Sooooo sorry for the delay on this. RL can be so crappy some times, can't it? I've started chapter 5. Hope you guys are still reading this.
Thanks to my Cherie d'amour for beta-ing this and for my Tatertot for all her help.
Isabella sat in the booth of a tiny diner, the most popular place to grab a bite in her little town. She had a book with her and was submerged in the story, holding the book with one hand and her sandwich with the other. She was so lost in the words that she didn't even see him coming.
"Bella, right?" He asks. His hands are stuffed into the front pockets of his jeans and his head is leaning into the booth, trying to get her attention. She startles and quickly swallows the bite of her BLT that she was chewing.
"Um. Yeah. Hi…" she fidgets. She sits up in her seat, sets her book down and looks around, slightly uncomfortable with having to talk to this gorgeous man by herself. She motions to the seat across from her and finally looks up, making eye contact with him. She tries so hard not to gape at him, but it's practically impossible.
He's a mess. All ripped, dirty jeans and a holey t-shirt, and a construction boots covering his feet. His hair is wild, flying in every direction and he looks like he hasn't shaved in a few days. And yet, all she wants to do is jump him. Jump him and undress him.
She shakes herself out of it and watches him settle into the seat. She forces herself to talk to him, not wanting any awkward silent moments. "So… Construction?" she motions to his shoes.
"What? Oh. Yeah. These give me away, huh?" he chuckles stiffly, while rubbing his ear. It seems like she isn't the only person who's nervous. "Lunch time and the site isn't too far from here and since I'm new… I figured this place would be my safest bet."
She nods while picking at the corner of her sandwich. "They have pretty good food here. You won't be disappointed." She finally looks up and smiles at him.
"Thanks." He still looks lost and uncertain. Not sure if he should start up another conversation or just leave. "So … I guess I'll see you around. Enjoy your lunch." He places his hand on the table, as if to pat it and wish her goodbye.
She practically chokes as she finally finds the courage to speak up. "Would you like to join me?"
They spend the next hour getting to know each other; Bella talking about her job and Edward about the clinic. She's careful to stay away from the topic of her family. Just the thought of having to talk about Jacob makes tears come to her eyes. She isn't still mourning. No... she found a way to let him go. But the guilt she feels for what happened to him? That is still very present. No matter who she speaks to, or how many times she hears that it wasn't her fault, she just can't shake that feeling. That nagging suspicion that... that she actually killed him.
A few more weeks pass and Bella sees Edward around town, but the two never have more than a few minutes together. A simple 'hello' and a 'how are you' is as far as they get.
The clinic has gone up much faster than she expected. The grand opening is in a week and the entire town is buzzing with excitement. It felt like there was a celebrity coming. Almost everyone in town had gotten an invitation, so naturally Rose was dragging Bella to the big event.
"Listen here cat lady, if you're happy with the idea of your vag retiring, that's coo. I, on the other hand, need to get laid. So get your flabby ass up those stairs, put on whatever makes you look presentable and get in the goddamn car!" She says this so fast that it barely looks like she took a breath. Bella just stands there, staring at her, wondering if she should invite her to her next therapy session.
Seeing Bella's stunned expression, Rose clasps her hands around her friend's arms and leads her towards the stairs. She turns her around and slaps her ass once, sending her on her way.
Bella stands in front of her mirror, putting the finishing touches on her outfit. She is wearing a dark pair of skinny jeans and a flowy long sleeved shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Her hair is loose and wavy and she's got barely a touch of makeup on her face. She can do better than this, but really, who is she trying to impress?
She knows. She knows she wants him to notice her, but she convinces herself that it's too soon. That she can't go through another loss. She can't fall in love and have another one die. The thought makes her shudder. She closes the lights and heads downstairs, ready to make her friend happy.
They've been at the event for about an hour and it seems to be dying out. She lost Rose from the beginning, as she's been glued to Emmett's side. They've gotten to know each other, gone on a few dates and things seem to be working out.
She watches them from her corner, glass of wine in hand. Rose is laughing at something the mammoth of a man just said. He's cute, in that oversized teddy bear kind of way. He's leaning into her, his hand resting on her lower back and it's as if her words are gold. He's captivated and Bella can't help but sigh at her friends' relationship.
She remembers what that felt like. That tightening in your stomach whenever he would lean into you. Get close. Touch you.
She wants to drown in it: this feeling of dread that is threatening to overtake her. The sorrow that sometimes makes her want to give up. But she can't. She won't. She's worked too hard on moving past this, and she will not allow herself to backtrack.
She sets her wine glass on the trey - tray of one of the servers and makes her move towards Rose. She's ready to go home, but she doesn't want to ruin Rose's night, so she's just going to cab it.
As she moves through the room, so does Edward. And by the time she reaches Rose and Emmett, so has he.
"Oh hey guys!" Rose smiles at both her and Edward, wiggling her eyebrows at her best friend while Edward isn't looking.
"Bella, you look lovely," he whispers, while leaning into her so as to not make her uncomfortable with his compliment. His hand had gently moved to her elbow while his mouth hovered right next to her ear. She could feel his warm breath and it made her shiver.
"Thank you," she says shyly, as her hands move to straighten out the invisible wrinkles on her dress, "That's really sweet."
Unable to handle the attention on her, she focuses on Rose, ready to wish her goodnight.
"So, um… I think I'm going to head home. Long night and all. I'm just going to call a cab, okay?"
Rose sensing her 'in' points out that she shouldn't be leaving by herself and that there must be someone around here that can give her a lift. Realizing what her friend is up to, Bella immediately starts shaking her head no, but is interrupted by the voice she least wanted to hear at the moment.
"I'll drive you. I mean, it's on my way home... and I was going to head out anyway. If that's okay with you, of course." Bella has been staring at him with a blank look on her face from the moment he started speaking. She didn't like the unknown awkwardness between them and she was sure declining his offer would only add to the tension.
She straightens her back, blinks away her discomfort and simply nods, unable to form the words. They walk to the coat check section, retrieve their jackets and slowly head to the door. His car wasn't too far and so they walk to it together, neither speaking a word.
She's - She settles into the passenger seat, seatbelt buckled in and rubbing her hands together for some warmth.
"Why the hell is this so damn awkward?" he blurts, turning around to face her. She wasn't expecting this. She wasn't expecting anything at all, but most definitely not this. She thought there would be some meaningless small talk. But not this. Not this direct question about whatever it is that is making it so impossible for them to be around each other.
And with his few words, it's as if her body just relaxes. She exhales loudly and starts laughing. "Jesus, I have absolutely no idea." She finally looks at him and the corner of his mouth is lifting, ever so slightly, and he starts laughing with her.
"It's just been awkward, right? Like we should be avoiding each other? And I had no idea why… Thought maybe you might." He puts the car in drive and peels out of the parking lot.
She hasn't said a word after her laugh died down. Not sure if she should continue talking about it or just move onto something else.
"Do you want to go out? With me. On a date." They are at a red light and she can't help how her eyes have bulged out of their sockets. "I mean. I think that's it, you know? The reason things are weird." He isn't even looking at her, just holding on to the steering wheel and staring straight ahead.
"Things are weird because you think I want to go out with you?" She's smiling, not sure if he's usually such a talker, or if this is all nerves. The light is green and he's started driving again. She wished he would look at her so that she could maybe know what he's feeling, but she decides to keep that to herself.
"Do you?" she was so busy observing him, she hadn't actually thought of what she would say. Should she be honest? Tell him she would love to? But what would that accomplish? She had a feeling she could really grow to care for this man. And for what? To have everything happen all over again? To lose him too?
"I… I can't." She struggles with the words. She doesn't want to say them, but she has no choice. She will not curse him to this fate. She's knows that they're nowhere near love or marriage or a life together, but she won't let it reach the point where it's too late and they're both stuck.
"There are things. Things that make this complicated. I would never want you to get hurt." They've come to a stop in front of her house and she hasn't had the heart to look up. She knows she has to get out of the car, so she unbuckles her belt and prepares for the hurt look that might be staring back at her. "I'm so sorry, Edward," she says while finally looking up into his eyes.
What she sees there is not what she was expecting. Edward doesn't look hurt. He doesn't even look upset. He's… he's smiling?
"So…what you're saying is that you want to go out with me, but you can't?" he repeats, just to make sure that he understood her correctly.
"I… yes. That's what I said." She's flustered and completely unprepared for this kind of situation.
"Ok then. Have a good night Bella," he leans over and plants a sweet kiss on her cheek before getting out of the car to open her door. He takes her hand and walks her to her front steps before turning around, getting back into the car and driving off.
She's baffled by his response. Did he not understand her? Is this how some men take rejection?
It doesn't take Bella long to figure out why Edward was so collected when she refused him. It's because to him, she hadn't refused him at all.
Over the next few weeks, Edward was everywhere. He would show up at the diner and eat with her, run into her at the grocery store, and even stop by her house… just to say hello. They never spoke about it, never once discussed the date. They just, enjoyed each other. By the end of those few weeks, she could actually say that they were friends. She expected to see him, now. She even liked it. They had exchanged numbers and spoke on the phone every once and a while.
He had also gotten more comfortable around her. He would touch her more. A hand on her lower back, pulling her in for a one armed hug when she would say something funny… Wiping foam from the corner of her mouth while she drank her latte. The last straw for her came on a Saturday morning when he showed up at her house to help her put a shelf up.
She was climbing up the steps of the ladder to set a picture frame on her new shelf when she lost her footing and fell back. She was ready for the pain to hit, but it never did. Instead, Edward caught her in his arms, turning her over so she slid down the front of his body until her feet touched the ground.
She was clutching his t-shirt in both her fists, still panicked from the fall. Her breaths were coming short and heavy as she stared into his smiling face.
"Hey, you okay?" he said, lifting one hand that was previously encircling her waist to place it on her face, over her flushed cheek.
"Yeah. Yeah." She steps back, out of his grasp, not liking the way he was making her feel. "Thanks," She laughs "that would've hurt like a bitch."
"You sure?" he whispers, stepping into her personal space and placing that damn hand on her neck, forcing her to look at him.
She can't do this. She just can't. She starts shaking her head and she knows she's about to burst. She likes him too much and after getting to know him even more, her decision to stay away from him romantically is gutting her. She has to tell him. Has to let him know why he needs to stop this. Stop being so nice and cute and affectionate. She needs to warn him that it's for his own well being.
She turns away from him and begins pacing. She's twisting her fingers and fidgeting so much, Edward thinks she might start hyperventilating.
"Has anything weird ever happened to you? You know, like something inexplicable. Something that might've freaked you out?" She watches him. Waiting for some kind of reaction. The way he tilts his head to the side with that questioning look makes her realize that it's too soon to talk about her being a witch.
Jacob it is, then.
"Every single man that marries an Owens woman dies," she deadpans. "My mother, she's… she was an Owens." She's trying to be as calm as possible, but the pain of her loss is slowly creeping in, making its way to her heart and she hopes that she can hold out long enough to explain herself.
"Excuse me?" He's staring at her like she's just lost her mind and is about to start laughing when he notices how serious she looks. He reaches for the armrest of the couch behind him and sits down, waving a hand at her, motioning her to continue.
"I can't exactly explain how it happens, but it does. And it's fast. Car accident, work accident, stroke, heart attack… They apparently don't ever feel any pain." She whispers more to herself than to him.
"My um… my father died when I was a little girl. My uncles." She takes a deep breath, trying not to let the tears overtake her. "My husband."
At that, Edward's head shoots up and he openly stares at her, mouth hanging wide. "Your what?"
After her mother's death, Isabella went to live with her aunt Beth. Elizabeth Owen was a unique woman. She had the most eclectic taste in clothes… and in men, as well. Isabella's aunt had gone through more men than she could count. She always told her niece that they just weren't the right ones. Isabella always found it strange that her aunt had never married, never loved someone enough to be with them for more than a few months.
Time passed and Isabella began noticing some strange things. Women would show up to the house and hand Beth money, asking her to 'do things'. One day she asked her aunt.
"They are love spells, my darling."
"Why would someone need a love spell?"
Her aunt sighed, put down the book of incantations that she was looking through and turned to her little love. "Isabella, the heart is a funny thing. Sometimes it needs a little push in the right direction," she giggled, tickling Isabella's sides.