"Nope. That would be cool though."
"Yeah. Mick Jagger?"
"Seriously. He looked at me, I looked at him, and then I died because it was so amazing."
"That doesn't count," Edward argued. "He only looked at you."
"Who cares?" I scoffed. "I was in the same room as David Bowie. And he looked at me."
"True," Edward relented with a smile.
Edward and I were having lunch in a restaurant that overlooked the Thames. We had just gone to Westminster Bridge and had seen the London Eye that morning. At both places, I had been recognized twice and asked for an autograph and a photo. Both times, Edward had asked me about what being successful was like. He asked me about the music industry; how songwriting and collaborating with producers worked, things like that. At lunch, our waitress had asked me to sign her phone cover, which led to Edward asking me how many musicians I'd met.
He took a sip of his drink and continued his game. "Rihanna?"
"Yes. I wrote her a song."
"What song?" he asked, taken aback.
I sang a few lines of the chorus.
"I know that song," he said, interjecting. "That was you? You wrote that?"
I laughed. "I just said I did. She bought me this coat as a thank you," I added, lifting up the sleeve of my coat that hung on the back of my chair.
"You wrote Rihanna a song. . .and she gave you a coat?" he prompted flatly.
"It's a nice coat," I retorted defensively. "We met at some party Vera forced me to go to and we got to talking. I was working on a song at the time but I wasn't really feeling it, so I offered it to her to see if she wanted to do something with it. And she did. She worked on it with one of her producers and made it into something really great. When the song got released and became really popular, she emailed me saying that she'd take me out the next time she was in London. I thought it was just her being polite, but true to her word, the next time she was in the city, she called me up and took me to lunch. We went shopping afterward, I saw this coat, fell in love with it and she insisted on buying it for me. And now we're total BFFs who Skype all the time," I finished teasingly.
Edward laughed lightly. "So, you don't mind giving away your songs for someone else to sing and become really popular?"
"If you saw the royalties I get from the song then you wouldn't mind either," I told him, grinning over my coffee cup as I took a sip.
"Right," Edward agreed, looking amused. He opened his mouth and then closed it, his face suddenly contorting slightly.
"What?" I prompted him.
"Nothing. I just remembered something." he cleared his throat, looking past me. "The last time I saw Alice she had that song – your song – as her ringtone," he revealed.
I thought back to how Edward and Alice were the last time I was in Forks. "It's weird that you guys don't talk anymore. You guys seemed close."
"I guess." Edward looked uncomfortable, shifting in his seat. "Sometimes I think about our fights and the stupid things I said to her. Then I think about calling her. Then I don't because I chicken out."
"One day you won't chicken out," I declared firmly.
"One day," Edward echoed, smiling faintly.
I finished my sandwich and changed the subject. "I was thinking after this we could either go to St Paul's Cathedral or Trafalgar Square. Your choice."
Edward didn't answer straight away and looked apprehensive.
"You can say neither," I added with a laugh.
"It's just–this morning was great and everything, don't get me wrong," Edward assured me. I nodded for him to go on. "But I'd rather see the real London," he declared. "Like, the hidden corners or places tourists won't necessarily go to. The unknown places that are off the beaten path…out of the ordinary. That sort of thing."
"Out of the ordinary," I echoed musingly, and paused for a moment. "Well, there's this place I go to sometimes to work on my writing when I don't want to be at the studio or at home," I revealed. Edward nodded enthusiastically, looking excited and I quickly added, "I've never taken anyone there though."
Edward's face fell but quickly recovered. "Okay. Fair enough."
"I mean, I'll take you," I said and then shrugged. "But I'm not sure if you'll find it interesting or anything."
Edward threw me his smile. I swear that thing could end wars. "Try me."
"You come here to write?"
Edward smiled broadly. "This is really cool."
'Here' was a kind of concrete cave bounded overhead by a bridge with light car traffic. Underneath the bridge, the concrete curved alongside the hill leading up to the street that led down to it, forming not only a perfect canvas for street artists, but also an ideal half-pipe for the band of skaters zipping up and down it. We'd be in total darkness were it not for the swirling intensity of the spray paint covering every available surface, the bright colors giving the illusion of light. From any vantage point on the path or the bridge, the entire park was completely hidden.
"You were a skater back in school, right?" I prompted Edward, remembering him with a board and that panda hat back in Forks.
"I skated, but I use that term very loosely," he replied, grimacing. "I was terrible and was always falling off my board. I just did it to get girls' attention."
"You skated to get girls' attention?" I blurted out in surprise. I was about to add that with a face like his he didn't need a board, but I bit my tongue. Edward glanced at me puzzled so I added, "um, so, did it work?"
"Oh yeah," Edward emphasized, with a smile. "Girls were all over me in high school because I skated. They were practically falling into my lap. I skipped class to make out under the school bleachers; girls snuck into my room in the middle of night. I was a major playboy." Edward shook his head, still smiling. "No, skating never got girls for me during high school. My first girlfriend was in college. I was a late bloomer."
I bit my tongue again to keep from saying something in response like, 'I bet you do just fine now', but was saved as Edward continued talking.
"I would never have guessed that with the kind of songs you write," Edward said, "for them to have been written in a space like this."
"It's disorientating at first, with the dizzying colors and the swirl of motion," I noted, gesturing at the kids flipping and twisting off the scattered ramps, their shouts echoing around the space. "But a bit of chaos and noise is good. Keeps the words flowing."
We start walking around the area and Edward asked, "Do the kids know who you are?"
"Some do," I answered. As we walked, I ran my hand over the concrete wall beside us. Its chipped and cracked but covered with some pretty impressive graffiti tags. There's no discernible shape or pattern, just swirls and expressions of paint. The color was so vibrant it looked like it was about to burst off the wall. "I don't really talk to them much and neither do they to me. Its sort of an unspoken agreement we have."
As we approach the corner of the park, a grungy looking skater boy in skinny jeans and an even skinnier black t-shirt picked up an acoustic guitar with an array of battered, peeling stickers. He positioned the leather strap over his shoulder and Edward and me stood a bit to the side to watch as he started to pluck the opening notes to 'Here, There, and Everywhere' by The Beatles.
His version was beautiful and slow, with some small riffs on the melody. Edward noticed his talent too.
"He's good," he noted, impressed.
"Yeah," I agreed, as the teen wrapped up the song. Edward and I applauded him.
The boy spotted us and grinned. He produced a flower with a long stem out of nowhere and held it out in our direction. "A special dedication to Miss Bella," he called out.
Edward turned to me, surprised. "You know him?"
"Yeah," I repeated, but this time in a dull tone with a little sigh. I approached the sixteen year old, took the flower and swatted him in the head with it. "Jake, how many times do I have to tell you to quit serenading me? I'm nearly ten years older than you. It's weird."
"Ah, but you don't look a day over eighteen, Miss Bella," Jake responded with a wink. "We could be great together."
"Stop it," I said, swatting him with the flower again but I was smiling. I waved Edward over. "Jake, this is my friend, Edward. Edward, this is Jake. When I come here to write and need to bounce some ideas of someone, I turn to Jake," I explained to Edward.
"You're her co-writer?" Edward asked Jake.
"Co-writer, love of her life and future romantic partner," Jake listed off casually. "I mean a lot of things to Miss Bella."
"He's definitely not the love of my life or my future romantic partner," I told Edward. Jake gasped, clutching his chest and looking wounded. I rolled my eyes and continued. "And while I would like to give Jake some sort of acknowledgement or royalties for the song writing, he only accepts payment in food."
Jake beamed. "Tikka masala and lentil soup with garlic naan from the Indian restaurant across the street."
"Really?" Edward asked, skeptical.
"Hey," Jake said sternly, his face serious. "Don't mock it till you try it. Anyway," he added, waving his hand dismissively. "Singing and songwriting isn't my thing. I really wanna become a pro skater."
"He's very good," I told Edward.
Jake puffed out his chest. "Guess what. I finally perfected the bounce trick yesterday."
"Yeah? Can I see it?" I asked him.
"I don't know," Jake stated, slightly mocking. "The Indian place is closed this weekend because of a family wedding. So I was thinking, a kiss instead?"
"Just kidding." Jake grinned. "A trick for a song?"
"I'm not here to sing," I said. "I'm Edward's tour guide today."
"What would you rather have," Jake directed at Edward. "An acoustic performance by the Isabella swan or looking around crummy old London?"
"I–" Edward started to say.
"Yes, the song. I agree," Jake interjected, nodding firmly. I rolled my eyes. "I don't know why you would want to see London anyway. Not when someone as beautiful as Miss Bella is there beside you to look at."
Edward tilted his head. "You're very smooth."
"I know. And when I turn eighteen, I'm going to make Miss Bella very happy."
"Creepy," I said to Jake as Edward laughed. Jake just winked at me in return. "I'll sing, Jake. Just do your trick."
Jake lifted the strap over his head, handing his guitar to me. He then grabbed his board, took off at a light jog, threw the board so that it hit the ground wheels first and bounced back up to Jake. He hit the board as if he were dribbling a basketball causing it to spin 360 degrees in mid air. When the board was near the ground again, he jumped on it, skated off a handrail before riding back to Edward and me.
We applauded him again. "That was so great!" I gushed to Jake.
"Awesome," Edward acknowledged in agreement.
Jake beamed happily at us. "Thanks. I figured it out that if I keep a running jog, it makes it easier to bounce the board. Anyway." Jake kicked his board so he could hold it up. He pointed at me. "You owe me a song. And you –" he pointed at Edward. "Need to sit there."
He gestured to a bench directly in front of me.
"You can stand if you want to," I told Edward warily as I tuned Jake's guitar.
"No, you have to sit down," Jake insisted, pulling on Edwards sleeve, forcing him to sit on the bench. "If you sit down, you have to looked up at her. It enhances the whole 'Isabella Swan acoustic experience' see?" he explained, gesturing a bit.
"I see." Edward said, settling onto the bench. Admittedly, he did have to look up at me a little to see my face. "And here I was thinking that I had to sit directly in front of Bella because she's so nice to look at," he added.
My face heated up but I smiled, which made him smile. I glanced away and stared hard at the guitar, my fingers squeezing tightly on guitar's neck.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw Jake smirk. "Now who's being smooth?" he commented under his breath. "Are you done tuning yet?" he added at a normal tone, almost whiningly. "I have math tutoring I need to be home for or my mum will kill me."
"Then I'll sing fast," I retorted mockingly. "What am I singing?"
"The Beatles?" Edward offered immediately. Then he looked almost sheepish. "Or is that lame considering where we are?"
"No, it's good." I assured him. Jake looked like he was about to object so I launched into 'Oh! Darling."
I've sung at intimate gigs, music festivals, and on TV and the numbers can range from the hundreds to thousands of people watching me. But the smaller the crowd, the more I enjoyed performing. The connection and intimacy with the people, as clichéd as it sounded, was something different to playing in front of thousands of people.
Like Edward. He stared like he was mesmerized, unable to take his eyes off me and I stared straight back, my voice cutting through the skater's shouts and their skateboards.
"Believe me when I tell you, ooh," I sang, winding down, "I'll never do you no ha-arm."
Jake applauded as I lifted the guitar over my head and handed it back to him. He pulled out a backpack from under the bench and swung it over his shoulder as he stood up. "Nice. I better run," he declared and then quickly kissed me on the cheek.
"Gah! Jake!" I cried out but he was already rushing off before I could swat him.
"I love you!" he called back happily, as if that would make things better.
I made a show of wiping my cheek and glaring at him. But Jake just waved cheerfully at me before running out of sight.
I turned back to Edward, who was still on the bench.
"That was really good." He paused, adding firmly, "you were really good."
"You were like a mini Paul McCartney," he declared, standing up from the bench.
"Thank you," I repeated, this time with a laugh. "I got sneezed on by him," I added conversationally.
Edward stared at me. "What?"
"Yeah, it was at some show last year," I explained. "He walked by me and sneezed real loud. It got on my arm a bit. I said thank you." Edward laughed once and shook his head. "I'm serious! He sneezed on me and now I have like, Beatles superpowers or something. It was right here." I lifted my arm and made to push up my coat to show him where on my arm but then stopped, realizing something. "Oh no!"
"Please don't tell me you've just now realized that you've washed Paul McCartney's sneeze away and you're upset about it."
"My coat!" I remarked anxiously, pressing a hand to my forehead. "I must have left it at the restaurant where we had lunch."
"The Rihanna coat?"
"Yes." I answered and turned toward the exit of the underground skate park so we could go back to street level. "We need to go back for it. God, I hope no one has taken it. I really like that coat."
"But if they have, you still have the scarf that Kanye West brought you, right?"
I shoved his shoulder, laughing. "Shut up!"
"It's blue with long sleeves and black buttons and the inside lining is white satin—"
"And it looks like the kind of coat Rhianna would give as a gift," Edward interjected.
"Rihanna?" The manager frowned in confusion.
"Ignore him," I said firmly, shooting Edward a dark look. He coughed, clearly smothering a laugh.
Edward and I were back at the restaurant where had lunch, talking to the manager that was on duty. The restaurant was closed in the late afternoon, the workers cleaning and doing preparation for the dinner rush.
"I don't know of any blue coats that were left behind," the manager said, shaking her head. Then she gestured to double doors on her left that looked like it led to the kitchen. "But let me see if any of the servers that were on the lunch shift are still here. They might know something."
"Great. Thank you," I said gratefully. She waved us inside, and then disappeared to the back of the restaurant.
Edward put his hands in his pockets and looked around him. "Do you think they buy those chocolate roll things we had at lunch? Or that they make them fresh?"
"Why?" I asked with a laugh.
He shrugged. "They were nice."
I was about to retort when a loud crash followed by some yelling was heard from behind the double doors. The indistinct yelling got louder and Edward and I watched, startled, as the manager burst through the doors, pulling two boys by the ear after her.
"Ow, ow!" one boy cried out.
"Ah! Mu-um!" the other yelled.
The two boys looked to be sixteen years old. One was slightly rounder and shorter with ink black hair and the other was lanky tall with light brown, shaggy hair.
They were both struggling against the lady holding their ears, faces contorted in pain. When the taller one caught sight of me though, he stopped, staring at me with wide eyes.
"Dude!" He hissed urgently to the other boy. "Dude, look!"
The other boy with the darker hair stopped struggling and mirrored his friends' actions, except with an added squeak, gaping at me as well.
The lady finally let go of the boys and held something out to me. "Is this your coat?"
"Yes!" I took it from her, and folded it over my arm, grinning widely. "Thank you."
"Your welcome," the lady replied curtly. "I found these two," she turned to the boys who were behind her, clutching their ears and grimacing—"conspiring in the back with it." She swatted the arm of one boy and glared at the other. "Since when do you two steal? What is wrong with you boys?" She snapped angrily.
"We didn't nick it!" The taller one protested.
"We just borrowed it," The shorter one chimed in.
"Yeah, we were gonna return it." The taller one added. To my surprise, he then turned to me and said earnestly, "promise, Isabella. We were gonna give it back."
"Do you know every sixteen year old boy in town?" Edward muttered from beside me and I elbowed him in response.
"You were going to give it back," The manager echoed skeptically. "Do you really expect me to believe that? I'm very disappointed in you boys. Very disappointed," the manager emphasized sternly. The boys glanced away from her, looking miserable. "Apologize to the lady."
"Sorry," the boys mumbled in unison, not looking at me.
"It's okay," I replied gently.
"And the two of you are on dish duty in the kitchen for the rest of the week, straight after school," the manager continued. "And I'm taking away your kitchen privileges as well."
That last part snapped the boys out of their miserable stupor.
"What?!" The taller one looked stricken, his eyes wide.
"No cooking? Mum!" The shorter one protested.
"Boys, you stole something from someone!" The manager retorted in exasperation.
"But we were gonna return -" the shorter one started to say.
"Enough!" The manager said sharply and the boys snapped their mouths shut, looking miserable again. Their expressions made me grimace inwardly. I hadn't meant for the boys to get into trouble and if they were going to return the coat like they promised, then they seemed harmless enough. I just needed to find out why they took it in the first place.
"I sincerely apologize for the all the trouble about this," The manager said to me, her expression earnest. "Let me make it up to you somehow. I could pay for the dry cleaning bill…"
"Oh, no. That's not necessary," I said immediately. I held up my arm, gesturing to the coat. "I just had it cleaned less than two weeks ago."
"A free meal, maybe? Lunch or dinner here, on me," The manager prompted and Edward and I responded at the same time.
"You really don't need to."
"Do you have any of those chocolate scrolls left?"
"Chocolate scrolls?" The manager repeated. I stepped on Edward's foot in silent protest but he didn't flinch and pointedly ignored me. "I don't think we do," the manager continued. "But I do have a few maple chocolate scrolls left if you'd like?"
"Maple chocolate?" Edward nodded enthusiastically. "Yeah. Those sound good."
The manager disappeared into the back again and I gave Edward a flat look.
He shrugged at me. "One thing you need to know about me is that I'm cheap so I love free stuff. More so if I can eat it."
In spite of myself, I fought back a smile and was about to say something when the harsh whispering coming from the two boys who took my coat distracted me.
They were standing a bit off to the side - the taller one glancing between his friend and myself and Edward and his friend looking anywhere but at us.
"Just ask her!" The taller friend hissed, waving his hand at Edward and I. "She's right there!"
"No, Sam," I heard his friend mumble. "Just forget the plan."
"What?!" The other, Sam replied sharply. "But it was YOUR idea to take her coat in the first place. Now we really do look like thieves!"
I cleared my throat loudly to interrupt them. "Hello."
The two froze for a split second, gazes snapping toward us, with the shorter one letting out what sounded like a strangled gasp at my greeting.
Sam elbowed his friend and muttered, "just be cool. I'll handle the talking."
"This is Edward," I introduced, and Edward lifted his hand in a wave. "And I'm Isabella -"
"WE KNOW WHO YOU ARE," the shorter one blurted out loudly, startling me. "You come in here on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. If it's the afternoon, you'll sit at the bar with your friends and order a vodka and lime. On Wednesdays, you order the special of the day with bruschetta on the side which I do for you and always make sure you always get extra tomato on it."
I stood there, stunned, not sure of how to respond to that. "Oh. Um."
"Jeez, Riley. Stalker much?" Sam remarked, rubbing a hand down his face.
"Sorry." the boy, Riley, looked down at his shoes. "Got excited."
"Let's start over," Sam announced and then pointed to himself. "I'm Sam and this is Riley. We really are sorry for taking your coat," he added. Sam nodded earnestly in agreement. "We just wanted to get your attention so we could talk to you about something."
"Okay," I said, feeling intrigued. "What did you want to talk about?"
"ARE YOU FREE SATURDAY?" Riley shouted.
"Will you stop yelling at her?!" Sam snapped at his friend.
Riley coughed, looking sheepish and Sam turned back to me. "On Saturday there's this party and everyone from school is going," he explained. His eyes cut briefly to Riley before landing back on me. "And we were wondering if you could come to the party and -"
"Okay!" The manager burst through the double doors again, this time waving a small paper bag. She handed to Edward and said, "here you go. One maple, chocolate scroll."
"Thanks!" Edward accepted the bag with a wide smile.
"You two are still out here?" The manager said when she spotted the two boys. She jerked her head to the kitchen. "Dishes. Now."
"But mum, we were just -" Riley began to protest, only to be cut off again.
"Don't push it," his mother warned and the boys hung their heads and walked through the double doors.
Edward and I said our goodbyes to the manager and finally stepped out of the restaurant and onto the sidewalk.
"So are we going to a party on Saturday?" Edward asked jokingly.
"Sure. Let's go," I responded with a laugh.
"You know why they wanted you to go, right?" Edward questioned as we began walking.
"It's a party that everyone from school is going to," Edward said, echoing Sam's words. "Meaning girls will be there." I frowned, not following and Edward added, "They want you to go so they can impress the girls they like."
I let out a burst of surprised laughter. "What!? They do not!"
"Yeah. They do. The girls they like are probably fans of yours and the boys want you there so the girls are impressed."
"How do you know that?" I asked, amused.
"I just do." He shrugged. "The way Sam and Riley were acting, you could tell it was about girls."
I shook my head. "No. I don't think that's what it is."
"Okay," Edward said. "Let's say, hypothetically, that is what the boys want. Would you go to the party?"
I hesitated. "Well."
Edward looked taken aback by my hesitation. "Really? You wouldn't go?"
"Not really, no," I admitted.
"Too good to perform at teen parties?" He teased.
"No," I said flatly and then I shrugged. "It's just...they want me to sing at a party so they can impress the girls they like. Don't you think that's a little..." I gave Edward a pointed look but he just stared back blankly. I sighed and said, "cheesy?"
"Cheesy," Edward echoed with raised eyebrows. "You, Isabella Swan, think that's cheesy? Have you listened to your music recently?"
"What?!" I burst out, shocked. "My music isn't cheesy!" I listed words off my fingers. "It's about emotions, and reality and feelings -"
"Cheese. It's about cheese," Edward interjected, mimicking my hand ticking movements.
"Do you think I should play at their party?" I asked Edward with interest.
Edward shrugged. "If you're free on Saturday, why not?"
I regarded Edward closely. "You're a romantic," I declared and poked his arm. "You're a total cheese ball, aren't you?"
"I'm not a total cheese ball," Edward echoed sarcastically. "It's just what I grew up with." He opened the paper bag and tore off a piece of his scroll, avoiding my gaze. "My grandparents were high school sweethearts and were together for fifty years, right till the end. And maybe they're not a great example, but parents were the same, before they split up. But what my grandparents had, that's what I want," he admitted. "Something that'll last forever."
There was a moment's pause before I snorted loudly. "That is so lame," I teased, rolling my eyes. "You, Edward Cullen, are a total lame-o."
"That's really mean," Edward commented, but he was smiling. "And just for that," he tore off another piece of scroll and ate it. "I'm not sharing any of my scroll with you."
So sorry for taking forever and ever and ever and ever to update :(
Thanks so much for sticking with me.