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Air was originally a WitFit, and I had a couple of requests to post it as a stand-alone, the way I sometimes do. I like this one. It's not this epic, amazing thing but it's sweet. And you know I have a sweet tooth.
Alice sat beside me, squeezing my knee. "Stop thinking about it, girlie."
"I can't." I sat glumly on the edge of my bed, eyeing my reflection in the mirror on the door.
Peter was one of my closest friends. He was gorgeous and talented and had mad style. We hung out constantly and had a ton of stuff in common. We'd been getting closer and closer over the past few months, and sometimes I swore I got vibes from him too.
But then Irina, one of our very best friends from home, came to visit Alice and me. I was cute enough but Irina? She was absolutely and stunningly beautiful. I was used to it – we'd all been friends since elementary.
Peter wasn't used to it though. He took one look at her and fell head over heels.
It just about gutted me.
To Irina's credit, she didn't give in to Peter's charms – out of respect for me. I could tell she was attracted to him too, but she and I had always adhered to the girl code: never go for your friend's crush.
The only thing that made me feel better was that Irina wasn't going to be around for too much longer; her flight back to Phoenix was in two days. Then Peter would have to get over his little infatuation. That was crappy though, too. Irina was like my sister and I hated being all petty and jealous.
"This isn't the first time," I told Alice. "There was Paul Brenner in tenth grade… and Jared senior year…"
Alice rubbed my back sympathetically. "Forget all that. We're gonna have a blast tonight with Jasper's friends."
"Yes, we are," Irina said, materializing out of the bathroom. She marched me over to the dresser and handed me a tube of mascara."Here."
Jake smiled down at me. He was handsome and very... gentlemanly. It was obvious that there wasn't anything going on between us, and that put me at ease.
He and Sam were friends of Jasper, this older guy Alice had recently started seeing. Jasper was hot, and with him came a whole new league of older friends and very cool parties. Rose and I usually tagged along, but tonight she was working. It was one of Irina's last nights, though, so we wanted to do something fun.
The guys were friendly and funny, ribbing each other and talking smack. The six of us played pool for a while, killing time at Jasper's before going to his friend's birthday barbeque.
"What's her name, again?" Alice asked.
We'd decided to walk. It was a warm summer night and the barbeque was only a few blocks away from Jasper's.
"Kate. She's cool, you'll like her. We went to school together," Jasper replied. He linked his arm through Alice's.
Jake smirked, offering me his arm, and then Sam gave Irina his, and we marched down the sidewalk that way, like we were at prom or something.
Kate's backyard was filled with paper lanterns of every size. They illuminated the space with a soft glow, cozy little planets we could reach up and touch. Apparently Jake and Sam knew this crowd too, and after making sure we'd been introduced and had something to drink, left to go mingle.
Irina and I found a hammock and began chatting, swinging gently back and forth. It felt good to just be with her, not having to worry about Peter or my awful envy. I loved her, and would miss her when she left.
"I really gotta pee," she said eventually, standing.
"Do you want me to go with you?" I asked, getting up also. "Or I could just grab a few more drinks and meet you back here…"
"Let's just do that."
We split up, and I made my way to the open bar. Night had fallen, and while the air was still warm it was no longer muggy. In fact, a nice breeze was blowing now.
By the time I turned to go back to the hammock with our drinks, I noticed two things. One, Irina had been gone for a while and two, other people were now in our spot.
"Damn." I shifted, looking around the party.
Alice was sitting on Jasper's lap, chatting and laughing with a small group. Jake looked like he was smoking up with a couple of guys in lounge chairs.
Where the hell is Irina?
"There's an empty seat right there, if you want."
I turned toward the unfamiliar voice.
"Oh…that's okay. I kind of like standing," I said, setting Irina's cup down on a nearby table.
"So do I," he said, his eyes on me for just a second before they flickered away. It was hard to tell, but I thought maybe they were blue, or green. He was good looking.
Like really good looking, and definitely older than me.
"So… you're friends with Kate?" I asked.
"She's my sister."
"Oh, no kidding…" I took a better look at him. I could see it; they had the same creamy skin and coppery hair.
"Looking for family resemblance?" he asked, his voice lilting into a tease.
"Yeah." I nodded, smiling.
He was so, so cute. No, not cute – handsome. Classic. The kind of face you saw in magazines and movies, but understated. I could have easily come and gone and missed him altogether.
"Bella." We shook hands. "We came with Jasper, Jake and Sam."
"Ah, Jasper," he said, shaking his head as he brought a bottle of beer to his mouth. "He's a trip."
We chatted until another girl wandered over and started talking to Edward. She was nice enough, but I wasn't really a part of their conversation so I faded into the background again, wondering what had happened to Irina.
And then I saw her, talking to some guy. Not surprising.
Well, this was awkward. I'd liked talking with Edward but truthfully, he felt a bit out of my league. It wasn't just his looks, but his age; I felt kind of young talking to him. Everyone here was like that, even though they'd all been friendly enough. The adolescent urge to be cooler somehow, more mature, washed over me.
I wondered what Edward thought of me, if he thought anything at all. I snuck another glance at him. His conversation seemed to be wrapping up.
"What was your name again?" he asked suddenly, looking intently at his bottle.
"Bella," he repeated. "Well, Bella, looks like your friend has found my brother."
We looked back to where I'd spotted Irina.
"Your brother? How many of you are there?"
"Four. Two boys, two girls."
"And you're all here tonight?"
"Everyone but Siobhan. She lives in Maine."
"Oh, okay." I realized I'd finished my drink.
Rose texted me, asking where we were so she could bike over once her shift was over. I put my cup down so I could message her back, hoping Edward didn't walk away while I did.
Two in the morning.
A lot of people, including Jake and Sam, had left. That was cool, though. I had a mellow little buzz going.
Alice had Jasper and Irina had Riley, The Brother.
I had a bit of a crush on the mysterious Edward. We'd chatted on and off throughout the evening, but he was difficult to read. A couple of drinks had loosened me up, though, and damn –I wanted him to notice me. He was appealing. Sexy.
I wondered if he had a girlfriend. Guys like that were either taken or about to be.
"Ready to go?" Alice slurred, holding on to the tip of Jasper's t-shirt.
"I guess." I looked around for Edward. He was sitting in the hammock now, talking to the birthday girl – his sister Kate.
I wanted to say goodbye, but I didn't. Almost…couldn't, like I was incapacitated by nerves and awkwardness. I reluctantly followed my friends out of the backyard, single file through the alley leading to the front.
The empty neighborhood street was dappled with streetlights and shadows. Irina had pulled Riley out of the party and they were in the middle of the road now, swaying, almost dancing. Even drunk, she was graceful.
I began to feel antsy. I knew I might not ever see Edward again. We most certainly did not run in the same circles.
So when Irina came over to me –asking what I needed because she knew me and could see that I was having a moment – I leaned in close to whisper in her ear, brimming with liquid courage.
"Tell Riley to bring his brother."
She smiled brightly. "Okay."
I watched her hurry back to Riley, and then watched him duck back down the alley.
Maybe that wasn't the best idea. What if he said no?
A couple of seconds passed. Someone jumped on Rose's bike and started doing wheelies, their laughter echoing down the street.
Who was I kidding… of course he'd say no. Crap, the anxiety was just about killing me and I was seriously considering hunting Riley down when he emerged from the house with Edward right behind him.
He looked at me and walked over, his expression different than before.
We all began to walk then, meandering and happy and summertime-free, Rose riding by in loops, her bicycle glinting in the moonlight.
Edward and I didn't talk. We just walked side by side, stealing glances, catching smiles.
I wanted to touch him. I couldn't wait.
Not sure about the posting schedule yet...