I wrote this ages ago and thought I'd lost it when my laptop died! Prettyflour kindly preread for me but it's been that long I doubt she remembers much at all! I have tinkered and changed it since, so all mistakes are mine!
I own nothing!
Europe was at war. Brave men were fighting to uphold everything they believed in, and each day countless children lost their fathers, wives lost their husbands, mothers lost their sons, and lives were torn apart.
Even though America was yet to join the fight, many people—including my grandfather—insisted it was only a matter of time before we did. Already, some of our service men were volunteering to travel to Europe and offer what help they could. Already, some of our men were losing their lives and if only we understood the scale of what was to come.
Soon, the world would be at war, and I, Isabella Dwyer, was accompanying my mother and father to a country club on a Saturday night to socialise with ignorant imbeciles who refused to even discuss what was really happening. Boys would be lining up at my table to ask my father if they could have a dance, while thousands and thousands of miles away, blood was being spilled, yet no one here seemed to give that a second thought.
Renee and Philip Dwyer were the power-couple at Lakeside Country Club in Winnetka, Cook County, about fifteen miles from down town Chicago. Phil owned an assortment of highly successful establishments such as this throughout the Midwest. We lived in the largest house, owned the most expensive car, and I was dressed in only the best clothes available.
Renee took great pride in showing me off to all her so-called friends in this damn place. She wanted everyone to believe we were the picture-perfect family, and why wouldn't they? Renee was the wonderful doting wife, with a handsome hard-working husband and innocent, passive daughter.
But if only they knew the truth.
Phil was in fact just my step-father. My biological father, Charles Swan, had died just months after he and my mother had married. He was one of five men who had attempted to hold up a bank and had been shot by police whilst trying to escape. His death left my mother alone and pregnant, but, as she always did, Renee landed on her feet.
She was still in the early stages of her pregnancy with me when she and Phil met. Her charm and still attractive form wooed Phil in an instant and they were married just four and a half weeks later. He knew the full story, but took me on as his own child without hesitation. No one else was privy to the scandalous backstory to my mother's life and still to this day it was assumed I was Phil's biological daughter and the shot-gun wedding was to avoid embarrassment for having a child out of wedlock.
Not that I could complain. Phil and my mother were both attentive and affectionate parents. For seventeen years I wanted for nothing, and my lifestyle made me the envy of many.
The reality for me was different. Although my parents treated me as a princess, I was bored, suffocated, and desperately curious to branch out from this bubble I was kept in. I wanted to see the world, meet real people, and live a little. I didn't want to be the agreeable girl in the corner any more.
With a petulant huff, I tugged at the tight-fitting blue dress I had squeezed into this evening. The pins in my hair were hurting and I wanted to yank them out and let it fall down naturally, but mother thought this look made me more sophisticated…more elegant.
The smoke-filled air in the club made my eyes sting, and the jovial laughter from around the room bored me silly. I sat drumming my fingers absently on the table, wishing desperately for something…or someone interesting to arrive.
My mother's hand smothered mine on the table and she stilled my fingers. "Isabella, please mind your behaviour," she scalded softly, and I rolled my eyes.
I looked around and saw the same faces, at the same tables, telling the same stories and the same jokes. The same single men hovered by the bar, scouring the room for their next unsuspecting target, which I pointedly hoped would not be me. Pathetic.
Trying to drown out the incessant chatter I closed my eyes and focused on the music that filled the room. There was a new three-piece band and female singer in the lounge tonight.
I danced away inside my own head to the soothing tones of the saxophone that was currently enjoying a solo performance before the final chorus. The rhythmic drumming in the background did in no way overwhelm the tune that was playing…upbeat yet relaxing…like nothing I'd ever heard. Then the piano took over the solo, and the music that emanated from whoever was playing sent shivers down my spine. I still had my eyes closed, but I could picture the pianist's fingers dancing away magically along the ebony and ivory keys. Not a single note missed, not a single timing issue. Beautiful.
Curious as to who was playing in such a captivating manner, I opened my eyes and looked over to the stage. The first thing I noticed was the beauty of all three members of the band. The girl was petite and extraordinarily pale. Her dark hair had been softly curled and sculpted around her face, and she wore a flattering, floor-length gown which shimmered under the spotlights on the stage. The man on the saxophone was tall, with golden-blond hair which had been pulled back into a ponytail, something which would, no doubt, be frowned upon by the snobbish members of the club. He too, was pale, but strikingly handsome.
I meant to look toward the drummer, but the second my eyes fell to the man playing piano, I was unable to tear them away. He had a head full of the most bizarre colour hair I had ever seen. In the light it cast glimmers of bronze, red, and gold, and it had been slicked back to his head with just a few rogue strands that had escaped and stuck out wildly. My gaze dropped to his face and I gasped. Beautiful. The man…no, this was no man…the boy had a wonderfully defined jaw line, high cheekbones, and a pair of dazzling gold eyes which were currently burning right into my own. Still remarkably pale, he was the most handsome man I had ever seen in my short life.
Not once while he played did he drop his gaze yet amazingly he never missed a single note. I thought I could see a look of frustration on his face as he continued to stare at me. We maintained eye-contact for the remainder of the song, before my mother just had to interrupt.
"Isabella, why don't you go and dance with Mr. Newton's son. Michael has always had a soft spot for you." My mother waved over at the table across the dance-floor and beckoned the boy over. "He's very handsome don't you think?"
Did it matter?
As obedient as a dog, Mike was up on his feet and at my side in an instant. He asked Phil if he could have the dance with me and then held out his hand expectantly, like I had no say in the matter.
I was going to refuse and feign a headache or something else equally mundane, but I realised that in dancing with Mike, I could get closer to the mysterious boy playing the piano and I was much more interested in him than I should be.
"Thank you, Mike, I would be delighted to." I put on my most polite face and fought back the gag as I took his sweaty hand and let him lead me to join the other mind-numbingly, dull dancers.
Attempting to no doubt impress me with his foxtrot or waltz, Mike tried to twirl and quick-step around the floor, but I held fast. I deftly manoeuvred us into a position which allowed me to stare at the beautiful boy without interruption.
I could hear Mike making conversation as we swayed on the spot—but I paid little attention. Once again I was locked in an intense moment with the boy on stage. He had the same look of intensity on his face, yet also evident was an expression of utter bewilderment.
"Um, Isabella, the song's finished..." Mike stopped moving in front of me and looked at me hopefully. "Would you like to dance to the next?"
Unable to resist another glance over his shoulder, I was shocked to see the boy now glaring at Mike. His eyes looked almost murderous and I could have sworn I could see his top lip curling slightly, almost as if he were snarling like a vicious dog.
"No thank you," I replied and turned to rejoin my parents, feeling those golden eyes burning into my back as I walked away. A thrill of excitement ran down my spine and my heart actually skipped a beat.
The band left the stage for a short interval, and earned an enthusiastic round of applause as they did. Judging by the reaction, it was clear I wasn't the only one who appreciated their performance. As a child, I had played in the back rooms at the club on more occasions than I could count—my mother and I would often visit Phil here while he was working, so I knew exactly where the band would be waiting before they re-appeared on stage.
"Excuse me," I said sweetly and inwardly scoffed as the men rose from their seats as I stood. "I just need to visit the rest-room."
My mother barely paused for breath; she was too deep in conversation with Mrs. Stanley to notice my absence. Mrs. Stanley was another high-flying club member who obsessed over money, clothes, and socialising. My mother and she were like washer women—they liked nothing more than to gossip about everyone and everything that was going on in the neighbourhood.
I headed toward the bathrooms and then when the coast was clear, I slipped through the door which led to the offices and dressing rooms.
There were few people back here, and anyone who saw me, thought nothing of my presence. I knew exactly where the main dressing room was and made a point of walking straight past with just a quick glance inside. The door was left ajar and I immediately saw the beautiful boy pacing as if something had agitated him. He didn't look approachable in that state, so I continued down the corridor without stopping.
Before I had even made four steps, I heard the door close and footsteps sound behind me. I whirled around and gasped as the beautiful boy stood right in front of me. His eyes conflicted with emotions I couldn't read.
My heart began to race, and my hands trembled. But it wasn't fear—this was something else. Something I had never felt before. Want? Lust? Attraction? I swallowed thickly and waited for him to speak.
But he never said a word.
After what seemed like hours, a shrill voice travelled down the corridor, "Edward, we need to get back."
I looked over Edward's shoulder and the petite girl from the group smiled at me. She seemed friendly enough, yet this boy in front of me looked something quite different.
"I'll be right there," Edward replied, his voice as smooth as silk and dripping with seduction. "It was very nice to...not quite meet you, Isabella."
He turned to leave but instinctively I reached out and snatched his arm. The jolt of electricity that passed through us made me recoil and I gasped again. Edward clearly felt it too, because he spun back around and looked at me in shock.
"How…how…did…you know my name?" I stuttered, unsure what else to say, but loving how my name sounded coming from him.
Edward cocked his head slightly and frowned. "I think most people in the building know who you are, Isabella. After all, you are the daughter of the owner, are you not?"
"Oh...yes, of course. I'm sure they do." I bit my lip and looked down at the floor, feeling the heat flame over my cheeks. "Excuse me."
"Wait, I'm sorry if I was rude—I didn't mean to be." Edward stepped slightly closer and a strange scent filled my nose.
It was sweet, yet masculine, soft, yet rough, and it heightened my earlier feelings of lust and attraction. I was fast becoming confused. No boy had ever elicited this type of response from me. No boy had ever captured my attention so much.
"I am Edward Cullen and it is a pleasure to meet you, Miss Dwyer. Or would you prefer Isabella?" Edward smiled shyly at me and held out his hand.
"It is nice to meet you too, Edward." I took his hand and a breath caught in my throat as he closed his fingers around mine and brought them to his mouth.
His skin was cold—Icy cold yet all I felt emanating though my body was a glorious heat. Just as his lips brushed my knuckles I saw his jaw clench and his grip on my fingers tightened. Just a fraction of a second later, he dropped my hand and stepped away from me. His entire body had visibly stiffened and he looked tense and confused.
"I should be getting back," I mumbled, equally confused by his quick-changing moods. I stepped around him and began to walk away, but something made me stop. I turned back around and looked at Edward and this time I saw a brief glimpse of torture in those incredible eyes. Knowing this boy was different somehow, sensing a dangerous aura filling the air around him, I still knew I wanted more. "Perhaps, we could dance later?"
Edward's brow furrowed slightly, before a dazzling smile appeared on his face. "I think I would quite like that, Isabella."
I nodded and smiled back. Thankful for my unusual spurt of confidence I had to fight the urge to skip as I made my way back to the main section of the club and to my table.
The beautiful boy was called Edward and all being well I would be dancing with him later. This night was definitely a night I would not be calling boring any longer.
No one seemed to have even noticed my prolonged absence and I slipped back into my seat without a word. I watched in utter fascination as Edward and his band-mates were introduced back onto the stage. The music began to play, the pretty voice of the girl began to sound out throughout the room, but I heard nothing except the piano and saw nothing besides Edward.
"Isabella, what on earth are you staring at?" my mother asked in irritation. I glanced at her but she had already followed my line of sight in Edward's direction. Her brow creased ever so slightly, and then a cheeky glint appeared in her eyes. "Oh, I see. My, he is a handsome boy isn't he?"
"No...I mean...yes. But, that's not why I was...well I wasn't staring—he plays the piano so beautifully," I replied and blushed furiously.
She smiled at me and a short laugh escaped her lips, but she never said another word. Instead, her attention was immediately refocused on Mrs. Stanley. I breathed a sigh of relief and settled in to watch Edward again.
It thrilled me that he too, seemed unable to keep his eyes from mine for any lengthy period. Occasionally, though, his eyes would dart quickly around the room and narrow in what appeared to be anger. But, almost as quickly he would look at me again, and a content, crooked smile would tug on the corners of his lips.
The night seemed to last forever and I grew more and more anxious as I waited for the band to finish. My mother didn't encourage any other potential suitors over, much to my delight, and I hoped and prayed that my father would not decline Edward should he ask me to dance at the end of the night.
After the last song was over and the band graciously accepted the generous applause they left the stage. My stomach flipped and I felt sick. Would he come out into the club? Would he dare ask my father if I could dance? Did he even want to dance with me?
I began to hyperventilate so I closed my eyes and concentrated on remaining composed.
"Excuse me, Mr. and Mrs. Dwyer. My name is Edward Cullen, and I was hoping to dance with your extraordinarily beautiful daughter. If you don't object of course?"
My eyes snapped open and a huge smile formed on my face when I saw Edward standing by the table. He had changed into a formal and very expensive looking three piece suit. The few rogue hairs I had noticed earlier were firmly back in place and his expression was polite and earnest.
"Cullen? Dr. Cullen's son I presume?" Phil asked with a cigar between his teeth.
"Yes Sir. My parents are here tonight. They are seated with Reverend Weber's wife." Edward held out his hand to Phil who smiled at the gesture before extending his own arm and shaking his hand.
"Edward, you play piano so beautifully, are you a regular member of the band?" my mother asked softly.
"Not usually no, ma'am. I'm hoping to attend medical school in the fall. Piano is just a passion of mine. My cousin had a prior commitment this evening and I merely took her place."
"Medical school? Like father like son." The smile on my mother's face was huge. "I expect he's very proud."
"That he is." Edward returned my mother's smile. "As I'm sure you are. Your daughter is without a doubt the most beautiful girl in the room. Like mother, like daughter."
Goodness, this boy knew the perfect things to say. My mother was putty in his hands, and my father too seemed impressed. In fact, all the people at the table were watching him intently. Almost as mesmerised with him as I was.
"Would you mind if I danced?" I asked my parents and held my breath for their answer.
I needn't have worried, because after that performance there was no way they were saying no.
"Please, go ahead, Edward," my father said happily. "And please make your parents aware they are more than welcome to join us over here."
"I will do, Sir." Edward turned to me and held out his hand. "Shall we?"
I nodded and let him pull me to my feet. The second our hands connected, I felt it again…that intense spark and again I was flooded with an array of unfamiliar sensations. All eyes were on us as Edward escorted me to the dance-floor. We'll Meet Again by Vera Lynn played and provided the perfect song to slow-dance to. As the song progressed, our swaying slowed and Edward held me close to him.
He was still so cold…unnaturally cold, even his breath was like a cool breeze over my face. I kept my body as close to his as I could, and I felt how hard his chest was beneath his clothing…hard as stone. There was so much hesitance in the way he held me and when I stole a glance at his face I could see those conflicted emotions in his eyes again.
"What is wrong?" I asked, not particularly caring if I was speaking out of turn.
A smile formed on his face and he took a deep breath through his nose, briefly closing his eyes. "Nothing. Now that I'm dancing with you, I doubt things could get any better."
I blushed and looked away. I wanted to rest my head on his shoulder, I wanted to wrap my arms around him and feel all of him. Such a brazen action with a relative stranger would not go down well with my parents.
"What's wrong?" Edward repeated my question with a smirk.
Unable to resist smiling in response I giggled. "Nothing. Now I'm dancing with you."
"Tell me what you're thinking." Edward moved his face close to my ear and whispered, "Please, Isabella, I need to know exactly what you're thinking at this very moment."
The desperation in his voice scared me. I looked at him, and the tortured expression was back. Even though I didn't understand why, I could see he was pained and I hated to think of him like that. "I'm thinking that you frighten me," I answered honestly. "But, only because of the way you make me feel."
"You should be frightened. In the literal sense of the word, I should add. I am not good for you, Bella," he said sadly.
I failed to heed the warning, I was grinning at his affectionate abbreviation of my name. Something no other had ever done. "Bella?" I whispered, "I like it."
A smile formed on his face, but it did not reach his eyes.
"Edward, perhaps I could dance with my daughter now." My father interrupted us and Edward nodded politely.
"Certainly, Mr. Dwyer. Thank you, Isabella. It was an absolute pleasure." He stepped back and I immediately felt his absence.
I watched him walk away sadly, and heard my father chuckle. "Isabella, don't fret. He can have you back after this song."
I smiled sheepishly and allowed myself to be twirled around like a young girl. Every time I saw Edward he was watching me, smiling. He had moved to sit at the table with my parents along with another man and woman, who I presumed were his parents. They were nothing alike in their hair style, features, or build. Yet, as with the band-mates, there was a striking similarity that they all shared; the pale, flawless skin, the strange golden eyes, and of course the extraordinary beauty.
After the song ended, I was released by my father at the edge of the dance floor. Edward was the first to his feet as I approached the table, and he pulled out a chair for me in-between him and my mother.
"Thank you," I said shyly.
I was introduced to Dr. Carlisle Cullen and his adorable wife, Esme. They had recently moved here from a small town in Washington and were finding it difficult to adjust to city life. Of course, my mother took to Esme in an instant and within ten minutes she had secured invites to all the coffee mornings, brunch dates, and club events.
I was too enchanted with Edward to pay attention for long. My hands were clutching the sides of the seat and because of the close proximity of our chairs; it left me just inches away from Edward's thigh.
My throat was dry and I could barely focus on anything except the incredible desire to touch him. I almost felt my fingers pulling toward him, and judging by the expression on his face, he felt it too.
"If you were tired, I am sure your father would allow me to walk you home," he whispered in my ear and I nodded once.
I feigned a yawn and quickly apologised for my manners. "I'm sorry, but I feel quite tired. Would you mind if I returned home?"
"I will not have you walking home alone, Isabella. There are too many questionable characters out there," my father said sternly and Edward immediately offered his assistance.
"I would be happy to walk Isabella home. It is only a short walk from here."
I fully expected his offer to be rebuffed but both my parents were appeased straight away and readily agreed. I thought I caught a warning look from Dr. and Mrs. Cullen in Edward's direction, but it was so fleeting I assumed I was mistaken.
"Thank you, Edward, that would be very kind." Mt heart was pounding, my hands almost shaking, and I was sure my mother would notice, but is she did, she never acknowledged it.
I allowed him to help me with my coat and then took his offered arm. I said, "Goodbye" to all those around the table and walked outside on the arm of Edward. I shivered as I adjusted to the cool, night air.
"Don't be afraid, Bella. I would never hurt you," Edward said solemnly, misunderstanding the reason behind my shiver. "You have no idea how long I've waited for you."
A/N A lot different to anything else I've done I know, but it was an idea I had and just couldn't shake! I have two different routes this story could go…a relatively short two, possibly three chapters or a longer length fic with a little more drama! Let me know which you'd prefer to see!
The rest (either way) isn't prewritten, so I can't promise frequent updates…but whichever way I decide to go, I have the outline in my head.
I'd love to know what you think!
Thanks for reading.
Bye for now,