ribbons at the side. Exactly the sort of underwear I'd never wear myself, but I loved on her. She looked so delectable that I was almost hesitant to remove them – but then, I wanted what was hidden beneath even more. When I hooked my thumbs into the satin and began to drag it down her legs, she didn't resist, bending her knees so I could remove it more easily.
I could feel the heat and dampness between my thighs increase with each second that passed, and was struggling to ignore the waves of desire that were surging through me. I ached for any kind of friction, and frankly, I'd been longing for it ever since we started kissing, but I wanted do something for Rosalie first. I wanted that even more, despite the fact it had been over a year since anything besides my own hand had brought me release. She sat up, and I slid one bent knee in between her parted legs until my own thigh made contact with her heated centre. She jolted, her back straightening as her arms wound round my neck, pulling me into a rough, forceful kiss that still tasted like vodka. I ground my thigh against her and she moaned wantonly, breaking the kiss as her head involuntarily rolled back. My lips trailed over the column of her throat as we moved together, my thigh pressing to her sensitive spot as she moaned and panted in my ear.
Seconds later, I withdrew my thigh and she whimpered, but I pressed my finger to her lips to quiet her, pushing her backwards so she lay flat on the bed for me. My palms traversed her ribs, dropping lower until they rested on her slender legs, gently parting them until she was open for me, her lean, perfect body stretched out on my bed. I kissed all the way up her inner thighs, then back down, and she fisted her hands in the comforter, eyes squeezing shut as a mixture of frustration and longing appeared on her face. Glancing at the expression on her face, I thought to myself how I'd never seen her look more beautiful before turning my attentions back to her. My fingertips ghosted over the slick heat before me, and she cried out.
"Please," she muttered, and I didn't wait to be told twice. Moving closer, I gripped her hips hard as I finally let myself taste her for the first time. I took a long, slow lick of her, tentative at first, and couldn't help groan at the addictive, salty-sweet flavour that met my tongue. Her hands immediately came up to fist in my hair and I laughed quietly at her reaction, knowing the vibration would enhance her pleasure. Looking up, I let my eyes meet hers as I closed my lips over her hard nub, sucking it into my mouth. Her lips were parted in unashamed pleasure, her blonde hair tousled in messy waves, the veins in her neck standing out as she threw her head back against the pillow. It was the most erotic thing I'd ever seen, but then I swirled my tongue over her and her eyes closed involuntarily, a strangled cry ripping from her throat.
I let my mouth work at her – licking, sucking and revelling in the impossibly sensuous flavour that was her. As the minutes passed, I knew she was getting close as her breathing was becoming more and more uneven as her hips bucked against my eager mouth. Drawing back for a moment, I slid my hand up her thigh and carefully slipped a finger inside her wetness, sliding it in and out before I added a second. Rosalie moaned, her body beginning to tremble as she tugged at my hair hard enough to hurt.
My fingers curled inside her, searching for that elusive spot, and I knew I'd found it when she tensed, a stilted, shaky breath coming from her. My gaze flickered upwards to meet her heavy-lidded eyes. I knew she was teetering on the brink and I wanted so badly to make her lose it. Lowering my mouth back to her, I combined the movements of my tongue and fingers and was rewarded when her body started to shake. A succession of phrases like oh God and yes and right there and please don't stop fell from her lips as pleasure overtook her. She moaned through her climax, letting out a low desperate cry with my name on the end of it as she convulsed around my fingers, her thighs tight against my head. I pressed gentle kisses to her inner thigh, coaxing her down from her high as her breathing gradually evened out again.
Afterwards, I rested my head on her chest while she stroked my hair, listening to the pounding rhythm of her heartbeat. But it wasn't long before she sat up and kissed me again, tasting herself on my lips and not even caring in a way that was so unbelievably hot to me. Her lips made a heated path from behind my ear down to my neck and collarbone, and then lower. When she flicked her tongue over my nipple, I gasped as heat tightened in the pit of my belly. Moving back up, she scraped her teeth over my earlobe and the growing ache between my thighs became even more acute.
"I want to..." she murmured seductively in my ear, her tongue darting out to lick a stripe down the side of my neck. I knew what she wanted to do, but it wasn't the time for that. I'd wanted it to be about her, feeling that she'd needed comfort after our emotional discussion, and I didn't want to selfishly take from her. Besides, I was so turned on that it probably wouldn't take much. I shook my head and reached for her hand, letting my fingers link into hers.
"Another time," I assured her. "Right now, just touch me." She nodded, and wasted no time in peeling my then thoroughly damp panties from my body as I lifted each leg to aid her in the task.
Pressing her lips to mine lightly, she dragged her fingers down my torso, skimming over my breasts, my stomach, my thighs before she paused just above the place where I needed her. I let out a tiny moan into her mouth from wanting her to continue so badly, and felt her lips curve into a smile. Her fingers made contact with me and I bit back a deep moan from the sheer relief that hit me. She began to trace circles round my clit with her thumb, cautiously at first, but when she heard my encouraging moans in her ear, she moved faster, finding a rhythm that made me breathless and panting in her arms. I let my hands wander over her back as she pleasured me, travelling down to squeeze the pert roundness of her ass, so soft and pliant under my touch.
The tension coiled in my abdomen, tighter and tighter as her fingers continued to work at me. She slid two fingers inside me while her thumb rubbed at my clit, and my breathing became rapid and shallow. I knew I was just seconds from shattering, and my eyes squeezed shut as I tried to concentrate on the delicious sensations firing through me. Suddenly she stopped, and I whimpered in protest.
Her other hand came up to stroke the side of my face, and my eyes snapped open. "I want you to look at me, Leah," Rosalie whispered. "That's better."
Our eyes locked, and the warmth and lust and tension emanating from us was palpable, sweat beading on our bodies from the humid stickiness of the summer night. She twisted her fingers inside me as her thumb pressed down hard on my clit, and with that, I broke, quaking and shuddering through what was the most intense orgasm I'd experienced in a long time. I placed a soft kiss on her neck as my body stilled, thanking her wordlessly for the pleasure she'd brought me. Gently, she withdrew her hand and we slumped on to the comforter together, lying there in a hazy mix of intoxication and post-coital bliss.
I reached out, taking her hand and her fingers curled round mine as we tried in vain to catch our breath. Soon, the fog of alcohol and lust began to clear and I began to comprehend the significance of what had just happened.
I'd had sex with Rosalie. Rosalie.
Just a few hours ago, the very thought of that would have been comical, something that would have never happened in a million years. Yet here we were, naked and entwined on my narrow bed. Slowly, I felt the rhythm of my pulse return to normal, although her warm hand in mine meant that my heart still beat just that little too fast. Turning to face her, I smiled to myself at how amazing she looked – her wavy blonde hair fanned out against my pillow, eyes half-closed, cheeks flushed with desire, lips reddened by my enthusiastic kisses.
We didn't speak another word that night. Wrapping the sheets around ourselves clumsily, we drifted into a restful sleep, our hands still linked. And I didn't worry about what tomorrow might bring.
The next morning we awoke to blazing sunshine pouring through the still-open window. I woke first, and when I rolled over, the sun shone directly in my eyes. I groaned, tugging at the pillow to try and pull it over my head, but then I looked back and saw that Rosalie's head was upon it. She was different when she slept. Her expression was peaceful, with an almost childlike innocence about it. Sitting up, I realised that my throat felt as dry as the desert and I was definitely feeling a little woozy from all the vodka we'd drunk the previous night. Perhaps it was cowardice, or maybe I just didn't have the heart to wake her, but I quietly slipped out of bed and went down the hallway to shower. I stayed in there until the water ran cold, blinking rapidly as I tried and failed to wash my growing hangover away. A while later when I arrived back at the room, my bed was empty and she was gone. No evidence of the night remained but the empty vodka bottle, our two glasses and the tangled pile of sheets on my bed.
With a sigh, I started to towel my hair dry, remembering my flight was at six tonight so there was still packing that needed to be done. I was almost beginning to wonder whether I'd imagined the latter part of the evening when Rosalie suddenly came back into the room. She was freshly showered, her hair was styled and she wore an open-backed blue sundress that made my breath catch. I wondered how long I'd really spent half-asleep in the shower, but it must have been longer than I thought. I was a mess in my holey t-shirt and yoga pants, my wet hair sticking up all over the place, but she was perfectly poised. I had no idea how she'd managed to get herself together like that in the time I was away, but she had. Damn Rosalie. Turning my attention away from her appearance, I noticed she was holding two coffees in her hand, and a paper bag that looked promising.
"Hey," she said nervously. "I thought you might like a coffee, and there's muffins in the bag."
"Thanks," I said, stunned that our truce was apparently carrying on even the next morning. Frankly, I was touched that she'd gotten me some breakfast. I took the coffee from her outstretched hand and took a satisfying gulp, in desperate need of some caffeine after the amount of alcohol we'd consumed the night before. "It's good," I remarked, and she took a sip of her own drink, sitting down on her bed with her long legs stretched out before her.
"Are you packed yet?" she asked, her eyes swivelling to my side of the room where things were still very much in a state of chaos.
"Well, I had started last night, but then..." I trailed off, feeling my cheeks burn, but she smiled genuinely.
"My head's pounding, you know," she said, twisting a strand of hair round her fingers absent-mindedly. "I think I had four Tylenol when I got up this morning."
"Seriously, how the hell do you manage to look like that after the amount we drank?"
Rosalie snorted. "Really expensive makeup. I swear, you couldn't tell if I was alive or dead under it."
"Still as vain as ever, I see, princess." She raised an eyebrow at my use of the derogatory nickname I'd called her so long ago, but then she grinned.
"Oh, go put on a hemp sack." It was kind of nice that Rosalie and I hadn't lost our sharp edges, despite the common ground we'd found last night.
We carried on chatting normally, eating our blueberry muffins and sipping coffee. Neither of us had yet mentioned the culmination of the night, and I was happy to play along with that. The flashes of it I could remember were utterly amazing – her kisses, touches, the way she tasted, her moans – but I didn't want to be the one to bring it up first. Maybe last night was all there was, and if that was how she felt, it wouldn't surprise me. As far as I knew, Rosalie wasn't even gay. All the same, the thought that she might have just used me to experiment chilled me, cancelling out the momentary happiness the coffee and conversation had brought.
But then she offered to help me pack, and so I ignored it. It seemed like Rosalie and I might be friends sometime, although this was the day we both left to go back home for the summer. It was something that would have been so alien to me just a few hours ago, but perhaps when we returned in the fall, we would be.
Was that enough for me, though? I wasn't suddenly in love with Rosalie or anything, but I couldn't deny the raw, shocking intimacy of our tryst. Deep down, I knew that it was more than just sex for both of us. It wasn't as if I'd forgotten Rachel, but somehow, I felt like I was ready to move forward.
"Leah?" she said suddenly, her tone urgent. Her flight wasn't until later that night, but I was packed and set to leave in just a few moments. She'd been oddly silent, and I'd been starting to doubt my earlier conviction that our night together really had meant something to her. "Last night wasn't a drunken experiment for me, you know. I've wanted you for so long. I just wasn't brave enough to make the first move without some liquid confidence."
"You're not exactly shy and retiring," I observed, and she giggled. Despite my calm, friendly manner, it felt like my heart was about to beat out of my chest. She wanted me. She wanted me just like I wanted her.
"It wasn't just an impulsive thing for me, either," I admitted. "And hell, it was great. Really."
She grinned, but then her face twisted into a frown.
"Haven't you got a plane to catch?"
"Yeah," I said regretfully, hoisting my duffel bag onto my shoulder and taking my suitcase by its handle. "It's kind of a shame that we didn't talk all year, and now that last night happened, we've got no time."
"I know. But being in Rochester with my parents all summer might be too much for my sanity. I was thinking...I have a lot of air miles from all the trips my Dad takes for work. They're burning a hole in my pocket, and it's about time I got round to using them. Maybe I could come visit you at some point in the summer. Only if you wanted me to, of course." She was babbling. Self-assured ice queen Rosalie was unsure for once in her life, and that was just so fucking adorable.
Impulsively, I leaned in and kissed her, just like that. To my surprise and pleasure, she responded eagerly, her sweet lips as soft and gentle on mine as they had been rough and passionate the previous night.
"I'd like that," I told her, brushing a stray blonde curl back from her face. As I walked out the door, dragging my suitcase, my heart felt light, and finally, like one day it might accept another into it. I had no idea what the future held for me and Rosalie, but I was content to just see how things went. Because, in the end, attraction trumps hate every time.