This was my entry in the Jukebox contest. The C2 with other entries can be found here:
www . fanfiction . net / community / The_Jukebox_Contest_Entries_Winter_2011 / 90643
Loss4words81 and Pinkpixiechick held my hand during countless WCs and coldplaywhore worked her magic beta skills. I adore the three of them more than I could ever put into words.
I do not own the song lyrics or the characters. What I do own, is a playlist filled with songs from 1991.
Unforgettable, that's what you are
Bronze hair, green eyes, strong hands, lips that I could still taste and then…nothing.
It always ended there. Every. Single. Time.
Everybody has had that dream. The one that popped up from time to time with the familiar face that you never completely forgot. The one with the face and the story that both haunted you and thrilled you at the same time. The one that grabbed a story from your past you never really and truly got over, and reminded you why you hadn't.
The dream that never quite got you where you wanted so desperately to go.
Yeah. I'd had it. I wasn't surprised.
It had been showing up with increased frequency over the past few weeks, but considering I was now less than 24 hours from attending my 20th high school reunion, I would have been shocked had it not happened. Silly me had hoped that a glass of wine and a few sleeping pills would maybe keep me from taking a nighttime journey down memory lane, but no go. He still made an appearance – and it was a good one too.
So good. Blankets and stars and jeans sitting low on hips good. Sigh.
My plan obviously backfired and I tossed and turned in my bed, groggy and more than just a little bit frustrated since I woke up before the, ahem, good stuff.
I always made it to the kissing, oh the kissing, but it was almost like my heart knew what I could and couldn't handle and, just like in the fairy tale, Cinderella had to leave the castle before getting down and dirty with the prince.
I grabbed my phone off the nightstand and checked to see the time. 5:30. I actually managed to sleep in a bit, well, considering my body was still on Eastern Standard Time. On a normal day, I'd have been awake for two hours already and well on my third cup of coffee. That being said, yesterday's travels combined with the Unisom hangover I was currently experiencing made it really tempting to just roll over and see if I could pick up where my dream left off.
It had yet to happen of course, but I wasn't a quitter. One day I would see the dream through to the end and get my happy ever after. Horny and determined, I rearranged my pillows and had just settled back down when my phone rang.
"This had better be good," I grumbled into the phone, not even having to look and see who it was because there were really only a few people who called me on this number, and only one of those people would be awake at this hour.
"Just calling to see how you're holding up and make sure you actually made it to Seattle since the last time I saw you, you were fighting a losing battle with your closet while you were trying to figure out what to pack. I never understand why women stress over shit like that anyway. You're only gone for the weekend, that's so easy. All you had to do was, what? Pack two dresses, something to sleep in, pan…undies, whatever other frilly things you need and something to wear back on the plane on Monday? Easy. You, my dear, have always been a classic over-thinker."
Paul. Dear, sweet Paul.
I couldn't help the smile that crept across my face, ""If I was a guy, sure…I could get away with that. Hell, you probably wouldn't pack anything and just wear the same clothes for three days."
"I've done it before and you never noticed. Remember when we went to Jacob's wedding?"
"That is so disgusting. Please tell me you're lying? I mean that is just repulsive. All the, ew, God, that's just gross…but I remember you checking a suitcase. What did you pack?"
"I don't even know why I think that should surprise me. I swear the older we get, the more you revert. But stop trying to charm me; I'm not sure why I'm speaking to you anyway. If it weren't for you and your meddling ways, I wouldn't even be going on this trip. But no, you couldn't keep your mouth shut and just had to let Alice know that I didn't have any plans this weekend. I still don't believe your excuse that your phone just happened to randomly dial the 10 digits that connected you to Alice Brandon Whitlock. Some husband you are."
I tried my hardest to make my tone sound as frustrated and stressed as I felt, but I couldn't help the smile that eased across my face and the automatic calm that his presence always seemed to bring.
Unlike a certain pair of green eyes.
I threw my pillow across the room, cringing as it hit the mass produced framed print above the pre-fabricated dresser.
"Ex-husband. And what was that noise?" Paul sounded amused and I may have flipped him off from my bed. I knew he couldn't see me, but it felt good.
Hell, being who he was, he probably knew exactly what I was doing. Paul had held many titles in my post-Forks life: Confidante, best friend, and as he teasingly reminded me, ex-husband.
We gave it a go, but it just didn't work out and our marriage ended amicably. We remained as good friends as we had always been, better even, if I was being truthful because we were finally being honest with ourselves. All we wanted was for the other to be happy, and when we realized that being married to each other didn't truly allow it to happen, we let go.
"Nothing." I grumbled rolling my eyes for the benefit of no one but myself.
"I don't believe you, but that's not important. What is...is that you can hardly blame me for all of this. It's good for you to get back there and see your friends. It has been wonderful seeing you so excited about something and as much as you pretend not to be, you are excited, admit it. In fact, I think that I actually heard you laugh the other night when you were talking to Angela about your plans for the after-party. Why Ms. Swan, are you going to get rowdy?"
"I'm hanging up now, Paul. Since you have now effectively ruined any chance I had at falling back asleep, I might as well get up and take out my frustrations on the treadmill before I have to get ready to leave for Forks. I told Alice I'd be ready to go with plenty of time to allow us to have a few drinks before we had to head over to the reunion."
"You guys are too funny; I bet it's going to be just like your pre-prom party but without the red Solo cups and the awkward fumblings of inexperienced hands."
"Go to work, Paul. I'll see you on Monday."
"Have fun, Bella. You deserve it."
I hung up and pouted because I hated it when he was right and he was right. I did deserve this. I'd had a fantastic life and done wonderful things and there was absolutely no concrete reason for me to not want to go back to Forks. Truthfully, I was looking forward to seeing Alice and Angela and even Jessica. Yes, Jessica…because who knows how all this would have turned out if it hadn't been for her.
Unforgettable, though near or far
"Thank you so much Mrs. Swan for driving us. My mom said to tell you that she'll bring us home. I'm supposed to call her after the movie is over, but would it be okay with you if we spent some time shopping at the mall first? I need to find some shoes to wear to church on Sunday. Hey Bella!" Without waiting for a response from my mom, Jessica winked at me and piled into the back of the minivan, followed closely by Alice.
"Hey girls," I replied enthusiastically but calmly, widening my eyes at her in a 'be careful gesture' and holding my breath until Mom started to pull away from the curb because all day long I'd had butterflies in my stomach like something huge was going to happen.
"Relax," she whispered back as she buckled her seatbelt and I realized I had no choice. I still couldn't shake this feeling though. Hell, I had a hard enough time describing it. It was almost like anticipation, but I didn't know what I was waiting for. I mean, we were just going to a movie and then the plan was to walk around the mall for a bit. There wasn't much else for fourteen year olds to do in Forks after all. I don't know why I thought this day was going to be any different.
"Oh, hey, there's Edward Cullen." Jessica's arm shot past my face as she pointed to a lone figure walking along the side of the road and I sat up in my seat like a rocket thankful that my seatbelt at least kept me from smooshing my face against the windshield. I ignored the amused look from my mom and relaxed back into my seat, trying to act like nothing had happened. I was also very thankful that we were behind Edward, so there was no possible way that he had seen that, and, well, because of the view.
It suddenly felt very hot in the car.
"He is so cute. Did I tell you about the day that he actually looked at me in the cafeteria last week? I thought I was going to die." Jessica yammered on and on about his entire 15 year history and what had to be a catalogued description of every move the poor boy has made since he and his family moved here from Chicago over the summer.
How the hell did she know these things?
With every word she said, I felt my heart start to beat faster because I wanted to be the one he looked at and all the boys looked at her already. Of course, then Angela started to chime in on how cute she thought he was and the next thing I knew mom pulled beside him in our Dodge Caravan and rolled down the window.
Kill. Me. Now.
I wanted to shrivel up and die and was this close to making some excuse about how mom suffered from early onset dementia when, before I even realized what was happening, the sliding door opened and he crawled into the back row. I shot daggers at my mom as he wedged himself between Jessica and Charlotte, who were now both grinning from ear to ear.
The ride to the mall seemed to last forever, and yet it wasn't nearly long enough. I hated Jessica for riding in the back but it was probably for the best since I could barely look at Edward for two seconds without blushing. I couldn't even imagine what would happen if we were thigh to thigh.
I cranked up the air conditioning and Mom started laughing and I swore I heard her mumble something about how I was most definitely my father's daughter.
Duh. Who else's would I be?
I fully expected Edward to run away from all of us when we arrived at the mall, but instead he thanked my mom with what had to have been the best manners ever and followed us to the ticket windows. He didn't flinch at all when, after we bought our tickets to see Young Guns, we started talking about how hot Emilio Estevez and Keifer Sutherland were.
That's right…we were way too cool for Oliver and Company, which was what our parents thought we were coming to see. We were rebellious and total badasses.
So imagine my surprise when he ended up buying a ticket too and sat beside me, sharing my popcorn and telling me that for, the record, he didn't think either one of them were hot.
"Jessica Rabbit is way hotter."
Okay, so apparently Edward Cullen was a boob man and considering my lack of curves, that didn't bode well for me at all. So, I slumped down into my seat trying to disguise the problem and pretended to ignore the chuckle, slash cough, coming from his seat.
When the movie was over, and after we did a few obligatory laps around the mall, Jessica went to call her mom from one of the pay phones in the food court.
"Hey Bella, come with me for a sec." Edward held out his hand and I almost passed out when I realized he was serious.
I looked at my friends in a panic before I nodded my head and took his hand, letting him lead me outside to where it had grown dark. Tilting his head back, he looked up at the sky and huffed in annoyance before pulling me around the corner to where he tried again. After three or four different attempts to do whatever it was he was trying to do, he finally let go of my hand and ran his fingers through his hair. It was all I could do to keep my own hands from following and I actually thought I heard my fingers cry when he let go.
"Stupid clouds. Is it always like this?" The frustration in his voice was obvious, but since I had no idea what he was trying to do, all I could do was shrug and nod.
"Pretty much. What are you looking for?"
"I just wanted to show you something." He kicked at a rock that went flying into the parking lot and cursed impressively under his breath. "Never mind, it was probably a stupid idea anyway. Come on, I'll take you back to your friends."
"No, wait. What were you going to show me? They're going to ask me, you know. Well, Jessica will because she has to know everything. You have to tell me, or at least give me a good lie, because otherwise everybody will think we were back here fooling around and you don't want that."
"I don't?" He looked amused and I blushed, but was true. He really didn't want that rumor going around and as much as I wished it wouldn't have been a rumor, I shook my head.
"Nope. Have you met my father? Trust me. You know Mike Newton, right? He came over to do his math homework one day last spring because he left his book at school and when dad gave him a ride home, he had to sit in the back of the Police cruiser. Dad claims it was because the lock was broken on the passenger side door, but that still didn't explain why he had to drive past the jail on his way to take Mike home. I'm not sure what he said to him, but it took a whole month for Mike to even speak to me again without sweating. All over homework. My dad is a bit overprotective."
Edward sighed and toed the ground a bit. "Well, I was just going to show you some stars." It was dark out obviously, but I swore the edges of his ears start to turn pink, almost like they were glowing. He muttered something under his breath and with every word I found myself thinking he was cuter and cuter. "There is a constellation that is a swan and well, I thought it would be cool to show you if I ever had the chance and this was just dumb. I feel like a tool and just forget that I even mentioned it. Jasper said this was stupid and that I couldn't pull this..."
"You've thought about me before? About stars and me? Talking to me, I mean?" He nodded and before I realized what I was doing, I launched myself at him and planted the sloppiest, most awkward, most fourteen year old kiss ever on his face.
When he didn't respond, I opened my eyes to see his green ones wide and wild and more than just a little bit freaked out so I let go and backed away a few steps, wiping my mouth with the back of my hand and seriously considering taking a cab home instead of waiting for Mrs. Stanley. "Sorry."
I waited for him to storm past me, so when he grabbed my hand again, I was surprised to see the smile on his face and I let myself relax just a little bit. "Why don't we just tell them that I thought I saw my mom's car over here and if I did, I was going to get you to go back and find them?"
"Works for me."
When we got back to the food court, a couple of other friends from school had met up with Jessica and the girls and there were more than a few arched eyebrows as Edward and I gave them our alibi. I rolled my eyes as Jessica, in turn, gave me her condolences. I really wanted to tell her that I kissed Edward, but I didn't. I had tact after all.
He hung around with us while we waited for Mrs. Stanley and as the other girls started to pile into her Volvo station wagon, I leaned up and whispered in his ear, "Tell Jasper he was wrong."
Like a song of love that clings to me
Edward and I were inseparable from that point on and three years of high school went by like a dream. We were the couple everybody wanted to be, and if I hadn't been a part of it, I probably would have been nauseated by us. It was effortless, easy, like we were the only two pieces in a two-piece puzzle.
My dad adored him, our parents liked each other, his mother liked me, and I even spent one summer with him in Chicago visiting his grandparents and friends from before he moved to Forks. We talked about forever and the whens and the wheres. The idea that we wouldn't be together never even crossed my mind. Not even once.
Life was so simple back then and I smiled as the warm and fuzzies wrapped around me like a blanket. The memories flashed through my mind like a cheesy music video and I couldn't help some of the giggles that escaped me. Youth was definitely wasted on the young.
"I can't say I've ever seen somebody look like that while running on a treadmill."
I was brought back to current time by the fitness center attendant as she walked around and wiped down some of the equipment. I had been the only one in here all morning, so apparently she was just bored. I glanced over at my reflection in the mirror to see if a boob had popped out of my tank top or if I had suddenly sprouted a third head, but for the life of me I couldn't figure out what she was talking about.
"You look really, really happy and it's nice to see. You should see and hear some of the people that come through here. If they're not trying to impress somebody, they look miserable. You though, you actually look like you're enjoying running on an incline. That's impressive."
I couldn't help but laugh at her comments, "I'm sure. But thanks, I was just thinking back to high school."
She sneered and rolled her eyes, "Ugh. Thank god those days are over, ya know? You couldn't pay me to set foot in my high school ever again. I don't even want to THINK about it."
"You sound like me. In fact, I haven't been back since I graduated, but I was just thinking back at how lucky I was and actually, I wish I had known then just how wonderful I had it. I knew things were good, but I took them for granted." I slowed the speed of the treadmill until I stopped running and could walk and talk to her without gasping for breath. "And at the risk of sounding like a retiree, twenty years gives you some perspective. I know it's hard to believe now, but I promise things won't always seem so bad. Trust me."
She handed me a dry towel and walked away, completely not believing anything I said, but it was fine. Hell, sometimes I didn't really want to believe it because part of me was still the jaded 17 year old who felt like Forks had nothing to offer and it was easier to be angry then sad, but feeling like that made absolutely no sense. After graduation, I went to school, got married…and divorced…had a great job, travelled, did whatever I wanted. Hardly a hard knock life.
My workout took longer than I expected and I had barely enough time to get showered and dressed before Alice and Angela were knocking on my door. I flung it open while I dashed around the room trying to get everything packed. I told Alice it was completely ridiculous for her to drive from Forks this morning to pick me up and take me back to Forks, but she wasn't one you could easily reason with. Once she got an idea in her head, it was a done deal.
Needless to say, she was not amused that I wasn't ready to go. "How are you this scattered? Didn't your flight get in at like eleven last night, which was like two in the morning your time? How did you not just get in the room and collapse? Seriously, you put your clothes in the drawers? You weren't even in the room twelve hours."
Angela sat on the corner of the bed and started shaking her head. "Only you, Bella."
"Sorry. You know I hate living out of my suitcase; it seems so…temporary. Anyway, I lost track of time in the fitness center and got a little distracted this morning. It had been so long since I really let myself look back that I….what?"
Both Angela and Alice were looking at me with huge Cheshire cat grins and for the second time that day, I was worried that I had something on my face. "Seriously you two, why are you looking at me like that?"
"She was thinking about Eddddwarrrrd." Alice elbowed Angela and winked. "Look at her. She's blushing."
"I'm not blushing." Okay, so I may have been blushing a bit, but it was only because she mentioned it and there was the whole power of suggestion thing. "I just let myself look back for the first time in a really long time and I realized that instead of focusing on what I don't have now, maybe I need to start remembering what I did have and make the most of it. Sure things didn't work out like I thought they would, but at least I had three years of bliss. Lots of people don't get three days. Anyway, don't you start in on me too. Paul already called this morning and tried to give me a pep talk. I'm still not convinced that going to the reunion is the best idea ever, in fact, I'm pretty sure that it's not."
I sat down beside her and rested my head on her shoulder, wringing my camisole in my hands. "Twenty years, Angela. I haven't seen or spoken to Edward in twenty years and I still can't go more than a day or two without wondering what he's doing. Hell, if I'd ever let myself have an account, I'd probably be one of those Facebook stalkers and he'd end up blocking me."
"You're hardly stalker material, Bella."
"Yeah, well I've felt like one, or at least like I was supposed to feel like one. For so long, I've believed that all the memories and dreams I've been experiencing were not normal thirty-seven year old behavior and that I probably could use a stint in an institution somewhere that deals with people that can't let go. And that's not right. Instead of wasting my time thinking something was wrong with me, I should have been embracing what I was lucky enough to experience."
"You two were pretty disgusting, you know that right?" Alice came over and sat on the other side of me and the three of us flopped back on the bed and stared up at the ceiling. "But I think what you've described is normal. I mean really, it's no different than reliving scoring a winning touchdown or a great party or some other fantastic moment. Edward was a part of most of your glory days.
Was it wrong that I totally wanted to bust out with some Bruce Springsteen? Instead I thought about what she said and realized that she nailed it.
"Exactly. I know you're right, so why has it taken me this long to believe it? I mean, Edward isn't even going to be here tonight since he didn't graduate with us, but it's like I can't…I don't even know what I'm trying to say. There was never any animosity between us; I don't hate him, things just changed. Distance does that."
There was a reason I went to school across the country after all. I didn't want the constant reminders and it was easy to build my life if I didn't see him everywhere I turned.
"We just knew that if we were meant to be together, we'd be together. When he didn't come home that first summer, I knew he wasn't ever coming back. So, why stay?"
"That was so romantic…and completely stupid. You haven't been able to completely let go because you two didn't have closure." Alice walked forward and took the clothing from my hands before folding it and gently placing it in my bag. "You both truly believed that you'd end up back here together or out there together or wherever together like everybody does when they're young and in love with their soul mate."
"Two clichés in the same breath, that's pretty impressive."
"I've been planning this reunion for over a year now, I'm full of clever witticisms and anecdotes. Just wait until you see the "What Have We Been Up To" book. Our senior yearbook has nothing on that bad boy. That's right." She fist pumped to herself before realizing that she had an audience and shrugged, "well it doesn't. Anyway, lets get your stuff together and hit the road. Personally, I can't wait to get you back to Forks. It has been way too long since we've all been together."
"We just got together six months ago, what are you talking about?"
"You, Angela and I did, sure. But we met in L.A., not here. Every time we've met up over the years, it has been somewhere else. You're damn lucky that I'm not afraid of flying otherwise you might have never seen me again. Maybe that's what I'll do, I'll become agoraphobic and you'll have to come here. That's it. After this weekend, I'm officially a recluse."
"Oh get over yourself. You got what you wanted. I'm here, this is good and it's time for me to put my big girl…undies…on and get started with the rest of my life."
"Still won't say the p word, huh?"
Alice zipped up my bag and I took it from her before I grabbed my hang up bag from the closet. "Let's do this. I managed a whole year in Forks after Edward left, surely I can handle one night. "
"One epic night," Angela corrected me as we headed out the door. "We are all together, it isn't supposed to rain and somehow we're heading to Forks ahead of schedule. The stars are aligning, ladies."
How the thought of you does things to me
Moving my hand to rest on top of his and entwining our fingers, I was determined to stay in contact with him as much as possible.
"You okay, Bella?" Edward didn't take his eyes off the road in front of him, but pulled our joined hands over until they rested in his lap and started rubbing small circles on the back of my hand with his thumb. His touch calmed me, soothed me, and maybe it was his way of admitting that he needed the contact as much as I did.
"Yeah, I'll be fine when we get there. I'm just letting my mind get ahead of me and you know that's…"
"Terrifying," he finished my sentence, as he loved to do, grinning that grin that I loved so much. Filling and puncturing my heart at the same time. I knew that whatever happened between us, I would never ever forget that smile as long as I live.
"Well, that wasn't exactly the word I was going for, but sure. We'll go with that…for now." I squeezed his hand reassuringly and turned to look out the window at the night sky as we continued down the highway. The farther we moved away from Forks, the darker it got and the brighter the stars seemed to shine. "So, where are we going?"
I had assumed we were heading for our meadow or maybe the park where I heard rumors that a bunch of people from school were getting together, but he continued past the secluded turn off without even a second glance.
"You'll see when we get there. I found this place the other day when I was driving around trying to wrap my head around things."
So there was something going on then, it wasn't just me being overly paranoid. He had been acting funny all week and whenever I asked him what was going on, he'd either say it was nothing or he would try to change the subject. But I knew him. We had basically been inseparable for the past two years and even Jessica had given up on him, not that she ever had a chance with him to begin with. He claimed he was smitten with me the first time he saw me in my braces and Ocean Pacific t-shirt that day in my mom's minivan and he has never let me forget it, not that I ever would. Or could.
Like that night, I had been having that feeling in my stomach that something was about to happen, but this time it didn't feel good. I didn't even know what it was and I was dreading it to the point where I was holding back tears that were already starting to well up in my eyes. Somehow I managed to keep them from spilling over because I didn't want to waste our time together with tears. No matter how much time I spent with Edward, it seemed like there was never enough time. Ever.
I had given up on guessing our destination when Edward finally started to slow down and turned his truck down a gravel path I would have never seen, even if I had known to look for it. We followed it for what seemed like miles, though I was sure it was just my eagerness that made it seem like that. Eventually though, the trees cleared and I realized that we were at the beach, but not anywhere I had ever been before. It was a little cove, a little semi-circle of beach, surrounded by trees and cut off from the rest of the world and the only thing going through my mind was that we were completely alone.
Pulling my hand to his mouth and placing a gentle kiss on my ring finger, Edward opened his door and slid out, pulling me across the bench seat and out the same side. "Come on."
He handed me a folded up blanket and pointed towards the water in a not so subtle hint to let him do his thing. I had so many questions and the anticipation was killing me, but I did as he asked because the look on his face was a plea for trust. Which I did, always.
Once I scouted out a suitable spot for the blanket, one close enough to the water to keep the atmosphere, but yet far enough away to make sure we didn't get soaked by a rogue wave, I spread it out evenly on the sand. I carefully stepped out of my shoes before tiptoeing softly on the blanket and lowered myself until I was sitting comfortably to the ground. I tried to do this as smoothly as possible because I hated sand, but inevitably some ended up on my hand and I felt it on my face as I brushed some hair out of my eyes.
I didn't hear Edward behind me until I felt him stepping on the blanket…and more sand sprinkled across my hand and arms as he lay down beside me. By this point, I realized that it was a lost cause and flung myself backwards so that we were face to face. I was tempted to make sand angels to just go all in, but just as I started to move my arms, I saw the expression on his face and I froze.
"You look so beautiful."
Immediately, I was drawn to his eyes, well, like I always was, and they looked almost sad. That feeling came back, the one that made me think that something was about to happen, but he said nothing else and turned his head again until he was looking straight up at the sky.
"Found it." He was talking about Cygnus, of course, the constellation he tried to show me that wonderful night back when we were fourteen and fifteen. "I love the fact that no matter where we are, the stars always look the same." It took him months to finally show it to me, and that was only because we went to a Planetarium show at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle on a school-sponsored field trip.
Since then, whenever the clouds allowed, we'd have an unspoken race to find 'our stars'. Yes, it was hokey, but it was just one of the things that we did. And since he found it first tonight, I owed him a reward to be determined later. I knew what I'd like to do, but we had to get rid of the sand first.
"Even on nights when I don't get to see you, I look for it, you know. And I love knowing that if you happen to look up, you see the same thing I do."
Yup, something was definitely going on with him. So I sat up and reached over to grab his hand, pulling him up so we could finally get whatever this was out in the open. Instead of sitting next to me, however, he ended up across from me, holding each one of my hands in one of his.
There were legitimate tears in my eyes this time and I didn't even know why. I started to shiver a bit, but it wasn't from the chill of the early October night but because, for the first time in a long time, I was afraid.
Edward let go of my hands for a second and opened a camping thermos, pouring something that looked bubbly into two acrylic tumblers and placed them on the blanket beside us. I looked at him questioningly as he took my hands back and inhaled deeply.
"So…dad got a phone call over the weekend."
The silence that followed felt like it lasted forever. I couldn't help the smile that crept across my face because, like tears, I tended to laugh when I was nervous. It never failed to produce worried looks from people that didn't know me...one minute I was crying, the next, I was laughing hysterically. It was just best if I stuck close to my circle of friends.
I tried hard not to laugh because that was so not the appropriate response based on the serious look on his face, so I squeezed his hands and bit the inside of my cheek to try and regain control. Seeing me do this apparently helped him though, because the left side of his mouth started to twitch, even if this little bit of happiness didn't exactly reach his eyes. A fact that I noticed immediately.
Finally, I couldn't take it anymore. "You're dad is a doctor, Edward. I'm sure he gets lots of phone calls. You really should tell him to get an unlisted number or get caller id. Mom and dad are finally considering call waiting, though mom insists that it's rude. I told her that she doesn't have to switch over every time, but at least she would know when somebody else was trying to reach her and with the amount of…"
"Bella, the call was from a friend of his that works at Stanford."
"Oh yeah? Are you going to go visit? I thought you did that already? Do you have an interview or something? You just sent your application in a couple of weeks ago…a phone call can only be a good sign, right?"
He laughed a laugh that was just a little bit sarcastic and a little bit like a kid at Christmas, "Yeah, you could say that." He handed me one of the cups and I smelled it and looked up at him in surprise.
He just looked at me and as I saw the stars reflecting in his eyes and as he smiled gently, it hit me like a Mack truck. He didn't just get an interview. He got in.
He got in.
He was leaving me.
Never before has someone been more
Unforgettable in every way
The three hour drive passed faster than I expected and as Alice did a Readers Digest tour through town, I was surprised at how much had changed and yet how much it looked exactly the same. It even smelled the same, a mixture of greenness and dampness. Earthy.
We ate at the diner and drove by my old house before we finally made it back to Alice and Jasper's house to get ready for the reunion. Even though we spoke almost weekly and had just seen each other a few months ago, we still had so much catching up to do. It was nice though, and the feeling in my stomach had evolved from apprehension to something bordering on the edge of excitement.
"I promised Jacob you'd come by and see him," Alice pointed out the police station and I started laughing.
"I still can't believe he's the new police chief. How many times did dad stop him for some infraction or another?"
"Yeah, well he can't believe your parents actually followed you to New York. Actually, most of Forks is still in shock. Nobody expected Charlie Swan to move away from his fishing spot."
"Well believe it. They even have the accent now. In fact, I have pictures of them in Times Square from New Years Eve." I grabbed the 'oh shit' handle as she turned to stare at me in the back seat. "Assuming we actually make it to the reunion, I'll show them to everybody."
A feeling of contentment washed over me and I had to admit it. I was glad to be back. Of course, the bottles of wine we shared over the rest of the afternoon probably didn't hurt. There was absolutely nothing wrong with a little bit of liquid courage.
I took a picture of the wine glasses and sent it to Paul who sent back a picture of his own. When I saw a purse in the background of the picture, I couldn't help but smile. He was so hearing from me in the morning.
Just before seven, we were all piled in the back of Alice's minivan and I had a serious case of the giggles. "I still can't believe you drive one of these."
"I don't want to talk about it. This was all Jasper's doing, something about how it would be illegal to make the kids ride in the trunk. Being responsible sucks ass sometimes." She sighed exaggeratedly, but couldn't quite hide the amusement in her eyes. "Normally I refuse to drive this thing after five and especially on the weekends, but it was the only way we could all fit since we had to bring our husbands with us."
"It's a good thing I didn't bring Paul then, you'd have to rent a bus."
"I still say he should have come with you. In fact, why isn't he here?" Jasper pulled out his phone and proceeded to dial. Okay, maybe I would be talking to Paul sooner than I thought.
"I always knew he liked Paul more than he would admit." Alice laughed as she pulled into the parking lot at the Lodge.
It looked amazing and not at all like the last time I was here for Edward's graduation. I wasn't sure what it looked like after my own since I had been so hell bent on leaving town that I didn't attend the post-graduation celebration. Instead, I got in my car and drove and drove and drove until I couldn't drive anymore.
There were white lights strung over every surface that held still, but it wasn't overdone. With the darkness of the night and the lack of the big city lights I was used to, it was almost like we were walking into millions of tiny stars.
My heart stopped just a little bit and I froze.
"Come on Sunshine, it is time to greet your public." With Alice putting her arm through one of mine and Angela taking the other side, I walked through the doors and stepped back in time.
While the town of Forks didn't appear that different, I couldn't say the same about some of my classmates.
"Oh my god…is that Tyler? What happened to him?" His hairline started at the back of his neck and he had this comb over swirl thing going on that was both nauseating and impressive at the same time. No lie, if that thing was unwrapped, it probably reached his knees. I shuddered.
Angela giggled and nodded as she wrote her name on the 'Hello My Name Is' sticker before handing me the black sharpie. "I know, right? And can you believe he's been married seven times."
I mouthed the word seven to her and I wrote on my own nametag and double-checked it to make sure it was spelled right. She mouthed back seven and held up her right hand and two fingers on her left. Wow. Who knew. Maybe those rumors I had heard about his attributes were true. Still, I don't think I'd ever be able to get past the hair to find out.
I had to give Alice credit, the place looked fantastic. There were pictures and displays of our high school history all over the room, but it wasn't done to the point where it looked like FHS threw up. The atmosphere was nostalgic but upbeat and it really did seem more like it was going to be a night of catching up instead of looking back, and as I caught her eye across the lobby as she did the lean in hug, slash air kiss to a girl I didn't recognize, I nodded my approval.
After Ben made his way back from the bar with drinks for Angela and me, I nodded him my thanks. Open bars were a beautiful thing.
I took a deep breath, said a silent prayer that I wouldn't make a fool of myself and I jumped in with both feet.
All in all the reunion was what I had expected it to be. There was lots of hugging and catching up, with minimal eye rolls on my part. The food was good and the obligatory slideshow with pictures from our glory days went off without a hitch. I thought I saw a tuft of bronze hair cropped out of a picture but when I leaned over to ask Alice about it I almost choked on my wine.
She was shooting daggers at the DJ who had just switched the music back on and the melodious harmonies of Boys II Men started to echo through the room.
"No! NO NO NO! He was supposed to close with It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday, not start with it. It's too soon! People are going to get emo and there won't be dancing and gah!" Gritting her teeth, she stood up and stormed over to where he was situated and I felt just a little bit sorry for him at that point. I could see her arms flailing and she pulled a folded up piece of paper out of the top of her dress and pointed to whatever she had printed out on it. She'd always been organized like that though.
I was so busy watching and laughing at her that I didn't notice that somebody was approaching until they were standing right in front of me. "You know, Bella, all during high school I wanted to dance with you, but I never got the chance."
"It's okay Bella, really. Dance with him. Please." A very pregnant Jessica sat down beside me and I had to take pity on her. As more music from 1991 started to play, I realized resistance was futile and grabbed Mike's hand. I mean, really, who can resist C&C Music Factory. Not this girl.
It was amazing to just dance, have fun and be silly; all the things that I forgot to do over the years. We used to have fun like this every weekend. Now, it took weeks of planning just to get a few friends together for dinner. But then again, as I watched some of the guys I graduated with dance with their respective partners and groups, I remembered why it was probably better that our priorities had moved away from the dance floor.
Oh God. I think Yorkie just did a split.
I had also forgotten how awesomely bad some of the songs from this year were and when Color Me Badd started to play, I remembered that I was actually jealous of Donna Martin when she got to meet them on 90210. I mean… sure she found out her mother was having an affair, but really, it was Beverly Hills. What did she expect?
Apparently the wine had caught up with me and I found myself smiling and laughing and having a good time. Once the music slowed down though, I realized it was probably time to return to my seat and let Mike dance with his wife.
I sat down and started listening to the words and got lost in the lyrics.
And forevermore, (and forevermore)
That's how you'll stay, (that's how you'll stay)
Claiming my lips in that way that he knew made me breathless, Edward wrapped his strong arms around my waist and lifted me up and into the bed of his truck before climbing up behind me and pulling me next to him, close to him, against him where I always wanted to be. In his arms I never thought about tomorrow or what was coming in the days and weeks ahead, the only thing going through my mind was how much I loved Edward and that I needed him more than air. The way his breath shook against my neck and the way his arms held me tight let me know he felt the same.
We kneeled together, side by side and wrapped in each other's arms until it became too much and yet wasn't enough all at the same time and we both needed more. Always more. Fingers fumbled with buttons and zippers and ties and hooks until we finally managed to remove our clothes from our bodies and skin was pressed against skin.
Ignoring the fact that he was leaving for Stanford the next day, we were not in a rush with our touching and teasing, focusing on taking our slow, sweet time with each other, reveling in the moment for as long as we had it and I knew that I would remember this night forever.
I lightly ran my fingernails up his arms and kissed the side of his neck and jaw, nipping and tasting and teasing as Edward's thumbs swept just underneath my breasts. I arched my body towards him in a silent plea, pressing forward, upward until he realized what I needed and lowered his mouth to swirl his tongue around my right nipple at an agonizingly slow yet delicious pace. My body burned and I almost struggled to breathe, overwhelmed by the intensity and the sensation, but there was no way I was going to tell him to stop. No. Way. And when I moaned and dug my fingers into his scalp, I felt him smile and laugh softly against my skin.
Just as I start to lift his face up to kiss him, Edward hooked his fingers into the sides of my undies and slowly, gently started to lower them over my hips, down my legs until I could step out of them. He guided me gently down and back until I was lying completely bare and exposed to him against the pillows and blankets he had arranged in the back of his truck under the stars. He hovered above me, staring so intently I could almost feel his eyes as they moved over my body, but instead of feeling self-conscious, I didn't ever remember feeling more loved. "You are so incredibly beautiful," he whispered, so softly that I wasn't sure I was supposed to hear him but I shivered anyway from the emotion behind his words. "So beautiful."
As he moved down the length of my body, kissing and nipping and nuzzling, all I could think of at that moment was how much I loved him.
The first tentative touch of his tongue against my clit made me forget what I was thinking about. Gentle at first, he teased, making me squirm and my hands fisted the blankets and pillows around me. My back arched upwards, pressing against him, needing more and wanting even more than that until he finally wrapped his arms around my legs to keep my body still and exactly where he wanted.
He pressed his tongue flat against my opening, probing and pushing and it was so so warm and unfy and every other non-coherent word I could barely think of at that moment. With every stroke, every flick, he became more dominant, more commanding, as my body responded the way it always did. His tongue pushed into me over and over, devouring me, and he stopped every once in a while to tease and flick until I was almost overwhelmed to the point where I couldn't possibly take anymore and I felt like I was falling.
"Faster…please…Edward," I rambled between moans, my fingers released the blankets and found his hair, pushing and directing and "yes, God yes, right there…Please, Edward, please." I begged, pleaded, needed him to stop and yet never ever ever wanted him to stop. Ever. I couldn't help my moaning and writhing and I was dying and dying and it was too much and when he finally pushed a finger, then a second inside, all the while his mouth sucking at my clit, I let myself go.
Falling, my body pressed up and away and against and Edward held me tight, keeping me grounded until I collapsed into the pillows, still trembling, shaking and completely and totally at his mercy.
Edward crawled up along the side of my body and the look on his face let me know that he was rather pleased with himself and I wasn't about to argue. I was, however, not going to be out done and once I regained control of my arms and legs, I sat up and pushed him over, determined to have my turn.
As I looked at him lying before me, I couldn't help but trace my fingertips gently along his length, touching skin that was hot and smooth. Hard and velvety. Beautiful. I moved my mouth over his entire body, mimicking his actions from earlier and determined not to leave an inch of him untouched by my lips. I traveled across his body, listening as he moaned and breathed, thinking only of how much I wanted him. How much I needed him. How much I loved him. Always.
Fingers and lips and touches eventually brought us both to a frenzy. Edward's hands gripped the back of my head, threading through my hair and he guided me up his body, to his lips, taking charge and erasing any thoughts of anything but us at that very moment. As he hovered over me, the only thing I could focus on was us. There would only ever be us. Always.
"Please, please, please…" I lost myself in his eyes and repeated my words over and over until his lips crashed against my own and he pushed forward, filling me completely. Wrapping my legs around him, I held him tight, as if my life depended on it, and I couldn't help the single tear that escaped and slid down my cheek searing the night into my brain, my skin, my soul like it was marking me.
Edward held himself up with one elbow and wiped away my tear with his thumb. I saw nothing but love reflected in his green eyes so I smiled and nodded that I would be okay. We would be okay. Always.
He slowly started to move out of me and then back in over and over until the sensations started building, raising, boiling until we lost ourselves under the stars, our bodies and passion loose and free. We collapsed against one another, unable to move and I felt Edward kiss the top of my head as he pulled me close.
"I love you, Edward Cullen," I said as I fought the sleep that threatened to take me away from him. My shivers caused him to pull a blanket up over our naked bodies, and since we were still entwined, it was hard to determine where he began and I ended. With his body wrapped around mine, we were infinite.
"Bella, baby, everything is going to work out the way it is meant to. Just you and me. I'll always come back to you. Nothing can keep me away."
We kissed and smiled and laughed and loved, so I believed him. We spent the rest of the night enjoying each other and it felt so right, so certain as all promises did when you were seventeen and eighteen.
That's why darling it's incredible
Of course, we didn't have another night or that next summer, and as much as I wasn't capable of believing it at the time, eventually all that was left were the unforgettable memories.
Memories and emotions and events that I'd replayed in my mind over the past twenty years. I'd moved on, obviously, but part of me was never able to let go. And now, I realized that it was okay to hold on. I wasn't going to be incapacitated by the memories; I would cherish them. And maybe cursed them a bit like I did this morning, but those years, those events, shaped me and I wouldn't be who I was had my life not played out like it had.
I wondered if Edward ever thought about me like that.
"Bella, are you alright? You look a bit flushed; do you need me to get you some water?" I looked up to see everybody at the table staring at me and I drew a blank. I knew somebody had asked me a question, but I honestly couldn't remember what it was or how I needed to answer it.
"Oh, yeah. I'm fine," I smiled and fanned my face a little bit. "I just forgot how fast red wine gets to me. I'll be fine in a minute." Scooting my chair back and away from the table, I picked up my glass because it wasn't the wine at all. In fact, I needed more. "I'm just going to step outside for a minute and get some fresh air. I'll be right back and then I want to hear about whatever it is we're going to do when this shindig is over. I have lots of time to make up for, right?"
Angela put her hand on my arm to stop me and looked at me, "Are you really okay?"
"Yeah. You know what? I think I am. I just need to clear my head for a few seconds. I may have pulled something out there." I put on my most convincing smile and winked at her. "I'll be back in a few, 'kay?"
The music picked up again and as all the people that hadn't been dancing before returned to the floor, I wove my way around them toward the doorway to the balcony.
The only lighting out there was from the white lights and I was thankful that I was alone. I took a couple of deep breaths and automatically looked up at the sky to see if I could see the stars. The sky was clear and there were so many of them twinkling and shining and without even making a conscious effort, my eyes were pulled in a specific direction.
"Found it," I said to no one, but it was habit, like breathing.
I don't know how long I stood there and stared at Cyngus, our Cygnus, but suddenly I realized that it had grown chilly as the night had progressed. I rubbed my hands briskly up and down my arms to try and generate some warmth because I wasn't quite ready to go inside yet.
I knew somebody would eventually come looking for me, so I wanted to have my moment while it was mine to have. When I heard the sound of footsteps behind me, I knew it had passed.
"I still look for it too."
Obviously I'd had more wine than I had realized. Not only was I feeling warm again as I felt the smooth lining of a jacket flow across my arms, I was hearing voices.
It had never seemed so real before. I could feel the weight of the material on my shoulders and the residual body heat that eventually stopped my shivering. I didn't want to move for fear of losing the mirage of him, of this, because while I had made so much progress in dealing with how I felt about the memories, I was worried that this was maybe his way of saying goodbye.
"Don't leave me again." I whispered, staring off into the distance since I was too scared to turn around. "It has taken me this long to get here, I can't do it again."
I felt a hand move my hair over to one side and warm breath on my skin. "I always loved you in my clothes. I just never thought I'd see you in them again."
My hands grasped the railing and I closed my eyes tightly, it seemed so real. So incredibly deliciously real. "I've seriously lost my mind this time."
There was gentle laughter. "You really don't believe I'm here, do you?"
"No… because you're not here. I don't know where you are, but you're not really here. This is just like the kazillion other times you've shown up in my mind. I wish you were here, but just like every other time, you'll fade like the stars when the sun rises."
"I'm not leaving unless you tell me to." I turned around and Edward was there.
He was standing right there.
My heart started racing as I looked at him, not at all believing what I was seeing. He was a bit taller and a bit older and his eyes were a bit sadder, but they were his eyes. And they were real. How did he look so calm? Every cell in my body was trembling and my emotions were all over the place. I was excited and anxious and nervous and absolutely in shock. I wasn't sure I could walk away if my life depended on it since I was pretty positive I couldn't feel my legs. I stared at his face, memorizing it, remembering it and when he smiled, I knew then that he was real.
"Not coming back was the biggest mistake of my life, Bella. I've regretted it every single day." Edward whispered
"You're here," I whispered back, still not believing it as much as I wanted to.
"So many times I was tempted to find you and see what would have happened. I looked on Facebook, I Googled, I contacted the NYU alumni office…they wouldn't give out any information by the way. I made my mom track your parents down, but when she told me you were married, I promised myself I would stay away."
"I'm not married anymore." I whispered the words, but inside I was screaming it from the tops of my lungs. I had so many things to tell him, to explain to him.
"I know." Still, I couldn't help but notice the relief spread across his face as I said the words.
"How are you here?" As I take his hand in one of mine, I realized just how much I was still shaking.
"I came back for your tenth reunion, hoping to see you. That was all I wanted. To see you happy, but you weren't here."
"You weren't here. I knew you weren't here so I couldn't find the strength in me to come back. Nobody told me. I can't believe you're really here." There were so many thoughts going through my head, but I couldn't get anything out.
"I just had to see that you were happy. I knew that once I saw that, I'd be able to let you go. Do you know how many times I've purchased plane tickets to New York, only to back out at the last minute?" He wiped the tears from my eyes and I'm not sure, but I thought I saw some tears in his own. Or maybe the stars were just reflecting. "You can't believe that I'd ever be able to forget you?"
"I didn't want to think so, but I didn't know." My legs were like jelly and I held on tighter and tighter to his hands with every passing second.
"Bella," he said before lifting my palm up to kiss, "love like ours is unforgettable."
I launched myself at him just like I did when I was fourteen but this time he was ready. He caught me and held me as I wrapped my legs around his waist and hung on like my life depended on it. I didn't care that I was wearing a dress, I didn't care that hundreds of people were in the room next door. I didn't care about anything other than the fact that he was here and I was here and we were together.
Then he was kissing me and I was kissing him and I knew that this would be one night where the dream didn't end before things got interesting. I didn't know how it was going to happen, but I was never ever going to be away from this man again.
I made him take me away from the reunion, knowing that I'd have some explaining to do in the morning. I sent a quick text to Angela letting her know what had happened and then turned my phone off before she could respond. I'd have to share him with everybody eventually, but for tonight, he was mine.
As we pulled out of the parking lot and drove off into the night, I knew that I wasn't the only one that would remember this night for the rest of my life.
That someone so unforgettable
Thinks that I am unforgettable too