Playlist: Show Me What I'm Looking For by Carolina Liar, I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers
Alice bounds down the stadium toward us and envelops me in a hug. "Bella, hi! Eeee!
"What the hell is he doing here?" I hiss in her ear.
"Trust me," she whispers.
"I trust you. Him. Not so much. Not anymore."
Edward gets distracted with an old football buddy of his. I take the chance to attack Alice.
"What is going on?"
"You need to get out. It's been a year."
"I know it's been a year. And I am out, but Edward? Why in the hell would you possibly think—"
"I'm gonna head up," Edward says, poking his head into our view.
"Ooh, me too," Alice says, pushing herself ahead of Edward and pulling me behind her.
Once we're in our row, Alice sits and starts squealing again. "I feel like I haven't seen you in forever."
Jasper waves from her side. "Hey."
"Hi, Jasper. And, Alice we talk, like, every week." I'm so irritated.
"I know, but you're here in the flesh." She grabs my hand and yanks me down beside her. There's nowhere for Edward to go except next to me. It's a little awkward but not necessarily unwelcome. I can be mature about this.
He sits comfortably enough, cheering on the team and singing the fight song with us all when we score.
We spot a few recognizable faces but not many. Most of our classmates moved on and never came back. Myself included. Alice, too. She lives in Seattle with Jasper. They have two girls who are staying with a friend for the weekend.
"Alice says you're in Seattle again," I say, making small talk.
"Yeah, I finished my PhD, and I'm teaching now. Go huskies," he says lamely.
"Do you enjoy your work in Miami?"
How does he know I work in Miami? What has Alice told him?
"Yeah. Copy editing is copy editing. But I like the beach."
"Really? I can't imagine you being the beach type. You were never one for conventional swim suits."
I turn to face him, my knee bumping his. "I can't believe you just said that."
He shrugs. The football team scores, and Edward points to the field, eyes wide, and hollers in celebration. I clap but keep my eyes on him all the while. This is surreal.
"Bells, you need any help in here?"
"I'm fine. I clean the bathrooms every Saturday." I smile at Dad. That was awfully sweet of him to offer. Sweet and rare. I go back to scrubbing the countertop, washing his whiskers down the drain. So gross.
"I'm gonna watch the game then." He disappears down the hall.
I turn up the music in my room, the local rap station blaring. I sweep the floor and scrub out the bathtub, humming. I can't clean without music.
"I like the way you work it," I sing, now cleaning the toilet. "I got to bag it up. I like the way you work it—"
I jump, the sound right at my ears.
"What are you doing here?" I ask, turning, smiling at the goof behind me. We were supposed to meet later on the overpass.
"I came to hear you rap, apparently. Blackstreet and Dr. Dre? Really?"
"The tempo keeps me on task. It'd take me an hour if I was working with Lysol and Jewel."
"Jewel." He says it with distaste and a scowl.
"Don't you need your soul saved?"
"That's what I have you for." He places his hands on my hips and leans in, giving me a smooth kiss. I keep my hands off since they're covered in toilet water and chemicals. "I do not miss this."
"You don't do chores for Esmom?"
"What chores did you have at home?"
"Mostly lame ones. We have a maid, so—"
"A maid? What kind of life do you live, Edward? Holy crap, and why aren't you taking me out on expensive dates?"
"I told you my dad was a lawyer . . . money. And, um, because you'd hate those kind of dates. Anyway, so I had to keep my room clean and picked up, but even that I'm bad at. You've seen my room." He gives me an embarrassed grin.
"It's not too bad."
"Tell that to my mom and the maid."
"So why don't you do chores for Esmom?"
"Oh, well, we made a deal early on. I have to spend time with Carlisle in the shop every so often, and if I stay clean, I don't have to do anything around the house. Alice bitches about it. She has to do my laundry." He chuckles and plays with my hair.
"You've been clean the whole time you've been here?"
"That's pretty cool."
"What's it like? Being high or stoned or whatever?"
"You've never tried anything?"
"Someone handed me a cigarette freshman year. It was disgusting. That was the end of that."
"You're the most innocent person I know."
"I live in Forks. It's not like that stuff's around here."
"It's everywhere. You just have to know where to find it."
"Oh, and you know that kind of stuff?"
"I do." He doesn't elaborate, and I don't want him to. I wonder vaguely if he's purchased anything. Does he have a stash in his room? Would he be using it if I wasn't around? No, I wasn't much in his life when he first moved here, and he didn't do it then.
"You're thinking too hard. Look, I made a deal with Esme, and I've kept it. No worries."
"I'm not worried. I just find it interesting."
"Okay. So, are you almost done? It's my last day. Is this how you want to spend it?"
"Just don't go."
"Yeah and have my mother drive down here, dragging me by the ear."
I wash my hands, smirking, and he catches my reflection.
"You like that image, don't you?"
"I love it." Or maybe I just love you.
"Mmm. I love this." He lifts me onto the counter and pulls me to the edge, stepping between my legs, his mouth meeting mine. "You ready to go?"
Dad waves goodbye from the couch as we head out for our last hoorah.
When Edward and I return from our day out, we find Esme in the living room, tree lit up, carols blazing.
"Look out. Here it comes," I murmur.
"Here what comes?" he asks.
Esme grins and skips to us, singing along to the old man crooning from the stereo system. "We wish you a Merry Christmas," she trills and pulls Edward by the hand, forcing him to dance.
"I call it Christmas vomit," I say.
"You, be quiet," Esme admonishes.
"It's so gross," I say, but honestly I love it. I adore that the Cullens go all out for Christmas.
"Carlisle, come dance with Bella. She needs a partner," she calls over her shoulder into the kitchen.
Edward's eyes pop when his ever-cool uncle approaches me, gingerly takes my hand, and twirls me around the living room. "Don't be jealous, Edward, Bella's been dancing with me for years."
"It's true," Esme says, smiling at us.
"Where's Ali?" Carlisle asks.
"Yes," she says sternly, like leave it alone.
"Alice, come enjoy Christmas vomit!" Carlisle barks down the hall.
Edward and I chuckle together. I wonder how his family does Christmas. My dad orders a turkey and mashed potatoes and buys a few things from the gift list I write for him.
"I'm busy, Dad," Alice calls from her room.
"Now, young lady, or your friend is going home!"
There's some fumbling down the hall, and Alice and Jasper appear. His hair's a disaster. Edward and I share a look and try not to let our laughter escape. We know exactly what was going on in that room.
"Here, dance with Bella," Carlisle says to Jasper. I don't think I've ever heard him call Jasper by name.
"No way," Edward interjects, cutting in before Jasper can reach me.
Esme smiles kindly and reaches out her hand for Jasper to take. Alice throws her arms petulantly over her dad's shoulders. Sometimes I wish I could slap her and tell her how great she has it.
"Why can't I dance with my boyfriend?" she asks.
"Because I want a minute with my own daughter. Is that too much to ask?"
"Is it too much to ask that you not embarrass me?"
"Honey, no one should be embarrassed," Esme says.
"No one wants to dance with their parents to Christmas carols. Do they, Bella?"
"Um, they're cool parents, so . . ." I don't mind.
"You're in your room too much. You need to get out in the light of day," Carlisle says.
"I am out." Alice won't even look at her dad.
"You know you could entertain your guests in another room." Carlisle twirls Alice, and while she's closer to Jasper she smiles at him.
"I do. Bella and I were out here playing cards just last night," Alice says.
"I'm not talking about Bella."
"You're being a hypocrite. Mom tells me stories, you know. You were younger than I was when you were sneaking in her room."
Carlisle takes a deep breath, trying to keep calm. He's not a very explosive person, but I've seen him shout before. Mostly with the boys when they were cutting classes and such.
He turns his attention to Jasper and addresses him. "My daughter is grounded tomorrow. And the punishment starts now."
Jasper looks to Esme who nods. "Thanks for the dance, Esme."
"You're welcome, Jasper. We'll see you in a few days."
"Mom, you can't do this. We were going to go ice skating."
"You'll go later," Carlisle says, and that's the end of it.
Japser leaves, Alice storms off, and Edward and I park ourselves in the living room while Esme moves around some decorations. Carlisle stands still in the middle of our once-happy dance floor, hands in his back pockets.
"Girls are so complicated," he says, sighing.
"Boys are complicated, too," Esme says.
"They never talked back to me the way she does."
"No, they just hit you."
He scrubs his hand over his stubble. "Man, I forgot that. That time Alec sucker punched me. It was a good hit," he says, longing in his voice, like the memory was a great one. Carlisle had an ugly black eye after that.
"Remember how Royce totally tattled on him after that so he wouldn't get punished, too? I bet it was his idea to take those girls camping with no one's permission. He was such a trouble maker." Esme sits next to the tree and smoothes out the gold skirt.
"I remember Riley crying and crying because he didn't get to go. We all knew about the campout," I say.
"It was a conspiracy," Carlisle says, slinging an arm around me and patting Edward's shoulder. "Don't let this one fool you. She's sweet as can be but smart as a whip. Just look out."
"Yes, sir," Edward says and eyes me, like he knows it's true. Like I'm something special.
"I like this sir stuff. All right, Esme, we can keep him."
"Best Christmas gift ever. A fourth son." She claps from her place on the floor.
"Aw, you're one of us," I say, pinching Edward's cheeks.
He takes a throw pillow and smothers my face with it. It doesn't even bother me. Edward and Esme begin a sing-a-long as I laugh behind the soft cushion. Carlisle wiggles his way beneath it with me and whispers insults about their singing. We giggle together when Edward hits a high note. Carlisle's laugh reminds me of Riley's—a cute stilted sort of chuckle. I don't know why Alice gets so upset with him. He's amazing.
Our hands swing back forth as we walk slowly to my house. He leaves first thing in the morning. I don't want him to go. I didn't realize how much until now. This moment. I joked about it earlier, but now? Now, I actually want it. I want him to stay.
"Are you gonna miss me?" he asks. I can hear the smile in his voice.
"Eh," I say.
He squeezes my hand and drops his eyes to the ground as we make our way onto the overpass. We're silent again, the weight of what's going to happen soon falls heavy on my shoulders. He'll leave. And I'll be alone. Again.
My eyes burn, but I refuse to cry. He's coming back; this is silly. I clear my throat, and his head swivels to look at me.
"Are you okay?" he asks.
"Yep, why?" I fiddle with my hair, trying to calm myself down.
"Alice does that when she's trying not to cry."
"Oh," I say, and that's it. He doesn't push it. I'm glad. I hate admitting my weaknesses.
He wraps his arm around my shoulder and pulls me to the side of the walkway to peer through the chain link fence. "It's only a little while," he says, but the tone of his voice makes me wonder if he's saying it for me or for him.
I turn to face him fully, wrap my arms around his neck, and kiss him. "Are you gonna miss me?"
"Eh," he says, a smirk on his face. He lowers his lips to mine, and we make out on the overpass until I really need to get home.
We take our death march to my house, and I unlock the door with his arms around my waist, his chin on my shoulder. I head inside and remove my coat, hanging it on a hook.
"Have fun in Seattle." Could I sound more morose?
"Yeah," he says, head against the doorjamb. He looks as pitiful as I feel.
I kiss him one last time and whisper a quick "Bye, Edward," before shutting the door so I can cry in private.
Once I'm in my room, I let the tears fall, but they're quickly tamped down when there's a ping, ping at my window.
My mouth goes wide in a grin as I scramble to unlock the latch and slide the window open. He leans up, gripping my neck roughly with his hand, and kisses me passionately, commanding my mouth. It makes my body so, so warm and my heart so, so full. Why does he have to leave?
"Hey," he breathes against my lips.
"Hey," I say, just as quietly.
"I will miss you."
"Me, too," I say, and then he's gone.
Christmas at home is boring, but my annual slumber party with Alice is not.
I'm laid out on her bed, wearing new fleece pajamas. I was so delighted when I got them. They remind me of a blanket on Edward's bed. I've been fondling them all night. "I didn't think it would be this hard," I whine, cramming a Ho Ho into my mouth.
"I know. This is why I couldn't talk with you about Jasper. You just wouldn't have gotten it."
"I wouldn't have. I didn't."
"You'll survive. He'll be home in a few days."
"It feels like a freaking century."
Alice fiddles with the chenille blanket on her lap, twisting the fringe. "So I told you Jasper said he loves me, and I've been wanting to tell you something else. For a while now." She peeks up, her eyes shy but excited.
"You slut," I say.
Her smile starts slow but then explodes over her face, eyes bright with glee.
"When?" I demand. "Tell me everything. Does it hurt? Where were you? I can't believe you didn't tell me. Does Esmom know?"
"It was weeks ago. I just wanted it to be for us, you know. And I promised my mom I'd tell her first."
"Your mom is so cool. Does Carlisle know?"
"Ha! Yeah, right. I'd like Jasper to keep his penis, thank you very much." We bust up laughing and cover our mouths to keep quiet. "We were at his house one day doing homework, and he kept running his hand up and down my leg, like it was nothing. Just back and forth. But it was making me all tense. In a good way. And I turned to tell him to stop it, but, instead, I kissed him. Hard. Oh my gosh, it was the hottest kiss ever and just did not stop, and our hands were everywhere, and then our clothes, and the next thing I knew, I was losing my virginity on his mother's kitchen table."
"I'm such a slut," Alice says, giggling hysterically.
"Way to go. I always knew you'd be unconventional." We high five, and she grabs my hand, sitting up tall, eyes growing serious.
"Neither one of us have, you know, before, so we went really slow and tried to figure it out. There was so much giggling, but also, like, panting. It gets so hot. It's, like, exercise."
"Did you use something?"
"Don't tell my mother," she says, pointing a finger in my face. "I've been on the pill as long as you have, and I trust him. And based on his performance . . ." She cringes at the insult. "I know he's a virgin. So I wasn't worried about anything."
"That sounds intimate." I don't know what else to say.
"It is, but anyway, what you asked . . . I can't lie. It hurt, but only for a moment, and then it's like, you love him so much, it's out of your mind, and all you think about is the connection. It's so amazing."
"I can't wait," I say, and I mean it.
"I'm so excited for you," she says and squeals.
My pager buzzes on her nightstand. It's Edward. "He beckons me," I say and go to his room to use his phone.
"Hey, pretty girl."
"Hey. I miss you so much more than I thought I would. Is that dorky?" I lie down and pull up his blanket, fingering the soft fleece while we talk.
"Hell, no, I can't stop thinking about you. I miss everything about you." His words are slow and even. Cool.
"I do. I miss the way your hair slips through my fingers while I'm kissing your neck and the way your thighs start to shake when I'm between them."
The room is stifling all of a sudden. I throw off his blanket and open his window. Once back on his bed, I twirl my hair like he does sometimes late at night after we've been kissing for hours. I wish he was here.
"I miss the way your stomach tenses up when I lick it." What is he doing? He never talks to me like this. "Damn, I want you."
"Well, why don't you come home?" I ask boldly.
"I can't. I shouldn't drive like this."
"Like this? What do you mean?"
His even breathing is the only thing that lets me know he's still on the phone. He's silent for minutes.
"I should go."
"Edward, I'm not mad . . . I—"
"It's—I'm gonna go. I'll see you in a few days. Okay?"
"Yeah. Okay. Bring me home a good kiss, all right?"
His laugh is low, different, and for a minute I'm nervous for him until: "I can do that."
The loneliness I feel when his voice is gone catches me off guard. I'm not used to it. Being alone is normal for me. Feeling dependent on someone is not. I wonder briefly if this is what love is: feeling the need for someone else. Like you'll die if they're not with you.
But I simply don't know if that's a proper definition. I've never had an example of love in my home. Carlisle and Esme seem to love each other, but they also bicker over stupid things like the price of out-of-season oranges and whose turn it is to write Esme's mother a letter. Maybe a better definition is mutual respect. Maybe that's what love is. And if so, I love Edward, I guess.
I head back to Alice's room, and she asks me about the phone call. "I think he's on something."
"I was worried about that. Mom said he doesn't have such great friends there."
"How much do you know?"
"I know he cleaned up before he got here. Mom wouldn't let him stay unless he was clean already. And as far as I know, he hasn't done anything since he's been here."
"He hasn't," I say emphatically. At least, I don't think he has. And I have no reason to doubt him.
"Well, what did he say?"
"He said he loves my boobs and can't wait to pop my cherry."
Alice's eyes are wide, and she's holding back laughter. "Now who's the slut?"
"At least I'm smart enough not to have to pull splinters from my butt after my first time."
"I didn't say anything about splinters; it's a strong, solid table," she argues, but she's laughing, too.
We're at First Beach making out, hot and heavy in his car. He's been on me nonstop since he got home, and I do not mind. His lips run over my cheek to my ear where he sucks my lobe into his mouth. His hands roam more than usual. I don't mind that either. He leans back, taking in my eyes and lifts my shirt, feather-light fingers over my stomach. "I missed you," he says. It's a whisper.
"I gather that," I say, laughing.
"I don't think you do." His mouth is on mine. Unyielding and strong, his hands gripping my hips, lifting me onto his lap.
This kiss is different than the others. It's moving us forward. But where? Toward love? Toward sex? I have no idea. I don't know anything about either. Though at least I've been taught the mechanics of sex. Love is more of an uncertainty. And it makes me nervous, makes me want to stop what we're doing.
"Do you want to go for a swim?" I ask, his lips on my collarbone.
"You'll keep me warm."
"We don't have swim suits."
"Who needs swim suits?" I pull my shirt from my torso without any qualms. I raise my eyebrow, and he starts to strip, smile on his face. I alternate removing pieces of clothing and sneaking peeks at the beautiful boy next to me. Football players have the best stomachs. The best everything.
He catches me and laughs. "You better look now, because when it's cold, it's not going to be this big. And that's embarrassing."
"Are you serious?"
"Go ahead and look."
I do, but then I wrench open the door and run straight into the prickling cold surf, screaming.
"Shit, shit, shit," he chants and pulls me under the water with him.
There, beneath the stars, wrapped up in Edward's warm arms with his body pressed to mine, I know for sure I'm in love with him. I feel it. But I can't bring myself to say it. He can't even admit to the conversation we had while he was gone, so I can't imagine how he'd respond to such bold words.
But it's his words that shock me.
"This, being here with you, is so much better than my life in Seattle. I wasn't supposed to stay here this long. My mom wants me to come home."
My eyes dart to his, and he frowns, looking out into the black horizon.
"I told her my life was here. It's here because of you."
His mouth covers mine, and he carries me out of the frigid water and wraps me up in blankets in the backseat of the car. Momentarily, I wonder if this is where my story will take place. But it's not. My virginity is not taken tonight. Just my heart.
A/N: Reviews are better than skinny dipping with Edward. Okay, I can't even type that without giggling, but they're still fun to get. Please share your thoughts. I love hearing from you.
I have the awful habit of adding to my completed fics. Arg. Glad you're not complaining and neither are my prereaders and beta. In fact, they're awesome and always want more. Thanks for that, girls.