Entry for the Strictly Charlie Contest
Summary:There was only one woman in this town that could reduce Chief Swan to a bumbling mess. Maybe it was time for him to come out the shadow of a broken heart.
Disclaimer:The characters depicted are the property of S. Meyer, the story is my own.
"Chief Swan, I don't know what I find sexier: that uniform, or that mustache you've got going on," a sultry voice murmured from behind me.
I turned to meet the mischievous stare of the golden-eyed goddess that had moved into town a few months ago.
I didn't know much about her besides her name and the fact that she was widowed. She lived with her foster kids up in that big, fancy house near the woods, and she was the most beautiful woman I had ever laid eyes on. I couldn't help but watch her whenever she was in town; her walk alone had me mesmerized. The roll of her hips was like a siren's call, and damn if I didn't want to answer! I had a tendency to blush and stammer whenever we crossed paths - I had a feeling that it touched her in some way, judging by the smile she seemed to reserve only for me.
"M-M-Mrs. Cullen. Pleasure to see you today," I said, tipping the brim of my sheriff's hat.
I was pretty rusty at flirting, seeing as my last relationship ended many years ago with my daughter's mother. I'd never been inclined to put myself through that heartache again. The day Renee left, she'd taken my heart right along with her. I'd never really thought to ask for it back until now.
"The pleasure is all mine," she smirked, moving closer so I could smell her tantalizing scent of cinnamon and honey. If her body was a feast, then I was a gluttonous fool. My eyes dropped to the curve of her neck. That would be the place I'd start, if given a chance. I began to salivate at the thought of running my tongue along her creamy skin.
Her melodic voice brought me out of my thoughts. "Lovely weather we're having Chief," she said sweetly.
I looked at her, flabbergasted. We hadn't seen the sun in days; nothing but rain and fog. Pretty gloomy stuff if you asked me.
"The weather should break in the next few days," I responded politely.
She smiled softly. "I hope it never stops. I love the smell of rain, the feel of it on my skin. There is just something so magical about it," she purred.
When she put it that way, I couldn't help but agree. Almost immediately, I started having visions of curling up on the sofa with this woman as the rain drops caressed the window panes, wrapping my arms around her delectable body as I nuzzled my nose into her cheek, her hand resting on my thigh…The images caused me to wonder if her skin was as soft as it looked.
"Then you moved to the right place." I laughed before continuing, "I'm sure you've noticed that's all it ever does here?"
"Of course. It was one of the things that drew me here. After Carlisle died, the thought of living in a big city held no more appeal," she said, her smile growing a little sad.
"I'd always promised him the kids would finish out the rest of school in a much tamer place," she added.
"My condolences," I murmured sympathetically.
I'd heard through the grapevine that her husband had died in a fire, maybe a year or so before she moved to Forks. I was sorry to hear that her husband had died so horrifically; no one should have to go like that. However, fate had her reasons, and I was glad that Esme was standing before me.
"Losing Carlisle was hard," she sighed, a far away look in her eyes.
I held my breath, not wanting to disturb her train of thought. We usually spoke when we crossed paths, but never this intimately. I heard her take a deep breath before beginning to speak again.
"But I've managed to hold up very well. He wouldn't have wanted me to die along with him." She shook her head slightly and refocused her unusual eyes on me.
"This climate is much better for our skin condition anyway," she threw in, changing the subject abruptly.
Skin condition? I repeated silently as my eyes focused on her perfect porcelain skin.
"What skin condition?" I asked out loud.
"Severe allergy to the sun. Makes it almost impossible to be out on a sunny day," she explained patiently while I stared blankly.
I immediately felt like a moron. I'd noticed how pale she and her children were, but then again, my Bella was just as fair. I would have never suspected anything like that.
"I'm sorry to hear that," I responded, thinking it odd that the entire family had it, especially considering they were foster kids.
"There is no need to be sorry. It just means no beach fun for us, but we have adapted quite nicely," she shrugged. "It's something we were born with; you can't miss what you've never had the joy of experiencing."
"You're right, but…"
"Chief," she interrupted abruptly. "When are you going to get over your shyness and ask me out?" she asked, giving me a blinding smile.
I was pretty sure my jaw had hit the floor. Had the most beautiful woman in the world just prompted me to ask her out on a date? I had to be dreaming. Better yet, I had died and gone to heaven, because I was pretty sure that was the only way this was happening.
"M-Mrs. Cullen," I stammered, sounding like a teenage boy.
I watched as her smile widened, showing her perfect white teeth.
"So formal," she teased. "Please call me Esme everyone else does."
"As long as you call me Charlie," I responded, finding my confidence rising back up.
"I prefer Chief," she said with a saucy wink. I felt heat flood my face at her boldness.
I smiled at her and racked my brain desperately for something witty to say, but came up empty. Real smooth Swan. She is giving you all the right signals and you are standing here like an idiot.
"Esme," I said in a firmer voice. "Would you like to have dinner with me this Saturday?"
Her golden eyes twinkled with mirth as she tapped her finger against her lips thoughtfully. It took everything in my power not to reach over and pull those fingers away, replacing them with my lips.
"I need to check my calendar. I'll call you Chief," she glided away, leaving me blinking in bewilderment. What had just happened here?
I'd like to say that I was all manly about it and didn't give Esme Cullen a second thought, but that would be a lie. I thought about her every second of the day. Her laugh. Her smell. The way she pushed a lock of hair behind her ear when she spoke. I swear it was all witchcraft.
Bella thought it was hysterical that I was rushing home after work, essentially waiting for a call that never came. She teased me about it constantly until I threatened to ground her if she uttered another word. Punishment for her would mean no Jacob Black, and I knew the thought alone would keep her quiet. I still caught the teasing glances she cast my way when she thought I wasn't looking, but I let my little Bells have her fun. It wasn't every day her dear old dad made a fool out of himself.
By Saturday, I had given up all hope that she would call, and my mood sank below dejected. Maybe I'd read her signals all wrong and she wasn't as interested as I'd thought. Maybe flirting was as natural to her as the air I breathed.
Those thoughts weighed heavy on my mind as I flipped aimlessly through the channels. Bella was going out with her boyfriend, Jake, leaving me free to mope in peace. Tonight would simply be a Charlie night. It was actually a little sad that my eighteen year old had more of a social life than I did.
Maybe I should step outside of my self-imposed loner box and try something new. Maybe I should go out to a bar with some of the fellas and have a few drinks, chat up a lady or two. I could call Sue Clearwater and see if she would be interested in going out. I knew for a fact she'd been interested for years, but I'd always pretended not to notice. I hadn't been emotionally equipped to handle that aspect of life again.
"Why don't you call her, Dad?" Bella suggested as she pranced into the room.
"Call who?" I asked, my eyes never straying from the television as my daughter regarded me with her hands on her hips.
"The beatific Esme Cullen," she breathed teasingly as she flopped down on the sofa next to me.
"Remember my promise, Bells!' I said sternly, pointing the remote in her direction with a glare.
She rolled her eyes at my warning. "I'm eighteen and can legally vote. You can't 'technically' ground me anymore."
"I'll let you keep believing that dream for the night," I murmured, returning my attention to the ball game.
"Seriously Dad, all jokes aside. I can see you really like her. Maybe you should grab the bull by the horns and go for it. Sometimes a woman likes to be chased, and maybe Mrs. Cullen is one of them," she said.
"Or maybe she just isn't interested, Bells…" I replied.
"Or maybe you are just too scared to get hurt again," she shot back stubbornly. "Forget Renee and what she did. She moved on a long time ago, and so should you."
"This isn't about your mother…"
"Isn't it?" she asked with a raised eyebrow. "Look, the sooner you bury her memory, the sooner you can be happy. I think Mrs. Cullen would be an awesome start. She's beautiful, smart, makes a mean chocolate chip muffin, and apparently likes you. The only thing left to do is man up and be the type of guy she's waiting for."
I rolled my eyes at her. This had become quite the role reversal.
"And just what type do you think that is?" I asked her.
"Daddy, I know you've been off the market for a while, but the basic knowledge of women shouldn't have changed much. We want a man who knows what he wants, isn't afraid to go after it, but can still be a gentleman," she advised with a twinkle in her chocolate brown eyes.
I stared at her with a bemused expression on my face as I processed all she said. I then realized my eighteen year old had more sense than I did when it came to matters of the heart.
"When did you get so smart Bells?" I asked, heart swelling with pride.
The doorbell rang and she hopped up with an excited smile.
"I was born this way," she quipped before dropping a kiss on my cheek and going to answer the door.
A second later, she returned with Jacob in tow. After a few pleasantries, they finally left for their movie date with a promise not to be out too late. My mind was racing a mile a minute trying to process all she'd said, making it impossible to focus on the game.
I flipped the TV off and as I stretched, my eyes fell on the guitar in the corner of the room. Music was just what I needed to sort myself out; it had always been my therapy. I ran my hands over the guitar lovingly - the Gibson J200 was a work of art I'd splurged on it a few years back, and I hadn't been disappointed. The older it got, the sweeter the sound appeared to be, definitely making it well worth the money I shelled out.
I warmed up, plucking at a few chords before settling on the sofa and losing myself in the music. The sound of the doorbell brought me out of my music-induced haze. I ran my fingers along the strings one last time before setting it aside and going to answer the door.
"Esme," I said, surprised to find the center of my thoughts standing on my porch.
"Chief," she said sweetly. "May I come in?"
"Of course." I stepped back, allowing her to brush past me, bringing that cinnamon and honey scent I craved.
She looked amazing in a pair of dark jeans that were tucked into high-heeled brown boots that stopped just under her knees. My eyes traveled further up to her matching brown leather jacket, left slightly unzipped, showing off a hint of cleavage.
"This is a pleasant surprise," I said, eyeing her figure in appreciation.
She turned, catching me staring, and winked.
"Would it be too late to cash in on that date? The kids went camping this weekend with friends, so I have some free time," she said hopefully.
"What did you have in mind?" I asked, looking down at my faded jeans and flannel shirt. Compared to her, I looked like some small town cop. Oh wait…
"Beer and pool," she suggested, following me into the living room.
"Two of my favorite past times. Count me in," I remarked, smiling along with her.
"Great!" She sighed happily and then began to stare at the guitar propped against the sofa. "You play?"
"Not too well, I just dabble here and there," I shrugged, feeling shy.
"So modest," she admonished playfully.
She sat down on the sofa, her golden eyes twinkling merrily. I could lose myself in those eyes, I thought as I picked up the Gibson. I turned to return it to the stand in the corner.
"Would you play for me?" Her breathy request had me stopping in my tracks.
I hadn't played for anyone in a long time, not even Bella, but when she looked at me with those eyes, and that smile playing at the corners of her mouth, I couldn't refuse.
"What would you like me to play?" I ran my hand over the guitar as Esme sat back and crossed her legs.
"Gentleman's choice. Surprise me, Chief," she spoke tenderly.
I sat down on the coffee table in front of her, knowing exactly what I was going to play. I stared her straight in the eye, played a few notes, and crooned the first verse of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Games".
The world was on fire
No one could save me but you.
I was a little off key, but that was alright, judging from the look on her face as she swayed in tune to the music.
Strange what desire will make foolish people do
She shifted and bit her lip, causing my fingers to stumble over the strings, but I caught myself quickly.
I never dreamed that I'd meet somebody like you
And I never dreamed that I'd lose somebody like you
My voice became stronger as a trembling hand rose to her chest. I poured my heart and soul into those lyrics, never breaking eye contact.
No, I don't want to fall in love
[This love is only gonna break your heart]
No, I don't want to fall in love
[This love is only gonna break your heart]
I strummed my last note, and she leaned in so close to me that our noses were almost touching.
"That was wonderful," she breathed, staring at my lips as I stared at hers. They were red and ripe, like crushed strawberries, and I wanted a taste.
"Glad you enjoyed," I murmured, laying the instrument across my lap with every intention of kissing her before I expired from need.
"You sing and play the guitar; I think I'm in love!" she sighed, angling her head to the side a little.
"I could play you another," I whispered just as I leaned in to kiss her, but she pressed her fingers against my mouth, stilling my movements.
"Not so fast, rock star. You still owe me a date," she reminded as I stared at her in confusion.
"You're killing me, woman!" I groaned as I moved back.
She smiled serenely. "Good things come to those who wait," she advised, moving herself out of my reach.
"Let me go change and we can get going," I said.
"You look fine as you are," she sighed, running her eyes over my frame. I could tell by the glint in them she was happy with what she saw.
"I still need to change," I assured her, mentally ticking off the outfits in my closet. "Do you have a particular place you want to go?"
"I was thinking Blackthorns," she called out as I made my way toward the stairs.
I nodded in agreement. Blackthorns had everything a man could want: buffalo wings, darts, pool, beer, and a game on every channel.
"Just give me a sec."
"I'm not going anywhere," she promised.
I took off upstairs feeling like a girl. Grown men definitely should not be floating on air.
I came back down a few minutes later wearing the blue button-down shirt Bella had given me last Christmas. I tucked it into a pair of fairly new jeans, and I'd also taken the time to splash on a little cologne. She let lose a wolf whistle when I walked back into the room, startling me. The woman was constantly surprising me.
"Looking good Chief." She got up and walked towards me, running her eyes over me lustfully. "Very good indeed."
I was tempted to just throw her over my shoulder and haul her upstairs, but I couldn't do that to her. You didn't have sex with Esme Cullen; you made sweet, passionate love to her. Besides, who was I kidding? I would never be able to follow through on that thought; my palms were already sweaty with just the image.
"Ready to go?" I choked out.
"I was born ready," she joked, slipping her arm through my mine.
"Good to know," I said with a chuckle.
"You only have the police cruiser, correct?" Esme looked up at me from the corner of her eye.
I mentally slapped my palm to my forehead. No woman wanted to be taken out on a date in a police cruiser, and I definitely didn't want to take Bella's rust bucket, but I couldn't ask her to drive. My eyes fell on the black LS460 with the dark tinted windows sitting in my drive way and my heart fell. We were definitely from two different worlds.
"I've always wanted to ride in a police cruiser," she said excitedly as she pulled me over to the cruiser and waited for me to open the door for her.
"You sure you don't mind?" I asked, opening the door as I stared at her in amazement.
"As long as I'm with you, I don't mind at all," she took advantage of my stunned silence to slide into the seat and shut the door.
It was official; I was a goner.
The night only got better as we chatted about everything from our childhood up until present time. She told me about Carlisle and how they met, and how they'd ended up parents shortly after they married. Tragedy had befallen her cousin, and Carlisle had insisted they take in her twins. Rosalie and Jasper had apparently been born with the same affliction as Esme, and it made perfect sense for someone who was aware of their special needs to take them in.
A few years later, they'd added Edward and Alice to the family, after deciding it would be a great idea to give others like her a home. She'd taken Emmett in after Carlisle had died, saying it gave her someone else to focus on instead of her husband's untimely death. I'd seen the kids around town a few times, and they were a quiet bunch. They stayed to themselves, never causing any trouble. Only two things struck me about them: the fact that they were all exceedingly beautiful and that they tended to drive too fast. I tended to look the other way on that, only issuing warnings to slow down, hoping to win brownie points with their beautiful caretaker.
In return, I told her about Renee, how we'd married too young and how one day she'd just packed her bags and left, saying that she couldn't do this anymore. Something about Esme inspired me to confide how I'd felt so lost after Renee had left, but how I'd pulled it together to raise Bella and focus on my career. I left out the parts about how I still mourned the loss of my wife and how I hadn't had the courage to date again. Somehow, though, I think she knew that already. She praised me on my parenting skills and raved about how lovely and well-mannered Bella was.
"I sometimes wish my Rosie would be more like your Bella," she sighed, toying with the handle on her beer mug.
"Maybe we should set up a play date and see if some of it could rub off on her," I teased, feeling utterly content.
"As beautiful as Rose is, she can be a bitch with a capital B. I'd hate to have to expose your sweetheart to that tornado. Trust me on this one," Esme said, wrinkling her nose.
I couldn't believe she'd just called her own daughter a bitch, but I could tell it wasn't meant maliciously. I told her about Bella leaving for college and she sighed, saying that the kids would be leaving soon as well.
"It's hard letting them go isn't it?" I said, reaching out to grasp her hand.
"Sure is, but I'm sure we can find things to keep us occupied," she said with a meaningful look. My heart skipped a beat at her words.
The night progressed with more drinking, talking, and laughing. We played a game of pool and Esme turned out to be pro, wiping the floor with me effortlessly. Not ready to see the evening come to an end, we played darts, which helped salvage my manly pride. Her darts were way off the mark every time, and we had to apologize to a guy who almost lost an eye when one of her throws went astray.
We were roaring with laughter when we pulled into my driveway and tumbled out of the car. Anyone looking at us would have thought we were drunk, but we were just so giddy from each other's company. We couldn't contain ourselves, and I choked back a laugh as we paused by her car. I shushed her, not wanting to wake the neighbors. I'd already spied Bella peeking out the window.
"I had such a good time tonight," I murmured, reaching up to push a lock of stray hair off her face.
Her chuckles quieted as she stared up into my eyes. "Me too," she sighed, leaning back against the car as her eyes dropped to my mouth.
"We should do this again." I moved in closer, caging her body with mine.
"Definitely," she murmured, tilting her head to the side.
"Next Saturday?" I asked as her hands came up to rest on my shoulders.
"How about you just shut up and kiss me?"
"Yes ma'am," I drawled, bending my head to brush her lips lightly with mine.
She moaned, and I took that as a signal to deepen the kiss, pressing my lips more firmly against hers. My arms wrapped around her slender frame, pulling her closer as my tongue ran along her lower lip, asking silently for permission to enter. Her mouth opened tentatively, and I could sense a small hesitation. Slowly, our tongues met and sensually explored each other. She tasted like sin and felt like heaven in my arms.
It was with regret that we both started to pull away from each other. I took in a much-needed breath, and noticed her golden eyes had clouded with desire. They seemed slightly darker than usual, but her pull still held me. Her lips felt chilled and burning at the same time, and damn if I didn't want to push her into the backseat of the windows were darkened significantly, so who would see us?
"Charlie, you make me feel things I never thought I would feel again," she breathed as she nuzzled her face into my neck.
I cuddled her closer, noting that she'd finally called me Charlie.
"Ditto," I said, not trusting myself to speak.
There were so many thoughts and emotions racing through my head. Of course, they were all centered on the beautiful goddess I was holding close to my chest. Renee had never come close to making me feel this way.
"I don't want to let you go just yet," I whispered into her hair.
"You can hold me for as long as you need to," she responded, tightening her grip. "I wish this night would never end."
I pulled away reluctantly and brought my hands up around her face.
"It doesn't have too," I said strongly, pouring all my feelings into those words.
Esme smirked and tilted her head towards my house. I turned back towards it to see all the lights still on. I knew what that meant.
"Bella's waiting. Call me tomorrow?" she asked.
I leaned in and kissed her before opening her car door. I watched her settle in the seat and leaned down to speak to her again.
"I've been waiting a long time for you, Esme Cullen. Someday…someday you are going to be my wife. You're mine." I smiled and kissed her one last time.
"Oh Charlie," she sighed, her eyes full of emotions as she melted into her seat.
I watched her drive away before entering the house. I knew Bella would be waiting for me. I was proven right when I walked in.
"Way to go dad," she cheered, giving me a high five.
"Bella, I'm going to marry her," I said happily, excited that she had been right.
"I know daddy. As long as you're happy, I'm happy," she said as she hugged me.
And for the first time in a long time, I truly was.
A/N: I'd like to say thanks to Sweet129, TheUnderStudy, JaspersBella, Idealskeptic for helping me whip this story into shape.