Disclaimer: I own nothing, other than this storyline. No copyright infringement is intended.
Once I was back in Boston I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, I had a spring in my step and a smile on my face. Angela had commented jokingly saying that I should take more time off if this was the effect on me. I just laughed off her comment.
I managed to speak with Bella on my first day back at the office, and we arranged to meet for lunch at the diner which I thought was a positive step. We'd arranged to meet on Wednesday and I'd cleared my schedule for the entire afternoon, I didn't want to be rushing back to the office if I didn't need to.
Wednesday morning came and I kept looking at the clock, it seemed like time was moving slower and slower as time moved toward one o'clock and my lunch date with Bella. I left the office earlier than I needed to and was sitting in a booth when I heard the door open and without looking I knew she was here; it was like I could sense her.
I turned toward her and my face broke out into a smile, I just couldn't help it. I watched as she walked confidently over to the booth and sat down opposite me.
"Afternoon, Edward." She smiled as she spoke. "Have you ordered already?"
I shook my head, "I wanted to wait until you were here; I haven't eaten, and kinda hoped that we could get some lunch?"
"That's a great idea. I don't have to be anywhere this afternoon, do you?"
I was grateful that I'd cleared my schedule. "No, nothing; I'm free all afternoon."
We ordered our food and sat talking for the next couple of hours. She asked me how the family time had gone, I really didn't want to tell her the truth so I told her that it went great and that my mom had a wonderful birthday and that I was glad that she'd called me. I watched her blush slightly at the mention of the phone call. Bella went slightly quiet on me; I guessed that she was embarrassed about it so I changed the subject.
"So, Saturday what do I need to bring for this posh picnic? Also what do I need to wear?"
She laughed at me. "You need to bring yourself, a small picnic hamper, or I can get one for us to share if you like? As for what to wear, it's usually casual. Nice jeans and a shirt if you like. Me? I have a dress all picked out, I just hope that the weather holds."
"Okay, so what time would you like me to meet you?" I was already wondering what I should wear and had decided that I would arrange a picnic basket for us from the best deli in Boston. Only the very best would do for Bella.
She looked thoughtful for a moment. "Well the main area is the bandstand on the Common so how about I meet you at the Tremont Street entrance near Loews Theatre on the corner of Tremont and Avery at one thirty?"
I nod slowly, not sure where she is referring to but certain that Dean will be able to find it. "Yeah that sounds great to me. I will get us lunch, don't worry about that."
"Oh, okay then. So you plan to woo me with good food and fine wine then?" She teased before she glanced at her watch. "Shoot! I know that I said I didn't have anything on, but I have an art class to get to, and it's across town. Sorry, I didn't think that we would be this long."
I looked at my watch and to my surprise I saw that it was after four, we had been talking for three hours, and it felt like no time at all. I paid the bill and walked Bella outside to hail a cab, I really didn't want to see her leave but I knew that Saturday could not come quickly enough for me.
Once she was in the back of the cab she wound the window down as it pulled away from the curb and shouted at me. "See you Saturday, Edward, don't forget to bring some champagne."
I was left staring after the cab as it vanished into the traffic. I knew that I wanted Saturday to be perfect. This was the start of my new life, and I couldn't wait. There was one thing that I needed to be sure of, so I went back to the office and called Maria, the conversation was short and stilted.
"Hey, Maria, it's me, Edward."
"Oh, hello. What do you want?"
"Erm, well I wanted to see if you were okay and to check that you had spoken to your attorney about the divorce?"
I listened as she sighed deeply into the phone. "Yes, Edward, I have, He told me to call by the office later in the week and he would set things in motion; I haven't used any of the usual lawyers as that would alert your family. I don't want them here trying to talk me out of this, or thinking that I am a failure as your wife." Her words trailed off toward the end and I felt bad for asking her.
"I'm sorry, Maria, I didn't mean to upset you. I just wanted to make sure that things were happening, I'll get a lawyer here and will give you his details."
Our conversation pretty much trailed off after that, and I couldn't help but feel relieved that she was sticking to the agreement that we'd made.
On Thursday I made calls to find the best deli in Boston, however, once I found it I stopped and thought about it. Nothing about Bella screamed that she demanded the best of everything. Don't get me wrong, she would appreciate the good food and imported delicacies I am sure, but it felt wrong. So I popped down and spoke to Annie at the diner and asked her if she could put together a picnic hamper for us. She said that she would be delighted to help me out.
I went out and bought a hamper all by myself. It was kinda daunting doing this,but I wanted everything to be right, and getting someone to go and buy this for me just felt wrong. I even picked out the champagne and bought some of those horrible plastic champagne flutes for us to drink out of. By Saturday everything was ready, I just needed to pick out something to wear.
Saturday morning came around before I knew it, and after running down to the diner and collecting the hamper, for which I gave Annie a huge kiss on the cheek and generous tip, I made it back to my apartment and jumped in the shower. I had no idea what I was going to wear and I felt like a teenager on a first date. I pulled out about a dozen shirts before my eyes settled on one that was new, still on the hanger in my closet. It would be perfect. Pulling it out and pairing it with my jeans I looked in the mirror and smiled at what I saw smiling back at me.
My cell rang and I answered it thinking that it would be Dean. "I'll be down in five minutes."
The voice that answered me surprised me, it was Jasper. "Well I look forward to seeing you then, you sure five minutes will be enough?"
"Jasper! Hey man, how are you?"
He chuckled. "I'm good bro. So are things still going smoothly with Maria?"
I took a deep breath, Jasper was the only person that I could be honest with, he knew the whole truth about what was happening with Maria and Bella but I didn't have time to go through everything with him now, I was running late and didn't want to fuck things up with Bella by making her wait for me.
"Things are okay, I'm just waiting to hear from her lawyer about the divorce. She said that they would be in touch."
I heard the door buzzer sound, knowing that meant that Dean was waiting for me.
"Jasper, I gotta go. I have a date with Bella and I need to go. I'll call you later, okay?"
He sighed. "Yeah, I need to talk to you, but go, enjoy your date with Bella."
His words caught my attention. "Is everything okay?" Worried about what he wanted to talk about.
"Don't worry about it. Now go, don't keep her waiting."
I laughed, excited to begin my date I'd been waiting so long for. "Speak to you soon."
With that I hung up the phone, grabbed the hamper and dashed downstairs to the car where Dean was waiting. As I got into the back I was relieved to see that he had saved me and had not one, but two bottles of what I assumed was champagne in a double chiller sleeve on the seat next to me. I really would have to give this man an extra-large tip.
Before I could think we were pulling up to the Loews Theatre and Dean is opening the door for me to step out. Once on the sidewalk he gives me a smile before driving away. I take a deep breath and cross the road toward to park entrance where we agreed to meet, but I can't see her. I stand where I know she will see me amongst the crowds of people entering the park, hoping to hell that I haven't missed her or her me. It pleased me that the sun was shining and the weather was warm, I remembered Bella saying something about a dress, and I had visions of her in the red dress from the dinner dance, she looked stunning that night.
Glancing down at my watch I see that its one thirty-five, okay so she is only five minutes late. I stand nervously as people walk passed me, feeling slightly stupid standing here with my wicker picnic basket in my hand. I don my Ray Bans hoping that this will give me some kind of barrier to them, make me seem aloof. I pull my cell phone out of my pocket, checking and there are no missed calls, no messages from her.
Checking to time again only five more minutes have passed, but she is now ten minutes late, and I know how particular Bella is about time keeping. Then I hear her voice calling me and I turn toward where I heard it coming from. There is Bella rushing toward me, a huge smile on her face. Riley is walking some way behind her, his hand in that of the man that I had seen him with before, but they were of no real interest to me. I drink her in, she looks beautiful. She's wearing a long flowing dress in purple with a pattern running through it. Somehow, it just suits her.
Placing the hamper on the ground I remove my Ray Bans, putting them in the pocket of my jeans as she throws her arms around me, pulling me into an embrace that I never want to end. She smells fantastic. Somewhat awkwardly I put my arms around her, holding her to me. She pulls back smiling up at me. "Sorry we are late. Those two took forever deciding what to wear." Her eyes rolled at me as Riley and his partner stepped up behind her. He extended his hand to me.
"Edward, nice to see you again." He shakes my hand and then turned toward the man standing at his side. "This is James, my partner."
I reached out and shake his hand. "Nice to meet you, James."
He smiles at me. "Yeah, finally we get introduced." Shooting Riley a glare. "I know that our previous meetings have been ... stressful circumstances but basic manners cost nothing."
I grimace, knowing full well that he is referring to that awful day after my night out with Bella.
"Yes, well, that is the past. Now let's just leave it there." insisted Bella. She was shooting both Riley and James looks that dared defiance. I didn't think that either of them would disobey her. Then she turned to me. "Come on, let's go claim a spot on the grass and see what you have inside that hamper; it looks intriguing."
"Erm, yes," I stammered, unsure of what Annie had put inside. "Shall we?" I motion towards the park entrance before I pick up the hamper and we walk inside.
Bella was chattering away to both Riley and James as we walk, the friendship and bond that they share was obvious and I felt slightly left out and jealous. I think that maybe Bella sensed this as she slid her arm through mine as we walked through the park. The jolt that I felt when she did this did not escape my attention, nor hers as she smiled at me.
We walked toward the bandstand, passing stalls and people sitting in the grass enjoying the sunshine. I was happy just to follow where they led me, obviously they had been here before and this was my first time so I needed to be guided.
My attention was drawn to someone shouting Bella's name and waving frantically at her. She pulled her arm out of mine and I mourned the loss instantly. The person who was shouting her name rushed over to her, throwing her arms her. I watched as Riley and James greeted the guy with her, and I was left standing alone feeling awkward so I moved the hamper from one hand to the other. Bella was aware of the fact that I was left feeling uncomfortable and quickly turned back to me, motioning for me to join her,
"Edward, this is Lauren and her boyfriend, Mike. Guys, this is Edward." She said with a smile on her face, slipping her arm back through mine. The look that Lauren gave her did not go unnoticed as she raised her eyebrows at Bella in surprise with a silent question being asked, so she decided to clarify things. "Edward is a friend, a very good friend. He is new to Boston so I am showing him around."
Both Riley and Mike tried to cover up their sniggering at that comment. James slapped Riley on the arm and Lauren shot Mike a death stare. Bella ignored them and I just shook my head in amusement. "Are you going to join us? We have a spot just over here."
We all nodded our agreement and Lauren led the way. Once there Bella took charge, ordering Riley and James to lie the blankets down that they had brought with them. Soon we had a large carpet of plaid picnic blankets on the ground and we were all sitting on the ground with open hampers. Lauren was friendly, almost too friendly, as I thought that she was openly flirting with me despite the fact that her boyfriend was here.
The sun continued to shine down on us as the afternoon wore on, great conversation intermingled with the music coming from the bandstand where several bands were playing. The whole afternoon felt relaxed and fun, something that I had not enjoyed for a long time. Bella's friends were great, and I didn't feel like an outsider at all, they made me feel at home. I was welcomed by them and it felt good.
Bella and I took a walk around the park alone, looking at the stalls with their mixture of homemade crafts and foods for sale; it was nice to have this time alone, just to two of us. She linked her arm through mine again; this small gesture did not escape me. I wasn't sure what the etiquette was for things like this so I went with what Bella wanted, also not wanting to push things with her.
We made our way back to the spot where we had left the group and when we approached I noticed that Riley was looking curiously at us. Once we sat back down on the ground we continued to talk as a group and I found out that Lauren and Bella lived in the same apartment block and had actually known each other since childhood.
Around six Lauren stood and Mike followed her quickly starting to pack up their belongings. Bella looked confused.
"Are you leaving already?" She questioned.
Lauren looked glum. "Yeah, we have Mike's step-mom's birthday party to attend." She rolled her eyes showing that was possible the last thing that she wanted to go to. Mike rubbed her shoulders reassuringly.
"I told you babe, we don't have to stay long. Fake a migraine". He said to her. I had to choke back a response to that suggestion, sure that it would come back to bite them on the ass if they did.
With that they said their goodbyes and left, leaving the four of us behind. It didn't feel strange to be without them, and as the music continued to play the feel of the day changed. The sun went down and Bella produced a wrap, which she placed around her shoulders masking them from my view. She also sat closer to me, it had not escaped my attention that Riley and James were alsositting close together. Riley was between James' legs, leaning against his chest. James whispered into his ear and I watched as Riley laughed in response before he got to his feet, pulling James to his before they walked away together.
A pang of jealousy ran through me, not that I was jealous of Riley or James per se but what they had together. I wanted what they had, the love was clear for everyone to see and I wanted this with Bella. The woman who was sitting next to me, within reach but I felt like she was a million miles away. I looked at her and saw her suppress a slight shiver, this was my chance. I motioned for her to move closer to me, and to my surprise she did. I wrapped my arm protectively around her and was surprised when she curled into my side, a contented sigh coming from her.
I looked down at her. "You okay there? If you're cold we can go." I offered.
"No! I'm good here, thanks. Hey is this the shirt that I bought you?" She pulled away from me, running her hand across the fabric, touching me. It felt like electricity sparking across my skin as my breath caught in my chest. Of course Bella noticed, and I felt like an idiot for reacting like a teenager getting touched for the first time. She smiled before she continued. "It suits you, the shirt. I knew it would, though. You look nice today"
All I could do was smile at her, she picked the right fit and size and I must admit I did love this shirt, and before I could stop myself I found words tumbling from my mouth.
"You look stunning, Bella, you really do. Sorry I probably should have said something earlier."
I knew that I was rambling and wanted to punch myself in the face, only stopping when she placed her hand on my chest. "Thank you, Edward."
There was a moment of silence between us when we looked at each other and I could feel it. I wanted to kiss her more than anything, to feel how soft her lips were as they brushed against mine. I reached out to push her hair away from her face, brushing my fingers against her cheek in the process and she moved closer to me, her eyes searching mine and darting down to my lips. We moved together slowly and I knew that we would kiss. I wanted this, she wanted it too.
Just as I could feel her breath on my face we jolted apart when her cell phone rang in her purse breaking the moment between us. I heard her mutter under her breath and I turned away running my hand through my hair. We had been so close to that moment and now, it was gone.
"Hello, Bella Swan." I turned back to face her, a weak smile of my face and she mouthed an apology at me. "What! Please tell me you are joking?" She was on her feet and pacing back and forth. I watched unsure what I could do to help. "What I am supposed to do?... Oh right I see... You have no idea how long for?... Well thanks, for nothing."
With that she threw the phone onto the blanket looking rather flustered. I was on my feet, my hands on the top of her arms holding her. "What's happened? Is everything okay?"
She screwed her eyes closed before she opened them, staring at me and I could see the tears that filled her eyes. "My apartment building, there's been a fire. I...I can't go back tonight."
Her voice almost fell to a whisper as she spoke. "Where am I gonna stay?"
Before I registered what I was saying I spoke. "Stay at my place."
She looked stunned for a moment before she answered. "Really? You're not just saying that?" A smile broke on her face and she threw her arms around my neck, pressing her body up against me. My arms were around her but not touching her, I felt awkward and didn't know what to do with them, so I closed them loosely around her.
At that moment Riley and James came back into view and they were staring at us, obviously questioning what they were seeing. I just smiled at them not knowing what to do. They quickly decided that either we were not interesting enough, or that we needed some time alone, and they turned and walked away, but not before Riley turned around and smiled before he returned his attention to James.
Bella pulled away from me, the smile that lit up her face suddenly vanishing. "I have nothing to wear other than this." She motioned to her dress "They said I can't go back until they tell me its okay. I don't know when that will be."
I smiled at her. "No problem, you can borrow some of my sweats if you want. If you can't get in tomorrow I will arrange for clothes to be brought over from one of the stores. It won't be a problem. We will sort something out, I promise." She seemed relieved and nodded at me. "Now shall we enjoy the rest of the evening here?" I held my breath waiting for her to possibly tell me that she had changed her mind, and was going to Riley's, or a hotel.
Finally she smiled at me, a broad grin on her face. "I would love that." I felt like I had won the lottery when she said those words. We sat back down on the picnic blanket and listened to the sounds of the band that was playing. The moment that we had before was lost, and I just had to hope that we would be able to capture it again, but I was prepared to wait.
Eventually the chill in the air became too much for Bella and I noticed that she was shivering, so I suggested that we leave and head back to my apartment. I called Dean to ask him to meet up at the entrance where he had dropped me off. She remained close to my side and I fought the urge to wrap my arm around her, pulling her to me. I knew that I had to play this by ear and just wait, I had been patient this far, surely I could wait a little longer.
Dean kept glancing at me in the rear view mirror as we made our way through the quiet streets to my apartment. Once there, I ushered Bella inside and rewarded Dean with a healthy tip for his services today.
Leading her out of the elevator and toward my apartment I feel my heart start to pound against my chest, and I wonder if Bella can hear it too. If she does, she shows no signs. Opening the door I flip the light switch, knowing that my apartment does not give the impression of being any kind of bachelor pad, it is what it is. Where rest, sleep, and eat. There are no real personal touches; I just haven't had the time or energy to pour into making this feel like my home, not yet anyway.
Watching Bella as she stands in the center of my open plan apartment I feel like I am under some kind of scrutiny. She is only the second person that has been here, Jasper being the first. He knew that this was not my normal style, so seeing how Bella reacted was more intriguing. Slowly she makes her way to the large windows that overlook the Boston skyline and the wonderful views over the city. Slowly, she turns to me. "This place is amazing, just look at the views that you have from here."
Her face lights up as I walk over to her, and honestly I admit. "I never really noticed before."
She looks at me shocked. "What! Seriously? Do you not just sit here staring out over the city hustle and bustle?"
I shake my head slowly. "Nope. I just never noticed it before." I'membarrassed at my admission.
"How can you live here and not notice the beauty that surrounds you. It's there every day and yet you have never noticed it." She turned to me, her eyes bright. "Sorry, I didn't mean that to sound patronizing. I know you probably work long hours."
I smile at her. "S'ok. I know what you mean, and yes. I do work stupidly long hours, but living here alone I don't want to come back to an empty apartment, it just doesn't feel right. You know?"
She smiles and nods at me before taking a seat on the couch. I realize that she is still wearing her summer dress with my jacket draped around her shoulders and I mentally kick myself for not being a better host. "Shit! Sorry Bella. Let me get you a sweater, or a blanket." I rush to my bedroom and begin opening and closing drawers, nothing that I have seems right to loan her. I mean, she looks beautiful and throwing one of my sweaters on top of the dress, well, it just seems wrong somehow. Then my eyes settle on the throw that is sitting draped over the back of the chair in the corner, grabbing it I head back to her.
We spend time together talking about her paintings, she needed to make some calls to find out about her apartment and when she would be able to get back in, but no one knew anything. Bella called several different people and kept being told nothing new. She gave up in frustration, accepting that she would just have to be patient, although patience didn't seem to be something that she had in abundance.
I suggested that we watch a movie together, but with my limited DVD collection we ended up flicking through the movie channels on cable and Bella stopped when she found, 'While You Were Sleeping.' I rolled my eyes at her excitement, but didn't mind really. She was happy, and that was all that was important to me. Bella made me smile when she talked about fate, and if something was meant to be, then it would happen. I thought about our meeting that day in the diner and how I had found a truly amazing woman that I wanted to spend time with.
Bella curled her legs under her on the couch, and I watched as she 'oohed and ahh'd at the movie. It was refreshing to spend an evening like this. I kept wanting to reach out to her, pull her to me but I wasn't sure what the etiquette for this was so I sat there feeling slightly uncomfortable.
I nearly jumped out of my skin when she moved closer to me as if heeding my silent plea for closeness. I extended my arm out across the back of the couch and I could feel the heat from her body as she settled next to me, her head resting on my shoulder as she continued to watch. I didn't' turn to look at her, maybe afraid of what I would see staring back at me. Then I heard her sigh deeply and she moved to my side, bringing herself closer to me if that were possible. I turned my head slightly as I was surprised when I saw that she was asleep. Watching her she looked beautiful, her face was like a porcelain doll.
Occasionally she would screw her nose up at something, and then she would sigh deeply. It was magical just watching her. I wanted to wrap my arm around her, pull her to me and never let her go. I turned my head slightly and I found myself wanting to brush the stray hair from her face, touch her cheek as she slumbered, hold her to me, but I couldn't. That would be a line that I wasn't sure that I should cross with her. I mean, what if I lost her from my life? It would feel so empty without her in it.
I watched her dozing next to me, for maybe an hour, and I knew that it was only right to try and move her to the bedroom where she would be more comfortable. I shook her gently, watching as she came out of her sleep and her eyes opened and confusion colored her face as she tried to work out where she was.
"Bella, it's okay." I murmured gently to her, watching as she nodded in response. I led her to my bedroom and once there she turned to me.
I laughed. "No, you can have my bed tonight. I will sleep on the couch."
She frowned, "Do you not have another bedroom? I cannot make you give up your bed for me."
I shook my head. "Yes, there is another room; it's just not ready for sleeping in yet. I wasn't expecting anyone to stay over. I will be fine on the couch, honestly."
She stared at me. "Are you sure? I mean, I hate to put you to any trouble."
I smiled. "No trouble." I showed her to the bedroom where I pulled out a pair of shorts and a baggy t-shirt from one of the drawers. "If you want to sleep in these you are more than welcome."
She took them from me, smiling at me. "You sure you'll be okay on the couch?" I nodded in response watching her as she leaned against the door frame smiling at me. "Oh, okay then. Well goodnight, Edward, today was... fantastic I had such fun, thank you."
I returned her smile and our eyes locked together. I could quite happily get lost staring into her eyes, and I didn't realize that she had moved until she reached her hand around my neck, pulling my down to her slightly. Then she planted a soft, gentle kiss on my lips. It was not enough, I wanted more, so I kissed her back. Our lips brushing together felt like heaven and she responded to me. We continued to kiss, her tongue forcing its way into my mouth where she teased me. I closed my eyes, allowing my hands to fall to her hips, pulling her to me, never wanting to let her go.
Then the moment was broken, as her cell phone message tone sounded. I swear that I heard her mutter some expletive under her breath but I couldn't be sure. She looked at me, and I thought that I saw a faint glimmer of regret cross her face. Was she regretting kissing me? I took a step back as she smiled at me.
"Goodnight, Edward." She breathed as she placed a soft kiss on my lips before stepping back and closing the door between us. The loudest sound in that moment was the click of the door as it closed between us;. leaving me standing, speechless and unsure of myself once again.
A moment of panic flooded through me as I remember how I used to be with women, before I married Maria; the way that I would toy with their affections and feelings. Never really caring how they felt, what they wanted. What if Bella was doing this with me? She was certainly more than a match for me intellectually; damn this woman had me in knots. My biggest fear right now was that this was some kind of cosmic payback for all the times I was an ass. Would fate be that cruel to show me what I could have and then snatch is away from me?
Beta'd by the ever fabulous Cejsmom, original idea was donated by Ffaddward, without these two amazing ladies we have no story.
Do you think that Bella is upto something, or has Edward blown it? I hope that you enjoyed this update and will leave a review, I share each and every one with Ffaddward so that she can see how people are loving what she came up with.