Under These Lights
Small town Texas. High school football. Two best friends, one girl. A tragedy that changes everything. All Human. Lemons. The usual suspects. YeeHaw!
So I never had any plans to write this story. In fact I have two other things in the works that I was going to start publishing after finishing up Hallett Hall (insert self advertisement here.) But planning has never been my strong suit.
Last weekend I watched the first couple seasons of Friday Night Lights with my sick, sick cousin. I'd never seen it before and thought it was pretty good. Definitely not my cup of tea, but pretty good.
Anyway, I just started writing this as we were watching and now I can't focus on working on anything else. Figured I better publish it. This story should really only be about six or seven short chapters, I'm thinking.
But I already mentioned that sticking to a plan isn't exactly my thing.
Let me know what you think.
I do not own Twilight and I do not own Friday Night Lights. No copyright infringement intended. I'm just messin' around, tryin' to have a little fun!
"It's open," I call out, burying my face in my hands at the kitchen counter. It's difficult to say if the loud knock on my front door or my own yell hurts my head more.
With a scowl at the slow to brew coffeemaker and my half eaten bagel, I push my hair off my forehead and lay my throbbing skull on the cool counter.
I shouldn't even be up yet. If my brother wasn't so damn loud gettin' ready for work, and if I had the foresight to not pass out on the couch last night, my crusty, hung over eyes wouldn't even open till at least two o'clock. It's way too goddamn early and I'm still lingering in that terrible purgatory between fucked up and hung over.
"Good morning." The voice behind me is timid but provocative, shy but confident, just like the girl herself.
And just like that I feel fine. More than fine. I feel like the king of the goddamn world because she is all I've ever wanted.
I turn slowly on my stool, both as an attempt to play it cool and to keep my head from hurtin' again.
"Good morning," I drawl, my voice low and croaky.
The smile spreads across my face slowly at the sight of her standing in my kitchen. She is just perfect in her tiny white running shorts and matching tank top. The color makes her look tanner, and I like the flush in her cheeks.
And then I feel like a total pansy for thinkin' like that.
But then I keep lookin'. Her long, dark hair is pulled up into a high ponytail that spirals down to lay over one shoulder. It's held there by a blue and gold bow – very appropriate for a cheerleader.
I try not to look at the six dangling around a dainty chain on her neck. Definitely not my number.
The light coming in from the front windows behind her makes her look like an angel.
Fuck, what a chick thing to notice. This girl is goin' to be the death of me.
She stands in my kitchen, hands grasped behind her back, shifting her weight from side to side nervously. She studies the ground and bites her lip, like she can't decide what in the hell she's doin' in my kitchen on this early Saturday morning.
Like she wants to be here but she knows she shouldn't.
I feel the same, when I really think about.
So I don't think about it.
I just focus on her tiny waist and prefect tits. I focus on the little drop of sweat on her collarbone and the memory of her moaning my name. I think about how her skin tastes and the little strip of mid drift visible, peaking out between all that white.
I am in awe of her. Always have been, always will be.
"Hungry?" I ask because it doesn't look like she's gonna find the courage to speak anytime soon. I waggle my bagel in her direction, trying to get her to come close enough to touch. It works and she takes a hesitant step forward, and then another. "It's not much," I mutter as I bring it to her mouth, wishing I had something fancier to give her.
I've been wishin' I had somethin' fancier to give her since I was about twelve years old. Somethin' fittin' of Bella Marie Swan.
She looks up at me from underneath her long, dark lashes, never taking her eyes off mine as she takes a bite. It's seductive and innocent at the same time, coy.
I smile at her and she lets out a little giggle, covering her mouth as she chews. Her giggle goes right to my dick, makin' a quick detour to my heart on the way.
I wonder what she'd do if I told her how I really felt.
"It's good," she says, smiling when she shallows. The muscles of her long neck entrance me as they move. She blushes vibrantly, studying the ground again. I clear my throat and try to get a hold of myself.
"So that's why you're over here so early," I say, pulling her closer with a hand at the small of her back and talking in her ear. She shivers slightly before looking me right in the eye. "Breakfast?"
Our faces are so close, I can smell the strawberry cream cheese on her breath. And it's not even gross. It's great, actually. Sexy as fuck.
"No." Her mouth deliberately wraps around the word but barely a sound comes out. It's enough. It's all the justification I need to lower my lips to hers, and it doesn't matter how wrong this is. Nothin' else matters but Bella in my arms.
I kiss her lazily, slowly. The perfect way to kiss a hang over away on a bright Saturday morning.
Bella clutches at my t-shirt, moaning slightly as I touch her tongue with my own. She opens to me, clings to me, and I turn my stool so she can stand right in between my legs. I slide mostly off the stool so my feet hit the floor. I still tower over Bella, even leaning like this.
I slip my hands under her tank, feeling the bumps of her spine and enjoying her skin, damp and hot from her run over here. She slips her arms around my neck, fisting one hand in my too-long hair while she twists her leg around mine. It's like she's trying to climb up my body. Her obvious want for me only makes me hotter. For so long, it felt like all I ever did was want her without her wanting me back. It's a relief and a turn on, having her come over here for me like this.
We continue to kiss and I can't take it anymore. Her hands run over my chest and arms, even as she keeps me close. She tastes so good and feels so good, I almost can't breathe.
Such a fucking chick. If only they could see big, bad, broody Cullen now – losing his head over a lady. The wrong lady. The perfect lady.
"Bella," I groan out as she rolls her hips. For a good girl, she sure knows how to move for a man.
Her answering whimper sends me over the edge, and I abruptly stand, knocking the stool over as I pull Bella into my arms. I cradle her tight little ass and her shapely legs wrap around my waist.
Kicking beer bottles and assorted clutter out of the way, I move with Bella in my arms towards my bedroom. Part of me wants to detour to the couch, but there is somethin' just so damn wrong about taking Bella Swan on a old, sticky, stained with who knows what, leather couch.
I go down the short hall to my room instead. Not that this is much better. All I got is a mattress on the wood floor and dirty clothes thrown all over the place. I was so embarrassed, the first time I brought her here.
At least I took down all the posters of hotties in swimwear when this became a regular thing.
I'm still a little embarrassed, but I lay her down before gently lowering myself onto her anyway. She reaches for the hem of my t-shirt, and I help her pull it off. That long, graceful neck of hers comes towards me, ready to kiss me again, but I pause, taking a moment to just look down at her on my bed.
"What's wrong?" she whispers, biting her lip and blushing. Timidly, she reaches up and tucks a chunk of my hair behind my ear.
I'm beyond words and I just slowly shake my head at her before bending to kiss her again – lips, high cheek bones, straight little nose, eyelids. I pull the ribbon out of her hair and undress her slowly.
Even when we're both naked and panting against each other, I take my time – teasing her, teasing me. I go so slow, because I can. Because this time might be our last. Because I want her to know how I feel even if I can't say the words.
I would tell her, too. If only she was mine to say the words to.
I memorize everything, the way she moves, her sounds, the looks that flash over her face.
When I'm finally inside her, it's so good I almost can't take it. My heart is too full, my lugs can't get the air they need. I move and she moves and it's too good, so good it hurts.
She throws her head back in a silent cry before coming apart around me. I join her a moment later and I swear it's the closest to God I'll ever be.
I met Bella Swan the very day she moved to Dillon. Her daddy went away to play college ball after taking the Panthers to State in '72. He stayed away after he met her momma and he made a fortune using his famous face to sell cars after he blew his knee out doing a year in the pros.
Charlie Swan was somethin' of a Dillon legend.
Twenty-five years after takin' the Panthers to State, Charlie brought his family home to Dillon. He opened one of his famous Chevy dealerships and became just about the richest dude this side of Odessa.
I met Bella Swan because I was best friends with the son of the second richest family in town, even though I wasn't supposed to be. We were inseparable since kindergarten, Jasper and me, much to the displeasure of Mrs. Whitlock. I like to think I've grown on her. She does feed me an awful lot.
Anyway, the rich families tend to stick together so I met Bella Swan the summer before seventh grade.
Bella was beautiful, even then, but in seventh grade boys show their affection with teases and hair pullin'. Jasper and I were havin' none of that, and we became quite the little threesome. Mikey Newton tripped Bella durin' a game of kickball, Jazz and I beat him up, and the three of us became fast friends.
We were both mostly in love with her from the moment we saw her, but Jazz was the one she ended up with.
And that makes sense. That's the way it should be.
Bella and Jasper were basically made for each other. She's the good girl cheerleader. He's the all-American quarterback. Their families are friends. They both go to the same church, want to get married right out of college, and move on to the 2.3 babies and white picket fence. They are the perfect, it couple at Dillon High.
So I wasn't even mad when Jasper took Bella to the eighth grade dance. I was already pretty familiar with how the world works, even when it sucked which was most of the time. The differences between my life and Jaspers were always apparent so why wouldn't he get Bella Swan?
The two of them made sense to me, even at thirteen. Even if I hated it.
Because she's the perfect Bella Swan with the church going family and I'm bad boy Edward Cullen, kid from the wrong side of the tracks.
When they were still around, my parents were the town drunks. They were loud and inebriated and fightin' all over town. I didn't have a lot of supervision. I smoked my first cigarette at ten, was drinkin' by the time I was twelve, and lost my virginity to one of my big brother's girlfriends at age thirteen.
I'm not a nice boy.
Bella Swan deserves so much more.
But even all that logic couldn't keep me from loving her, even though she belonged to and with my best friend.
I was just thankful that I could spend anytime with her at all. She was my best friend's girl, so it wasn't weird that I was nice to her when I treated all the other girls I used like shit. It was fine to be her friend.
And she was always there for me.
Like when both my parents left for good the summer before I started high school and I had to move in with my twenty-two-year-old brother. She was the one that made sure I went to football practice and didn't fail out of any classes. She was the one that set a big glass of water and Advil out when it had been a long night.
She was the one who told me she was praying for me every time I'd fuck one of my replacements.
She doesn't know I call them that, but it's what they are. Replacement Bellas.
I can talk to her. She's all I have. Her and Jazz. And Emmett too, I guess.
I did pretty good hidin' it, I think. I slept around, a lot. I used girls and then never talked to them again, a lot. I partied, a lot. But they stayed my best friends.
And as much as I hated watching the two of them together, seeing them smile, hearing about the beautiful time they gave their virginities to each other, I did it. I was a good friend to both of them. As much as all that made me sick to see them so happy, I did it.
But then, last year, things started to change. Or, I guess, Jasper started to change. Junior year he became football obsessed. And this is Dillon so everybody is pretty football obsessed, but Jasper became crazed.
He's good, my best friend. Best QB in the great state of Texas, 76% completion record, all-American, poised to lead our team to State this year. Football and getting in to the best possible college to play football became everything to Jasper. He has big plans and instead of making her own dream, Bella seems to be following his.
He's so fucking focused on football, that when Bella's whole world fell apart at the beginning of this summer, he barely even noticed.
Turns out, good ol' Charlie Swan was screwing Barbara Denali on the side. The whole thing came out after church one Sunday when Barbara slapped the shit out of Charlie in front of everyone.
Denali women do not like to be dumped. I would know.
It was all over school and Bella was just so humiliated and hurt, both by her dad and by the whispers of our peers. We promised her things would get better, that we would have the summer to just be. But then Jasper abruptly left for a three-month football camp. He left Bella all alone in her time of need with barely even a goodbye.
Now, it's not about her at all. It's about what he wants, want he needs to grow his football career. I've watched as her dreams have shifted to fit his. And I hated it. This thing with him leaving so suddenly was the final fucking straw.
Or at least what I tell myself.
That's how I justify it, sleeping with my best friend's girl, but mostly that's just bullshit.
I'm sleeping with her because I'm not a good guy. I'm the bad kid and I want her, so I do want I want. Fuck the consequences.
Bella stirs in my arms and I reluctantly open my eyes. I find her looking directly at me with those deep chocolate browns of hers. She's worried. I can tell my the little furrow between her brows.
"Go back to bed," I instruct, closing my eyes again and cuddling her close.
"I can't," she replies with a slight whine, attempting to get out of my grasp.
"You can," I say, planting a sloppy kiss on her neck.
"Edward!" she says with a shriek and a giggle. "You let go of me right this minute. We're burn' daylight!"
I like her little Texas twang. Its slight, given her somewhere-outside-Texas upbringing but in the five years since she moved here she's picked up a few things.
"You got nothin' else to do," I say, continuing to kiss and tickle her. "It's still summer for a few more weeks yet."
At my words her whole body tenses and I know I've said the wrong thing because when summer ends, Jasper will be back.
"Let me go," she says slowly and deliberately. I do as she instructs, trying to ignore the pain it causes when she slips out of my bed and stands, bringing my old faded sheet around her body.
She's still so insecure about her body. It makes me wonder what Jasper's telling her, and I immediately hate myself for even thinking about him at a time like this. Or thinking about him and her at all.
Suddenly I feel the need to hurt someone. Bad.
With my head against my pillow, I watch with half an eye as she finds her clothes and gets dressed.
"I don't want you to leave," I say petulantly. And I shouldn't. I don't ask anything from her. That's how it's been this summer. Expect for the first couple times, I let her come to me. I follow her lead.
But I feel myself startin' to panic as our time comes to an end.
And usually I'm so good at livin' in the moment.
"Don't say that," Bella says quietly, not meeting my gaze.
She cracks a small smile. "Don't say that either."
"We can't keep doing this, Edward."
Her words break my heart, which is double, shitty because it forces me to admit I have a heart at all. Bella has always gotten though my tough guy exterior. It's not the first time I've cursed this weakness.
"So what, Jazz comes home and you're done with me? We just forget everything that happened this summer?" I demand, suddenly angry.
"Stop pretending like we've had some sort of giant love affair," she snaps back, narrowing her eyes at me as she pulls her hair roughly into a ponytail. "That's not what you do. You don't do romance. It's just s…sex."
She stutters over the word. Despite how much she is trying to be that girl – the one that's completely okay getting her kicks from her boyfriend's best friend to scratch the itch while he's away for the summer – she can't quite pull it off. She's a good girl at heart. The guilt must be eatin' at her.
It's eatin' at me too.
"Is that really how you feel?" I ask, closing my eyes. I feel like I'm laying it all on the line. It's as much as I can give her.
"I don't…" she starts. "I can't… I just—"
All of a sudden I can't handle her rejection. I don't want to hear her say it. She's going to choice him over me and I can't bare it.
"Never mind," I say, loudly, cutting her off.
She stands fully dressed at the end of my bed, rolling a hair tie in her fingers and avoiding my eyes.
"I just don't even know who I am anymore, you know?" she murmurs, still not looking at me. "I don't recognize myself."
"Well I recognize you," I reply. "You're Bella Swan, the most beautiful girl in all of West Texas."
She lets out a big half sigh, half laugh, and I sit up because the only thing I can't bare more than the thought of her leaving is the thought of her crying. I hope I didn't make her cry, but she seems okay. A little smile even seems to be tugging at the corners of her mouth.
"You gonna be at Newton's tonight?" I ask, changing the subject.
She's quite for a long time, just staring down at me like all the answers are written somewhere on my face. Abruptly she leans down to give me a quick kiss.
"I'll be there," she assures me.
And then she's gone, leaving me wondering – as I always do – if that was the last time.