AN: Thanks to Angelz1114577 and darcysmom from PTB for betaing. This is my new fic, and I should warn you guys that it won't be like Who's Your Papi (i.e. smut every chapter) this one moves slower and will all be in EPOV.
Playlist: Monday Morning by Death Cab For Cutie.
Summary: "The best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds - Nicholas Sparks. A reclusive artist and a musician embark on a journey in NYC, but with their own twist. ExB Mature
My fingers dragged along the spines of the books on the shelf, the feel of the worn leather beneath the calloused pads of my fingers soothing. The musky scent of books overwhelmed my senses and my ears strained for the sound of fluttering pages.
I strolled through the stacks, my thoughts lacking any real direction as my eyes took in the titles and authors presented before me. I had no real drive to purchase or even take more than a cursory glance at any of the books, but I needed to fill the unending silence banging around in my head.
On one hand I was thankful for the blissful quiet after a week of cluttered thoughts and pictures spinning relentlessly around my mind, keeping me awake with a paintbrush firmly gripped between my fingers.
I had reached the heights of what I could only describe as obsession, unable to leave my work for more than a toilet break. I could probably count on one hand the amount of sleep I had gotten while I was held prisoner by my muse. If it hadn't been for Carlisle constantly checking that I was eating and drinking, I more than likely would have keeled over from hunger or dehydration.
It had ended yesterday morning, my mind finally purged of every brush and stroke that my exhausted body could give. I had slept all day, waking up just as the sun was rising this morning, and forced my aching limbs to move.
I had showered and pulled on dark, faded jeans, pairing them with a rumpled henley topped with a button down, both sleeves rolled up to my elbows. My messenger bag, filled with my pencils, sketch pad, and trusty moleskin, accompanied me as I left my studio in favor of some fresh air, but I doubted that I would use them.
I wandered around the city with no real direction in mind, watching the world around me wake up. How I had ended up in a small, dusty bookstore hidden in the mouth of an alleyway somewhere in Greenwich Village I couldn't quite explain, but it gave me a sense of familiarity that soothed my rattled nerves.
As always, after coming off such a high as I had been on for the past week, I felt unsettled. My skin felt almost too loose around my frame, and my fingers refused to stay still, tapping and twitching with inactivity. My mind itched for some kind of occupation, but I was unsure how to settle it with my current absence of inspiration.
I felt like an addict in need of a fix, but I swallowed back the dryness in my throat, ignoring the burn for more as I let out a long breath. It wasn't hard to imagine why so many artists turned to drugs to replicate and prolong the high, but it wasn't something that I was willing to fall into.
I dry washed my face, still tired even after sleeping for so long, and meandered toward the exit, pushing the Ray Bans perched on my head down over my sore eyes. My Docs thumped against the creaky, wooden floorboards, stirring up dust as I turned my attention to the street outside, or as much as I could see of it through the unwashed window.
My fingers jerked, drumming a rhythm on the rough fabric of my jean-clad thigh, trying the rid myself of the tension bouncing around inside. I clucked my tongue, nudging it against the roof of my mouth as I exited the bookstore, the tinkling of the bell sounding like a siren to my sensitive ears.
I winced, raking a hand through the unruly waves of hair that sat atop my head before digging a crumpled carton of cigarettes out of my bag. If I hadn't fumbled, dropping the carton on the sidewalk with a curse, I never would have seen her.
I was on one knee, one hand reaching for my cigarettes when I looked up over the rim of my sunglasses. It was just a quick glance to see if anyone had noticed my blunder, and that was when I saw her on the other side of the street.
She was a flurry of color, her striped cardigan ranging from one end on the spectrum of color to the other as it hung loosely off her shoulders, the sleeves pushed up to her elbow.
Beneath her cardigan, she wore a belted black and green cotton dress that clung to her body like a second skin. With the way the material hugged her, I couldn't help but notice her full breasts and sensually curved hips.
The dress ended above her knee, rounding over her luscious ass before tapering off to reveal long, shapely legs, which I could already tell would feel so soft in my hands as they wrapped around my waist, and taste so good against my tongue.
Unlike so many women that conformed to society's view of how they should look, she wasn't skinny. An ignorant person might have described her as full figured, but to me she was bodacious. Her body was soft and voluptuous, her figure reminiscent of old Hollywood glamour, back when women actually looked like women.
Despite popular belief, women with curves were so much more attractive than the sticks that paraded around with flat chests or fake breasts they could only ever dream of having naturally.
Curvy women didn't need to flaunt their bodies overtly to be visually stimulating, they teased in a subtle, sensual manner even with layers of clothing on. They were made to withstand rough manhandling and harsh fucking in which they were bent over, hands gripping their fleshy hips as a cock pounded into them. With slight women, you feared hurting them, but curvy women could take everything you gave them and then dish it back.
A wise man once said that a woman without curves was like a pair of jeans without pockets; there was just no where to put your hands.
I wasn't sure what drew me to her, but I could feel the gears in my brain slowly turning as it came back to life. She was completely oblivious of the attention she had drawn, and not just from me, her head bent down with earbuds blocking out the world.
My heart rate spiked as she disappeared from view, ducking into a small, cozy coffee shop, and without thought to my actions, I scooped up my cigarettes and followed her. I pushed against the crowd, the unending stream of passers by working against me. It felt as though I was swimming against the tide, the undercurrent stubborn in its effort for me to move in the opposite direction.
I broke free, darting out of the crowd and across the road, ignoring the angry, impatient honks and yells from the traffic I had interrupted. I wasn't quite sure what was possessed me to follow her, but she had stirred something in me that had been dormant for a while.
A part of me protested against my actions, screaming at me that I wasn't ready for something like this, but a larger, stronger, part of me dragged me forward, overshadowing the other voice in its quest to make her mine.
It had been close to three years since I had so much as considered dating, let alone chased a woman. Unlike most, who surely had tales about cheating spouses or a bad break-up, I had simply woke up one morning and realized just how tired I was of participating in the meat market they called dating. I had informed my family that I longer wished to be set up on dates or pushed on any unsuspecting socialites.
It wasn't to say that I had suddenly turned asexual and never so much as looked at woman—I was a man and I knew beauty when I saw it—I simply lacked the drive to pursue any of them...until I saw her.
This nameless woman had not only woken my mind, but she had reawakened my body. It had been three comfortable years of just me and my palm, but she had stirred the beast inside of me, and it was eager to make up for lost time.
There was no bell to announce my arrival, something for which I was grateful. There was nothing worse than drawing unwanted attention to yourself, especially when entering a relatively full coffee shop. I stood awkwardly in the doorway, one hand grasping the strap of my messenger bag as I rolled on the balls of my feet, my eyes scanning the shop until they landed on her.
She had taken off the cardigan and removed her sunglasses, a few stray hairs falling into her face as she rested her elbows on the table before her, her focus on a worn paperback.
My eyes were drawn back to her body, the way she was leaning forward pushed her breasts up so that the plump, creamy swells were peeking out the top of her dress.
Her collarbone and the long column of her neck were bare, and I felt my body instinctively react to it. I could imagine my lips against it, marking, bruising, and owning her skin.
I licked my dry lips, letting out a long breath before focusing my attention on something other than ogling her. I could only hope that she would be unattached and open to the idea of at least talking to me since I was already passing the threshold of interested toward something more tangible.
She was oblivious to my presence as I slowly made my way over, her head bent down over her worn book. Her teeth sunk into the soft, pouty flesh of her bottom lip and I couldn't stop myself from thinking of those lips in other places, mainly on my body, licking, sucking, biting...
Her brows furrowed in concentration and I swallowed, fighting to come up with some sort of smart comment to get her attention when my tongue felt like lead in my mouth. I wasn't quite sure what was wrong with me. I was usually calm and confident. I prided myself on my limitless control, but, in this situation, I found myself clueless and a little stumped, a new kind of desperation pressuring me not mess this up.
I pulled my sunglasses up into my hair nervously and finally settled with , "Is this seat taken?"
She glanced up at me, tugging out her earbuds as her expression morphed from disinterest and mild annoyance to curiosity.
I was momentarily frozen, knocked off kilter by her beauty. Her dark hair–the color dancing between dark auburn and chestnut–was pulled up into a sloppy bun, a few tendrils curling and falling down around her face, the color striking against her ivory skin.
There was a light dusting of moles covering her exposed body, faint dots that spanned sporadically from her nose to her wrist. I was sure that to most they would be seen as a mar on what could have been potentially flawless skin, but somehow they just fit, and I couldn't imagine what she would look like without her beauty spots.
Her large, deep brown eyes were framed by long, thick lashes that swept upward toward her delicately arched brows. Her heart-shaped face had almost perfectly proportioned bone structure finished off by an elegant, straight nose. Her full, lush lips that almost appeared too large for her ethereal features once again grabbed my attention. They were so enticing that no word besides erotic could suffice in describing it.
"It depends," she murmured, her voice sweet, yet husky as she ran her eyes over the length of my body in a way similar to my own perusal. "Are you, or do you ever intend to be, a serial killer?"
Her expression was serious, but I could see the mirth dancing in her eyes. The corners of my lips quirked up into a smile, and I felt some of the tension drain from my shoulders.
"Well, I'd like to keep my options open," I deadpanned, finding my footing in the conversation. She rewarded me with a soft laugh, her smile growing as little dimples appeared in her cheeks. "But, if it's a deal breaker, I'm sure I can cross it off my list of future occupations."
"All right, then, since you made such a huge concession for your future on my behalf, you can sit," she answered, matching my humor with her own. Usually my humor was met with eye rolls or confusion, and I found myself further intrigued by the girl in front of me.
I slid into the chair across from her, a new kind of nervous energy buzzing through my veins. One part of me yearned to reach out and see if her skin was as soft and smooth as it looked, and the other part wanted to know how good she would look splayed out, naked, against my sheets. I shifted my hips, my dick twitching in agreement with my thoughts as I tried to rein them in.
She smiled and peeked up at me from under her lashes, which put my thoughts right back in the gutter they had just attempted to crawl out of. I could already imagine seeing her staring up at me, that same spark in her eyes as she kneeled, ready to take my cock in her mouth.
There was an aura of confidence around her that told me she was comfortable in her own skin, something I saw less frequently without the usual air of arrogance. Her eyes sparkled, the rich chocolate color showing her passion for life without fear. It was clear that she wore her heart on her sleeve, and I was thankful to have found her before some asshole had crushed her spirit.
"Can I buy you a coffee?" I asked, trying not to sound over eager, but fearing failure in that respect.
She hummed, cocking her head to the side, her lips pouting in contemplation. "No," she finally said with a slight shake of her head. "But you can buy me a large vanilla milkshake with whipped cream and chocolate shavings."
She batted her eyelashes at me playfully and I chuckled, running a hand through my unruly hair. She was like a breath of fresh air, so refreshing and real that I almost had to pinch myself to see if she was actually there. She teased me in a way that didn't leave me second guessing, or internally questioning whether or not she was actually interested, and that—in itself—calmed me.
"Well, when you put it like that..." I said before catching the attention of a waitress nearby and ordering it for her. She looked a little surprised, not having really expected me to really buy it for her, but didn't attempt to stop me.
She leaned back in her seat and crossed her arms over her chest, forcing her ample breasts to become more prominent as she stared at me, trying to read me. "Since you're buying me a milkshake, I think it's only fair that I tell you my name," she stated, shrugging away any coyness in favor of a more direct path.
I nodded in agreement. "It is only fair."
"I'm Isabella, but I prefer to be called Izzy or Isa. Never call me Bella or comment on the Italian translation. It is not only cheesy, but it is annoying," she informed me matter-of-factly.
"Duly noted. I'm Edward, just Edward. I don't do abbreviations or nicknames, "I told her.
"Was your mother a fan of the classics?" she asked teasingly.
I laughed. "She claimed that the Bronte sisters were her soul sisters," I admitted.
Any further conversation was halted by the arrival of Isa's milkshake, which she immediately started to devour. I found myself enthralled, my eyes transfixed as she scooped up the cream with her fingers, slipping it into her mouth and humming in appreciation. The way her tongue peeked out to lap at the corner of her mouth where some cream had been caught made my stomach curl with heat and want.
My hand curled into a fist against my thigh as my cock strained uncomfortably against the zipper of my pants. I adjusted myself, shifting my erection into a more comfortable position as it throbbed, leaking pre-cum down my thigh.
She caught me blatantly staring at her as she ran her tongue over the front of her teeth, pausing her movements. Her dimples made depressions in her cheeks as she grinned, her eyes alight with amusement.
"Would you like some?" she offered, and I wondered how she could so cute and innocent whilst looking so fucking sexy at the same time. I wanted to fuck her and cuddle her at the same, a feeling, which while a little foreign, not unwelcome.
"I'm fine," I told her, my voice raspy and low. She shrugged, whirling her straw around the tall glass, mixing it all in.
She focused her attention on her milkshake, giving me the freedom to allow my eyes to roam. The way the light hit her chestnut hair caused little hints of auburn to shine through, the silk like quality of it showing signs of extended care. I was no hair connoisseur, but even I could tell that it was natural, no highlights or dye added to accomplish its shine and color.
I had always thought of make-up as a woman's armour, and to see that Isa had foregone it, except for the little framing her eyes spoke volumes to me. I was beginning to see that what you saw was what you got with her, and it was a relief.
I couldn't quite discern her age—correctly guessing age was not a talent that I possessed—but she was younger than the girls I usually held an interest in.
"Either you're trying to Vulcan mind meld with me or I have something on my face, but either way, if you stare any harder, I'm afraid that you'll look right through me," she commented offhandedly.
I looked away, slightly embarrassed as the tips of my ears turned pink and I smiled sheepishly. "You know Star Trek?"
My change of subject was neither subtle nor smooth, but she didn't seem fazed by it in the least. She shrugged, her dimples once again coming out to play as she grinned, leaning her head against the hand propped up by her elbow on the table.
"I'm no expert on the subject, but I've always had a soft spot for Spock. There's just something about a man who's so calm and controlled no matter what the situation that does things to me. I mean, he comes off as intimidating and so smart, his dominance apparent, but there is also this softer side that comes out to play on occasion, especially with Jim. Those two had an epic bromance."
At the risk of sounding like a pussy, I was ready to admit that I had never seen anything cuter than watching her babble. The spark of passion in her eyes and the furrow of her brows as her mind whirred, sewing each thought together in an intricate design had me leaning forward, wanting to be closer to her.
She gave off this aura, this warmth, and anyone would be stupid not to want to be near her. She huffed out a breath, blowing a few stray hairs out of her face. I was surprised at her insight and how she'd phrased her sentences, the unspoken words woven into them speaking louder than anything she could have spoken aloud.
"Anyway," she concluded, "I didn't really mind the staring too much, but you do have me curious as to what had you thinking so hard," she said.
I teetered between truth and bullshit in my mind before deciding to just fuck it. If she could be honest from the get go, unafraid to reveal herself, then I could gather some of the same courage that she possessed and do the same.
"I was trying to guess your age," I told her truthfully.
My words must have sparked her own curiosity on the subject because she squinted at me, the same question that I was sure I had held, reflected back at me.
"Well, I'm old enough," she replied with a smirk, one eyebrow rising in a delicate arch.
"I know, I was just curious," I said, trying to brush it off.
"Well, in the interest of sating your curiosity, I am twenty-five, and before you say it, yes, I know that I look ridiculously young." She rolled her eyes at herself, but let one side of her mouth quirk up in amusement.
"Look on the bright side, when you end up on the wrong side of thirty like me, you won't complain about having a baby face," I teased.
She mock scowled at me. "I do not have a baby face. I merely have been able to retain my youthful good looks," she stated with a firm nod. "How old are you, anyway?"
I pulled a face. "Thirty-two," I admitted grudgingly.
She laughed at my expression. "Oh, come on, you're not that old."
"Old enough," I grumbled, secretly elated that my age hadn't turned her off. Seven years may not have seemed like a large age gap, but to some people, it was practically robbing the cradle.
"Old enough to be on the cusp of a mid-life crisis, it seems," she quipped. "I love the homemade tattoo, by the way."
I frowned in confusion, looking down at my arm, which was covered words, doodles, and even a fucking game of tic-tac-toe. Next time, I vowed that I wouldn't use permanent marker to curb my need to empty my mind.
"I ran out of paper," I explained sheepishly.
She laughed. "Spoken like a true artist. What's your poison?"
I was surprised that she saw the signs and put the pieces together about my occupation. Either she was an artist herself, or she was familiar with how we worked.
"Mostly sketching and painting," I told her.
She nodded, looking interested. "That's cool. I studied music at Cornell."
"Uh huh, I'm apparently rather talented when it comes to playing instruments. I can pick most up quite easily, but I focused on the Cello. I'm part of a local stringed orchestra in the area right now."
"Wow, that's a great opportunity. I'm almost jealous."
She waved me off, her wrist flicking daintily as though it was no big deal. "Oh, whatever. I'm sure you do pretty well."
I shrugged, not denying it. "The local art community has been kind in recent years," I conceded.
"At least it pays the bills," she pointed out, and I didn't feel the need to explain to her the small fortune my parents had left to me after their death, as well as my ongoing investments. Money wasn't something I liked to brag about, and I was lucky to have the opportunity to pursue a vocation without worrying about pay.
We chatted easily about music, books, and just about everything else, only pausing long enough for Isa to take sips from her milkshake. Our tastes differed a lot, yet they didn't clash too harshly. Instead, they sparked passionate discussions that ended with us each promising to give the other's suggestion a try.
She was smart, passionate, brazen, and unafraid to state her opinion, no matter the subject. The fact that she was well-versed in politics and current events, preferring to be aware of what was going on in the world around instead of burying her head in the sand like so many people made me more curious about her than I had been previously.
"It's so nice to be able to talk about these subjects without someone glaring disapprovingly because they don't agree with my opinion," I admitted. "But please, if I'm boring you we can talk about other things."
She waved me off with a graceful sweep of her hand. "I'm enjoying talking to you. It's refreshing to talk to someone who doesn't back down when I get opinionated," she revealed, a wide, relaxed grin on her face.
"You don't get that often?" I asked, unable to disguise the surprise in my tone. Her feistiness was a huge turn on, and any man in their right mind would rile her up just to see the fierce glint in her eye that I was sure translated well in the bedroom.
"You'd be surprised," she admitted. "My mother claims that I'm too curious and spirited for my own good, but I've always had a thirst for knowledge. I spend half of my time with my head stuck in a book learning and discovering new things, and the other half trying to experience them. I'm a naturally curious and competitive person, so I've always felt like I needed a jump start in everything so I can prove myself to others.
"Not that I don't enjoy the process of learning," she amended. "I've just always pushed myself to do a lot in a little amount of time. That makes me sound like a complete nerd, doesn't it?"
"You're cute when you babble," I blurted out, incapable of holding the words in. If it meant that I now had to search for my missing balls then so be it, but she had to realize just how adorable she was.
Her expression changed, twisting as she tried to muster up some semblance of annoyance, but failed, letting out a soft, embarrassed laugh instead. "Shut up. It isn't my fault that my words get away with me sometimes," She groused half-heartedly.
"Your mouth is quicker than you mind. That is a common disability. You should get your filter fixed before you end up with foot-in-mouth disease," I quipped, my tone full of mock sympathy.
"I'll see what I can do," she responded dryly.
Her phone chimed, interrupting our conversation, and she shot me an apologetic look before digging her phone out of her cardigan, which she'd slung over the back of her chair.
"Fuck," she cursed, her eyes scanning the text before shoving her phone back in her pocket. "I'm sorry, but I have to go. I totally forgot that I have practice today."
I looked down at my watch, shocked at how much time had passed since I had first sat down. The conversation had just flowed so easily between us without any awkward lapses that it seemed as though minutes, not hours had gone by.
She slid out of her chair, slipping on her cardigan and gathering her things. "Do you have a pen?" she asked.
"Um, yeah." I wasn't quite sure why she wanted one, but I dug out a black sharpie from my bag and handed it to her.
"Give me your arm?" she requested, and I held out my arm without question. I didn't protest as she started drawing on it, smiling when I saw that she writing down her number on my forearm. She made a move to give me my pen back before changing her mind and pulling it back.
"I've just given you an excuse to call me. If you want your pen back, you know how to contact me," she said, giving me a wink before heading toward the exit. My eyes stayed glued to her ass and swaying hips until she disappeared out of sight, trying to memorize them, hoping the memory was enough to tide me over until I saw her next because there was no chance that I was not going to call her.
I stayed seated, my mind trying to catch up on the events that had just taken place. Isa had come into my life like a whirlwind, shaking me to the core and leaving me discombobulated in her wake.
I laughed softly to myself, letting my mind wander back and forth between the possibilities. Her number stood out boldly against my pale skin, branding my arm and I couldn't help but wonder how soon was too soon to call her.
A little thought niggled at the back of my mind, telling me that maybe she was what I needed, what I had given up searching for. I leaned back in my chair, contemplating my next move. I ran my tongue over my teeth, flexing my jaw as I rubbed my thumb through the stubble. My fingers resumed their tapping on my thigh as let myself slowly begin to hope.
While the future was not set in stone, I had a good feeling about her. Yes, she was younger and most likely less experienced than the women I usually dated, but she held great potential. She knew herself and was confident in what she had to offer, but as with every woman I knew that there was an insecure little girl hidden just beneath the surface.
I didn't know her story, and she didn't know mine, but I could hope that when the time came to reveal those stories and secrets, that mine wouldn't frighten her away.
AN: So...what do you think? Leave me some love!