DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT OWN TWILIGHT
AN: This is just a little diddy Les16 and I wrote for Rtgirl for her birthday!
Happy Birthday sweets! We love you!
Beta'd and Banner by MedusainNY our hero! XO
"Isabella Marie, I am not going to tell you again! Get. Up! I need to have the van loaded in less than an hour so that we can get to the park and set up, so move it!" Renée Swan hollered up the stairs at her daughter.
To say that Bella was a morning person would be like saying Charlie Swan's favorite baseball team was the New York Yankee's … both bold-faced lies, but whether she was or wasn't didn't matter this morning. Today was make or break day for Swan's Specialties, and there wasn't any room for error. After working as a pre-school teacher since Bella had been in diapers, Renée finally decided to take the plunge and follow a dream she'd had for as long as she could remember. Bella was going to be graduating high school next year, Charlie was getting closer to cutting back on his hours as the Chief of Police in their tiny town of Apple Springs, and she was ready for a change. It was scary, it was exhilarating, and if her daughter didn't move it, Renée would need a wig because she was about this close to pulling out all of her hair.
Charlie snorted from behind his paper, and folded down the corner so he could look at the woman that had him wrapped around her finger from the time they were sharing root beer floats at Sonic on Friday nights after the football game.
"Better make sure you turn that frown into a smile. Don't want to be giving those Cullens the wrong idea now, do ya?"
"Oh hush, you." Renée waved off her husband's orneriness. "You know instead of just sitting there, you could be a nice Southern gentleman and help out a lady. Mama Swan would tan your hide if I told her you didn't lift a finger and made me carry all those heavy boxes myself."
"Yes, dear," Charlie answered his wife in the only way appropriate for any self-respecting southerner.
By the time the van was loaded and Renée had checked and triple-checked her list, Bella was ready to go. Dressed in a red gingham sundress and her favorite pair of brown, soft, and well-worn cowboy boots, she looked every bit the seventeen-year-old she was. And as any typical teenager, working with her mom on a Sunday afternoon wasn't her idea of fun. Even if it did mean she got a chance to see Edward Cullen.
His family had moved to Apple Springs just after Christmas. His dad was the new head of the hospital, taking over for old Dr. Gerandy when he retired. The picnic was Dr. Cullen's way of thanking all the staff and their families for the warm welcome he'd received when he arrived. When Renée was approached by Dr. Cullen's wife, Esme, about catering the event, Renée had thought she'd died and gone to meet her maker … of course that was after asking the charming Mrs. Cullen if she'd called the right person in the first place.
It was the first warm spell of the year and the day was shaping up to be a scorcher. Bella looked down at her pale arms as she walked down the steps of her wide front porch and then turned around and ran inside to get some sunscreen. Born and raised in Texas and she still couldn't manage to be out in the sun for any length of time without turning into a lobster if she didn't slather herself with protection first.
It was so not fair, but such was life sometimes.
Renée chattered nervously as she drove the packed to the gills catering van toward the park on the edge of town. Bella hmmm'd and nodded just enough so that her mom wouldn't notice that she wasn't paying a lick of attention. Nope, not one iota. Renée could've told her that Jerry Jones was moving the Dallas Cowboys out of Texas and she wouldn't have heard her. No siree, Bob. The only thing on Bella's mind was one Edward Cullen.
There wasn't anyone else like him in Apple Springs and she wasn't at all sure how to deal with that. She'd been friends with boys all her life. Growing up in a small town meant you were pretty much friends with everyone; you had to be. You went to school together, church together, saw the same people at the fish fry on Friday nights and at the annual 4th of July picnic. It was just the way it was until, every now and then, someone new would come to town and rock your world … exactly like Edward had done to Bella.
Over the past few months they'd sorta, kinda become friends. It wasn't like they hung out on the weekends or ate at the same table at lunch or anything, but they waved in the hallway when they passed each other and sat with the same group of people at the baseball games. In fact at the game just the night before last, Bella would swear on her favorite boots that Edward had touched her elbow while they'd been sitting next to each other. It was just a brief sensation, there and then gone faster than she could take a breath, but it left her slightly off-kilter for the rest of night. During the game she'd peeked at him out of the corner of her eye. Sometimes he looked back, sometimes he didn't, but it was enough that today she was full of butterflies at the thought of seeing him.
Once they arrived at the park, Bella didn't have anymore time to think of Edward. Her mama had her hopping around faster than a grasshopper laying out tablecloths, filling pitchers with ice for the lemonade and iced tea, and making sure that the strawberries were all cut for the strawberry shortcake. She was trying to hurry while at the same time hoping she didn't slice her finger off when a shadow fell across her arm, making that aforementioned worry almost a reality. She bobbled the knife and then mumbled a not so nice word under her breath as she bent down to pick it up.
Edward wanted to chuckle at her reaction but froze in place when he got a glimpse down the top of Bella's cute dress. He tried not to look, he really did, but like a normal All-American boy who loved his mama and apple pie, he couldn't help himself.
"Oh!" Bella squeaked when she popped up from behind the table.
This time he did chuckle, but only because if he didn't he was liable to reach right across the table and lay a kiss right there on her pretty pink lips. Lord have mercy, he wanted to. He'd thought about little else since he first met her, but for some reason every time he tried to talk to her, he was convinced he'd sound too ridiculous. He knew she'd be here today, in fact he wore his best pair of boots and a new Polo shirt he'd saved just for this occasion. It was blue, because he knew it was her favorite color.
"Hey, Bella," Edward said slowly and with a lazy smile, hoping that the pulse he could see beating wildly in her neck was because of him … that she was as happy to see him as he was her.
The pink on the apple of her cheeks kind of made him think so.
"Sorry I startled you. You didn't cut yourself did you?" He reached across the table and took her hand in his without thinking. The moment he held her soft, warm hand with the uneven fingernails painted a shimmery clear and dotted with glitter, he felt his heart leap out of his chest and run for cover. I'm holding Bella Swan's hand, he shouted to himself; he might have even done the Running Man in his mind, too.
"Uh, ummm... no," Bella said breathily. Edward Cullen is holding my hand, she squealed, silently. "I'm just clumsy sometimes."
Edward sighed, then coughed, hoping that she didn't notice. He thought she was the greatest girl ever, even if she was kind of a klutz sometimes. Not that he'd ever tell her. "No, it was totally my fault. I shouldn't have scared you like that."
Bella wasn't sure what to do with herself. She felt awkward, like her arms didn't belong to her body. She had no idea why being near him made her so jittery, but she wished she could stop. He'd think she was some kind of spaz.
"So …" she said, holding onto the knife for dear life. She had no idea what to say to the boy who had taken up all the space in her daydreams. He looked so handsome in blue, it made his bright green eyes sparkle, but she didn't dare say that out loud. She also noticed that he was wearing his black boots-boots that had caught her attention more than a few times.
"So, your mom is a caterer?" Edward wanted to smack himself in the forehead. Obviously her mom was the caterer, that was why she was there.
"Um, yeah," Bella said, nodding and looking back at the strawberries she still had to slice. "I better get this done. She's going to be on me to finish."
Edward didn't want to let go of her hand. It was soft, delicate, and he'd wanted to hold it since the first day at school, but she looked anxious to get back to work, so he let his hand slip away from hers, shoving it in his pocket like a keepsake.
"Edward, honey! Come on over here. I want you to meet the Stanleys."
He loved his mama, but she had about the worst timing ever. He could care less about the Stanleys, or anybody else for that matter. He wanted to plop down on the wooden bench next to Bella and watch her cut fruit for the rest of the day. Wherever she was going to be, that's where he wanted to be, too.
Bella felt a twinge of disappointment when she heard Mrs. Cullen call Edward away. She felt like they were breaking some ice, getting a chance to really talk for once. She knew he was there with his family, though, and she was just one of the worker bees. It didn't mean she had to like it.
"You better get moving. I see your mama's getting impatient."
Mrs. Cullen was waving him over frantically, her arm looking like a propeller. She was an awful pretty lady, long soft hair the same color as Edward's, and a warm, friendly smile. Bella couldn't help but notice that she was standing with Jessica and her parents and sniffed her nose. She didn't dislike Jessica, but she certainly didn't like her. She was a goody-goody, and she thought her stuff was all that and a bag of chips. What really bothered Bella was the fact that she knew Jessica had a crush on Edward, too. In fact, the whole school knew about it.
She turned back to the work at hand, disappointed. Edward wasn't sure what to do. He couldn't ignore his mama, she'd whip his behind if he was rude to her new friends, but he really, really wanted to hang out with Bella.
"I'll be right back. You going to be around?" He could only hope. He'd hurry as fast as was polite to get back to her.
She didn't know what to say. On one hand, she would be around, but on the other, she knew her mom needed her. There were a lot of people there and she had a feeling her mom had bitten off more than she could chew.
"I'll be around."
Edward smiled, triumphant. He gave her a nod, wishing he could just pull her into his arms and hug the life out of her. It wasn't going to happen, but damn if he didn't wish it would. Before he decided to just wrap his arms around her and drag her away, he gave her a nod and turned to walk toward his mom.
He knew it was going to be a day full of phony smiles and he was prepared. He'd been given the run down all the way to the park. It was important to his parents for him to look like a respectable young man, well-bred and polite, so he did his best to represent the Cullen name.
Throughout the day, he found himself scanning the crowd for Bella. She was busy helping her mom, but more than a few times, he'd caught her looking for him, too. Her sweet, bashful smile made his toes curl up in his boots. She was surely the most adorable thing he'd ever laid eyes on.
Bella was beat, but she didn't dare take a moment to rest. She tried to keep herself busy, just so that she wouldn't go crazy wondering about Edward. She'd seen him looking around from across the park several times, and almost bit her tongue clean off when he'd caught her staring. She couldn't help herself. He was something else to look at. Her eyes were drawn to him wherever he went, but she didn't want him thinking she was some kind of stalker.
So, she made herself useful and kept her mom happy. Renée couldn't have been higher on cloud nine. Her dream was being fulfilled, and that made Bella happy, even though she'd much rather have spent the day finding out Edward's favorite flavor of ice cream, or what he liked on his pizza. Silly things like that were important to her. She wanted to know everything about the beautiful boy with the sage green eyes.
Edward was relieved when the party started to thin out. He had a plan stewing in his head. He'd had all day to work his way toward it, and to get his confidence up. He was going to kiss Bella Swan before the end of the day. He'd talked himself into it at least twice, but chickened out. After asking Bella three or four times for a refill on lemonade-which so happened to be his least favorite thing to drink, he decided to wait until they didn't have an audience.
Before he lost his nerve again, he threw his paper cup in the nearest trash can, squared his shoulders, and marched over to where she was packing up plates and napkins. Her back was to him and he couldn't help but appreciate how well she wore that little sundress. He could only see a sliver of skin on her legs between the hem of her skirt and her cowboy boots, but he was a teenage boy ... it was perfectly normal to think about a pretty girl's skin.
She was humming to herself as she neatly packed the plates in the box, and he was afraid of sneaking up on her again. This time, he cleared his throat to get her attention. He waited … and waited, and finally lost his patience and tapped her on the shoulder.
She jumped back, turning and pulling a pair of ear buds from her ears. Her cheeks were pink and her eyes were wide. Lord have mercy, she was so pretty.
"I'm sorry," he blurted out. "I didn't mean to scare you again."
Bella held her hand over her heart and took a deep breath. The boy had a funny habit of sneaking up on her. She was glad he was there, she just wished she didn't end up looking like a skittish cat all the time.
"I just didn't hear you. I was listening to music."
He smiled. She really was a funny girl. He couldn't help himself anymore, so he just went for it.
"Will you come with me somewhere?"
Bella immediately nodded. Sure thing she'd go with him, especially since he was holding out his hand for her to take. She'd thought about the way it felt when he touched her earlier and as soon as he closed his fingers around hers, she let out a soft sigh.
They walked swiftly toward a wooded area just past the baseball diamond. She was a little nervous about going off that far, but she trusted him. Edward was a nice boy; she didn't have to worry about any funny business with him.
Edward wanted to skip. He wanted to just hop into a skip like a damn fool as he dragged Bella toward the woods. He wanted to go somewhere where he could be himself, away from the eyes of everyone in town. He was sure his mama would have a few words with him if she caught him kissing Bella Swan in front of God and everyone. He didn't want to share that moment with anyone anyway. He wanted it to be just the two of them.
Bella was trying to take a few deep breaths as Edward led her toward the edge of the park, but her heart didn't want to cooperate. She wasn't stupid; she knew he wouldn't hurt her and she kinda had an idea that maybe he might want to kiss her. She sure hoped, anyway. It wouldn't be her first kiss. That dubious distinction belonged to BillyBob Johnson. It had happened in the seventh grade during a game of Truth or Dare in Katybeth Wilson's basement and it was something that she tried hard not to think about.
She thought about fluffing her hair or wishing she had put on fresh Chapstick at the very least as they walked, but the moment they stopped behind a Mesquite tree there was nothing but him.
Edward turned and looked at her, holding her hand even tighter in his own. Now that he had her there, all alone, he had no idea what to do. His heart was beating so fast it was like a racehorse galloping around a racetrack and he could feel a bead of sweat drip down his side. He licked his lips as he stared at hers and wondered if they tasted like strawberries or maybe even lemons from all the lemonade she'd had to drink. He didn't figure he'd mind lemons so much then if they did.
"Hi," he whispered, his voice hoarse and a bit shaky.
The smile he gave her though went straight down to her toes. It was a good thing he was holding her hand because her knees were so rubbery she was sure she was going to fall over.
He was so handsome.
"Hi," she whispered back.
Edward didn't want to talk anymore. He wanted to kiss her. He was tired of hemming and hawing and beating around the bush, damn it. Pushing his nerves down as far as they would go, he let go of Bella's hand and gripped her tiny waist in his hands. It was impossible to ignore the way she felt. He was sure it would be something he revisited at a later time, most likely when he was lying in his bed at home, but he didn't have time for it now. He had lips that needed kissing.
Bella let out a squeak the second Edward's hands were on her and she felt heat spread everywhere like liquid fire. She was too shocked to realize what he was doing until she felt the hard, rough bark of the tree beneath her thighs. He'd lifted her up and placed her on a branch so that she was at the perfect height to look him in the eyes.
Wasting no time now that he had her where he wanted her, he reached out and cupped her sun-warmed cheeks with his hands.
"I'm going to kiss you now, Bella Swan," he told her right before he leaned forward and pressed his lips against hers.
He held her, rubbing his thumbs back and forth, while his tongue gently prodded her lips until she opened her mouth just enough for him to slip his tongue inside.
The second Bella felt the warmth of his lips on hers her mind exploded, bursts of fireworks in every color under the rainbow flashing bright behind her closed eyelids. She'd never felt anything like it and she was positive there wasn't anything better in the whole wide world than kissing Edward Cullen.
She lifted her hands and placed them on his shoulders, holding onto him for all she was worth. She was sure she never wanted to let him go.
Hours later, though it was only minutes in reality, he pecked her lips once, then twice before resting his forehead against hers.
"Wow." It was all Bella could think to say but it said everything.
He smiled at her, one that lit up his eyes and made her stomach do flips that would make an Olympic gymnast jealous.
"I've wanted to do that for months." He laughed a bit nervously at the admission, but didn't regret it in the least. As far as first kisses went, he didn't figure there were any other two people that had one quite like that.
"We're going to do that again soon aren't we?" Bella giggled, a little shocked by her forwardness … but she'd just kissed Edward Cullen! Who could blame a girl for wanting to do that again?
He smirked at her, wicked and cocky, and tilted his head. "Guess that depends on if you're going to be my girlfriend now or not."