Pairing (if applicable): ExB
Disclaimer: I don't own Twilight, S. Meyer does.
Summary: Shoe shopping has never been so fraught with uncertainty.
"This is ridiculous." Bella muttered, leering at the large wall of brightly colored footwear.
She wasn't the type to come into an expensive shop like Fancy Feet, but her friend, Alice, was getting married on Saturday and she needed new heels for the occasion.
She eyed each pair dubiously, taking in the confusing strap configurations and breakneck heights with a sigh of frustration.
"You don't have anything a little less deadly looking, do you?"
The sales girl smiled, her frizzy, bleach-blond hair the color of bright straw under the shop's florescent lights. The name tag pinned to her pink cashmere sweater said, "Jessica."
"Sorry, Ma'am, but this is all we have. If you'd like I could pick out a few for you to try on. I do it a lot for older ladies. I have pretty good taste."
Bella frowned. She might be on the downward side of forty, but that hardly made her old. She took care of herself, ate right and exercised regularly, and because of all her hard work was still a very attractive woman. "Older ladies" made her think of blue rinses and Bingo nights, not a woman capable of running a six-minute mile.
"Thank you, but I think I can manage," she blandly replied, placing her hands on her hips stubbornly. "I'll call if I need you."
The girl politely nodded and walked back to the register with a flourish in her step, perching herself on a stool behind the counter.
It took some time, but Bella eventually narrowed her choices down to two pairs of heels without being reduced to asking the perky, young shop girl for assistance. She stood in front of the full length mirror, twisting her foot one way, then the other, trying to get an adequate view of the strappy, satin shoe she had on her left foot.
"Those are lovely."
She lifted her gaze, raising her eyebrows at a man reflecting in the mirror behind her. He looked quite a bit younger than her – maybe thirty or so – and had the chiseled features and masculine beauty of something out of an airbrushed magazine ad.
"You don't like the other ones?" She nonchalantly asked, pointing a toe at the box on the floor beside her.
"I like those much better." He jabbed a finger at her foot. "They look exquisite on you."
She moved her gaze along the lines of his tall frame, taking in the pleasing sight of a three-thousand dollar suit draped over a stunning piece of hard man-flesh; barely resisting the urge to lick her lips like some kind of sex-hungry Cougar. She wasn't lacking in that department. In fact, she had a regular parade of bed-mates marching through her house at all hours to keep her satisfied and entertained. But this guy trumped them all.
He has to be gay, she thought. Why else would he be in a woman's shoe store giving out fashion tips.
"And what makes you an expert on woman's shoes, Mr….-?"
"Edward Masen." He flashed a fetching grin. "And to answer your question, I'm the youngest of four - all sisters - and have a shoe fanatic for a mother. Actually, she owns this store. I'm just checking in while she's out of town."
"Well then," she chortled. "It would seem you are more qualified than I am. I usually don't wear heels, and especially not strappy ones like these."
"That's a shame." He shook his head, sighing. "You have exceptionally pretty feet."
"Can feet be pretty?" She asked, crooking one eyebrow at his reflection.
"Oh, yes," he softly murmured, his bright green eyes smoldering at her in the mirror. "They can be beautiful, even."
A flush crept up Bella's throat. This man – Edward, the shop owner's son, brother too three older sisters - had managed to make her feel both desirable and uncomfortable with one sentence. It was commendable; she rarely felt off balance with men. Gay or not, he's one smooth devil.
"I'm sorry; I didn't catch your name." He prompted, grinning again.
"Bella." She smiled, slipping out of the shoes. She crouched down and gently placed them back in their box, catching a glimpse of the sales girl ogling Edward in the mirror. That's right, honey, I'm not too old to attract a good looking man, yet.
"Well, Bella, this is going to sound a little creepy after our dissection about your pretty feet," he chuckled, nervously. "But what the hell ... Would you like to have a drink with me?"
She froze for a moment, then slowly turned her head to look up at him over her shoulder. He shifted uncomfortably and gave her a coy smile, a touch of pink lighting his cheeks. Okay then, not gay ... and apparently into older women. Lucky day.
"I'd really like that, Edward." She agreed, standing and facing him.
"Great." He exhaled loudly. "There's this place around the corner, Georgina's? Is eight o'clock good for you?"
"Eight works for me." She beamed.
"Great." He tilted his head toward the shoebox in her hands. "You getting them?"
"Yes," she chirped with laughter. "Thanks for your help."
"No problem." He winked. "I'll see you at eight."
Bella saw him outside the front window of Georgina's before he opened the door and came in. Dressed in a dark blue button-down and jeans, it was a far cry from his earlier attire, but pleasing just the same. In the colored lighting of the bar sign, she noticed his dark hair had an auburn tinge to it, making his eyes look even greener then they had in the shoe store. She sipped her Bloody Mary greedily and watched while he moved toward her in long, confident strides.
"This seat taken?" He boyishly grinned, gripping the back of the empty chair.
She raised an eyebrow. "Don't you think that one's a little played out?"
"Maybe you're right," he guffawed, taking his set. "Should I have used, 'You come here often?'"
"I think we're past cheesy pick-up lines, Edward." She chuckled, shaking her head.
"Are we?" He teased, raising a hand at the waitress. "All I know about you is your first name and that you have poor taste in formal footwear."
She snorted into her Blood Mary. "True."
"So, tell me about yourself. What do you do to pay for your shoes?"
"I'm a writer."
"What kind of a writer?" He leaned forward, placing his elbows on the table, and glanced up at the large-busted waitress staring down at him and smiling in a seductive, trashy manner. "Jack and Coke."
"Historical Literary Fiction." Bella replied, when the waitress sauntered off.
"So you're one of those writers that likes to use words no one's heard of since 1603."
"That's me." She smirked. "What do you do? When you're not stalking women in your mother's shoe store, that is."
He laughed. Bella couldn't help but become captivated by the way his handsome face lit up and his broad shoulders shook when he was highly amused.
"I'm a Thoracic Surgeon."
"Wow," she simpered, taking another sip from her drink. "I'm impressed ... and possibility a little intimidated."
"Don't be." He winked. "It's just a job."
About that time, the waitress came back and set Edward's drink on the table in front of him, making a show of pushing her ample cleavage in his face.
"Would you like another drink, Ma'am?" She looked at Bella hopefully.
I know what you're up to, sweetheart, and no dice.
"No, thank you."
"Are you from Seattle?" He continued, after the waitress schlepped off, pouting.
Bella shook her head. "I'm from Phoenix. I'm just in town for a friend's wedding. You?"
"My family moved here from Maine when I was fourteen."
They went on like that for a long time – laughing and chatting, chatting and laughing - until just a sliver of moon hung high in the night sky and the air had turned crisp and biting. Bella stood on the sidewalk, swaying in her shoes and digging in her handbag for the keys to her rental.
"You can't drive." Edward protested, gripping her elbow so she wouldn't fall. "Why don't you let me drive you to your hotel?"
"I don't understand what's wrong with me." She slurred, apologetically. "I only had two drinks."
"Don't be so hard on yourself." He soothed, moving a gentle hand over her back. "It probably has more to do with the Rohypnol I put in your last Blood Marry, then anything."
Bella felt forged in ice.
She turned to him in horror, and had just enough time to register the wide sinister grin distorting his handsome features before everything went black.
It was a drip, tap, drip, tap sound that began to stir her awake.
That, and the cold.
Her skin puckered as the fine hairs covering her limbs rose and a deathly chill wormed its way through her. A thick fog of confusion weighted her down, like a heavy layer of shellac had been applied directly to her brain, suffocating any possibility for clear thought.
Where the hell am I?
She struggled to remember anything, anything at all, but her sluggish mind refused to spark and fire like it should; partly due to the fact that her head felt like it had been cleaved in half. She attempted to lift her hands and rub its throbbing surface, but they wouldn't budge.
In fact, nothing would move.
She tried thrashing around but couldn't, like she might be strapped down to the cold, hard something under her.
Giving in to the horrifying reality that she had no choice but to look, she drew in a ragged breath and slowly opened her eyes, taking in her abysmal surroundings.
She was in a cramped, crude cinder-block room without windows, lit with one bare light bulb dangling from a beam in the low ceiling. Close beside her, a steel sink like the kind doctor's use to scrub up before surgery, jutted out of the wall dripping beads of murky water into the large basin below. Resting next to it, a shiny trolley sat ominously adorned with a white cloth. Possibly concealing whatever cruel instruments her captor wanted to keep hidden until such a time when showing them would induce the optimum amount of dread.
Bella, herself, was in nothing but bra and panties, secured to an old autopsy table by four heavy leather straps. Around her ankles, shackles attached to a long iron bar forced her legs apart by about three feet.
A range of possibilities ran through her sputtering mind, each more terrifying then the last, and all involving her young, charming date from the night before.
This brought her to only one conclusion.
Edward Masen is a psycho!
She knew that much, but the rest she was hardly equipped to deal with, or even understand. Especially the moment he opened the door and stepped into the dank room, whistling some unrecognizable, but annoyingly cheery tune. As if he was taking a leisurely stroll in the park and not about to do something unspeakably depraved to a half-naked woman strapped to a steel table in a secret room under his garage, or basement; wherever this damp, cold prison of his happened to be located.
"I'm glad you're finally awake." He said, moving to the table and peering down at her. "You've been out for quite a while."
"Please, Edward," she rasped, churning in her bonds. "If you let me go, I promise, I won't tell anyone. You don't have to do this."
She knew his answer before he said it.
He leaned over the table - his face so close to hers that she could smell a hint of alcohol still on his breath - and starred down at her with lifeless eyes and a blank expression. In his hollowed gaze, she saw that her life was about to end; she was going to die, and there was nothing anyone could do to stop it.
"I wonder how many times people like you have said those exact same words to people like me?" He mused. "Save your groveling for God, Bella, because, I don't give a fuck."
She wanted to scream, or cry. Actually, she wanted to do both of those things, but being the stubborn human being that she was, she spat in his face instead.
He laughed, wiping the saliva away and leaned back to eyeball the trolley by the sink.
"You know what's under here?" He asked, toying with one corner of the white cloth. "A bone saw. I used to use a hacksaw, but it always left unattractive edges around the ankle bones."
"Ankle bones?" She croaked, petrified.
"I have what you might call a 'foot fetish', of sorts." He casually explained. "Except, I have little use for the rest of the woman - the part that breaths and bitches endlessly. So, I came up with a fitting solution to my rather peculiar problem."
He tugged at the cloth, exposing the cruel looking electric autopsy saw underneath.
Bella's steel-belted will withered to nothing.
"Please!" She blubbered, tears and snot bubbling up. "I can be good for you! I won't speak, or do anything you don't ask me too! We had fun at the bar! Didn't we? It can be like that all the time if you want!"
"Bella, Bella, Bella," he chanted, shaking his head. "You're the type of woman who's incapable of shutting her fucking mouth ... Just like my mother and sisters were."
He plucked the bone saw from the trolley and the cutting end flashed in the light when he held it up. The blade zinged to life; its high-pitched metallic scream, nearly matching octaves with the shriek that ripped from his helpless victim's throat.
Bella watched in wide-eyed terror, as he positioned the gyrating tool over one shackled ankle, looked up with a wide grin and said, "This might sting a bit."