Disclaimer: Stephenie Meyer owns all things Twilight, not me. I'm only borrowing her characters for the purposes of this story.
Much love and thanks to DivineInspiration for her beta work, and Dreamquill for giving me the plot bunny to play with and prereading. This story would not be nearly as good without them.
This one shot was written for MaxieMoose in the Secret Santa Fic Swap in December. I really hope it was exactly what she wanted, and I hope all of you like it, too.
Shadows in the Sun
"I give up! You win!" She turned her head and yelled at the light peering through black curtains next to her head. Covers thrown off, Bella flailed, arms and legs hitting the mattress in an impressive tantrum. A frustrated scream lasting seconds passed through her lips and then stillness. She smiled. Something so childish and embarrassing had never felt so satisfying. Not even her last lover had been able to give her the kind of release she'd just experienced.
Not going there, Bella.
She crawled out of the cheap motel bed, shaking the uninvited thoughts from her head as she made her way to the bathroom. Turning on the tap, Bella placed her hand under the stream. Perfect. Nightshirt and underwear met the floor, a couple of steps into the shower and under the spray, and heaven descended on her naked body.
She wondered if everyone in this tiny town had showers like the one she was currently in. It would explain, in her mind, why people stayed. Bella had been there for a total of two weeks, and she was ready to pack up and leave. The initial idea of visiting the land of the midnight sun had sounded so…romantic? Fascinating? Hell, she couldn't remember what had drawn her to Barrow, Alaska right before goddamn winter had hit, but it had, and she was ready to ride the first polar bear she saw out of there.
Shutting off the water, she opened the door and leaned over to grab a towel from the rack. Bella admitted to herself that she was probably acting like a drama queen—just a little bit—as she rubbed the terry cloth against her face. But she'd never been in a situation where things didn't go exactly as she'd expected. She had always gotten what she had wanted when she'd wanted it—no questions. People treated her like royalty, and the fucking sun gave the moon a chance to shine every night. Bella wasn't used to dealing with, well, any difficulties.
But this was exactly what she had craved when she'd set off on her self-imposed exile. Time to reevaluate her life. London, Paris, Rome, Prague, and Amsterdam had been devoured in a massive shopping spree full of things Bella hadn't wanted or needed but had hoped would make her feel…something. Next it had been the Orient, sick of material things, she had went on a quest to find herself.
Bella never did discover anything other than she was spoiled and self-obsessed.
Central America had her taking a luxury tour in search of Machu Pichu and then sun tanning on the beaches of Brazil. It had been the worst trip of her life. Bella had gotten stuck with a proud grandmother who liked to show off pictures of her sticky, drooling grandkids each time they reached a destination. And the woman smelled like candy. Bella tried to smile and pretend she cared about children doing boring things while trying to avoid the sickly sweet scent wafting from the gray-haired lady. It had been hell, and Bella was never taking a luxury trip in that part of the world again.
Luxury her ass.
Bella sighed and decided to get out of her room. A hot meal sounded good, even if a drive through the wet snow was required. She locked up and made her way to the black SUV she'd been talked into renting. A necessity, the rental guy had said, to maneuver through a town cut off from civilization for two months.
Her feet slid out from under her when she reached the vehicle, and she grabbed the handle. Holding onto that small strip of metal for dear life, her world tilted and then stopped. Legs lay askew and body arched to complete her humiliation. Bella was sure she looked like some kind of fucked up prostitute in a kinky pose advertising her flexibility. Fuck her life did not even begin to cover the level of fail her day had become. Slowly, and with great care, she inched her way back to a standing position.
All those years of ballet, yoga, and gymnastics had been for nothing. What the…?
She knew she'd just had her purse in her hand before she'd fallen, because she'd been looking for her keys.
Aw fuck. Please tell me that it didn't…
Yep. Lying almost under the vehicle was her handbag nestled cozily in a small bed of snow. The contents were strewn about in a haphazard arrangement. Bella bitched internally about the death of her thousand dollar purse and the hundreds of dollars' worth of cosmetics as she threw her things back into the bag. Wondering if maybe she shouldn't just say fuck it and go back to bed, her stomach decided to voice its opinion. And it was not in the mood to be ignored.
"Guess I am eating then," Bella grumbled, climbing into the cab, keys and soggy purse in hand.
With great care, she started the engine and left the small motel parking lot. The streets were void of life, looking like the ideal Christmas card backdrop. It was pretty, she had to admit, but the glare coming off the white powder could have been toned down a bit.
Lost in her thoughts, she wondered for the millionth time if she should call Alice. Bella had left in such a rush, she didn't let Alice know she was skipping town. Then again, shame and guilt had made sure that call never took place. Fucking the best friend's fiancé tended to make anyone feel like a piece of shit.
Bella hated herself. Her fucked up need to be center of attention was what had led her to start a torrid two and a half month affair with the tall, dark, and handsome Paul. And it had been so easy. He had been more than willing that first night. Bella had bumped into him at a dark, trendy club while Alice had been away on business, and she'd been out with other friends. Nestled in a dim corner, she'd rubbed up against him until he'd begged for more. The sex had been good, spurred on by the thrill of getting caught. She'd found herself taking more and more risks where Paul was concerned, and that last time, Alice had almost walked in on them. That had been what led to her desire to run away from L.A.
She banged her fist on the steering wheel. There was no way she'd ever be able to look Alice in the eye again. Paul had been everything Alice had wanted in a man—kind, considerate, and loaded. And Bella had poisoned him, turning him into just another douche bag with a hot body and a trust fund.
Stomach turning, Bella decided she was going to turn around. Her trip down memory lane had ruined her appetite, and she was going to spend the rest of the day hiding under the covers. It was, after all, the place where all cowards deserved to be, in her opinion. Her eyes scanned the sides of the street, landing on a grocery store parking lot.
Bella pulled in, beginning to turn around, when a mouthwatering sight caught her eye. Walking down the snow-covered sidewalk was a man all bundled from the waist up, carrying a bunch of bags and possessing the most perfect ass she'd ever laid eyes on. She couldn't help but slow down to enjoy the view for a few seconds more. So lost in her blatant eye-fucking, she screamed when she was lifted a few inches off her seat and then slammed back down onto the soft leather. Throwing the truck into park, her heart tried to beat out of her chest.
Not knowing what had just happened, she climbed out to see the front wheels had passed over a parking curb. Ah, so that was what had caused the violent bounce. Bella felt like such an idiot and decided hot men should not be allowed out in public. Really, she should not be held responsible for her inability to pay attention when fineness like that was in front of her.
With a sigh, she turned and leaned against the shiny black metal just in time to see one of the man's bags rip open, sending the contents tumbling to the ground.
"Fuck! Are you kidding me?" A smooth, masculine voice echoed through the cold air. Dropping the remaining bags, he sent a green cylinder object—was that a can of peas?—sailing into a spruce with a swift, powerful kick. Perplexed, Bella continued to watch as he pulled off his stocking cap, exposing his messy bronze hair and slumping his shoulders. It was almost comical watching him walk the few feet to retrieve his can. Well, almost, until she remembered the graceful way she'd damaged her purse earlier.
Sobering her expression, Bella pushed away from the SUV and began ambling toward him. She had no idea why she felt compelled to help the poor guy pick up his damp groceries out of the snow, other than maybe subconsciously trying to court Karma to treat her a little nicer.
"Hey! Need some help?" She called out, causing the man to startle and fall on his ass.
Great. I'm a walking bad luck charm. Thanks. This is great for the self-esteem.
A pitiful groan escaped his perfect lips, she noticed, as her quickened pace had her standing over him in seconds.
"I think I broke my ass," he said, throwing his head back as if resigned to his fate of never moving again.
Bella couldn't help but feel like a major asshole. Not only had she scared him, but she'd caused the breakage of a flawless representation of the male backside. It was just another reason why she should have never come to this town. The weather was terrible, she was a danger to other people—oh, and she couldn't forget she sucked as a person.
"I'm so, so sorry," she said, offering him her hand. He placed his hand in hers, and she pulled, helping him right himself. Brushing the snow off his pants, he froze at her next words. "I saw your bag break, and I thought you could use some help. I swear I didn't mean to scare you."
Cheeks blossoming into a deeper red, deeper than what the cold had already caused, he asked in a small voice. "You saw that?"
She, once again, felt like a huge ass. Of course he didn't want to know she'd seen his temper tantrum. "I turned myself into a pretzel whore when I fell outside my SUV earlier!" The words rushed out without her permission. She gasped, covering her mouth with her gloved hand.
The most beautiful green eyes met her deceitful brown ones, eyebrows raised and a smirk on those full, pink lips. "Pretzel whore, huh? How…um…how does one accomplish that?"
She dropped her hand and looked above his head. "Not paying attention mixed with a slick parking lot?"
"Interesting. I'm Edward, by the way." His black gloved hand was thrust in her direction, and she took it, swearing she'd caught his eyes wandering to her tits for a split second.
Bad Bella. The man candy is not ogling you. You're imagining it.
Mentally kicking her own ass for the girly giggle that slipped out at his touch, she released him and motioned to the items on the ground. "So, um…"
Edward whipped his head around and grimaced. "Oh, yeah. Maybe we should—"
"Right. Sorry. Let's get this sorted out."
The frigid temperatures were a great motivator, and Bella helped Edward place his groceries in the remaining bags quickly. As he tossed the last box of Hamburger Helper into the plastic sack—Bella wrinkled her nose when he wasn't looking—an idea popped into her head.
"Do you need a ride or something?" Her thumb jerked back to the direction of her monstrosity of a vehicle.
"Uh, no. That's okay. It's really not that far."
C'mon, buddy, help me release some of this guilt, will ya? I did cause you to hurt that fine ass.
"Please? I'd feel guilty if I left you out here, short walk or not."
Squinted, intense eyes appraised for a moment, causing her to squirm. It was like he could see straight into the depths of her soul. Snorting silently to herself, Bella swore to throw out the romance novel setting on that crappy nightstand back in her motel room the moment she entered the door. It was obviously sucking much needed IQ points from her brain.
"All right, Bella." The smile that broke across his handsome face was wide. "Pretty girls shouldn't beg."
His cheesy words created a recipe of reactions being stirred inside of her—one part scoffing, two parts swooning, and a healthy pinch of smacking herself upside her head for liking his attention too much for good measure. Still, Bella couldn't help but let the warm feeling of having a travel companion, if only for a few short moments, blossom inside of her. It had been too long since she'd had any semblance of human interaction outside of the usual ass kissing that accompanied people inside of her own social circle and those whose lives depended on her patronage.
God, she was a stuck-up, pretentious jerk even inside her own head.
It didn't take long until they were standing next to her truck. Bella tilted her head and shifted the bags in her hands, eyes questioning why Edward had such a strange look on his face. "Um, not to sound like a dick, but why are you parked over the curb?" He leaned back, looking at her horrible parking job.
She smiled and shrugged as she opened the back door to cover the humiliation written on her face. There was no way she was telling him it was his fault for showing off how that ass moved as he walked. Nope, not going there. At all.
"O-kay." He drew the word out, following her lead on the opposite side. It didn't take long until they were loaded up, inside and strapped in, and on their way. The ride was quiet, save for the few directions Edward gave to his house. Pulling in the small driveway, it was not what Bella had imagined.
A small, ramshackle cabin stood out in direct contrast to the snow covered trees. The exterior screamed for a little TLC while the porch was cluttered with a variety of odds and ends. It was the type of dwelling expected from a hermit, not a man who could rival the beauty of any male model.
"This is me. Thanks for the ride."
His words startled her out of her thoughts. "Oh. It wasn't a problem."
Edward began to speak again when Bella's stomach chose that moment to rumble loudly. Pink-faced, she realized then she'd never made it to the diner. Pressing his lips together, the mirth was plain in his eyes, and she could almost hear the taunting words that wanted to spill out.
"You know," he chose to say instead, "I was going to fix lunch, and I have plenty to share…"
"I wouldn't want to impose."
He caught her in his gaze once again. "It's no trouble."
For some reason, she really, really wanted to say yes, and that bothered her. Bella was always the one men wanted, desired. Not the other way around. Her pride almost had her declining his offer when her heart came in and bitch-slapped it into submission. Before she could decide how she felt about the quick shifting emotions playing inside her, she was accepting.
Grabbing groceries out of the SUV, she followed him onto the porch. Maneuvering carefully, she side-stepped the junk, but Edward wasn't as lucky. Crashing metal clanged around her and all she could do was close her eyes and scream.
"Shit!" Edward's voice broke through.
Eyes popping open, she said. "Oh my god! Are you all right?"
"Other than my pride? Yeah, I'm good." Edward huffed from the ground, tangled in a mish mash of debris and dry goods. "I guess this is what I get for putting off cleaning, huh?"
"This is really good." Bella's words sounded more amazed than she's wanted.
Edward chuckled. "I told you. It's an old family secret."
She giggled. "You mean the recipe I saw on the can of beans? That's your secret?"
Once they'd entered the house, Bella had been surprised yet again. The outside hinted that Edward was a slob, but looking at the interior told another story. Each room was spotless as he led her through a quick tour and then started on the food. He'd promised the best chili she'd ever tasted, and she had taunted him, stating she wasn't sure if he was up to the challenge.
She hadn't had the heart to tell him it probably would be the best she'd ever had, since she'd never eaten any in her life. Or that she would have turned her nose up at such a simple meal months before, just as her snobby parents had raised her.
Meal finished, Bella and Edward lounged on the couch, talking about trivial things. Escape right after eating had been her first intention, but she couldn't help giving in to the growing desire to stay and get to know this man. Nor did she want to.
"So, Bella. What brings you to Barrow?"
She cringed, thinking quickly. "I'd heard the sun never sets in the winter here. It intrigued me, and I wanted to see it for myself."
"I've lost all respect for the sun. I used to love it, but now it's just a big, bright, glowing ball of annoying."
He laughed, throwing his head back. Bella's hands fisted in her lap as his amusement created different pictures of in a more erotic position in her mind. Her body ignited, setting off a new type of desire inside her. She'd gone on this journey with the intention of staying away from men. Decisions always leading her to destroy something pure, Bella didn't want to do it anymore.
There was something about Edward, though, that broke through all her carefully crafted plans. He was so…genuine. Nothing about him was fake, polished, or plastic, and Bella realized that was what she needed in her life. Someone who was real. It also didn't hurt that he didn't know she possessed the blackest soul. Maybe Barrow, Alaska was where she needed to be—a fresh start where she could become a better person.
Wanting—needing to take control of something so unspoiled, she grabbed hold of his head and pulled him toward her. Their lips met, a sharp gasp escaping him before he began kissing back. Hands slid over warm, clothed flesh, kneading and grasping to elicit fervent moans and violent shudders from Bella. Her fingers ran up the sides of his face until they were grasping those soft, bronze strands, her mouth never stopped its domination of his.
"Wait." He broke away with a soft murmur.
Those vibrant greens eyes were inches from hers, but it felt like they were miles away. She was so stupid, misreading his cues. The confidence driving her cravings moments before were leeched from her skin and uncertainty was all that was left. It was disorienting, not being the calm, calculating man eater. She was comfortable in that role because nothing could harm her, nothing could touch her. For the first time in her life, she was vulnerable, and she didn't like it.
Remorse and longing colored her tone. "I shouldn't have—"
"Are you sure?" His question overlapped her words.
"You weren't…you didn't…?" she asked before she realized she'd spoken.
"I didn't what, Bella?" His body turned toward her, his hand cupping the side of her face and bringing her within a breath of his lips. "I don't want to take advantage of you. I need to know you want this." His last words were but a whisper. "Because I want you more than I probably should."
His confession invaded the thorny places of her heart, this man, this stranger, bringing light into that dark and desolate place. Bella wanted to attach herself to him and never let go. Moving in, she attacked his lips and neck.
The world moved in flashes; it was hard for Bella to keep up as each article of clothing was discarded, revealing both her body and his, while her mind spun out of control. So many feelings and sensations assaulted her for the first time. It was pain and pleasure mixed on a beautiful palette of tangled limbs and desperate breaths.
And then she was on her back, naked. Edward hovered, eyes full of yearning passion and quiet control. The silent promises that stare held had a surprisingly calming effect, and she didn't fear the loss of power for once. Bella was tired, so tired, of being the master of her own pleasure. Wanting to be taken instead of taking, brown eyes closed in submission.
A deep male groan punctuated the delicious sensation of him entering her. Wrapping one hand around her hip and the other gathering her hair in a loose fist, Edward moved with deep, measured thrusts. Soothing tingles shot through her, back arching with hands gripping his shoulders for dear life.
"Yes, yes, yes! Oh, god, Edward!"
Small, quick nips and comforting swirls of his tongue peppered her neck, bringing with it sensations of adoration. The alien feeling wrapped around her like a constricting vine, pulling her from the moment, but when his forehead rested against hers, the fear seeping in vanished. His attention switched to her face, capturing her mouth. She could feel the pit of her stomach start to clench with a pleasurable flame. Leg rising and wrapping around the back of his thigh helped her chase the explosion she pined for, desperately.
Edward's hands released his hold, sliding to her sides. "I can't…I can't."
Nodding, her eyes fluttered, knowing the meaning of his words. A thin, delicate thread was the only thing between her and oblivion.
Hips moved faster, pounding at her whispered plea. The sight of him losing himself in her body pushed her higher and higher. Cupping the back of his neck, she clung to him tightly, shattering into a million pieces with a scream. Lost inside herself, Edward's voice echoed through the room in a triumphant moan.
Panting, sweaty stillness, and a comforting weight were all that bled into her consciousness until time started again. Bella never wanted to leave the arms that were now enclosing her in a strong embrace. No words were spoken, but no words were needed. Something had shifted between them, and it was as if she'd finally found where she belonged.
"That was…" Edward face broke out into a beautiful grin.
Removing himself, Edward stopped to place a heated kiss on her stomach before he stood, giving Bella an unobstructed view of his nude frame. The man was glorious, and she began to glow with a recharged hunger. Lids hooded, she could see her perusal had not gone unnoticed, waking his lust from its slumber.
Chuckling, he ran a hand through his hair. "Come here."
With a coy smile, she complied and was once again in his arms.
She looked up at him, and the same request was written on his face. Whatever was going on, he felt it, too. Trailing her fingers down his forearm, she placed her hand in his, leading him toward his bedroom where the day faded into a sunlit night filled with repeated acts of pleasure between white cotton sheets.
Icy tendrils of fear pulled her out of sleep, gripping her body in terror. Every sin ever committed had invaded her dreams, warping and distorting the feelings that had begun to bloom inside. Turning her head to study Edward's slumbering face, Bella knew she could never let her toxic ways infect such a beautiful creature. It had been foolish for her to believe he had really been meant for her. And she hated herself for thinking she ever had a place in his life.
Quietly, she climbed out of his bed, mourning what could have been. The tears were coming, but she held on until she had tip-toed to the living room, dressed, and slipped out of the cabin. The sun's accusing beams taunted her as she made her escape, her raw, exposed shadows threatening to break through the surface.
Loud sobs filled the SUV as she moved further away from Edward, the scenery flying by in a blur. The need to flee and leave this place behind was growing and threatening to consume her. It was clear coming to Alaska was a mistake because then Edward would have never been seduced by such a soulless creature.
Smooth glass and deep brown tones caught Bella's eye, compelling her to pull to the side of the road. Standing tall and proud, directly across from her, was less of a cabin and more of a rustic mansion. Tears forgotten, she shut off the engine and walked across the empty road in a trance. Her artist's eye appreciated the clean lines and bold design of the house as she came closer. It was perfection, save for the obvious repairs.
Climbing the porch steps, she moved toward a window, cupping her hands around her face as she pressed her nose against the glass. The dust, covering the fireplace, cloth-covered furniture, and other forgotten remnants of its previous occupants, faded and a different image emerged in her mind. Bella could see the tokens of her former life merging with this new reality, fitting perfectly within the walls of this home.
She turned away from the scene and the picture disappeared. Longing crept in—god, how she wanted that. Moving to the side rail, she noticed a for sale sign sitting close to the road. How had she missed that? Her hand pulled a cell phone out of her pocket, and she began to dial the realtor's number listed on the placard.
She froze. Moments before, thoughts of leaving and never looking back had taken root, and now she was contemplating purchasing and fixing up this place? The truth was staring her in the face, and her self-preservation had been eclipsed. Bella hit end and slipped the phone back into her coat pocket.
Edward had fanned a small ember inside of her, and there was no going back. The hateful girl bent on destruction was dying, leaving a new creation in its place. And for better or worse, Bella knew she had finally found home.
If you'd like, leave a review and let me know what you thought of this little story. As of right now, it will stay as a one shot. Since I have two other stories I haven't updated yet (which, btw, I have not forgotten about. I am still writing them, but progress is really slow) I thought starting another one would just be dumb on my part. So I'm not even going to try. :)