Note from the translator: all things Twilight belong to Stephenie Meyer, and Collisions belongs to the lovely French author Drinou. As you can imagine, today I have a lot of thanks to make, because over the past few weeks this story became immensely more popular than it used to be. cutestkidsmom, you have all my gratitude for recommending this story on TLS, and for the wonderful review you put there when Collisions was voted fic of the week last week. Of course it wouldn't have been voted fic of the week without all the readers who went on TLS to vote for it, so I need to thank all of you for making it happen. I'm extremely grateful for all the people who added me in their faves and all the reviews I've received lately. And of course I want to thank Drinou for allowing me to translate her wonderful story so more people around the world can read it. On with the show now...

Chapter 17: Thunderstorm

I stuck the phone between my shoulder and my chin, grabbed my ten dollar bill in one hand, and with the other I unlocked my door.

"Good eve..."

I froze on the spot and the smile that spread on my lips faded immediately.

"What are you doing here?" I spat.

Edward Cullen, skinny jeans, black leather jacket, wet hair with drops of water running down his face, was waiting outside my door.

Hmmm... He's already sexy as hell when dry, but now... Wow!

I silenced my little inner voice. He might be in front of me, sexier than ever, but I remained totally disconcerted all the same, and also quite upset by his intrusion in my private life. What was he doing here, at my place?

"Hello, Isabella."

His expression was strange, a mixture of his natural composure and a slight apprehension, perhaps.

Cullen apprehensive? You're dreaming.

I briefly took my eyes off of him and turned away to get back to my friend waiting on the phone, as he was staring at me with some assertiveness.

"I'll call you back, Jake."

"Who is it?" he asked me.

Jacob and his thorough interrogations... He would get along very well with Alice! Anyway, it wasn't going to be possible to say anything with Cullen's eyes glaring at me.

"No one," I evaded.

"Yeah, right, no one. Like I'd believe you. Don't forget that I know you, Bells. Come on, tell me who this is?"

"Jake..." I sighed, embarrassed by Cullen's inquisitive gaze on me.

"Oh, I get it! It's him, isn't it? It's that bastard Edward Cullen?"

Bingo! Little Jacob is a very clever boy.

His voice rose a few octaves and I crushed the phone on my ear with all my strength, hoping that the conversation would remain inaudible to my visitor.

It could be fun, though. He's a jerk after all, sexy as hell, certainly, but a jerk nevertheless, so why hide it?

"Yes, that's right."

"You want me to come over? I can be there in less than ten minutes and beat the shit out of him."

I couldn't help but smile as I imagined Jake punching Cullen's angel face.

Interesting...

Very interesting. This might even be exhilarating. Actually, I was dying to invite Jake over.

"Everything's okay, Jake. Thanks, but I'll be fine. I'll call you back."

Pfft! Not even funny.

"Bells..."

Before he could say more, I hung up on him, preferring not to prolong the conversation. He was likely going to make me pay dearly for that, but so be it; I had more important things to deal with right now than Jake's trampled ego.

Of course Edward hadn't missed even a bit of my brief phone conversation.

"A jealous boyfriend, perhaps?" he inquired slyly.

Here we go!

Naturally, the little hint of irony in my ex-boss's voice didn't escape me and I glared at him.

"What the heck are you doing here?" I repeated for Cullen who was still staring at me insistently.

"Will you invite me in?"

He'd asked me that question with his eyes anchored to mine, full of confidence, as always.

The nerve of him!

"No."

Right on!

Curt, straightforward, for once I didn't allow myself to be daunted by his natural assertiveness.

I saw the features of his face twitch at the sound of those two letters. The smirk he was displaying disappeared, leaving only an impassive fa├žade.

"All right. May I invite you to dinner then?" he tried.

"Am I dreaming or what? Why? And besides, what's with you, coming over to my place? What's on your mind? You thought I was waiting only for you? For your information, I've got other plans."

Wow! Calm down or you'll end up biting someone!

See him there, so nonchalant, so confident after the way he'd treated me, it was utterly enraging me.

Unfortunately for me, the elevator's bell rang out in the hallway and the pizza delivery guy arrived at our level.

"Hi, I have a delivery for Bella Swan."

Whoops! Totally busted, gorgeous.

"I can see that," my ex-boss said, holding back a chuckle.

While inwardly cursing, I quickly traded the pizza with my ten dollar bill and thanked the delivery guy who slipped away in the wake.

"Anything else planned?" Cullen trumped, eying me.

Having gotten rid of my cumbersome pizza on a side table next to my doorway, I stared at him, one hand holding the door, the other resting on my hip.

"I'd rather be alone than badly accompanied," I said, exasperated. "Go find one of your conquests, as I'm sure she'll be happy to keep you company."

With those words, I closed my door, which he firmly blocked with his hand.

"You don't know me, Isabella."

His voice vibrated. This time the mask of impassivity he wore seemed to crack to let some emotion filter. But it was too late. I didn't care about his resentment, whatever it was.

"Maybe. But I don't want to know you. I've already seen enough."

I thought I saw a flash of disappointment or maybe sadness in his green eyes staring at me with intensity.

"Okay. Then I wish you a good evening, Isabella."

He turned and walked toward the elevator.

"And what difference would it make if I knew you better?" I suddenly blurted at him as the elevator doors opened before him.

"Probably none. You're right."

And with that, he disappeared.

For a moment I remained stoic on the threshold of my door, eyes staring at the two aluminum panels that had just closed.

Had he really come knocking on my door hoping that I'd invite him in after the way he'd treated me?

Looks pretty much like it.

Frozen, totally stunned by such nerve and ... vulnerability? It was tiny, almost imperceptible, yet once again I had the impression of sensing it under the thick layer of control and arrogance.

But any vulnerability he might feel, however small it was, would never erase the way he'd treated me all these months, let alone what had happened three weeks earlier.

Driven by my anger and my lack of understanding, I hastily seized my keys and slammed the door behind me. Tumbling down the seven floors as fast as I could without risking break a leg, I finally reached the street, the rain lashing my face immediately.

The storm was uncommonly violent. Each deafening thunderbolt sounded tenfold by the echo of the city skyscrapers and rumbled as if to make the earth quake. Lightning streaked the sky on and off, giving a cataclysmic aspect to this very dark Sunday evening.

Brushing aside the wet strands of hair stuck to my face, I scanned the street looking for his outline. I spotted him a little farther to the left, pulling up the collar of his leather jacket to protect himself from some of the downpour.

"So what?" I shouted at him over the din caused by the rain pounding the ground.

Startled, he froze, and then slowly turned in my direction.

"What were you expecting coming here tonight?" I went on in the same tone.

The few passers-by present on the sidewalk turned to me, but truth be told, I couldn't care less.

"Go home, Isabella."

Pardon?

Oh hell no, I wasn't going home; at least not without an answer.

"Do not tell me what to do!" I snapped. "You really thought I was going to greet you simpering and invite you home after all this?"

"In that case maybe you want to take shelter in my car?" He nodded toward a black Maserati parked in double line with the emergency lights on.

"I'm fine where I'm standing."

"Under this downpour? Allow me to doubt it. You'd be much more comfortable inside."

My gaze flickered between the vehicle and Cullen, trying to read him; to understand what he was expecting from all this. In vain, as usual. Why could I never figure him out? His face expressed nothing more than his habitual impassiveness. Without grinning, though. He seemed a little unbalanced, perhaps.

Unbalanced, him? We're talking about Cullen, Mister 'I want, I take, I throw.' Did you forget?

"Why do you use people like that?" I asked him point blank, every ounce of animosity vanished from my voice.

I just wanted to try to understand.

"And why not?"

His answer left me speechless. Especially if you took into consideration the slight defiant look that had just filled his eyes.

"If it amuses you," I whispered to myself.

"Why would I not take advantage of this power, tell me?"

Moving toward me, he was now facing me. He was so close that I could feel his hot breath on my face. I stepped back swiftly. The game had just resumed. I could feel it simply by looking in his eyes, which he locked into mine emphatically. He was playing. It was as if he still wanted me to better throw me away afterwards.

"You're running away from me? Yet you seemed much more compliant the other night in my office."

What a prick!

"That's right. Go on and play," I said wearily. "But it won't work any longer with me. You wanted me, you had me, now forget about me. I don't know what you're hiding behind that mask. I don't know what made you this abject person imbued with himself and with his so-called power. I can only hope it was worth it."

I saw something like a wave of sadness pass through his irises. Maybe I had managed to affect him. I didn't allow myself the time to check my assumption and I turned toward my building.

"And what if I don't want to forget about you?" he said to my back.

"We don't always get what we want. It might be time for you to learn that."

"Do not play that game with me, Isabella"

Oh-oh, it seems he doesn't like to lose control...

I stopped on the first step of the stairs to my apartment building.

"Who else is playing a game, here, except you, Edward?"

I could see the anger mark his face.

"You don't know anything about me or my life."

"I know enough already. You're incapable of feelings. Your life is only about control and power. You can't stand it when the situation slips out of your hands, as is the case right now. But let me tell you something, Edward: it doesn't work like that in life."

As I was saying those words, my steps had led me back to him and I found myself poking his chest with my finger.

"Tell me what you're doing here?" I asked once more. "Tell me why you left your glass tower and crossed the city on a Sunday evening to come knocking at my door?"

A glaring contest raged between he and I. His green irises struck mine with such ferocity that I would have completely lost all my capacities had I not been so mad at him. Who the hell did he think he was? One second elapsed, then two, then three... without neither of us ending this eye confrontation in the midst of an incessant ballet of black and drab umbrellas roaming the street. I was soaked to the skin, freezing, even, but I stayed there nonetheless, holding his murderous gaze. For once I stood up to him.

And then all of a sudden his eyes softened. Just a little. Enough for me to gain an ounce of hope. Hope that vanished as quickly as it had appeared when his everlasting smirk settled on his face.

Hmmm... His wet hair, his smoldering gaze and his smile... This guy is a call for lust!

And one good mental slap! It had been a while since I had to put myself straight. But now was not really the time to start rambling, even if the pictures running through my mind were very interesting.

He closed the distance separating us, at the same time trapping my hand between our two bodies, and leaned toward me. His face leveled to mine, his cheek brushing mine, he whispered a few words in my ear.

"Who told you the game was over, Isabella?"

And as slowly as he'd approached me, he pulled away, letting his lips touching mine in their path, glaring at me all along. My breath caught instantly in my throat, while my heart went berserk. The next moment he was by his car, quickly rushing inside. The engine of his Maserati roared loudly, and with screeching tires, he disappeared from my sight.

As always, I want to thank my beta Lizzard43 for being there for me.

Until next time

Milk