After saying good-bye to Renee in Chicago, the tour continued through the Midwest. Things became softer between Edward and I as we rolled into December. More smiles than chastizements. He still openly pointed out places of improvements as I continued working on my understudy role, but it was always with a gentleness and instruction. When we weren't performing, Edward joined my little group with the Whitlocks and Chaneys on the bus. I came to find out over the weeks that I liked Edward. This man hiding behind the mask of the jerk was someone I was one I wanted as a friend.
We had just wrapped up our last show in Columbus, Ohio, when me new friend approached me scratching the back of his neck and looking shy.
"What has you all flustered?" I asked, smiling at his out-of-character awkwardness.
"I want to ask you something," he hedged.
"Shoot," I said sitting down on the edge of the stage.
"What would you think of doing a dance with me for the next charity show in Broadway?" He asked glacing at me out of the corner of his eye, still rubbing his neck.
My mouth fell open.
"Terrible idea. You're right. Nevermind," he rambled starting to walk away.
"Edward!" I said with a laugh. "May I answer?"
"What did you have in mind?"
"I was listening to Little Talks by Of Monsters and Men, and I saw this vision of a tap that is sort of a duet, with me dancing while the man sings and you dancing when the girl sings?"
"That sounds fun!" I said excitedly, seeing it in my own head. "I'd love to give a go, anyway."
"Great! We can begin work on it at our next stop."
"Sounds good," I nodded as I started to stand.
I looked up to see a hand extended for me. Edward was smiling down at me, and I couldn't help but smile back as I put my hand into his, and was pulled to my feet. Neither of us seemed to notice that we didn't let go as we walked out to the buses.
"So, are you guys going to be ready to do this for real next week?" Alice asked as we finised up a round of my Judy practice.
"What are you talking about?" I asked turning to her abruptly.
"We will be in Texas next week. Jasper and I are using the proximity to visit with his family. We will miss the Saturday and Sunday shows," she said. "I told you this."
"Yes, you did. I guess it just snuck up on me," I muttered glancing at Edward talking with Carlisle on the other side of the stage. "I just hope I don't mess up."
"Are we talking the dancing or this friendship that you and Edward have formed? Because the first is just ridiculous, and the second seems to be gaining in strength, not faltering. Don't think either, that I haven't seen you guys practicing that new number together." Alice said nudging my shoulder.
I don't know why, but I blushed and glanced over at Edward once again. He was looking at me this time, still in conversation with Carlisle. He gave me a curious face, and I just shook my head and turned back to Alice.
"Yes, we have. How is it looking?" I asked.
"It's great, Bella. It is fun and flirtatious, and it makes me want to hold my husband's hand and cuddle up. It reminds me of first falling in love with Jasper," she said with a girly, nostalgic smile.
"That's what we are going for, something light and fun," I said smiling to myself and thinking of how well it was turning out.
There was something easy about dancing with Edward, my friend. For some reason, when we rehersed the show, he was Edward, the Broadway star, but when it was just the two of us and our little number, we were just two friends enjoying ourselves. I had a feeling, from what Alice said, that it was translating well.
The night of me taking stage as Judy had finally arrived. I had just arrived at the theater with some of the girls, and was heading to our dressing room. When I got to my table, there sat a little ship in a bottle with a note attached to the neck with a bow.
See you on stage! Break a leg! -Edward
I gave a small laugh at the homage to the lyrics of the song we were dancing to, and couldn't erase the permenant smile on my face as I put on my make up and did my hair.
The show went perfectly. I was having so much fun singing and dancing with Edward. At times, I forgot that we were performing for an audience, and just had fun with my friend. What I somehow forgot through the fun of the show was the part in the second act where Judy and Phil kiss. I tried to push the thoughts aside. I had guy friends back in New York that we greeted and said good-bye to one another with kisses. The theater community was an openly affectionate bunch, yet there was a part of me that remembered how Edward looked in pinstripes and spats and glorious in the spotlight. I shook my head. Edward is a friend. Edward is MY friend. Those thoughts had no business here.
"Ready for the second act, chief?"
I jumped, not having heard Edward come up behind me.
"Yes. Am I doing alright?" I asked looking up at him.
"Bella, I am having so much fun tonight. Sometimes I forget to enjoy this. To remember that this is not just another night, but this is another night doing something I love. You remind me of that," he hugged me and kissed my head.
"Darlings!" We hear Carlisle behind us and both jump apart. "What a show! You two are magic out there!"
He grabs us both into a hug.
"Edward, honey, your father is thrilled, and the people are all a buzz in the lobby about you two. I love Alice, but I almost wish we can keep you on as Judy, Bella, dear. There is chemistry with you two! Places everyone!"
We watch him walk off, in drill instructor mode now.
"See you out there," Edward says kissing my head one more time, before walking off to find his place.
The rest of the show goes like the first act, and when the moment comes and I am looking into Edward's eyes, I forget that I ever thought this moment would be awkward, as Edward's hand slides around the nape of my neck and pulls me into a slow, delicious kiss. When he pulls away, his eyes sparkle and we are both sharing an ear splitting grin.
At the end of the show, Edward and I receive a standing ovation from the crowd, and I am clinging to his hand afraid I am going to float away on the joy of the evening.