Title: Beautiful Girl
Word Count: 8,149
Summary: Edward's life changes when he meets a new girl.
"There she is."
"Who?" I ask, but I know. It's her. Her.
"Beautiful girl," Garrett says, nodding in her direction. His blonde, shaggy hair dips in his eyes.
I refuse to look. Refuse. Because the girl is hot, and although I know it, and Garrett knows it, pretending like I'm not into chicks is how I roll. It works.
"Hey guys," she says, her feet squeaking on the cool morning sand. I spare a glance and take in the white bikini strap sneaking out of the top of her scrunchy-topped sundress. The straps tie around her neck in a tight little bow. She looks good for 8 AM. Her dark hair is brushed back in a pony tail, big oval glasses perched on top of her head, over her thick bangs. She looks like a pin-up girl.
Garrett takes a wide step over his board to stand in front of her. He's so skinny. At first, I thought he would suck on the water, but he knows his way around a wave. Plus, he's pretty cool to work with, which is a bonus, because reliable workers in Maui are hard to come by. He may party the night before, but at least he keeps the wake and bake to a minimum.
"Morning," he says to the girl, messing the hair of the youngest boy, Paul. "These guys ready?"
While he flirts with the Beautiful Girl I have two boys swarming my legs. It's the same thing every day—every lesson. I grab the older one, Seth, by the chest and fling him over my shoulder while the other one tries to punch my arm. While I wrangle the kids, Garrett takes a shot with their aunt. I don't care. The kids are awesome and she wants me, not him. I can tell.
"Oh yeah," she says. "This is their favorite part of the day. They talk about you two all day."
"Come on guys, let's get in the water." I drop Seth into the sand and point to the beginner boards near the shore. The kids join the others already waiting for our class of eight. They've been coming for a couple weeks so far—every morning since school let out.
"We'll be done at eight," Garrett says unnecessarily, trying to continue his contact with her. I get it, I do. He's working this so hard and she seems a little into him. A little, but not enough. She smiles at him, though, and waves to the kids, and that's when I spy the three dark stars tattooed on her wrist.
"See you then." We both watch her walk over to the large rocks near the end of the beach that separates the Kiki pool from the rest of the beach. This is where she sits while the kids take their surf lessons.
"God, she is so hot."
"Ask her out." I say it but don't mean it.
"I might." He won't.
I shrug and walk toward the water and the group of kids splashing around.
Three days later, Garrett is leaning on the side of his surfboard talking to her. He's trying to muster up the courage to ask her to a party at his house tonight. It's funny. I'm getting this vibe from the girl, like she presents herself as this sweet thing, babysitting and stuff, but that tattoo and the general way she carries herself is giving off something else entirely.
I still haven't talked to her much. Just a 'good morning' here and 'Paul cracked his head' there. She takes it all in stride, tossing their wet towels in the back of her ancient, yellow Mustang and yelling at them to wipe their feet before they get in. The Mustang is a convertible, which makes her hair a little wild and crazy, and it's exaggerated today because of the wind. The kids struggled on their boards, fighting the current as it pulled them down the beach. My arms ached from dragging them back on course, over and over. This ache becomes worse as I stack the boards near the shelter until the next class. I forget the pain though when I see her eyes dart to me, when Garrett finally pulls the trigger.
"So tonight there's this thing. At my house…" He rambles along, half inviting her, half telling her about his dog Mike, who will also be at the party if she happens to stop by. "Everyone is coming around eight, which really means, you know, about ten, so you know, whenever…"
She turns her back to me and the wind blows her hair away from her neck, and I'm surprised to see two more stars inked behind her right ear. I can't help but wonder if there are more. And does she have them hidden. And what do they mean.
"Edward's coming." I hear Garrett say, which isn't entirely true. I mean, I probably will, but I hadn't totally committed or anything. Shit. This was Hawaii. The best part of living here is the lack of commitment to anything. Ever.
"Er…yeah, maybe." But she'll be there. I can see it in her eyes, which means I'll be there, too. I suppose it's kind of a dick move—going to a party because a girl is going to be there that you want to see although she's been asked by another guy. Okay, it's a total dick move.
"So you'll come?" he asks and I walk away (because I'm a dick, but not that big of a dick), letting her answer drift away with the wind.
Garrett's party is okay. Good, even. It doesn't take long for me to find myself a beer, a smoke, and a spot on the lanai. The house is pretty crowded; Garrett has two roommates, tour guides of some kind. I step over their muddy hiking boots lining the hallway. They both have girlfriends, so with everyone inviting someone else the place begins to hop around midnight. I'm keeping any eye out for the Beautiful Girl, but so far I haven't seen her. She could be with Garrett, though.
After another beer and another joint, she walks onto the lanai. She has a drink in her hand and her eyes scan the porch. I take a sip from my bottle, for something to do, for some way to get her attention without getting her attention, and it works because her face lights up and recognition is in her smile and suddenly she is standing in front of me saying, "Hi."
"Hey," I say, because she's pretty and her red sundress makes her skin glow and what else is there to say.
"Can I sit?" Oh, that.
"Sure." I shift over and make room. "So you made it."
She nods. "I did. Garrett never told me I had to climb a cliff to get to the house."
"It's pretty high up," I agree. "During daylight you can see the bay though." I direct my bottle toward the black night. "We surf at the point."
We watch the room around us, people coming in and out of the back door, smoking, drinking, singing. Some guy named Jake tells us jokes and makes up condom slogans like, 'Don't be a loner, cover your boner', and she laughs even though it's dirty and stupid, and that makes her even hotter.
"So, Edward." she says, shifting my direction. She crosses her legs, showing some skin, and I catch sight of another star on the side of her knee. I run my finger across the dark spot.
She flinches, pulling her knee back and laughs. "Ticklish," she says, and I fight the urge to do it again. "So, Edward," she says again, this time a little more exaggerated. "What's your story?"
I push my hair out of my eyes. "Mine? Not much. Beach bum. Slacker. Stoner. Surfer. Take your pick."
"Hmmm." She purses her lips and I want to kiss red right off them. "I'm not sure I can."
"No. Are you all of them at once or do you take turns?"
"Depends on the day, I guess." I lay my arm across the back of the couch and prop my feet on the table in front of us.
She nods, but I frown because she's draining her beer and standing up. "Where are you going?" I ask, before I can stop myself.
"You never asked, dear Edward, about my story. I'm a wanderer. Never content in one place for long, that includes beach front couches with handsome men. Thanks for your time and story, though."
I should say something—anything, because I don't want her to leave. The words lodge in my throat—questions about her name and shoe size or anything else. Instead, she slips back into the house and I don't see her again.
I sit on my board and wait, drifting in the morning water. It's early. Just past dawn. I'm not the only guy out—various surfers bob in the ocean, waiting for the right wave. Time like this is almost a meditation, allowing my body to become one with a larger, living power. I was there for a while, floating, when I saw the one I wanted. At the right time I hoisted myself up, coasting on the smooth water, riding it in as far as I could. I tumbled off, sinking below the water, allowing the waves to rush around my head and when I emerged and shook the excess water out of my hair I saw her. My Beautiful Girl was sitting by the water's edge, a sly smile twisting on her lips.
"Where are the kids?" I ask her, dropping my board and my body onto the sand next to her. My wet skin is immediately coated by the grainy, thick sand.
"I don't know—sleeping probably. I took the day off."
"You can do that, just take the day?"
"Sure." She's piling sand over her feet. The left one is almost hidden. "My brother and his wife are pretty flexible."
"Your brother?" I'm asking a lot of questions but at this point I'll do anything to keep her here. "Paul and Seth are his?"
"Yeah my half-brother. He's based here in the military. I told him I'd come help out."
"Tough gig." I push sand with my foot over hers.
"Brutal," she says, rolling her eyes. "Like you're one to talk. Teaching surf lessons all day doesn't seem too rough. You seem pretty good, though."
"A lifetime of being a beach bum does have its perks." We're talking in circles, about surfing and the weather, and it's dumb, but who cares because she's pretty and there's an orange glow on her cheeks from the rising sun. "You wanna try?"
"Yeah?" she says, already standing, sand falling off her shorts. She has her clothes off in a heartbeat and she's standing in only a bikini and man, she's hot. "Ready?"
She's already waist-deep by the time I get myself and my board out in the water. "A little deeper," I tell her, and I grab her hand to make her keep up. Once we're far enough out, past the breaking waves but before the cresting ones, I stop and tell her what to do; lie on the board, look behind you, wait for the right one, a gentle, small wave is your friend.
"I want to ride one of those big ones," she says, and my brain turns to mush and I clamp my mouth closed.
"I'm sure you do." I skim my hand over her back, stabilizing her. It's unnecessary, but she doesn't know it, and I'm taking advantage. "We'll work up to those."
It takes an hour, but she eventually catches a couple. She laughs when she bites it—head first in the water, but when she rides one all the way in, the look of accomplishment on her face is worth it.
I swim in and find her lying in the sand. "You okay?" I ask.
"That is the most exhausting thing I've ever done."
"It takes a lot of stamina," I agree, sitting next to her. Again, I catch sight of a single star on her hip bone, edging out of the top of her bikini bottoms. "What are the stars for?"
"Oh, well each one is for a different moment in my life. Times that need to be recognized. You know, important stuff."
"Sure. That's pretty cool." What I'm not saying is the one thing on my mind. I know right then- I want to be one of those stars.
"So, this is embarrassing…" It really is. I would have asked Garrett, but he's a little pissed I stole his possible lay/fling/girl.
"What?" she asks, her hair flapping over her shoulders as we wind around the curvy, hairpin turns. She has a wide scarf tied like a headband and big, movie star glasses. She looks glamorous, but not pretentious, and she makes my mind spin.
"It's over this hill." I'd asked her if I could drive. The Mustang was a classic, but it was her brother's and she said no. Now, I was kind of happy about it because the way she gripped the wheel and shifted the gears was sexy and it gave me more of a chance to look at her when she was focused on the road.
"It's pretty bad."
She scrunches her nose. "It can't be that bad."
I shake my head and try not to laugh at myself, but I'm also an idiot and this may just ruin everything. "Okay, but…try not to be mad, all right?"
"Turn here—at this parking lot." I say and she parks the car in a sunny lot overlooking the Pacific. "So, yeah…I don't exactly, completely, know your name."
"I admit it. I don't know your name. I just…I never heard it and then we talked at the party and you knew my name and things got a little too late to ask and now here we are on a date and I just…please tell me your name?"
She arches her eyebrow so perfectly that she must have spent hours in the mirror making it just right. "So, this is a date?"
Did I say that? "Well, you know…I told you I'd take you to see the tide pools and everything…" I no longer recognize the rambling man I have become.
"So you regularly ask girls on dates without knowing their names?" She closes the roof and latches it, gesturing how to secure my side. I push and pull but can't seem to get it to work and she comes to my rescue, sliding between me and the car, latching it with ease. She turns, her head just below my chin, and tilts her head to face me. "So do you?"
"Well, no. Not really."
"What does that mean?"
"I think you owe me."
"I don't really ask girls out on dates. Not much. And the ones I do see, I don't usually care if I know their name or not."
I shrug. "Yeah."
"That's kind of…blech." She makes a face, but her eyes don't seem angry.
"Maybe." She's right, I guess. Never thought about it much.
We walk past the parking lot, over to the edge of the first cliff that leads to a field below and another cliff closer to the ocean. The breeze makes the skirt of her sundress flap, and she holds it down with her hands. She asked for an adventure and I brought her to see the hidden tide pools. "Are you going to tell me?"
"Maybe I'm okay being another nameless girl," she says and starts down the path.
Her shoulders are loose and her gait is easy and I realize maybe she is. Maybe I'm not.
"Yes. That one," I tell her. I watch as she eyes it. It looks like a swift wind could knock it into the rocks below but it's been here for years and surely there was another before that.
"Is it safe?"
"Probably not." The wind is stronger down here, blowing the scarf in her hair. "I'll go first and hold it for you." I scale the ladder, stopping once or twice to steady myself. Dangerous? Yes. Worth it? Totally.
I reached the bottom and look up. She is on her knees, peering over the edge. "Ready?" I call up the cliff side. On wobbly legs, she turns and climbs down the ladder. When she is low enough for me to reach, I take a chance and wrap my hands around her hips, lowering her over the last four rungs. "See, not so bad," I say, as she turns toward me.
"Are you kidding? That was terrifying!" Her voice is raised from excitement and the noise from the waves crashing on the rocks below.
"Well you made it, wanna see the pools?" I take my hands off her waist but immediately thread one through the fingers of her left hand. We shimmy down another cliff, smaller this time, to where the sea meets the rocks. We came at low tide—the best time to wade in the water.
"Oh Edward, it's beautiful." She works off her shoes and dips her toes into the cool, moving water.
I hop in next to her. Again, I take advantage and slip my hand around her hip. "So, girl with no name, tell me about yourself; where are you from? How long will you be here?" Will you make out with me?
"Washington, Arizona, Florida…a little time in California and one strange summer in Idaho. My mom and I moved a lot." She wobbles a little on her feet due to the jagged bottom of the pool. She braces herself against my chest and a heat wells up inside.
"And…" I prompt.
She looks up at me. "I don't know exactly. I came for the summer, but…"
She shrugs. "But I get antsy if I linger in one place for too long."
I spy a flash of blue on the rocks and reach into the water. I rub my thumb over the smooth edge. "What's that?" She asks.
"Sea glass." I offer it to her. "Here."
"Yeah?" She says, palming it. "It's like a token from our date. Like winning a toy at the fair?"
"If you want to label it." Pretending to be nonchalant. "Edward Cullen style."
"Edward Cullen style," she repeats, taking a step deeper, taking me with her. "I like that."
"I like you."
She laughs and holds up the glass, closing one eye and looking at me through it. Warped and blue. "I know."
Her mouth tastes like beer and salt, which is probably the best thing a girl can taste like. And her skin? So smooth, even the feathery parts on her back that are peeling from the sun. She lured me down to the beach, to one of the benches scattered under the palms, after dinner on the trunk of her car. The sun was orange, casting a glow on everything, including her shoulders and nose and hair.
The first kiss came as a surprise. I hadn't even plotted my move yet. She just did it. Bold and ballsy, between my knees up on her toes while I sat on the back of the bench. The second one wasn't a surprise, because once you get one, you can take the next at your own will.
"That was nice," she said, her fingers dipping under the hem of my shirt. Her hands found the skin above my shorts and I flinch at their touch. "Are you ticklish, Edward Cullen?"
I shake my head in a lie. "It's not fair, you know, for you to know my name." Her fingers skim lower, just beneath the button. I fight back a shudder.
"I thought you liked it that way." And I want to deny this, but she's manipulated me down to the weathered seat of the bench and has straddled my legs and I am no longer thinking with my brain. She continues, "No names, not connections. To be fair Edward Cullen, I'm a fan of this system."
Again, I want to argue, but I can't because the skirt of her white, flowered sundress is hiked up her thighs, and the only thing between us is the fabric of my shorts and the thin, thin material of her bikini bottoms.
"Tell me about this one," I say, kissing a tiny star on her shoulder.
She grazes it with her fingers. "When I was eight, I lost the Junior Miss Arizona Pageant."
"You lost?" I can't even imagine.
She frowns. "My talent was tap dancing. Which I didn't know how to do at all, I just decided that was going to be my talent because I liked the sound that it made when those shiny black shoes came in contact with the hardwoods." She leans in and bites my ear, scraping her teeth over the skin before saying, "I was not only terrible, I was a hurricane of epic disaster. I tapped and twirled and whirled across the stage until I lost my balance and fell into the orchestra pit."
I cover my mouth with my hand and try to keep a straight face. "So why record that memory? Permanently, that is."
"Why? Because that was the day I learned what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
It's my turn to frown because I am not convinced this is the right phrase for this situation, but before I can respond she says, "And that if you fall into the orchestra pit, your mom will buy you ice cream. And ice cream makes everything better."
There's no logic to her logic, but she's smiling at her cleverness and her smile is glorious. She wiggles on my lap, making my boner harder than the steel toes of tap shoes, and when she kisses me again, all signs point to yes, except the big one in my head that says "Stop! Proceed With Caution!" because someone needs to stop this train before it goes one step further.
I break free. "Are you—" But her mouth cuts me off and her hands have unfastened my pants and my hands slide small pieces of material away and she and I, me and her…we are doing it. It. And it is hot and wild and silly and fun and my Beautiful Girl whispers dirty things in my ear that makes me come hard and fast, and before I can stop myself I'm burying my head in her shoulder to muffle the desperate reaction I'm having.
When we're done, we clean up in the water and she tells me the story of two other stars inked permanently in her flesh. She wrings the water from her hair and I pull my shorts back on. We leave the beach with the top down, a million other permanent stars scattered across the sky above. She drops me at my house and as I walk inside alone I realize, right then, that this girl can fuck with my mind and my heart and my dick a million different ways, and I will always ask for more.
After our date, the Beautiful Girl disappears. The boys are not signed up for class, so there is no reason for her to be around officially. I thought maybe she would just show up, maybe even early for another lesson, but she never did. Or maybe she would just come find me. Because I sure as hell wanted to see her again, even if it was just for a minute. But I felt like a fool because I didn't have her number or her name or her address. Why? Because I'm the stupid fucker that never asked. With each passing day, I feared she was just another tourist passing through Maui, despite her brother living here.
"I miss her too, bro," Garrett says, gliding past me on the water. Class was over for the day and we took the opportunity to ride some waves. We're flat on our stomachs, paddling past the breakers.
I keep my eyes on the blue-green horizon. "Why would I miss her?"
"You keep looking at her spot on the rocks, and on the list for the kids, and in the parking lot for her Mustang."
I use all my strength to push past him, cruising farther away. I don't answer though, because he's right, and how he's right, I have no clue. He shuts up though, which is good because I don't want to talk about her and how fucking her had been the best thing I'd ever done, and because I thought there would be another chance to do it again. I try not to think about my hand up her skirt or her breath in my ear, because it doesn't matter. She is just another girl in a line of many, many girls.
We spot a good one, building just right, gaining speed and arching just how we like it. I push to my feet and ride the wave in as far as it will take me. After three more waves, the sun is fading and it's time to close up for the day.
"You going to Jessie's tonight?" Garrett asks as we lock the shed.
"Leah and her sisters are going to be there."
I raise an eyebrow. That makes things more interesting. "Yeah?"
"Yep," he says as he snaps the lock and tosses his towel over his shoulder.
I nod, wave, and get in my car.
Jessie's is a club down a dirt road that overlooks the ocean. By 'club' I mean shack, and by 'shack' I mean don't lean against anything or it may fall down. Jessie's has two bars, one on the lanai and one inside. Hip-hop music blared loud enough to hear three blocks away. The always-crowded place was smoky, dark and perfect. Excellent for hiding in shadows or finding a noisy place to fuck a girl who doesn't care if you remember her name anymore than she wants to know yours. There's karaoke and darts and the occasional fight.
All in all, it was pretty awesome.
The minute I walk in the door I can feel the vibe running high. Sam and his crew are playing darts, and Garrett is smoking on the back lanai, laughing so loud I hear him all the way inside.
I sit at the bar, ordering, observing. In a heartbeat, Leah is at my side. In the next my heart is ripped, still beating, from my chest. I hear her. I hear her voice and her conversation. I hear her laugh. I glance over my shoulder.
"So it's been awhile," Leah says to me.
I nod, and steel myself. Why do I care? I've had sex with half a dozen women in this room. I could have sex with all of them again plus another five, but all I can zone in on is her.
"Hey man," the bartender says. His name is Tyler and he's pretty cool. "You should see this chick over there. She's been singing all night and she's a beauty."
I know already it's her because even though the women in here are cute, some even pretty, none compare to her. "Oh yeah?" I say, pretending I don't know her. That I haven't felt her. "She going on stage again?" Tyler keeps a list behind the bar of who goes when. Like I said, fights.
"Buy her a shot and maybe she will," he winks and pushes a clear shot glass of amber across the bar. I should take it to her, but instead I tip it to my mouth and swallow it whole.
"Your loss, man," he says and takes the twenty I've tossed on the bar.
"Trust me dude, I know."
I wake with a start, tangled in my sheets. A noise woke me, but the room is too dark to see anything or anyone. I'm reaching for the baseball bat lying on the floor next to the bed when I hear her voice.
I drop the bat with a thud. "Jesus, girl, I almost took off your head."
"Sorry." The bed shifts under her weight and she crawls under the sheet, sliding her body next to mine. Any other girl, I'd be pissed she broke in my house and assumed she could get in my bed. This isn't the case. Beautiful Girl has come to me like a dream and I embrace it. I embrace her.
"You're happy to see me." She laughs when she says this and burrows into my side. She's talking about the raging wood that is trying to impale her at the moment, and she's right. I am happy to see her.
"What's your name," I ask. She doesn't answer. She just presses her lips to mine and licks my mouth. "Where did you go?" I hear myself asking these things and I can't figure out why. She's naked and on top of me. I shouldn't care.
"I saw you tonight," she says. "Dancing with that girl—the one with dark hair and pretty lips."
"Is that why you came back? Because you saw me with another woman?" Her skin is so soft.
"I came because I wanted this. You." She says, stroking me into submission. She doesn't even attempt to lie. This makes it better. Or worse? It's the middle of the night and a girl has shown up unexpectedly in my bed. I can't think.
"I wanted you for weeks—since before." I roll us over, asserting control. She has too much over me and it settles with unease in my bones. I kiss her.
"Not enough to stay away from girls in bars with shiny black hair."
"Don't even pretend you're jealous." She's slick and warm and when she arches her back, I take it as an invitation.
I leave her sleeping and naked in my bed the next morning. There is nothing I want more than to stay with her. But her sudden appearance is freaking me out. I need some space, so I grab my board and hit the beach. Garrett's already in the water so I paddle out next to him.
"So you and Leah, huh?"
"What?" We're straddling the boards as the waves are rolling smoothly beneath us.
He taps his collarbone and gestures at me. My hand reaches for the bruise I know is there. She marked me. "No, not Leah."
"No." I shake my head and before I can stop myself I say, "Beautiful Girl."
"No way." He looks genuinely shocked. "You fucked her?"
"Or the other way around," I admit. "I don't know. I can't figure this chick out."
A wave rolls toward us and it looks like it may be a good one and we prep ourselves. But as it gets closer it fizzles into nothing. Garrett paddles a bit closer. "She's different," he says.
"She is," I agree. "She's fun and carefree. She has no expectations; she just wants a good time."
He stares at me for a minute, eyebrows raised. I stare back. "What?" I say.
"She's aloof? Dude, no one is more aloof than you. Or carefree, or lacking expectations."
"No way, it's true." He looks me over. "You've met your match."
I shake my head, because even though I know it's true, I don't want it to be. My match is the girl who wants me for life. The one that wants to carry my babies and make me birthday cakes and hide away on a deserted island while I surf and she takes care of me. Beautiful Girl is not this person. Beautiful Girl makes me want to do those things to her, to stake a claim and not let go, but there's not a chance in hell this will happen. I can't catch her. I always assumed I would own my woman, not the other way around.
"I can't tame this chick. She's feral."
He laughs. "I don't think she's feral. Just immune to your charms."
This time I laugh. "She isn't immune."
We stop talking because we see the wave we've been waiting for building in the distance. It's not perfect, but on a slow morning like this, it will work, and as I push up and find my bearings the wave becomes fuller, better and I ride it into the surf.
She's in my kitchen when I get back. A stack of pancakes towers on the counter and my stomach growls with hunger. Beautiful Girl looks beautiful cooking in her tank top and panties, carrying a spatula in hand. I pluck a pancake off the pile and shove it in my mouth.
"Hey! Those aren't ready!"
I chew and swallow and reach for the gallon of milk by the stove. I swallow straight from the jug. "Seem ready to me."
She shakes her head slow. "Were you raised in a barn?" she asks, fixing me a formal plate. Why is Beautiful Girl fixing me breakfast? My eyes go to her belly and I think about putting my babies inside.
I find the syrup in a cabinet and pour it on, layer by layer between each pancake. "Chicago, actually."
"That's where I was raised." I cut a mouthful and put it in my mouth. God, she cooks as good as she looks. I go for the jug of milk again, but she cuts me off—handing me a glass.
"How did you end up here?" She sits across from me with her own massive plate of food.
"I followed a girl."
"You did not! To Hawaii from Chicago!"
I smile around a mouthful of pancake. "I did. She was gorgeous. My first love."
"How old were you?" she asks.
"Twenty. She had just graduated and she left to come here for the summer. I followed her down and never looked back. No more cold winters or covered-up women for me. Bikinis, sun, and sand."
"You just dropped out?"
"What happened to her?" Obviously, she is no longer here.
"I'm not sure. She didn't take to it like I did. She missed her family and her friends. She left six months later."
"And you just stayed."
"Yep." She's studying me. "What?"
"So you have a bit of wanderer in you also, but you're happy here. You'll never leave?"
"I've never thought much about it; why leave somewhere for no reason."
"You left Chicago," she counters.
I laugh. "Oh, I had a reason." Someday, I thought, I may have another.
"This one?" I kiss the tender skin at the top of her inner thigh. She squirms under my touch and I grab hold of her hips to keep her from getting away.
I peek over her belly to see her face. She's serious. "You got a tattoo to commemorate your first time?" Of course she did.
She smiles that dreamy smile, the one that I catch her doing when I'm out on the waves or teaching the boys. "I was sixteen. He was eighteen. Rail thin," she says. "In a band, of course, they were always in bands…"
I frown and she notices and rubs my hair. "I learned that lesson a long time ago, now I dig guys with muscles and tans and stuff."
"And stuff?" I'm fishing, which is pathetic. It's also pathetic that I'm jealous of an eighteen year-old punk who stole Beautiful Girl's virtue. He probably knew her name.
She doesn't fall for my neediness. "We did it on the disgusting couch in the garage where his band practiced."
"So the tattoo," I say, wanting to veer from the specifics, "is to remind you never to do that again?" I'm kidding, but there is always some moral, some lesson, for the tattoo. I know already it's not about losing her virginity. It's what she took away from that moment that she wants to keep forever.
"No, my tattoo," she runs a finger over it and my body reacts with interest, "is to remind me if you have sex with a guy in a band in his garage on a nasty lime green couch he may write a song about it and have a hit single and that moment will go down in musical infamy."
"You're kidding." I know she's not. I've written songs about her in my head every day since she stumbled on my beach.
She smiles and I can see the devil in her eyes. "Can't tell you that, Edward Cullen." She only uses my name when she's riding me or when she's making fun of the fact I don't know her name.
"Your name is in the song?" I try to catalogue in my head every name for every song I've ever heard in the last five years. I only manage to do this for a second because her hands are on my shoulders and she's wiggling beneath my body. Her fingers inch down to my shorts and her lips connect with my stomach. I twitch, ticklish and excited. "Will you ever tell me?" I ask, but she doesn't answer. Her mouth is full of me and my brain is dust and nothing but me and this Beautiful Girl matter.
Weeks go by like this. In my bed, on the beach, parties or bars. Beautiful Girl stuck by my side or me by hers. Things were routine, good, but I never let myself fall into easiness. Beautiful Girl wasn't mine to have. Not forever, and I could live with that.
I take her surfing again. This time she does better, managing to stay on her feet for a couple moments before falling into the waves. Surfing is the most freeing thing I do. For her it was a challenge. More and more I suspected running is what keeps her untethered. Not the sport—the actual act of running away. She has one step on the ground at all times. One day I'll wake up and she'll be gone.
After lessons, I find her on her rocks, reading. "What's that?" I ask, pointing to the book.
"Father Damien." Father Damien is the priest that came to minister to the leper colony on Molokai. "Did you know the lepers stayed on that tiny island their whole life? Never leaving until they died."
I sit behind her, wrapping my arms around her. "I've been. It's a sad part of history, but even once they were released, many stayed. Some are still there. It's their home."
She thinks about this, her brown eyes serious under a furrowed brow. "It was their cage. They were forced to stay there by the government. How can they be happy there?"
I kiss her neck. Then her shoulder and then her ear. "Sometimes people make their own happiness. It isn't something they seek. It's something they possess." She fidgets beneath my arms, trying to escape. I hold on for a second, my biceps tight, but I have no desire to contain someone who doesn't want it. I let her go. She runs from me, pulling her dress over her neck and tossing it back in the sand. Her bikini is flame red and calls me like a beacon. I get up from the rocks and chase her—because as long as she's here, I'll follow.
"Harder," she says. Her words come out in grunts and the sweat between her back and my stomach is slick and hot. She left me for a week this time. Less than before, but too long in my opinion. Like before, she returned to my bed, quiet as a mouse, naked and ready—begging me.
How could I say no?
There is no 'no' with Beautiful Girl.
It's not like she asks for much. Sex and laughter. But tonight is different. The laughter was missing and in its place is a hot, desperate need. Her emotions are expressed through her hands and breath and the way her back arches into me. Before I can even enter her she thrusts back taking me first, setting the pace.
Sure. Of course. Okay. These are the words I want to say to her, but instead I can barely breathe and bite the star on her shoulder, the one that taunts me from this position. I realize I don't want to see these stars, I want to see her face. I pull out and she cries in protest. "Damn it, Edward," she says, hitting me on my chest as I throw her on her back and spread her legs wide. I don't waste time because she's still moving, waiting for me, her hands where I want to be. I push them aside and push inside. Her brown eyes widen and a slight grin appears.
Now I take her harder.
Now I see her face.
Now it's my turn to make her see stars.
"Still don't know her name?" Garrett asks. He's being a fuck, trying to piss me off. He's only mad because some chick he planned to hook up with the night before at Jessie's blew him off for Tyler and he's jealous of anyone who has a little bit of ass in their life.
I flip him the bird and walk over to Beautiful Girl, who's sitting on the back of her convertible. I press my hips into hers and wrap my arms around her.
"Hey, Beautiful." I lick her lips open. "Have a good day?"
"Pretty good," she says, but her eyes are on the water and not me.
"What's going on?" I ask this like I don't know. But I know. I've been waiting months. I'm just lucky she's here—face to face.
Her hand moves to her chest and she rubs it a little, the spot between her breasts. My tongue and lips have licked and kissed this spot. The skin is smooth and unmarred. "My brother is shipping out to Egypt for three months. My sister-in-law is going home while he's gone. I'm going to go help her with the kids—just during the transition and stuff."
Sure. Of course. Okay. These are the things I want to say, but I can barely breathe. So I nod and muster a, "When?"
"Now," she says, which also isn't a surprise. I know she can hardly handle a proper goodbye. She's giving me more than I could ask for.
"Okay, I understand." And I do. Beautiful Girl was never mine. She never could be. "Keep in touch?" I request.
"I'll try." But she won't. She's fighting tears though, and I kiss one out of the corner of her eye. She lifts her head and kisses me back on the mouth and it's so good, I know it will never be any better. And then she goes. She gets in her car and leaves and I could follow her, but nothing good would come from that. Before she even leaves the parking lot I'm in the water, board under my belly and cool waves licking my toes. If she can run away, so can I.
If we counted seasons in Maui it would have been two, but we don't since it's always the same. At first I think it's a joke, that Garrett is sending me porn, but I realize I've seen these breasts before.
They're as beautiful as ever, perky, round—just enough to fit in the palm of my hand. In the middle though is something new.
I take my own picture back. The exact same design, but placed on my wrist where I see it every day. A reminder of what I'm waiting for.
I click send.
Months pass, more than three, that's for sure. Maui is my home and the surf and sand and mountains keep me grounded. Even when Santas top palm trees and everywhere I turn 'Mele Kalikimaka' is playing on the radio, I realize my roots are here. I've learned to look past the tourists and what they bring to the island. Like now, the waves are perfect at Honolua Bay. A group of us meet when the conditions are right and ride until dark.
Tonight my body aches from taking a beating. More than once I wipe out, and the swim back out is rough. When I get home, I lean my board against the house and shower the ocean off my body. I have a towel wrapped around my waist when I walk in my room and find her there, sitting on my bed like she never left.
"Hi," is all she says and it's all she needs to.
I fight the grin for a moment but not longer. I drop the towel and climb on the bed, laying my wet, naked body on hers. "God, I missed you, Beautiful Girl," I say.
Her hands are on my chest and her lips are on my mouth and she nods. "Me too."
Thank God, I think, because I'm all kinds of hard and eager and ready and I wonder for a moment if I should be mad. But I'm not. I'm just happy. "I really want to fuck you, okay? But we don't have to—we can talk or whatever. Are you hungry? Do you want to eat?"
"No, this," she agrees and pulls off her dress. And there they are. Those perky, perfect fit in my hands breasts, and my star, right in the middle. I push her back and kiss it, claim it, because it's mine and it may be the only mark I ever leave on her. We've been apart too long, and although I haven't been a saint while she was gone, her hands feel better, so it's only a moment before I'm inside. When her leg hitches around my waist, her nose scrunches up and it looks like pain, but it's really pleasure. When we come, my heart tightens almost as much as my balls, and I know letting go again won't be so easy.
I need another shower, but there is no way I'm leaving this bed. She may go out like she came in and I'm not ready yet.
"Where did you go?" I ask.
"Here and there. To Washington with my sister-in-law. Then Arizona to see my mom. I stopped in Texas to see a friend and another in Tennessee."
I look down at her and push the sticky hair off her forehead. "A road trip? Sounds cool. You can drive around the whole island here in a day."
"But you can't see everything in a day."
"I was driving this stretch of Louisiana, between New Orleans and Mississippi and I was hit with this horrible ache. My brain hurt and I had this weird panic attack, like the kind when this guy asked me to marry him or the time I thought I was pregnant and I pulled over to the side of the road even though there were probably swamp people there and alligators."
This may be the most she's ever said to me, so I just nod and say, "Okay."
"Well, the feeling passed, kind of, the panic attack did, and I got to my friend's house in Tennessee and it was cool. He has all these kids and a bitchy wife, but everyone was so happy. One night we're sitting on their couch drinking wine and telling stories about college, and the feeling comes again, like a wave. It just engulfs me. I go outside and Rose says to me, "Do you miss home?" and I know right then, that yeah, I do, I miss home. Which is insane because I've never missed anywhere before."
"Well, yeah, that's okay. We all feel this way I think. Sometimes I miss my parents and Chicago, but it passes."
She sits up, taking the sheet with her to cover her body. "It never went away, though, but where was I supposed to go? I had no home. None. There was everywhere and nowhere. I missed somewhere that didn't exist."
I wrap my arms around her but she isn't upset. She's telling this story calmly. Whatever panic she had must have passed. When I look in her eyes I see it. "Me?"
"You." She doesn't blink, but pulls down the sheet and touches my star. "I got this here because you center me. I never had to look for you—you just are. You possess me. I think you may be my happy place, Edward Cullen."
I pull her in my lap. "I know you're mine, Beautiful Girl."
"Beautiful." I smile, because I was right all along.