Dior Rob Contest
Title: Diamond in the Flesh
Summary: "Maybe, I don't really know what your preference is, but maybe sitting on someone else's roof is therapeutic for you?" He barked a laugh, short and uneasy, before he shook his head. The small smile that graced his face was more reminiscent of the beauty captured in the glossy pages of that gossip magazine. "No, not sitting on someone else roof, just … just sitting on yours."
Prompt(s) used: 13; 17; 54
Diamond in the Flesh
The overhead light reflects a pool of dark, shimmering silk on the checkered tile of the bathroom floor. The sweet smell of jasmine, lavender and pine contrast the deadly aroma of a burnt out cigarette in the crystal ashtray at the farthest corner of the white and gold streaked marble countertop. Toenails glisten with the angry color of blood, one of her feet rests near a porcelain claw, her toes tensed and crème foot arched.
His dimmed emeralds glare past the window at the brightly lit silhouettes of buildings that yearned to stroke the edge of the sky, staring for so long that the buildings blur into a fuzzy cluster of lights in the dark blanket of night. He stares as though it's those very same cliffs of concrete that had decided to do him wrong.
The tears that fall down her cheeks don't mirror the emptiness in her hetero chromic eyes. One a steely silver—the other an icy blue. Her Givenchy dress rides up her thighs, revealing a five finger handprint engraved by a passion that evaporated the second she opened her careless, plum stained lips that impulsively revealed that they belonged to another man.
She's not sorry she cheated on him. She's sorry she got caught.
Her other foot rests gingerly on the edge of the bathtub, the closest part of her body to a soul pushed so far away. Her gunmetal coated fingernails grip the edge of the toilet seat, and she blinks a few more tears out of her lids.
He sits, unmoving, in the empty bathtub, still in his Gucci tuxedo and loosened tie.
He tries not listen to her uncaring, steady breaths.
He tries not to see the stiletto-red foot a few inches away from him.
He tries not to feel the searing pain that blurs his eyes and rips his once soulful heart into a now painful two.
Her radiant face was framed by the waning warmth of a sun that was dipping slowly behind the shadows of the concrete buildings that jutted imperfectly into the sky. Her hair swept the monochromatic pillow, catching the last, desperate tendrils of sunlight that set her light, golden hair ablaze.
His finger rose of its own accord to remove a stray lock that had unintentionally obstructed his view of her unreasonable perfection. Her coral lips curved upwards at his touch, making him smile as his finger capered down the contours of her cheek.
"Perfect," he murmured breathlessly, hypnotized as he closed in on her lips.
The fire tasted like sugar-free chewing gum and lightly salted popcorn, smelled like eye-watering Coco Mademoiselle and lavender, and it burned through every single corner built into his six foot two body. It made him smile against her lips, made his fingers dig into the flesh of her hips as he pulled her closer … closer … never close enough. He rolled over her, gripping a leg and hitching it onto his hip before his lips found the spot behind her ear.
Her breathy, airy-lace giggles filled the room, bouncing off the floor-to-ceiling windows, being absorbed into his growing heart. He knew heloved her, there was no doubt about it.
"Edward …" she purred, and he bit his tongue from shouting a grateful prayer to the heavens.
"Edward." This time a little more demanding.
A pause, feeling the question rising between the breaths he was trying to slow.
"I have a meeting to go to, remember?"
Nothing came to the forefront of his mind, but he had no choice but to roll off of her. With each millimeter the fire drained out of him, only to be replaced by nothing but a distinct feeling that cratered a tiny, almost insignificant hole into his heart. The room lost its color, absorbing the comforting darkness of night.
His eyes remained glued to the ceiling, arms dangling over the side of the California King. As usual, she asked if he would be alright for dinner, knowing he survived the past month without her. As always, she kissed him goodbye and reminded him she would be late.
Typically, she didn't bother to apologize.
His head hit the doorframe, but his lips continued their frantic tempo against hers. Heat radiated from her every pore, and his trembling hands roamed over her whole body, only a thin layer of silk barring him from her smooth skin, engulfing him in a constant strain.
They broke off for air, necessary air, and he hastily led her to the middle of the room where their bed stood ready. They fell into it, and immediately her mouth found his.
Her hands clumsily scrambled for his tie. His hand dragged the hem of the dress up her leg. Her nails dug into his shoulders, eyes bulging as his warm hand pressed into her inner thigh, grazing and teasing, just as his lips nibbled at the little dip behind her ear.
A euphoric scream was stuck in her throat, but she recovered after a few drunken kisses.
"Laurent …" she shuddered, tightening her grip, a mere second before Edward stiffened.
Something is suffocating him, squeezing the air out of his lungs. It's as though liquid orange blossom, Turkish rose and vanilla is gushing into every single alveoli, taking the oxygen that he's meant to breathe—his last lifeline.
He heaves in a large breath, blinking away the tears that had gathered on his lids. She still sits there, pathetic tears dried and foot still leaning on the bathtub, invading his territory. His jaw clenches and tight eyes stare into multi-colored nonchalance.
Without thought, he shoves away her foot, not hearing it smack onto the tile floor. He lifts himself out of the tub, letting the silk tile fall to the floor. His hands run through his hair, eyes roam the room for something—anything. He doesn't find whatever, and with one last look at the pale statue on his toilet, he walks out through the white wash door.
She doesn't try to stop him
He squints at the waking sun peeking in from the streaked horizon preceded by the grey sea and a light fog. The waves roll lazily onto the beach, and a few seagulls peck at each other before stretching their white and grey stained wings.
He holds a bottle of Jack at his side, cap thrown carelessly at the sea. The bottle is half empty, but none of the alcohol has entered his lips. His jacket is wrinkled, and the distinct stench of man odor seeps through the expensive folds. His brown, untamed hair sticks out into the wind, the sliver of sunlight highlighting its unnaturally natural copper lowlights.
He's strolling on someone's roof; a day ago he would've cared whose. His eyes sag with exhausted sadness and tired heartbreak. Once an animated jade—now a lethargic, shadowed take of the color it used to be, the vibrance in which those eyes used to see, the life that once lived through them.
Sand. He can feel the annoying little grains through every step he takes, grinding past his cashmere sock to aggravate the already sore skin of his foot, proudly pedicured and massaged twice a month.
Setting Jack down, he sits on the edge of the roof, letting his long legs dangle over the eaves. His movements are slow, forceful, deliberate, as he removes his patent leather Italian shoes and over turns each, letting a steady rain of sand fall onto the wooden deck.
He stares at the shoes for a few moments before hurling them at the sea, watching as they fly a few feet and land on the shore.
There's nothing more to do than ignore the void that gnaws at his chest.
Muffles make him look down, and he blinks away the daze that fogs his mind. His eyebrows knit at the sight of his shoeless feet dangling over a house—someone's fucking house—that he is actually sitting on. He grips the lapel of his suit, lifts it and wrinkles his nose at his stench.
Gone is the emptiness, replaced by a thudding heart that is a few beats short of hyperventilation. He has no time to think of anything else except for the fact that he's going to be sued for trespassing—and he needs to find his shoes.
He's paralyzed to the spot, ears tuned to the muffles increasing in volume, the distinct sounds of keys rattling in the door, a pause filled in by the sound of his heartbeat, indistinct shouts, and the sight of the screen door roughly swinging open and hitting the faint, white wall.
"Shit!" he murmurs, lifting his legs up.
"Huh? Birds don't say shit." The first thing he sees is wet, dark hair pulled into a bun at the top of a feminine head, followed by a pale neck with a dark beauty spot near the left shoulder. The head then whirls around, and for a second he stares into startled, milk chocolate brown eyes.
"What the hell?" she exclaims incredulously, anger pooling in the apples of her too light for the beach cheeks. "Are you on my roof? Why the fuck are you on my roof?"
He opens his mouth to apologize, but his words are caught in his throat.
"'Ey! What the fuck you talking to out there, huh?" a gruff voice yells from the interior of the home, impatient, annoyed.
"Don't you dare start with me!" she screams back, holding onto the waist of her robe as she leans forward. "I told you it wasn't a fucking seagull out here!"
"Huh? What's that supposed to mean?"
"There's a man sitting on my roof!"
For a second or two, there's no response, and the relief is visible on Edward's features.
"Oh, come on!" The woman throws her hands up in the air just as the screen door opens violently, and the end of a shotgun peeks out before the half tanned, bulbous male with thinning hair. He joins the woman on the deck, and immediately points his weapon at the trespasser.
Alarmed, Edward stands up, both hands in the air to show he's unarmed.
"You! In the monkey suit!" He spits onto the floor. "What the hell are you doing up there?"
"Phil!" The woman widens her arms. "What do you think you're going to do with that shotgun, huh? Shoot him on my roof?"
"If it's necessary." He hitches the gun on his shoulder, narrowing his eyes.
She shoves his shoulder, unsteadying and angering him. He lets the gun fall limp as he turns to the woman, incredulous.
"What the fuck?"
"There is no way in ice capped hell you are going to be shooting him on my roof. Last time it took over a month to get all the blood out!"
Edward's eyebrows rise.
"Maybe this time, we'll paint your roof red."
"A red roof? Are out of your fucking mind?" she screeches. "Tell me, do you see any other house here with a red fucking roof? You know why? Because they don't shoot people on their roofs!"
"Shut up. Your voice is giving me a migraine!"
"Hey—" This time, Edward tries to intervene, but his voice is drowned by the quarrel.
"Like hell it is! I'm not gonna let you walk all over me Phil Dwyer, you can get one of your whores to do that!" She waves her fist at him.
"What the fuck is your problem, uh? You tell me there's some guinea on your fucking roof, what do you want me to do, kneel down and suck his balls?"
"If the shoe fits!"
"Oh! The fuck is that 'sposed to mean?"
"Don't you worry yourself about those details—"
"I shouldn't bother, right?"
"I told you from the start, Phil. I don't come with a hundred dollar price tag on my fucking forehead."
"Well that's because you demand the whole fucking paycheck!"
"Hey—" Louder this time.
"Well, maybe it's because of the fact that I do everything for you except wipe you hairy ass."
"And maybe you should start doing that from now on—"
"HEY!" His chest heaves, index finger pointed straight at Phil. His bellow was fueled by his morals, which are intolerant of female disrespect, even though the woman gave as good as she got—maybe even better. He knows that she doesn't need him to defend her, but he just did. It was a knee-jerk reaction, almost instinctive.
In an instant, Edward's staring down twin barrels.
"Why don't you stay out of our business and shut the fuck u—"
Phil's cut-off when the woman uses the momentary distraction to her advantage and jumps him, securing an arm around his neck and her legs around his waist. The gun waves around as her grip tightens on his throat.
"Get the fuc—" he rasps before a bullet burrows itself into the eaves.
"What?" Her eyes narrow at the smoking spot. "Oh, hell no!" She visibly tightens her hold, tendons springing up on her arms. "You've got some nerve to shoot at my house, you son of a bitch!"
The shotgun falls to the floor, and Phil is quick to get to the arm that is turning his face a queer shade of blue. Without thought, Edward vaults onto the floor, grimacing at the impact before snatching the gun.
"Shit! Ow! You bit me?"
"He has the gun!" Phil rasps out.
Her head whips around, and narrows at the firearm in his hand. Phil is soon forgotten, and so is the sting of his bite, as her attack is now aimed at the stranger who began it all in the first place.
"Are you going to shoot at my house too, huh?" She approaches, hell reflected in her warm eyes. "Is that it? Is it some game that you and this fucker concocted? Shoot at Isabella Swan's for the heck of it? Is it? IS IT?" she shrieks fists of fury tamely at her sides.
"No." He drops the gun and raises his hands. "I come in peace."
Untrustingly, she dives for it and then backs away. "And depending on how you answer, you might leave in pieces."
What the fuck did I get myself into? he thinks, trying not to rub his forehead. He can feel the headache at the back of his mind start to bloom.
"Shit, woman," Phil rasps, coughing while clutching his throat.
Her attention shifts, and the gun is aimed at his crotch. Rich, cocoa eyes lock with his dull, coal black.
"Doesn't feel so nice, does it?" she almost whispers.
He swallows visibly, trying not to piss his pajamas or let his hands quiver too violently.
"Maybe I'll have this guy paint the deck red instead, he might as well be an accessory and make himself useful."
"You are going to get into the house, take all your shit, and get the fuck out of my life." Her voice is even—too even. A contrast to the angered fireball from a few moments before, but far deadlier.
"You're not going anywhere, stranger. NOW, Phil!"
He disappears into the house for a few seconds before scampering out into the beach. He doesn't notice the patent leather shoes he jumps over or how expensive they are. Soon, he disappears into another beach house.
"Bitch," she clucks, shaking her head and lowering her gun. It's then that she turns towards him, looks him up and down before wrinkling her button nose. "You hungry?"
His name was Edward Masen the Third, a fancy name that goes with the tux, he said. He didn't even make the effort to smile, as though the joke was already worn and rusted.
She pushed the mug of instant coffee towards him—he had originally requested freshly ground with soy milk—and he offered her a weak smile in thanks.
Earlier, she was too angry to look at him—she meant really look at him—and now that he sat across from where she was leaning against the sink, trying to hide his disgust as he stirred the weak coffee, she had nothing better to do than to study his drawn face.
"What's her name?" she asked, scratching at the base of her neck. Mosquitoes.
The only reaction to her question was when he paused in his stirring, and instead stared into the depths of the crème mug imported exclusively from the dollar store.
"I didn't mean to pry—"
"Good," he breathed, standing up from the only stool she had. "I think I'm going to leave."
She nodded, ready to go to bed and just sleep for the rest of the day. Phil—the fucker—had her staying up later than usual to watch the History Channel, and she was drained from the fighting this morning. She winced as she stuck her hand into the dishwater, the one Phil had the nerve to bite. That bitch!
She could feel my anger rising up her throat once again, but she needed to clear her head if she wanted to sleep.
She whirled around when she hears the door close behind her.
He didn't say goodbye.
He gazes at the vaulted marble ceiling, a low hanging crystal chandelier descending from it. The sparkling blue, almost too-too clear indoor pool in the recreational heart of Masen Manor was once a ballroom in the Romanesque architectural style home that dated back to the eighteen hundreds, if not older.
In a white t-shirt and black chinos, arms outstretched lazily across the water, he floats on his back. He's close enough to the edge of the pool that he can reach out and grab the stone if ever he changes his mind about drowning to make the pain go away.
"Thanks," she smiles, taking the coffee from the Starbucks barista. She blows at the little holes embedded into the lid, trying to speed up the cooling process.
Her dark hair is piled onto the top of her head, and neat, plastic frame, rectangle glasses are perched on her nose. Fading-to-grey black Converse carry her to the other end of the Barnes & Noble to the non-fiction section she has a secret addiction to—when they pause right before she enters the bowels of the bookstore, at the outer edge that has the sales and magazine racks.
She backtracks, and her head slowly turns to her right, hand gripping the coffee with an unusual intensity, and in an instant those chocolate doe eyes take the size of side plates. She snatches the magazine off the rack, looks sideways to check that no-one is watching her specifically—that guy from Starbucks is unashamedly staring at the low slung jeans she threw on, but he doesn't matter—before placing her coffee on the floor and flipping the pages of the gossip magazine rapidly.
THE BUSINESS WORLD'S PRINCE CHARMING AND PRINCESS DIANA HAVE OFFICIALLY CONFIRMED THEIR DEMERGER.
Shit! It's him! Looking healthier—and hotter too. Damn! Is this really him? Holy sherbet, fuck my life. He's gorgeous. Those eyes, and that hair. No way, this is not the guy who was acting all crazy on my—it's his name! Fancy suit, fancy name. Wow, the chick's also hot, but they split up? Infidelity. Right, that makes sense. But that means …
Holy shit! Her hand slaps her forehead. Holy shit.
"Sweetheart, Dr. McNamara is out of the country, and you can't possibly get sick and go to these second hand doctors."
Dark hair with subtle hints of grays unspoken of falls down to her waist. Worry lines are etched on her beautiful face as her emerald eyes peer into his jaded green.
"Edward? Can you hear me?" He thinks she is going to bend down and knock on his head.
He doesn't bother to say anything as he grips the edge and pulls himself towards her, careful not to get water on her Miu Miu's.
She holds her hand to her chest, trying to fight back the tears.
"Darling, you're worrying me sick." She shakes her head. "You need to stop doing this to yourself."
He thinks of red roofs and sea gulls, twin barrels and oil tankers.
"That's why I booked you a flight to Switzerland to visit your grandmother." She waits for the light to spark off—nothing. She sighs, running her hand through her hair. "What do you want me to do Edward? I can't handle you like this—I've never seen you this way before. Are you going to allow one puny little nobody with a tight ass and fucked up eyes to do this to you?"
Edward looks up. His mother never swears.
"Oh, don't look so surprised," she snaps, "You're my baby, and I want to give you all the happiness in the world. If that meant I had to jump off a cliff—I probably wouldn't do it, but I would do anything to its equivalence."
Sandy rain. Grey sea.
"Tell me what to do to make you happy again." The tears are falling now.
Light mists and half tans.
I want my Jack Daniels back.
In the pouring rain, a black Mustang is parked on the other side of the tar road, opposite her faded home. Dead and dying plants are planted in large pots in front of the house, looking as wilted as the home feels. She is wet from the knees down—walking in the rain will do that you, and she leaves her umbrella on the porch as she digs for her keys, buried under the many books stuffed into her handbag.
She enters the house after twisting the key and banging the door with her hip a few times. The neat interior is shabbily furnished with ragged carpeting, mouse nibbled couches and tables that usually have at least one leg missing.
She goes straight to the kitchen, placing her bag on the counter and taking out the books, listening to the dull, soothing sound of rain. She drinks a glass of water using the tumbler always perched on the windowsill behind the floral curtains.
Her eyes go to the fading scar on her wrist, teeth embedded into her cream skin. A thump blinks her out her reverie, and her eyes lift to stare at the patched ceiling. It didn't come from there, but the sound reminded of her of a day when it did.
Thump. Bewildered, her head whips around the kitchen, searching for the source, praying that she won't have to deal with a rat alone. Thump.
It's coming from the direction of the one and only bedroom, and she warily grabs a broomstick before tip-toeing towards the source, ignoring the sound of her thundering heart.
Thump. She reaches the bedroom, let's her hand gently press against the door as she peeks in, broom raised.
Thump. Her eyes move to the window, where a pair of trousers and Vans hang down from the roof, one foot sometimes moving back to hit the window with the heel of the shoe. Thump.
Another one? Seriously? Is the world fucking with me? She drops her broomstick, rushing into the bedroom for the shotgun in the corner.
"This time, I will be painting my roof red. It'll be a warning to all these fuckers who think they can just climb onto my roof and sit there for no fucking reason more than to annoy the fuck out of me, fucking pricks," she mutters, opening the back door before kicking the screen door open. This time, she will not hesitate to kill.
She blinks against the steady pour of rain, whirling around to face the fuck who has the nerve to loiter on her roof.
"Holy shit!" The gun hits the deck. He still looks like shit, nothing like he did in the magazine. "You're on my roof … again."
He shrugs, wet, white t-shirt clinging to his arms and torso. The rain flattens his dull, brown hair, forcefully calming it from its usual disarray. He looks sallow, even a little blue, and she wonders vaguely how long he's been sitting on the roof for. It has been cloudy the whole day, only starting to rain when she was at the bookstore, and he wasn't there when she left—obviously.
His nonchalance sets her off though, and she finds herself picking up the gun and cocking it.
"Do you have a death wish?" she yells.
He blinks, hands gripping the empty bottle besides him, label peeled off and worn, its lip chipped and cracked.
"Are you deaf now? What the fuck is wrong with you?"
For no reason whatsoever, he smiles.
Maybe I'm one crazy motherfucker, but I just found myself on her roof all over again. The sight of her waving her gun around, shouting expletives in my direction, made me crack a smile—one that hadn't touched my lips for a week.
She resembled a drowned kitten, tendrils of hair falling out of her careful bun, her clothes embracing her delicate curves and you could see the outline of her underwear. Her cheeks were flushed in her angry tirade, and it wasn't until she pointed the gun straight at me that I finally snapped out of it.
My heartbeat quickened, and I felt my fingers flinch at the urge to run away from the place and drive my Mustang into the sunset.
This only made me smile even wider, because this was the second time I felt as though I had the semblance of once again being alive. Being here awakened my dead, raw heart, and I basked in the feeling that drowned out the pouring rain and made my heart sprint.
"Have you been listening to me, Masen?" She remembered my name, and she was demanding an answer.
"Huh?" I cleared my throat. It felt as though it hadn't been used for a very long time.
"I said, are you going to sit out there until you die of hypothermia or are you going to come inside?"
I let go of the icy bottle.
"I thought you'd never ask."
Even after being here the last time, it was as though he was seeing my house for the first time. Dark eyes took in the tiny space, the road kill furniture and the one picture frame on top of the ancient TV. His eyes lingered there for a few moments, and then reluctantly turned towards me as I watched him from my place next to the kettle.
"Your parents?" he rasped and then ran his hand through his matted hair.
I nodded, a little self-conscious. There were two sets of parents in the picture, divided by my body in the center where I wore a tight smile and a red graduation gown. It was four years ago when I graduated from Forks High, a school in a little town in Washington.
My parents stood closest to me, arms around my shoulders with big smiles. Charlie and Renée, divorced when I was only a few months old and my mom took me with her. My dad remarried, a girl that was only four years older than I was—Lauren, who graduated from that high school a few years before I did. My mom also remarried, an okay guy named Jasper who sported a beer belly and receding hair.
I blinked. "I'm sorry what?"
He glanced at the counter, the empty spot I had been staring at for a while now, and then his eyes returned to me.
"The kettle's boiling." He cleared his throat, wincing.
I switched the socket off directly, avoiding the angry tufts of steam that escaped the snout. I pulled the plug out and lifted the kettle, pouring the water directly into the two, mismatching mugs already set up with the coffee.
"Do you need any—"
"I'm fine." I placed it into the sink, letting the plug dangle outside. "How much sugar?"
"Two, no milk." Good because the milk I had must've been expired by now.
Like the last time, I pushed the mug of instant coffee towards him. This time he knew what to expect.
"Thank you," he murmured before stirring.
I only nodded, even though my tongue was begging to be let loose and talk his ear off, ask questions. Edward Masen the Third was the "business world's prince charming" and yet there he was, sitting on the one barstool I had, tentatively taking a sip of my watered down coffee and trying his obvious hardest not to grimace.
"So …" I started, and he looked up. "To what do I owe the pleasure of your … visit?"
I stuck my tongue out at the horrid muck burning my tastebuds.
"Well—" he pursed his lips, narrowing his eyes as though deep in thought. Then he sighed, and ran his fingers through his wet hair. "—I don't know, really."
"You don't know?" I deadpanned.
"I was supposed to be in Switzerland."
I looked around myself. "Uh, I think you have the wrong, uhm, I don't know, but you aren't even out of the country?" I was definitely sure that this guy had lost his damn mind. Maybe the cold got to him more than I had thought.
Wait, was that a smile? No, definitely not, but it was close enough. It was a slight rising of the corner of his lip.
"I just needed to clear my head—"
"And you came here to do that?"
His shoulders slumped. "I don't actually know why."
"Maybe, I don't really know what you preference is, but maybe sitting on someone else's roof is therapeutic for you?"
He barked a laugh, short and uneasy, before he shook his head. The small smile that graced his face was more reminiscent of the beauty captured in the glossy pages of that gossip magazine.
"No, not sitting on someone else roof, just—" he looked up at me through thick lashes "—just sitting on yours."
It was in that moment that I found myself smiling.
"Where are we going?"
"Quit nagging, we're there already. Up—" she instructs and he lifts his leg over the concrete block. Her hands rest on his shoulders while she tiptoes behind him. A blindfold rests over his eyes, and he resists the urge to rip it off. He's slowly building on his trust, but it's difficult to walk blindly with a woman who can shatter his heart in more ways than the other had.
"You ready?" she whispers, and he nods, fingers twitching in quiet anticipation.
He can hear the gulls in the distance, a sound that's become a little too familiar. Wind rushes through a broken window in the east wall, setting off a few wind chimes overhead. He feels her soft hands untie the knot at the back of his skull.
"You sure you're ready?"
She laughs at his impatience and light hint of petulance. With one tug, the blindfold falls onto his chest and drifts lightly to the brick ground below.
"Don't be nervous," he whispered into her ear, clutching her quivering hand.
She took in a deep breath that did absolutely nothing for her nerves, and instead focused on running her hands over her thighs, wiping off the sweat on the denim of her high waisted jeans. A loose shirt was tucked into the hem, cinching at the waist to define her curves. Her hair was loose over her shoulders, and she knew of only one thing that could make her accept Edward's offer of a new wardrobe: meeting his mother.
"Mh-hm," she squeaked, blinking at the castle dubbed Masen Manor.
Edward chuckled, grabbing her hand once again to place his lips on it, trying to calm her down. Was this the very same woman who had pulled a gun on him—twice?
"Don't," she shushed, shaking her head violently before patting her hair to make sure it wasn't too messed up. "Don't say she'll love me. You can't really promise that."
He sighed, squeezing her hands.
He hadn't told her that the first time he walked into the house that day of the second roof trespass, he found his mother lounged in the informal drawing room, looking out of the window at the quieting rain. Her eyes seemed far away, glossy, and it took a few moments for her to notice his presence.
She had lifted her hand, reaching towards him, blinking away the tears that threatened to fall.
"All I want for you is to be happy," she had whispered, kissing his large hand.
Was this the very same child she and Edward the Second had watched over as he wailed his little heart out, skin with a light layer of blood, as they held him immediately after his birth? The very same child who had his first, hot-tempered fight in third grade, suspended immediately, coming home with torn skin and blackening bruises?
It couldn't be, he was too grown up, she thought. But it had to be, because he was the epitome of her late husband's demeanor—from his walk to the crooked smile he rarely showed.
"I'll do anything, sweetheart. So help me God."
And for the first time in what seemed like forever, her darling opened his mouth and talked. Talked about the break-up, how he felt about it, how he was betrayed by someone he had trusted so much. He also spoke of the beach and red roofs, how he went back there again to get his bottle of Jack, an excuse, he knew, because he was waiting for something else—someone else.
That's when she saw the light blooming in his eyes, fueled by a small, almost unnoticeable spark—but he was her child, and she knew him inside out, parts of him she was sure he would never find out about—that grew through his lightening eyes, traveled over his widened lids and made his whole face ignite until her heart clenched, smothered by a happiness that consumed and blinded her.
"There she is," he whispered before leading Bella into the lounge.
His mom stood with her back to them, feet encased in stilettos and hair brushing her back. Her eyes were focused on the willow at the edge of their private lake, watching the tire swing move in the light breeze. Her head snapped up when she heard their approach, and she turned around with a smile—the specific smile reserved only for the four men she had ever loved.
Elizabeth Masen, one of Forbes' 100 Most Influential Women in the world and Chairlady of international auto manufacturing company and conglomerate Masen & Masen Corporation. In that moment though, she was nothing more than a mother meeting the woman who had brought the life back to her son's eyes.
"Darling." She reached out to him, watching him with expectant eyes. He took her hand in his, pulled her towards him before kissing her lineless forehead.
"Mother." He smiled. "I'd like you to meet Bella."
Bella took a nervous step forward, obviously intimidated by the figure, the regal chairlady and the obviously protective mother.
"It's a …" She took in a deep breath, clutching her cinched stomach. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Mrs. Masen." She cleared her throat.
Edward tried to conceal his incredulous smirk—was this really the same woman he had met?
"The pleasure is all mine, Isabella." Elizabeth shook the outstretched hand and succeeded with her efforts not to grimace. Clammy. She inconspicuously wiped her hand on the back of her dress pants. "Dinner will be served in a few minutes in, as per Edward's request, the informal dining room." She paused, glancing at him. "Shall we?"
"Of course—" he smiled "—Bella, are you all right?" He raised a teasing eyebrow, watching her cocoa eyes following after his mother's Baccarat Les Larmes Sacrees de Thebes scent, the second most expensive perfume in the world.
"All right?" she whisper-shouted. "Yeah, I'm fucking peachy. You never thought to tell me that your mother was the Elizabeth Masen?"
She wanted to strangle him. He tried hard to keep himself from laughing.
"I told you her name was Elizabeth."
"You said her name was a Elizabeth, sure, but you never said that she was Elizabeth Elizabeth. You could've given me a heads up, you know. A sort of warning—what the fuck? Are you laughing at me?"
He tried to smother the laugh with his hand, shaking his head.
She slapped his arm, and he couldn't rein it in any longer.
"You're not even ashamed of yourself! What am I a joke to you? Fucking Bozo the clown, huh? Is that what I am, comical relief to your fucked up life?"
A throat cleared at the doorway, and Bella stiffened. Holy shit. Double holy shit. Her eyes avoided the emerald daggers piercing through her.
The diner was a short walk away from her house, and it was owned by her cousin Emmett and his best friend, Rosalie. She had always had the suspicion that they were doing the dirty behind closed doors, but neither of them had verbally confirmed or denied any allegations. The way they looked at each other was enough confirmation, and it always used to make her heart ache.
The bell rang over head as she opened the door, and Emmett looked up from the counter he was wiping down. A deep dimpled smile appeared almost immediately.
"Bella, love!" he boomed. "Long time no see, sweetheart."
She walked over to the counter and gave him a kiss on the cheek. He was one of those people you couldn't help but love.
"Well, I have been kept a little occupied, I must admit." She grinned, removing her sunglasses.
His eyebrows rose, searching her dewy face and wide smile that—for the first time in a long time—touched her eyes.
"Rose!" He was the only one who called her that. "Get over here, come and take a look at something."
"What?" she hollered, wiping her forehead with a gloved hand, leaving remnants of snow white flour. She walked towards them, blue eyes narrowed at the unrecognizable girl she knew so well—or so she thought.
"You're smiling, Isabella." One of the few people who call her by her full name. "Genuinely."
"Yes, well." She popped a gummy bear into her mouth. "I don't think that's such a bad thing."
Rosalie's darker-than-her-golden-hair eyebrows shot up into her hairline, before knitting over her narrowed stare. She opened her mouth to speak, but was interrupted by the bell ringing at the door, another customer walking in.
"Oh my God," Rosalie gasped, immediately recognizing Edward, since she had a not-so-secret love for gossip magazines.
He walked straight towards them, pecking Bella's temple before straightening to meet the people he had heard so much about.
"You're Edward Masen," the lady with blonde hair trapped in a hair net stated, stealing the opportunity for him to introduce himself. He nodded.
"And you must be Rosalie—" he outstretched his hand "—a pleasure to finally meet you."
"You little whore!"
"Excuse me?" He let his hand fall to the counter.
"You didn't tell me you were fucking a billionaire's son! What's the matter with you?"
"Why? So you can steal him for yourself?" she defended, not even half fazed as she bit the head off another bear.
"As if I would!" She grimaced. "But it would have been nice to know a little something about your life. I thought we were friends—"
"You're using the past tense again—"
"Hey, you two better quit it, right now!" Emmett bellowed, stabbing the counter. "This isn't the time or place to start with your screaming matches, you hear?"
Rosalie clicked her tongue, brushing her hair out of her face but avoiding anyone's eyes. This didn't seem like the woman Bella had spoken so fondly of, because if Edward hadn't known she was an only child, he would've thought she was talking about her sister.
It didn't seem that way now.
He cleared his throat.
"Uhm, well, you must be Emmett?" He was unsure.
"A pleasure to meet you. I would guess that you are the source of my cousin's smile."
Edward smiled sheepishly. "I try." He shrugged.
"Don't be so modest, Terzo. You know you do more than try." She winked at him, watching as his ears turned a dark shade of pink. "You're so fucking adorable."
He rolled his eyes, taking a seat. "Puppies are adorable," he scoffed.
"Look at him—" Rosalie jerked her chin "—don't you think he's a little too good for you, Iz?"
"Excuse me, miss. You can speak whichever way you want to about Bella … when I'm not there. I have no desire to hear your degrading statements, playful or otherwise. Now can I please get a glass of water or something? I'm thirsty."
Was that a pin dropping in the background?
"A pool?" he questions, gazing down at the yellowed white tile of the empty pool.
"You blindfolded me to bring me down to an empty pool." He nods. "Nice."
"Oh, don't be so grumpy, Terzo. I think you'll like what I have in store."
He hesitates. "You're not going to have some freak session where you pull out a gun at me, are you?"
"Really? You're still holding that against me? It was once, Edward, once!" She huffs.
"It was one too many times, I'll say. I'm fucking glad I got rid of that shotgun. Ow! What was that for?" He rubs his shoulder where Bella punched him. That girl packs a mean punch.
"That gun's probably the one thing that brought us together in the first place. You can't diss it."
"Brought us together?" He laughs "My good looks and charm won you over the second you found me on that roof."
That shit is definitely not true. "I wanted to shoot you the second I found you on my roof." More accurate.
"Well, I honestly remember that ass wanted to shoot me, and you were greatly opposed to that." He takes a step towards her.
"I was greatly opposed to having your blood on my roof."
"Oh." He chuckles. "Then why didn't you shoot me when I was on the deck, or the kitchen, or the living room or—"
"I get it," she huffs, throwing her hands up in the air. "So I didn't want to shoot you, big fucking deal. But that gun was an important factor, you know."
"Or maybe it was just that irresistible, climbable roof that could just about use a dash of red paint."
She glares, and he belts out a laugh, kissing her forehead to pacify her. His hands twirl around the tendrils of loose hair that fall down her shoulders.
"Okay, I'm sorry. Can you please show me what you have in store for me now?"
She doesn't budge.
"Please, Bella?" He unleashes those weapons of mass destruction—his wide, pleading, puppy dog eyes. Emerald eyes sparkle, glassy as they absorb the light coming through the dilapidated wall.
She huffs, grabbing her roots to keep from jumping him. Every single damn time her calls her that … fuck my life.
"Okay, fine. Sheesh, you win already! Now put those eyes back before they become the death of me, you slick fuck."
He grins, pleased. "I'm afraid they're here to stay."
"If I wasn't so fond of them, I probably would've gouged them out a long ass time ago."
"She admits that she likes the emerald orbs of destruction—finally," he teases, wrapping his arms around her waist.
She snickers. "Emerald orbs? Seriously? You sound like Stephenie Meyer."
"Maybe that's not such a bad thing." He chuckles, nipping her earlobe. "And I am still waiting for that surprise you promised me."
"And there it is—" she stops them "—ta-daa!"
He looks up, only to have his face drop once again.
"A white sheet? Does this have something to do with Halloween?"
Bella sighs exasperatedly, shaking her head. "You know, for the CFO of a multi-billion dollar corporation that you have a fifty percent stake in, there are times where you make me wonder why the fuck I keep you around."
"'Cause you can't stand having me around other girls, and I actually know that it's illegal that you keep me in the closet for the rest of my life."
"Damn Harvard education," she curses under her breath. "And it was only one time that I flipped out, ONCE, and only because that bitch was staring at your crotch."
"She must've been at least seventy, Bella!"
"She's old, not fucking dead."
"She had cataracts—"
"Are you defending her, Edward Anthony?"
He sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose. How they managed to stay together around all those arguments is a mystery. But he knows she loves it, because he knows he loves it too.
"Of course not, sweetheart."
"Good, because you have to lift the sheet."
"Are you sure it's—"
"The things I fucking do for you—I wouldn't be surprised if I find myself in a jail cell."
She rolls her eyes at his dramatics as he tentatively walks towards the sheet. "You know that you would spend a maximum of forty-eight hours in a cell before you were sprung, even if you were convicted of first degree murder."
"Thank God for that," he allows with a nod.
His hand reaches out, and for a second he feels the rough fabric between his fingers, a yellowing white that matches the pool tiles. He's too scared to ask where she got it from, because he knows with Bella, he can expect the unexpected—and sometimes it's not a really good idea to know.
"Come on, hurry up." He hides his smirk at her impatience, and he can see her foot bouncing from the corner of his eye. This must be something exciting.
With the flair of a matador, he raises the sheet, letting the wind send it flying into the air. Dust collects around, entering nostrils and blinding eyes. He hears Bella's giggles around her coughs, a rare treasure.
The sheet settles onto the ground, and Edward finds himself staring at Bella, completely ignoring whatever it was he was meant to be revealing. The sunlight slants in from one of the broken, circular windows above, and the wind chimes cast light, slightly eerie melodies throughout the hall.
Her jeweled smile seems to overshadow every single aspect that made the scene beautiful.
"The perfect gift," he whispers.
He remembers the last time he murmured the word perfect, staring at a woman he thought he had relinquished his heart to. He waits for the pain to seize him, for the cracks to gnaw, but he feels nothing more than a euphoric ecstasy, an elated excitement.
She, the woman before him, her two barrel gun and not-to-be-stained-with-blood roof, has slowly, unnoticeably, stitched his heart back together and doubled the size in the process.
"Edward? Are you okay?" Her brow is furrowed, she bites her lip.
He shrugs, staring at the white floor. Without prior thought he walks to the built in stairs and climbs down them.
"Edward? You left your surprise over here. You do know that, right?"
"It was beautiful." He walks slowly down the length to the deeper end.
"Huh? Did you even see what it was?"
She stands on the top step, narrowing her eyes at him with hands pressed firmly on her hips.
"Come over here, Bella."
She raises her eyes to the double volume ceiling, the one thing still intact on the building.
"I swear that this fucker is going to be the death of me." She shakes her head before tentatively descending down the steps and into the pool. She follows Edward's lead blindly until she reaches him at the deepest end.
The sheet is flared, ballooning in the crisp air, whirling around with wind before settling down over them, cocooning them.
Bella grins as Edward pulls it down, pulling her towards him in the process until her nose meets his chest. She swallows, unable to look away from the blazing, almost liquid green of his eyes.
She blinks. "Huh?"
"My surprise, it's beautiful."
"I don't get it."
He chuckles. "You think I left my surprise over there?"
"I don't think so, I know so."
"Know again, love. Because right now, I have the most perfect gift in my arms, encased in a polyester-cotton like material that would be very harsh on whoever dared sleep in it."
"It's a diamond." She raises an eyebrow. "A rough, diamond that will not allow to be smoothed down, that will not let itself conform to other people's notions on how she's meant to look like, feel, love …" He bites her nose, letting a nervous giggle loose. "And I thank you for that—for being you. For scaring me into my wits, for letting me into your home, even though you knew you had nothing better to offer me than tin coffee, a gunshot wound and memories."
She hides her face in his chest.
"Because by doing that, Isabella Swan, you slowly, surely, rebuilt my heart, made it stronger than it used to be, and you didn't even know it. But now you do." He takes in a shaky breath. "And I know that in this moment, I am giving you the power to devastate me completely and leave me in a state where the pieces can no longer be put together."
She shakes her head violently against his chest.
"But, I'm … I'm taking a leap of faith here—well, I'm trying to, any fucking way—" he chuckles "and I believe that as much you hold the power to destroy me, you have the one capability that I put all my faith in, that makes me want to cry and laugh and shout and sit on your roof in the rain, staring at those waters knowing that at any second I was going to see you once again, fiery and fierce, furious and forceful.
"It's in that one moment, that without thought, you had the ability to make me smile when no one else could. You hold that power in your hands, Isabella Marie, and for no more reason than that, that you just exist, I know that I love you."
'I'm … I'm not even close to being perfect." Her breath hitches.
He grins, feeling his heart grow a little more.
He doesn't need perfection—he has his very own diamond in the flesh.
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