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Story - Venture
He'd already changed a little.
Or maybe this was what he was really like, when he wasn't in travel mode. The hoodie and jeans he'd worn during our time together had been replaced by cargo shorts and a t shirt. His hair was slightly darker.
"Because I'm not in the sun quite as much," he explained when I commented on it, touching it. "Back in Phoenix I work outside, with my Dad."
"Are you going back?" I asked, flagging down a cab idling on the curb.
He shrugged. "Don't know yet. Maybe. Agh, it's just...there are a lot of things pulling at me right now, you know?"
Biting my lip, I nodded. I supposed now I was one of those things. Pulling. Needing.
"I mean, I know what I want to do, but...I just have to figure out what's best."
We got in to the cab, and I gave the driver my address.
"What do you want to do?" I asked, turning to Edward as we started moving.
"Be here with you."
I rolled my eyes, but I was totally blushing, too. "Come on."
"I'm serious," he chuckled. "I really want to be here. With you. I have an uncle and aunt who live over on Mercer Island..."
"Really? So you have family here," I mused, sitting back. "You didn't tell me that."
"Didn't think about it, I guess."
"Well, that's cool."
"Yeah...I'll probably go visit them at some point, too. My Aunt Esme was pretty excited when she found out I'd be in the Northwest."
"How long will you be here?" I asked, my stomach already tensing with the thought of him eventually leaving again.
"I don't know yet," he said, his eyes intense in the morning sun. "I've never been this directionless. It's kinda weird."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"My whole life has always been planned out. Not knowing my next move is a little disconcerting."
I nodded, knowing how he felt. During our bus trip, he'd told me all about how he'd taken college courses during high school, and then summer courses during college so that he could finish early. He'd initially wanted to go in to architecture, like his father, but then wander-lust had kicked in. The urge to not be so serious all the time kicked in. He'd partied all summer, and when Lauren had given him a way out of Phoenix, he'd been unable to resist accepting it.
I wondered what, if anything, had changed since our conversation two weeks ago.
"Well, do you still want to go in to business with your father?"
"Don't know. He's kind of being a dick about it. You know. My older brother is the successful one, and he expects nothing less from me."
"And he shouldn't," I said. "But your success needs to be on your terms."
"He'll get over it. I think he's just...a little disappointed. He always envisioned us doing this together, and I was always so interested in it as a kid. But he's cool. Supportive. You know?"
I nodded. My father, Charlie, was the same way. He'd always been behind what I wanted to do, even when that meant flying to Florida to spend the summer with Rose and then busing back to live with Alice. My mother was a little more nervous for me, which was funny because normally she tended to be the flightier of the two, but she'd been pretty cool too.
We quieted as the cab pulled over, pausing in front of Alice's building. She had off campus housing this year, but we were still pretty near school. I paid our fare before Edward could get any ideas and slid out.
"So this is it, huh?" he asked, gazing up at the trees. I looked up, too, seeing what he saw. The apartment building we lived in wasn't fancy, but it was really nice and cozy. Alice worked as much as she could to supplement her income, but her parents had always done well for themselves back home. Finances had never been an issue for them, and the apartment Alice lived in reflected that.
"Yup. The home base." I smiled, took his hand, and led him inside.
"Living room...kitchen's over there...our bathroom...that door's Alice's room...and this...is me." I stood aside so he could walk in. My room was a lot healthier looking now that I'd settled in. My bed was made and decked out with pillows and throws, and I'd hung curtains in the windows. My books, which Renee had sent, lined my shelf, courtesy of last week's garage sale.
Pictures freckled the room; framed, on a bulletin board, beside my bed. Edward walked over to my nightstand (curbside refuse turned treasure) and picked up a small strip of photos I had there.
He smiled, running his finger down it.
"I was surprised you remembered to send them," I said, blushing at how transparent I was. Not only did I wear my feelings on the outside, but there were other hints of our relationship...or whatever it was...as well. Like the postcards I'd tacked to my bulletin board, right next to the bus ticket stub.
"I didn't want you to think I'd forgotten," he said. "Can I...?" He dropped his bag and nodded toward the bed.
"Yeah, of course." I toed my shoes off and joined him, sitting just across the bed.
"So. What's happened since we last saw each other?" I asked, curious about Portland. I knew a couple of things form our texts and the couple of calls we'd shared, but it was surface stuff, like parties they'd gone to, or the weather.
He sighed, dropping his head to his hands. "I don't know, man."
My heart sank, but I had a feeling I knew what was going on. "Not what you expected?"
"You could say that." He frowned, picking at his shorts. "I...we've always been tight. You know? I mean, her sister used to go out with my brother, but I never saw her like that, and I...never led her on or anything."
"So...she wants more than friendship, I take it."
He nodded. "My second night there we went to this club downtown and she got a little drunk. Tried to kiss me."
I swallowed and looked down, my cheeks flaming.
"I didn't let her, Bella. Anyway, it's been pretty awkward ever since and then when I mentioned I might be starting something with this girl down in Seattle, she kind of just shut down. We didn't even go to the beach like we were supposed to." He poked my leg, and I looked up at him. It was obvious that he felt kind of sheepish about the whole thing. "We talked things out. I mean, we're friends, you know? But I don't think staying with her is gonna work. Not if she has feelings."
"What are you going to do?"
He shrugged. "It would be easy enough to get a place of my own down there...or I might go home. I don't know. I'm telling you, I feel like a ship without a rudder."
"You'll figure it out. We'll figure it out...together," I said, moving closer. Every part of me itched to touch him, to be close again. Our days apart had created a buffer, but I knew that once we kissed, it would be like before. "In the meantime, let's just...chill. I don't want you to be stressed out."
"I don't want me to be stressed out, either," he said, his eyes raking down my body as he yanked me closer.
I rose to my knees and pushed him back so that he was propped against my pillows, and then eased on to him. He needed no instruction; he wrapped his arms around my hips and waist and brought me in, squeezing tightly.
"Crazy how much I missed you," he mumbled. "I was beginning to wonder if I'd made some of it up but then I saw you and I knew..."
I curved down, sliding my fingers in to his hair and kissing him. "Me too."
We kissed until I heard a key in the lock out front. "That's Alice," I whispered, resting my chin on his head. "She really wants to meet you."
"Yeah?" He had this slightly dazed look on his face, his hair all messy from making out.
"Mhm." I bit my lip, wiping a smudge of tinted lip gloss from his cheek.
We stared at each other, smiling a little goofily, until finally he cleared his throat.
"Cool." He nudged me off of his lap and readjusted himself, smirking. "This'll be fun."
"Shh," I laughed, hauling him up. "Just try not to think about it..."
"Thanks for the boner advice, Bella," he snorted.
Alice was in the kitchen, looking through the mail. She peeked up as we approached, but her casual act didn't fool me. I knew she was just dying to say something.
"Hey, Ali, this is Edward. Edward, meet Alice. We've been friends since...since forever."
"I'm so happy you could make it down," she said right away, smiling this really sparkly smile.
"Nice to meet you, too," Edward chuckled, nodding. "Thanks for letting me stay."
"Oh, pfft." Alice waved him off. "Stay as long as you want; whatever. It's cool. Hey, you guys hungry? I'm famished."
"I am," I said.
"We can probably pick up some stuff from work, Bella. You know Nahuel and Maggie will hook it up like always."
"Sure." I nodded, glancing at Edward. "We can get a load of stuff from the place where we work. Soups, sandwiches, stuff like that. That cool with you?"
"Definitely." He let go of my hand. "I haven't eaten all day. Let me go grab my phone."
We spent the rest of the day with Alice, eating at our restaurant and then taking him on a driving tour of downtown Seattle. She had a car, so it made our sightseeing that much easier. The cool thing was, too, that Edward and Alice got along quite well. He was easy going and wry, making little jokes constantly, and she was just enthused with life. I had yet to meet someone who didn't like Alice. Still, it felt really good to see how quickly they connected. It just confirmed even more that Edward made sense in my life.
By the time night fell, Edward was looking a little tired. I was a little worn out myself, and I had a feeling I was scheduled to work the next day, so we headed back to the apartment.
"I don't know when I'll be back, Bella," Alice said, swinging her keys around her finger. She was meeting up with Jasper.
"No problem. We're just gonna chill here, watch movies. Hang."
"Have fun." She kissed my cheek. "Be safe."
I rolled my eyes and blushed, locking the door behind her.
Back in my room, Edward was going through his backpack. "You mind if I shower?"
"Course not. Shower away," I said, tossing him a towel and the new bar of soap from under the sink.
He disappeared in to the bathroom and I went back to the kitchen to check my work schedule for the next couple of days. Sure enough, I had to work the next day –opening shift – but then I had the night and day after that off. I wasn't sure how long Edward planned on staying in town, but I hoped, selfishly, that it would be for awhile.
I still wasn't sure how we were going to navigate this thing. It wasn't just long distance, it was Edward not being sure if he was going to be in Portland or Phoenix. I just had to trust that whatever had brought us together would allow us a chance at a real relationship, any way we could work it.
There was a brownie mx in the cupboard, and I was craving something gooey and sweet, so I made it. Edward walked in as I slid the brownie pan in to the oven.
"Brownies." I smiled over my shoulder as I washed my hands. "I was in the mood."
"Mm." He leaned against the counter, looking all cute with his wet hair and flannel pants and bare feet. "I could eat brownies."
"Well, good, seeing as I'm making them for me and you."
"More for you, don't lie."
He laughed, eyes alight with happiness. "How long til they're ready?"
"About forty minutes. I think." I consulted the box and adjusted the timer accordingly.
"Do you want to watch a movie?" I asked, drifting over to him.
"Sure. What do you have?"
We weren't doing a very good job of watching the movie.
It was hard to resist a cute boy who smelled and tasted of chocolate, especially when he kept on kissing my neck and my ears, distracting me with shivers and touches.
Eventually I gave up, rolling over to face him, pulling him on top of me, not even bothering to pretend I didn't want him. He kissed me hard, and it was so much different doing this in my bed, in soft clothes, with the cover of night and the warm glow of lamplight. I reached behind and shut the TV off with my remote, tossing it aside with a clatter.
"Why're you wearing two pairs of underwear?" he asked, hiking my leg up around his waist.
"I'm not," I giggled. "These ones are sleep shorts."
"Maybe that's what they told you, but these are underwear."
"They're sleep shorts!"
"You might as well have just worn your underwear."
"Shut up..." I kissed his smirkiness away, even as he started pulling my shorts down.
"Better, isn't it?" he asked, grinding against me slowly.
I nodded, slowly, feeling the silliness and lightheartedness of the moment drain away, leaving a heady sense of need behind. My breath caught, and then Edward kissed me again, a hand running up and down my bare leg.
His shirt was next.
And then, no more words as we kissed each other naked.
He trailed kisses up my neck, touching me, sweeping my hair aside. Goosebumps when he pushed his way inside the first time.
I knew, I knew then that meeting Edward had been one of the turning points of my life.
In the morning, Edward followed me in to the kitchen while I made coffee.
I was a little sleepy because we'd been up so late, but his love lit me up, giving me energy.
"Frosted flakes?" I asked.
He nodded, and I grabbed two bowls, two spoons.
He poured while I made us coffee.
"So, I think I'm gonna visit my aunt and uncle today," he said. "While you work."
"You should," I said. "That's a great idea."
"I'll call 'em in a bit."
We mellowed in to an early morning meal, our quiet comfortable with under the table footsie and random commentary. I felt golden when I left him, like the day had the potential to be magical. Things had started shifting when Edward and I had met, but they'd fully turned the corner last night. And even though I knew he'd have to go at some point, I couldn't hold down the happiness if I tried.
Morning shifts tended to fly by for me, which was why I preferred them. Getting up was the hardest part, but actually making it through the day was easy after that. And because it was a Saturday, I made fantastic tips. I grabbed a couple of sandwiches and headed back to the apartment, wondering when Edward would be back.
He called about an hour later, explaining that his aunt and uncle wanted him to stay for an early dinner. I was bummed, but he promised me that he'd be back afterward, that his Uncle Carlisle would drive him. I texted him my address so that they'd be able to get back without any problems, and then cleaned up my room a little. It was a mess from our "movie night".
I was halfway through my second load of laundry when there was a knock at the door. I checked the peephole before opening up. Edward grinned, hugging me in the doorway.
"Hi," I whispered, alarmed at my level of attachment. I breathed through it though, allowing it to be what it was. If Edward was reciprocating, how could it be wrong?
"Hi," he echoed, just holding me.
"You okay?" I kissed his neck and held him tighter.
"So okay." He walked me back in to the apartment. "We talked...a lot."
"Yeah?" My heart skipped. There was anticipation coming from him, and nervousness deep inside me. I wanted to know what was making him smile like that, this tiny smile, knowing. "What did they say? How are they?"
"They're great. My Uncle Carlisle...he...he's made me an offer."
"What kind of an offer?"
"A job offer. If I become, kind of like an apprentice. He works in carpentry, custom stuff."
"Very cool," I said, slightly out of breath with anxiety, afraid to hope. "What did you say?"
"I said okay." He pushed his hands through his hair, looking a little breathless himself.
The silence stretched between us as I considered the implications of what he'd just said. My hands shook slightly.
"I have to go home to...tie up loose ends. Send some stuff out," Edward said, pacing. He stopped suddenly, pinning me with his gaze. "But then I'm coming back, and I'm staying."
"You're staying," I repeated, feeling the words bubble up through me. "I...I'm so glad," I said, closing my eyes, trying not to cry. My relief was profound, overwhelming; I couldn't speak. What had he done to me?
I felt his arms wrap around me, and I wrapped mine around him.
"We get to do this," I said. "we get to...be."
"Yeah. We do."
"I don't have to work tomorrow," I said, pressing my cheek against his chest. "And I managed to switch shifts with someone so I have the day after that free, too. There's something I want to do with you."
He looked down, eyes searching.
"I want to take you to the beach," I said, touching his cheek. "It's a hefty drive, but Alice said I could use her car."
He smiled slowly, nodding. "I'd like that."
thanks, guys, for coming with me on another wit fit journey! i've had so much fun - as always - and your comments have truly made my day. days. you know what i mean. ;) so, no more wit fits for a few months... i'm:
-finishing Glimmer Darkly (for real FOR REAL. 2 chapters left, about)
- participating in the Fandom4LLS
-participating in NaNo's summer camp writing thingie.
other than that, I'll see you over on twitter (roglows) or FB (rochelle allison). love you!