CH 19 - Shorty Wanna Be a Thug
"Every time in my dreams...I see you...I feeeeeeel yoooou."
Don't judge. Bella's mix is the only music on my player. Besides, this is a really good song. Celine has the voice of an angel.
The parking lot's pretty crowded when I get to school so I park across the street. I had no idea this many people came to these things. I mean, running's not that exciting.
I follow the milling crowd to the stadium. This is like the fucking Olympics and shit. There's people running around the track and doing the sandpit jump thingy. There's the long pole catapult and people flying over hurdles and a gun keeps going off every two minutes.
I scan the crowd in the stands, looking for Bella's parents, looking for Rose. I thought for sure I'd be able to pick the Colonel out of the crowd but they're nowhere to be found. Panic grips my stomach. Maybe Bella's already done. Maybe it's over and I missed it and they're gone.
I grab the closest person I can, this lady in a Riverside slicker and rain boots. It's not even raining.
"Hey, did um, did the cross country team come in yet?" I ask her and I'm sure I'm not using the proper terminology.
"What?" she asks and I roll my eyes.
"Cross country. Anyone come in yet?" Oh come on, it's a completely reasonable question.
"Oh, no, not yet. They're coming in on the south entrance." She points to a line of spectators over by a gate that leads to a dry grassy hill outside the stadium. Well, that explains why I haven't seen her family yet.
I make my way to the roped off finish, still scanning for the big beautiful blonde or the handlebar mustache. I meander through the crowd and I don't recognize anyone. There's like five different schools here today.
It's a good fifteen minutes before the crowd starts clapping. There's a cluster of figures on the horizon. They race down the hill, their legs moving like whips. I squint. I can't see Bella. She must not be in this pack. Then a tiny figure jets out between two gangly looking dudes. Her rainbow hair's a streak behind her and she's wearing her obligatory Riverside navy and white, the number 222 on her shirt. She's in the lead. Holy hell, she's going to win her race!
This long haired wank of a dude in Kennedy colors sneaks up behind her and she just smiles. They're close now, maybe fifty yards and she is full on sprinting. She's smiling and breathing, like this whole thing is a fucking joke. And this guy is struggling, there's pain plastered across his face. She keeps looking back because he's close but she's still smiling. She's playing with him. She lets him get close. Just enough to make things interesting. Just enough to get the crowd excited. I don't blame them, I feel it too. I start clapping along and before I know it, I'm shouting with the rest of them.
Just when he thinks he's got a chance, she lowers her head and surges forward. Like she's flying. She closes her eyes and raises her arms to the sky and she soars. She's the first one across, Kennedy guy just behind her and there's nothing but glee on her face.
And then it's over. She slows and shakes the hand of the Kennedy dude. She walks over to Ms. Campbell. She teaches Biology. I guess she's also the cross country coach. I never knew. How could I spend four years at a school and not even know about this?
Campbell hands her a water and she drinks and then spits it out. Then she catches me watching her and she beams. I jog over to her hesitantly, scanning for her parents. Where are they?
"Nobody's here," Bella says when I get close. I look around again, like it doesn't register what she said. Why wouldn't they be here? How could they miss this?
"I'm here." I shrug and she grins. A big smug as fuck grin that makes my heart huge.
"You're here." Bella nods and then wipes her forehead. "I'm all sweaty."
"I like you sweaty." I step closer and she lifts her shirt to wipe her face. She has a pierced belly button. What other piercings does she have? There's only the really interesting ones left now. "Do you want to get an ice cream or something?"
"I'm starving. I'm going to rinse off real quick. It'll just take a minute," Bella says and I shrug.
"Yeah, no problem. So, should I come with you or..." I smirk. Yeah, that's right. I've got game.
"Okay," she says, completely stone-faced and I'm stunned. Is she serious? She's not serious, she can't be. She's fucking with me.
"What?" I choke and she grins.
"Come on," she nods toward the gym and there's something wicked in her eyes. Something devilish. It's kind of scary. I kind of like it.
"You're not serious," I say like an idiot. "You're fucking with me. I'll just wait here."
She laughs and then saunters toward the locker room.
"Were you fucking with me?" I call after her and she spins.
"I guess you'll never know," she sings and then disappears into the brick building.
"Yeah, she was fucking with me," I say aloud and this lady dragging two kids behind her looks at me like I'm an animal.
"There are children present," she barks. "Hooligan!"
Who still uses the word hooligan? What is this, 1954? Hey, Andy Griffin called, he wants his insult back.
I watch the hurdles while I wait. I don't think I could get my leg over one of those things. They look like death traps for the long-legged. I wonder where Bella's parents are. They must have a good excuse to miss this. It's a big deal. Even the ABC7 news van is here.
Bella's back in a heartbeat. She's got on some black leggings and a polyester running jacket. She's got a duffel bag slung over her shoulder and her wet hair is pulled into a haphazard rainbow bun.
"So this is a big deal, huh? And you're the winner. You won the whole race, beat all those other people." I pat her head and she squints up at me. It's pretty out, even though it's cold. Not a bad day for a race.
"I did," she says with an exhale that blows cold fog over the soft glow of the sun. "I'm the weiner."
I want to ask about her parents again, but it might be a sore subject. Maybe she'll bring up. I doubt it.
"Are you ready?" I ask and she nods.
"Hey, Bella!" Dude from Kennedy yells and then saunters over in his short shorts. It's okay because he has chicken legs. A well-muscled chicken, but still. I mean, yeah, I have chicken legs but I keep them covered. And I'm tall so it looks normal. This guy just looks like he needs a sandwich.
"Seth! You're a maniac, man. I thought you were going to take it easy on me," Bella jokes as he trots over to us. He looks up at me and I grin without teeth. It's my smart-ass smile.
"I thought I had you at the end. You were killing it," Seth says and then fixes his hair. Nope, didn't help. You still look like a dumbass.
"I trained on inclines. This was a walk in the park," Bella says and this douche keeps eyeballing me.
"No wonder. Once you took off, it was impossible to catch you," Seth says as he spots Bella's bag. Then me, then her bag again. Just ask, dude. It'd be quicker. "You leaving already?"
"Yeah, we're going to grab some food," Bella says and grabs my jacket sleeve. That's right, bitch. I'm with her. "This is Edward."
Now this guy is squinting and it all comes together. He recognizes me. Probably from Alice's show. Remind me to thank Bella later for leaving out my last name. That was solid.
"You're the brother. Alice Masen. You're her brother. I thought you got decapitated falling out of a tree or something," this dude says.
"Luckily they were able to reattach it. I might need a brain transplant, though. They're looking for a donor," I respond and he frowns. Bella snorts and then grabs my hand.
"My stomach is eating itself," she whines and I look at Seth and shrug. He gets the point and gives Bella a hug.
"Catch ya later," he says.
"I don't know, I'm really fast," she teases and he chuckles.
"Don't I know it," he winks and I don't like it. I mean, I'm right here. She's holding my hand.
"Don't I know it, as well," I interject and Seth gives a courtesy laugh. Yuck, yuck, yuck.
"Still starving," Bella tugs on my arm and I give Seth a wave and a big smile.
"Yeah, go refuel," he shouts back as we walk away. Man, poor guy just doesn't know when to let it go. It's over, dude. Cut your losses and save face.
"Oh, she'll refuel alright, if you know what I mean," I shout back and Bella bursts into loud laughter. The best kind.
"What a douche," I say and Bella pulls me through the crowd.
"Seth's harmless. Where to?" she says and I point across the street to my car.
"Harmless? He was obviously flirting with you." I argue as we wait for the little green walking man.
"Yeah, so? It's just flirting. Everyone likes flirting." The light gives us the go and we cross the street. I don't think flirting is harmless. Even when it's accidental. I accidentally flirted with Jessica for years. Believe me, that whole situation was not harmless.
"I think flirting can easily get out of control. It gives people ideas." I unlock the passenger door and hold it open for Bella. Because I'm a gentleman, bitches.
"What ideas? That you actually acknowledge their existence? That you, God forbid, like them? What's wrong with that? It makes people feel nice. It's better than acting like they're invisible," she says once I'm in the car. She unlaces her sneakers and kicks off her shoes.
"What are you doing?" I ask her as I motion to her feet. "This isn't a shoe free zone."
"Does this bother you?" she asks and then pulls off her socks. She wiggles her toes and puts her feet on the dash. My dash. Her feet are on my dashboard.
"I can't drive with your feet up there. It's grossing me out," I gag and she pokes at her toenail. "Is that...are you pulling off a toenail? Oh, God, I'm going to vomit."
I roll down the window because I can feel the bile rising in my throat. It's not like I can control it. It's a phobia. It's irrational. It's in the very definition.
"No, I didn't just pull off my toenail," she scoffs. "But this one fell off yesterday." She grins and shows me her middle toe, which is slightly longer than all her other toes. It makes me shudder.
"Oh gross," I mutter and avert my eyes but I can see her stretching her leg, her calf resting on the dash and virtually folding in half. "Bella! It's touching the window!"
"I know. Now you'll have a little reminder of me until you clean the inside of your car," she grins and then pulls her foot off the front window. Sure enough, there's her sweaty footprint pressed into the glass. "Something tells me it'll be there awhile."
Alright, so my car's not exactly a portrait of cleanliness. But what kind of seventeen year old would I be if my piece of shit car wasn't littered with CornNut wrappers and Dr. Pepper bottles? I like to pretend it's because I'm looking for a place to recycle them. Go green.
"Shut up," I reply and Bella grins. She puts her feet away, thank God, folding them up Buddha style and then leans over and kisses my cheek.
"I'm sorry. If it bothers you that much, I shouldn't tease you about it," she says and then kisses my cheek again. But she doesn't stop. Her lips move to my jaw and then my neck and I'm starting to feel a little tingly in my bathing suit area.
"It's okay. It's a ridiculous fear," I say and then her hands are everywhere, sliding over the back of my neck, her fingers tickling my scalp. Grazing over my chest and stomach and her mouth...God, her mouth. How is she even able to get in this position? Is she wearing her seatbelt?
"Nothing about you is ridiculous," she murmurs, her lips licking at my earlobe.
"My driving is getting ridiculous," I respond and she laughs and it makes me smile. She hugs my neck, her lips pressing into my cheek as she laughs.
"Maybe we should just hang out. Like at your house. Or mine. Or in your backseat." Her devious eyes gleam and she chews her lip in anticipation. Girl wants to get her freak on. With yours truly. Holla!
"I thought you were starving," I ask and she shrugs.
"I'm sure I can find something to put in my mouth," she says and my reaction is ridiculous. Yeah, didn't expect that one.
"Oh, shit," I sputter and she laughs. "Damn. Just...damn. Not harmless, Bella. Not harmless, at all!"
"I can't help it," she says innocently. "I like the way you handle your stick." She folds her hand over mine on the shift knob. Shit, it's on. I have sexy car innuendos for days.
"Oh yeah, baby. You want me to pop your clutch?"
"Just as long as you take a look under my hood."
"I'll fill your trunk good," I wink and she smacks my arm.
"Edward!" she scoffs and I beam. Yes! For once, I'm the one with the shocker! Metaphorically speaking, of course.
"Hey! Alright! No stinky pinky then," I say and now she's blushing. It's adorable. I don't think I've ever seen Bella embarrassed. She always has all the answers, always so cool and composed. I like that I've caught her off-guard.
Even if there is silence for a whole three minutes after. Nothing but the soft lull of Celine Dion. I'm beginning to regret my propensity for ass jokes when she speaks.
"They never show," she says quietly. "Do you know how many debates I've had to go to? How many piano recitals? How many tennis matches? We never miss one."
I'm guessing she means her family so I don't interrupt. I know exactly how she feels. Ignored. Neglected. Invisible.
"I try not to blame my sister, you know. Because I know my parents are idiots. I know she can't help their actions. My parents suck at parenting. They're shit, Edward," she continues and I just let her talk.
"And not only to me. At least they let me do what I want. At least they don't care enough to make my life miserable. I wouldn't trade spots with Rose for anything." Bella looks at me now and it's just guilt. All wrapped up in my stomach. It's like a light bulb explodes in my head. Rose is Bella's Alice. And I bought into that shit. Just like her stupid, dumbshit parents.
"This really means a lot to me, that you came. That you're here. With me. To celebrate, or whatever," she smiles and for the second time today there's a break in her confidence. And maybe it's just the Celine Dion, but I feel like the king of the world.
I lean over and hug her. Right there at the stoplight. She clutches at the back of my shirt and it's a desperate kind of hug. Like she's holding on for life. She presses her face into my chest and she sighs, breathes real big and deep and calm. And she doesn't let go until the dude behind me honks.
"Well, you are the wiener," I say and she leans back in the seat.
"That's right, baby. And not one of those Costco wieners, either. A Portillo's. With the works." She'll eat the whole thing too. I have no doubt. "So, are you really afraid of my feet?"
"Yeah. That and mold. It's furry. I never have to clean out the fridge because it makes me sick."
We drive to the Portillo's in Forest Park and she tells me all about running. She runs a sub-eight minute mile. I don't even know what that means.
"I want to see what my body can do. It's amazing, really, what our bodies are capable of. We just never get the chance to find out because our heads get in the way." She wants to run a marathon.
"Twenty-six miles. Of running. For fun." I'm skeptical.
"That's exactly the mentality I'm talking about. I mean, people piss themselves. They lose all bowel function and they keep running. It's all a mind game."
"Man, that sounds appealing," I say and she just laughs.
"I used to be a gymnast," she says. I'm not surprised. Especially after that flippity-do-da shit she pulled last weekend. Plus, she's really bendy.
"Used to be? You mean you're not still?" I ask and she shakes her head.
"Nah. I was good too. You should have heard my dad, talking Olympics and shit. That's when I started running. There was no way in hell I was going to literally break my neck so I could be his honor badge. I stopped going. My mom would drop me off at practice and I would run home."
"Defiance. I like it."
"Running is nothing like gym. I make my own schedule. I push myself as hard as I want. I train when I want and I set my own finish lines. Once I tasted freedom, there was no going back." She fiddles with the radio.
"That's how it was for me. After the-" I make and whistling sound with my mouth and then a noisy crash. "It was like things shook loose, you know. Everything fell into place. I could never go back to being that pathetic loser again."
"You were never a pathetic loser, Edward," Bella says, quiet and serious. "Perception is relative. It all depends on who's looking."
"Nobody looked at me before," I argue. "I was invisible."
"People saw you. You just didn't see them."
"Yeah, not the right people," I mutter. Jessica saw me, especially when she needed help or a fall guy. Jake, Ben, even Mike; they all saw me when it was convenient. When they needed someone to drive them home or to do their homework. I've never had someone notice me just for me. Not until now.
We drive through Portillos and get our dogs and without even thinking, I drive to the airport. I drive down that vacant dirt road and park outside the chain link fence. We eat and watch the planes and talk about stupid shit, like the plausibility of an airborne zombie virus. Then she drops a bomb on me.
"I can't wait to get out of this city," she says, all nonchalant-like.
"What do you mean?" I ask. I understand what she said. I'm just going into panic mode and it's interrupting coherent thought. I don't want her to get out of this city.
"I want to go somewhere. Leave on one of those planes and only come back on holidays to visit. There's a lot of things in this world I need to see from my perspective." She leans back in her seat and then looks over at me, serious as a heart attack. "Aren't there places you are dying to get to?"
"I never really thought about it, I guess. Getting out never really seemed like an option." I shrug and she sits up straight and turns in her chair to face me.
"Okay, if you could go anywhere right now, where would you go?"
"I don't know, Comic Con," I answer and she grins.
"That's a good answer," she says and then sits back in her seat. "I'd go to the moon. I'd love to see our planet from the moon."
"You are the strangest, most awesome person I've ever known," I tell her and she beams. I knew she'd love that. Plus, it's true.
"Do you want to come over?" she asks, right as a plane rattles over head. The windows shake and I jump.
"No one's there, in case you were wondering," she says with big knowing eyes. She buckles her seatbelt and that's signal enough for me. I start the engine and start down the dusty road. "My dad's away on business and my mom has Bunco tonight. And Rose is probably at Emmett's or something. She's never home."
I drive and I contemplate. Bella's inviting me to her empty house. I could, hypothetically, be having sex in the next four hours. I mean, I'm not saying that's why I'm going over there. I'm just saying it could happen. Hypothetically.
Holy mother of God.
No. I'm taking it off the table. Even if she starts, you know, seducing me, I'm not going to do it. It'd be a total dick move. Oh, I'll fool around. But I'm not going to let her lose her virginity in her bedroom when her mom could walk in at any minute. It's too typical. And Bella deserves spectacular.
But still. It's hypothetically possible.
Just like an airborne zombie virus.
By the time we get to her house, I'm wound up like a spring. She lazily drops her bag on the steps just inside the front door. Kicks off her shoes and tears off her jacket. I linger by the door until she motions for me to follow. She walks into the kitchen and opens the fridge. She offers me a bottled water and I accept. So I have something to do with my hands.
She leads me up the stairs. Just like the last time I was here. In that perfect room with the perfectly vacuumed carpet. She stops at the first door on the left and then turns and squishes up her face.
"I'm kind of messy." Like it's a confession and I shrug.
"I'd kind of be disappointed if you weren't," I respond and she slides through the door. I follow and she's right. Her room is a disaster.
Black curtains drape across the window, interspersed with tiny beads of all colors, little prisms that shoot beams of multicolored light all over the room. Rainbows. Real fucking rainbows are splattered all over her bedroom.
The walls are covered with posters. The Pretenders. Led Zeppelin. The Sex Pistols. And movies too. Back to the Future. The Neverending Story. Labyrinth. There's like six pair of sneakers shoved under her bed, only they don't really fit. Probably because there's other shit under there. There's a collection of troll dolls on her dresser and dozens of race medals hang on her mirror. And the makeup. Sweet mother of God, the makeup. Canister upon canister. Vial upon vial. An artillery of palettes and swabs and brushes and creams. It's like a toolbox. For your face.
Her bed is covered in books. Paperbacks, leatherbound novels, glossy torn jackets and frayed bindings. There's a guitar in the corner next to a cluttered desk and a computer humming along and blinking red and blue LED lights. And it's not a Mac, thank you jeebus. It'd be a tragedy if we weren't technologically compatible.
There's a handful of shredded magazines by her desk and a box full of clippings. Makeup, hairstyles, shoes and torn stockings. T-shirts and mini-skirts, cut up and safety pinned. She rushes to knock the books off her bed and straightens the covers then tosses a rumpled sleep shirt into a virtually unused hamper.
"There's no mold, I promise," she grins and then plops down in the black spinning desk chair. I sit on her bed and pick up one of her books. The Poetry of Robert Frost.
"You like poetry?" I ask and she nods.
"I like that every word is important. Every word was hand-selected for a reason." She spins in her chair. It's making me dizzy.
"That's why I hate it. If I misinterpret one word, the whole thing's blown straight to hell." She stops, her eyebrows pinched together.
"You hate poetry?" She asks and it's not even all judgy like. She's genuinely curious.
"Yeah. It's confusing and subjective as shit. And depressing. I read all of The Bell Jar. Sylvia Plath was a whack job." Bella grabs the book from me and flips through the pages.
"Read this," she says and I look at her. She shoves the book in my chest. "Just read it!"
I sigh and look at the page. The Road Not Taken. I've heard it before. Anyone who's ever seen an AT&T commercial has heard it. I think it's a prerequisite for Inspirational Quotes 101.
"Just read it. Out loud." She sits next to me and reads over my shoulder. Her boob is on my arm. It's one of the reasons I don't protest.
"I'm not reading it out loud," I say and Bella laughs. She leans her arm on my thigh and I read it. I read the damn poem. Because she wants me to.
"Did you really read it?" she asks after a couple minutes of silence.
"Nope," I say and toss the book. She scoffs and shoves me and I swear out of the sheer habit that comes from being friends with a bunch of pricks, I shove her back. Not hard or anything, but she's surprised. She squeals and tries to push me but she's got nothing on my abnormally long arms. I hold her at bay. With one hand. On her head. She's swinging at air and it's the funniest damn thing I've seen in a long time.
I can't stop laughing and she uses this to her advantage. She ducks and then throws her entire body into me. Knocks me clean off the bed and right into her dresser. Vials clatter to the floor. Magazine clippings float through the air. Makeup gone astray. And Bella's a heaping mass of giggling hysteria lying on the floor beside me. She recovers before I do mostly because she can maneuver in such a small space. I'm like a three point turn in an alley way, awkwardly wedged between the bedframe and the dresser.
She stands over me, a portrait of triumph. Her rainbow hair sticking out of her bun like a mad scientist and I smile because she's fucking cute. She crouches and puts her hands on my face and then she drops her mouth to mine. She's slow, her lips pull and her hands slide and she sighs into me.
"Why does he say "with a sigh"? If this less traveled road is so awesome, why would he be sighing?" I say and her face is light. Pure prismatic light.
"I knew it," she grins and then she's crawling on top of me. She's fast, her mouth moves and I struggle to keep up. Her tongue licks at my lips and you bet your ass I let her in. I spread my hands across her back and through her hair and her breath is hot and quick. It's good. So incredibly good. And then she's pulling off her shirt.
I fucking love poetry.
"Bella?" I ask. Not that I didn't think about this hypothetically happening just hours ago.
"I'm hot," she says and she's wearing a thin tank top underneath. Layers. She's wearing layers. I'm glad I didn't embarrass myself or anything. Please note, sarcasm intended.
She smiles again and she shifts and then stops. Because I'm pretty sure she felt it. Yeah, I have a boner. It's completely expected under these conditions!
I'm thinking she's going to back away very slowly so not to disturb the one eyed trouser snake. But she just licks her lips and swivels her hips. I cannot be held responsible for any of my actions from this point on. She's grinding her ass into my incredibly erect penis and she's doing it on purpose.
I want to touch her thighs so badly, my fingers are literally twitching but I don't want to just dive right in. I know, it's just a leg but you have to see these legs to understand what I'm talking about. They're downright sculpted. Like her calves should be permanently oiled up. I kind of want her to walk around in her underwear more so I can see how her muscle flexes just above her knee. Is that creepy? It's creepy, isn't it?
She's still kissing me so I decide to go for it. I lightly rest my hands on her knees and her breath stops as soon as I touch her legs. I spread my fingers over her knees and she falters in her rhythm. Her hips slide and she grinds down harder. Faster. Breathing and gasping. She likes this too.
She lets my hands creep up her thighs and her whole body reacts. She pushes her hands up under my shirt, her fingers tickling my stomach and her mouth still moves. There's no hesitation, no holding back. Like she's not even thinking. Just feeling. Like it's the most important thing she's ever felt. It's going to make my chest explode.
Or my pants. Seriously. It's taking every restraint I have not to just blow a load right here in my pants. I think she knows too because I keep tensing up every time I feel that surge. Plus, I'm wearing circles into her leggings.
"Oh God." I try to mouth it noiselessly but instead it comes out all squeaky. Bella touches my face again, her eyes intense.
"Let it go, Edward," she says against my mouth and then her fingers are working at the button on my pants.
"Bella..." I try to stop her and she smiles.
"Stop thinking. Just feel," she says and I close my eyes. This counts as just fooling around, right? It's just fooling around.
So I stop thinking. And I feel. I feel all over. Her hair. The nape of her neck. The curve of her ass. Her hip. Her belly button ring. Her collarbone. The ripple of bone protecting her heart, from the curve of her breast to the peak of taut flesh. The heat of blood coursing through her warms me. Her lips. Her tongue. Her mouth. I feel her everywhere. Her hands are on me now and my head empties of thought and I'm controlled by my senses. It overwhelms and then explodes. Explosions everywhere. Like a goddamn mine field. In my groin. In my head. In my heart. Like all the parts of me separated and are trying to get back together. But I'll never be the same. Not now.
I try to breath and then I feel her belly against mine. Her chest rises and falls with me. The tops of her thighs press against mine. She crushes me completely. She inches up so our foreheads rest together.
"We match now," she says, her hot breath on my cheek. I feel her toes pinching my leg and I laugh. She turns her cheek and looks into me. Her face is full of thought and scattered light and rainbow hair. I push it away and I touch her. Her lips. Her nose. I don't even know why. I just want to so I do it.
"We match always," I murmur before I can decide if this is a lame thing to say. She can argue all she wants but it's only a matter of time before she falls madly in love with me.
I don't need the label. I know exactly what this is.
You are all wieners in my book. If you could see me now, I'd be doing an interpretive dance to express my love. Anyone else feel like Cyrus should have won SYTYCD? Him and Eliana are my OTP.
LightStarDusting beta's and makes me want to watch Step Up movies.
Thank you for reading!