Disclaimer: I obviously do not own Twilight or else I would be too busy spending money and having sex with Rob to post fanfiction.
The Slowest Burn
That awkward moment when… you realize he's not just a one night stand.
Ch. 1: Suspicious Character
Everyone who is anyone knows to meet at Giovanni's Pizzeria before a big game at Forks High.
Like clockwork, the football team floods in through the front door. Loud and rambunctious, they plant themselves at the back of the restaurant to wait out the cheerleaders, who gracefully take their rightful place at the popular table in the back. The other members of the high school elite are left on the fringe, circling the rest of the seats like vultures before finally landing in order of social importance. Everyone gossips, flirts and eats while deciding whose house to party at afterwards. Call it tradition if you want, but it happens every game night.
Tonight is no different.
It's cold when I step outside my best friend Rosalie's pearl colored Mercedes, and I immediately tug and pull at my short cheerleading skirt, futilely trying to obtain coverage against the bracing chill. I have Jasper Whitlock's letterman jacket on, but my legs are still freezing. I shiver as I pull the thick jacket around myself and scurry forward to follow behind Rosalie's golden mane. She turns to glance over her shoulder to see if I'm behind her and pauses to hold her hand out for me to take. When I do, she pulls me forward to link our arms together.
"Try not to dottle, bitch. We're late enough as it is," she huffs in exasperation before yanking me through the glass doors that lead into Giovanni's.
The atmosphere hits me like a slap to the face; the smell of cheese and pepperoni mixed with perfume and cologne, the loud, full laughter of my peers. This was a place of cheerful merriment, a veritable elixir of youth. I should be happy too, right? Everyone else seems to be. Why not me?
"Okay," suddenly Rosalie's mouth is at my ear as we near the athlete table, "there's Jasper at the end. Slip in beside him and play it cool. Do not mention anything about giving his jacket back or even the fact that you have it on. Just be casual and…" she pauses to look down at me because she's so tall, "shit, you're going to fuck this up, aren't you?" she frowns and shakes her head.
I roll my eyes and ignore her while I push my way through my fellow peers, smiling and saying hello whenever prompted. Happy face on, cheerleader Bella- engage! When I finally reach Jasper's side, he scoots over and gives me this knowing look. Like he knows we're going to be a couple by the end of the night. He'll probably throw a touchdown and point me out afterwards. He's known for it. It feels weird to look at him and see the rest of my senior year mapped out in front of me.
"Hey you," he winks at me, and to my utter shock, leans over to press his lips to my cheek. "For a minute, I didn't know if you were going to come tonight," he wears a half smirk while he says this and then grabs his drink from the table and chugs.
Wispy sandy strands, full luscious lips, soulful gray eyes and a stunning build is what makes Jasper Whitlock a total babe. Throw in the fact that he's rich, privileged and the town's star quarterback, and you have Fork High's most eligible bachelor. He could solidify my spot at the top of the totem pole.
I may be a cheerleader that hangs out with the popular crowd and is invited to all the cool parties, but in no way do I get red carpet treatment at school or the same respect either. I'll never really be one of them. Not even being Rosalie Hale's best friend could help me when it came to the constant cold shoulders I received from the rest of the cheer squad.
I wasn't rich, I didn't grow up in wealth and I never descended a staircase at a debutante ball. My dad is Charlie Swan, the town Chief of Police—population… embarrassingly low. In fact, I didn't even grow up in Forks. I grew up in Arizona with my mother until I hit puberty and we became mortal enemies up until she met 'the one,' in which case I was shipped off to live with my dad while she played house with her new husband.
My first year in Forks was a blur because I was a blur. I was invisible. I was quiet and mousy and sometimes, even now, I still am. I didn't mind at first, but eventually I got tired of having no friends and nothing to do on the weekends. I also got tired of my dad always asking me why I was home all the time and my mom's constant nagging about her popular days in high school.
The only easy way in for me was through cheerleading, because there was no way in hell that I would have gotten a football player to date me back then. In Phoenix, I was an excellent gymnast. So naturally, I knew I could flip around in a mini skirt easily. All I had to do was be enthusiastic about it, right?
Rosalie Hale, one of the most popular girls in school, didn't even know who I was until I walked into tryouts that day two years ago and floored her and her co-captain with my routine. It was truly a surreal experience, that try out was. I'd felt like Eliza Dushku in Bring It On! because no one had voted me in except for Rose. She hadn't been cheer captain yet because she was only a sophomore like me at the time, but she was still being groomed for the throne.
So, when the cheer captain turned to her and asked what she thought, Rose then turned to me and said with a gleam in her blue eyes, "You're in. Welcome to popularity, sweetheart."
And I was.
"Hey Belly Boo," Emmett McCarty's dimpled face comes into view over Jasper's shoulder.
I'm momentarily disoriented because I have no idea where I am. Then I remember its game night and I'm in my cheer uniform. I flinch when I suddenly feel warm fingers trickle up my thigh, and my eyes immediately dart to Jasper.
For a second, I can't believe I'm here. I used to have the hugest crush on Jasper when I was a freshman and sophomore. Back then he was dating Maria Santos, a girl who would ultimately dump him the morning she graduated Forks High. It was actually kind of sad, because he'd been really heartbroken. I'd never seen a guy cry before that day.
So now he's free to touch who he wants, and he wants to touch me of all people.
"Hey Emmy," I call back to my big bear of a friend. He has it bad for Rose, but she'll never date a jock. He knows that, but he still dreams. "Good luck tonight," I smile over at him and ignore the fact that Jasper's hand is traveling higher under my shirt.
"Don't need it babe," Emmett winks playfully, "we always beat La Push." He turns around and starts talking to his teammates again, leaving me alone with Jasper and his wandering fingers, which are now dangerously close to the promised land.
I suck in a quick breath which makes him chuckle like I've done something cute. "Jas…" I gulp and close my eyes while his fingers trace circles on the inside of my right thigh.
I feel his breath at my ear, then behind my ear and then down my neck. I shiver at the sensation- it feels really good when he does that. Then I remember we're in a room full of people who are probably pretending not to see what's going on between us. But I know that come Monday morning? Everyone at school will assume we hooked up.
Actually, we probably will. Rosalie says I need to lose my virginity before I become a prude. She thinks Jasper is perfect for the job. It's funny because before I knew him on a personal level, I used to fantasize about him doing just that. Taking my virtue. Defiling my innocence. Making me a woman…
…But not here.
"Jasper, stop," I whimper and turn my face to look at him.
He's so close our noses touch and it should be romantic and cute and I should blush, but I'm fucking terrified in that moment. My heart feels like it's going to burst through my chest. It's suffocating in the restaurant and I feel like I can't breathe. My eyes dart around in search of Rosalie but she's nowhere to be found, not that she'd come and rescue me or anything. She'd be pissed if I ruined this opportunity.
"What?" he whispers against my cheek and presses a soft kiss there. "What's wrong?" his voice is low and thoughtful but I know he honestly doesn't care.
He thinks I'm just nervous, which I probably am. His hand slides out from beneath my skirt and reaches up to cup my face. "Hey," he says to me more softly than before.
I gulp and stare at my hands in my lap. If I look up, we'll kiss. If we kiss, we're together. Everyone knows Jasper is a relationship kind of guy. He doesn't do casual dating, he skips the entire 'talking' process and dives straight into coupledom. How do I know if I even want that? I start trembling slightly, and I think Jasper thinks it's because I'm turned on. So he buries his nose in the crook of my neck and then I feel something warm and wet and—oh my god!
"Jasper!" I yelp at him when I realize he's just licked me.
He laughs softly at me and brushes my hair from my face, "Relax babe, I won't do anything naughty in front of everyone. I promise," he smirks and kisses the tip of my nose, "but you're just so damn sexy in that skirt," his eyes travel down to my exposed legs.
I don't take compliments very well, so I blush and turn my head to look anywhere else but at him. Luckily, Emmett chooses right then to ask him about the game tonight and Jaspers attention switches to captain mode. His hand, however, goes back to my leg and lingers there without movement except for his thumb which strokes my skin over and over again.
I close my eyes, take a deep breath and when I open them, I swear to god my entire body freezes in place. Messy bronze hair, piercing green eyes, hard scowl on his face…
He scares the ever-loving shit out of me. The last time I had seen him, he was beating some guy close to death while everyone else cheered the fight on. I'd been so disgusted that I left without ever remembering I was the DD that night.
From now on, every time I see him, I can only ever think of that night and the way his eyes had gone black with rage. Right now he's talking to two other guys that I know are Royce King and Jacob Black. It's rare to see either of them without the other. They live in La Push, but have a loyal 'customer' base here in Forks.
"Oh, shit yeah. Cullen's here," I hear someone say with a mixture excitement and relief. Clearly, someone needs their next fix. I turn to see who it is, but suddenly Rosalie materializes beside me and pulls me up to my feet.
"I'm ready to go," she says in bored tones, but her eyes keep flickering to where Royce King is leaning against the jukebox in the middle of the room.
I stare at Royce for a second and sure enough, lightening fast, his eyes land on Rosalie before looking away. My fingers are curling around Rose's wrist and I'm pulling her outside the restaurant faster than you can say what the fuck?
Which is exactly what I say when we're both outside and beside her car.
"I don't know what you're talking about," she rolls her eyes and unlocks the doors to her car with the click of a button, "get in or we'll be late."
I laugh and slide into the passenger seat, but I'm not giving up. So I ask again, only I'm more clear this time. "What is going on between you and Royce King?"
"Oh my god, you're delusional," she snorts as she pulls out of the parking lot and onto the street. "Nothing, Bella. There is nothing going on between me and freaking Royce King," she laughs as if it's absurd I would even dare to ask.
I bite my tongue and let it go. For now. She knows better than to mess with guys like Royce. He'd use her and spit her out. I'd be the one left picking up the pieces and trying to put them back together again. We stop at a red light close to school and I roll down my window and lean my head against the frame so that I can stick my face outside.
I hear the rumble of a classic black 1967 Chevy Impala. I know it because my dad pulls it over frequently. Which is why I also know it belongs to Edward Cullen. It rumbles idly beside us, with its enhanced Coke bottle styling and a V8 engine loud enough to make my body vibrate in Rosalie's car. I smell cigarette smoke and know that if I were to open my eyes right now I'd be at eye level with Cullen. We don't know each other, but I know of him. I've been around him. I've seen him at parties, I've even shared a blunt with him and three of my friends once upon a time. Despite that encounter, I don't know him enough to open my eyes and casually say hello.
No matter how bad a part of me wants to.
He revs his engine hard enough to make it growl irritatingly loud and I know he's doing it on purpose. He wants attention. So I pull back into the car and roll the window up. I can smell the diesel fuel injection mixed with weed and tobacco. My nose wrinkles up, and when I finally look at him he's staring right the fuck at me. I try to look away but it's like I'm paralyzed. I literally can't remove my eyes from his. He licks his lips and takes a drag from his cigarette, all the while never looking away from me. Then he flicks it outside his car and leans forward outside his window to wink at me before the light turns green and he peels out.
I gasp and turn my head to see that Rosalie's been watching the entire time.
"I'm sorry, but," she blinks back at me and scoffs, "what the fuck?"
I'm in the middle of a kick twist basket toss during the big game when I realize that I forgot to put on my fucking bloomers before I left the house. I'm supposed to kick one leg up then twist my body into a cradle position, I usually like to show off and twist around twice. But instead I yelp and push my skirt back down before balling up and landing into one of the male cheerleader's arms.
Rosalie will have my ass for this.
"It was nice knowing you, Swan," Liam, the guy who caught me, snickers and places me back onto the ground. I cringe and pull my underwear out of my ass as discreetly as possible before trying to slip away towards the locker room unnoticed. I fail miserably.
"What the fuck, Bella?" Rosalie shouts so loud she draws the attention of some of the people in the stands. "I hope you don't plan to go to nationals with that shit, because I will replace your ass faster than Kobayashi can eat a hotdog."
I cringe at the mental image she's put into my head and back away slowly. "Do you have an extra pair of spanks for me?"
Her arms cross over her well endowed chest and she sighs in exasperation, "In my locker at the very top. I swear Bella, I don't get where the hell your head is at sometimes."
My lips are pressed together too tightly to give her even a fraction of a smile so instead I just turn around and jog to the locker rooms. I know that the rest of the squad is more than likely talking shit about me right now. I really fucked that last stunt over and Rose didn't give me a fraction of the hell she would have given anyone else on the squad.
Inside the locker room the lights are dim because no one is back here. It looks like the makings of a thriller movie so I quickly spin the dial on Rose's locker and fling it open. I'm not prepared for a shitload of junk to fall out and at my feet. I end up squealing and jumping backwards where the bench is and when it hits the backs of my calves I fall and end up on my ass. My lower back stings painfully and my ass is completely numb, I groan and pull myself back up to access the damage. My right elbow is already bruising and hurts to bend. The backs of my knees are red which will probably result in more bruises.
"Shit," I curse out loud and slowly try to get back up before I start to gather the shit that's fallen out of the locker. Rosalie's nasty little secret is that she's really fucking messy. At my feet, I find empty bags of Oreos, Chips A'hoy, Doritos and Cheetos amongst a sports bra, two under shirts and a pair of tights. I even see an empty pregnancy box and a bottle of mouth wash.
At this point I start to play which one of these things does not belong?
The clothes, I throw back inside the locker without a second thought. I crumble the pregnancy test box up into a tight ball and stick it at the bottom of the trashcan in the restroom area. I shove the mouth wash up top and pull out the extra pair of spanks that I slide up my legs and over my ass. I slam her locker door shut and start to count the number of junk food wrappers in my hands. It's not a number worth repeating, it's too many.
I know a normal girl would just laugh this off and tease her friend about a sweet tooth, but those girls would be the shallow ones like Jessica Stanley and Lauren Mallory. The ones who over looked the fact that Rosalie is a calorie counting Nazi come lunch time. So no, this is not something to laugh off and forget about. The mouthwash starts to make sense.
My hands clench into fists around the empty food wrappers and I storm to the nearest garbage can and throw them inside. I don't care when a few of them don't make it all the way inside and ignore the huge GO GREEN! sign. I'm so pissed right now that when I slam the locker room doors open and storm down the hall towards the football field, I don't even realize that the air has gotten hazy. Or that it smells like skunk, or that amidst the clouds of smoke, leaning against the wall is Edward Cullen.
I come to a complete stop two feet in front of him and blink in confusion. What the hell is he doing back here? Who is he waiting for? Why is he smoking here of all places where anyone could walk by and turn back around to tell a teacher? Is he crazy? The image of his blind rage at that last party I'd seen him at flits behind my lashes and I take a small step back. My eyes dart around in search of someone, anyone else that might increase my chances of not being attacked by this guy. My sudden irrational fear makes him chuckle as he sucks on the last of his joint.
I don't say anything and neither does he. My feet don't move when he pushes off the wall and advances towards me achingly slow. I watch his cheeks hallow out and his lips purse before he blows his smoke directly into my face. Immediately I flinch and start to cough, waving a hand in front of my face before I quickly pull myself together and scowl at him.
"What the hell?" I snap.
He smirks and reaches into the inside of his leather jacket to pull out a pack of cigarettes. His eyes never leave my face as he smacks the top of the box against his palm before taking one out and igniting the end. I anticipate for him to blow it in my face again, but instead he moves close and raises his chin so that he exhales skyward. His eyes are still on me as they travel up and down my body deliberately slow.
My heart is hammering away inside my chest. I'm nervous, that's for sure. I feel like I did when Jasper's hand was on my leg earlier. But only this time it's like a fire has been lit beneath my skin. He reaches his free hand out and curves a knuckle down the side of my face. I gulp and hold my breath, too afraid that it will come out shaky and he'll know how he's affecting me right now.
"I waited for you," he says unexpectedly. I turn away from his hand and quickly his fingers wrap around my chin to bring my face back around. "Were you playing me?" he snaps and just like that I'm scared again. He sees how wide my eyes snap open and releases my chin only to cradle my face between his hands, "Hey, " he mutters softly and flicks his cigarette to the floor, "I'm sorry."
I shake my head and feel my throat tighten up. I keep playing that scene in my head over and over with him and that poor guy. A guy who had every right to come and talk to me that night because we went to the same school. For all intensive purposes he was who I was supposed to talk to that night. I'd actually been invited to that party because of him. Rose had set it up, but he was late and I had waited for 45 fucking minutes before I went out back and bummed a cigarette from some guy… a guy who ended up being Edward fucking Cullen.
"I don't even know you," I push away from him, "you freaked me the hell out that night, Cullen." I pause and take a deep breath. Rose will come looking for me soon if I don't go back out to the field.
"But that guy—"
"I'm not your girlfriend!" I shout at him.
His eyes darken and his jaw clenches in the same way it had that night when he'd told Mike Newton to get the fuck away from me. I take a step away from him and then another and right when I'm about to turn and jog back out to the field, I'm jerked backwards and slammed up against the concrete wall.
"Do you…" he pauses and buries his face in my hair while his hands squeeze my waist almost painfully. "Do you have any idea how long I've-" he exhales a shaky breath and slides one of his hands up my waist and over my breasts to cup my face and tilt my face towards his.
I know he means to kiss me, just like Jasper had when we were at Giovanni's. And just like at Giovanni's I know that if I kiss Cullen right now we'll be together. Because I don't know who Cullen is, but I know he's intense and completely possessive and territorial. I've watched him over the years, unintentionally picking up on his habits. I remember that night, the same way I remember how his lips felt against mine and how his mouth tasted. What it feels like when he bunches my breasts up in his hands. I suddenly have a hard time breathing.
"I have to go," I mutter truthfully.
He slides his nose down the side of my face and hovers his lips over mine. "No you don't," he whispers without kissing me.
"Yes I do. Please let me go," I beg him with my eyes clenched shut. "I can't do this right now, okay? I just—oh!" I gasp when he thrusts his hips against me and I feel every inch of him pressed along my body. I open my eyes and whimper every time he rubs against me with his hips, causing enough friction between us to start a fire.
"If I see him touch you like that again?" his eyes stare daggers at my own before he leans down and whispers into my ear, "I will break his throwing arm."
I freeze in his arms. He pulls back and I see that his face has morphed into something that slaps my mouth shut tight. There is so much raw hate and anger. Possession and jealousy. On what grounds does he even have the right to feel these sorts of emotions? It scares me.
Would he really hurt Jasper? I close my eyes and breathe through my nose. Of course he would. My eyes are still closed when I feel Cullen's fingers slide around my neck and then up into my hair to cradle the back of my head. I allow my lashes to flutter closed and breathe through my parted lips slowly. I can feel his breath on my face and then his nose at my temple. We exhale together and he moves to press his forehead is against mine. It's calming and alarming at the same time—intense. I clutch at the front of his shirt and suddenly my bottom lip is between his teeth.
I moan like the little closet whore that I am and let go of my inhibitions, there is no use trying to sprinkle water over a blaze this strong. I crash my mouth against his and suck his tongue into my mouth. My left leg rises up to curl around the back of his thigh to pull him closer to me. He grunts and rubs his jean covered hard on against my lower abdomen which turns me right the fuck on because I want it in my mouth. Either there, or lower down between my legs that currently want to spread like fucking peanut butter.
What the fuck? How does he do that? I'm a virgin, a fucking prude and yet I'm more than ready to fuck Cullen right here in the hall at school. The crowd outside roars and I hear the announcer shout out that someone's made a touchdown. But all I comprehend is the fact that Cullen now has one of his hands grabbing my ass and the other is still in my hair.
"Let's get out of here," he whispers against my lips. "If we don't leave now, I'm going to rip your panties off and fuck you right up against this wall," he's panting and rubbing and I'm hot and bothered and I want him everywhere. His words make my body shiver because I know he's not lying to me. His hand leaves my ass and I frown against his lips because I want it back, but then I feel the tips of his fingers teasing me in the hottest and wettest spot between my legs.
"Oh fuck," I cry out and it echoes in the empty hallway.
My moaning just makes him grind into me harder and now we're both panting and biting and grabbing and stroking. His fingers go from feather light teases to forceful rubbing and I find that I want to do the same thing to him. So I do, I take one of my hands from his wild hair and slide it down his chest while we're still going at it crazily like two horny ass teenagers. He groans when my fingers tug at his belt and he pulls back a bit so that I can pull at it and then one of his fingers makes it way past my bloomers and my underwear and OH GOD!
"Edward," I exhale his name shakily and press my forehead into his shoulder. I shudder and rub myself against his finger harder and faster and then suddenly there's a loud sound that's coming from his back pocket.
"Ignore it," he says against my mouth and tries to slip another finger but then there's a voice calling his name and I quickly shove him as far away from me as I can. My eyes dart around wildly in search of the owner of the voice and Cullen curses under his breath.
"I'll be out in a minute!" he shouts down the hall.
"Well hurry the fuck up! We just beat the shit out of Forks, man! Jake was fucking amazing out there! We're getting him wasted then we're getting him laid, he deserves it."
Royce. My eyes widen when I realize that I've missed the whole second half of the fucking football game. Why the hell hadn't Rose come looking for me? I try to slip away, but Cullen's hand is on my wrist gripping me hard as he pulls me over to him.
"Where are you going?" his eyes narrow at me.
I scoff and brush my hair from my face, "Where do you think?"
His face hardens. "I wasn't fucking around when I said I'd break his arm if he touches you again."
I gulp and nod my head because right then all I want is to get the hell away from him and out of this hallway. He presses something small and solid into my hand and lifts my head with a finger under my chin, "I'm coming back for this," he says and then shoves his tongue in my mouth to kiss me breathless before he's off following the direction Royce was at.
I take in a shaky breath and look down to see that he's given me his phone.