In the Waves
A/N: Let's just all agree that my update promises are woven from lies & black licorice and move on, shall we?
Last we saw Bella, she was leaving the yacht club after having made a rather foolish decision in regards to balancing Renee & Edward. And Seth was just trying to feel Bella's boobs.
Iris is my beta queen. Bow down.
I spend the rest of the afternoon and early evening roaming the beachfront stores, and stop at a small diner on the strip for dinner. I take my sweet time getting back to the villa in hopes that Renee's already off on her date with Will by the time I get there.
But of course, I'm just not that lucky.
She's in front of the large mirror hanging in the foyer, fastening a diamond bracelet around her wrist. The scarlet bandage dress she's wearing is beautiful on her. Renee's a lot of things but blind to fashion isn't one of them. She knows what looks good and how to wear it well. When she looks at me, her nose wrinkles and I'm reminded of why I never compliment her out loud. "What are you wearing?"
I look down at my white tee, khaki shorts, and flip flops, and then back up at her. "What?"
"And what's going on with your hair? It's all knotted and frizzy. You look homeless."
I smooth a hand over my ponytail and shrug. "I went for a walk on the beach."
She rolls her eyes as the doorbell rings. "Of course you did. That's Will. I may not be back tonight, so lock up when I leave." I start to ask her why she won't be back but stop myself as the reason dawns on me. Ew.
I remember my plans to go to Alice's birthday party tonight. "Uh... Actually, I may be out for a while." She opens her mouth, and I can tell she's about to object, so I rush the lie out. "Seth and I are probably gonna catch a movie or something." She looks surprised, but then smiles and nods. "Well, then. You two have fun." My stomach tightens at how easily her approval to 'see' Seth comes, but I just nod and play it as cool as I can.
Renee opens the door, and Will saunters through it clad in a three-piece suit that screams, "It was either buy this or feed a small country." He leans down to kiss her on the cheek, and she stares up at him like he just cured cancer with an orgasm. I almost laugh until he looks past Renee and at me. His brow furrows with a concern I don't buy for a second. "Isabella, are you not feeling well?"
Isabella. I've lost count of how many strikes he has against him in my book, but he just added one more.
Renee smirks at me, and I cut my eyes at her. Two can play this game. I lay a hand over my stomach and shake my head. "You know, I'm not really feeling so hot. I think it was something I ate." As subtly as I can, I force a gulp of air down my throat, and the burp I set loose would put a grown man to shame. Will appears startled. He clears his throat and looks away from me. Renee's eyes widen, and any amusement on her face is replaced with mortification.
"Oh, my goodness. Excuse me! I guess I should take it easy on the hot wings and beer. Renee, do you still have that jumbo bottle of Mylanta from when you ate that bad shrimp and it wouldn't stop coming out of either end−"
"Good night, Isabella!" She turns on her heel and stomps down the front steps, Will quietly trailing behind her. It was probably supremely childish of me, but the look on her face was well worth it.
After my shower, I'm standing in the walk-in, looking at all the clothes I brought with me from New York. It's mostly dressy casual, formal, and beachwear. I definitely hadn't expected to be doing much more than what Renee forced me to. I remember Rosalie mocking me for what I wore to the house last time. Not that I care what she thinks, but I have to admit that I did feel out of place when I was dressed that way around them. And now I feel stupid for putting so much thought into this. I decide on a short sleeve white tee, the red skinny jeans that do all the great things for my ass, and some flat sandals. I let my hair air dry wavy and am coming down the stairs right at 9:30 on the dot. I see Edward pull up outside and make my way out the door. He's halfway up the drive when he spots me walking down it.
"In a hurry?"
I probably could have fired back with something witty, but his lips pull up in a smirk. He's sporting a few days' worth of stubble, and his face is just... Gah! His face. I forego the banter and take off in a sprint. He catches on with just enough time to brace himself before I jump up and wrap my arms around his neck. He holds me tight against his chest, and I let my legs dangle instead of wrapping them around him like I have the urge to. He doesn't say anything until I pull back and slide down his chest to stand on my own.
"I missed you, too."
I smile at him as he kisses me lightly before taking my hand and leading me to the jeep. He'd called me earlier to invite me to a party he and Rosalie are throwing at their house for Alice's birthday. My stomach stirs with nerves at the thought of seeing all of his friends again. Alice was nice enough, but I still feel a little like an outsider, especially after Rosalie's little meltdown last time I was there. I look over at Edward and decide not to think about Rosalie until I have to.
"I was surprised you had something as low key as a birthday party in mind. I was thinking more along the lines of skydiving or spelunking for our second date."
He laughs and shakes his head at me. "I thought it might be nice to let you keep your feet on the ground this time."
It's a shame I didn't wear something that pulls up over my head then.
I stop myself from saying it but only just barely. Maybe it's because I haven't been able to in days, but all I want to do right now is touch him. I look over and wonder if he can feel the same pull or if it's just me. Closing my eyes, I tilt my head back and enjoy the way my hair whips in the wind. It's warm and a little muggy out tonight, but the breeze keeps it at bay while we're moving.
"Are you sure it's okay to keep you out so late? Your mom isn't gonna mind?"
I momentarily feel lame as hell that he's asking this question, like I'm sixteen and sneaking around. Although, I suppose it's not that far from the truth right now. I don't let myself dwell on the truth of the comparison.
"No. She's out with the douche for the night."
"Really? And she doesn't mind you gallivanting around with me all night?"
I don't want to lie to him, so I deflect. "Gallivanting? Really?"
"I was raised in the South. We gallivant. Out yonder. But I reckon y'all Yankees don't know nothin' 'bout all 'at." He thickens his accent and winks at me. It's all meant to be sarcastic and humorous, but it makes me want to climb up the side of him and do things that would get us both arrested.
Before I have a chance to act on any of it, we're pulling into his driveway. There are cars parked everywhere, a maze of them. They're along the curb and across the street, even up on the grass of the front yard. I can hear music thumping from inside, and laughter and loud conversation coming from the backyard.
"Wow. When you throw a party..." I whistle, and Edward shrugs as he comes around to open my door for me.
"What can I say? I'm where it's at." I snort out a really unflattering laugh, but it can't be helped. We're weaving our way around the cars, squeezing between two that are parked particularly close, when Edward stops and turns to face me. Without any warning, he wraps an arm around my waist and pulls me up against him.
I'm putty, totally and completely open to whatever manipulation of my body he sees fit. His other hand slides gently across my cheek before disappearing into the hair at the back of my neck. I'm beginning to recognize this as his favorite place to put his hand. I'm more than open to the idea of broadening said hand's horizons. Not that I don't love the way it feels, but I could find much better places for it to be.
But then his lips are on mine with an urgency I don't expect, and it's not about where his hands are anymore. He brushes my tongue lightly with the tip of his, and I let go of the control I had in the car, lifting up onto my toes to wrap my arms around his neck. I dig my fingers into his shoulders and press my chest harder against his, which causes him to moan and his hand to abandon my hair in favor of... lower territory. His palm slides down over my ass and gives it an appreciative squeeze.
Somewhere out there, an angel just got its wings.
When he breaks the kiss, the wild look on his face tells me I haven't been alone in my impulse to do some jumping. The feeling's mutual. Thank the good Lord!
"I didn't know how long it'd be before I got a chance to do that tonight. Thought maybe it was best to get it out of the way now," he says breathlessly.
I nod dazedly. "That's very efficient of you."
I think he's about to kiss me again, but a feminine voice robs me of an encore. "Let 'er up for air, E'ward! Cake waits for noooooo man!"
Edward smiles at Alice's slightly-slurred interruption and takes me by the hand. "Ready?"
"Yeah, unless you think we can outrun her."
"Nah. She's oddly bionic when she's drunk."
Alice is bent over the front porch railing, nursing a red plastic cup and smiling goofily. She has bright pink and purple flower leis around her neck, and she's wearing a similar outfit to what I last saw her in, which is a pair of cutoff shorts and bikini top. "Bella! You came back! I told Rosalie you would be, even though she said there was no way in he−"
"It's your birthday, Alice! Happy birthday!" Edward cuts her off and wraps her up in a hug.
The distraction works, because she breaks away from him and bounces in place, throwing open the screen door to yell loudly as she enters the house. "It's my biiiiiirthday, bitchessss! Woohoooo!"
Edward looks sheepish as he leads me inside, and my disdain for Rosalie only intensifies each time he feels like he has to apologize for her. There are people everywhere, sitting on couches and leaning against walls as they drink and laugh and talk. A few are dancing or goofing off, but I can tell the heart of the party is out back on the beach. Edward stops to introduce me to some of his friends, who all shake my hand and greet me nicely enough. We step out on the deck, and I see Jacob talking animatedly to a group of guys, his arms waving around as he laughs through his words. Just behind him is Alice, who's perched sideways on a seated Jasper. He's whispering something in her ear that's making her giggle, and his hand is sliding up her thigh. She slaps it away just as it dips beneath the denim of her cutoffs, and I find myself smiling at their silly interaction.
Edward's mouth dips down close to my ear. "Do you want a drink?" I shake my head no, and he motions to the two chairs across from Jasper and Alice.
"Hey there, Starfish," Jasper says, winking at me and laughing when Edward rolls his eyes.
"Hello, Jasper," I say smiling. "I didn't know if you'd remember me or not. Last time we saw each other, you were starfishing on the floor yourself."
He laughs and slaps Alice playfully on the thigh. She giggles again and swigs from her cup. "None of that tonight, I'm afraid. It's this one here's turn to party it up. I'm tonight's designated driver." He nods proudly, and Alice gives him a loud smacking kiss on his cheek.
"Palangi!" Jake slaps Edward on his back before plopping down on the chair next to Jasper and Alice. "I can't believe you haven't run her off, yet. You get some game I don't know about when I wasn't looking?"
Edward rolls his eyes and looks at me. "You remember Jake, right?"
"I do, yes. How are you?"
"Me? Oh, I'm fantastic. Good drinks, good friends, good music," He raises his arms in the air and shouts loudly. "To the birthday girl!"
Everyone outside stops what they're doing to yell back in unison. "To the birthday girl!" They whistle and clap and cheer, lifting their drinks in Alice's direction.
I laugh at the silliness of the moment as Alice jumps up from Jasper's lap and bounds down the deck steps toward the sand. "Volleyball! Girls versus boys!"
Several people make a rush for the net, and when the crowd on the other side of the deck clears out, I spot Rosalie leaning against the back of the house. She's smiling at something that the girl next to her is saying… until she spots me, at which point her face hardens and she rolls her eyes before looking away. It doesn't surprise me in the least.
Edward startles me from my fantasy of charging across the deck and feeding Rosalie her own teeth. "What do you think? You wanna?"
"The volleyball game. You in?"
"Uh, that's probably not the best idea."
"Don't tell me you doubt your skills after my stellar lesson." As he speaks, he's standing and taking me by the hand. "Besides, most of 'em are drunk, anyway. It's just for fun."
He pulls me to my feet, and I follow him reluctantly. Everyone's taking their shoes off and dividing into teams. A guy from the far side of the net calls out to Edward. "Cullen, you in?"
Edward looks at me expectantly. "I'm only playing if you are."
"That's so not fair."
Before he can respond, Rosalie inches her way between us on her way to the girls' side of the net. "Leave her alone, Edward. She might break a nail. Or a sweat." The condescending smirk she aims at me over her shoulder pushes me over the edge.
Edward opens his mouth to say something to her, but I stop him as I kick off my sandals. "I'm in. Let's do this."
Ever wonder what a volleyball spike to the face feels like?
"Here. Tip your head back. It's gonna be cold." I do as I'm told and wince as Edward lowers the bag of frozen corn onto my cheekbone. "Sorry, sorry."
"I thought you said everyone was gonna be drunk. That dude was way too coordinated to be drunk."
"That was Tyler. And believe me, he was drunk. It's the only time he can play an even half-decent game."
Tyler was a nice guy, apologizing to me at least a dozen times as I lay sprawled out in the sand. Needless to say, I bowed out of the rest of the game. I'd like to say I kicked ass and showed Rosalie where she could go, but the whole ball to the face thing happened about three minutes in. Now we're by ourselves up on the deck, everyone else either in the game or in the house. The rest of the crowd's beginning to thin, and the music's lower due to the late hour.
"It was my fault, really, for even going out there. And yours for pressuring me. Just saying."
"You sure it wasn't a little female bravado at work there?"
Damn his observant ass. I wrinkle my nose. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Mmhmm." He smiles at me as I pull the makeshift icepack from my face.
"How bad is it?
"Hideous. Cover it back up." He playfully pushes the corn back to my face, and I swat his hands away, laughing.
"Now that part was just fine." The smile on his face shifts from playful to something different. He smooths my hair over my shoulder and lightly strokes my injured cheek with his thumb. "You're beautiful, Bella."
Now how am I supposed to not kiss a mouth that says that? It's soft and brief, but my toes curl and my belly flutters. We make some small talk, and he asks me what I've been up to the last few days. "Not much, really. Just hanging on the beach and doing a little sightseeing. My mom's been busy lately with wedding stuff, so it's been nice to have some room to breathe."
"Hey, speaking of moms, uh..." He pauses, picking at the chipped paint on the stair beneath his feet. "Mine's kind of coming to town in a couple of days." I don't speak right away, and he starts to ramble. "It's really not a big deal or anything, just a quick visit. She's only coming for the weekend, and we're not even doing anything, just grilling out and maybe−"
"Edward?" I tuck my hand under his arm and wrap it over the top of his bicep. "Are you trying to ask me to meet your mother?"
"What? No! I mean, yes. But no, not like that. Just a general meeting, not like an introduction or something−" Oh, my God. He's so fucking cute. I turn his face to mine and shut him up with my lips, kissing him until I feel his shoulders relax and he moans.
"I'd love to meet her, Edward." He smiles and leans in to kiss my lips again, but I can't help myself. "As long as you know that there has to be an actual introduction, even if it's just a general meeting−"
He laughs and falls back on the deck, covering his face with both hands. "I hate you."
Ohaaaaaaaaaaaai. I missed you guys. And these guys. This chappy turned out to be wayyyy too long, so I chopped it in half. Next one will be up shortly!