A/N: This has been my first stab at fiction since high school. That means last century, okay? i entered it into a contest, hoping to blow everyone away with my hidden talent, and ... um ... it didn't win. Or place.
So i felt foolish and embarrassed and cried all night. i wanted to trash it and never write anything again.
But then i remembered how i read and enjoy so many fics, from so many different genres, so frequently; it didn't seem fair that i expect others to put their work out there for me to read, but i'm too chickenshit to share the little bit that i've written. So here it is. i hope you enjoy.
I love fairs.
No, wait. That's not right.
I fucking worship fairs to a deeply upsetting degree.
There are three main reasons for this, and the first and greatest is the food: more specifically, funnel cake. A 9" diameter disc of deep fried ecstasy, mounded high with powdered happiness. You can imitate them at home, but they're never as fucktastically good as they are at the fair. It probably has something to do with the way the food booth staff never wash their hands, or perhaps they add some unsavory biological element to the dough when no one's looking. I don't fucking care. I love funnel cake. I always have one at each fair I visit, frequently have two, and will occasionally share a third, if one of my lame little cum-receptacle friends whines that she "can't finish this whole thing." I will no longer polish off a third one alone, since the Harvest Festival of '04 when I valiantly attempted the trifecta and ended up losing custody of all three dough babies behind the Tilt-a-Whirl.
After funnel cakes have been secured and engulfed, there's more fair food too. Italian sausage sandwiches, ice cream, falafel, zeppoles, cotton candy, chicken skewers, deep fried Oreos. Throw in a trough-sized hand-squeezed lemonade and you have yourself one blissfully bloated Bella Swan.
Have I mentioned that I live for the fucking fair season?
The second reason I spend my entire summer fair-hopping is the shopping. While some fairs tend to be light on the vendors, most of them have plenty of flea-market style tents housing both the best and the worst that local commerce has to offer. There are always plenty of old men setting up musty card tables, airing out the worthless crap from their basement, alongside middle-aged ladies selling jewelry that looked like it was targeted at puffy pink baby unicorns. It takes a discerning eye and a high tolerance for patchouli to filter through the trash and find the hippie artisan selling handmade dresses and skirts in delicate florals and cool, drapey tye-dyes, and the sweet, chatty home chef offering samples of her delectable, moist pumpkin bread and cinnamon buns. A personal favorite of mine is the old man who arrives at the Clallam County fair every year with several crates of tiny hand-carved wooden boxes and figurines. It only takes 30 seconds of conversation with the proprietor before you understand he is certifiably insane. He knows me by name and greets me warmly each year - right before he starts telling me about his trip to Mars and going off about the "friggin' commies".
But oh, Reason Number Three. The true love I've never spoken to. Six feet of copper-topped, unattainable, sex-on-legs in dusty, dark-wash jeans. Three years I've seen him at the first fair of the summer, helming the Ferris Wheel. Each time I've had to sit down on a hay bale to keep from dropping to my knees in sexual thrall.
Not to mention dropping my funnel cake.
Last year, I could have sworn he smiled at me - until I turned around and saw he was actually smiling at the performance stage behind me, where the tweens of Miss Angela's School of Dance were presenting their rendition of "Poker Face", featuring a gaggle of barely coordinated girls in truly absurd outfits, wearing makeup applied, apparently, by a blind whore with an ice scraper.
My sex angel, the creature who has been the shining star of my self-love experiences, whose flickering green eyes and tousled bronze hair have been well memorized even though I've only seen him for mere moments these past three years - despite what would probably make sense to most people, I am not going to talk to him today. Some girls have the nerve to just go up and talk to a guy they're interested in. I think I traded that superpower for the ability to make a perfect cup of coffee and write a 15-page paper on a single quatrain of poetry. I can't talk to this sex god. I can't even entertain the idea without my face and neck blushing fucking magenta for shit's sake. Hell, I don't even know his name, and I'm pretty sure someone that attractive doesn't need one. Certainly not in the English language. Perhaps he had a name in one of those ancient tribal languages made up of clicks and trills, and it sounded like a woman having a thirty second orgasm. Hardcock McFuckswell. Dances with Clits. Now I'm daydreaming.
Or at least, late-morning dreaming. I stretched lazily in my too-big bed and pawed around for my phone. Time to get up, caffeinate, shower, and go pick up my two best friends whose presence and running commentary both enhanced and focused my fair experience. They've learned that I don't take no for an answer between May and October, so they graciously accompany me and at times, rein me in. Entering the hot-dog eating contest at the Port Angeles "End of the Summer" fair last year might have ended in disaster, if I hadn't had my girls there to talk me out of it. I smelled what some of the also-rans were bringing up twenty minutes later behind the stage and I'm pretty sure we'll all be riding around in flying fucking cars before I'm in the mood for a hot dog again. I'm very fortunate that my girls didn't happen to think that seeing me eject chunks of processed meat would have been that funny.
An hour later, I am dressed in a white tank top (doesn't show powdered sugar spills) with a gauzy short sleeve navy blue blouse over it (to be buttoned in case of rain, preventing unadvertised nipple karate demonstration), and stretch jeans that hug my ass like it was their mama. Everything on me was carefully chosen to enhance the experience. Bella Swan does not fuck around when it comes to the fair, and this one, being the first of the season and the only one where I see my gorgeous Carnival Sex Idol, is especially sweet. My second cup of coffee was puffing out wisps of steam from the lid of my travel mug, my phone was charged, and my girls were alerted that I'm on my way.
Dammit. I always forget something. I put everything down and go back to the bathroom to put on eyeliner.
I don't do lipstick, blush, or mascara on an everyday basis. But if I leave the house without eyeliner, someone had better check for my fucking pulse.
I wasn't thinking about looking pretty for the boy who mans the Ferris wheel. Of course not.
"So, which would you rather: to have to wear hospital scrubs everywhere, all the time, or to have to end every sentence with 'You Bitch'?"
"Fuck, Alice, you know I can't live without my jeans. You Bitch," Rosalie snorted.
"Yeah, but come on, walking down the aisle one day, towards the man of your dreams, you'll have to tell him 'I do, You Bitch', right in front of his mom and shit."
"But at least I'll be in a goddamn white dress when I do it. You Bitch."
Alice laughed. "OK, yeah, white."
"I'm sorry," Rose tapped me on the shoulder, "can you clear something up for me, Jezebella? Now, am I catching shit from Brandon for promiscuity? Or did I just lose my motherfucking mind? Because if you want to start throwing stones, baby doll, you might want to change out of those glass fucking panties first."
"She's right," I shot an apologetic look at Alice, "you're a slutbag of the highest order." It wasn't true, though. Neither of my friends were whores. They were actually very picky about who they slept with, but they did manage to enjoy a casual hook up pretty much wherever they went. I couldn't be mad. I'd be doing the same thing if I weren't completely tongue-tied and terrified when it came to members of the opposite sex. The only men I'd had experience with had approached me first, and been persistent enough to get past my awkwardness. It wasn't that I didn't want male companionship, because I did. OK, I really did. Just ask my vibrators. Seriously, you can ask. One of them talks.
Okay, no it doesn't. But if you find one that does, I'll buy two. No, wait, just one. Otherwise they could start talking to each other and I don't think I want that. They might unionize.
My second biggest obstacle to finding a boyfriend was that I hadn't the faintest clue how to meet one I wanted to be around with our clothes on. None of the skeevy, unwashed guys in my college classes were good looking or articulate enough for me to overlook the unapologetic way they stared at my tits. But all my pickiness and timidity came down to one harsh reality: it had been 8 months since anything without settings had been between my legs. And soon, I was going to break and let the first guy who could maintain eye contact bed me. And I didn't want to do that. I'd only ever had sex within a relationship before, and didn't want to start doing randoms at this point.
But fuck it, you know? When the time is right, it'll happen for me. And I was sick of thinking about this shit today. I was going to eat funnel cake until it wept from my tear ducts, buy some shitty hemp jewelry, win a seven-foot-tall pink panda and ogle that sexy bastard with the eyes that make me fan myself like Scarlett O'Hara. All nice and light. No big questions.
"Earth to Bella, you just passed the fucking parking lot, dumbass," Rose imitated walkie-talkie static in my ear.
I made a gesture to smack her away from my ear. "Fuck. I was daydreaming about your brother's face between my legs, I must have missed the sign."
"So gross. Please don't go there again today or I might have to drop kick your precious funnel cake into the petting zoo," she spat back at me.
Alice bit her lip and looked at the floor mats. She had the biggest crush on Rosalie's brother, Jasper. Rose knew, but I'm not sure she understood the depth of it. Alice had never liked anyone as much as she liked Jasper. It was impossible to tell if he had any feelings for her, though. The guy was sweet and personable to everyone. He went out of his way to hold doors open for Alice and buy her drinks, but he did that stuff for a lot of people. Alice and I spent more than a few nights hovering over a quart of mocha chocolate chip, discussing the significance of his tiniest gestures. Did it mean he liked her if he pulled out her chair at the restaurant? What if he placed his hand at the small of her back when he opened the theater door? What did he really mean when he said "have a nice weekend"? It was all very high school, but I can't say it was a chore. Alice's buoyant spirit made her easy to be around. I assumed Jasper would see it too, one day.
I turned to Rosalie as I u-turned back towards the parking area. "Is he still coming today?"
"Yeah, he came early to help Grandma set up her table, he said he'd hang for a little bit." She chewed on her lip. "He also said he might bring a friend."
"Are you fucking kidding me?" I knew exactly which friend she meant.
"Hey, that shit's heavy. Jasper couldn't carry it all alone." Rose & Jasper's grandmother, besides being a fiesty little spitfire at 76, was an accomplished sculptor and glassblower. Her pieces ranged from funky windmills made out of old trash cans to delicate glass lampwork beads. I could believe she needed another set of hands for the larger sculptures, it was just the moron attached to those hands that I objected to.
"I'm not going to be civil to him," I hissed between clenched teeth.
"No one asked you to," Rose raised an eyebrow, "just don't break any of grandma's stuff telling him off."
"Don't let seeing Jake ruin your day, Bella," Alice rubbed my shoulders from the backseat as I pulled into a spot.
"I won't. He's not that big of a deal," I shrugged.
He really wasn't. He got under my skin last year, around Thanksgiving. He was a friend of Jasper's, so I saw him a lot when I hung out with Rose. He leered at me whenever I saw him, but I wasn't interested in getting under that, even if he could crush beer cans in his abs. He asked me out a few times in joking and mildly offensive ways, and I blew him off in similar fashion, thinking he was just being funny. But when Rose & Jasper's parents threw a holiday party, I had a few too many cups of mulled wine, and he somehow steered me out into the yard. He backed me up against the house and kissed me so sloppily that even fall-down-drunk, I could tell he was doing it wrong. He kept mumbling that he thought I was hot, that he knew I liked him, that he wanted to fuck me. I was drunk. I liked the attention. So I blew him behind the garden shed.
Yup, right next to the hoe.
Fucking sue me. Tons of women have youthful indiscretions and don't have to deal with mortifying consequences for it. Except me. I do. Because he fucking told everyone about it within ten minutes of his spunk hitting the snow. Word got around quickly to almost everyone at the damned party, as well as the damned small town. Including Jasper & Rose's parents.
I think they thought he was kidding, because they never said a word to me or called Charlie. Dear Jesus, I hoped they thought he was kidding.
So seeing Jake again this side of a cremation oven was certainly not something on my list for the day.
"One funnel cake, please."
"Honestly, Bell, I don't know why you couldn't even let us say hi to Grandma before you start in with that stuff."
"Because it will keep my mouth occupied so I don't start going off on Jake."
Alice snickered. "You mean getting off on Jake!"
"Bitch, you do not want to start with me when I'm about to be holding something that was in boiling oil four seconds ago," I grumbled as I paid for the fried perfection I was about to enjoy. "Anyway, it was like this," I held up a pinkie to demonstrate Jake's unimpressive member, "I don't think he could get a paramecium off with that tiny little thing."
The girl in the fried dough booth handed me the paper plate, and I accepted it with both hands like it was a plate of Eucharist. I needed to sit down for this first bite. I tiptoed over to the first unoccupied hay bale, protecting the mounded sugar from the breeze with my hand, and stared at the golden brown swirls of dough, glistening where the white powder didn't touch. I leaned close in and inhaled the sweetness. My hands were on the verge of burning from the hot oil rapidly soaking into the plate, but I needed to just savor this moment. Honestly. I fucking loved the fair.
"I want you inside of me," I whispered to the funnel cake.
"For fuck's sake, eat the thing, you don't have to make us watch while you seduce it," Rose whined.
I flipped her off and bit into the crispy squiggle of joy.
This is why I was put on this earth. To eat fried dough.
My eyes closed as a I chewed slowly, savoring the perfect golden sweetness that was already turning the paper plate translucent.
I couldn't help it, a little sex moan slipped out.
And then I heard an appreciative chuckle. My eyes flew open and my breathing stopped. There he was. The Adonis with the ocean green eyes. He was on line for food.
Watching me have an orgasm over my funnel cake.
He raised his eyebrows in a genially amused expression.
"Is it good?" he asked.
The fuck do I say?
My brain was a numb lump of grey. I couldn't think of a single English word, never mind something funny or sexy. I couldn't even remember to stop gaping and look away.
"Huh," my mouth somehow formed the sound unbidden. I think it was trying to say, "uh-huh", but being brain-dead apparently tends to get in the way of speech.
Thank Jesus, the gorgeous creature was next in line, the concession stand cashier distracting his attention from me. He took his food and turned to pass something else to the beefy, dark-haired friend he had been standing with.
Then I saw what he had purchased.
The sexy little fucker had gotten himself a funnel cake too.
As soon as my brain comes back online, I'm going to strip naked and jump on that boy. And after I fuck him senseless, I'm going to steal his funnel cake.
He turned and walked back towards the area of the fair where the ides and games were clustered, shooting me one last smile as he left, lifting the plate to his mouth and biting into the fried dough.
My brain kindly waited until he was 15 or 20 steps away to have my high-school-flavored panic attack.
"Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod I'm such a fucking brainless twat and he talked to me! He fucking talked to me and I sounded like a cow getting fisted didn't I? When I said huh? He thinks I'm a moron doesn't he? For fuck's fucking sake why did i have to be born so stupid and why did he talk to me?"
Rose and Alice both looked at me like I'd suggested we go down to the pig races and fellate all the swine. I barely had time to set the funnel cake down on the hay beside me before I felt the overly warm rush of blood to my face and started kneading my temples as I hyperventilated. I knew why they were staring at me. Bella Swan doesn't get like this over a guy. Bella Swan doesn't get like this, period. Through blackouts, car accidents, food poisoning, and having fellow students falsely accuse me of plagiarism, I kept my head up and retained my calm. Most likely, it was a by-product of being incessantly embarrassed and tense due to my naturally clumsy nature. You can only fall down and get laughed at by the entire school so many times before your don't-give-a-fuck response kicks in and you fail to freak out anymore. I thought my ZOMGWTFBBQ muscles had atrophied. Turns out they were just waiting for the World's Hottest Carnie to come talk to me.
Alice and Rose exchanged a wide-eyed, questioning look and a shrug before they sat down on either side of me. Rose fanned me with a map of the fairground while Alice held a piece of funnel cake to my lips. "Eat some sugar, sweetie. And then tell me why the fuck you're such a spazmoid over that guy."
"Wait, that was HIM?" Rose asked.
"No, Rose, it was the tooth fairy in drag. She's hyperventilating because she was thinking about sucking Jake's nut sack again," Alice spat.
"Gross," I panted between gulps of air. "And I'm pretty sure I never sucked his nuts."
"Whose nuts is she sucking?"
Goddammit, I knew that voice. Jacob Mother Humping Black.
"Your mom's," I choked out, "they're so much bigger and hairier than yours."
Jake gave me a look that was intended to be sexy and condescending at the same time, but I couldn't stop staring at his huge teeth long enough to let it bother me. "You'd know I guess, having had your face all buried in my crotch and whatnot."
For the first time I noticed Jasper was with Jake, and he looked exasperated. "Let's have no more of that, Jake," he chided, "Highly ungentlemanly. And unpleasant as well. Ladies," he turned toward us with a smile. Charming fucker. If he'd had a hat on, I bet he'd have tipped that shit at us.
Was it just me, or did his eyes linger a bit long on Alice today? Those eyebrows were a little too arched for a purely friendly greeting. I'd have to discuss this notion with the girls as soon as he was out of earshot.
"All done setting Grandma up?" Rose asked her brother.
"Yeah, she's set and had a few sales already, too," he said. "Actually, she wanted me to come find you, she wants you to man the both while she takes a break."
"Why couldn't you two do it?"
"First, this Neanderthal broke two oil lamps and a glass bowl already," Jasper motioned to Jake with his head, "and second, she said pretty girls move more goods." He shrugged and threw the quickest, tiniest of smiles at Alice.
I peeked back at her, my estrogen related panic attack all but forgotten. Her face gave no clue; no blush, no knowing grin, only a very subtle, longish blink, like she was a little bit sleepy. Hmm. Something was definitely up. But I knew she wouldn't spill until we ditched Jasper and his douchenozzle.
"Well, as lovely as this hasn't been," I scowled at Jake, "we have a booth to watch."
"We'll walk you over," Jasper offered.
Fuck, Jasper, stop being such a gent! I need to grill my pixie! It almost sounded like a euphemism. Or a scrumptious dessert. Grilled pixie a la mode with pineapple caramel sauce.
We stood and I slung my bag across my chest so I could eat as we walked. Jake the Mistake walked uncomfortably close to me, and I got the impression he might have tried to hold my hand if I hadn't been eating with them both. Did he seriously think I would want to date him after all that? Does he act like that towards every girl he liked? If he thought that behavior was appealing, he was the most romantically misguided shitbag I'd ever met.
Grandma Hale's booth was near the midway, and the sounds of the games and rides mingled with the smells of popcorn and fried dough. She greeted us briefly but happily, and rushed off gratefully in the direction of the visitor's center, which had much nicer bathrooms than the comfort station by the food vendors. Rose, Allie and I got settled at her table as I polished off my last two bites of funnel cake and started pushing my finger around the plate, savoring the generous pile of leftover powdered sugar. My irritation at being around Jake quickly melted as I reminded myself I was literally in my happy place.
Sensing this, he must have subconsciously chosen that moment to turn on the shit faucet he called a mouth.
"So, uh, my parents are going away tomorrow ..."
I stared a hole through the yellow checkered tablecloth under Grandma Hale's assortment of tiny glass elephants. Eye contact might result in me being too tempted to shove a stained glass garden ornament up Jacob's rectum.
He wouldn't dare.
"I thought maybe you would want to come over, and, uh ... Bella?"
I was gripping the tablecloth so tightly, the teeny tiny elephants were about to tip over and fall. I could almost see them exchanging worried looks.
Suddenly the shadow over the booth from where Jake stood was replaced by sunshine. I looked up to see Jasper had yanked him by the shoulder and dragged him a couple of feet away and was talking in a low, angry voice into his ear.
"That's right, little bro, set that brain-dead fucker straight." Rose spat. "I don't know why they're even friends, honestly."
The two men took a step back towards the booth. "We're just going to take a little walk around the fairgrounds, we'll catch you later," Jasper said. They walked a few steps before Jake came running back towards us with a mischievous look on his face.
"I just gotta show you girls one thing ..."
He put one foot, then the other on the display table, knocking some of the tiny elephants over on their sides. They were clearly terrified.
Grandma Hale's shop was called The Thorny Rose, after the fact that Rose, her first grandchild, had been such a demanding and implacable baby. Standing on the table, hanging onto the shop's hand-painted banner for balance, Jake put both of his hands over the second 'T'.
The Horny Rose.
"Heh heh, check it out," he chuckled. "Rose is horny! I just had to show you guys that."
Alice didn't waste a second picking up my funnel cake plate, still covered with powdered sugar, folding it slightly in the middle and holding it up to her lips. She exhaled in one quick, focused breath and instantly blew the white powder all over Jake's face and black shirt.
"Dick," she hissed.
Jasper was back, trying to pull Jake down without breaking any more of his grandmother's items.
"I think you have a date with a dunk tank," he grunted.
"Oh, hey Jake," I called out, "can I ask you a favor before you go?"
He tried to smile at me through the sheen of white powder clinging to his face like a kabuki mask.
"Bring me back some wipe-off markers."
"What?" he squinched his face up like he was smelling something nasty.
"Some wipe-off markers. You know, the ones for dry-erase boards and stuff."
"What the hell for?"
"For your teeth, they're big as fucking whiteboards. I could write you a note to never fucking talk to me again, you tiny-dick motherfucker."
"The fuck ...?" He was slow on the comeback, and Jasper was already dragging him away.
It was silent in the booth for a minute as I tried to breathe my anger away.
Finally, Rose shrugged at me. "He does have some big-ass teeth, doesn't he?"
Except for a few excursions to get food, visit the bathrooms, and peruse the disappointing array of vendors, Allie, Rose & I stayed with Grandma Hale & helped her with the customers for the rest of the day. She's one of the funniest, warmest hearted people I know and certainly the easiest person of any age to talk to. The sun was starting to set, dipping the entire fairgrounds in dusty pink and lavender. I tried to focus on the lengthening shadows of fair patrons making their way towards the exit as Alice continued badgering me about the handsome carnie. The one I hadn't been thinking of on top of me all day.
"Listen, just, I don't know, say something! Even if you, like, puke on his shoes, he's still leaving town tomorrow with the rest of the fair, right? It won't haunt you if you mess up, but it will haunt you if you don't try."
"You mean, you will haunt me if I don't try. By irritating the fuck out of me until next year."
Alice shrugged. "Whatever gets you over there."
My stomach flipped and my heart started to beat faster at the thought. Alice did have a point; if I messed up and looked like a giant twatburger in front of My Personal Sexual Heroin, it's not like I'd ever have to face him again. I had never been smooth with guys, even the ones who demonstrated their interest in me first. And with one as amazing looking as this green-eyed god? I was guaranteed to say something stupid. Either that, or I would lose my powers of speech altogether and stand in front of him, stuttering and drooling like a horny victim of head trauma.
Alice was helping Grandma Hale start to box up her remaining inventory. The fair was closing. I'd have to make a choice.
No. I would talk to him next year. Today was just too soon. I needed a plan - and a better outfit, maybe a new hair color ...
Rose, who had overheard the badgering but had been kind enough not to join in, leaned down to whisper in my ear as she wrapped another glass elephant in newspaper.
"How many more fairs are going to go by before little Bella comes out of her shell-a?"
The image that instantly sprang to mind of me hiding under a turtle shell, crushed by my own fear of rejection, isolated from the possibility of meaningful interaction, was not a pretty one.
She was right.
I stood up, grabbed my bag, gave her a determined nod, and started walking towards the Ferris Wheel.
"Just start with a word!" She shouted after me. "Any word! 'Hi' would be fine! No barking or grunting, those might be interpreted as hostile overtures!"
I forced myself to keep walking even though my courage was fading fast.
Gotta say something. Anything.
But what the fuck can I say that keeps me from looking like a moron? Or a reject from Pushy Whore Island?
I wasn't going to be able to do this. I needed more time to think.
Just three minutes would help.
Three minutes was about the length of a ride.
Fucking brilliant. I turned to buy a ride ticket from the last booth that was still open. I would ride that gorgeous bastard's Ferris wheel, then think of something perfect to say while I was up in the air. When I got off the ride, he'd be right there, I'd deliver my charming line and he'd be instantly smitten, following me around like a sexy puppy until I agreed to let him do me in the back of my car.
Bella Swan, you are a cowardly genius.
My bravado took a swift kick to the nuts as my feet touched the metal ramp up to the ride. I looked up and saw him there, arms crossed over his chest, leaning confidently against the main support. His fitted black short-sleeve button down fluttered slightly at the hem as the breeze from the moving ride whipped at his skin. His cheeks showed a hint of stubble, lit up in coral as the sun set his reddish-brown hair on fire. He was watching the ride spin. He was not looking at me.
Guys who look like that cannot even see girls who look like you, my insecurity intoned, threatening to send me running from the platform.
The only reason my feet stayed planted was because I was pretty sure that running away would have caused a clatter of my shoes against the ramp, which surely would have drawn his attention. I might fail to make a good impression, I told myself firmly, but I wouldn't run away without at least making one (potentially mortifying) attempt.
I looked up to find that now he was standing right next to me, at the controls. He was slowing the ride to a stop. I nervously molested the edge of my ticket with my thumb. Fuckfuckfuck. Stop being such a nervous cunt. It's not like he's going to bite. He looks really nice. I'm sure he'll be very polite when he pisses on my heart.
Gondola by gondola, he helped each of the chattering, giggling riders out. My brain was silent as I watched him, listening to my breathing get faster as he finished helping the last passengers off and turned to me.
I froze. He had his hand held out for my ticket.
He is waiting for you to stop being stupid.
I snapped to attention, holding the ticket out, and he took it without touching my skin.
I looked up, and the eye contact made me feel like someone was choking the everliving shit out of me. His eyes were warm though, and he was smiling at me in a way that was completely disarming, even to a bundle of trembling nerves dressed up as a girl, inwardly cursing Rose because I already regretted the unbidden burst of confident enthusiasm she inspired. I was entirely unable to speak and he was going to think I rode the short bus. I suddenly wished I could channel Ariel from The Little Mermaid. She managed to get the guy without her voice.
Yeah, but she had a shitload of talking seafood helping her out. I probably ate my Sebastian last Tuesday in that kani salad.
And then he spoke to me.
"Last ride of the night," he gestured me into the waiting gondola. "Hope you don't mind riding alone."
I looked behind me and saw no one else on line. Fuck. My dumb gambit was keeping him from wrapping up & ending his day. I was that chick. He probably hates my guts right now. Perhaps tucking tail and running wasn't such a bad idea -
His smile was so genuine and relaxed, lighting his eyes. He could have told me to just get on the damn ride already, or told me I was too late. But here he was, smiling sweetly like I was an old friend. Some hidden, socially apt part of my brain thawed at his kindness, and I stepped forward with a smile on my lips, accepting his outstretched hand for help stepping into the ride. For the first time, I noticed that the entire Ferris wheel looked very old, possibly vintage. Rust crept along the corners and joints, and the control box looked like it could tell me about the time Elvis got on for a spin. A new strain of nervous started to blossom in my belly, along with the fear of plummeting hundreds of feet to a particularly terrifying, humiliating, and metallic demise.
Too late to get off now. He punched a button and the Ferris wheel groaned to life. It had been years since I'd been on a ride like this. My stomach lurched as I rose skyward, my eyes pinched themselves into slits. As the gondola approached the peak and began gliding down again, I forced my eyes open for a peek at the operator ... and was rewarded with the briefest moment of eye contact.
He was looking at me. But the warmth in his eyes had morphed into something sharper, almost sly. Like he was amused by some inner monologue I couldn't hear.
Thinking about his expression, I forgot to close my eyes as the ride brought me back upwards, the evening breeze sending a roaring coolness over my face, my hair whipping wildly out behind me.
And when I get off, he's going to see my hair looking like it's trying to run away from my head. Fuck a bag of dirty needles, Rose! I should have thought this shit through!
As the gondola crested, my vain, self-conscious thoughts were brushed aside at the view of the fairgrounds and half the county laid out before me in sunset colors. The stars were just beginning to become visible in the lavender bands of sky painted thickly with clouds. This was very possibly the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen with my own eyes. Combined with deep breaths tasting of the crispness of evening air, it was moving my heart to give up its burden of anxiety. What should I fear when I am alive tonight, a living part of a world as beautiful as this one? What is impossible while I am young and breathing and unbroken?
My stomach dropped at the loud noise echoing through the now emptying fairgrounds. The sickening thump was followed by a tight screeching of metal sliding against unwilling metal, and the ride came to an abrupt stop, right at the crest of its orbit.
Great. I get to die up here in the seat of my epiphany.
Suddenly the view I'd thought of as idyllic and inspiring just seconds ago became a terrifying, spiraling sea of awaiting death. I'd never been afraid of heights, but that didn't mean I was comfortable being stranded helpless in a malfunctioning death machine. My heart pounded and the wind whistled in my ears as I swallowed hard and shut my eyes tightly.
This shit is all your fault, Rose, you shady little cum bucket, and if I die in this godforsaken rusty contraption I swear to god I will haunt your ass so bad -
"Hello up there?" Sexy But Apparently Incompetent Ferris Wheel Operator's voice boomed up at me.
I couldn't manage more than a whimper in return.
"Miss? I'm sorry, there's been some, uh … technical difficulties, we're working on bringing you down. Just hang in there for me, okay?"
Breathe, Bella. Breathing is nice. Puking is not so nice. No puking today, alright?
But I could feel that I was going to lose this battle. My breath was coming too fast, the gondola swaying slightly, my mortal terror quickly compounding my earlier anxiety over talking to the hottest jerk to ever strand me 580,000 feet in the air. Or 60 feet, whatever.
Focus on something else, Bella. Listen to the sounds.
A grinding noise. Some clanging. Shoes on the narrow metal ramp. Voices.
Fuh. King. Breathe.
"You still alright up there, miss?" Funny how his voice sounded smooth even when he was shouting at me.
Say you're okay, Bella.
The sound that escaped from me at that moment did not sound like "okay". It sounded like someone stepping on a duck and kicking a puppy at the same time, a sort of quacking yelp that probably removed any doubt in the boy's mind that I did, in fact, require the shortest bus available.
"Hang on," he called up.
More clanking, softer this time, accompanied by erratic creaks. It almost sounded like flesh slapping against the metal supports, and it was getting louder. Was he really smacking the wheel with his hands? What the fuck was that supposed to accomplish? Was this what they were teaching at the Technical School for Fuckhot But Brain-dead Carnies? The guy was, beyond a doubt, the most attractive man I had ever had the pleasure of laying eyes on, but those good looks could be completely overshadowed if he had a brain the size of a hamster's dick. Smart is even sexier than sexy. Dumb is an instant dealbreaker.
Summoning the courage to look over the edge of the gondola to confirm the source of the sounds, my eyes were rewarded by the sight of his bronze hair, presumably with the rest of him attached, rapidly climbing the girders of the ride towards me. My shock was like a mouthful of peanut butter, making speaking impossible, and I was suddenly at risk of forgetting to breathe too.
The gondola suddenly rocked hard as his fingers appeared at the edge and he easily pulled himself over the side with a grunt.
He's some kind of Ferris Wheel ninja.
He looked up at me from under his eyelashes, and the impulse to puke was replaced with an urge to launch myself like a roman candle into his arms and explode. The smile on his lips was cocky, despite the way his breath was coming fast and hard from the climb. "Thought you might like some company," he panted.
"What the - you - you climbed up? How did you do that?" I noticed I was panting myself.
The cocky grin deepened. "With love's light wings did I o'er perch these walls."
My face dropped in shock. He was quoting Shakespeare to me. No boy had ever quoted anything to me besides Seinfeld or Star Trek.
He looked down, frowning and licking his lips, "It's, um, it's from a play."
Literary Quotations was MY Jeopardy category. This boy was clearly from my camp, and that fact started a buzzing feeling in my brain that loosened my tongue and crossed my legs.
"No," I argued, "It's not just from a play. It's from Romeo and Juliet."
"Act 2, Scene 2," he looked more than a little pleased that his reference wasn't wasted on me.
He continued, "For stony limits cannot keep love out, and what love can do-"
"That dares love attempt." I finished. "The balcony scene is my favorite."
"You're a reader."
"Something like that." How could I not have noticed his scent before? It was smoky, but fresh. Like he'd just been sitting by a bonfire on a beach.
"Yeah, I-" he shook his head as if to clear his thoughts. "You sounded like you might be freaking out up here, I thought maybe you were afraid of heights."
"It's not like I'm fond of them. But I wasn't freaking out. It's just - being up here - it's a little - um, helpless." I licked my lips. "But I'm okay."
"Oh, should I- " he gestured over the side as if to climb back down.
"NO!" my hand shot out from my side, grabbing his bare forearm, as if I could pull him back.
He gave a low chuckle, "Don't worry, I won't fall. My uncle Carlisle owns this ride, and the Tilt-a-Whirl too. We live here in Forks, but he rents the equipment to fairs up and down the coast all summer. I've been climbing this one since I was six. I grew up around this stuff." His eyes moved to my fingers, still clasped around his right arm. He used his left hand to gently release my grip, and before despair could engulf me, slid my fingers lower to entwine them with his.
"But I can stay, if that would make you more comfortable."
He's not a travelling carnie. He's local. How have I not seen him around?
I was about to say something stupid, and I knew it. But I couldn't help it, my curiosity was too strong.
"I mean, yes, stay - but - if you're up here, who's …" I peered down over the edge and instantly regretted it, letting out a gasp as my stomach lurched.
"My cousin Emmett's down there. He's got it under control, he's way better than me at the technical stuff." He looked down at his boots, as if he was suddenly shy. "I'm Edward, by the way."
"Bella. Is your name really Edward?"
Shit, Bel, you think he'd lie about his name? Your 'stupid' button must be stuck. Punch it a few times.
"Uh, yeah," he replies in a tone that, looking at the floor, I can't tell where it lands between annoyed and amused. "What were you expecting?"
"I don't know, something edgier, forbidden. Like Damon. Or Jackson."
He chuckled without smiling. "There are enough Damons and Jacksons. Maybe you need an Edward."
Are you fucking kidding me? Is that a line? Is he using lines on me?
He looked down again.
"So you like to read? Let's talk about books or something, keep your mind off the altitude."
For the next hour, we talked books, movies, zodiac signs, zombie apocalypse, and of course, carnival food. He had managed to get me feeling so at home, holding his hand, talking about myself, that I forgot how far off the ground we were and actually started to feel at home here, lifted up in the deepening darkness, seated in the sky.
With the night creeping up from over the hills came coolness too biting for my thin tank top and gauzy blouse. I shuddered at the chill and shuffled closer to Edward, pressing the bare flesh of my arm against his. He squeezed my hand and gestured to the darkening sky.
"Beautiful up here." He said it quietly, almost like a prayer.
I knew I must be stoned from the altitude, or perhaps from the endogenous emotional high of making a connection with the smart, gorgeous man beside me. My fear had been in remission since the balcony scene reference, and I barely felt any anxiety as I laid my head on his shoulder, staring out into the stars. He let out a quiet hum of satisfaction and leaned his head over mine.
"I hope Emmett takes his time," he murmured. As he spoke, I felt his warm breath whisper across my forehead.
And then I smelled it.
His breath smelled like funnel cake.
The sweet scent of light and heaven activated some primal space in my brain and I was no longer the timid apologist who got on this ride an hour ago. My fear had melted into something shiny, glowing; a coat of enamel sealing a new set of galvanized steel nerves. This time, I was not going to let the possibility of rejection kill the possibility of something beautiful.
So it was without hesitation or consent that I dropped the hand I was holding to raise them both to his face and guide it down to mine.
The sweetness I had expected, the taste of sugar as strong as if his lips had been freshly dusted with it. It was the sudden warmth of his mouth, the way the heat of his kiss seemed to cling and spread over my skin, that burned up the last of my tension. His hand buried itself in my hair, the palm cradling my cheek. His fingertips flexed gently against my scalp behind my ear and held my face closer. I felt the strange sensation of muscles softening in my spine as I opened my mouth to him, wanting tp taste not only his tongue, but his whole being.
This what it feels like. Giving over. I do not want to come down from this, ever, anymore.
The warmth from his mouth poured itself over my skin, making me dizzy, and I knew that I was in a moment, like a lucid dream. A moment that I wouldn't forget. A moment that I couldn't spoil just by being me. I was just going to fly and figure out the landing later.
In an instant, I threw my leg over his lap so I was straddling him. Sliding one hand into his hair, I held the other against the back of his neck, breathing hard and desperate not to break this kiss, moaning softly into his mouth. I was relieved to feel the hardness of his arousal through his jeans, pressing against the seam of mine. Thank fuck, he's just as turned on as I am.
His hands wrapped around my waist and moved up my back, beneath my tank top, cool against my skin before curling over my shoulders. "Bella," he breathed between kisses, pushing me away gently.
"What?" I sighed back at him, confused.
"Is this too fast? I don't want -"
I cut him off with a hard kiss, gripping his hair and letting my nails graze his scalp. Moving my mouth down his jaw, I whispered into his ear, "I know it's too fast. But please don't ask me to stop."
I punctuated my request by flexing my hips, pressing myself hard against his erection. The indescribable feeling of relief and connection to him was too intense for me to hold back. Our kiss became more passionate, bordering on feverish, as he brought his hands down my back to cup my ass. His low growl of pleasure felt like a flash of electricity between my legs. I could feel my own wetness as he began to move my hips back and forth over his generous arousal. "God, you're so fucking pretty," he moaned, as I rocked myself over and over, his hands guiding me, rubbing against his lap, feeling the gondola swaying gently with us in the crisp night air.
"You feel so good," I whispered back. I brought my head back up to kiss his mouth again, revelling in the freedom this new version of myself felt to touch, and speak, and taste, outside of the cage of my own self-consciousness. I would have to remember to buy Rose some flowers. And balloons. And those fancy cookies in a tin box.
His cock felt like it was made to fit against me as I continued riding it, grinding my hips back and forth over him, my arms clinging around his shoulders. The rough pressure against my clit sent hot sparks of pleasure through my bloodstream.
For the first time, dry humping was actually getting me somewhere.
I lowered my kisses to his throat, his Adam's apple, feeling the hint of stubble under my lips. The air felt like it was swirling around on my skin in concert with Edward's hands. "I feel like I can't touch you enough," he breathed into the night air, as his hands moved to the front of my body. Without hesitating, they climbed up the overheated skin of my belly to my breasts, slipping under my bra and inside the cups, squeezing them once before taking my nipples and rolling them roughly between his fingers.
It was all I needed. I had no idea I was so close to orgasm until it overtook me, the exquisite sensation making my heart pound harder than it ever had, bringing my teeth down to bite into the skin of his firm shoulder as a strangled cry of "fuck" climbed up from my throat and the muscles of my sex pulsed hard against themselves. I wanted to melt, to become liquid in his mouth, to fuse to his body just like this, to never let this feeling fade.
"Was that - did you just - oh, fuck -" his breathing was uneven and rough as he brought his hips up once, hard, into my still trembling body and let what I assumed was his own release wash over him.
Rose was going to get a big box of chocolates, too. And a huge teddy bear clutching a fuzzy little felt rose in his paws.
I brought my lips up to kiss his neck beneath his ear, feeling him strain his body upwards to press tightly against mine. As I licked the thin skin there and inhaled his smoky, beachy smell once more, something told me to open my eyes.
So I did.
And we were on the ground.
Emmett stood out from the others because his expression was purely amused. Jasper's face reflected more confusion than anything, and Rose and Alice's jaws gaped open in shock. It didn't escape my notice that Alice's hand was locked inside Jasper's, and her hair had a certain rumpled, defiant quality to it that announced that she had more than likely just been fucked. I knew that little minx had been holding out on me.
Edward's hands quickly dropped from my breasts, the sudden loss of their heat leaving a light sting against my sensitive skin. An "ow" quietly slipped out of my mouth and I lifted my eyes to his face, my forehead wrinkled in displeasure.
"Sorry," he apologized with lifted eyebrows and a smile so sweet and warm, so relaxed and open, that I couldn't help but smile back.
We had no one to blame but ourselves for this mess. And no way was I going to apologize for what I had found with Edward during our time in the sky.
Untangling our bodies from one another quickly, we stood in the now motionless gondola, adjusting our rumpled clothes and smoothing our hair. I pressed the cool back of my hand against the forehead that I'm sure was blushing so intensely, it was probably well on its way to burgundy. Stepping forward onto the platform, I paused at a light touch to my hand, and turned around to see Edward's fingers wrapping slowly around mine, folding my hand into his. Meeting his eyes, I saw something there I couldn't quite interpret. It was almost a pleading look, but tinged with desire. He didn't want this moment to end either. I squeezed his hand and pulled him forward with me, holding tightly.
I'm not letting go, I thought, willing him to hear my thoughts.
So there you have it. i would thank my beta, but this was un-beta'd. That might explain some things. So i'll thank the kind encouragement of friends.
i have a few ideas towards continuing the story, but honestly, i'm not sure i have enough guts for it.
Feedback & constructive criticism are welcomed, requested, groveled for.
Thank you for reading.