The sky had faded into a hazy blue twilight and simple paper lanterns and candles held in glass jars cast an atmospheric glow over the wedding reception. It had lost that formal, careful tone and gotten more relaxed as clinking glasses and bursts of laughter and music to dance to rang out all around.
There was a spring in my step (part mood lift, part shoe change) as I drifted through the crowd of guests, smiling and making small talk when necessary.
I made my way over to the band, planning on requesting that song Edward and I used to listen to so much. The one that played in the coffeshop where we had our first date, filling the nervous pauses, and I had set to repeat on my iPod for weeks after that first time on his creaky old couch.
The musician looked unsure when I requested the song. "Uh, there's a very specific set list that we're contractually obliged to adhere to," he said.
Of course there was.
I craned my neck to find Rosalie. She was perched on Emmett's lap feeding him little bits of cake. It was kind of sweet in a nauseating kind of way. When I finally caught her attention, and performed a vague series of hand gestures to indicate what I was trying to do, she responded with a bright smile and corny thumbs up and the band all seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. I had just saved them from the 'Disco Classics' portion of the evening.
I found Edward at the edges of the dancefloor, sipping a beer and smiling politely at a grey-haired couple. Twinkling lights shone down on him, emphasising the warm copper strands in his messy hair and the shadows on his face that made his features even more stunning. He look perfect, and a little bit vulnerable, and I couldn't stand to spend another second at odds with him. Edward had abandoned his suit jacket and loosened his collar. With his un-kempt hair and stubble-shadowed jaw, he had that gorgeous look that made my heart skip a beat and I vowed to make things better between us so we could enjoy the rest of the night.
"There you are!" he said, as I approached. It was the happiest he'd seemed to see me the whole time I'd been there. He excused himself from the people who had been talking to him and came to me, slipping his arm around me. "You missed Emmett threaten to punch out the photographer if he didn't stop being creepy."
"Seriously? Won't Rosalie mind?"
"She was the one who instructed him to do it. Though if anyone asks, the dispute was over creative differences."
My first thought was that he was subtly letting me know that someone else had made a scene, trying to console me or something. But I quashed my insecurities and tendency to over-think everything, so I could do what I planned to do : make up with my boyfriend.
"Where were you anyway?" he asked.
"I was hanging out with Rosalie and Tanya in your parent's bathroom," I explained and he nodded like it was the most normal thing in the world.
"You're responsible for the wardrobe change, then?" He inclined his head towards my feet, then the dancefloor where Tanya was enthusiastically shuffling with Nick and her sisters.
"We wanted to be more comfortable. "
"Well, you all look much happier now," he observed.
"I do feel better."
"I had a good talk with Tanya and Rose. I see some things more clearly now," I said.
"You're not jealous of Tanya any more?"
"Hey! I was never jealous."
"You were a little jealous. Your eyes would get all twitchy when anyone said her name."
"Like you're one to talk, Edward. Do I have to remind you of the Jacob incident?" I argued, then we both looked at the ground, awkward at our foibles.
"So, what? You've finally realised she's not some vicious man eater? " Edward pushed, but his tone was light as air.
"I never thought that either! I trust your judgement when it comes to people..." I hesitated. "I was just a little insecure. She's beautiful and accomplished and you have all this history. It's hard to compete with that."
"I didn't mean to make you feel like that," he said, his breath brushing my neck. "You're the only girl I want to be with."
"I know," I replied. "I'm learning to deal with it deal with it better now, I promise."
"So what else did they do to cheer you up?" he asked.
"Aren't we Mr. Inquisitive this evening? Don't you know what goes on in the girls bathroom is sacred?" I teased, revelling in this ease between us.
"I don't want any more secrets between us."
"We talked some about my plans after graduation. I think maybe I was going down the wrong path...with loans and a job sector with low pay and not many openings. Tanya thinks she can help me get a job in New York. Maybe an entry level position in a recruitment firm she's worked with before. She can help me tailor my resume and work on my interview skills and make some connections."
Edward smiled. "That's the most enthusiastic I've heard you in ages."
"Do you think it's a good plan?"
"I think it's a great plan and honestly, I'm kind of relieved."
"I know it's selfish," he said, frowning. "But when you said you didn't get into school, I was so worried I'd have to go to New York on my own. I couldn't do it without you, Bella. I couldn't cope. But my parents would be so disappointed if I turned down my place and –"
"I'd never ask you to do that," I interrupted.
"I know that," he said. "You see why I was worried I'd have to go alone. I need you beside me, Bella."
A note of desperation crept into his voice and my heart ached for him.
"I'm here," I said, resting my head on his shoulder. "I'm not going anywhere."
He held me tightly and the last of the weight on my shoulders drifted away.
The band started to play our song. Edward's head turned sharply as the familiar guitar melody reached his ears.
"I didn't see this on the approved song list," he murmured.
I grinned. "I got special dispensation. "
"Do you remember when...?" His eyes burned with intensity.
"All the time" I told him and I thought I saw him shiver. "So, Mr Cullen. Can I have this dance?"
"It would be my pleasure," he said, leading me onto the floor.
I wrapped my hands around his neck, my fingers twisting into the baby hairs near his collar, and enjoyed a moment of staring into his eyes, before his hands on my waist started to guide me along to the rhythm. I lay my head against his chest, enjoying the heat of his body and the feel of the soft cotton shirt against my cheek.
It was lovely.
Eyes open again, I glanced around at the other dancing couples. Esme and Dr. Cullen waltzed past like something from an old Hollywood movie. Emmett and Rosalie swayed, her perfectly manicured fingers gripping onto the back of his jacket, like they were the only ones there. Tanya twirled a reluctant Nick before pulling him onto her feet.
"Hey," I said, raising my head to face Edward. "I forgot to tell you something earlier."
"What?" he replied, lifting the corners of his lips into a lazy smile.
"I'm sorry for being such a mess."
Edward chuckled. "I'm sorry for being such a jerk."
"You were kind of mean," I said, grinning so he'd know he was forgiven.
He spun me around, amusement dancing in his eyes.
"I know. I get bad-tempered when I'm stressed. My father says I have yet to develop an adequate coping mechanism and I lash out."
I rolled my eyes. "How about in future, I try not to be so ridiculous and you try to not to be so cranky. Deal?"
"Deal," he agreed. "But only on one condition."
"Well, we've both got finals coming up. You're going to be dealing with job hunting, I'll be coping with starting in a new programme and odds are, we'll both get pretty pissy about it. So we've got to promise to remember that no matter what, I really fucking love you, Bella Swan."
I swooned, figuratively speaking, but I kind of wanted to re-iterate my point about making an effort to be better with each other. Then, he leaned down and kissed me, silencing my answer and somehow making up for all the tension and hurt with one persuasive brush of his lips. I melted against him, returning his kiss with all the emotion I could muster and we swayed, holding each other close, to the rest of the song.
When it finished, I held on for a few more minutes before reluctantly letting him go.
"Looks like Rosalie's about to throw her bouquet," he said. "You should probably get over there."
"I've got everything I need right here," I answered, clinging on to his sleeve.
"Go on," he urged. "If you don't at least try, everyone will think you don't want to marry me some day."
My heart spluttered and I did as he asked.
Because I did want to marry him some day, of course, but also it was important for him to show all these people that our relationship was solid.
Tension mounted as a gaggle of single girls gathered. I stayed at the edge of the circle, one arm stretched behind me to keep my fingers entwined with Edward's. Grinning over her shoulder, Rosalie tossed the bouquet and all hell broke loose. My attempt to fight for it was half hearted at best and I laughed as Jess, Bess and Tess ganged up against Tanya to grab the prize. Jessica emerged triumphant, the now bedraggled bouquet high above her head.
In the melee, some of the flowers had come loose and a single cream rose fluttered down by my feet. Edward picked it up, presented it to me with a flourish then tucked it behind my ear. His fingers skimmed along my cheek, his thumb pressed gently against my lips and we shared a smile.
It didn't matter that I didn't have the whole bouquet. I was just as happy with a soft kiss and a stray pretty little flower.
That's all folks. The finish was short and sweet and I hope you all liked it!
Thanks again to every one who's been reading and reviewing. And of course, another massive thank you to the lovely chierian9el and ol2bob who kindly donated to the FGB cause and were super patient about waiting for this and gave me a chance to try write something different.
I'm going to post a couple more fics soon. A fluffy human one-shot and a vampire short story, so anyone who's interested can watch out for those. See you all soon!