Edward called me about a week later.
I saw his name on my caller ID and I panicked. My first thought, my first feeling, was negative. It was still so hard for me to reconcile everything that I had learned, to remember that he was innocent.
My dad told me that after I left his office that day, that he brought Edward back in and explained everything to him. Edward was so grateful that the truth had come out that he shook my dad's hand, thanking him for everything. Dad told me that he was "an okay guy."
I knew, in my head, that Edward was just as much of a victim as I was, but I still found that I couldn't speak to him, so I dismissed the call.
He called every single day for three weeks. And every time, I refused to answer. I just couldn't.
Until finally, one day, on an impulse, I hit "answer."
"Bella?" I heard him say, very hesitantly.
I opened my mouth to speak, to answer him, to say something, but nothing came out. So I decided to just listen.
"Bella, if you're not going to talk to me, I understand, but I hope you'll listen." I closed my eyes and gripped the phone hard. He took a deep breath, and I imagined that he was running his hand through his hair as I had seen him do in my dad's office. "Bella, I'm so sorry. For everything. If I could take that whole night back I would..." He stopped talking for a second, and I thought he had hung up, but the phone said we were still connected, so I waited. "Actually, that's not true. As horrible as this whole ordeal has been, I would do it all again, if it meant I could be with you. I just... I just want to know you Bella, please. Please give me a chance."
I didn't answer him that day. I just eventually hung up.
And I didn't answer him the next day, but I listened again. And I listened every day for a week, until I finally said something back.
That was it. Those two words were the beginning, and after that, I stopped ignoring his calls, and we spoke on the phone often. He kept asking me to meet him for dinner, for drinks, even just for coffee, but I couldn't. Not yet. Maybe not ever.
Bree called one night, asking me, point blank, what the hell was going on with me. I asked her to come over, because it was too much for a phone call. I told her the whole sordid story, from start to finish, and we had a good, cathartic cry together. She hugged me when I was done. Bree was an excellent hugger.
She called me later that week and asked me to go see a play with her. We hadn't been back to the community theatre since I first saw him.
"Mom, he's in it. Edward's in the play," she blurted out.
"What?" I asked. "No! No, I can't go, I can't see him. I'm sorry, Bree, I just can't."
"Mother, please. You have to. You have to get past this and move on with your life. This whole thing is crippling you, and it's... it's killing me to watch it."
Her voice broke a little, like she was fighting to hold back tears.
"Oh honey, don't, please. I'm sorry, I just..."
"And he's so sad, Mom, he's just broken."
Wait. He? My heart started to pound.
"He? You mean Edward?" I said with a lump in my throat. It was still hard to say his name. "You talked to Edward? About me?" My voice was a little sharper than I intended, and I think I came across as angry because Bree immediately interrupted me.
"No, Mother, I didn't talk to him about you." She paused. "Okay, well, that's not exactly true. I didn't approach him. He came to me."
"What? Bree, for God's sake, just tell me what the hell happened. Quit dragging it out and tell me!"
"Jeez, Mom, calm down. Okay. I saw him out a couple of nights ago. He was sitting in the corner, by himself. It was pitiful. I looked away, but I wasn't quick enough, and he saw me. He got up and came over to talk to me."
"And?" I asked.
"All he did was ask about you. How you were doing. Were you mad at him. Did you say anything about him. I told him that was between the two of you, to leave me out of it."
I knew how he felt. At least, I think I did. I couldn't stop thinking about him, about that night. About how we connected on more than just a physical level. But then I would remember everything that happened after, and I had to force myself to think about something else.
But this? This was different. Knowing that he was suffering, and that I was the cause? It made me look at things in a different light. I started getting curious, wondering if I could see him. If I could talk to him. I was terrified, but I had to know.
"So," I asked. "What's the show?""
I had pulled just about every piece of clothing I owned out of my closet, trying to decide what to wear to the show. It would be the first time I saw him since that awful party, and I wanted to look good. I wanted him to remember that night, the good parts, how we clicked.
Five minutes before Bree was supposed to pick me up, I finally settled on a sleeveless gold silk dress. It had a beautiful iridescent shimmer to it, a fitted top, and a soft flare that twirled when I moved. I paired that with gold hoop earrings and maroon pumps. It was simple, elegant, and sexy as hell.
I was ready.
The play was good. Not one of my favorites, but I was only there to see Edward, and the minute he appeared on the stage, I was mesmerized. I couldn't take my eyes off of him. He had such a great presence, just commanding attention. His voice was perfect, and he hit a beautiful high note at the end of one song, holding it with perfect control, and the audience erupted with loud applause, myself included.
The finale was a big production number, as usual, with the entire cast. Edward had the lead role, and he was center stage. Our seats were fairly close, and halfway through the song, he saw me.
I could tell the exact moment of recognition. He froze for a second, just a second, but I didn't think anyone else noticed. It was just because I was watching him so intently.
Then he smiled. That crooked smile. That beautiful, sexy grin of his, and I knew.
He was back in character almost immediately, and the theatre went black as the show ended. The orchestra kicked in, the lights came back up, and the cast appeared, one by one, for the curtain call. Edward was last, and when he came out and bowed, I stood up, clapping loudly. His eyes swept the room, graciously giving attention to the audience who so obviously appreciated him, and as the curtain closed for the final time, his eyes met mine and held them. He grinned, and I smiled back, completely unable to control myself any further, and right before the heavy red curtains met, he winked at me.
Well, that's it then. :)
And here comes the massive author's note.
I liked ending this on a happy note, especially because of all the crap that they both went through. Now they can move on and see if they can make a relationship out of a one-night stand. A really hot, dirty one night stand, but still, one night. :)
I might write an epilogue for this story, so we can all know how things turned out for our couple. BUT, if you have ever read anything that I've written before, written LIVE, you know that I'm a horrible updater, and it could be weeks or months between chapters! (This story took me 13 months to write. Seriously 13 months!) I'm awful, and I admit it. So put me on alert, and hopefully one day I'll have time to get to it. I'd love to know what happens as well. I already have some ideas...
Really - don't expect it in a week.
I also have been asked to write a chapter in EPOV. I LOVE writing in Edward's voice, and maybe the epilogue will be his perspective. We'll see.
One of the first questions I got asked early on was, "How did Jessica find out?" This cracked me up, because I had no idea! I just used the Jessica phone-call-thing as a vehicle for Bella to find out! I tried to find a way, a sentence, a phrase, something, to wrap that up, but I was never able to fit it in. So, let's just say that Jessica's boyfriend (Mike, of course!) looks at a lot of porn on the internet, and Jessica saw one of the pics and recognized Bella's face. Mike's never met her before, so he didn't know. Hope that works!
The Lemonade Stand is one of my favorite TwiFanFic websites, and I am SO FREAKING EXCITED this morning to see this story listed on their weekly poll! I'm going to turn into a shameless hussy right now, so if you don't want to see it, look away - Please go to their website and vote (for TMOS, if you are so inclined). tehlemonadestand . blogspot . com. Thank you to MidnightCougar, Nicffwhisperer, Layathomemom, and CarrieZM for the rec. You have all been ridiculously supportive of this story, and I always looked forward to what you had to say! Love also for Edmazing, also of TLS, for supporting this story and my previous one-shots! :)
Other folks I need to thank for recs: robattack . wordpress . com, twilightfanfictionrecsblog . blogspot . com, Layathomemom (again!) for the rec at the end of chapter two of her story "Felt," and Iris (at MariahajilE) for tweeting every time I updated with a new chapter! If I missed thanking anyone, I apologize... it's just because I didn't know that you pimped this story for me, or because I have a horrible memory - either way, it's not on purpose, I swear.
I have to thank all of YOU, for reading, sending me comments, reviews, questions - so much fun! I'll write for y'all ANYTIME. :)
My last, but not least, thank you is to my beta, and best friend, LibbyLou862. She truly is instrumental in all of my stories, with her vicious red pen, her logistics questions ("so when they walk into the room, the bed is on the right?"), and her plot discussions. Friday night, we had a conversation about whether or not the big reveal made sense, and she talked me down from the ledge. Love you Libby. :)
Okay, that's it. Wow, I don't want to go. But I guess I have to, so I'll just say bye for now ;)
All things "Twilight" belong to Stephanie Meyer. The remainder of the perversion is all mine. :)