What? So yeah, this got written in like two hours when I couldn't sleep at 4am this morning and I just decided to post it on a whim. This was written really fast and hasn't been betaed, so mistakes are mine and bear with me.
I approach him from behind, calm and quietly, taking precise care to not startle him, as if he's some kind of wild animal. Actually, right now, he kind of is.
Edward Cullen is sitting on the outer wall of the castle, legs over the side as if there's not a fifty-foot drop below him. For a second, I worry that he maybe contemplating doing something terrible like jumping, but then I notice that his knees hugs the curve of the wall beneath him and his butt is very far inward. He's not going to jump; he's just sitting.
As quiet as I am, my shoes still make a scraping noise against the stone ground of the castle and he notices, jerking around so quickly, I almost want to yell "be careful!" until I remember how securely he's seated.
He's frowning—and I nearly kick myself in this observation. Of course, he's frowning. He's just been through the worst day of his life. I have to say, though, in a completely objective manner, he is extremely attractive. The man has been through hell, but you'd hardly know it from looking at him.
"If you're here to tell me that I'm going to be okay or it's going to be alright or that she had her reasons for doing what she did, and that in time, this will all make sense, you can fuck off," he says. I am kind of delighted by his brusque honesty; the past few days have been so full of false niceties, and untrue celebrations. Edward's anger is the most truthful thing I've seen a while.
So I give him that honesty right back. "No," I reply, shaking my head. "I wouldn't say any of that. I met you like, three days ago, I have no idea if you're going to be okay and I can't imagine that you're okay right now. I don't know if it's going to be alright because what just happened affects you the most, but unfortunately it happened in front of two hundred other people so it's bound to affect them too. And I don't care what her reasons are—she's not really anyone to me; I just came here with a friend who knows her. But whatever they are, I'm not quite sure how she's going to justify leaving you at the altar when any moment of any day that you guys have been together, she could have prevented this. And if this all makes sense, then I prefer nonsense."
His lips quirk up and then down, as he meant to smile and then decided to fight it. "You can stay."
"Good," I say. "Scoot your ass over, you're sitting in my spot."
"Your spot?" he asks, eyebrows raised, even as he (carefully, I notice) moves over.
"Yeah. I've been roaming the castle quite a lot. How else am I going to the pass the time? This whole wedding has been boring as hell," I tell him as I sit. "No offense."
He gives me a look, and I have to say, with that complete objectiveness I'm so good at, that he really works a jaw clench well. "Why the hell would I take offense?"
"Good point. Then you won't mind me telling you that I really just came to this wedding with Jacob because I had another friend in town that I really didn't want to see and Jake offered to pay for my ticket and my own hotel room in Scotland. When am I going to get a deal like that?"
He laughs and then groans. "Shit, shit, shit. My dad must be freaking out. This thing cost so much money and I didn't even fucking get married."
I smile. "Your dad is Carlisle, right? Tall, DILF-y type, wearing a tuxedo almost exactly like yours, except with a tie instead of a bowtie?"
He nods and then grimaces. "Fuck you for calling my dad a DILF."
"Don't blame me, blame your dad for being so bangable at his age."
He covers his ears with his hands and starts singing, "La la la, I can't hear you."
I tug his arm down, noticing he's still got his tux on, though the jacket has been tossed off next to him. His bow tie is undone, and his sleeves are rolled up. He's got nice forearms, strong, a little tan, smooth on the underside and a respectable, but not gross amount of arm hair. And he's got really nice hands; a slim palm, and long fingers that are a little on the thick side. No knuckle hair either, which is really rare and equally attractive. "Your dad's actually doing okay," I tell Edward. "He's more worried that you'll be okay."
Edward nods. "Yeah, I told him I needed some time. And he and my mom are trying to change my flight so we can get back to Seattle tomorrow and I don't have to stay in this goddamn, cold-ass Scottish castle."
I nod. "I know. Have they not heard of summer here? It's June and it's freezing." I rub my arms because it is cold and he hands me his tux jacket. It feels weird, putting it on, because it just reminds me that the guy next to me was supposed to get married today but I don't think about it too hard.
"So uh…" he says, shifting a little uncomfortably. "Who are you again?"
I laugh. "Bella Swan. I'm a guest of Jacob Black's, who works with—"
"Don't say her name," he interrupts. "Just don't. Please."
"Well yeah. Jake works with her. That thing you almost married. Species weddingus intteruptus, genus bitchus."
He starts laughing, shaking his head form side to side. "Wow… I mean, am I terrible person for really enjoying that you just called her that?"
I shrug. "It would make me an even worse person for saying that so, I'll go with… no. Not at all. We're both stand up people, compared to some others. I mean, raise your hand if you left someone at the altar." I look around as if there are more people with us. "See? No one here has done that. We're saints compared to that."
His smiles fades a bit. "The worst part is… what she did? I wanted to do it. I was going to do it, except I was going to be a hell of a lot more discreet about it. I went to bed last night, just sure, fucking positive that this was a mistake. That I'd wake up in the morning and tell her we couldn't get married. And maybe she'd cry and maybe she'd disagree, but at least I'd say it. I mean, who stays engaged for three years anyway? That's an entire year longer than we were even together before I proposed. I have no idea why this morning I just decided it was just jitters and that I should marry her." I roll my eyes. "What?" he asks.
"It's like, okay, I know that she sucks and you hate her. But you guys were together for five years. There had to be something there, and you being dishonest and just pretending there was isn't going to help you get over her or this whole thing."
He shakes his head. "I'm not saying there was never anything there. There was. There really was. In the beginning, she was so fun. I was too. We were younger and it was senior year of college and it just seemed like if I could hold on to her, I could hold on to the best time of my life. And the sex—holy shit, the sex was phenomenal. Fan—fucking—tasting. It was so hot and…" he trails off. "Sorry. Probably too much information."
I shrug. "You have a penis, therefore you act like a dick. It only makes sense."
He exhales a laugh and continues. "If we were still those people we were when we got engaged, then getting married would be a smart idea. But we aren't those people anymore, we aren't that couple. And I don't know why we just didn't acknowledge it sooner." He drops his head into his hands. "Holy shit. I owe her. I fucking owe her for doing this to me, otherwise I'd be married and miserable right now."
"Stop. You went too far," I tell him.
He looks up, slightly confused. "What?"
"I just wanted you to remember that there was a reason this all started, you and her, and a reason it ended," I say. "You don't thank her for doing this; or least, not doing it like this. Yes, it's good that one of you stopped the marriage from happening. She gets some kudos for that." And I know I'm getting really into what I'm saying because I'm waving my hands all over the place; I'm a hand-talker when I'm passionate. "And then her kudos get fucking taken away, because instead of just asking you to come into her dressing room and telling you what you both already knew, she just ran away. She ran away, Edward, leaving you to stand there and have to deal with this all by yourself and that is fucking cowardly. That is unforgivable. That—"
I would say more, probably go on a rant that would put politicians to shame but I can't. Because Edward has suddenly leaned over and is now kissing me. He's kissing me like his life depends on it and goddamn, he's a good kisser. His lips are insistent, but his tongue is gentle and I nearly whimper a bit when he gently brushes it against mine. His hands are on my face holding me to him and I know, there's a million reasons I should not be kissing him but hell, it feels really good. So I just fall into it and he opens his mouth a little more, carefully pulling my bottom lip with both of his and sucking on it till I do moan. I make this ridiculous noise but instead of putting him off, he just kisses me harder and I start wondering how difficult it would be to have sex on a castle wall with a fifty-foot drop on one side.
And as quickly as he started kissing me, he jerks away. His eyes are wide and his hair is messy—from where I guess I was running my hands through it—and he sort of dazedly touches the side of his index finger to his bottom lip. He blinks a few times, open mouthed and then clears his throat. He looks really good after he's been kissed—and I don't think I can say that's an objective opinion since I made it that way.
"I'm sorry… I… I… " he splutters. He closes his eyes and laughs, suddenly. "You know what? I'm not sorry." He opens his eyes. "I'm not. This has been a lousy day and that felt good. Kissing you felt fucking good. It's the first thing that's felt good all day. All week, maybe." Then he slides his gaze over to me. "But um, I am sorry if that was… y'know, not, um—"
I shake my head. "It was fine. I mean, it was better than fine, it was damn good," I say, and he smiles at me. I think he understands what I am saying. "But yeah. I get it. You just wanted to feel, you didn't want to become numb, the anger was eating at you, blah blah blah."
He shrugs. "I guess." I look at him sharply. "I mean, yeah, all that is part of it I'm sure, but—" he smirks. "You have a pretty mouth." I narrow my eyes at him playfully. "You do. You have a pretty mouth and I liked the things that were coming out of it—"
"So you decided you wanted to see what was in it?" I interrupt. He laughs. "You're smooth."
"I'm not." But the way he smiles proves that he knows he is.
"You are. If you can come up with a line like that about a pretty mouth when you're supposed to be heartbroken, then you're definitely smooth."
"Maybe." He shrugs. "Maybe I'm just not heartbroken."
We're silent for a few moments, staring out at the beautiful Scottish countryside below us. It's kind of surreal here; this whole trip has been such a contrast to my mundane city life. This wedding is one of those country club, air-kissing affairs, and I'm the daughter of a life-long government employee. I never really imagined I would be sitting here, in Scotland, in a castle, with someone like Edward Cullen.
"You're pretty smooth yourself," Edward says, suddenly.
I shake my head. "I'm really not. I'm just honest."
He smiles. "Yeah, you really are." He stares at me for a moment too long before looking out in front of him. "Want to take a walk?"
"A walk?" I raise my eyebrows.
He nods. "A walk. We're in a god damn castle in Scotland. We might as well see some of it."
"You know what? Yeah. Yeah, let's take a walk."
He smoothly pivots his body so his legs are on the inside of the wall and stands. He holds his hand out as I do the same, and I take it, jumping to my feet. As soon as our hands touch, I realize my objectivity is a thing of the past. His palm is cool and smooth, and his touch is like lightning when the skies are blue; surprising and rare. I stand there, my hand still in his, looking up at him, because he's so tall and I think he's feeling it, too. We both drops out hands in unison, as if stung, and he clears his throat.
"So…" he says, as we walk through the grounds. It's the first lull in the conversation and I want to blame it on the stupid, lovely feeling when our hands touched.
"Let's play a game," I suggest.
He gives me an amused, lopsided smile. "A game?"
"Yeah. Like… two truths and a lie."
"Okay, I can do that. Ladies first."
"Give me a moment to think." I smile. "Okay, here are mine: Scotland the first place I've been outside of America. I used to be a gymnast. I have a tattoo of a Led Zepellin lyric on my inner thigh. A little higher up than it probably should be."
"Holy shit," he says, kicking a pebble on the path. "I know what I want to be the lie." I laugh. "But life never works out like that, so I'm going to say that you never were a gymnast."
"Wrong. Scotland is the first place I've been outside of America." He looks at me, and his eyes dance. He is the picture of flirtation right now. "I guess life does work out sometimes."
He grins. "Yeah, I guess it does." He points to a small dock that oversees a sprawling, green-watered lake and we head in that direction. "I'll go, I guess. I go skydiving on birthday every year. I can speak three languages. And um… I got left at the altar like a loser."
I roll my eyes as we sit at the dock's edge. "Well, that's obvious. The last one is the lie."
He snorts. "You know that one's true."
"No. You editorialized it. If you just said 'I got left at the altar', then, yeah, that's the truth. I don't think you were a loser."
"Well, then I lose at this game because I also don't go sky-diving on my birthday ever year."
"But you do speak three languages?" I ask.
"English on most days, French and Italian."
"Wow." I'm genuinely impressed. And a little turned on, imagining all the things he can say with that beautiful mouth. He can say them three times over and it'll never sound the same. "You're some kind of catch."
He laughs and looks at me and when he sees there's not a trace of mockery in my words or expression, he smiles. It's so genuine and it makes him look like a little boy, unguarded and genuinely happy. I want to see him look like this more often. I want to see him look like this all the time. I think I want to see him all the time.
"What's the lyrics?" he asks.
"'Hey baby, when you walk that way, watch your honey drip, can't keep away'," I quote.
His eyes widen and his cheeks flush as his jaws hang the tiniest bit agape. I think he's a little turned on and God, it's sexy. "Seriously?"
I snort. "No. It's a little more philosophical. 'Then as it was, then again it will be. Though the course may change sometimes, rivers always reach the sea'. Sorry to disappoint."
He smiles. "I think I like that better."
We sit in silence for a few moments, until I reach down and slip off my shoes, swinging my feet so my toes skim the water. He does the same, taking off his socks and shoes. But his legs are longer, so instead of just skimming the water, his feet plunge in. He lets out a little sound of satisfaction that turns me inside out.
"Thank you, Bella," he says, looking at me. "You made a really shitty day… not so shitty."
I laugh. "High praise."
He looks down at the water, smiling to himself. He is incredibly good-looking when he's angry. With that small, sweet smile on his face, he's the best thing I've ever seen. I'm in trouble and I don't really even care. I think I like him that much. Already.
When he looks up, he's got this expression on his face that just traps me. I can't move and although I don't think he's moved any closer, the space between us feels non-existent. I feel like we're in an intimate little bubble.
"You are so…" He exhales shakily. "This was not the plan."
I know instantly what he is talking about. "The plan was to get married," I say quietly.
He nods. "The plan was to get married. But that felt so wrong and this…"
"Doesn't feel wrong?" I supply.
He chuckles. "This is a 180 from wrong. Even though it really should be."
"I don't think it feels wrong either." Then I laugh. "But I was bad-mouthing the bride, instead of being sympathetic towards my fellow female. I'm not particularly a good judge of wrong or right."
"You're kind of amazing. And totally unexpected. And you've somehow made me glad that this day even happened," he says. The look he gives me sends that feeling through me; the same one I had when we first touch hands. Lightning.
I smile. "Can I offer you that 'everything happens for a reason' now?"
He smiles again, and there it is. Those little creases around his eyes, the way his nose scrunches up a bit, the way his smile dips on the left side more than the right; I'm a goner. "You can offer me that 'everything happens for a reason'." He leans a little closer. So close that when he speaks I can feel his breath. "You can even tell me that 'it's going to be alright'."
This time, I lean in. I look right at him as I say, "It's going to be alright." He's already nodding. "Everything happens for a reason. This isn't wrong."
"Well, you just lost the game," he says, almost whispering. "Those are all truths, I think."
"You make everything feel better. I haven't felt like this in a long time. And I really want to kiss you again." He leans in so his lips brush against mine. "All truths." And then he closes the last inch of distance between us. This isn't like the first kiss we shared earlier. It's soft and gentle. He tilts his head slightly, allowing me to get closer, so I can kiss him a little harder but still it's slow and lingering. His hands slide around the back of my neck and his thumb slowly strokes my cheek. I can't help it, I let out a little sigh into his mouth. The kiss seems to last forever, just his lips and mouth and tongue moving and stroking and touching till I'm spun in cricles. The long it slowly deviates into a series of smaller ones and it's hard to stop. Each time one of us pulls away, the other just comes back for more.
"Am I going to be a rebound?" I ask against his lips.
He pulls away, shifts his body back over to his side so he's not leaning over me anymore. He stares are his hands in his lap as he speaks. "I'm… I'm a mess."
I laugh and nudge his shoulder. "I know. I've been here for the last hour of conversation. I know you're a mess."
He smiles at this. "I honestly don't know what I can promise at this point, I just… I don't even know if I should be near anyone right know. I just know I want to be near you."
"So I am a rebound."
"I guess… I mean, yeah. I'm sor—"
"Don't be sorry. I'm not. I see this as a challenge."
He raises his eyebrows. "A challenge?" His anger is still so present, it rolls to the surface in a few words. "A challenge to what? Fix my broken heart? Take the poor jilted groom and heal him?"
I snort. "You were a groom, you're not one anymore. And throw your pity party but don't invite me because I won't show up. You're not the challenge. I am the challenge. You're not damaged and I'm not fixing you. I'm just doing this. I'm ignoring all my other instincts to act on this one."
"So you don't care that I was just left at the altar?"
"No. But I care that you care that you were. And I want to make sure you know that you are charming and sweet and something like that should have never happened to you. I want to make you forget that it did."
I don't doubt that this will be difficult at times or that it might blow up in both our faces. I don't doubt that Edward will need space and time to get over his anger and his embarrassment. But he might also need a slightly potty-mouthed girl who will tell him the truth about anything and everything. One who thinks that any woman who turns him down is the biggest fool on Earth.
"So you're… we're going to do this." Even though his words are tentative, he's grinning. It's that smile, all wide and hopeful. I take it and keep it, somewhere pretty deep so I can pull it back out for the tougher times.
I smile back. "Yeah, let's. I have a feeling I'm going to be the best god damn rebound ever."
He looks at me, tilting his head slightly as if to contemplate my face from a different angle. "Yeah," he finally says, smiling slowly. "I have that feeling, too."
Thank you, M, my Lizzie for the quick read through, and thank you all for reading and being awesome. I posted a one shot for the Age of Edward contest, if you're interested in reading it, called The Dressmaker (wow, I'm great with titles.) Happy Valentines Day! I adore you all. Leave me some thoughts if you get a chance. xo.