Dedication: To GinnyW, who is, without a doubt, the father of this fic. Do you know what happens when you begin a conversation with Ginny that starts off "I've always wanted to do a wake up married in Vegas fic..." ...Well... you're about to read the result.
Disclaimer: I am merely playing in SM's driveway with her beautiful toys.
Not for the first time, it occurred to Edward Cullen that he had a flare for masochism.
What else could explain what he was still doing there - sitting alone while he tried to ignore the empty spot across from him and the remnants of a drink, nubs of ice melting into the pale tan of what used to be a long island iced tea. He distracted himself by watching as the glass sweated droplets of water that pooled on the table of one of the countless little restaurants tucked into the Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Beside him, his own glass sat untouched. She'd bought the drink, carried it over to his table as she sat across from him, and he'd tactfully ignored it as he was prone to do since he'd come of legal drinking age eleven years earlier.
What, besides a masochistic nature, could explain why he was pretending to go over his notes for the presentation he had to give tomorrow, but instead was staring at the keycard she'd placed on the table between them?
Edward wiped a hand over his eyes, rubbing tiredly, wishing he was somebody else.
A peel of laughter rang out across the room, and Edward glanced over, nearly groaning out loud when he saw that Tanya Ivanova - who had left his table and only gone as far as the restaurant's bar area - was sitting on her bar stool, her head tossed back in obvious amusement while another of their colleagues sat beside her, his grin lascivious.
Abruptly thirsty, Edward took the tumbler of watery whiskey and Coke and knocked it back in three gulps, wincing as he did.
Trying to ignore the pleasing sound of her laughter, Edward looked back down at the keycard, picking it up and rolling it between his long fingers.
Guilt roiled at the pit of his belly, and he wished like hell he wasn't as tempted as he was.
Again Tanya laughed, and Edward looked over in spite of his best efforts.
How could he not be tempted? He had known Tanya for the four years they'd been attending these bi-annual stockholders meetings. She was smart - both witty and brainy. She was unquestionably one of the most gorgeous women he'd ever laid eyes on - statuesque with strawberry blond hair, killer legs, a flawless body, and a sexy smile.
She was also very married.
Edward understood her offer. There would be no complications. Tomorrow, after the last of the speeches, his own included, he would go home to Chicago and she to her life in New York City - back to her husband whom he would never meet or have to see. There would be no torrid affair, no love letters, no drama if he were to take this key and enter her room that night. They'd always been compatible, enjoying each other's company. What she was offering was a night of pleasure - nothing more.
"Can I get you another, Sir?" the waitress asked, a friendly smile on her face as she picked up his empty tumbler and Tanya's empty glass.
"Yes," Edward said, his voice raw. As she walked away, he closed his eyes.
Behind his eyelids, his grandfather's piercing, green-eyed stare haunted him, disapproval strong in his gaze. Edward didn't even have to try to imagine what Grandfather would have to say about his lust.
It wasn't the right thing to do. No decent man would even contemplate it.
The waitress came back, setting another drink in front of him with a clunk, the ice clinking in accompaniment. Edward opened his eyes, staring down at the dark liquid for only a moment before he gulped it down, too. He screwed his eyes shut, holding his breath as the burn traveled down his throat before settling in a pool of warmth that started at the pit of his stomach and radiated outward.
Sometimes, Edward felt sick to death of being so damn decent.
Even the most pious man was not without sin, he thought petulantly. Wasn't that in the text that Grandfather so passionately revered?
And Edward knew he was a good man, a decent man. Was it so unforgivable to think he deserved a break? Was it so horrible that, for once, he wanted to go to sleep beside someone? That maybe a little physical intimacy would be nice? This was the City of Sin, after all. Whatever happened in Vegas...
Edward scrubbed the back of his neck feeling distinctly woozy. For most men his age, he wagered, two tumblers of whiskey and Coke wasn't enough to get drunk, but Edward knew he was a lightweight. That, too, was his grandfather's influence. He could count the times he'd indulged in a drink on two hands and still have enough fingers left over to keep a solid grip around his …
Bitterness crept into Edward's psyche that had nothing to do with the taste the alcohol left on his tongue.
Both of his younger brothers had been introduced to alcohol before their 18th birthdays, in the safety of their own home, under their parents' supervision. Their parents believed in letting their sons test boundaries in a safe environment.
But Edward hadn't been raised by his modern-thinking parents. He'd been raised by his strict, closed-minded grandfather, and his guilt - both at his adulterous thoughts and his indulgence in a couple drinks - was beginning to tear at him with the viciousness of a hungry lion.
Quickly, Edward stood, shoving his folder and his laptop into his bag. He swayed on his feet, but managed to remain upright as he threw down enough money to cover the bill with a generous tip, and headed for the exit. He stopped only at the front desk, mumbling that someone had dropped their keycard, before he ventured out into the Las Vegas night.
Once he was outside, he felt a little better. At least he didn't feel as stifled as he had in the confines of the restaurant. Still, the air around him was heavy with the oppressive heat of the desert. It wasn't dark enough yet to have cooled off.
Edward joined the flow of people walking the strip, his hands deep in his pockets and his laptop bag bouncing haphazardly against his thigh. He glanced up briefly when the crowd drew a collective breath and mentally appreciated the beauty of the waters dancing in front of the Bellagio, but continued on until he got to Treasure Island.
There, he stopped, staring out over the water to the volcano that erupted every 15 minutes. This was much more suited to his mood, he thought darkly. Fire, lava and a rumble like thunder.
He rubbed his eyes again, laughing at himself. He was definitely feeling the effects of the alcohol. Apparently, he'd be an angry drunk.
For a few minutes he stood still, just staring at the rippling water below the volcano, trying not to think of much of anything which, he discovered quickly, was actually easier than he would have thought thanks to the whiskey in his system.
It took him a long while to separate an odd sound that didn't quite fit in with the happy chatter of the white noise all around him.
Someone was crying.
Curious and a little unnerved, Edward looked around. The sound was intermittent, so it took his addled mind a few minutes to fit actions to sound.
Not very far from where he leaned against the railing, a woman - a girl, really - sat alone on a bench. It was obvious she was trying not to cry and failing quite thoroughly. Every time she would wipe away her tears they would just start again fresh.
Edward's heart twisted as he looked at her. Her shoulders were hunched inward, her long, pretty brown hair falling like a curtain in front of her face when she bowed her head, giving in to her tears.
Saddened by her sadness, Edward found himself walking - well, if he was being honest, half stumbling - to her side. "Hello," he said, pleased when the word wasn't garbled. "Can I sit down?"
Her head snapped up, her brown eyes wide with surprise and a little fear. She shrank back slightly but bit her lip and nodded, scooting to the far edge of the bench. "I don't own the bench. It's a free country," she murmured, her voice shaky.
She continued to wipe at her eyes, breathing deep to calm herself.
"Are you okay?" he asked and immediately wanted to roll his eyes. What a stupid question. Obviously, this girl wasn't okay.
She answered that she was fine anyway.
"That's not true," he countered softly, folding his hands on his lap to keep from helping her wipe her tears away.
A tinge of annoyance flashed through her eyes. "What's it to you, anyway?"
"Free country," he reminded her gently. "I can be concerned if I want to be."
She seemed to slump further then. "Yeah. I'm sorry. I know I must look like a crazy person, just sitting here crying."
"Lost big at the craps tables, did you?"
At that, she cracked a small smile, but it quickly wavered. "No," she answered unsteadily.
He wasn't sure what else to say then, and she didn't seem to be in a hurry to offer.
Before the silence could get awkward, her stomach growled loudly enough that he could hear it despite the bustle all around them. She wrapped her arms around her midsection, blushing in embarrassment.
"Hey. I'm hungry, too," he lied. "How about you join me for dinner? I could use the company."
She looked at him, surprised and dubious.
Quickly, he held up his hands. "I'm not trying to be a creep. You're hungry. I'm hungry. There's food … and plenty of people... all around us. That's all there is to it."
For a second, it seemed like she was about to refuse, but then her stomach growled again.
"Okay," she said finally.
Her acceptance made him unreasonably happy. "I'm Edward, by the way. Edward Cullen."
"Bella Swan," she responded back, not offering her hand or looking up to see that he'd offered his.
They walked in silence into Treasure Island. He pointed out the nearest restaurant, and she just nodded. By the time they were seated across from one another, she still hadn't said a word.
So Edward was content to watch her, wondering what he was doing with this sad, quiet stranger. The way she held herself made him automatically nervous. It seemed like she was ready to bolt, her movements, even as she sat studying the menu, skittish and on edge. She didn't look at him, but at least she'd stopped crying.
As she looked down at the menu, a deep v appeared between her eyebrows, and she bit down on her lip.
"It's my treat," Edward offered when he realized she was glaring at the prices.
She finally looked up, shaking her head vehemently. "No. Thank you, but no."
"I dragged you here, after all," he reasoned. "It's really the least I can do to thank you for keeping me company."
At first, he was sure she was going to refuse, but her stomach growled insistently and she slumped again, looking so terribly defeated that he had the urge to take it all back. "Fine. Thank you. I appreciate it," she said in a small voice, sounding ashamed.
The waiter came and they ordered. Edward noticed she got the most inexpensive thing on the menu.
"You should let me buy you a drink," he said, not really thinking before he spoke. "You look like you could use a stiff drink."
"I can't drink," she said, her voice no more than a breath.
He was about to ask if she was even old enough when, inexplicably, her lower lip began to tremble, and she leaned forward, her head in her hands.
"I'm pregnant," she admitted, her voice wavering so badly that Edward thought for a long moment he must have misunderstood.
Not quite knowing what else to do, Edward turned to the waiter who looked about as bewildered as he felt. "Can I get a whiskey and coke? For me?"
Edward groaned when consciousness came to him.
He felt terrible.
First of all, he was quite sure that a mouse or some other fuzzy creature had died and was decomposing in his mouth.
Secondly, despite the fact his eyes were closed, whatever light was shining on him was still far too bright, sending needle sharp pain stabbing through his head.
Thirdly... what in the name of all that was holy was that noise?
It took him a minute to remember how to open his eyes, and when he did, it took him another minute to comprehend that he wasn't dreaming.
The night before, he'd fervently wished that he wouldn't have to return alone to his hotel room to spend another long, lonely night.
Wish granted - he was most definitely not alone.
Sitting on the sofa across the room, her legs folded up to her chin, was the tearful stranger he'd met last night. What was her name? Bella.
She was crying again.
Edward wracked his brain, horrified, but for the life of him he could not remember how he ended up with this sad, scared, pregnant stranger in his hotel room.
A/N: And so it begins.
Thank you, of course, to Ginny W... who is spoiled. And lovely. Also much love to barburella and jfka06.
This fic won't begin to update steadily until Do The Right Thing is done... which will be within the next two weeks. Until then... thoughts? Guesses? Hopes? Dreams?
Who's the father of Bella's baby?