Disclaimer: Twilight character names belong to Stephenie Meyer. All characterizations, plot lines, backgrounds and details belong to the respective author. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without express written authorization. ©2012 chartwilightmom. All rights reserved worldwide.

A/N: This is my OS for the FWAR One Shot Writing Challenge that I was recently featured in. I was given a picture prompt and came up with this little OS. A bit of Train's Bruises had some inspiration (and title). Huge thanks to Vampiremama aka Readingmama for her one day beta work on this *hugs & wet kisses*.


Prompt Link: i767 . photobucket dot com / albums / xx314 / chartwilightmom/ flaming _ cocktails . jpg
(and if this link above doesn't work, the picture will be on my blog)
Story Title: Bruises
Rating: M
Beta: vampiremama aka readingmama
Word Count: 3608
FWAR pen-name: chartwilightmom
Link to FWAR Profile Page: freewritersandreaders . ning profile / chartwilightmom

BPOV

There is something special to be said for a well-made cocktail, the blending of unique tastes and flavors to give the recipient a pleasurable experience worth repeating. I have often found that a well-made cocktail will elicit a combination of closed eyes, sighs, and long drawn out moans and groans.

Sounds a bit like sex, doesn't it?

~B~

The evening crowd is in full force, bodies close together along the bar, eyes searching for connections, and chatter mixing with the music, creating a hum in the background to everything that is going on.

As I stand behind the bar, mixing and serving as fast as the drinks are ordered, I look up beyond the bodies for a second to see Edward on the platform, his eyes focused on the ivories of the glossy black piano.

I bring my gaze back to the bar, to the patrons, as I hear a request for something on fire. My mind immediately bounces to the long list of cocktails in my head, zeroing in on one that fits my mood—Flaming Asshole.

As quickly as I can, I grab the four liqueurs that make this shot, setting the shot glasses in the middle of the bar before pouring. "Stand back please." I grab the long lighter from under the bar and set about lighting the shots on fire. Immediately there is a tall blaze atop the glasses, the flames heating my face.

Everyone at the bar is watching, eyes wide, as the flames draw their attention, while the recipients are grinning and clapping. Flaming cocktails are always a show.

But everything is just a red haze to me right now, the anger inside building stronger and stronger as each minute of this ever-lasting night slowly ticks by.

"Bella, take your break," Jasper says, coming up and placing a hand on my shoulder, the tension I am holding releasing just a little from his comforting touch.

Looking around the bar, I see patrons smiling and chatting with each other, not a care in the world as their cocktails and shots are consumed.

"Sure, boss."

Walking away from the bar I am lost in the cloud of anger until I finally find myself in Jasper's office, slouched into the couch, door shut with my hands in my head, wondering how things got this way.

I started working here at The Twilight Lounge almost one month ago. After working in seedy bars for crappy hours and tips for too many years, I applied when I heard of the opening and was immediately hired by Alice and Jasper Whitlock, owners and operators of this sleek uptown lounge.

The Twilight Lounge is located on the top floor of the Carlisle Building. The building itself is beyond beautiful, floor to ceiling glass give each room a full view of the skyline from any location on the building, masterfully designed with sleek lines and a unique shape that makes it standout as the work of art amongst the other dull and lifeless buildings making up the uptown skyline.

I remember that first night as I stepped off the elevator in my black on black uniform, most of my skin covered with the long sleeve button down closed to my neck. My hair was in a slicked back ponytail, hopes filtering through my mind that in my new uniform I wouldn't be hit on as much as when I wore the skin tight and revealing outfits I was required to wear with my previous employers.

The lounge is modern, lots of steel and leather, the template of black, white and silver with small touches of golds, blues and greens accented here and there. In the center is a raised platform, several spotlights highlight a black glossy grand piano sitting on it.

We were open only a few hours before I started to see the flow of after-working-hours, the crowd of business attire corporate drones filing in and attempting to loosen up after a long day of meetings. It didn't take long to find my rhythm of pouring drinks. It also didn't take long to be hit on.

"Wow, are you on the menu?" I remember looking over the bar to see this slick backed haired, I-want-to-be-on-the-cover-of-GQ-wannabe suit grinning at me like I was something to eat, as he spoke a line I have heard many times over the years.

And that was just the first of many.

"Sorry, no," I said calmly shaking my head, plastering a fake smile before my responding question. "Can I get you something to drink?"

The thoughts that I had of the clientele being different started to fly out the window with that first one. I guess that putting on a suit or dressing someone up doesn't give them class or tact. I stick to keeping calm and responding positively, a tactic I have used after years of working at bars.

When the music started that night, I couldn't help but notice a young man seated at the ivories. The spotlight is softer than before, illuminating the area, giving a glow to the lovely performance that likely no one paid attention to.

The music flowed about the room, and does every night that he plays, soothing. Somewhere in between jazz and blues with whispers of classical, definitely something I expect to be a part of the ambiance of this lounge.

It was only an hour later that I was politely turning down another corny line when I noticed out of the corner of my eye someone standing at the end of the bar where the wait staff collects their orders.

I looked over to see the piano player, leaning against the end of the bar and smiling. I gave him the once over, noticing that he was handsome, green eyes and hair that just begged to be touched. He was wearing a dark blue button down with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, his torso wrapped in a black vest. As I made my way over to him, I noticed his hands on the bar, his long fingers tapping, and a silver band on his left hand, third finger—married.

I remember that part of me at that moment was saddened that he was married, part relieved.

"Can I get you something to drink?"

"Water please. I only have ten minutes for my break."

"Sure."

"Is this your first night?"

"Yeah, Alice hired me yesterday."

"I'm Edward, house musician."

"Bella, bartender."

We both reached and shook hands. His hand was warm, and encompassed my relatively small ones.

"Do you play every night?"

"Four nights a week, Wednesday through Saturday."

I move back along the bar and take another order before coming back to the end with my own bottle of water.

"Looks like you know how to take care of yourself behind there."

He smiled at me, a glimmer in his eye. At the time I thought he could easily be a friend, an instant comfort forming between us from just a few words.

"Yeah, well it comes with experience."

"I know what you mean."

"Really?" I arched my eyebrow at him as if to silently say, someone like you has problems?

"Oh, I have stories."

I waved my hand in offering for him to continue.

"I dated this girl in my freshman year of high school that I was crazy about. I had blinders on when it came to her; all I could see was all sweetness when we were together, and the kissing. But I found out later that once she was with her friends behind closed doors she constantly complained about me. Even mocking how bad of a kisser I was. But I didn't want to believe the rumors.

"Her birthday was coming up, and I had bought her these expensive ruby earrings, her birthstone. She somehow found out what I had gotten her and bitched to her friends that she didn't want them. At her party to she gave me a fake smile when I gave them to her, but come Monday at school my sister overheard her talking in the bathroom saying that she hated them was just going to throw them away. My sister got mad, punched her and broke up with her for me."

"Which was worse, the sister sticking up for you or finding out how shallow your ex was?"

"Both, but I love my sister even more for what she did."

"Sounds like you have a great sister."

"I do."

Just then another patron motioned for a cocktail and I stepped away from Edward to fill it, noticing Edward raising his bottle of water at me when his ten minutes were done.

"It was nice to meet you, Bella. I hope that we can talk again soon."

"Yeah, likewise."

I should have known, but at that moment I was the one wearing blinders, thinking that this handsome guy was married—safe.

And this is how it was as the weeks rolled by, each time Edward worked, he spent his breaks at the bar, even coming in early to chat with me while I setup and staying late to keep me company at the end of the night.

He was smart and charming. There was this instant connection between us, very strong, and the want to be his friend stirred within me each time I saw him.

I opened up to him, feeling comfortable with his presence, allowing my guard to come down. He was starting to become a friend and with each time we spoke, part of me cursed the lucky woman who wore the matching ring for finding him first. He was everything I could want in a partner. What bothered me the most was the constant want deep inside of me wondering how he would be as a lover; gentle and soft with the edges of wanton desire as he consumes each inch of his lover.

I tried to shun my thoughts each time I thought of Edward as a lover. If there was one thing I keep true to was staying true to the relationship that I was in; cheating is not and will never be an option for me. Edward was married, and there is nothing I can do about that.

When we talked, we covered various subjects, music, art, books, but staying away from topics like family. Edward never talked about his wife, never once saying her name or even discussing his marriage. I thought it was weird, but didn't question why. Regardless of lack of personal current information on both our parts, we always shared a story of our past, a relationship that bruised us, making us what we were today.

I remember the first story that I told Edward.

"He was the first boyfriend that I ever lived with. It was during college, my mom and dad hating the fact that we moved in together. I was so young and naïve. One night I woke up to find the cold bed beside me and went in search of him in the apartment."

"Where did you find him?" Edward asked, his mossy green eyes fixed on me.

"I went right to the living room expecting to find him watching T.V. but where I actually found him shocked me. He was in the walk-in pantry in the kitchen, standing naked with the laptop on a shelf, playing gay porn and him jerking off with headphones on."

"Ew," Edward said, scrunching up his face with the vision in his head.

"I know."

Just last week, we had a very slow night, Edward spent most of it sitting at the bar talking to me, each of us going back and forth, trying to outdo the other with our bad relationship stories.

Edward took a steeling breath before he spoke. "My first girlfriend in college had this best friend, and I knew that I liked her better than my girlfriend. Eventually I broke up with her, causing a huge fight between us, which left her more than angry with me. So I waited a few days before asking her best friend out."

"Did she say yes?"

"She said no, and proceeded to tell me that she was having an affair with my ex and wasn't interested in men at the moment."

"Oh shit."

"I didn't expect her to be such a bitch."

"A wolf in sheep's clothing?" Edward is such a great guy, I can't imagine why a girl would want to do that to him, treat him that way.

"Something like that."

"Oh I have one of those. This was after the live-in boyfriend I started dating this guy. I thought he was nice; at least he seemed to be. After a few weeks of dating, he asked to borrow my car to run an errand, so I gave him the keys thinking it was no big deal. A few hours later I get a call from him."

I pause, giving Edward a chance to figure out from where he would call.

"He was in jail, arrested for possession of drugs and my car was in the impound. Asshole wanted me to take a taxi and come bail him out."

"Please tell me you told him to fuck off."

"I hung up on him, then went to get my car out of the impound."

"Good."

Edward smiled at me, almost beaming with pride that I stood up to that guy. "I seem to always fall for the pretty girl that causes bruises."

"You do seem to attract certain types." I found myself giggling, Edward with his outward appearance, you would think he would be shallow. But he wasn't. If anything, he was sensitive and kind, only wanting a relationship with the same.

He must have this with his wife, someone he never talked about. I don't even know their story, or her name; only that he often plays with the ring on his finger.

I should have asked, I should have known.

If I did, I wouldn't be as mad as I am right now.

Without realizing it, I look at my watch, noticing it has been a solid twenty minutes since I have been in here. I shake my head to clear my thoughts, stand up and straighten myself up before opening the door.

The rest of the shift is a blur and before I know it, the last call has been made.

"Hey, Bella. Rough night?" His voice sets me off and before I know it, I have thrown the wet rag I was using to wipe the bar directly at him.

"Hey!" Edward yells back.

"Don't hey me you liar!" I scream. Before I can cause more of a scene, I storm off towards Jasper's office again. I make it to the door before hearing my name being called behind me. My hand grabs the handle, turning and I throwing myself inside before slamming the door behind me.

Edward's hard knocking causes me to push back from the door.

"Bella, what the hell is going on?"

"You lied to me Edward, I thought you were my friend, I opened up to you! And you didn't even have the decency to tell me that you AREN'T married!"

I bet my week's salary that he is looking at the ring on his left hand, trying to come up with a smooth and charming response.

"Bella, I'm…"

"Just don't, Edward. I don't want to hear anything else from you. I thought you were my friend, I thought that I could trust you."

"You can." His voice sounds pained through the door, the sound causing my body to contract to open the door and hug him.

"No, you have proven that I can't. I have to find out from Alice that you aren't married and she is your sister! What the fuck! How can you just leave that information out over the past month? How can you say that I can trust you when you can't even share!"

"I promise you, I never meant not to tell you. I assumed that you knew Alice as my sister. And as far as the ring, I can explain…."

Before I let him continue, I reach for the door handle and open it to see a confused and sad Edward.

"You want to know why I can't trust you? I'll tell you. Because the last son-of-a-bitch that I trusted fucking knocked me up, told me he loved me, moved in with me and said that he would raise the baby with me, only to take me to the hospital when I went into labor and skip town!"

"Bella…" Edward starts.

"Don't Bella me. Don't try and make me feel better for trusting someone, letting you into my heart."

I gasp as the words spill from my mouth, tears prickling at my eyes. I slam the door and lock it as the look of shock crossing over Edward's face.

Sinking to the floor sounds of Edward pleas and pounding on the door fill the areas where my cries lack.

Somehow during the past month, Edward wiggled his way into my trust, into my heart. He lied to me, the whole time we talked and became friends, the thoughts that I had of him being more than a friend more of possibility than I knew.

The next day at work I know that I need to apologize for what happened. Alice and Jasper are two of the best bosses that I have ever had. I don't want to lose my job, even though working here with Edward will be more than awkward.

After telling them I'm sorry and that I won't let whatever personal relationships with other staff members affect my performance, I go about trying out a new flaming cocktail for Jasper and Alice to try, anything to make up for my outburst at the end of my shift last night. They both don't question about what happened having witnessed most of it for themselves. I know somewhere in the back of my mind that Edward has talked to Alice and she knows what has been said.

Two chilled martini glasses sit on the bar in front of Alice and Jasper, layers of white liquors with a small topping of brown, 151. Right as I flick the lighter on, I see a ring flip out of the air and into the glass in front of Alice.

"Light it."

Following the voice, I look up to see Edward standing behind Alice. Without thinking I light the drinks, flames setting a border along the bar.

"Will you let him explain?" Alice pleads.

"Please, Bella."

Edward places his hands on Alice shoulders, giving her a gentle squeeze. Now that they are standing side by side, I can see the family resemblance; smooth jaw lines, creamy skin tone, and their ears matching.

I nod, not trusting my mouth to speak polite words.

Jasper stands and allows Edward to take his place, offering his hand to Alice, "You can make us another round."

The flames continue to burn the 151 as I wait for Edward to speak, his eyes floating back and forth between the flame and my eyes.

"The ring was my father's, Carlisle Cullen."

"Was?"

"He passed away last year. My parents were married for over thirty years, marrying right out of high school. Within five years I was born, Alice two years after that. My mother and him had the best relationship one could have for a role model. Ever since I was a little boy, I knew I wanted a love like theirs. They were always caring and loving, something I always wanted to strive for.

"After my father passed away, my mother gave me his ring, to give me hope that I would find a love like theirs. She has been there for each of my relationships, seeing me fail time and time again. But she never has lost hope that I would find someone."

"Why did you lie?"

"I didn't lie, I just never told you the truth. I shouldn't have let you assume that I was married. I'm sorry for that."

"I'm sorry too." I drop my eyes to the flames dying out in the cocktails, wondering if the flame that flickered between us will die as well.

His hand reaches across the bar, gathering my shaking ones into his hands. "Bella, you have been bruised, I don't want to be another one. I don't want to be hurt again either."

I look up to see Edward staring at me as he continues.

"You have a son, I know there is more at stake than just me. But I want to be hurt, to be bruised by you if that is that is all that I can have. I want to know about your son; what's his name, does he look like you. But more importantly, I don't want to hurt you, I never meant to hurt you."

"I don't want to hurt you either," I whisper. There is so much to tell Edward about my son, my full situation; there is so much that I have kept a secret, so much I want to tell him. I know deep down that Edward is a great guy and he made a mistake. Hell, I have made a few too. But it would be stupid of me to throw away the chance to see if there is more with him because I am scared to be hurt, to be bruised.

"You are worth being bruised," I tell him, gripping his hand.

Edward smiles, gripping my hand back. "I promise I won't be another for you."


A/N: Thanks to those fellow authors/friends that offered me their tales of woe in relationships that help make up these for ExB. Right now I don't have any thoughts on expanding this, now that summer is over and I have my days back I have plot bunnies that I need to gather and start working on. Thanks for reading! Hope to see you soon!