Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters, though sometimes I wish I did. All rights to author Stephenie Meyer.


One – Collide

My word processor is fucking up again, and I have to restrain myself from uttering something obscene out loud in the middle of this half-empty airport terminal. Pretty sure curse words are curse words even in France.

I dig into my duffel bag for my flash drive, thanking the guy upstairs that I brought my back-up files in my carry-on luggage. I'm going to need them this time.

While the device loads, I glance up at the nearby departure screen. My flight back to Seattle is on time–for the moment anyway.

Please, I silently pray, don't let there be a storm delay because it's raining buckets back there.

I never thought I could get tired of life in Paris, but here I am. Mom was right; there is no place like home. I should've listened.

Too late now, you idiot. Your mother's dead, your father wants nothing to do with you, and you're a third-rate writer with no solid income. Great job.

I didn't have much to my name back in Washington, but I hoped that my Uncle Carlisle and Aunt Esme would be merciful enough to give me a place to stay for a few days until I straightened my shit out. I had been traveling all over the place for inspiration since I'd graduated from high school, blowing through nearly my entire college fund in the process. My dad never forgave me, but Mom was a different story. I got my writing passion straight from her, and even though she feigned anger to appease my father, I knew she secretly approved of my decisions. It broke my heart when I found out she was gone.

"Excusez-moi?" a feminine voice asks, pulling me from my reverie.

I look up to find a pair of dark chocolate irises staring back at me. I can tell from her accent that French doesn't come easy, so I take my chances and revert to my native tongue. "Oui, can I help you?"

The brunette in front of me takes her time, chewing on the inside of her bottom lip. She seems to be surprised that I speak English.

Wait, why the fuck am I staring at her mouth?

My gaze flits back to her eyes, one brow arched as I wait for her to respond.

"Um, is this seat taken?" She gestures to the one beside me. Of all the seats in this place, she chooses that one? Brilliant.

I'm not in the greatest of moods and I can't stand proximity to others while I'm writing, but something inside persuades me to not be rude.

"Be my guest."

I reach down to move my belongings out of her way before returning to my computer screen, but it's no use. I'm distracted now. I spend half of the next hour before boarding time browsing mindlessly through the internet and sneaking glances at the girl next to me. Her dark locks of hair have been tied up into a messy ponytail. She's not model material, but she's quite pretty. Beautiful, even. Shut up, Edward. You don't even know her name.

As if privy to my thoughts, she speaks up again. "I'm Bella."

I do my best to stifle my amusement. It's just too perfect. "Edward," I respond. "I think you might be in the wrong country." That's as much as I can muster without choking on my own laughter.

She giggles–a sweet sound, almost like wind chimes. "Believe me, my Italian is even worse than my French."

"Oh boy. Perhaps we should stick to English," I say, my tone one of teasing.

I watch the blood rush to her cheeks, tinting them with a rosy color. It takes me a minute to realize I'm staring again. I mentally berate myself as she continues.

"Yes please, let's. Are you headed into Seattle too, Edward?" she asks.

I shut my laptop and put it aside, sensing that this conversation may last. "Yeah, going back home. What about you?"

Bella nods. "The same. School is calling my name."

"Oh?" I'm genuinely curious to know more.

"Junior at University of Washington, majoring in fashion design."

That's when I notice her outfit. It doesn't take a professional to know that her fashion sense is chic. I wouldn't be surprised if her entire wardrobe consists of designer labels.

"Wow. Paris must've been a blast for you then." I chuckle softly.

The corners of her mouth twitch up into a smile. "You bet. I was actually here on an exchange scholarship. Three amazing months in one of the biggest fashion centers in the world. What brought you here?"

That is a difficult question to answer. "Life," I utter vaguely with a shrug. "Haven't stayed in one place for too long since high school graduation. I'm a traveler at heart."

Bella surprises me by not going for the obvious questions about my parents or my career. "That sounds awesome, though I have no idea how you do it with the constant culture changes," she answers with a light laugh.

"It's not so bad. I pick up languages fairly quickly, unlike somebody." I'm grinning like an idiot again, and Bella is shaking her head at me, likely half in amusement and half in embarrassment.

"You're never gonna let that go, are you?" she asks, pursing her lips in an attempt to hide the smile that threatens to give her emotions away.

My grin widens. "Never," I echo.

With a playful roll of her eyes, Bella reaches into her purse, fishing for something. "I hope you're nowhere near me on that plane then."

She takes out her boarding pass, scanning it for a seat designation. "17A. You'd better be in the 40s or beyond," Bella jokes. At least, I think she's joking. I hope so.

I slide a hand into the pocket of my coat to check, pulling out a similar piece of paper. I blink a few times, trying to figure out if this is some kind of prank. The number and letter remain the same, so I guess my sanity is safe for the moment. "17B," I declare with a victorious smirk.

Bella sighs dramatically. "Just my luck. Well, at least I get the window," she says, her gaze meeting mine. Despite her antics, I can tell that she's just as happy about this as I am.

And suddenly, I find myself wishing desperately for that storm delay.


A/N: Please R&R! Any commentary would be helpful. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the next chapter in the coming days.