Disclaimer: We do not own Twilight. We did have some chocolate cocks, but we ate them. We made that cock-late our bitch.

Chapter 6

Minimum Skills - A specific skill requirement established by WFTDA and OSDA. These are the minimum skating, game play and rule knowledge skills a skater must possess before they can play competitively.

I jump when I feel my phone vibrating in my pocket. I am shocked when I look and see I've received a text from Cherry.

Did you feed me cheesy fries last night?

My fingers are shaking as I type out a response.

I paid for your cheesy fries, but you fed yourself.

Shit. I even text like an idiot.

Ugh, no wonder my mouth tastes like ass.

"I'd love to be the judge of that," I think out loud, but there's no way I can text those words to Cherry.

I'm sure the tequila shots didn't help either.

Fuck, I can't even read the word 'tequila' without wanting to hurl.

The image of Cherry cursing plays over and over in my mind, completely turning me on, and I have to shake my head to clear it before I can respond.

Are you really sick? Do you need anything?

Nah, I'll be fine. This isn't my first hangover and it won't be my last. Thanks, though.

Do you need to reschedule your lesson?

Please say 'no'. Please, please, please.

Hell, no! I've been looking forward to this all week. I just need to know when and where to meet you.

The relief I feel at her words nearly brings me to my knees. This is really happening. I'm going to be in a small room with only Cherry and my guitar and I've never been more excited and terrified in my life. I quickly type out the address to the studio and what time to be there before I lose my nerve.

Cool. I'll see you then.

I stare at the phone in my hand for what could be hours before I realize I need to make myself presentable. I cannot be in the studio with Cherry smelling like ass so I do my daily 'shit, shower, and shave' routine before grabbing everything I need for the lesson and leaving my house.

Eclipse Music Studios is like a second home to me. I've been renting studio time here for the past three years or so, which is even longer than I've been playing at One-Eyed Willie's. Onstage, I lose myself completely as if I'm in another world but here, I am very much in the 'now'. My body tingles with nervous energy and I am itching to create music.

I have the room set up exactly the way I want it and when I hear a knocking sound behind me, I turn and see Cherry through the small window on the door. Before opening the door, I rub my hands on my jeans to wipe away any moisture that has collected and take a deep, calming breath. When Cherry walks in, though, she's the one who looks nervous.

I push my glasses up on my nose before I greet her. "Hey. Is everything all right?"

Cherry chews on her bottom lip before answering, "Yeah. I just realized I didn't bring a guitar and I feel like such a fucking idiot! I mean, who in their right mind shows up for a guitar lesson without a fucking guitar?"

"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Calm down. I already have a guitar for you."

"You-what? What do you mean?"

I point to the wall on the opposite side of the room. "I didn't know if you had a guitar or not so I brought an extra one for you to use." I don't know why I'm feeling so vulnerable right now. I guess because I never let anyone use my guitars. Like fucking ever. Of course, she doesn't realize what a big deal this is for me but I can't help but feel that if she accepts my guitar, she's also accepting me.

She quickly walks over to where two of my acoustic guitars are leaning against the wall and stares at them, almost reverently.

"They're beautiful. Which one is mine?" she asks before correcting herself. "I mean, which one do you want me to use? I didn't really mean it like I thought you were giving me a guitar."

I have to put Cherry at ease. This situation will never work if we're both nervous wrecks. She's in my domain now so I need to buck up and take charge, show her that I know what I'm doing.

"This one." I pick up the smaller guitar and hold it out to her. "You can use it for as long as you'd like."

The smile that takes over her face as she reaches for the guitar is breathtaking. When she looks up at me, it doesn't falter one bit. Doesn't she know that I can't think straight when she smiles at me like that?

"Why don't you go ahead and sit down," I suggest. After I grab my guitar, I point to the chair closest to her before I sit down across from it. Once she's seated, I tell her, "I want you to just hold the guitar for a few minutes; get used to the way it feels in your hands and on your lap. Run your fingers up and down the strings; strum it a few times. You need to become comfortable with it, like it's an extension of your body."

While Cherry explores the guitar, I grab a pick from the small table next to me and begin to strum softly. I try not to stare for too long but I can't help but watch her small hands as they move over the instrument.

When my thoughts turn to her touching my 'instrument', I strum louder a couple of times and clear my throat before asking, "So, what made you want to learn how to play the guitar?"

She shrugs her shoulders before answering, "I've just always thought it would be cool, you know? I doubt I have the talent to play but music has been a huge part of my life so I thought I'd give it a shot."

"How has music affected your life? If you don't want to answer you don't have to. I'm just trying to figure you out."

She lets out a nervous laugh. "No, it's cool. I didn't really have the best childhood. My mom died when I was in middle school so it was just me and my dad. He did the best he could but it was awkward during my teen years. When I didn't have anyone to turn to, I turned to music."

"Music and figure skating?"

She barks out a laugh. "I can't believe you remember that!" I can't help but smile at her and shrug. "Yeah, figure skating was when I was younger, but music...music was always there."

I don't know what to say. I didn't even think she'd answer me, much less give the answer she did. I'm amazed by her honesty and strength.

"Why are you looking at me like that?" Cherry asks.

Shit, I'm busted! Again.

The words 'you fascinate me' fly out of my mouth so quickly I don't even realize I've spoken. The look on her face brings me back to the real world again and I feel my face flame up.

"I'm sorry, Cherry. I shouldn't have said that; it was out of line."

Her surprised expression changes into a smirk before she answers. "Hey, no worries. I think you're pretty fascinating, too. I mean, a shy, guitar-playing derby fan? You don't see those every day." She kicks at my shoe with her boot-clad foot before she winks at me.

My mind is spinning and I know I have to get myself under control so that we can start our lesson. I run my hands through my hair a few times and push up my glasses again before I ask another question.

"What kind of music do you like? I always ask my students that so that I can get an idea of what songs to teach. It wouldn't do either one of us any good if I taught you Dixie Chicks' songs when all you listen to is The Ramones, right?"

Cherry laughs, "No, that'd be pretty awful. I listen to a little bit of everything, really, but if I had to pick a favorite, I'd choose Heart."

"Heart? That's a little, uh, old school."

This time she kicks my foot a little harder. "Watch it! Chick rockers from Seattle? You can't beat that shit, man! Those bitches can wail!"

I move my feet out of Cherry's reach and hold one hand up in surrender. "All right, all right! I get it, I do! I also happen to agree with you. I just don't want you to be disappointed if you don't leave tonight being able to play 'Barracuda'."

"I didn't think I'd learn enough tonight to play any song."

"Well, that's where you're wrong. You will leave here playing a song, I guarantee it. So, let's get started."

Cherry gives me a smile that can only be described as excited and it, in turn, gets me excited...in more ways than one.

"I'm not going to start your lessons with music theory or how to read music; that'll come later. Tonight you're going to learn how to play four chords and how to change from one chord to another. Once you're comfortable with that, you'll learn your first song."

I put a sheet of paper on a nearby music stand before moving it closer to her. "The dots here," I point to the paper, "tell you where to place your fingers on the frets. Let's learn the first one."

Cherry mimics the note placement almost perfectly, but I need to move her fingers a little bit. Fuck! That means I'm going to actually touch her...touch her skin.

I put my guitar on the floor and rub my hands over my thighs before approaching Cherry.

"That's a great start, but...can I help you just a bit?"

"Of course, Edward."

My fingers are slightly shaking as I reach the neck of her guitar. I gently move her fingers so that the pads are pressing firmly on the strings. I try to ignore the surge of electricity that's burning my fingers because I have to be the only one feeling it, but when I hear Cherry let out a gasp, I jerk my hand away.

"O-okay, now hold your fingers there and then take this pick and strum the strings."

Cherry holds the pick between her thumb and fingers and gives the strings a good, strong strum. She yells out in surprise at the sound she's just made and then laughs at herself.

"I did it!"

An hour later Cherry has learned her first four chords and can switch from chord to chord fairly well. After playing the chords to a backing track of bass and drums for a few minutes, I ask her if she's ready to learn her first song.

"Hell, yeah!"

I tell her what order to play the chords then start tapping a slow rhythm with my hand on my knee.

"What song is this?" Cherry asks.

"'Stand By Me' by Ben E. King."

"That's a great song. Can you play it with me?"

I start strumming along with her and I can tell her confidence is increasing. This is why I always teach a student how to play a song on the first lesson. If they leave feeling comfortable with the guitar and realize that they can play a song on the first day, they'll be more likely to come back for another lesson. They'll also be more motivated to practice in between lessons.

Once we're finished with the song, I take the backing track CD out of the player, put it in a sleeve and hand it to her.

"This is to practice with at home. I have to warn you, though, that your fingers are going to be sore for a while."

"Oh, um, I don't have a guitar to practice on yet."

"Sure, you do. It's in your hand."

"What?" she asks. "I can't take your guitar, Edward."

"Of course you can. Take it and use it until you can get your own. I want you to. I lowered the action and used lighter gauge strings, but your fingers are still going to hurt some at first...at least, until you get some calluses."

"You've got to be the nicest guy I've ever met. Thank you."

I smile at her compliment, but her words make me wonder just how many assholes she's known in her life.

"Well, I don't normally loan my guitars to my students, but I do loan them to my friends." I hope Cherry doesn't pick up on the desperation I hear in my voice.

She smiles at me and my stomach twists in anticipation. "I like being your friend; a lot, actually. I just feel bad because you've done so much for me lately and I haven't done anything. I owe you, like, big time."

I think about her words as we both walk to the studio door. "Cherry, I don't make friends based on what they can do for me.

"You're still the nicest guy I know. I'm not used to being treated this well."

"Maybe you need new friends." My eyes grow wide as soon as I realize what I just said. She seems to think about my words before nodding her head in agreement. "Maybe...hey, can I do something real quick?"

I'm caught off-guard by the change in conversation, but quickly say yes. I'm pretty sure I'd say yes to anything she asked at this point.

"Can I..." She timidly reaching for my glasses, "...can I see what you look like without these on?"

I try to not to look as panicked as I feel as I slowly take my glasses off. I take a few seconds to let my eyes adjust before looking back at Cherry. Slowly she reaches for my face. I barely feel her fingers as she moves the hair away from my forehead, but the heat emanating from her touch is enough to scorch me. I'm not sure what she's looking for, but if she already suspects me as being Masen, I'm gonna shit my pants.

"Hmmmm..." is all she says and I'm just about to jump out of my skin. What the hell does 'hmmmm' mean?!

"Will I see you next week?" she asks.

Again with the topic change. This girl is giving me a serious case of whiplash.

"Yeah, I'll be at the bout and I'm hoping you'll be back next Saturday for your next lesson, right?" I ask, hoping she's going to say 'yes'.

"I'll definitely be back. So, I guess I'll see you next week! Thanks again, Edward! I had a great time."

"I did, too, Cherry."

She moves to close the door behind her when she suddenly turns around and pokes her head back in the room. "I'm Bella, by the way. Bella Swan. Bye, Edward!"


Jiff: Wha?! Bella is Cherry? I had no idea! *lie*

Jenny Kate: Cherry is Bella? Well, I never! *looks back at Jiff*

Jiff: You'll have to excuse these notes. JK and I are having a Girls' Weekend with our Canadian lover Smitten_RPattz and we have a bad case of the giggles. We're not even drinking yet! Well...that's not entirely true...

Jenny Kate: We had margaritas at lunch in honor of Cinco de Mayo Eve...Eve!

Jiff: Yeah, but then we had SBux so the 'ritas don't really count.

Jenny Kate: Yeah, The Bux negates the 'ritas...but we're getting ready to fix that.

Jiff: Hellz yeah! So, I know a lot of you were waiting for the first guitar lesson. Did it live up to your expectations?

Jenny Kate: I don't know about you guys, but I think Edward is adorable. His geeky, nerdy ways are so endearing...and then you put him in a situation like this, and he demonstrates such confidence and "know-how"...just a recipe for hawtness, if you ask me! But, I guess you didn't ask me, did you? Welp, back to you, Jiff.

Jiff: Thanks, JK! This chapter of Crash Zone is brought to you error-free by our superbeta Mauigirl60! Stay tuned for more next week! Peace out!