Hello! Surprised? New story? -Sort of. This isn't excatly something new from me. If you've been reading my stuff for over a year, you might recognize this as a story I put up before, but took down for editing. So this is it, cleaned up and hopefully better.

It's a little embarassing how many cliches I used when writing it, but then again, they are the bread and butter of fanfic. I hope you'll enjoy it. Consider it a post Thanksgiving treat. :)


The Restaurant

This world is all turned around
We're caught in this place, stalled in this place
Don't let it kill you now
We're not here to stay, we're not here to stay
Well close your eyes, my love and let it rise, my love

~ Time to Mend, Barcelona

The first time she came into the restaurant I was nineteen and waiting tables. She walked up to the hostess stand with such trepidation, as if she wasn't sure if it was okay. Her long mahogany hair layed in soft free falling waves down her back, just tickling the crest of her elbow. Her skin was a pale cream, and looked like pulled silk, smooth and delicate to the touch. Her large brown eyes fluttered nervously from the hostesses' face to the floor as her cheeks pooled with embarrassment, giving them a rosy glow. I was completely captivated by her presence.

After being told to sit at a small table in the back corner, she made her way across the floor with a subtle grace. Many people would miss it, instead seeing the way she seemed to trip and bump into unseen obstacles, but I could see the grace waiting under the surface to bloom. It was in the way she carried her shoulders, held her head just so, or even how each step seemed to be leading her somewhere beyond just a table in a restaurant.

I watched as she was given a menu to look over the days selection. Her eyes nimbly jumped across the lacquered pages, scanning and searching for the right dish. The deep chocolate was probing and questioning, as if waiting for the secrets to be reveled just through her willpower alone. I couldn't hold myself back any longer, and made my way to her table- if only to be closer, to understand what held her attention so tightly.

"Hello and welcome to Bel Cibo. My name is Edward and I'll be helping you this afternoon. Do you know what you'd like?" The words spilled from my lips, wanting to be closer to her than me. I could completely empathize.

"Umm.. well, uh... I.." she quietly murmured. Her voice was pure and kind, surely a gift from heaven above. It spoke to me in ways I wasn't prepared for.

"Do you need more time, adorabile?"

"Oh well.. yes, but.. um, also..." she paused before taking a steadying breath to finish in a rush, "I don't know any Italian, and can't really understand the menu. Can you, um, maybe help me?" her voice pleaded. She cast her enchanting eyes quickly to my face before dropping them back down to the table.

I was breathless.

I would do whatever she asked of me, and I didn't even know here name.

"Of course, I would love to help," I prayed she wouldn't notice the heaviness in my voice, and lucikly she didn't.

We spent the next few moments going over a few of the dishes and it became apparent she didn't know much about this particular type of cuisine. I was intrigued.

"If you don't mind me asking, why did you pick a restaurant that you know nothing about?"

"Oh, um.. well. I just moved here for college, and I haven't really gotten out much. I've been in the dorms but my roommate, she and her boyfriend.. uh,.. kind of kicked me out," her cheeks flamed with color due to her implication, and she once again lowered her gaze. "So I was walking around and I hadn't eaten yet, and I came to this city to try new and different things, so um... after walking around I saw the sign and just figured why not start now?" she babbled while tracing the curve of her fork on the table.

I was impressed with her ability to try something outside her comfort level. "Wow, that's really brave. I've lived here my whole life, grew up in this restaurant helping my Nonno- er, grandpa, and I'm still here. I admire your courage. Now, let me see what I can do to help you on your new journey," I smiled crookedly at her and winked. She blushed deeper, and I couldn't help fall a little bit in love with her right then.

...

..

.

I did admire her. She proceeded to come into the restaurant many more times, always willing to try something new. It was so refreshing to see. So many customers became complacent, finding one or two items they liked and only ever ordering those. Some patrons were so predictable, I could already have their dishes and drinks ready for them by the time they sat at their regular table at the regular time. But never her.

Each week since the first, she graced us with her presence. She came at least once a week, never at the same time or day. Just whenever it piqued her interest it seemed, but she always came. And she was so ready and willing to take a chance on anything I offered to her. She soaked up the excitement of each surprise, often insisting I not tell her what anything meant.

"But you'll never learn to understand Italian if you don't learn the words, dolcezza," I would chuckle, and attempt to suppress my grin.

"Edward, don't you see that's part of the fun! I'm getting to try new things but there is still a mystery to it all," her eyes sparkled before she softly added, "Just like you."

"Me? What mysteries do I possess? I'm just plain Edward, here every week like I always am, for you."

"You're anything but plain, Edward. You're beautiful," her melodic voice filled my ears and poured into my heart. I was thrilled, my heart beating rapidly at her declaration. But she was the beautiful one.

"Ah see, this is why you need to know Italian. Surely your parents knew some. They did name you Bella after all."

"What? Why would my name mean they knew Italian?" she questioned, her head tipping to the side in a quizzical manner.

"Bella means beautiful," I explained, hoping she would see that I meant she was beautiful too.

Her cheeks filled with my favorite blush once more. It was a sight my eyes never tired of, one I sought whenever I could. I doubted she had any idea the effect it had on me.

"Edward.. I-"

"Nipote, ho bisogno del vostro aiuto di nuovo qui!" Nonno called from the kitchen, cutting off whatever she may have been about to say. I looked back to her ,hoping she would finish her thought but the moment seemed to pass.

I never did find out what she was going to say that day. It wasn't long after that my grandfather passed away, and I had to take on more responsibilities at the restaurant. I moved behind the bar a few weeks later which limited my interactions with her for a time. But still she came in faithfully every week and tried new things, often sampling new recipes I was attempting and giving me feedback. I was inspired by her. I couldn't get enough of her. I prayed she might some day feel the same for me.

...

..

.

Time, that thief of life, passed as it always does. I remained behind the bar, watching and waiting for her to see me and all the love I held for her in my heart. She never did.

A small part of my soul was crushed the day she brought him in with her. I was thrilled to hear the timber of her laugh that night, it had been a long and hard week. I knew seeing Bella, laughing with her and delighting in her warm glow, would make all my troubles disappear. But when I looked up to catch her eye as she came in, I was shocked to see a man's hand pressed against the small of her back.

It was intimate.

It was not my hand.

He was tall, fairly handsome with eyes that only saw her. But what eyes could ever not see only her?

Mine certainly couldn't.

I was crushed by the interactions they shared, the merriment they enjoyed with each other that night. My heart broke with each toss of her hair, each smile she gifted him across the small table, the soft brush of her delicate fingers on his arm. It was unbearable, and I couldn't comprehend the sudden change.

She had never brought someone with her.

"Bella, amore mio, you've brought a friend tonight?" I questioned her once the man left for the restrooms. I tried to smile and keep it light, but was unsure if it had the intended affect.

Bella hesitated a moment before giving her response "Edward, hey. I wasn't sure you'd be in tonight."

"So who has the pleasure of your company this evening?" I said, ignoring the flicker jealousy her words sparked.

"Oh uh, that's Jacob," she replied. Her face was closed off to me, her usually expressive eyes hiding secrets which I needed to uncover.

I begged her with my own eyes to explain.

"He's in my Advanced Anatomy class. He's been asking me to get dinner for a while now... he's new to Seattle, just transferred here." Her explanation was quiet but left little doubt in my mind.

She didn't want me.

My world pitched into darkness with the loss of her light.

"Well, he is a lucky man to have gotten you," I responded truthfully, though it ripped at my heart to not be me.

"It's just a first date, Edward. I don't even know him that well."

I stared intently into her eyes again, hoping to see what I thought I was hearing in her voice. Before any meaning could be found, the melted chocolate turned hard as she shifted her gaze to something behind me. Turning, I spotted Jacob returning to her with a slightly possessive look marring his features.

I turned my green eyes to her once more, praying for her to understand. "I hope you find happiness, mio cuore. You deserve nothing less."

"You make me happy, Edward," whispered past her lips.

I was sure I dreamed the words. There was no way she had spoken them to me, a lowly restaurant owner when a soon-to-be doctor was sitting next to her.

...

..

.

I felt helpless the night it finally happened. I could do nothing to control the circumstance I found myself in. I had idly watched for months as the two of them came in, each time growing closer to one another. I saw the look in her eyes as she would watch him, the way they seemed to sparkle when he told her a joke.

She was even more stunning in love.

And she was in love with him, I could easily tell from my solitary post at the bar. So when he came to me and pleaded for me to help him take her away from me forever, I was powerless to resist. If it would make her happy then I would comply.

I would deny her nothing, even if it cost me everything.

"Hey Cullen, thanks again man. I know you and Bella have been friends for a while now, and she loves this place," he explained, "We've basically come here for every date too, so I couldn't think of not popping the question here."

Jacob stuffed his hand into a coat pocket before he pulled out a small black velvet box. It cracked open to reveal a small gold band with a princess cut diamond nestled on top. I tugged my own hand roughly through my unruly hair as I stared at the offensive ring.

Bella didn't like gold jewelry. She never wore anything made of gold. He should have know this if he was going to marry her. How had he never noticed this obvious fact? I knew within the first month of meeting her.

But she loved him.

"Wow, Jacob, that's.. great. Nice ring, too." I lied, swallowing thickly. "What do you need me to do?"

"Well, I'm not really sure. I'm pretty nervous about the whole thing, and you know her tastes pretty well. What would you do?"

It was a punch to the gut. He couldn't be asking me this question. How was I suppose to tell my unknowing rival the way to ask my love, my heart, my Bella, to be his wife?

It was too cruel, too painful for God to inflict upon me. I had already lost her to him, did I now have to win her for him as well? Taking a deep breath in to cleanse my fractured mind of these thoughts, I gave him an answer.

"Well she really loves the raspberry tiramisu," that she helped create, I mentally added, "so maybe you could put the ring in it? Then while she's eating, she'll find it?" I trailed off, unable and unwilling to be more helpful. It was cliched and boring, but I couldn't find anything else to offer.

"Yeah that's perfect! Nice job, Cullen. She will totally love that. So you'll help right? Put the ring in the cake and bring it to the table and stuff?" Jacob was excitedly thrumming his fingers across the bar's top as he asked. A quick nod was my response.

"Oh, man thanks! This is going to be great. You don't know how much this will mean to her. So we'll come tonight, and do it then," he pressed the small box into my palm.

The small metal circle and stone burned my fingertips later that night as I pushed it softly into Bella's favorite dessert. I had created it especially for her about a year ago. The raspberries perfectly matched the color of her full lips, their sweetness tempered the stronger flavors of espresso and whiskey in the cake. Just like her, strong and sweet in perfect balance.

As I brought the dessert that held the potential to completely destroy me to their table, I allowed myself to take her in once more. She was still just as beautiful as she had been the first time I saw her. She was no longer a girl of eighteen, but a young woman of twenty-three preparing to begin her life.

She was perfection.

And she wasn't mine, nor would she ever be now. Her eyes broke away from Jacob as she heard me approach. I could feel them searching into my own, looking for something. I offered her a small but broken smile. Her happiness was more important than my own. Her own smile slipped for just a moment in accordance with mine but I didn't really believe it.

Wishful thinking on my part.

I walked back to the bar after setting the dessert down, unable to bear hearing his words and proclamations of affection and devotion. Words I longed to speak to her myself. Words I would have to carry with me into my own dark forever. I couldn't tear my eyes away from her face though. I had done this to myself, and so I would watch as her world was made complete.

I saw the exact moment she found the ring buried just near the surface of the cake. I knew she had a tendency to plow right in to it, without looking at what she was doing and I didn't want her to choke on the ring. I had already choked on it enough for the both of us.

Her eyes widened in shock as she stared down at the symbol of his love. Her face was unreadable for an immeasurable moment, as if she was hesitating. Bella cut her eyes quickly toward the area near where I stood, causing my chest to clench briefly with hope, but she never looked, her attention quickly pulled to the man kneeling beside her. My eyes never strayed from her face as she quietly responded, and was then wrapped in his embrace.

It cut my heart deeply, a chasm rooted within. I would never find a means to fill its depths.

...

..

.

More years filtered by in a haze of grey. I watched as Bella and Jacob fell into the routine of husband and wife. They still dutifully came to my restaurant on a weekly basis. It both warmed and wounded my heart. While I knew she was beyond my reach now, she still caused my heart to thrum rapidly whenever she was near.

I was a masochist for her.

It pained me to watch them knowing I would never get to love her in such a way. It cracked my heart even more to watch my vibrant girl retreat into her shell. As time passed along on it's slippery slope, Bella lost herself. Each visit saw a small part of her fading away. It was nothing noticeable for many but I saw it.

I saw everything about her.

She stopped smiling as genuinely as she had before. Her laugh didn't ring as true to my ears as it once had. Worst yet, was the sadness she attempted to hide deep within her brown eyes. I could no longer see the light honey flecks anymore. They had always danced out in bright contrast before, but now her eyes were black coffee, flat and dull.

The biggest change was when she started to seek his opinion on what to order. She use to delight in choosing a new unknown item, but now she would second guess herself. Slowly this doubt ebbed into deference to Jacob's choice. Eventually came the day she didn't order for herself at all, simply letting him make the decisions.

Another part of my soul died that day.

The conversations they shared over their meals also waned. What was once a table filled with joyful noise and life had faded into silence. Each sat across from the other, chewing food but never tasting. The words spoken were stiled and hard, if ever even uttered. I mourned for the loss of her words which had always been intelligent, perceptive, and beautiful- just like her. Even in her early days of bumbling and shyness, she had strong words. But this Bella no longer had words.

Then it happened.

Rain poured from the sky, sheets of plump wet drops littered the ground. The night was slow, few people wanting to venture out in the poor weather conditions. I had let the other employees go already; I didn't want to keep them from the warmth of their homes and families on such a cold night when we'd had so few customers all day.

So I was surprised to hear the small bell chime loudly above the door as I cleaned in the kitchen. I hadn't flipped the sign off yet, so I was obligated to serve whoever had come in. I didn't relish the thought. I was tired, worn down, and in need of rest.

Seeing her standing in the middle of the floor, surround by upturned chair on table tops in sopping wet clothes, her hair drenched in heavy ropes down her back, shocked me. I hadn't seen Bella in several months. She and Jacob didn't come in anymore.

It had been another piece of heartache for me to endure.

As I stood in the doorway of the kitchen, I couldn't tear my eyes from her. She had a look of despair on her normally angelic face. Her brow was scrunched, the creases of anguish deep around her trembling screwed up lips. The enticing chocolate of Bella's eyes were rimmed in red and shined with tears as her tiny shoulders shook. I rushed to her side in an instant.

"Amore mio, what's wrong? What happened? Bella, oh il mio cuore, are you hurt?" I pleaded for answers while running my hands over her small frame in search of injuries.

"Edward." She collapsed into me, wrapping her arms tightly against my body as she trembled. I pulled her in as close as I could, tucking her head beneath my chin. I held her tightly as I stroked her back up and down in a soothing rhythm.

"Shh.. shh..it's all right, tereso, it's all right. Shh.." I whispered, trying to sooth her. I could feel the wet of her disheveled clothes seeping into my own, but I could have cared less.

She clutched me to her, sobbing into my shirt. I gently stroked her hair as she expelled her heartache into my chest. "Oh Edward. I can't- what did I do? I don't understand. I just don't understand," her voice cracked.

"Bella, what don't you understand? Where's Jacob? Did something happen?" Her body retched with a sob at the mention of his name, and I pulled her in tighter. I couldn't get her close enough. I continued to caress her back and hair while waiting for her to answer.

"Hh-he cheated, o-on me. Edward, he slept with another woman!" Bella finally stuttered out.

I would kill him.

My body became instantly rigid with rage. How dare he abuse Bella like that! He had promised her his love and devotion. He was suppose to make her happy! And now she was shattered, broken and sobbing in my arms.

I had trusted him to make her happy. He would pay for her heartache. I would find him this very night, and tear his flesh apart. He had never deserved a creature as divine as Bella, but she loved him. For him to toss her aside was blasphemous. No one could treat her so callously and live to see another day.

I would make him pay for not only breaking her heart but breaking her spirit. He had been killing her slowly for years, but this was beyond his past transgressions.

This was unallowable.

"W-why? Why would he do this to me Edward? I know I'm not very pretty and I could be smarter but I loved him. Why would he do this? What did I do?" she continued in ragged breaths. Her self deprecating words pulled me sharply from the red haze which covered my eyes.

"Bella, you did nothing! You have no blame in this, tereso. He is at fault, not you," I softly but passionately told her, while trying to pull her in closer still. Sobs were the only answer her body could give to my words.

I nuzzled her softly with my cheek before continuing "Listen to me, dolcezza, you are not responsible. You, beautiful girl, have nothing to feel badly about. It's his loss. He never deserved you, amore. He never loved you like you should be loved."

After a few moments, she spoke.

"Do you really believe that?" she softly asked. Her voice held just the smallest glimmer of hope within its broken depths. I could feel her shifting her face upwards to look at me. I dropped my chin lower to peer into her face. Her eyes frantically searched my own, looking for any sign that I was being untruthful.

"Bella, sweet beautiful Bella. I would never lie to you." I gazed intentely into her deep brown eyes, needing her to see the honesty in which I spoke, to feel the weight of my words.

Bella seemed to find something in my face as she quited herself. She leaned back slightly from my embrace, and I felt the loss of her warmth with the slight movements. I ached to hold her close and never let go. She continued to fist her hands in my shirt as she steadied her breathing, never breaking eye contact with me.

"Edward." Her voice was still slightly shaky.

"Edward," she started again, "if I ask you a question, will you answer honestly?" Her eyes had stopped crying ,and no longer looked glassy but determined. A glimmer of her old spark burned there, almost impossible to notice but I was close enough to see. I swallowed thickly, nervous from the fire lurking in her eyes before giving her a tentative nod.

"What does amore mio mean?" she asked.

I didn't expect this question so answered quickly, "Love of mine."

A heavy pause filled the room.

"Is… is that just an Italian expression or… have you ever loved me?" Her question was bold and alarming, but barely said above a whisper.

"Yes," my voice shook with nerves. I wouldn't lie to her, not now. Not ever. "I've loved you."

"Do you love me still?"

I looked down into her vulnerable eyes. They held something there I never expected to see. It was all I'd ever needed.

I crashed my lips down upon her, finally touching and relishing the softness there. She responded without hesitance, meeting my hungry lips fervently, pushing against them with her own. I was on fire from her touch, the silk of her plump lips caressing me and pulling me further under her spell.

Sucking her top lip gently between my own, she opened her mouth slightly. I couldn't hold back the moan of pure pleasure as my tongue sought out and found the warmth inside her mouth. She was sweet on my tongue, massaging it with her own. It was better than any dream I had ever imagined.

It was home.

And finally, I knew she felt it too.

...

..

.

The first time she came into the restaurant I was nineteen. I was a young and foolish boy who didn't know anything about love. She was a sweet and naive girl who was looking to find herself.

Years passed by us in the restaurant. We both fell in love but kept it hidden. We hurt one another without knowledge of the damage we caused. We fell together and broke apart. I learned how to love someone so completely, I gave up my own happiness for what I thought was hers. She found herself, only to be lost again. Separately we destroyed ourselves.

Together, we found love.

We found each other.

And now in that same restaurant, ten years after I first saw her, I was watching her walk towards me, a vision in lace and white. She glowed in a way I'd never seen before, filled to her very top with love. The small make shift aisle was trimmed in soft pink roses that matched the lovely blush of her cheeks. My favorite color.

I clasped her hands in mine as soon as she was near, sweeping my thumb across the back of her delicate palms. She squeezed my fingers before intertwining them with her own as we gazed into each other's eyes. The smile on her face was small but all encompassing. It mirrored my own.

"You are so beautiful, tererso. I love you, Bella," I whispered for only her ears to hear.

"I love you, Edward. Per sempre, il mio amore," she softly responded.

Together, we turned to face the man who would make us man and wife, uniting us together, forever.


A/N: Any thoughts you want to share, I'd love to hear. Thanks for reading, mio amores!