CHAPTER 1: Mystery man.
"Are you sure you're not gonna stay another night? It's already getting quite dark."
"Dad, I'll be just fine." I laughed at Charlie's protectiveness. I knew he wasn't really concerned about me driving now; he just didn't want me to leave already. Neither did I, to be honest. But I had no choice. Tomorrow I'd start the second week at my new job. My first real job after graduating.
Charlie had been proud about my achievements but wasn't very pleased because this job was the reason I'd be staying in Seattle for good. Of course I tried to visit Forks as much as possible but I didn't have that much free time. I knew Charlie felt quite lonely since I've moved to Seattle and, honestly, so was I. Yes, Seattle wasn't my favourite place in the world, but Forks didn't offer any jobs within my degree, so I was forced to move away.
"Just be careful, Bells"
"Always am." I answered him the way he always used to reply in former times. A little smile spread across his lips. He would be fine. He always is.
I was only driving for five minutes when it started to pelt. "Fuck," I muttered under my breath. I've always hated the rain, especially when I had to hit the roads. Being the daughter of a cop had brought me in touch with so many car accident scenarios that being in a vehicle wasn't my favourite pass time.
With a three hour drive ahead of me, I really needed to calm down. While keeping my eyes on the road, I reached for a CD. I was pleasantly surprised when without knowing I'd picked my favourite one. The music of Debussy came out of my car speakers and I was instantly feeling a lot less stressed.
Luckily, I wouldn't have to worry about hitting another car because as usual the road that leads out of Forks was deserted.
I was about twenty miles out of town when I noticed a figure walking on the side of the road. "Well, it is lovely weather for an evening walk," I laughed as I watched the rain falling from the sky. As I approached, I saw that this person was in no hurry at all but was already soaked.
I instantly felt bad and drove slowly next to what appeared to be a man. His clothes were poor and he definitely hadn't shaved in about a month. Though the sight of this man should have scared me, because this was like the perfect start of a typical bad horror movie, I moved to open the passenger's door. It was only then that the man looked my way from under his hood.
"Do you need a ride?" I seriously didn't know what I was thinking at that moment, but I felt so bad that I couldn't stop myself from offering. The man shook his head and remained his slow walk.
"Really? I mean, this road is endless and I don't think it'll stop raining anytime soon." This man must be out of his mind. I would be thrilled if someone would offer me a ride in this type of weather.
"Thank you miss, but I'll be fine." I was startled by his soft, velvet voice. Definitely not what I expected to hear.
"It's no problem, you know." Why did I feel rejected? I should not feel rejected because some poor man didn't want to ride with me, right? Then why did it feel that way?
"I don't think you want to be bothered with my presence." His voice sounded so sad.
"Well, maybe I do." That wasn't a lie. I could use some company. I hated being alone in a car. When there was someone to talk to I would at least forget about everything that could happen in traffic.
"I'm serious, get in." I started to get agitated when he remained silent. Why wouldn't he just accept the ride? I couldn't just drive away anymore now.
Should I beg him? It would be better for his health if he didn't have to walk all the way through this shitty weather.
"Please? I could use some company." It must have sounded weird to him because it was only then he stopped walking. I could smell victory. Victory? Did I just call it victory? Bella, you're offering this man a ride, it's not a competition.
"But I'm soaked. I wouldn't want to damage your car seats," he said, but I'm sure there was a humorous tone in his voice now.
"Will you just get in already?" I laughed.
"Sure?" Was he really questioning if I was sure of this. Hadn't I already asked him four or five times?
"I guess so," I shrugged.
When he finally got in the car I could see him clearly for the first time. He definitely was a lot younger than I initially thought he was. Twenty eight years old maximum, I'd say. The beard gave him a much older appearance but his eyes betrayed his youth. I was immediately captured by his eyes. They held a shade of green I'd never seen before. And his hair was one mess of untamed bronze locks. I swear, if he shaved that beard, he'd be even more gorgeous than he already is now.
"You really don't need to do this. I'm used to this weather," he said, and his words made me realize I was staring at him.
"I wasn't kidding when I said I could use someone to talk to. I never liked being alone in a car," I admitted. "I'm Bella, by the way."
"Bella..." It was like he was tasting my name or something. "I like it," he finally said, "My name is Edward."
"Nice to meet you, Edward" I said and laughed at the cliché sentence.
"The pleasure is all mine, Bella" His fake formal tone made me laugh even more.
"Where are you headed?" I asked.
"Nowhere in particular." And again, I could hear the same sadness from earlier in his voice.
How could you be going nowhere? It was only then when it dawned on me. His clothes, his appearance, why he was walking in the rain only a second ago,... This man was a tramp. I should have guessed sooner. I felt surprised when I didn't instantly felt scared because I'd picked up a vagabond. Horror scenario, like I said. But no, there was no part within me that screamed to kick him out of my car. He didn't seem like a bad type, at all. Or maybe I was favoured by his voice and his eyes. The owner of those features could not be a criminal, right?
"So, where am I supposed to drop you off then?"
"Wherever you want, I guess." Oh, this was going to be awkward.
"You really have no place you'd want to go to?" He could at least help me a little. Indicate one place. Or city.
"No. Where are you headed for?"
"Seattle. I live there." I don't know why I added that last part.
"Seattle is perfect," he replied, "but what are you doing here when you live in Seattle? This isn't some nice vacation spot."
"I used to live here with my dad. I've just visited him."
"Oh." A simple 'oh', that's all he said. Of course I already started wondering if I had said something wrong. I certainly did not on purpose.
When I looked back at him he had his head rested against the car seat and his eyes closed. A little smile crept across his face after a long period of silence. A really awkward silence, at least for me.
"It has been ages since I've heard that song. I didn't know other young people still listened to it." Was he talking about my CD?
"You know Debussy?" I asked astonished. He just nodded. Everyone else around my age I asked about this brilliant French composer looked at me like I was talking about an alien.
"How old are you?" I blurted out. It must have sounded like I expected him to be a hundred years.
"Twenty three," he replied with a laugh, "Guess the beard makes me look like some really old man." Only twenty three years old and already living on the streets. I couldn't stop myself from feeling bad for him.
"What happened?" I wasn't really thinking about what I said. Everything I thought just rolled over my tongue. But I was curious about his story. How does an, obviously attractive man, ends up on the streets that young?
"Huh?" Okay, my question was really vague. But I thought he would catch it. Or maybe he was just surprised by my directness.
I motioned at his appearance and then he got it. "Oh, that."
He remained silent for a – what seemed to me – really long time.
"I've run away from home. But I'd rather not talk about that. What kind of man is your father?" He must really not want to talk about it. He didn't even give me a chance to ask more about it. Of course I wanted to know why. I was one of those women who wanted to know everything. Especially when a gorgeous young man was involved. I had to keep myself from asking more about it. I realized that actually this was none of my business. It's not like we were involved or anything. I'd just offered, or should I say begged him to ride with me, and that's it. I could have been annoying and told him that if I couldn't know anything about him, he should know stuff about me, right? But I realized that if I shut up we'd fall into another awkward silence and that was not the reason why I offered him this ride.
So I talked about my father. Actually, there isn't much to say about Charlie that's of any importance, but to Edward it all seemed like an interesting story. I was surprised that he was really listening to what I was saying and asking for more information.
"And your mom? She doesn't live with him anymore, doesn't she?" That's where I felt like shutting up. He instantly caught it and excused himself for asking. It was only then I realized that maybe it would be good to talk about my mom. I couldn't remember the last time I did. Charlie always avoided the subject like the plague and Alice, my best friend, she didn't know how to handle the whole situation so the subject was never brought up either. Maybe this was my chance to talk about it. Maybe I would finally get my kind of closure I never got seven years ago.
"My mom passed away when I was fourteen."
"It's okay; you don't need to talk about it if you don't want to." He seemed really concerned and that's why I wanted to tell him.
I spend the next half hour talking about how my mom tried to fight the cancer but never succeeded. I fought back the tears while I was talking about her struggle and how broken I was right after she passed away.
I found out it was fairly easy to talk to him. It was only after an hour I realized I'd almost told him half of my life and it didn't even bother me.
"Am I boring you with my life?" He must have been by now. My life was just plain boring.
"No, not at all." His smile was so honest I had to believe him. And if I wouldn't believe him, I would have definitely been dazzled by it. Who was this man? I swear I'd never felt so comfortable with a stranger before.
"I was kind of waiting for more weird stories, actually. I mean, you did just pick up a complete stranger and told him your entire life." I had to laugh at this one. He was not only the owner of a gorgeous voice and the most amazing eyes I've seen in my entire life, he was funny too.
"This is the first time I've done something like this," I admitted.
"Really? You don't just drive around picking up guys to tell them your story? Well, that's a disappointment. I bet there would be a lot of men out there who'd want to take my seat."
"Oh shush." I lightly slapped his forearm. For the next five minutes we were both laughing so hard my vision was blurred by the tears.
"I can't remember the last time I've laughed this hard," he chuckled while wiping the corner of his eye. "Neither can I," I admitted after trying to recall one of those moments to memory.
"See, you should do this more often."
"I think by the third time I'd probably get mugged, so thank you but I think I'll pass. I'll find myself another hobby."
"Yeah, you probably should. Not everyone out there is as friendly as I am." I was sure I heard the sad tone in his voice again. Poor gorgeous man, what has happened to you?
"Tell me more about that Alice-girl? She seems interesting." And again, he was changing the subject to me. I was dying to know more about him but he just succeeded to avoid it every time.
"Interesting is an understatement," I laughed. Alice had been my best friend since, well, since ever. Well, to be honest she is my only real friend. We grew up together in Forks and both moved to Seattle a few years ago to start a career. I was so thankful that she'd find a job there too. It takes back a lot of the loneliness. We spend every Friday night together, at least that was the case before she met Jasper. Don't get me wrong, Jasper is an amazing guy and they're perfect for each other, but I just miss my friend sometimes.
As soon as I finished my animated story about Alice, 'cause believe me, she is one cheerful human being, I took a chance to get to know him.
"How 'bout you? Do you have any friends out there?" I laughed. And it was only until then I realized how stupid my question was. If he would have any friends, he probably wouldn't be walking on the side of the road in the pouring rain on a Sunday evening. Stupid, Bella, stupid stupid stupid.
"I used to," he admitted softly, "but they weren't real friends." Again I felt a feeling of sadness overwhelming me. I hated every one of his so called friends already. But I was glad he was talking to me about himself. I don't know why but I was intrigued by this person next to me.
"I guess you're the closest thing to a friend right now." Was that a question? Was he asking me to be his friend? At which point do you consider someone a friend? Well, he did already know more than half of my life, but I knew nothing about him.
He must have noticed that his reply had left me thinking. "Don't worry, I'm not gonna ask you for anything now. It was another way of saying that I don't have any friends left."
"Oh," was all I could say. And why was I disappointed about this? God, Bella, get yourself together, will you!
After a while, I found myself in need for some fresh air. "Do you mind if I pull in for a moment? I'm literally starving and there's a gas station with little supermarket a bit further down the road."
"Sure, no problem," he said and added, "You want me to get out?"
"No!" I answer a bit too quickly. He frowned. I must be really confusing to him. I just didn't want to let him go already, not now that he finally started to talk.
"You want something too?" I asked right before getting out of my car.
"No thank you." He tried to smile but it didn't touch his eyes like last time.
While I was walking through the little shop I realized that he probably declined my request out of politeness. If he was really a vagabond and didn't have any money, he probably wouldn't have had a decent meal in ages and be even more starving than I am. It's not like the area had a homeless shelter or anything.
I decided to buy two extra sandwiches. If he didn't want them, I could always throw them away, but I doubted that he would let me.
Relieved that he was still in my car, I took my seat again. Yes, I might have been afraid that he would have taken off while I was paying for the food. I immediately offered him a sandwich.
"I told you I didn't need anything," he said confused.
"Yeah, well, I don't like to eat alone, it makes me too aware, so please take it." It's wasn't a complete lie. I didn't like to be watched while I was eating.
Finally he accepted the piece of bread and I swear I've never seen a man eating that fast in my entire life.
"This was good," he said after swallowing the last piece. I immediately offered him the other one. "Oh no, thank you. I don't want to deprive you of your food," he said politely but I could see the longing in his eyes for the second sandwich.
"It's okay to admit that you're hungry." I knew I was taking a risk by saying this but I really didn't want him to decline out of politeness. If he was hungry, he should eat.
He diverted his eyes of me and stared at his hands in his lap. "I'm used to it by now, I guess," he quietly admitted.
If I didn't feel bad for him by now those last words would have definitely made me cross that line.
"Please take it." I offered him the sandwich again. "I have another one in my bag, so it's no big deal."
I let go a sigh of relief when he at last took the second piece. He seemed to take more time to eat this one. It was like he was cherishing every bite of it. I wanted to ask how long it had been since he had had any decent meal, but I found myself afraid for the answer.
While he was finishing his bread, I cautiously took a look at his clothes. His pair of jeans was completely worn and the dark green jacket he was wearing seemed way too big for him, but I guess it was warm.
As I drove into Seattle I was feeling sad that I would almost have to let him go. I still had so many questions but I doubted that he would want to answer any of it.
I didn't know where to drop him off, so I decided to just drive to my apartment and let him out there. I started the wonder if I could pull off driving a few detours to get to know more about him, but then I realized than once he got out of my car, I'd never see him again, so maybe in the end, it would be better if I didn't know.
I parked my car outside my building on my usual spot and got out. He was already out and looking at my building.
"You live here?" he asked.
"Yes. I've recently moved here. It's pretty okay, but I have problems with calling it home." Forks would always be my home, I guess. I felt too lonely here to call it home. Well, at least I had a place where I could spend the night. I looked at Edward and instantly felt bad again. How could I be so cynical about my own place if he didn't even have somewhere to go? Would it be weird if I asked him in? I found myself in a position I didn't know how to deal with. Oh god, what had I gotten myself into?
Thank you for reading :)
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