A/N: This was one of my reject entries for the Lyrics and Lemons contest. I was this close to choosing to move forward with this one. but as much as I loved it I decided to go with another one instead. ImHereToReview was my prereader/beta for the contest and she loved this one so I promised her I would finish it for her. So here it is, one of my many entry ideas for the Lyrics and Lemons contest dedicated to ImHereToReview. The song this was based on is "Gallery" by Mario Vasquez. Enjoy!
I felt the room change the moment she entered the room, even though I couldn't see her. When she walked in the room your lungs closed, making you never want to breathe again. Everything was lighter, more beautiful.
Through the jazzy piano sounds floating through the room, I heard the soft murmur of her voice here and there, greeting all of the guests. It was the epitome of calm, the perfect dialogue for an artist's wife. Or soon to be wife.
I took a long sip of my drink and slinked into the corner, away from the crowd. My eyes searched the room for her, washing over the hoards of people. They were here for him. They were here for his...beautiful paintings. If they knew how ugly he was in inside, the room would be empty.
I smiled when I finally got a glimpse of her across the room. First it was a quick movement of her brown curls, then the sliver of skin exposed when he brushed her hair over her shoulder. She laughed and glanced over her shoulder at me, almost like she knew I was staring. She blushed and diverted her eyes away before turning back to their guests.
"Admiring the art again Edward?" My brother Emmett slapped me on my back and laughed under his breath.
"I guess I have a thing for priceless art." My eyes lingered a moment longer before I broke away and turned towards Emmett.
"I'm not sure how I feel about you having an affair with my biggest client's fiance, little brother," he murmured.
"We're not having an affair." I scowled and took another sip of my drink. "I have to get back to work." I carried my drink over to the piano and turned off the CD player that had given me a slight break from playing.
I was pretty lucky that my brother owned an art gallery and just happened to need a pianist every now and then for events. That's how I met her. It was the morning before his first showing and I was tuning up the piano, getting everything set for that night. I caught a whiff of her perfume and found myself completely distracted by the sweet, fruity scent. I was used to Emmett's overwhelming cologne and it was a welcome change.
"Thank you for all of your help Mr. Cullen, we'll be seeing you tonight then," she said as she stepped out of Emmett's office.
"You're welcome Miss Swan. If either of you need anything before tonight, please feel free to call my cell phone."
"Will do. And please call me Bella." She smiled and turned to leave, catching my eye for the slightest moment as she did.
For some reason I was anxious the rest of the day waiting for the exhibition. I'd done plenty before, but there was something about this girl that I couldn't explain. Almost like that feeling you get when you're almost at the top of a roller coaster. Anticipation. Fear. Excitement. Adrenaline. I had it all.
I watched her that whole night, walking around with him. Her fiance Laurent was an up and coming artist who was one of the cockiest assholes I've ever met, and we deal with artists so that's saying a lot. I watched the way he held onto her waist like she was nothing but a possession. Almost like he was showing her off like one of his pieces. It made me sick to my stomach and I didn't even know her. I wanted to know her.
She finally left his side and started wandering around the room, taking in each picture hanging on the wall. I decided to take my break and got up the nerve to at least approach her. I was so nervous that I had to force my hands into my pockets to stop them from shaking.
I smirked as I watched her examine one of the pictures and walked up silently beside her. She held a glass of champagne in her hand and was completely oblivious to my presence. I glanced at the painting and sighed. I personally thought his art was shit, but hey who was I? Just a struggling musician. I didn't have much say in the art world. Apparently, blobs and streaks were masterpieces.
I kept sneaking sideways glances at her and she finally noticed my stalking. She cocked her eyebrow and tried to focus on the art again, but it was impossible.
"Can I help you?" She asked.
"So what do you think?" I nodded towards the painting.
"I like it." She shrugged.
"Are you saying that because you really like it or you're required to say it?"
She turned towards me and narrowed her eyes at me. "Are you saying I can't think for myself?"
"Not at all." I laughed. "I'm saying that you have bias because you're marrying the artist."
"I do not," she grumbled. She turned back to the painting again. "It looks like a flying elephant," she sighed.
I started laughing again as I took a sip of my drink. "Dumbo has risen."
She tried to avoid laughing since it would be admitting defeat, but she was unsuccessful. She smiled at me and held out her hand. "I'm Bella Swan."
"Edward Cullen." I shook her hand.
"Cullen? Are you related to the guy who owns this place?"
"He's my brother. I just play the piano for him during the exhibits."
"Well I'm sure I'll be seeing a lot more of you then, Edward." She smirked and floated away from me through the crowd.
That was when it all started. At every exhibit after that, whether Laurent was showing or they were just attending, Bella and I always happened to migrate to one another. We talked about the art and about each other's lives. It didn't take me long to figure out she wasn't happy with him, but I wasn't sure she even realized it.
I saw the way he looked at us interacting. He didn't like it at all. I could tell by the daggers he stared at me every time he saw Bella and I sitting together. But I saw him too. I saw him with our waitress Lauren. I saw him with the red head at his last showing. He makes a point to brush up against them or touch their arm all while flashing them his charming smile. If that didn't convince me of his infidelity, seeing Lauren follow him out of the bathroom did. I tried to tell Bella, but I didn't have the heart to break hers. A part of me wondered if she knew and turned a blind eye.
I knew the exact moment when I loved her. It was late one night after an exhibition. Her and Laurent had attended a showing for one of his artist friends and Laurent had gone home early with a "headache." Bella stayed late to help us clean up and we ended up alone in the gallery. The lights were all off, except for one highlighting one of the paintings.
I was standing in silence in front of it when I felt her step up beside me.
"So what do you think?" She asked.
I smiled and nodded. "I think it's pretty damn good."
"I think it's pretty damn good too. Don't tell Laurent I said that." She brushed her fingers against my arm and we both froze. I got the distinct feeling she didn't mean to touch me, but once she did that was it. There was no turning back. I felt in in her fingertips. I was in love with her.
"Bella," I whispered. I wrapped my fingers delicately around her wrist and pulled her in front of me.
"Edward, don't." She shook her head.
"Don't what?" I whispered.
"You...know what you're doing." She closed her eyes tightly and placed her palms flat against my chest. She dipped her finger into the v-neck of my shirt and brushed it against my skin.
She breathed deep as I ran my hand over her collarbone and brushed her hair away from her neck. I leaned in and ghosted my lips right below her ear. "What am I doing?" My tongue flicked out and tasted her skin as I felt her fist my shirt tighter.
A loud slam from Emmett's office scared us both and we jumped back from each other. Emmett stepped away from his door and cleared his throat as he watched us curiously. "I forgot my wallet in my office." He slipped it into his back pocket. "Bella, would you like a ride home?"
"That would be great. Thanks." She glanced at me and swallowed hard before she started towards the door. Emmett narrowed his eyes at me just like he used to when I did something stupid in high school.
I closed the rest of the shop up and headed home. I expected at least a phone call from Emmett, but I didn't expect him to show up at my door.
"What the fuck are you doing, man?" He asked, barging in.
"I was...handling it, Emmett. Back off."
"You were handling her. Don't you understand? This is my business. My life. If I lose Laurent, I'm going to be in a world of hurt."
"You won't lose him."
"Listen, Edward. I know that you think you care about her, but you don't even know her."
"I know her better than he does. And I care about her more than he does. You see the same things that I see and that asshole doesn't deserve her."
"That may be, but she's choosing to stay with him. Stay away from Bella." He glared at me as he left and slammed the door behind him.
Bella and Laurent were noticeably absent at the next few exhibits, but I knew they'd be here at the end of the month. He had a showing of his new collection.
I had a little more to drink than I usually would have the day of his showing. I was fucking nervous to see her now after all this time, especially after the way we left things.
"Are you going to behave tonight?" Emmett asked as he ran around making last minute preparations.
"Of course." I smirked and sat down at the piano. My fingers danced numbly across the keys as the guests started to arrive. Bella and Laurent walked in not long after it had officially started, fashionably late I would assume. Bella smiled and gripped tightly onto Laurent's arm, but I saw the distance in her eyes even from across the room.
They flickered my way and just as quickly returned to her conversation. I smiled as the blush rose in her cheeks. She tucked a stray curl behind her ear and laughed. I grimaced as Laurent kissed her cheek and excused himself from the small group.
As soon as he left, the others stepped away from Bella like she didn't even exist. She stood nervously in the center of the room, fidgeting with her champagne glass. Her eyes danced around the room and I could almost see the questions running through her head. She was contemplating. I could only hope that something was me.
The sweat was rolling in beads down my forehead as I watched her. My fingers worked quickly over the keys, almost too quickly. She finally turned towards me and I saw her shoulders heave with her deep breaths.
She was cowering under my stare and I hated that I was making her uncomfortable, but I couldn't look away. I couldn't. Some might call it gravity, I call it fucking love. I couldn't look away.
She finally broke away and glanced down at the floor as she darted across the room. She was heading towards the back, down by Emmett's office. She glanced at me as she walked by me before disappearing down the hallway. Emmett glared at me from across the room, telling me not to follow. Demanding, forbidding me not to.
"Sorry, big brother," I mumbled. I spun around off the seat and followed her down the hallway.
I started checking each room, door by door, trying to find her. Each time I came up empty-handed. The last door at the end of the hallway led to our warehouse, a large room where we stored most of the art. I held my breath and pushed the door open.
I saw her pacing around the floor in the dim light of the room. She looked up as I walked in and closed the door behind me.
"Bella..." I started.
"I don't know what's happening to me," she whispered. "I don't..." She shook her head.
I crossed the short distance between us and grabbed her by the waist. I wanted to show her. I didn't want her to question anything. I didn't want her to question me.
I ran my hand up her side and to her collarbone before resting it gently on her neck.
"I'm gonna kiss you," I murmured.
"Why?" She asked.
"Because you want me to."
Her eyes flickered back and forth, searching mine for some kind of answer. I didn't know the question. She surprised the hell out of when she leaned forward and kissed me. I moaned and moved my lips against hers, hungry and greedy. My hand roamed up her back, holding her close to me as I explored her completely. She tasted sweet, just a tinge of champagne on her tongue.
I reached down over her ass and gripped her legs tightly as I pulled them up around my waist. I walked us over to a large mound of crates and set her down on top as I trailed my lips down her neck.
The wood crates creaked beneath us as I pushed my hips into hers against and again, cursing the fabric between us.
"Edward, we can't..." She breathed.
"Tell me to stop." I pulled back and settled my hands against the crate on either side of her hips. "Tell me to leave. Tell me to stop talking to you. Tell me anything you want and I'll do it."
Her eyes searched mine as she fought to catch her breath. She reached up and ran her fingers across my jaw as the thoughts tumbled through her head. I leaned in close and closed my eyes. "Tell me, Bella."
"I can't," she stuttered. She shook her head and ran her fingers through my hair. "I can't," she said again.
I inched forward and pressed my lips to hers once more. I crawled up onto the crate, pushing her back down onto it as I went. Our tongues, lips, hands danced together as we poured our hearts out silently to one another. I reached around and untied the knot on her halter dress, allowing it to fall slack across her chest. I slipped my hand beneath the fabric and grazed my fingertips across her bare breast. I trailed down her stomach and to her thigh. I slipped under her dress and groaned when I felt the seam of her underwear. I pushed it aside and slipped my fingers inside her. She arched her body up, pushing herself against my palm as I pushed in and out of her. I curled my fingers inside her and pulled out slowly, massaging her in all the right places as she squirmed below me. She screamed out in pleasure, her voice echoing off the stone walls of the warehouse before fading out.
She whimpered and reached down between us, frantically pulling at my belt. She finally got it undone and made quick work of my button and zipper. My dick was hard, straining against my boxers and begging for attention.
She smiled against my lips and I can say that despite that I knew what we were doing was wrong, I was happy. She pushed herself up, forcing herself against my chest as she gripped the waistband of my pants. The top half of her dress fluttered down to her waist and I leaned down and brushed quick kisses across her chest. She blushed and started wriggling my pants down my hips.
My heart jumped as the door to the warehouse opened. A woman giggled as I spun around and tried to shield Bella from being completely exposed. Laurent turned towards us and stopped immediately. His hand was tightly entwined with one of our new waitresses and I knew exactly what they were coming in here to do. Because it was exactly what we were doing. Somehow it didn't feel as wrong with Bella.
"Well, well..." Laurent smiled wickedly. "What do we have here?"
I felt Bella press her head into my back. I couldn't say if Laurent knew it was her yet, but I could imagine he would any minute.
"Piano man sneaking back here for some fine tuning, huh?" Laurent snickered and shook off the waitress. "Who's your lady friend?" He tried to peek around me, but I moved again to shield her. He laughed and darted around me once again, but this time I just wasn't fast enough. He froze as soon as he saw Bella.
"What's this?" He asked, cocking his eyebrow. Bella whimpered and cowered back, pulling furiously at her dress. She tied it back behind her and slipped down from the crate. "How long has this been going on, Isabella?"
"You have...no right to speak to her," I said, my fists clenching at my sides. "You think we don't know about your little trysts. She knows!"
"And yet she still stays with me?" He started pacing. "You know why don't you? I can provide for her, give her everything she'll ever need."
"You don't love her. Don't appreciate how beautiful she is."
He laughed. "Love? Do you love her? You're a poor, good for nothing musician. Keep dreaming, kid." He nodded to Bella. "Isabella?"
I glanced at her, pleading her not to go with him. Her eyes danced between the two of us, the epitome of confusion.
"Isabella!" He yelled. Before she could respond he reached out and grabbed her by the wrist. I raced after them as he dragged her out into the hallway. He started towards the crowd and I had a feeling he no longer cared about making a scene.
There were gasps and screams from everyone as all barreled through the exhibition room. Emmett was yelling over the crowd, but I didn't hear a word. I just had to get to her.
"Bella!" I yelled. Laurent paused for a minute by the door and she glanced back at me, tears running down her face. "You deserve better."
She cried as he pulled her out and pushed both of them into a waiting car. I spun around and ran towards Emmett's office to grab my keys, but he blocked my path.
"Emmett, you saw...he could hurt her."
He stared at me for a long moment before stepping aside and allowing me to pass.
"Really?" I asked, hardly believing he was letting me through.
"You're my little brother and I love you. Go get your girl."
I scribbled down their address before grabbing my keys and heading out. I sped through the streets, going way over the speed limit. The sweat was rolling down the side of my face as I tried to find their apartment. It wasn't in my part of town. I didn't have that type of money.
I got lost and it took me a lot longer than I wanted to get there. I just hoped it was where they'd went.
I parked in a no parking zone and got out of the car. There was a buzzer intercom and I took a chance and buzzed everyone in the building, hoping someone would let me in.
"Pizza?" One of them answered.
"Uh, yes," I lied. The buzzer sounded and I opened the door and ran inside. I glanced once again at the apartment number as I bounded up the stairs.
I could hear their yelling and screaming as soon as I entered the right hallway. When I got to their door, I pounded hard with my fist.
"Bella, it's Edward," I said.
"We're busy!" Laurent growled.
"Let me in or I swear to God I'll break down this fucking door!" I pounded again.
I heard the lock click and the door slowly swung open. Bella was standing across the room, a suitcase at her feet and clothes strewn everywhere. There was a gash on her cheek.
"You son of a bitch!" I lunged at Laurent and forced him up against the wall.
"Edward, no!" Bella screamed. "Let's just go, please?" She pleaded. "Please. He's not worth it."
My nostrils flared as I pushed back from the wall and turned towards her. I brushed my finger over her cheek and leaned down to kiss it. "You're right. He's not worth it." I took her hand and started to lead her out of the apartment.
"Have a nice life living in the dumps, Isabella," he spat. He slammed the door behind us a moment before she started shaking.
Everyone stared as we walked through the lobby of the apartment building and out to my car. I opened the door for her and helped her in before getting in my side and driving away. The tears were streaming down her face and I wanted nothing more than to make it better for her. Everything.
"Did he hit you?" I asked as I sped towards my place.
"No." She shook her head. "He pushed me and I fell...I hit my cheek on the corner of a table." She lifted her fingers to her gash and winced. I kept my eyes focused on the road ahead of me so I didn't turn around and kick his ass.
We finally made it to my apartment and I led her inside. It was a stark contrast to where we'd just left and I felt a little embarrassed that I couldn't give her more. I wanted her to have nice things. I'd never be able to give her that.
It was a studio style apartment. An old, beat up piano sat in the corner, taking up most of the space. There was a barely there kitchen and a mattress on the floor.
"It's uh...it's not much," I mumbled.
I noticed she was still wearing her dress from earlier so I went to my drawers and pulled out one of my t-shirts for her to wear.
"Sorry, this is all I have," I said. "We can go and get your things tomorrow."
"No, we can't." She wasn't embarrassed about undoing her dress and letting it fall to the floor. She pulled my shirt over her head and smoothed it over her body. "As soon as we got back to the apartment, I started packing...told him I was leaving him. He grabbed teh suitcase out of my hand and refused to let me take anything because he bought it...he bought it all. I have nothing."
"You have me." I pulled her into my arms and we migrated to the piano because it was one of the only places to sit.
"Will you play for me?" She asked.
"Always." I pushed the key cover up and smiled apologetically as it creaked. It was really old. The only reason I was able to afford it was because someone was throwing it out. "Are you okay?" I asked.
"Yeah," she said softly. "I knew I couldn't go back to him. I couldn't...I'm sorry it took me so long to understand that."
"Bella, I can't give you nice things. I'll never be able to give you nice things that you deserve." She kissed my cheek as I played and I couldn't help but smile a little. "You inspired this one."
"Edward." She rested her chin on my shoulder. "I'd rather sit beside you on a creaky old piano bench than sit on the most expensive seat beside him. My place is here."
I turned towards her and brushed my nose against hers. "I couldn't take seeing you with him anymore."
"You won't have to." She pressed her lips against mine and my fingers ceased playing. She leaned forward and pressed her lips to mine. My arms gently encircled her waist, pulling her to me as I stood up and carried her, my one and only masterpiece, to bed.
Kind of mushy, I know, but the idea of Edward being a struggling jazzy pianist made my insides turn gushy. *giggles*