I'm so sorry for the delay between chapters. Most of this chapter was written a very long time ago. There will be 3-4 chapters more in this story.
Recap: Edward saves Bella from a trainwreck in the summer before her junior year. Bella never moves to Forks, but she slowly becomes acquainted with the Cullens except for Edward. For two years in a row, Bella receives a mystery Valentine which includes conversation hearts stamped with 'BE' on them. Edward and Alice join Bella and her friend Anjalee on a group date on Valentine's Day.
Chapter 6: KISS ME
Dear Edward, I write on a small piece of scrap paper I'd torn out from my notebook during Economics, as if what I was writing wasn't important. I did it. I sent in my deposit for Emerson. I'm nervous about moving across the country, but I did what you said. I decided to follow my heart.
I'm proud of you. Am I allowed to disclose that? I won't be far away if you should need anything as I enrolled at Dartmouth for the fall. I am following my heart as well.
The months pass. Edward returns to Washington and I finish my senior year. The only difference is that he keeps in touch with me now. In letters. Actual handwritten letters that arrive sporadically with the mail, sometimes two at a time if one gets lost within the U.S. postal system, sometimes only one every few months. I keep all of them tucked inside a nondescript notebook that I make sure to pack with me when I leave for college.
My first few snowstorms in Boston are mild, which is a relief since I'm used to the Arizona heat. Still I am fully bundled up in my puffy coat and sitting as close to the fire in the café as possible. My small dorm room was stifling me and I had to get out of there.
I've just settled in to study—after reading through my email and searching through my iPod for the perfect playlist—when someone pulls out the chair across from me.
It's Edward, inexplicably knowing exactly where I am. He gestures towards the chair before tucking his mittenless hands back into his gray peacoat. "May I?" I'm still stuck on the fact that he's here that I don't answer for probably too long a moment to be polite.
"Yes. Edward! How did—"
"You said you liked to study here. When I went by your dorm room and there was no answer, I took my chances," he explains before I can finish my question.
I smile. "So you can come down in bad weather, but not good?" I tease him. We'd had plans to hike along Walden Pond a month or so ago, a perfect sunny, though crisp, fall day. Bright red and yellow-green foliage everywhere. Though he wouldn't have known, as he never made it down.
"I'm sorry I couldn't make it—"
"I know. I wasn't looking for another apology, Edward. Just teasing you."
And it's true; I'm not looking for an apology. I have come to understand through the years that Edward has his reasons for everything. Though, it may have taken a long conversation with Anj, still in Phoenix, to help me come to that conclusion. And, this time, he called me to tell me that he couldn't make it. And, this time, he also continued to write to me.
"The weather is too bad to drive back right now," he says with a laugh, which I assume is because it's only lightly snowing. Surely he could drive back in that.
"Depends on your car," I counter.
"Yes, I suppose so." He shrugs his shoulders. I love his formal diction, even when a simple "yeah" would suffice.
I peer out the window pointedly, where only soft flurries are falling to the ground. Still, pedestrians are walking quickly through the Commons, heads down to avoid snow falling in their eyes. Who am I to argue? I'm a short walk from home.
"Wait. Drive back?" Why is he here in the first place? Without telling me that he's coming, not that he's obligated to. This boy…this boy is giving me whiplash, making my stomach churn, my head spin in fluttery awful, exciting confusion. "Why are you here in Boston in the first place?"
"To see you, Bella" he smiles and carefully takes off his peacoat, shaking stray snowflakes down to the ground. "Would you like something else to drink?" He gestures to my empty mug, light brown foam nestled along its bottom.
Several hours and one cup of hot chocolate and one mint tea plus two shared scones later, my textbook is still cracked open and ignored. I've peeled off my puffy jacket, warm from the drinks and the company.
Edward stands near the fire, presumably warming his hands before his departure, before he saunters back to me, placing one of his hands partially on mine. Fire warm and sparks.
"Could you…would you like to come visit me in New Hampshire?"
"I'd like that."
"This weekend, perhaps?"
"Oh…um…I can't…I have…a date." The date is really with my boyfriend but I omit that part. His eyes drop and he looks crestfallen and I'm uncertain why. Surely he has a girlfriend.
"Some other time then," he murmurs.
"I'm sorry…it's just that I have these tickets to see Romeo and Juliet…" I trail off and I think I hear him say "another date" before I continue. "It's a student production. Modern. Supposed to be good."
"Modern?" he asks, a smile returning to his pale face. "So perhaps you'll compare it to Baz Luhrmann's version?" Of course he'd reference the director and not the actor who was catapulted into the limelight after the film released.
"Yeah. I don't know too much else about it because they've kept the details on the downlow."
In truth, I'd had to work hard to convince Gavin to go to the theater with me. I had to agree to go dancing with him at one of the few underage clubs in Boston. I still don't have a fake ID, ever the cop's daughter. And dance? I don't dance. For good reason, too.
"Some other time?" I repeat his words.
"Yes. Maybe when Alice is visiting. I'm certain she'd love to see you again."
I frown. Did he want to see me again? This impromptu café meeting is the longest I'd been in his presence alone while awake; we'd been hiding out from the outside world for the better part of the day.
He looks out the window, just as he did earlier. Now the snowflakes are coming down slightly heavier, leaving a blanket of white in their wake. The asphalt is wet, melting snow slushing around cars' tires.
"I should head back," he says suddenly and I'm disappointed.
He stands up, leaving a few crumpled bills on the table. He turns slowly towards the door as he shoves both of his hands in the front pockets of his jeans. In that moment, he looks younger to me than any previous time I've seen him, even though in actuality he looks as though he hasn't aged a day. He turns back just as slowly, not bothering to push away the lock of hair that has fallen slightly over one of his eyes. His hands are still solidly in his pockets.
"Umm…I think about you," he says quietly, uncharacteristically at a loss for words. Or, at least at a loss for polished words. He sounds so vulnerable, so unlike himself that I question if I've heard him correctly. "Every day since…the accident."
I frown slightly. I still have problems boarding a train, or even riding the T. "Maybe even before then," he continues.
"But," I pause. "You didn't even know me then." I'm confused. I stand up and place my hand on his arm so he doesn't just disappear.
"I know." He laughs but it sounds hollow.
"I…I think about you too," I venture. And it's the truth. I've thought about him every single day since the accident. We're alike in that manner, but so different in others. Still, this is the most open he has been with me. Whereas his family has always seemed familiar to me, somehow he's always been just out of reach. Yet, he has been there all along.
"I should go." He gestured towards the door again. "But, I'd like to try something first."
He leans closer towards me and I…I stop breathing.
"Be very still," he says. And then, just like that, he is kissing me. Edward Cullen is kissing me. His lips are warm and soft. Okay that's a lie. His lips are slightly cool but not cold, yet still surprisingly cool considering how close we are to the fireplace. But the heat of the kiss—the heat of the kiss makes up for the temperature. His fingertips are also cool as they skim my face, my neck, my collarbone to land in my hair lightly massaging my scalp in smooth even strokes.
My fingers, on the other hand, well, they're gripping his hair, and not gently. He keeps us a modest distance apart but I can still feel him near me. His lips are soft and so, so sweet, and though there is no tongue involved, his kisses are anything but chaste.
One, two, three on my lower lip, just enough to make my upper lips jealous, then he adds one last one to the corner of my mouth before pulling away slightly. Inexplicably, I feel colder as he pulls away even though his body temperature is cooler than mine. He rests his forehead against mine, his amber colored eyes so close to my own. He is still near enough that I can sense his facial muscles twitch up in a smile.
"There," he says with finality, then turns towards the door to leave. "Goodbye, Bella."
It isn't until the door closes behind him, bringing a gust of wind into the warm café, that I realize that I hadn't thought about my boyfriend at all during that kiss. Not once.