Many thanks to the wonderful Lattecoug, my lovely friend and beta who took the time to edit for me. Please check out her latest story Reluctant Hearts. It's simply fantastic. Much love to you hun!
I wrote this for my dearest friend, my partner in crime, mizzezpattinson . I love you, Bob. You know the many reasons why. Words are not enough to tell you what your friendship means to me. I wish you the happiest of birthdays filled with Mudslides, and warm British men.
I hope you enjoy this ridiculous story.
Come join me as Bella Swan has her world turned upside down when one Edward Cullen, aka the devil, moves in next door.
The Devil Next Door
"Stupid extension cord..." Muttering under my breath, which it should be mentioned, is crystallizing in the minus thirty degree frigidness of Winterpeg, I curse said orange extension cord and my fingers that are now frozen and stiff.
But, I'm not giving up.
No way. No how.
This time, it's personal.
This time, he's not going to win.
I narrow my eyes in the direction of my pain-in-the-ass next door neighbour's perfect house, with its stupid, never-ending strings of Christmas lights. They're blinking in time to a loop of holiday tunes that play non-fucking stop until midnight, when mercifully, they end for the night.
It's times like this I really miss my old neighbour. Mr. Molina. He was perfect. Seventy-five years young if he was a day. He lost his wife of nearly fifty years four years ago, just before I bought the house next to his. The houses sit on a hill, side-by-side on a dead-end street of a quiet suburb just outside the metropolis of Winnipeg, Manitoba. They're old Victorian houses with more character and charm than the rows of identical houses builders feel the need to cram together these days.
We became close, Mr. Molina and I. I have a soft spot, it seems for grey-haired men in their seventies who like to sit on their porch swings and drink iced tea with me in the middle of August. We'd talk about everything and nothing. He'd tell me stories about his wife, Mary- said I would have loved her. I believe I would have.
He told me when they first met, they couldn't stand the sight of each other. The old good girl from a well-to-do family meets the bad-boy from the wrong side of the tracks scenario.
Mr. Molina was a salt of the earth type of man. I used to catch him mowing my lawn in the middle of the stifling humidity that only a Winnipeg summer can provide after one of my twelve-hour shifts at the hospital. I would scold him, shooing him away with a fresh pitcher of lemonade. He used to say he was just old, not dead, and he liked to help.
We talked, we read, we casseroled. He shared Mary's famous Mac and Cheese recipe with me, and I swear I moaned like a porn star when I took that first bite.
Like I said, he was perfect, until he moved to Ottawa to be closer to his son, thus leaving his perfect house available for the spawn of Satan himself to move in.
There are moments in life you never forget. Edward Cullen moving in beside me was one of them. It was three days before Halloween. Before I go any further, you need to understand my borderline obsession with what I consider to be the greatest time of the year in order to get the picture.
My house is the house to go to on Halloween. Think classic Night of the Living Dead meets The Shining and you're almost there. My girls and I, along with my parents, spend weeks getting ready for what for me is the biggest night of the year.
We go all out with fog, zombies rising from shallow graves, eerie lighting, skeletons, you name it. Being a nurse has its advantages, and knowing in graphic detail how a severed limb looks is one of them.
I have a line-up of kids waiting to have the living hell scared out of them. We never go the cheesy eighties slasher-movie route like some with chainsaws and knives and dripping pails of blood. No, we're a bit more subtle. Less is more, my mother always says. The local news station even covers Halloween from my lawn and we love every second of it. That is until that fateful day almost two months ago when all of that changed.
I had seen the Sold sign go up outside Mr. Molina's house and was actually looking forward to meeting the new owners, maybe bring them one of Mary's casserole recipes as a welcome gift. Everyone loves a good casserole, right?
A huge moving truck came. Hired help lugged expensive-looking leather couches and appliances non-stop. It was all organized and precise and that should have been my first clue that a pretentious, full of himself ass was moving in.
All was quiet that evening as we zombified, tested fog machines, and got loot bags ready. My girls, my partners in crime and best friends Rose and Alice helped as they always did, lured by the promise of Mudslides, Sangria, and a vampire movie marathon. We were ready for the biggest crowd ever. The weather was going to co-operate and once again, we'd be talk of the city.
Overnight, however, something happened.
You know that feeling you get, when you wake up and something just isn't... right? Jake, my ever-faithful Yorkie was jumping and whining in his own unique way, which was not unusual. But, jumping and whining at-I squinted at the blurry numbers on the alarm clock-three-thirty am was definitely unusual. Jake liked to sleep almost as much as I did, so this was a sure sign that something was very, very wrong.
That's when I heard it. Incessant, bone-chilling, straight from every classic horror movie ever made eerie music designed to scare the living fuck out of you, emanating from next door. It drifted through the open window, along with the unseasonably warm October breeze.
Sheer curtains fluttered, goose bumps rose, tiny hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention and I pulled up my duvet higher around my neck- you know, because that will stop the unseen evil beings from getting me- and I just listened.
Jake cocked his head to the side, racing to the window, putting his adorable little puppy paws up on the cushion of the window seat. Bark-tiny growl-a look over his shoulder to make sure I was watching him guard me- repeat... forty-eight thousand times.
Shadows on my muted grey walls cast by the streetlight appeared to creep towards me, once loved creaks in my Victorian house seemed louder and more sinister, my breathing came faster and then all was quiet.
Jake whimpered from his dutiful perch at the window seat and cowered. Good to know he'd always keep me safe.
My ears strained for a sound until finally, I couldn't take it anymore. Whipping off the duvet, my feet hit the cool hardwood floor, and I tip-toed beside the window seat, pulling back the curtain slowly and peering through the pane of glass, my mouth dropping open at the sight in my new neighbour's yard.
Through breaks in the rolling fog, pumping from a machine that was clearly bigger and more powerful than mine, Jake barked at me and I shushed him, looking down into his big brown eyes.
"I know it's good!" Whoever this neighbour was meant business.
The front yard had been transformed into a graveyard to end all graveyards. Life-sized Jason, Michael, Freddie, Frankenstein, Dracula, even Hannibal were strategically placed in a line leading to the front porch where I first laid eyes on Edward Cullen.
The fog cleared from the porch and the red spot light he was screwing into place came to life, bathing his solid form in a demonic hue. My eyes drank in the sight; broad shoulders, firm biceps flexing as he reached to adjust cob-webbing around the porch, the distinct line of a tattoo peeking out from a dark t-shirt up to reveal a toned set of abs.
It was sensory overload and I didn't know where to look first. Animatronic Leatherface, wielding his chainsaw above his head, or this fine, fine specimen of a man.
Looking back, the choice was obvious. I ogled and then ogled some more, watching as he worked away methodically, setting up prop after prop. And these were good props, like nothing you'd get at Dollarama or Wallhell. No. These were professional, life-like. They were going to kick my subtle zombie ass into next week. Less is more, my ass, mother.
As if sensing he was being watched, because let's face it, he was, he stopped, his back to me. He straightened and paused beside a life sized casket that looked like it belonged on a Dracula movie set in Victorian Transylvania. Then, slowly, ever so slowly, he turned, his gaze lifting and settling directly on my window.
Releasing the curtain, my heart pounded harder against my chest as I silently cursed my own stupidity. And then, being the dutiful guard dog he was, Jake started barking. "Jake! Shhhh!" In case you're wondering, whisper-yelling beside an open window to your dog that won't stop barking is on the list with some of the dumbest things you'll ever do. So is my next move, which was to peel back the curtain and peer down to the yard yet again, only to meet his steady gaze. He cocked his head, saluted, and then, in the glow of the red spotlight, that fucker smirked at me.
Game. On. Mystery Halloween Prop God.
Things went downhill from there.
Over the course of the next two days before Halloween, we engaged in a silent war designed to try to one-up each other's decorations. I would bring in extra pumpkins to line the path of zombies, his would be bigger and looked to be carved by some pumpkin master. I'd add more webbing on my skeletons, he added a giant life-like spider on the roof of his house that billowed smoke from its head. And all the way, he'd play eerie music, starting sometime after midnight and only letting up when Jake's barking turned desperate.
Sleep was not my friend or his those two nights. Being a nurse and working bizarre hours, I'm used to random sleep patterns. My only hope was that he was not. Saws whirled on into the night as he constructed more props like a man possessed. Maybe he was.
I'm not sure why either one of us didn't just approach the other in those days preceding Halloween and simply have a discussion like rational adults. I think rational thinking went out the window a few gravestones ago.
Battle lines firmly drawn, Halloween came and went, mostly with me scowling as throngs of trick-or-treaters that used to wind to my house migrated over to his. It seems kids want the chainsaws and dripping blood and the music... let's not forget the music. How could we?
Sure, we had a ton of kids, hundreds, but the buzz, the excitement that used to surround my house had definitely moved.
The news team interviewed me, but the perky reporter spent more time over at his place, no doubt charmed by his devilish ways. No. Really. He was the devil. Full on red make-up, horns that looked to be actually growing out of his head, long black and blood red cape that resembled something from a Hollywood movie.
Even my dad was not immune. During an unforeseen lull in the evening's festivities, I found him wandering back over from enemy lines, looking as impressed as you could with zombie make-up and simulated oozing wounds.
"Good set-up over there, Bells. Hannibal scared the hell out of me," he muttered, moving back to his designated gravestone for the night. He didn't seem to acknowledge my raised brow and unimpressed glare. Mom, of course, who notices everything, did.
"It's good to spread holiday cheer, don't you think, sweetie?" She beamed at me from behind the massive cauldron where she was stirring up her famous hot apple cider.
By the end of the night, after the manufactured fog had cleared and I said goodbye to my parents and my girls, a clear winner had emerged. After removing my zombie make-up, like any gracious loser does, I swallowed my pride and headed over.
To the victor goes the spoils.
Even though it was well past midnight, the music still swirled through the creepy graveyard, making me more nervous than I should be. Like a trooper, with Jake tucked under my arm, ready to fend off various serial killers in my path, and a victory casserole at the ready, I made my way across enemy lines.
I climbed the steps to the front door, noticing the life-like cadaver sitting in the porch swing. Even I had to admit, this guy was good.
I hesitated at the door with both hands full, and knocked with my elbow, resulting in an impressed tiny bark from Jake.
"Isn't mommy talented, Jakie? Hmmm?"
He happily tried to reach my face for a lick as the front door whipped open and I finally saw him, and it's so much better close-up without the fog and the fake lighting.
Make-up and horns removed, my eyes fell to a distinct jaw and full lips, curled up ever so slightly into that smirk I saw the first night.
He would have to be this good-looking, wouldn't he? He couldn't be some ugly troll with a beer gut and receding hairline, could he? No. He has to have a strong chest and firm biceps and that damn tattoo peeking out from his t-shirt that I need to see more of.
My gaze finally met his and I took a step back. His eyes were red... glowing, demonic red and Jake tucked himself closer to me in response with a tiny shudder.
"The trick or treat portion of the evening is over," he offered in a low and sultry voice, casually leaning against the frame of the doorway. "And I seem to have run out of candy."
"I've come to bury the hatchet." I pushed forward the casserole dish and he lifted a brow.
"Mmm...I think the hatchet is buried in a skull out in the graveyard," he mused, leaning out the door, his firm chest brushing against me, the lingering scent of chocolate and Johnny Walker evident. It took a moment to remember how to speak.
"Yeah, where did you get all this stuff?" I motioned in the general direction of his yard.
"Ah, I never reveal my secrets. Where's the fun in that?" Arms crossed, he looked fairly proud of himself.
I found myself grinning at him, momentarily forgetting that my night was ruined by this man.
"Well, I have nothing to hide," I said indignantly, lifting my chin slightly in the process.
"Is that what you told yourself when you were spying on me from behind your curtains for the last couple of nights, Angel?" His eyes drifted down shamelessly to my chest where they lingered.
"Wha... I don't... Angel?"
"Mhmm..." He continued to trail his red, gaze lazily back up to mine. "Your t-shirt the last couple of nights has said Angel, though I'm not sure if you're really a good girl or not."
Narrowing my eyes at him I unleashed my pent up anger from the night's events. "Who the hell do you think you are?"
"Edward Cullen." His smirk stayed firmly in place as if amused by me- like I'm some toy he wants to play with.
"Well, you listen here, Edward Cullen. What I choose or not choose to wear to bed at night is no one's business but mine. And for the record, I was not spying on you. Your damn music woke me up." Jake barked in loyal agreement, causing his smirk to widen.
"What the hell is that thing?" he asked, nodding his head to Jake.
"Thing? This is not a thing. He's a purebred Yorkie, I'll have you know, and his name is Jake."
"Ah, so this is Jake. I thought maybe you were yelling at a boyfriend or husband you like to torture."
"You mean the barking didn't give it away?"
"You have to admit, it is kind of annoying," he said, tentatively reaching his hand toward my precious dog. Jake growled in response and he wisely dropped his hand.
"No. You're kind of annoying." His gaze drifted back to mine, the air seeming to vibrate between us. I couldn't remember when or if I'd ever been simultaneously annoyed and turned on like this before.
"So I've been told."
"Why doesn't that surprise me?" He chuckled in response and I had to fight to keep my eyes locked to his, and not to be tempted to check him out the way he just did. I mean if he could check out my tits, surely I was entitled to take the same liberties and see what he's packing in those faded jeans that sit all low and tempting on his lean hips. But I wouldn't give him the satisfaction of being checked out... yet. "Red eyes, huh?"
"Oh, yeah," he said, running his hand through the chaos of his hair, hair I'd like to sink my own hands into. "Contacts, you know. Gotta look the part."
I nodded in agreement, kind of wishing I had kept the zombie make-up on. It was damn good and I think he'd be impressed. Not that I want to impress him at all or anything. No-not at all. Fuck, I was in trouble with this one.
"As much as it kills it me to admit it, they are pretty cool."
"There. Was that so hard to admit?" The comment earned him a death glare. "Any good prop store has contacts, Angel, you should know that. But I'm an ophthalmologist."
"Of course you are," I murmured under my breath. Sexy as hell, tatts, built like David Gandy, and an ophthalmologist. He's like the four-leaf clover of men.
"And these contacts were a special order," he explained further.
"Listen, I've had a long night, so take the casserole and let's just start over. I know when I've been beat and I'm not afraid to admit it."
"I didn't realize we were fighting," he murmured, taking a whiff of the casserole, closing his eyes when he inhales.
"Seriously? That's what you're going with? Okay then, we're not fighting." I shook my head at him, which he only seemed to find more amusing. "Can you at least can the horror music? Halloween is officially over."
"But I like music. It calms me."
"Psycho, someone's-hiding-in-the-closet-don't-open-the-door kind of music calms you?"
"Mhmm... I like all kinds of music. Would you like to see my... collection?" he asked in a tone that is all too enticing.
I narrowed my eyes, way too tempted by his offer than I cared to admit. I was being beckoned into the devil's house and I really, really wanted to go in. Damn you scruffy jawed, broad shouldered, over six feet of pure man.
"Thanks for the offer there, Lucifer, but I have an early shift in the morning."
"Shift?" he asked, finally taking the casserole from me.
"I'm a nurse at the Grace."
He unleashed the power of a full smile at me and I tightened my grip on Jake. "An angel as a nurse. Lucky patients," he mused, opening the door a bit wider. "This smells divine. Wanna share?"
"You're trouble, I can see that now."
"Mmm... Trouble is good every now and then, don't you think?"
I returned his smirk as I lingered in the doorway and his scarlet eyes seared firmly into my memory bank. I wonder what colour they actually are? Probably ice blue or something equally mesmerizing. Jake offered up a growl-bark to break the hypnotic connection. Thank God he still had his wits about him.
"I'm going home now." Yes, before I do something monumentally stupid. "Truce?" I held my hand out and his slid against it, warm, engulfing and firm, and I had to bite back whimper as he deliberately brushed the pad of his thumb over the back of my hand.
"Truce. Sweet dreams, Angel."
I felt like was floating as I turn away from him, the heat of this gaze burning into my back while I weaved through the serial killers and retreated back over to the safety of my zombies, but more importantly, the lock on my door.
Letting Jake down, he scurried off to the kitchen, his nails clicking across the hardwood to await his treat for protecting me from Satan. I leaned back against the door and tried to float back to reality.
Bolting up in bed, it takes me a minute to figure out what the racket is all about. Squinting in the dark, I see Jake jumping repeatedly, barking intermittently at the curtains by the window seat. I fist the duvet my hand, holding it to my pounding heart.
What the actual fuck is going on now?
Did we not just call a truce a mere, oh... I squint to see the numbers on the alarm clock... two hours ago?
Hmm... My eyesight seems to be getting worse. I'll need to make an appointment at the eye clinic soon. I shake my head at the direction of my wayward thoughts for a man I've only just met who seems to love to annoy the hell out of me.
And then I hear it. The very distinctive guitar riff, I would know anywhere, drifting through the open window.
I stare in disbelief at the pane of glass, debating whether or not to go to it. Is he out there? Is he watching? Waiting? Wanting like I am?
I take a shaky breath in, listening to Steven Tyler's raspy voice echoing from across the yard, a goofy smile plastered on my face when he belts out the chorus as only Steven can.
Baby, you're my angel
Come and save me tonight
I fight the internal battle of whether to bolt to the window, like every instinct is telling me to do. Jake wags his tail, looking at me over his shoulder, his little tongue hanging out. Even he is impressed.
Damn him! He's pulled out the big guns. Eighties cheesy ballads.
Don't know what I'm gonna do
About this feeling inside
Internal battle over, I whip the covers off and creep to the window, blood pumping faster through my veins. I glance down at my Angel shirt, a different one tonight- thank you very much gift certificate from work- and with a knowing smile, lift a shaky hand to the sheer curtain. I gently tug it back, peering through the window and scanning the yard as Jake jumps up to the seat, pressing his tiny paws to the glass.
It doesn't take long for me to find him. He's casually swaying in the swing, minus the cadaver now, sipping something in a glass, looking utterly relaxed on the his porch, his eyes fixed clearly and firmly on my window.
I feel the heat rise in my cheeks and I sink down to the window seat, letting the curtain drape behind me, no longer shielding my presence. Jake scrambles to me and turns around in a tiny circle before flopping down in my lap, resting his head on his paws and following my gaze out the window.
We stayed like that, the devil and I, eyes unmoving from each other until the last strains of the Aerosmith classic fade into the night. When all was quiet, I saw him smirk, raise his glass in the direction of my window and slowly push off the swing, turning for the door and slipping inside.
It's the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me.
There's a saying about things looking differently in the morning. I hadn't really given that saying too much thought until the next day, when I awoke at an ungodly hour with an uncharacteristic spring in my step, humming Aerosmith under my breath. Jake looked at me like I had lost my mind.
I let him out the back door to take care of business, my gaze drifting across the lawn, seeing a few shallow puddles from the cool rain pooling on the street. All signs of the previous evening were gone. You'd never know horror-central was next door less than twenty-four hours ago. To say I was impressed was an understatement.
Once Jake finished running the perimeter of the shrubs, I enticed him back inside with a treat and left him in charge for the day.
Locking the door and giving Jake a wave, I made my way to the back of my trusty Jeep to load my gym bag in. The light rain had decided to kick up a notch in typical Winnipeg fashion, and I shook my head at the swings in weather we experienced here.
Closing the rear door, a deep revving captured my attention and I turned in time to see Edward's garage closing and a vintage looking black two-seater peel out of the driveway like a bat out of hell. I took a step to the end of curb with the intention of giving him a wave. He didn't slow. Actually, I think he accelerated, the tires splashing through the puddles on the road, speeding by me and sending water flying in a thousand directions, soaking me and my trench coat.
Standing there at the end of the driveway, gaping at his retreating tail lights while muddy water drips from my coat, I'm left to wonder why the fuck I thought anything this man did last night was even remotely romantic.
Needless to say, the rest of the day was shit, and I scowled my way through my shift, annoyed at myself and at him. Who doesn't at least stop to apologize for soaking someone?
My day was made infinitely worse as one of my co-workers called in sick yet again, and I'm left to pick up the slack in her absence. I know she's not sick in the true sense of the word. It's Monday and she's hung over from the weekend. It's a pattern that no one seems to want to acknowledge or deal with.
Couple that with a weekly visit for Mr. Payne who had once again taken his weekend a little too far and needed IV fluids to cure his dehydration, and you've got one fucktastic Monday for the books.
After my shift was over, I had a much-needed liquid dinner with Rose and Alice at SPIN that consists of too many Black Forest Martinis, where I retell the happenings of the last twenty-four hours.
"He's an asshole," Rose says bluntly, waving down our waiter for another round. "Who the hell doesn't stop after they've drenched someone?"
"I know! Right? Chivalry is dead, ladies. D.E.A.D."
"I don't know," Alice starts. "Maybe there was a really good reason? It just doesn't fit with the whole Aerosmith serenade."
Rose is having none of Alice's attempt at an explanation. "Listen. I know these types. One minute they're prince charming, the next they're fucking your roommate in your shower." Rose finishes off her martini, making reference to her college sweetheart who turned out to be not so sweet.
"I don't even know why I care."
"Because he's hot," Rose reminds me of the fact that I may have mentioned a time or two over the course the evening.
I groan, banging my forehead on the table repeatedly. "I know. So. Fucking. Hot."
"And it's been a while," Rose adds, rubbing salt in my wounds.
"She does have point there, Bella."
"Hey! Whose side are you two on?" I sit back in the booth, lifting the drink menu from the side.
"Yours. Always yours," Alice says, nudging me in the shoulder.
"Mhmm... I'm done talking about Edward I'm-a-freaking-Ophthalmologist Cullen."
"Sure you are. A round of Sex and Candy!" Rose's voice slurs slightly and the waiter can't hide his smirk as he clears away our empty glasses.
Grinning at me, they both start yell-singing as only my two half-in-the-bag friends can.
"I smell sex and candy here!
Who's that casting devious stares in my direction?
Mama, this surely is a dream!"
We collapse into a fit of laughter, causing a few heads to turn to our table. We couldn't care less.
It's almost one in the morning when the cab drops me off in front of my house. I pay the nice man, who has had the unfortunate chore of dropping off three drunk and giggling women, and step out to my driveway.
Glaring over at Edward's house, I see a muted light on upstairs and ignore it, swaying slightly as I make my way to my front door.
I can see Jake's sweet little face in the front window where he jumps excitedly upon seeing me. If only men would have this level of excitement at seeing their beloved come home.
A large, black gift bag embellished with silver angel wings catches my eye as it sits all innocently beside the door.
I know immediately it's from him.
It's tempting to take the bag, march over to his house and tell him to shove it up his ass. An ever bigger temptation however, is to open it. That war doesn't wage too long, and after I finally figure out how to the open the door in my slightly drunken state, I make my way up to my room and whip open the curtains. There will be no sneaking around this time. He wants to see me open this. I am sure of that. So let him look.
Curiosity heightened and feeling like a kid on Christmas morning, I pull out the silver tissue paper stuffed into the top of the bag, my eyes falling to a handwritten note folded inside.
I thought you could use a new trench coat, Angel.
It looks like yours got worked over this morning.
~Your Devil next door
Shaking my head at the note, my fingers fall to the beige fabric, gently lifting it out. This isn't just any just any trench coat. It's a Burberry and it feels like heaven in my hands.
I feel my mouth drop open as I hold it up, turning it over repeatedly in disbelief. Jake leaps up beside me, sniffing the expensive fabric with mild interest before turning away to look out the window.
I am floored by the gift- speechless, something that is a rare occurrence for me.
Can I accept this? No. No I can't. But the soft fabric seems to beg for me to try it on, so I stand up from the window seat and do just that.
The silk on the interior caresses my skin and I gently knot the belt around my waist. Of course it has to fit like a glove, doesn't it? I resist the temptation to twirl around in front of the mirror.
Jake's bark swings my attention to the window and I move back to the seat, peering out to see Edward standing on his porch under the light, grinning up at me. I shake my head slowly and he simply turns away, slipping back inside.
I sink down to the cushion, unsure of what the hell is happening between us. Who buys expensive trench coats for people they soaked so callously previously that morning? What the hell am I supposed to do now?
Jake curls up on my lap and we stare out the window for a long while before I get a brainwave. Not caring about the dropping temperature, I open up the windows and move my stereo to the seat. Scrolling through the iPod in the dock, I find the song I want and turn the volume up full blast.
I'm not sure if he can hear it from inside the safety of the house he's retreated to. I'm not even sure if he wants to, but I curl up in the corner of the window seat, the familiar INXS melody of Devil Inside filling the room and echoing out to the yard.
Jake looks at me like I've gone crazy, maybe I have. As Michael Hutchence reminds us that every single one of us has a devil inside, I hope Edward can hear him.
I don't see or hear Edward for the next few days and I'm starting to actually get worried. There's no sign of his car or of him. There's not even any lights on when I get home from my shifts at the hospital, and I wonder if something awful has happened to him.
I had planned to confront him about the coat and the music and what in the world this.. thing was between us. But no, he has to go and disappear on me. Typical man. You can trust them about as far as you can throw them.
I'm surprised when I get home almost a week after the Trench Coat Affair, and see my Victoria's Secret catalogue propped up against my front door with a note taped to the front. I can't hide my smirk as I glanced over my shoulder to Edward's house, feeling more than a little disappointed when yet again, there are signs of life next door.
I opened the note, grinning like an idiot as I read it.
An interesting read, this catalogue.
I'm not sorry it was delivered to my place by mistake.
See page 38.
Do you think you can actually buy the wings?
-Your Devil next door
Heading inside, I get ready to check out page 38.
Another week goes buy with no signs of the devil. I'm a dangerous mix of cranky, disappointed and a little pissed. I'm also more than annoyed at myself for looking forward to coming home every night after work for the sole purpose of seeing if he's left another mystery gift at my door. Why do I torture myself like this?
I try to keep Rose's words of wisdom in mind as the week drags on. Keep your expectations low, and you're never disappointed.
But sure enough, that Friday night I pull into the driveway, gather my bag from the back of the Jeep and make my way to the door, my traitor heart skipping a beat as I see my empty casserole dish at the front door with a folded noted taped inside.
I grin despite being pissed off at the man, picking up the dish and glancing at his house, seeing a light on in one of the upstairs windows. Opening the note, my smile widens at the simple handwritten word.
And they say women are confusing.
Heading inside, I greet Jake, cuddling him up into my arms and asking how his day was. He wiggles excitedly in my arms and we move straight to the kitchen. We have a casserole to make.
Two hours later, I'm standing once again on Edward Cullen's front porch. No eerie music, no cadavers. Just a perfectly baked Broccoli Chicken Divan casserole, a Jake who I'm sure is wondering what the hell we're doing, and a very nervous Bella.
It's just a casserole, Bella, and remember, you're mad at him.
Yes... why is that again?
Before I can even knock on the door, it whips open and I'm greeted by the sight of the devil himself. It's been too long since I've been this close to him, and damn does he look good. Faded jeans, button down dark blue shirt, sleeves rolled up, mystery tattoo taunting me, jaw set, full lips and... holy shit.
"They're green," I blurt out like an idiot as Jake jumps down to the porch to begin his investigation.
"Wha... what?" he asks, looking confused.
"Your eyes... they're green."
Way to go there, rocket scientist.
That earns me a chuckle. "Um... ."
"I didn't imagine they'd be green."
The corners of his mouth turn up slightly, edging towards that smirk of his. "You've been imagining me, Angel?"
"No!" I say a little too loudly. "I just..." My voice trails and I feel my cheeks flame, shoving the casserole into his firm chest. "Take your casserole while it's still warm."
It's only then I notice the weathered leather jacket in his hand and an old duffel bag sitting on a side table just inside his house. And now, I feel like a complete idiot. Of course he's on his way out. Probably on a date... an overnight date it looks like, with someone who doesn't blurt out his eye colour during conversations.
He lifts the dish from me, closing his eyes and inhaling like he did on Halloween. Fuck, why do I find that so damn hot?
"So, this is the point in the evening where typically, I'd invite you in, but..." His voice trails and he looks... disappointed?
I wave him off like I don't give a shit.
"No, no. I have... things to do, and you look like you're on your way out. Make sure you put that in the fridge," I ramble away.
He grins at me, nodding. "I will. And thank you for this." He lifts the dish, pausing and leaning forward to close the distance between us. "And for the song," he adds almost in a whisper that sends a shiver through me.
I swallow and take a much-needed step back. "You're welcome. And about-"
My feeble attempt to broach what in the world is going on between us is silenced as he skims his free hand along the curve of my waist, the warmth of his fingers penetrating the fabric of my shirt when he pulls me against the solid wall of his chest.
I take a trembling breath in, watching as his Adam's apple bobs slowly, his intense green eyes searching mine, lowering to my lips and back again. Pausing, he closes his eyes as if he's fighting some internal battle while my heart hammers against his chest. Leaning forward, he brushes his nose along the sensitive skin of my neck as if he's done it a thousand times and knows it's my weak spot.
And then, he breathes me in and every single nerve ending in my body reacts to the sensation. My head falls back and I try unsuccessfully to bite back a whimper, my eyes sliding shut.
"Fuck, I want you, Angel," he murmurs under my ear.
"Sweet Jesus..." Is my intelligent response.
And then, as quickly as it was pressed to mine, the warmth of his body is gone and my eyes snap open, my heart in my throat. It feels like I've run a mile or something.
"I'm sorry. I have to go," he whispers, backing up into his house.
"Okay," I manage, my voice all breathy. "But this conversation isn't over."
"Not by a long shot."
Which brings me to today. December 1. Almost an entire month later where I stand in a snow drift in minus a million degrees, trying to exact revenge on the pain in the ass that I have not heard from or laid eyes on since he turned my entire existence upside down on his porch that cool day in November.
He disappeared. Poof. Gone. Straight back to the hell he came from, no doubt. Until last night that is.
It was déjà-vu. Me, bolting up in bed, sheets clutched to my chest. Jake, jumping and barking at the window- which, it bears noting, was not open due to the fact that winter has decided to descend early and it's freezing.
What the actual fuck?
And that's when I saw them. Even with my eyesight that I had begun to question, there was no missing this. Whipping the covers off, I stalked to the window in my cozy socks and flannel pajamas, the Angel t-shirts tucked back into my drawer of unmentionables after Satan's sudden disappearance.
I almost need sunglasses there are so many damn lights on his house. Pulling back the curtain, I watched as they blinked in some sort of pattern. Red-green-blue-blue-white-repeat. It's beyond ridiculous. I wouldn't be surprised if airplanes tried to land in the field behind us, mistaking all the lights for the airport.
I scanned the yard, seeing one of those horrid inflatable globes you get at Costco with Santa inside, blown up and lit of course with spotlights. He's even got a string of snowmen with blue LED lights, lining the path to his door.
And then I saw him and my traitor heart skipped a beat. Gazing up at my window, a dark beanie covering his crazed hair, leather jacket zipped up, he looked cold and desperate.
Well good. I hope he feels like shit. Fucking asshole.
As tempting as it was to stalk over there and demand an explanation, I didn't give him the satisfaction. The fact is, he left. Ran. Disappeared into thin air and I owe this man nothing. He's made me wait almost a month to hear to from him.
Almost a month of worrying that he was dead in a ditch somewhere, or off with a super model frolicking the beaches of Maui. You can see the wide range of scenarios my mind has gone through on this.
Women always do this. Run right back into the arms of the man, forgiving everything just because he's sex on legs personified.
Well, no more!
It's time for him to fucking wait.
And without another glance, I let the curtains fall back against the window and went to sleep with Jake in the spare room.
So now, here I am, plugging in every single strand of Christmas lights my girls and I own, trying to make a statement and cursing Edward Cullen with every frigid breath I take.
My hands are shaking, though I'm not entirely sure it's just from the temperature and snow. I've never been more confused in all my life. Where the hell has he been?
On the positive side, Jake seems happy in his new and adorable dark blue fleece coat as he barks at a snowball I threw for him earlier and plays in the freshly falling snow.
As I'm trying to bury the orange extension cord behind one of my shrubs, I know the minute he's there behind me. I can sense him. The snow crunches, goose bumps rise, Jake's bark changes slightly in warning, and I stand up, my back to him as I try to get ready for this moment I've thought of a thousand times.
"That's a lot of lights you've got there, Angel." His voice is like a warm blanket engulfing me, and I close my eyes at the deep and teasing tone.
"Mhmm." I manage, still not turning around to face him. Willing my hands to stop shaking, I grip the extension cord tighter.
"Angel...?" It's a plea for me to turn around, I can hear it in his voice. I almost feel sorry for him. Almost. But I'm not caving in. No. Fucking. Way.
I move to examine another strand of lights on the ground, keeping my back to him.
"So, that's the way it's going to be, huh?" Fuck this man has some nerve.
"I have nothing to say to you." There. That sounded solid. Firm. Jake barks and moves beside me, ever the loyal companion.
"Angel, look at me." His voice is commanding, like he's used to getting what he wants, and just like that, the weeks of frustration spill over and I whirl around to face him.
"What? What do you want, Edward? What could you possibly have to say to me?" My voice rises as I drink him in. Fuck, if it's possible, he looks even better than he did a month ago with a few days of scruff, rumpled beanie covered with snow, leather jacket, intensely green eyes pleading as he shifts nervously in the snow.
"I'm an asshole."
I bark out a laugh, shaking my head. "Tell me something I don't know."
"I work up in Churchill sometimes. It's on a strictly volunteer basis," he mildly explains. "That night you came over, I was on my way up there. It was only supposed to be a week, but one of my patients had complications and-"
"And there's no phones or computers, even a post office? I call bullshit." I shove him in the chest as we glare at each other.
His smirk threatens to return and I narrow my eyes at him further. He makes it so damn hard to stay mad at him.
My eyes widen at his admission. A man admitting a woman is right? That's like an urban legend or something. "What was that now? Can you repeat that?" I look down at Jake who has planted himself between us. "Jake, I don't think we heard that correctly, did we? What did you say?"
He chuckles and then shouts at the top of his lungs, throwing his hands up. "You're right! There! Happy?"
"Not even a little bit."
"I panicked, okay? There's the truth as ugly as it is."
The truth from a man is not something I'm used to hearing. It's refreshing and takes his hotness level up several notches, if that's possible. "Why did you panic?"
"A lot of reasons."
"That's not going to help your case. You do realize that, right?"
"Because I'm new in town." He takes a step forward and I take one back. "Because I had only just met you and you made me feel... alive." I think I've stopped breathing as I take another step into the snow behind me, the distinctive sound of a bulb crushing under my foot echoing between us, but there's no stopping him. He closes the distance between us as Jake decides to attack the string of lights rather than him. He slides his hand around my waist and I almost melt on the spot. "Because I couldn't stop thinking about you and that scared the hell out of me. I thought some distance would put things into perspective, but it only made me miss you. And I've really, really missed you, Angel."
I can see his breath in the air and my heart pounds faster under my down filled jacket as I fight the urge to launch myself at him.
"You don't even know me," I breathe.
He brushes a wayward strand of my hair behind my shoulder before skimming his thumb over my bottom lip. "So let me. Let me know you, Angel."
Taking his thumb between my teeth, his eyes darken slightly as I suck it into my mouth before releasing it. "This will never work. Age old story... devil, angel, it's doomed."
He shakes his head at me in amusement. "It doesn't have to be doomed. We can write our own story."
"It needs to be a story where the devil talks to the angel from time to time, maybe tells her if he's freaking out like a girl."
He lifts a brow. "This devil is most definitely not a girl."
He tightens his hand around my waist, pulling me against the hard lines of his body. "Is that a challenge, Angel?"
"You're damn right it is," I answer in a moment of boldness, matching his raised brow.
"You really want me to prove it?" he asks, his voice dropping lower.
I nod slowly in response and without another word, he bends slightly, lifting me over his shoulder, my snow covered boots dangling as I squeal with excitement.
Smacking my ass firmly, he carries me across the lawn and into my house with Jake barking his fool head off, where he proceeds to prove it against the door, the wall, the kitchen counter, the stairs... you get the picture.
And somehow, despite every story that tells them it's doomed to fail, the angel and the devil find a way to make it work.
Angel -Aerosmith - Lyrics by Steven Tyler and Desmond Child -YouTube .com watch?v=CBTOGVb_cQg
Devil Inside - INXS- Lyrics by Andrew Farriss, Michael Hutchence -YouTube .com watch?v=Nc5QCJB3fOc
Sex and Candy - Marcy Playground - Lyrics by John Wozniak YouTube .com watch?v=-KT-r2vHeMM
Various martini and casserole recipes available by request.