Hello pretty ladies.
So, here we go again. This will be my first 'intentional' multi-chapter, lol. Oh, FM, you got so wordy. So, we'll see how this goes, ok? This time, nothing in particular inspired this story, no pics or songs (IKR?), but on my profile you'll find some pics for some of the things mentioned in the chapters. More info at the bottom.
As usual, thanks to my lovely beta Songster for her mad skillz and for her patience in reading all the freaking words I send her way. Oy.
Also, I own many things, Twilight is just not one of them.
Ok, let's see what this is all about ...
Red. Burgundy. The colors change when light reaches them.
They look so alive when it hits them full front. They become vibrant, they move; they make you want to crawl inside of them, swim in a sea of reds, greens or yellows.
Or you can find beauty as well when the light is scarce. Colors become darker to our eyes and almost sensual. You don't want to crawl inside of them, you want to let them envelop you, touch your skin and maybe leave a little bit of that sensuality behind.
Red in the light. Burgundy in the shade.
That change, it's what I've been watching for the last twenty minutes, sitting here, outside on the terrace of this restaurant. The wine swirls around the glass as I move my hand from left to right, in and out of the ray of sun that hits my table.
It's incredible how the colors change and move all around us. How they seem to fit our moods or easily influence them at times. Ishould know about that, I work with colors and lines all the time.
"Edward? Are you listening to me? It's like I've been talking to myself for the last hour." I hear Rose say in front of me.
She rarely comments on my wandering mind; she knows that getting inside my own head is something I need to do in order to be able to work and most of the time is inevitable. My best creations come from nights when I just let my mind fly. However, it does prove to be very annoying for my family and close friends.
But Rose understands me so well. She always has.
"Sorry, little sis. I was … mesmerized." I smile, because that word doesn't truly cover it and at the same time, that's exactly what I've been feeling.
Rose smiles back and I know she gets it.
"I know, Edward. It's ok. I just wanted to bring you out of your bubble for a little bit. I haven't seen you in a while; wehaven't seen you. Marie really misses her favorite uncle." She pats my hand.
Marie, little Marie. The one true, pure light in my life with her infectious laugh and innocent blue eyes. Little blond curls that bounce when I lift her up above me. Blond that glistens under the sun, just like it did on her hair.
Rose chuckles and brings me back to the now.
"Yeah well, that should be a little obvious, considering I'm her only uncle, Rose."
"Semantics." She laughs and rolls her eyes, her beautiful blue eyes. Blue.
"But really, Edward. Please come visit us soon. I don't like to think of you all alone in that big place of yours. I'll cook some of your favorites, Marie and I will." She pleads and it breaks me that she has to plead to her brother for a visit. Like she's begging for scraps. I hate it and it's all my fault. She just wants her brother back.
"Of course I'll come, Rose. Anything for my girls. How about next Saturday? I can even take her to the playground earlier in the day."
"That's a great idea." She shines, something that few people get to see from her. "She'll be so happy to hear it. It's settled then."
We say goodbye a little later, and I know she'll be calling me again during the week to make sure I haven't forgotten about it. It's a good idea, I actually would.
Instead of heading back to my place to work in my studio, I decide to take a walk around the neighborhood. I always find it very calming even though I'm surrounded by people and noise. I guess being inside my own head for days at a time can do that to you, make you feel calm in the presence of chaos.
It's a Saturday afternoon and the streets are filled with children running around, enjoying the few days free of school. Couples holding hands and stealing soft kisses every couple of steps. I used to be like that.
Without a care in the world. Happy.
I keep walking for a few blocks, letting this life run free around me. For a moment, it makes me feel as if I am alive as well, even though I know it's not true, I haven't been for awhile.
When I turn right at the corner of a book store, I'm suddenly hit with a wave of warm scents, sweet and salty and spicy, they all make their way into my nose and mouth, traveling down my throat. I close my eyes and let them enter me, fill me with their familiarity.
I instantly remember Sunday afternoons with my Mom when I was a little boy. Rose and I helping her mix the ingredients for whatever concoction she was preparing. Of course, half of those ingredients, the ones we could actually eat, ended up in our mouths before ever making it to the mixing bowl, but she never truly minded.
When I open my eyes, I can see where these scents come from, a little bakery at the other end of this block. 'Mon Petit Paradis', that sounds fitting. I could easily see it becoming a place of escape in the future.
I don't even think about it before heading that way. It's located in the first floor of a three story building. To the right there is a big window which displays the name of the business and you are able to see inside to a tempting display of what they offer.
So many colors and textures and shapes.
Under that window, a bench is located for the customers to rest while they eat one of the delicious looking pastries. I can see two little girls there, their mouths full of powdered sugar and their fingers covered in jam.
Strawberry red against the yellow of their dresses.
To the left of the window, there's the entrance, with a little bell on top to announce the new arrival of customers into this new world. I head inside and it's intimidating when everyone turns their heads to the door, trying to asses the new visitor, almost measuring them to see if they fit in. Fortunately, they seem to think I do, so they quickly turn back to their business.
The choices are even more overwhelming now that I'm standing in front of these treats. Croissants, macarons, gateaux, mille-feuilles, canelés, jesuites. All there, dancing and mixing in colors and scents, shapes and textures. Powdered sugar, marmalade or raisins covering them and making them even more appealing to the eye. It is a true explosion of the senses.
God, it's even worse than when I have to choose which colors to work with.
I have to look away for a moment to distract myself from all of this. I look to my right, out the window, and I notice that across from the bakery, there is a square with a small fountain at the center. The way the water falls is hypnotizing and, once again, I'm drawn to something other than what I've been focusing on.
I can see the kids playing around, splashing water to each other, while their mothers run after them. It makes me smile to see and also sad to think that I will never have that. I tried that life once and it didn't work.
After I make my choice of mille-feuille à la vanille, I go outside to sit on a bench by the fountain to eat it. It's a hot day, so being close to water will help me feel a little cool.
The second I take a first bite, I know that I'll be coming back to this place once again. I can't believe the perfect mixture of flavors and textures. Soft and a little hard and slowly melting on my tongue. Sweet and making my taste buds work overtime and fly at the same time. Then all these sensations travel down my throat, smoothly making their way into my body.
How do they do that?
I turn my head and really look at the bakery. It's very ... cute, I guess I could say. The flow of people making their way inside never stops and they all look a little bit happier when they leave.
Right above the bakery, there are two windows and a small balcony in between them. The balcony has window boxes, filled with flowers, all in different colors that shine under the sun. Some of the flowers reach up into the sky seeking the light that gives them life and others, strangely enough, seem like they're reaching down toward the bakery, bending like they're trying to escape the confines of their little prison-boxes and be free to go inside.
Maybe they are trying to sniff a little bit of the godly scents coming out of there, just as I was a few moments ago. I wonder if that's the case; would those flowers smell of pastries as well, or even possibly taste of brown sugar and cinnamon?
I shake my head at the idiocy of that thought. Pastry sniffing flowers.
Still, flowers or not, the person living above that bakery must have the time of their life, waking up with such scents each morning. Or perhaps they are sick of them, sick of the sugary breeze and the damn fresh bread warmth making its way up.
I pity them if they are allergic to sugar.
Above it, there's the third floor. Unlike the second one, the balcony reaches all three windows there. The door in the middle is open and the breeze is moving the white curtain. Left to right. Right to left. The movement seems ... sensual.
Something hitting my feet breaks my moment and when I look down, there is a red ball resting there. I look up trying to see where it came from and a little boy is standing in front of me, one arm holding a very worn teddy bear while he sucks the thumb of the other one.
I pick the ball up and make motion as if asking it it's his. He only giggles.
I guess it is his, so I gently toss it back. He releases his thumb and picks it up. He can barely hold the bear and the ball as he walks back to his mother, who has been watching our entire exchange.
As I watch them go, I lift my hand to my hair, running my fingers through it. It is really hot and my pastry is gone.
I suddenly have the urge to pout.
It is then that I notice that my right cuff is loosening and when I try to fix it, a damn button goes flying out, falling right next to the fountain.
"Shit," I curse and go retrieve it.
When I find it, I find myself rooted to my spot, just staring at it.
How odd and simple can buttons be. Simple, yet so important. Holding two pieces of fabric together, keeping the skin we want to cover … well, covered. They come in many shapes and colors, some we can see in plain sight, others work in a more secret way. They can be only decorative at times, but even then, they make the clothes look put together.
They make us look put together.
They are all important, but it's those little buttons that I find most fascinating. Their size prevents them from being seen most of the time and they seem almost too fragile to fulfill their mission, but they do it in the same way as the others. They're just not pretentious about it. We truly never pay them attention until they fall off.
"It's not going to attach itself you know, no matter how much you look at it." A voice says to my right.
When I turn, I see this girl standing next to me, facing me. She has a beautiful smile and looks amused at my behavior.
But what strikes me the most are the colorson her, around her, shining from within her. I've never seen something like this before. I can't stop staring.
She's shorter than I am, reaching to my chin I guess. She has shiny, long brown hair up in a ponytail. I bet it's wavy when it's down. Her eyes are this incredible chocolate brown color with little specks of hazel around the irises, something that only the sun above us is able to show.
I want to get lost in those eyes.
Her lips, oh her lips. Full and pouty and red, but not just any red. No. The red that looks more like cherries, cherries you can't wait to taste and lick and feel in your mouth, letting their sweet juice dance on your tongue and drip down your chin.
I want to taste those lips.
Her skin is pale and under the sun looks a little pinkish. It looks so soft and flawless and a little sparkly with the layer of sweat covering it. Little drops of it are making their way down her neck, between her breasts.
I want to lick that skin.
She's wearing a light blue dress with spaghetti straps that hangs from her delicate shoulders. The fabric falling loosely against her body down to her knees, hugging all her curves not revealing too much, but leaving just the right amount to the imagination. The very soft breeze making it sway a little.
I want to run my hands on the skin inside that dress.
Colors. Bright and peaceful colors everywhere you look at her. Colors that on other people might look wrong, on her they are perfection.
"Uh?" Yes, my answers are incredible.
She laughs, throwing her head back, making her neck look longer and exposing it to me. Oh, she sounds wonderful. I notice a small scar on the left side of her neck, a little line that looks paler than the rest of her skin. Perfectly imperfect.
"I said that button is not going to attach itself back to your shirt, just because you look at it like that. You have to sew it back. You know how to sew, right?"
And now is my turn to laugh. To anyone else, me laughing might seem rude, but no one has ever asked me that, at least not since I was much younger.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to laugh at you. But my answer is yes, I do know how to sew a button."
I'm glad she doesn't take offense at my laughter, she's smiling at me with a curious look in her eyes, like I'm a puzzle. I want to laugh a that as well; I'm anything but a puzzle. Everything about my life is out in the open for people to talk and judge and speculate. No, I'm not a puzzle.
"Come with me. I'll sew your button back, even though I am tempted to see you doing it for yourself," she teases.
"You don't have to, really. It's just a shirt, I have plenty of them back at home and like I said, I can sew." I don't want her to work for me, even if it's just to sew a button. I have plenty of people that do that. I want to spend time with her, just because. I want her to spend time with me just because.
"It's no problem, you see; I'm a seamstress and I work at this small shop right across from the square. Right over there." She happily points to her work place.
A seamstress? I haven't even known her five minutes and she's surprising me with the things she says. My face must've shown my surprise because it makes her smile drop a little. I don't like that I did that.
"I know, I know. A seamstress, it's weird. Everyone gives me that look." She rolls her eyes and seems a little uncomfortable.
But I don't want to be like everyone else to her.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean anything by it. It's just seamstresses are hard to find these days; they usually work for design houses. I think is a very unique work, interesting." God, I'm making it worse by saying generic crap.
"Don't worry about it." She waves her hand in the air. "Interesting? Well, I don't know about that, but I do get to meet very interesting people. The owner has had the place for over thirty years, so it's mostly old clientele, very loyal with great stories about their younger days." She speaks very fondly of these people, like they are friends or family to her, even. I don't have that at all; everyone wants a piece of me, wants to be seen with me.
This girl's job is much more interesting than mine.
"So, do you want me to work my magic on your shirt? If you're worried that I might ruin it, don't be. I would never offer to sew a button on a $600 men's shirt if I didn't know what I was doing."
"How did you know-?"
"I work with fabrics all the time. I need to know this stuff, you know."
Of course. I want to slap my face now.
"It really doesn't matter, but I'll take your offer just because I know it will drive me crazy until I get home. So lead the way."
I follow her to this little shop, truly right across from us. Very small, pressed between two three story buildings on each side. I can tell it's a very old place, but it fits the rest of the architecture surrounding us. All these little stores fit right in.
I watch her from behind as we walk and I can't keep my eyes away from her. This is a very mesmerizing view of her, her hips swaying, her ponytail bouncing. Her steps are of a woman sure of herself, but they falter a little when she looks back at me over her shoulder, like she wants to make sure I'm following her.
As if I could turn from her now.
When she sees me looking at her, she smiles and blushes, turning her head back to the front. She doesn't look back until we reach her shop.
"So, um ... before anything, shouldn't we know each other's names first? I mean, you are sewing my button back. I don't let just anyone do that." I really don't.
"Oh, right. I'm Bella." She turns to me while we stand at the entrance and extends her hand.
"Hello, Bella, I am Edward." And I take her hand in mine.
Jesus Christ, her touch. I can't believe someone like her exists. The sight of her, the sound of her voice and now her touch? It was such a sensory overload, starting in my hand and making its way all through my body. I was sure I would burst at any second. I was sure even the air felt charged.
She must've felt something similar. Her eyes widened and her pouty lips formed a little 'o' before letting her hand fall from mine.
"Well, hello Edward, let me go get my things." And she is gone in a flash to the back of the shop.
To get my mind out of this for a second, I take in on my surroundings. The place is small, just as I thought from the outside. A small counter sits to the front with a notebook or something on top of it, I guess to write down the orders. The walls are covered in photos and fabrics and different mementos of years long gone but not forgotten. It's obvious that they hold a special place for the one who put them up there.
I approach the counter and what I see is even more captivating than the rest of this place.
The notebook that I had just seen is not filled with orders and dates and names, it's filled with designs. It's actually a sketchbook. Beautiful lines shaping dresses, blouses, pants. The person who drew them knew the woman's form and movements perfectly.
"Ok, I'm back. Do you want to-" She stops once she sees me looking at the drawings. I feel embarrassed by this. I'm invading someone else's privacy.
"I'm so sorry, Bella. I didn't mean to-"
"It's ok. I just don't let anyone see my stuff. I have a lot of free time here, so I need to keep busy." She moves fast towards me and takes the book, placing it under the counter.
She did those? I can't believe this; she keeps surprising me at every turn.
"May I just say they are incredible? You capture shapes and forms perfectly." She should be working for a design house or have one for herself. Maybe I can-
"Thank you, Edward. But it's just doodling, nothing more." She turns and the conversation on that subject is closed.
Doodling? That's far from doodling. The lines are amazing and simple, the designs classic, with an air of modernity. I don't like how she shut down like that, but it's none of my business, really. I want to see the playful girl from before back again.
"Do you want to take off your shirt or I can work with it on you? It's only the sleeve and I'll be fast."
"Oh, on, if it's possible with the shirt on." The moment is awkward enough and adding to it the fact that I could be shirtless would only make things worse.
"Ok, sit down here." She motions to a seat in front of her, while she sets down her sewing box, which is a green vintage train case, covered in these old McCall's sewing patterns. It's unique, just like Bella.
"It was my mother's." She says when she sees me staring at it. "She died years ago and she left it to me. I redecorated it with all these patterns she had. I kind of wanted to make it different. It makes me feel close to her. It reminds me of all those afternoons she spent teaching me how to sew and differentiate between fabrics."
Even though she sounds sad, she's smiling, remembering the moments with her mother. She looks so beautiful, almost serene in her thoughts, and this makes me want to hear more about Bella's life.
"I'm sorry for your loss. It's a very beautiful box. I can see how it would make you feel close to her. I find that when you do manual work like that, it takes your mind off of things. You're concentrated on one task, but at the same time, it also allows you to be alone with your thoughts, thoughts that without the noise of the rest of the world, make their appearance. I guess when you are alone doing this stuff." I motion to my arm. "You can't truly help but think of her, like she's right next to you."
Bella stops what she is doing and looks up at me, her eyes filled with tears.
"Exactly." It's all she says, before returning to her task.
We stay like that for a few moments, in silence and I really don't like it. I keep screwing things up with her every time I open my mouth, but I can see that she'll be over with the button soon and I don't want to leave with this bitter taste behind us.
I want to make her smile.
"I really like that bakery across the square, you know? I had one of the most amazing mille-feuille I had ever tasted in my life. And my Mom bakes a lot, so I know a little bit about that."
She smiles softly without taking her eyes away from my sleeve. She touches my hand repeatedly and every time our skin makes contact, I want to grab her hand in mine.
That would be a conversation stopper.
"Yeah, Alice takes pride on her baking. She's a third generation baker, you know. I remember her mother making the most delicious croissants in the world. Thank God, Alice learned how to bake them or our friendship would've stop right there." She's laughing and making jokes now. That's gotta be good, right? We're back on track.
"You know the owner?"
"Yes, since high school. We separated for a few years when she moved here and I was with-" She stops what she's doing for a moment. Something else I want to know about her. She clears her throat, uncomfortable. "Well, when I moved here, she offered me a place to stay. I live right above the bakery. She, her husband and their little girl live in a place close by."
"You're the one who lives above the bakery?" She nods.
I was amazed at how small the world truly is, where she ends up being that lucky or unfortunate person that lives above such a tempting place.
"You're the owner of the pastry sniffing flowers?" What the hell did I just say?
Bella stops, slowly moving her head to look at me once again.
"The what?" She looks like she's trying to hold in the laughter. Who can blame her? I just said one of the most moronic things out loud.
"The ... um ... pastry sniffing flowers. You know, some of the flowers on your balcony seem to be looking down to the bakery, like they are-"
"Sniffing the pastries. Oh, I see. Yeah, I know." She finishes for me and leaves me surprised once again.
"I noticed that the first time I visited Alice. I told her I thought at any second they'd jump down to the first floor and make their way into the bakery and start placing orders." She's laughing now, not at me, but at that memory. Not that I minded if she laughed at me right now.
"God, you're incredible," I blurt because I'm a idiot, and spending too much time in my studio is robbing me of my social skills.
"Thanks. You're pretty incredible yourself, Edward." She blushes and her eyes shine with a little golden sparkle. Another color to add to my collection.
And I stare at her, just like that. It's been such a long time since I've felt this connection with a woman. They all want something from me. Always. But Bella seems different; she doesn't know who I am. She's meeting the real Edward, the one only my family knows. They one they want back.
"Ok, all set then." And the moment is broken.
I look down to my sleeve and I find what I expected. A perfect job. The button exactly where it should be, firmer than before. Her stitches are impeccable and almost invisible to the eye. She got the perfect color of thread for it, something very difficult for this brand of shirts, for they use very specific and custom made ones.
I should know; I own that design house.
"It's perfect, Bella." Like you seem to be. And I brush it with the tip of my fingers.
"Glad you like it. It's a little hard to get that specific color but I managed, Mr. Cullen."
I stop. She knows who I am? She's known from the start? Was this a joke to her? Was this a set up from the start?
Please don't. Please don't. Please don't.
I can't believe that by letting my guard down, I was being fooled once again. I should just stick to being enclosed in my studio from now on. I look up to her face, trying to find the answers. The answer I want, need. That she was not deceiving me to get something from me, I couldn't take that from her.
"How do you know who I am?" I want to sound angry or at least firm, but my voice sounds weak. She thought I was weak as well all those years ago.
"We all know who you are, Edward. You're constantly in fashion and social magazines. You're hard to miss." She's smiling again, but tentatively.
"I didn't want to make you uncomfortable. I get what the fame can do to someone. It traps you and makes people think they know you and only want to see what they can take from you. I just wanted to give you something. Peace. Peace by letting you be who you wanted to be for a few moments. Mr. Cullen or Edward. You looked so happy out there." She points outside.
She wanted to give me something? Give? Such a foreign concept in my life. Always surrounded by models and other designers and fashion magazine editors. All of them wanting to take and take. They are the reason I spend so much time inside my studio. Hiding.
But Bella, for her I'd be willing to go outside, I want to go outside with her. Spend days like this one, not hiding, never hiding. The both of us out in the open, under the sun, letting the colors vibrate.
"Thank you, Bella." I smile because it's the only thing I can do and it's real. Everything with her feels real.
My phone starts ringing and brings me back to reality. And when I see who it is, Demetri, it's a reality that suddenly I don't want to face.
"I have to go now. It's from work."
"Oh, I understand. You must be very busy." She looks like she doesn't want me to go either.
"Thank you for sewing the little button. How much-?"
"Don't even think about it, Edward. You made my afternoon much more interesting, that's payment enough," she interrupts and sounds so firm. I'm a little afraid to go against her.
"I can't do that. How about I buy you some pastry from 'Mon Petit Paradis'?" I'm an idiot; she probably is tired of them.
"I'd love that." And her smile is like I just told her sniffing flowers doexist.
"Well, it's a rain check then." And now I'm smiling like sniffing flowers do exist. After this afternoon, I'd believe anything.
"Now that you know my name, or knew it all along. What is your name. Or are you like Madonna or Cher? A one name woman?"
"No, I'm not cool enough to only have one name and that's it. It's Swan, my name is Bella Swan." She teases.
Swan, a beautiful and delicate swan.
We exchange numbers and I promise to call her on Monday after I check my schedule. I feel so asshole-y saying that to her, like I'm that important.
I don't want to leave, but Demetri keeps calling and calling. We are standing by the door, not sure how to say goodbye or maybe not wanting to, at least on my part.
Without a thought, I lean in to kiss her cheek, to feel her skin on my lips, but after a second, I catch myself and extend my hand instead. My lack of social skills has been put to test too many times today.
I take her hand and once again I'm surprised at how soft she feels. We are so close to each other that I can smell the sugar and fruits on her skin. Living above a bakery doesn't sound so bad after all.
"Goodbye, Bella. I'll call you."
"Goodbye, Edward. I'm looking forward to it."
And I leave, back to the real world, a real world, ironically, full of fake smiles, fake bodies, fake friendships. And who would've thought that getting distracted while taking a walk would lead me to the only thing, besides my family, that was absolutely real.
I smile remembering her reactions and the fact that I know a lot of her smiles just from a few moments with her.
I walk back to my apartment, still barely believing that she lives so close to me. I pass people smiling and holding hands and laughing, and for once in a long time, I don't feel jealous or sad. I feel hopeful, hopeful that good things will come after today.
This time, the streets of Paris don't look so glum. And as I reach for my apartment, I can't help but think 'thank God for flying little buttons.'
And there ya go. Our favorite couple meets :-) Pics of Bella's sewing box can be found on my profile.
A couple of things:
- Length (hehe, length): The chapters will be between 5k-6k words (pre FFn) and this will be a rather short story, around 10 chapters total. Don't quote me on that one, since I can get pretty wordy … or not, lol.
- Schedule: I have a couple of chapters ready for this story, so I'll post every other week unless I ran out of chapters or something. I'll let you know if that happens. In between, I might post the occasional O/S or whatever. JSYK.
And I think that's it. I hope you'll like it.
Thanks for reading, Sweeties :-)