Five – Unravel
The moment my eyes open, memories of the past few hours rush back into my mind. This flight, my ramblings, Bella…Bella. My gaze drifts to the seat next to me, but to my surprise, it's empty. I realize she must have gotten up and slipped past my sleeping form at some point.
Guess I'm not the only one with ninja skills around here.
I unbuckle my seatbelt, figuring I could stretch my legs, and then make sure my shoes are on properly. Last thing I need is to trip over my own shoelaces.
I'm about to stand up when a streak of gold lettering catches my attention. Underneath the seat in front of Bella's is a recognizable dark booklet–someone's passport. I reach for it, flipping to the identification page.
What I find inside is an image of a familiar face, though younger than the one I know. Bella must be about seventeen in her passport photo. Her dark brown hair cascades down her shoulders, the slightest hint of a smile on her lips, a gleam in her eyes as if privy to some hidden secret. I can't help myself; I glance over at the information, discovering her full name. Isabella Marie Swan. Suits her perfectly. I continue scanning, skipping down to her date of birth.
That's when I feel like I've suddenly been punched in the gut.
Before I can register what I'm doing, I'm walking towards the back of the aircraft, Bella's passport in my pocket. I should have just waited until she returned to our row, but instead, I'm waiting for her to show herself.
It doesn't take long. I can hear the jimmying of a lock in one of the two lavatories in front of me, and out of nowhere, Bella's mention of her claustrophobia comes rushing back to me.
I don't have time to ponder that further because one door jerks open. Bella comes tumbling out, tripping over the slightly uneven surface and somehow landing straight in my outstretched arms.
"Hi," I murmur reflexively. "Don't worry, I've got you."
Her eyes slide open, relaying confusion until she meets my gaze. "Tell me I didn't just trip over my own feet in an airplane, Edward," she mutters, embarrassment evident in her tone.
"I'm pretty sure you were just testing my ninja reflexes, cherié. Lucky for your pretty face, I passed with flying colors." A soft chuckle escapes my lips as I help Bella to her feet.
Thankfully most of the passengers are either still asleep or otherwise occupied, so Bella's literal slip-up goes unnoticed aside from those in the last rows and a couple of the flight attendants. One of them rushes to my side, but I wave my hand a smile to stop her. "She's fine."
Bella keeps her eyes trained on the floor as she walks back to her seat, avoiding any curious gazes. I give the concerned attendant a small smile of reassurance before following Bella's lead.
When I reach our seats, I find Bella head in hands. I buckle back into 17B before tentatively reaching over to pry nimble fingers away from her face. "Earth to Bella."
I can see her lips quirk up just a fraction. "Paris, we have a problem," she replies in a tiny voice.
Unable to help myself, I let out a quiet laugh. "Uh, I believe the correct phrase would involve Houston."
That does the trick. Bella's hands fall back into her lap, and she turns to me, nearly grinning now.
"Paris suits you better, don't you think?" Bella asks.
Girl's got a point.
"Yeah, I guess so," I say with another chuckle. "You alright?"
She nods, cheeks tinted pink. "Fine, just dishonoring the family name with my two left feet."
Isabella Marie Swan flashes through my head, and I shoot Bella a smirk before reaching into my pocket. "Not much of a dancer then, I gather? By the way, I have something of yours."
"Mom tried putting me in ballet when I was six. Worst idea ever," she says, her perfectly manicured brows knitting together in confusion. "What—"
Comprehension dawns on Bella's features as she spots her passport in my palm. "How the hell did you get ahold of that?"
"A simple 'thank you' would suffice," I utter teasingly, passing the booklet over.
"Thank you," she responds immediately, never taking her gaze off me. "Now will you explain?"
"Found it on the floor while you were in the bathroom. It was under the seat in front of yours," I answer, shrugging.
"Huh," Bella says in bewilderment. "Must've fallen out of my bag when I was going through it earlier. I'm glad you noticed it."
"Yeah, me too. Waiting with you in customs would've been a pain."
Surprise registers in her expression for just a moment. "You would've waited with me?"
"But of course, Isabella Marie," I say, offering a crooked smile as I emphasize her middle name.
I could swear Bella mutters something rather unladylike in response, and a surprised peal of laughter slips past my lips. "Excuse me?"
Realizing her error, Bella smiles innocently and tucks her passport securely into her bag. "Nothing. I'm just not particularly fond of that photo…or my middle name, for that matter."
I have to roll my eyes at that. "Like anyone actually approves of their passport picture. As for middle names, those are hit and miss."
"What's yours?" she asks, then bites down on her lip. "Uh, hit or miss, I mean."
"I'm sure that's what you meant," I say with a snicker. "You tell me—it's Anthony."
"Edward Anthony Cullen," she mumbles to herself. I don't bother to correct her with my full legal name; I like the way this rolls off her tongue. "Hit. Definite hit."
There it is again, that idiotic grin of mine. "Glad I have your seal of approval."
Bella nudges my arm, dramatically clutching an arm to her chest. "Edward Anthony Cullen," she says again, "my saving grace."
I lean forward in a mock half-bow of sorts, gesturing with an exaggerated flourish. "Thank you, thank you. I'll be here all week—or, uh, for the duration of this flight," I amend quickly.
Bella's eyes lock onto mine, and moments later, we're both doubled over trying to stifle identical fits of hysterical laughter. The nearest flight attendant sends a stern glance our way, but instead of commanding silence, it only makes us laugh ten times harder.
A/N: While I can't apologize for living life, I am sorry for the huge gap between postings. I can't make any promises about when the next chapter will be up, but I'd appreciate it if you all could continue to bear with me. Major love to everyone who has read/shared/reviewed thus far.
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