1991 - That was the year the Bulls won the Championship
"It's Angela again," James says as he packs another ding dong into his mouth. "What are we going with? Dead Poet's Society? Revenge of the Nerds? Ghost?"
I look up from my book, my pen poised at my lips and on my tongue. Angela. The artist. Yeah, she was pretty. Smart too. Not comparatively but still, she could be fun.
"Ghost," I mumble. He nods and I turn back to my notebook.
"You just missed him. But he told me to give you a message. He said to meet him down by the bookstore in a half hour. He'll be waiting for you. Yeah...uh huh. Ditto, babe. Ditto." James hangs up and knocks his glass bong over, his pot water spilling all over the coffee table and consequently, my journal.
"What the fuck, dude!" I roar and wipe the water from my book. Shit, my words. All my fucking words are ruined. I flip through the pages and they're damp but not soaked and now the whole book smells like weed.
"It's not my fault you leave your diary hanging around, fuck it was an accident."
"There's no such thing as accidents," I murmur and James just laughs. He's such an asshole.
I walk into our bathroom, and it smells like mildew. I hate this dorm. I hate this school, I hate my classes. I hate the people in my classes. Hollow, self righteous assholes, that's all I've ever known. I highly doubt this Angela will be any different.
Chocolate. The girl is all chocolate. From the thick rope of brown hair hanging down her back to her tan honey skin dotted with freckles and she glows. Yeah, I know, maybe it's sweat, but still, it's hot.
Her eyes suck me in. I forget who I am in those eyes. I forget what I'm supposed to say, I forget my best jokes, the ones that I know are fucking hilarious. I forget all the shit I know that's impressive. They're alien, knowing eyes. I hate the way they penetrate and make me feel like I'm something. And in the next glance, I'm nothing. But I love the way she sees me.
It doesn't matter. Alice said she's in love. She's moved on and I should too. She's dating someone else, someone from the river, someone like her.
I'm like her.
When I'm there, in that hot desert, surrounded by nothing but dirt and rocks and water, I'm different. I forget myself. Or I find myself. I want to feel her. I want to taste her. I want to hold her in my arms like I can protect her from all the shit this world is really made up of. I don't fucking know. All I know is she's dating someone else and I'm lonely. And Angela has brown eyes. Not the same, but pretty.
Angela starts hanging out at the dorm every Thursday, because that's the day Law and Order is on. She pretends she's a fan, but I don't think she's really into it. She's really into me though. She wants me. She shares an apartment with her best friend. She talks about him like the sun shines out of his ass. Angela should be with him. She's a sweet girl. She's funny and smart and knows a lot about music and movies and art. She's a big fan of Andy Warhol, thinks he's a genius or something. I don't see it. I think he's overrated and when I tell her we have the biggest argument but she doesn't give in. She's stubborn.
Just like Bella.
But Bella's a challenge, a riddle, a puzzle I can't figure out and it drives me fucking insane. In a few short months I'll be watching her eat ice cream, her lips smeared with chocolate cookie and cream. I don't even really like rainbow sherbet but I like watching her lick her fingers. She has to be doing that shit on purpose, right? I would think so, if I didn't know her.
After three dates, I think I'm going to seal the deal with this chick. Angela's obviously into me. She lets me feel her up and she doesn't wear a bra, ever. She smokes weed and walks around in the grass barefoot and it's incredibly sexy how she doesn't think about being something she's not, she just is. I can't deny it, I want to fuck her.
But then she does something that ruins the chances of us hooking up. Ever.
She eats ice cream. A sandwich. Just like Bella. And she licks her fingers and all I can see are those brown eyes and those lips closing over the chocolate mess. She offers me a bite and licks her lips, trying to be seductive and I can't look at her. It's so fake, not at all the way Bella does it and I'm angry. I feel like shit, and I wonder what Bella's doing right now, if she's off fucking her douchebag boyfriend or if she's moved on to someone new. I feel like my skin is stretched tight around my bones, like it's suffocating and starving and restricting my will to live. My nails dig into my palms, my head pounds and I have to excuse myself before I draw blood.
I can't believe I've let this girl get to me like this. I can't believe I'm completely pussy whipped by a chick I've never even slept with. It's fucking insanity, the hold Bella Swan has on me.
Angela sticks around even though we never fuck. Oh, she tries, but I just can't do it. She wears sexy shit when she sleeps over and we mess around. We go on weekend trips and I think she loves me or something but I don't love her. So, I tell her that I'm not ready, that I want it to be special. The truth is, I don't want to hurt her feelings. Yeah, I know, I care about Angela's feelings. Fucking messed up shit, if you ask me.
This whole situation is fucking messed up shit.
When I get home from my last Final, Angela's waiting for me on the couch. She's watching Judge Judy and she and James are high and talking about the destruction of the American family system. They're shouting at each other and she's irate. She looks amazing when she's pissed so I ask her out to dinner to celebrate the end of the semester. I'm meeting Jasper and Alice at this brewery place right off campus.
Alice and Jasper are already at a table when we walk in. Alice looks at me and there's judgment in her eyes. I try to ignore it because I don't think she does it on purpose but we've talked about my obsession with Bella. Yeah, I'm calling it an obsession now. Alice thinks I should pursue it.
I don't know how.
Bella is so much more to me than, well, than Angela. I've never had a real girlfriend before. I've dated girls, I've fucked girls, but I've never had love. I know I'd want to love Bella. And that scares the living shit out of me.
Angela is easy to be with. She makes me feel wanted. She does all the work. She shows up, she kisses me and takes her shirt off. She's too skinny though. Not like Bella. Bella is all curves, her hips roll and her breasts are full and I love the way she looks in her cutoff shorts. Cute little ass too. Her face is full and her shoulders round and there's a slight splay of freckles all along her back. Angela's shoulders are pointy and sharp. And her hip bones jut out and make her look sickly. Girl needs to eat.
"Hey, guys!" Alice says and she gives me a hug. She wraps her arms around my neck and she's curious. I can feel it.
"This is Angela. She's an art major, ceramics." Like it defines her. She sees the title as a status symbol. Her clothes, her shoes, her music, her art, it's who she is. If you don't agree with these things, you may as well slap her across the face. I'm not sure how I feel about this, seeing as how she laughed when I said Tears for Fears is the greatest band of all time. I'm chalking it up to lack of exposure. For now.
"Angela, nice to meet you. I'm Alice, this is Jasper." Alice is polite and Jasper shakes her hand.
"So you're an artist?" Jasper asks and she nods.
"Yeah. It's a self-indulgent major really. I'll probably just end up teaching or something. But I live and breathe art. It's who I am. I'd be lost if I didn't have my pottery." See? Told you.
"She makes pots. And bowls." She'd be lost without her clay pots and bowls. It seems so incredibly esoteric, to have your whole being embodied in a dish. I mean, people eat cereal out of bowls. I wouldn't want my whole life encompassed in a device that holds my Lucky Charms. I think there's a metaphor there somewhere.
"Wow," Alice coos and I think she's being condescending on purpose. Angela just shrugs and laughs.
"I know it's lame but it's what I love. I don't believe in settling for anything less than what gives me extreme happiness." Her brown eyes are on mine and I feel like a king. Even though they're the wrong brown eyes. All wrong.
"That is really fucking cool," Alice says approvingly and she's serious. She likes Angela. They're going to bond and shit. Fuck.
We order pizza. Angela's a vegetarian and orders eggplant on hers and Alice is intrigued. Angela doesn't flinch when Alice asks for a bite and I think that's kind of cool she's sharing her food. I totally dig people who share their food.
Alice and Angela talk about girl stuff and I almost forget about the brown eyes and the chocolate lips but then all hell breaks loose. Jasper brings up summer vacation and Alice squeals and starts talking up the river, how we go every year, how it's beautiful and peaceful because it's just a small town without cable television. Angela's questions get more and more personal as the discussion progresses and I just know it's a matter of time before someone mentions her name.
"How did you guys find out about this place?" Angela asks and I answer in an attempt to control the conversation.
"My old stepmom used to vacation there when she was a kid. It's a family owned place." Fuck, I just brought her up, didn't I? God, I am an idiot.
"Wow, the same family?" Angela asks as she sips her diet coke. I nod silently and hoping like hell Alice just keeps her mouth shut.
Yeah, I must be delusional.
"We're really good friends with the family. Rose, my sister, is dating the owner's son, actually. It's like a fairy tale, right? They fall in love and have to live miles and miles apart. He writes her letters, it's very romantic." She kicks me under the table. She thinks I should write Bella letters.
It's a two way street man. I get that the money thing prevents her from calling, but shit, she could write too. Why should I do all the chasing? I have made it abundantly clear that I'm interested and she constantly pushes me away. How many times do I let her push me away before I give up? And now she has a boyfriend and according to Emmett, he's a complete tool. I'm done pining for this girl. I decide right there in that moment, I'm going to try to be with Angela.
Like with her.
"Well, it's easy to get swept away in the beauty of it all. It just makes you want to fall in love, being out there in the middle of nowhere with nothing but your swimsuit and your thoughts. It's an artist's dream," Alice muses and I glare at her.
"Really? I would love to see it!" Angela looks at me astonished, as if she wants my opinion on the matter.
"Yeah, you should see the stars out there. It's like nothing I've ever seen before," I say and Angela's eyes flutter and smolder.
"I think I will," she says and the look on her face is pure elation. What just happened here? I try to control the muscles of my face and yet I can't stop my eyes from jumping from Alice's to Jasper's and I realize in horror what this all means.
I just invited Angela to the river with us. Where Bella is. Angela is going to meet Bella.
On the way home, Angela is quiet. I keep looking at her and smiling but when I look away, I feel sick. When we get to my dorm, she walks silently up to my room and we collapse on the couch. I don't want to look at her.
"So what's wrong with you?" she asks and I almost laugh. There are so many things, I don't even know where to start. Um, I'm an asshole, I'm obsessed with this other girl. I masturbate to her eating ice cream. What's right with me would be a far quicker assessment.
"Nothing," I say, because I'm a dick and don't feel like talking about this.
"Right," she says and her face is crushed. "Look, I don't have to come along with you guys. I thought it would be fun, but I obviously misread your intentions, so if you don't want me there, just say so."
Enough is enough. I am hurting this girl and she hasn't done a damn thing to deserve it. Bella is going to be pissed, but she had her chance. Last summer, she could have claimed me. All she had to do was say the words and I would have been hers. I would have made it work.
But she didn't and now I deserve to be happy. There's nothing wrong with me bringing my girlfriend on vacation with me, lots of people do it.
"I want you to come," I say definitively. "But I have to tell you something first."
"Babe, are you gonna smoke?" Angela's brown eyes are pretty. Not the same but still pretty. I guess. She hands me the pipe and lighter and I drive with my knees.
The road is long and flat and straight. Not much to look at in the middle of the desert but everything I see is chocolate. Heat. Golds and Browns. Melted and fucking delicious. God, I can still taste her. I haven't laid my lips on hers for like three years. Not that I'm counting or anything. She's going to hate me. She's going to be so fucking pissed. That girl is all balls, tough like Calculus. She might hit me. I love it when she does that shit, she's got the perfect little right hook. Her face scrunches up and her eyes look like almonds and I love it that I make her feel such anger. I love it that I make her feel anything.
That's the thing about Bella Swan, I know everything about her. And I know nothing at all. I know a lot of shit too. I know how to port and polish a cylinder head and break down an engine. I know every single player of the starting line-up for the Chicago Bulls from the last seven years and all their stats. I know that it takes nineteen hours to drive from Seattle to Arizona. Nineteen hours and I'll be driving that shit-tastic road into the marina, my jaw clenched at the thought of what that uneven pavement is doing to my tires. Driving right into those damn doe eyes. She'll be waiting for me, I know it. She's always waiting for me.
"Babe?" Dammit. I need to pay attention. I try to smile at Angela and bring the glass to my lips. With a flick of the lighter I inhale and let the smoke in and it's rank. Where the fuck did she get this shit? I hand it behind me and Alice is at my ear.
"Relax. Everything's going to be fine," she whispers confidently, like she's psychic or something and I just glare at her from the rear view mirror. She sticks her lips to the pipe and there's a flame in her face but I can still see her clear blue eyes. I know she's just trying to be helpful, but she needs to shut her mouth in present company. I told Angela all about Bella, how we fooled around a couple times when we were younger and how we're really good friends. I didn't tell her about how I've cried in front of this girl more times than I'd like to admit. I don't tell her how Bella makes me feel full, like I can't possibly allow anything else into my body when she's around and even the air feels too heavy in my chest. I don't tell her how all year long I'm plagued by dreams, dreams where she's licking my neck, and I wake up and have to rub one out and all I see is her face. I don't tell her about the poems and I definitely don't tell her about the energy that surges between us.
I don't know what I'm doing. This is so wrong.
"God, I need to get out of this car," Alice gripes from the backseat and Jasper leans between the front seats and puts a new CD in my portable player on the center console.
"Duran Duran again?" Angela scoffs. "Really?"
"They're timeless, honey," Jasper retorts and settles back into his seat. Angela lights a cigarette and I scowl. I fucking hate cigarettes. Such a disgusting habit. What's the point, really? If you're going to smoke, you may as well get some brain altering side effects.
"We're stopping in Reno, to sleep," I say and roll down the window. Angela makes sure to exhale out the window but then Alice starts smoking from the back seat and I can't take it anymore. She knows I can't stand that shit in my car.
"Alice, what the fuck?" I say and she rolls her eyes and sticks the cigarette out Angela's window. Which is such a waste. The wind is going to dispose of that cigarette before she can.
We pull into the hotel, the same hotel we stay in every year and this year I have to share a room with Alice and Jasper. Better than Rose and my parents, I guess. We're just here to crash and we eat dinner at the Denny's across the street. I order an omelet for dinner. I love breakfast for dinner. There's just something about eating eggs in the evening.
We head back to the rooms and I'm exhausted. I've been driving all day and not one of those jerks in my car offered to switch off with me. Not like I'd be at ease with them driving my car anyway. But still, the gesture would have been nice.
Angela cuddles up to me and as soon as Jasper and Alice are passed out, she's pulling down my pants. I'm a little creeped out by this. I mean, they're right there in the bed next to us but then my dick's in her mouth and I forget to care. That's a universal law, right? Never say no to head. I think the universe might implode if I do. But fuck me running, if I don't see that thick rope of brown hair and those big doe eyes as soon as I close mine. I see another mouth wrapped around me and I come and it's good but I'm disappointed as soon as I see Angela's eager face.
I am such a prick.
I try to make it up to her, I finger fuck her until she's clenching around my hand but I know what she wants. I see the sadness in her face and still, I can't give it to her.
We head out early the next morning. Nine more hours. Jasper offers to drive for a while and I let him. I ride shotgun and the girls spread out in the back and read magazines. Angela reaches around the seat and massages my shoulders and it feels good. I check the outside temperature by leaning my arm against the window and it's hot. It's well over a hundred degrees. It's gonna be miserable at the river. I don't know what I was thinking getting Bella a sweatshirt last year. The Bulls won the Finals this year and as soon as it happened, I wanted to get Bella something to commemorate it. I found her a tank top at this open air market downtown and it's cheap as hell, but I know she'll love it. Bella always loves my presents.
We stop at a gas station a couple hours out of Vegas and I resume driving responsibilities. Angela sits up front and she breaks out her pipe again. I think she's nervous. She said she couldn't wait to meet Bella and that she's sure she will love her because she adores me. She hardly knows me.
But Bella does.
So I hit that pipe like it's the last bowl I'm ever gonna smoke and that this weed will give me super powers, like fucking X-men and I spend the rest of car ride wishing I could shoot lasers from my eyes and that my skin would turn into metal armor. Protection. I'm looking for protection.
When we pull into the marina, I don't see Bella. I help Esme and my dad unload the car and Angela is bringing in our stuff and setting it in the bedroom that is mine. Alice and Jasper elect to sleep in the living room because Emmett's probably going to be sneaking in to fuck Rose every night we're here.
I grab the bag of smushed up sandwiches leftover from our road trip lunch and I'm about to show Angela the gluttonous carp that swarm under the bridge when there's a tap at the door. Rose is on the porch in an instant. I watch her hug Emmett, and it's something special, the way she wraps around him and he just basks in the worshiping. And then I see Bella and she's wearing those cutoff jean shorts and I can see the green ties of her bikini top sticking out of her tank. I can't help it, my protective covering melts away and I'm exposed and grinning like a fucking idiot. Alice gets to her first but then it's my turn and I lift her up and I kiss her cheek and whisper in her ear, and I forget about Angela.
"I missed you," I say and she's glancing behind me and I let her go. Fuck, I guess introductions are needed.
"Um, Bella, this is Angela," I say and Angela is hugging Bella, like I just did. Bella's face is pure mortification and I want to laugh. I love it when she gets all embarrassed.
"I've heard so much about you! The infamous Bella," Angela says and I'm just trying not to snort at how uncomfortable this situation is. Bella looks at me, even though Angela's the one speaking to her and I just smile.
"Angela goes to school with me. She's an art major, Bella." I'm trying to act natural, like this is totally cool and Bella is like ice. She's hardly cracked a smile and I think she's pissed. My ego is stoked.
"Edward tells me you're a photographer?" Angela asks. It sounds like all I do is talk about Bella when I'm at home. Damn, Angela, be cool!
"Not really, I just mess around," Bella says and I frown.
"No, she doesn't. She's really good. Bella, you have to show her your dam pictures," I protest but she just snorts. She is so frustrating, the way she acts like she's no big deal. Her pictures are art, some of the most beautiful work I've ever seen, and she's not even trying.
"Yeah, Bella, you'll have to show me your dam pictures. I'm sure your dam pictures are great." Angela's laughing and it isn't until Bella interjects that I fully understand what they're laughing at.
"Yeah, my dam pictures are some of my best dam work." Bella's smiling. She's radiant but I just roll my eyes and laugh at my slip. This is comfortable. Too comfortable. Too easy. I'm urging my protective layer to crawl back over my skin.
"I was just going to show Angela the docks," I say. "I'm going to take some bread down there and feed the fish."
"Those fish are so gross," Bella mumbles and I grin, because I can see her, a fierce spitfire shoving a bag of bread in my chest with the purest look of superiority embedded in her fine features.
"You know the first time I met Bella, she threw a bag of bread at me," I tease and then I ache. "And then, later that summer she punched me in the gut."
"You said my hair looked like a deflector shield!" She scoffs and looks offended. She always looks offended. "What was I supposed to do?"
"Yeah, well, you love me now, so it's all good," I say and I see it, a slight twitch in her grin, the very slightest of downcast eyes. I'm disgusted with myself, how one twitchy splinter in her lack of affect can make me soar. But it does nonetheless. With that twitch I feel invincible. I feel like I can take on the world.
All because she twitched when I said that word. Love.
I feel like a giant.
"You're in love with her," Alice says as we sit around the kitchen table, my Lucky Charms growing soggy in my bowl. The clack of my dad's new laptop is giving me a migraine. God I hate that sound, each clack is a reminder of the work he has to do. Work that's more important than me.
"I hardly know her," I say and Alice just looks at me with her big blue bulbs and takes a gigantic bite of her cereal. She chews slowly, the same appraising look plastered in her features and I wait for her to retort. Angela's still asleep.
"Not her. Bella." She says as Jasper sits down at the table with his bagel and I frown.
"I'm not in love with her. I love her, she's my friend. But I'm not in love with her. You know that," I mumble. Alice and I have had this discussion before.
"Do you love Angela?" Alice asks politely and I sigh.
"I told you, I hardly know her."
"She's nice," Alice says and I grit my teeth. Yes, I know she's nice. That's the whole problem.
Angela fits in well with my family. My dad laughs at her jokes and Esme thinks she's a doll. She discusses music with Alice and knows all the new bands that play at the coffee shop where Alice works. She gets along with Bella too. They discuss books and art and the positivity that has surrounded this river trip is making me want to punch things.
Bella is completely cool with this. And I feel like an idiot. She goes out of her way to make Angela comfortable, bites her tongue when Angela argues with her, laughs at her jokes and it's just so maddening. This doesn't affect her at all. She's, well, like a rock. So fucking typical. I expected something I guess, a little jealousy maybe.
"Yeah, she's a gem," I say sarcastically.
"She is," Alice says seriously and I feel like a dick.
"I don't know. Maybe...maybe I could." If Bella didn't exist. I might be able to be happy with Angela.
"Because she's Angela or because she's like Bella?" Alice asks, her eyes narrowing. Clever girl, that one. I gotta get out of here.
"I'm going for a walk." I'm out the door before I can hear her response.
My legs lead me to the place where everything makes sense. I walk the road of gravel and dirt and it's already fucking hotter than hell out here but I settle onto the swings. I hear the creak and groan of aged wood and I let the sun beat down on my skin. My hair is hot in my face and I push it behind my ears and I'm already sweating.
I look at the store and I can see her in there. She's behind the counter and she's talking to Leah. She'll see me and she'll come to me. She always does.
I watch the ground and I feel a shift, a tremble in the hot stale air around me and I know she's there. I look up and there they are, big, dark, alien eyes and the warmth floods. She sits on the swing beside me, pulling down her tiny shorts to cover the back of her thighs and I can't help but stare at her.
Fuck, I don't want to love her. I don't want to want her. I don't want to feel it.
"Hey," she says, cool as a motherfucking cucumber. I'm staring. I'm an idiot and I can't stop staring at her.
"Hey," I mutter. She's digging the toe of her white tennis shoes into the dirt and her hair falls around her shoulders like waves and she's beautiful. She can hardly look at me.
"Where's you posse?" she says, the sardonic pulses ebbing from her lips. My posse's the last thing I want to talk about.
"I needed a break, you know. I just wanted to be alone for a second," I reply and her lips pout. She gets up to leave and I panic.
"Oh, sorry, I'll go, I just wanted to say hi," she mumbles and I can't let her go. I reach out for her, our skin connects and I buzz.
"No, not you. I just meant I need to be away from them," I try to explain. "Don't leave, please?"
I'm pathetic. She sits, though and she stays.
"So, Angela's nice," she says and I don't know how she can act so cool about this.
"Yeah." It's all I can think to say.
"Your hair's really long." She tries again and I just nod.
"It sucks," I say. I hate this feeling, like every emotion is locked inside me, like carbonated gas trapped in an aluminum can. She's shaking me up and the minute I open my mouth, it's just going to be a big mess.
"So, um, why do you have a stick up your ass?" And I grin. She's proud of that one. I let my swing go.
"I don't have a stick up my ass. Why do you have a stick up your ass?" Worst comeback ever.
Again, she looks offended and I have to laugh. "I don't. I have been perfectly pleasant."
"You have. You've been polite and quiet and very nice," I respond and I kick her foot because I'm craving the contact. "And I kinda hate it."
She doesn't say anything but she looks pissed and I'm glad. This is my Bella, furious and glowing and still she's silent. I'm dying to know what she's thinking. I feel those bubbles starting to fizz up, and the words cannot be contained any longer. "How can you just act like this doesn't bother you?"
Her eyes flicker and her eyebrows crease and I've hurt her feelings. "What do you want me to do, Edward? Storm around here making a spectacle of myself?"
She looks crestfallen and I want to ease her distress immediately because I didn't mean to make her feel bad. I just wanted to make her feel.
"That's not what I meant," my voice cracks, like a fucking twelve year old. My head pounds and my chest heaves because everything is so wrong. This isn't how it's supposed to be at all. Our conversations always end up like this, because I can't just fucking say what I mean. I don't even really know what I mean. She makes me forget everything I want to say and I fumble. I just want her to share what's going on in her head.
"It does bother me. But it's just the way it is, you know?" She quiet and before I can resist, my fingers are pushing the hair from her face because I can't see her. All her heavy hair is in the way and I can't see the lines of her neck or the curve of her collarbone and I need to see her.
"Yeah, I know." I let my fingers loiter on her skin for just a second. But it's a second too long because she's running away.
"I gotta go," she says and I don't want her to. "Listen, I don't have to work tomorrow. We can go out on the water, if you want. We can take my dad's boat."
"Yeah, that would be fun. Hey, can we go to Australia?" I say, subdued, my fingers still pulsing from their lingered touch.
She nods and runs up the sidewalk. I watch her hair sway across her back, the muscles of her legs flex and shine in the sun. I am in some deep shit. I love her ass in those cutoffs, the little white threads interrupting her tan thighs.
Yeah, deep shit.
Angela's psyched to go out on the river in the morning. She keeps talking about Bella and how wonderful she is.
"I admit, I was kind of apprehensive at first, but she's a pretty cool chick," she says and I just nod. Angela brushes the hair out of my face and sucks on my lip and she tastes like lip gloss. Like waxy fruit.
"She's really quite beautiful, too." Angela's eyes feign indifference but she's gauging my reaction. This is a test. I suck at tests. I do much better when I can explain myself.
"Yeah, she is," I answer truthfully, because really there's no denying it. Bella's like the sun. Sometimes it hurts to look at her and sometimes I want to stare into her brightness so that her image damages my retinas and shit. The way her full lips pout when she's pissed or how big her eyes get when I say something that she finds shocking is the most beautiful thing on the planet.
We get to the cove and Alice and Rose want to go for a ride on the WaveRunners and Jasper and I go along. Angela and Bella hang back at the cove and I don't know how I feel about this.
After lunch, Bella takes us out on the boat. She's perched on a stack of life vests and she's wearing that damn bikini. The same green one from last year. She shows me how to drive the boat while Angela and Alice play bumper tubes. I just want her attention. I want her to talk to me, look at me, touch me, anything that shows she's not over us. So I ask for it.
I flirt with her. I make suggestive comments that I know will make her blush. She shows me how to floor the throttle and it's hot watching her be in control. Then, like an idiot, I almost fall and end up groping her in the process but I can't be too sorry. Even though I make sure to say I am. After that she lets me drive and she stands beside me and I feel like a king.
Later that afternoon, the air is heavy and we take the WaveRunners up river and we race. The water's getting really choppy, white caps all over the place but Bella doesn't slow down. She floors it, fucking balls to the wall and I struggle to keep up, but I'll be damned if Bella thinks she can beat me. She's so damn competitive. She loves this shit. I can almost see her grinning.
"Edward, slow down." I can hardly hear Angela in my ear. Bella darts out in front and I surge forward.
I don't even see the other boat until it was too late. A massive wave knocks the WaveRunner on its side and I barely stay on. Angela's floating in the water behind me and the kill switch is dangling on my vest. I plug it back in and try to start the ignition and nothing happens. Her and Rose pull alongside me and her eyes dart from me to Angela and back and I feel like a douche because I can't start the fucking thing.
"What happened?" Bella asks.
"We hit that wake and Angela went flying. I must have pulled the kill switch accidentally and now it won't start," I say and try to start the ignition again. Nothing. Fucking nothing.
"It's probably just flooded. Hey, Rose can you go pick up Angela?" Bella clips the switch to Rose's vest and then she's in the water and Rose is zipping off to get my girlfriend. Bella glides easily through the water and climbs onto the back of my WaveRunner. She looks serious, like she's performing brain surgery out here or something and I have to laugh.
"Move over." She crawls over my leg and I hold the back of her vest so she won't fall. Oh, God her wet thigh is touching mine and I'm imagining her naked and fuck, I hope she doesn't ask me to stand up.
I hand her the kill switch and she tries the ignition and gets nothing.
"Yep, it's flooded. We're going to have to wait until it dries out. Stand up real quick. I want to check if there's a tow rope in there." Of course you do.
I shift and stand and she checks underneath the seat and finds nothing. Rose stops beside us and Angela's fiddling with her eye. Looks like she lost a contact or something.
Bella fills them in on our stranded situation and then Angela wants to go back to the marina. Before I know it, it's just me and Bella stranded on the dead WaveRunner and I don't know what to say. Her back is to mine and her heel keeps digging into my calf but I can't find it within myself to say a word.
The sky starts to streak and I can see the storm far off in the distance already drenching the desert. Heavy solitary drops begin to fall and all of a sudden, Bella's voice rings out like a siren.
"How could you bring her here? To our place? To share our summer? How could you do that to me?" She's angry and fierce and her words cut. Like I would do this on purpose. I'm not completely heartless.
"What? What are you talking about?" I say back and I nudge her heel out of my calf.
"You knew this would hurt me and you did it anyway. Why would you do that to me?" she says.
I can't believe her accusation. God, is that what she thinks of me? That I would do this just to hurt her? I offered myself to her and she denied me. She pushed me away because she said it would be too hard. Like I'm not worth working for. I don't care how hard it would be to have her only part of the time, the prospect of nothing at all is worse. The thought of her with someone else is worse. Even what we have now is worse.
"Not everything is about you, you know? God, you're so selfish sometimes. Why couldn't this be about me? Why couldn't this be about me trying to have a vacation with my girlfriend?" I defend.
"Is that what this is? Because if that's true, I will leave it alone, Edward. If it's truly about you trying to have a wonderful vacation with your lovely girlfriend, I will leave it the fuck alone. Is that what this is really about?" She asks and I lean into her back. All I can hear is the rain pinging off my life vest. What is this really about? Why did I bring Angela? God, did I do this on purpose.
This attention, this fighting, this passion that I hear in her voice, is better than nothing at all. I am such a dick. I brought this nice girl here, and I'm using her to make Bella jealous. I've known all along I don't want to be with Angela, but here I am, pretending our relationship means something, pretending she has a shot in hell, when I know for a definite fact, I am in love with Bella Swan.
I don't just love her. I'm in love with her. And she thinks I'm fucking someone else.
"I'm not sleeping with her," I blurt out, desperate for her to know the truth. "I don't want to hurt her like that."
"Well, you already are hurting her. She thinks it's her fault." Wait, what? How does Bella know this? "She wants me to ask you about it. She thinks you're depressed. Or that you don't find her attractive, I guess."
Angela talked to Bella. That's the only explanation. Yeah, that's kind of shitty.
"It's not her fault. I just…I know, this thing between us isn't going anywhere. She's nice, you know. She's really smart and funny, but I don't want to, I don't know, go there, when I know I don't love her."
"But you sleep with other girls, ones far less desirable," Bella says and I cringe, the rain water starting to drip into my eyes. It's true. I do. I did. And I realize I have to tell her everything.
"I know. That's the whole point. Those other girls, I'm not myself when I'm with them. I'm drunk or stoned or whatever, it's not me and half the time I don't even remember. But with Angela, God, I don't even know how it happened. One minute she's hanging out sometimes at our dorm, then she's there everyday and she's just really nice, you know, like too nice. And then she's kissing me and making dates and plans and shit. She bought me tickets to Lollapalooza for my birthday.
Then she asked me about summer vacation and I told her about the marina. I think I said something like, you should see the sky out there, it's amazing and she took it as an invitation. And I knew it would hurt you, I did. But you've got that guy, Garrett or whatever his name is. We're both with other people, you know." I spin around so that I'm sitting sideways on the seat.
"I'm not with other people, Edward. I broke up with Garrett last summer. After the houseboat," she says and she's facing me now and her eyes are in her lap.
"But Alice said you…" I start and there's thunder and then it's pouring, just pummeling and then jumping up off the river.
"What did Alice say?" she asks frantically and I'm wondering if I misunderstood. If she's not in love with Garrett, then who did she...oh God. It's me. Could it be me? I feel like this is a trick but I need to know.
"She said you were in love." I face her, straddling the seat and I force her eyes to mine. I see it on her face. It's me. She loves me. I can see it in the way her chest is heaving, her parted lips, the flush creeping up her neck and the rain water causes the end of her braid to curl and loop, like a watercolor paintbrush on her neck and chest. She's gripping the handlebars, her knuckles white against the force of the churning water and she whispers.
"Well, maybe I am."
I want to kiss her. I need to touch her, to feel her energy mix with mine, so I can feel the hum and burn and pull. And then, there's a spark, like when you run around your house in socks all day and touch the couch or something. It's a transfer of energy, it's radiant and pure and just so natural. It's us. Positive and negative.
"I don't like it that you don't call or write me. It's like you forget about me during the year." Her face is so close to mine I can smell the fresh rain on her hot skin.
I don't like it that you get drunk and sleep with skanks," she says. "And I did try to call you. Your roommate answered and called me half a dozen girl names when I asked for you and I hung up." Fucking asshole, cocksucker James!
"I don't like it either. I hate myself for it. They're nothing, you know? And I don't mean anything to them either. I don't mean anything to anyone." I press my cheek against hers and there it is, the jolt through my face and veins and straight to massive muscle thumping wildly behind my ribs.
"You're wrong," she whispers, and her lips are on mine. She's warm and her tongue pushes into my mouth and I'm a God. I run my hand along her thighs and I suck on her lip and hold her mouth to mine. I'm afraid to let her go, afraid to stop kissing her, afraid to breathe because it might change this moment right now. She might change her mind. She might realize her mistake and she'll push me away, just like always. Her hands are in my hair and the whole atmosphere celebrates in our union, the sky sending sparks of lightning and the great cymbal clash of thunder and like the bolt seeks the earth, I'm trying to find her skin. I kiss at her neck, my hand clutches any bit of flesh it kind find and God I want to touch her everywhere.
"We need to get off," she says, her voice heady with lust and I can't help the chuckle.
"The water, I mean. We're sitting ducks out here on the water. We need to get to the shore," she says, like she needs to make it clear that wasn't an invitation and I laugh. She's so cute when she gets all embarrassed.
"You're such an ass," she pushes against me and I grab her hand because I don't want to be done kissing her. I kiss every inch of her hand and I don't ever want to let it go.
"Come to Seattle with me," I say without thinking. She's still though and I'm afraid I've asked too much. Here's the part when she runs and I'm defeated.
"What?" she asks, her eyes closed, her voice clouded in disbelief. I know what her answer will be but still I plead.
"It's not like you have anything going on here, come with me to Seattle." As soon as it's out of my mouth I see her brain twisting my words. It's not what I meant!
"I can't leave Edward, I have a job," she says proudly.
"Your dad could hire someone else," I argue. I'm so sick of this dance, the infamous tango of fear and obligation.
"No, he can't. He can't afford to hire anyone right now. As it is, I work for peanuts, gas money and shit. I can't do that to him, not right now." Just as I expected.
"Hey," she murmurs, her fingers pushing over my ear. "I'm not saying no, just not now."
I kiss her fingers and I nod and I know. It's not now. It's not ever. But I'll take what I can get.
In an instant, Emmett appears, fighting the choppy water through the rain and we climb into the boat while he ties up the WaveRunner. I sit with Bella on our bench and we balance, like chocolate and peanut butter. Her feet rest against my thigh and I tease her because I like her attention. Even when it's in the form of pinching.
When we pull into the marina reality pours in on me. I have to break up with Angela. I can't do this to her anymore. I can't pretend there's hope in a hopeless situation. Bella covers her face with a towel and I think she feels guilty and then I feel horrible that she's crying because she never cries. I want to comfort her and I can't. But I don't feel bad about the kiss. I feel bad that I'm such an asshole, but I don't regret anything that happened on the river today. Only that I didn't do it sooner.
Angela's watching me but I'm still worried about Bella. Emmett pulls into the slip and Bella jumps off the bow to catch the boat. I catch the side and tie the rope to the cleat and her eyes are still on me. I climb out of the boat and I can't stop looking at her.
"I was so worried," she mumbles and tries to kiss me and I can't pretend any more. I step back, the slightest of movements and my thoughts flash to Bella.
"What happened?" Angela whispers and her eyes are on Bella and then me and I can see it all coming together in her head. She doesn't even need to ask again. Her eyes narrow and her darken and she turns and walks away. And I follow her because there are things that need to be dealt with.
She doesn't give me the chance though. She locks me out of my room and I sleep on the couch and in the morning the car is packed and she's in the passenger seat. I give Bella's present to Alice and it's killing me I don't get to see her open this but I think Angela's suffered enough.
As soon as we're on the freeway, Angela lights one of her cigarettes and doesn't even bother to roll down the windows. She knows how much I hate that. I don't say a word.
"You love her, don't you?" Angela says, ash flying all over my dashboard and I grit my teeth and bite my tongue.
"Yeah," I say.
"She was never just a 'thing'," she says with air quotes and everything, the ash of the cigarette dusting my lap and upholstery with embers.
"No," I say.
"You're a fucking prick," she says and I nod. "And a coward."
"And you're gonna lose her if you don't get your shit together." She cracks the window and she flicks her cigarette out onto the uneven pavement and I drive.
I spend the next nineteen hours thinking of ways I can get back.
These outtakes were written for Fandom Gives Back for Team Summerward, who so graciously donated a great heap of cash for a peek inside Edward's brain. And they're sharing! Of course, if you haven't read For the Summer, I strongly recommend finishing that first. You don't want to miss out on all that angst-ridden frustration, do you?
There are five outtakes, years 1991-1995 (which correspond with Chapters 9-13), all from Edward's point of view. I'm going to try to post them all by the Fourth of July, because I'm cheesy like that.
Okay, enough chatter. SubtlePen beta'd. Boo and HtotheM preread. They light up my life.
*Also...If you're an 80's music fan (which I am), I'm reading these books Talking to Girls About Duran Duran and Love is a Mix Tape by Rob Sheffield. They're completely lovely.