So, here's my new fic that was in my head just begging to be written. This will be angsty, lemony and yes, Edward is a cowboy. Saddle up and enjoy the ride dear readers.
Some thanks go out to Sara and Yashi for pre-reading. You are my dear amigas. Thank you, thank you, thank you Rhi for being my beta for this new fic and for your advice. It's well heeded and appreciated. Love you all.
Stephenie Meyer owns Twilight and its characters. I own the contents of this story.
Under Heaven's Skies
I was grateful for the hot wind blowing through the window of the truck cab. The road was bumpy, and I was jostled and dusty from the long drive from the main road. I had to remind myself again why I was here. Alice, my dearest friend from college, had called and become my lifesaver. I was in desperate need to get away and deal with both the loss of my mother and the end of my relationship with my long term boyfriend, Brad.
The loss of my mother had been sudden and devastating. Her boyfriend, Phil, had shot her and then shot himself. The horror of her murder and the abruptness of her death had left me in shock. I missed her so much, and I had a lot of pent up anger at Phil, at life, for her senseless death. I thought that Brad would be my comfort in this time of grief, but I couldn't have been more wrong.
The loss of Brad and his betrayal had been a cruel addition. To come home two weeks after the loss of my mother to find him in bed with, whom I thought was my friend, Amanda had been more than I could take. To be betrayed not only by the man I thought was going to be my husband, but also by a close friend was too much.
He had begged for forgiveness. Swore it would never happen again. Told me he loved me, but those pleas fell on deaf ears. I would not take him back no matter what he said or did. How could I ever trust him again? With a lot of soul searching, I realized that I never really loved him. I wasn't really sure even what real love was. But I know it wasn't that and that real love should be trust, faithfulness, and joy.
I sighed, and Alice looked over from her driving and patted my hand lying on the seat. "It'll be great, Bella. Mine and Jasper's ranch is just the place to get away and find some peace. You don't have to do anything while you're here except relax."
I gave Alice a small, tired smile. "You're the best friend I've ever had, Alice. I love you. Thank you for this."
"I love you, too, Bella. And I'm so happy to have you here with me. Just me with all these guys gets boring."
"Well, since I quit my job, I'll be here for a while until I figure out my life. You sure I can stay here and it not be a bother?"
"Bella Swan! You can move here. Stay here. Live here with us. You always have a home with me. You know that. So no more of feeling like you're imposing."
I closed my eyes and thanked God for such a good person like Alice to be my friend. Then, I gripped her hand and squeezed it. "Thank you, Alice. I literally owe you my life right now."
She gave me a sweet smile and then placed her hand back on the wheel to navigate a wide turn in the road. We were passing a paddock with a huge black stallion in it. He looked dangerous and wild, but that was not what held my attention. Walking towards it, with his back to us, swinging a lasso, was a tall, shirtless man. I was riveted to his body and the ripple of muscles across his back as he worked the rope. He had on a large, off-white cowboy hat, low-slung jeans, and a pair of leather cowboy boots. He was trim and fit and tanned from the sun. His body- at least his back and amazing firm ass- was sex personified.
All of a sudden, Alice pulled the truck over and stopped. "Come with me," she said with a small smile. She shut her door and headed over to the paddock and called out, "Edward!"
I slid out of the truck and slammed my door. For some reason, I was extremely nervous to meet who I presumed was Alice's brother that she always talked about and was close to. I walked around the truck bed and stopped. Edward was leaning on the fence, one boot up on the bottom rail, his well muscled arms resting on the top rail. His chest was lightly covered in reddish-blonde hair, and I could see his stomach was flat and muscled. He was dusty and sweaty and looked all male and absolutely delicious.
He had been looking down, talking to Alice, but suddenly looked up and met my eyes. I nearly staggered. He was gorgeous. Now, I had seen him in pictures that Alice had showed me, but no picture could do justice to him in person.
His handsome face was all rigid planes, with a defined jaw covered in sexy stubble, and piercing green eyes framed by long dark lashes. Dear God. All the times Alice had talked about her brother, she had left out the part about him being the hottest man on the planet.
He tilted his head slightly, as if taking my measure. He studied my face. I was a normal sized girl, a bit on the short side and moderately pretty, but I wore a bit much make-up. I loved eyeliner and dark eyes, and I'm sure the piercings threw him. He then traveled his eyes down my body, looking at my clothing. I was in black. I was always in black. I was wearing a pair of skinny jeans and a pair of black flip-flops and a black tank top over a black bra. My hair was cut in a shoulder length jagged, edgy cut, and along with the piercings, I had a couple of tattoos. Not that those could be seen. My fingernails and toenails were painted blood red, and to this hot, sexy, hard-working cowboy, I must have looked like a freak.
He looked at my toes for a moment and then met my eyes as he gripped the edge of his hat and tipped his head to me.
"Ma'am." His voice was like warm rich chocolate. I could live in that voice.
"Bella, come and meet my brother Edward," Alice said and beckoned me to her.
I slowly walked toward them and felt something shift. If was as if I was walking towards my future. What a strange thought. I shook my head a bit and stopped beside Alice. Edward had held my eyes the entire time, and I don't believe that had been missed by Alice, as evidenced by her small chuckle and amused introduction.
"Ah, Edward, this is my best friend, Bella Swan. Bella, this is my dearest brother, Edward. I hope you two will become great…friends."
I gave Alice a glance, and she was eyeing me speculatively.
"Don't have much time for friends," Edward said. "Good day, ladies. See you at supper, Alice." He tipped his hat one more time and then turned and dismissed us as he went back to working with the black stallion.
I blinked and shook my head at his rudeness. Well, they always say the best looking ones are assholes.
"Sorry about that, Bella. He's just not been the same since our cousin, Emmett, and his wife, Rosalie, died. That he was with them and survived when they didn't…he's riddled with guilt. He's just not the same person he used to be. He's a real loner now. Other than eating meals with us, he spends most of his time with either the horses or alone. He could use a friend," she said with a sigh. "I was hoping that you two might…well, never mind what I was thinking. Let's get you to the house. I'm sure you're tired from your trip and want a shower and maybe a nap."
I nodded. "Sounds great. But, Alice, you weren't matchmaking, were you? You know I just got out of a relationship and am not looking for another one."
"Oh, I know. I just thought that maybe you two could talk, and maybe you could help each other. And I wouldn't wish Edward on any woman. He has got to be the most proud and taciturn man that's ever lived."
I thought about how I loved to talk and laugh. No, he was not the right kind of man for me. He would steal all my joy. And I had precious little left after the things I just lived through.
"Come on. Let's go up to the house."
We arrived at the ranch house, and I found myself exhausted. I took a long, hot shower in the bathroom next to my bedroom and then wrapped myself in a robe that was on the back of the door. It was too big for me and smelled delicious. I pulled the collar up and sniffed deeply enjoying this slightly spicy all male scent as I walked out of the bathroom and right into a solid body.
Hands reached out to steady me. I felt my arms being gripped by firm, strong hands that quickly let me go as if I burned him. I slowly looked up from the blue t-shirt he was wearing and met Edward's eyes. Mine must have widened in surprise, because a hatless Edward showed his crazy shock of reddish-blondish hair that was a perfect frame for his gorgeous face and piercing eyes.
"Well, I came in to take a shower, but I see someone has taken my robe."
I blushed and stepped back. "I'm sorry. I forgot to take a change of clothes with me to the bathroom. I can take this off, and you can have it back."
He eyed the wad of clothes in my hand and then skimmed his eyes up my body in a slow, heated perusal, as if he could see my naked body under his robe. "I do believe that's the best offer I've had in a long time," he said with a slight lifting of the corner of his mouth.
I stared at that mouth, those full lips, then at that reddish stubble covering his defined jaw that was glistening with sweat. My tongue slid out between my teeth, and I licked my lips. This was a man meant for kissing. This was a man who would take you to bed and show you the best time of your life. This was where I needed to run.
Then, I got all flustered when I realized what I had said and how it could have been misconstrued. Did I just offer to get naked for him? I cringed.
"Oh. Uh, I meant, after I put clothes on." His eyes slid to my chest. "Uh, I mean after I go to my room and take this off." His eyes met mine and were dark and hungry. I gulped. "Oh, shit! I mean after I go to my room and get dressed, I can bring this back to you!" I said rapidly with a furious blush.
"You're leaving out an option," he said huskily in that voice like warm caramel.
He stepped up to me and, with narrowed eyes, followed his finger as it skimmed along the edge of his parted robe and just barely brushed along the curve of my breast. I inhaled quickly and felt heat spread all over my body.
"I could go with you to your room and help you take off my robe," he said heatedly and met my eyes.
I took a step back. I didn't want this. I was new here; he was probably just looking for a quick fuck. No, thank you. I wasn't going to ruin my friendship with Alice by screwing her hot as fucking hell brother for release.
"I think I'll pass," I said in what I hoped was a disinterested tone. I turned and marched around him to my bedroom and closed my door.
I stood there for a moment, shaking. I'll just pretend that didn't happen, I thought. Nothing just happened at all. I threw on some underwear and a top and shorts and lay down on the bed. The robe remained lying on the chair in my bedroom. My robe now, I thought as I fell asleep.
Edward didn't once look my way during dinner. I chatted with Alice and a little with Jasper, but I tried to ignore Edward as he ignored me. That was easier said than done, though. My eyes, by their own violation, were drawn to him. Edward showered and cleaned up was an eye magnet. I even found myself debating in my head which was more delicious. Dirty, sweaty, stubbly beard Edward, or clean, damp hair, clean shaven Edward. It's a draw.
"I was asking if you wanted to watch a movie tonight, or just sit out on the porch and have a drink and talk," Alice said.
"Oh, whichever is fine."
"Hey, how about we watch that new movie you bought, sweetness, and I'll mix you ladies up some margaritas and get us guys some beer?" Jasper said to Alice.
"Sounds perfect, Jaz," Alice said with a winning smile to her husband. He held her eyes and smiled back at her a wide toothy smile. They were so cute and so in love. I want that, I thought. I glanced at Edward, and he was looking down and frowning. I rolled my eyes at him, not that he noticed, and got up to help Alice with the dishes.
The guys got the drinks, and the movie ready as we loaded the dishwasher and put away the food.
When I walked into the living room carrying my drink, Jasper was in a big recliner and patted his lap for Alice to sit down with him. She snuggled into his lap and sighed happily. Edward was on the loveseat, and two of Jasper dogs were sleeping across the couch. The other in the other recliner. That left the loveseat. Great. I walked over and sat down against the arm of it, as far away from Edward as possible. He never looked at me once. I sat my drink down on the table and decided to keep ignoring him as he was me.
"Edward, turn the lights off," Alice muttered from the recliner, and Edward sighed and got up, carrying his bottle of beer and turned off the lights and sat back down beside me, with his legs spread, taking up as much of the loveseat as possible. I scooted over a little more. I wasn't the tiniest woman in the world, but I was small in stature compared to his long, lanky frame.
He was still ignoring me. Good. I kicked my flip-flops off and tucked my legs to the side, my toes almost touching Edward's thigh. I folded my arms on the arm of the loveseat and propped my head on them and tried to get into this action movie. But the longer we sat there, the more aware of Edward I became. I couldn't concentrate on the movie. I found myself instead listening to his breathing, him sipping his beer, his small adjustments in his seat. I was dying to look at him. I had never been more aware of another person.
Alice and Jasper were kissing, and maybe more from the sounds coming form the recliner, and I shifted uncomfortably. It made me realize I had a hunk of a man sitting next to me that was probably a damned good kisser. I shifted again and felt a finger trail down the top of my foot. I didn't move. The touch of his finger had felt like fire on my skin. Another stroke, this time two fingers. I should stop this. I should.
Next, his hand slid up to my ankle and gently encircled it with his fingers before slowly trailing down my foot, and then I felt his hand holding my foot and lifting onto his thigh. The pattern now continued with more purpose, slowly up the top of my foot, encircling my ankle, sliding up my shin, cupping my knee…higher and higher up my leg each time. I was nearly ready to burst into flames. Still, I allowed him this liberty. I should pull my leg back, I thought. I should.
I had my eyes closed and was drifting in an Edward induced stupor when he suddenly laid my leg back down and took his hands off me. My eyes flew open, and I saw Alice leap out of the chair and flip on the lights.
"Did you like the movie, Bella?" Alice asked with a smirk.
"Yeah, it was an interesting experience. Did you like it, Alice?" I asked with a blink.
She grinned. "I loved it. Well, I'm sure you're tired. I know I am. I'm off to bed. You coming, Jaz?"
"Right behind you, sweetness. Good night, Bella. So glad you've come to stay with us. Good night, Edward," Jasper said and winked at him. They went out the door, and I wasn't sure what to do here. I still hadn't looked at Edward.
I slowly slid my legs off the couch and bent over and picked up my shoes. I sat back up, and Edward was there beside me, pulling me to him and holding my face in his big, rough hands.
"You," he said. "It had to be you," he said with a frustrated groan, and then he crushed his lips to mine.
I was in shock. I didn't even respond to his kiss, and I could feel his annoyance. His kissing changed to coercion and a demand that I respond. I felt something click inside me, and then I dropped my shoes and was gripping his shirt and kissing him back with every bit of pent up sadness, hurt, loneliness, disappointment, revenge, and anger inside of me. I let him have my burden and took from him because I wanted it. I wanted to hurt something. Someone. I pushed him back and was straddling his lap and then gripping his hair as tears ran down my face. I kissed him in desperation to feel something again beside hurt and pain. But the pain was too much. I pulled back from him because my sobs were breaking through the kiss.
He looked at me shocked for a moment and then gave me a curious look. "Are you okay, doll? Did I hurt you? Bella, why are you crying?"
I couldn't speak. I had to get away. I felt so ashamed for falling apart in front of a man that was basically a stranger and kissing him like that. I was horrified at myself. I shoved on him to push myself back out of his arms and leapt up and took off running for my bedroom. I slammed the door shut and threw myself across my bed, sobbing uncontrollably.
There was a soft knock at my door. "Bella, are you okay?" Edward asked quietly through the door. He kept knocking and asking for me for a couple of more minutes and then finally gave up and went away. I pulled the covers over me and put the pillow over my head. Sleep finally took me away from my frazzled emotions and overwrought hormones. The last thought I had before I fell asleep was that this had been a bad idea. I thought I was coming here to find peace, and I found Edward. I knew that I would never have peace again.
The next morning, I braced myself to see Edward as I walked into the kitchen, but found only Alice there.
"Good morning, Bella. Did you sleep well? You don't look so good," Alice said in concern.
"I'm fine. I had some bad dreams. I'll be alright. Is there coffee? And maybe some toast?" I asked to change the subject and distract her from what I'm sure would become an inquisition.
"Yeah, sure, Bella. Listen, I have to run into town and get some groceries and supplies. You want to come with me?"
"Yeah, I'd love to," I said. Anything to get me away from here and having to face Edward.
When we returned, still, there was no sign of Edward, and I sighed in relief. We put things away and started supper. Finally, just as we were about to eat, Edward came strolling languidly into the big eat-in kitchen and sat in his chair across from me. I didn't meet his eyes.
I ate in silence and quickly helped Alice clean up and then begged off that I was tired and went to my room. I had felt Edward's eyes on me several times during dinner, but I just wasn't ready to face him yet.
The next week fell almost into a pattern. Edward was gone before I got up and only appeared for dinner in which I ignored him. I was being stupid and childish, but I just didn't know what to say to him. How to explain. I would find Alice looking between me and Edward and frowning in concern, but she had not said anything about it, well, until now.
"Bella. What exactly is going on between you and Edward? You act like you hate him. Did he do something to you?" Alice asked in trepidation.
"Oh. Uh, no. It's nothing. Just a misunderstanding. I should apologize. I will tonight. Sorry, Alice."
She hugged me to her. "Bella, I don't know what's going on, but I do know Edward can't seem to keep his eyes off of you. He seems quite taken with you, so maybe, just maybe, Bella, you should give him a chance."
"Alice, I've got to work through all this pain and anger inside me. I can't burden him with this. It's bad enough I burden you."
Alice hugged me tighter. "You've had a shitty couple of months. No one should carry such a burden as yours on themselves alone. I'm here for you. I love you like a sister. I'll always be here for you."
I began to cry. "Alice, I don't deserve you."
"Shh, Bella. Shh." She led me to the table and had me sit down and held my hand. "Let it out, Bella." She sat with me through my cry fest and then offered me tissues and a cup of soothing tea.
"Go lie down, and sleep a bit, Bella. I'll let you know when supper is ready."
I nodded and went to my bedroom and laid on my bed and quickly fell into an exhausted sleep.
I was awakened by Alice and sat through another dinner silently. After I helped Alice clean up the kitchen, I told her I was off to take a walk, but I really was off to find Edward. It was past time I apologized.
Some things here. This will not be like my other fics. No, I have not quit writing for my others fics. You will still get your updates for them, hopefully about once a week as per usual.
My pre-readers have dubbed these two Cowboy Edward and Emo Bella. Lol Hope it works.
Much love and many thanks,