The last chapter! Thanks so much for sticking with me this far.
Many thanks to Astro, Sophiacorgi and Twilly. I couldn't have done this without them.
I stare at myself in the mirror the next morning, wondering how someone can feel so changed overnight. I'd read that people felt different after losing their virginity, but truthfully, it's not down to that.
Getting to know her, growing to love her has changed me. The world seems completely different, less lonely. Brighter, if I'm going the whole way with the cliches.
Except that brightness is dark around the edges, uncertainty over how she feels for me dulling it. She left me last night with a kiss and a smile more sad than it was happy, but no words. She didn't ask me to call, she didn't say she'd be interested in dating. She said nothing at all, really, and now I wonder if my first love and my first heartbreak are going to happen all at once.
I travel to school hopeful but wary, trying to figure out a strategy for how to approach her. I decide to wait for a sign - a literal one would be good, maybe my name surrounded by hearts, but I'd also settle for something more subtle.
Anything that shows she wants more than just the arrangement.
Any sign that she wants me.
The hallways are covered in pink and red streamers, silly paper hearts strung along the walls to celebrate Valentine's Day, albeit it a day late because we were out of school for the actual holiday. I shake my head as I dodge couples with each step I take, grateful when I finally make it to my class.
I don't see Bella until band practice later that morning. She's pale enough to make me worried, and when she looks at me, her small smile doesn't hold even the slightest hint of happiness.
I make my way over to where she's unpacking her trombone, but I get caught up by some sophomore serenading his girlfriend with Bruno Mars. Bella eyes them with an expression I can't decipher.
By the time I make it over to her, she's trembling.
"Are you okay?" I ask, worried.
"Sure. I just don't feel great."
I open my mouth to speak, but I'm interrupted by the teacher clapping to get our attention. I walk back to my spot, but I don't stop thinking about Bella, or the downward tilt to the corners of her mouth.
There's a sick feeling in my stomach that tells me I've ruined this before it could even begin.
By the end of the day, I'm snappy and irritable, agitated by not seeing Bella all day. She was nowhere to be seen at lunch, and I had to endure watching all sorts of happiness around me alone.
I finally catch sight of her as I'm walking into the parking lot at the end of the day. She rushes over to her truck and I have to run to get to her before she drives off.
"Bella!" I shout, my heart falling when she doesn't turn around. I sprint faster, my hand on her shoulder stopping her from climbing in the truck.
"Are you okay?"
That sounds like one of those things girls say when they're anything but fine. Shit. "You don't sound fine."
"I've had an awful day, that's all."
"You don't like Valentine's?"
"No," she says, her voice sounding thick. "I hate it."
I use my hand to turn her around, sucking in a breath when I see her glassy eyes. "Bella—"
I'm interrupted again, this time by a couple giggling as they make their way out of the school gates. The boy cuddles his girlfriend close, kissing her hair. Bella's face contorts in something that looks a lot like hurt.
"Bella, what is it?" I ask, my voice soft.
"I just don't feel good, Edward."
I have a thought that makes me nauseated. "Did I hurt you yesterday?"
She snorts, the sound ugly and bitter. "No. You didn't hurt me yesterday. You saved that for today."
I let my hand drop as she moves to get into the truck, desperately confused. "I don't understand. I haven't done anything—"
"Exactly." She smiles and it's so sad, her chin shaking as her tears finally spill over. "I'm sorry. I knew this was always the agreement, I just…" She shakes her head and slams the door of her truck.
I stand in the middle of the parking lot, watching her drive away and wondering how to stop it feeling like she's taken my heart with her.
I ignore the rain that begins to fall sometime later, letting it soak through my clothes and wet my skin. I scrub a hand over my damp face, wondering when my life became some kind of teen movie.
Probably around the same time I made an arrangement to lose my virginity.
I think of Bella, of the hurt on her face. I imagine her sitting in school all day, surrounded by girls talking about their boyfriends, watching others receive flowers and gifts. I didn't think she'd want those things, but maybe it meant more to her than I'd assumed.
Maybe she felt the love passing between us too.
It's that thought that makes me run over to my car, climb in, and drive over to the grocery store on the edge of town. I pick up all that I need, cursing when I see it's already been an hour since Bella left me in the parking lot.
I speed over to her house, grateful Monday is an evening that her Dad works late. Her truck is in the driveway and I pull up behind it.
Just in case she's so angry she tries to plot an escape.
I gather my things from the car, walking through the rain and bringing them over to her porch. It takes me two trips but the wooden floor is covered by the time I'm through. I stand back and survey my handiwork, hoping it's enough.
I find a flat rock and throw it gently toward Bella's bedroom window - except rather than pinging off gently, it thuds so hard the glass cracks. The next thing I hear is girly screaming and stomping down the stairs, and it takes every bit of courage I have not to turn tail and run.
"What the hell is your problem?" Bella shouts as she wrenches the door open, her eyes widening when she sees me.
"Did you just throw a rock at my window?"
I scratch the back of my head. "I thought it'd be romantic. Y'know, like in the movies?"
Bella just stares at me like I'm the stupidest person she's ever met. I don't disagree with her.
Then she spots all the items at her feet, her eyes getting even bigger.
"What's all this?"
I swallow hard, convincing myself I need to be honest. Finally.
"There are times when it's more scary to not take a risk than it is to just jump," I say. Bella narrows her eyes, clearly wondering if I've lost my mind completely.
"I like you, Bella. I don't just want to have an arrangement with you, not anymore. I want to go on dates and hold your hand, and if you kiss me, then I'll be the luckiest guy in the world. In fact, we can completely forget about the sex if you want to. I just want you, however you'll have me."
"And all this?" she asks, gesturing to the Valentine's explosion on her porch. I eye the slumped teddies and battered boxes of chocolates, wishing I wasn't confined to only buying whatever leftovers the store had.
I knew the sagging heart-shaped balloon was a step too far.
"I had the whole of today to make up for. The truth is… I was scared. Scared that you wouldn't like me back, that you only wanted me for my body." She laughs and I sigh in relief, glad I haven't ruined this. "I want to show you that if you want these things, no matter how silly I think they are, I'll give them to you. I'll try so hard to make you happy."
Her eyes are glassy again, and for a moment I'm scared, but then she steps straight on a bear's head and into my arms. "You like me, huh?"
My face is warm, but nothing can stop my smile. "More than like, sweet girl."
"Me too," she whispers. "Is this the part where you kiss me?"
I laugh and take her suggestion, pressing my lips to hers. She feels so perfect, and I don't think I'll ever be able to let her go.
"Why do you like me?" she asks, hiding her face in my chest.
"You're the prettiest girl I've seen, for one. You're kind and generous, even when you have nothing to gain. You make me lau—" The rest of my words are swallowed by her kiss, so fierce that I have to take a step back.
"You make me happy, Edward."
My heart soars and flies.
She cuddles closer into me, and I loop my arms tighter around her waist. I press my face into her soft hair and kiss her gently, loving how she feels.
"I still have one more thing I want to try out, you know."
Her cheeks get pink. "I thought maybe we should go on a date. Just to be thorough," she says, her tone teasing.
"I think we could manage that."
She wraps her arms tighter around me.
She hums in acknowledgement as I cup her cheek in my palm.
"There's one more position I want to try."
Her eyes fly open, but I put a finger over her mouth before she can speak.
"I don't know much about it, you see." I tuck her hair behind her ear. "But I think with you, it'd be nothing short of amazing."
"What's the position?" she asks, warily.
There's a dimple in her cheek from how hard she laughs, and my breath halts in my chest at how pretty she is.
There on her porch, with the rain falling in sheets behind us, I kiss her gently, letting her feel without words how much she means to me. She kisses back just as soft, and then I know no matter what happens, I'm never letting her go.
"I think that'd be the best position yet."
*sigh* These two are just so cute.
Thanks to GeekChic12 for being such a wonderful friend, always. She's one of the kindest, sweetest girls I know, and I wish her the happiest of birthdays.
Lastly, thank you for reading, and for all the reviews. Until next time, xoxo