A/N: Many thanks to the nameless bitch that helped me with some ideas and such, even though I said I was going to offer her no thanks. I love you hard and appreciate your friendship more than you know. Every conversation we have requires my LOLerskates and brightens my day.
Thank you to TwilightMundi, who so graciously helped me clean this up a bit.
All copyright and trademarked items mentioned herein belong to their respective owners. The remaining content is all mine. No copying or reproduction of this work is permitted without my express written authorization.
Tears were streaming down my face when I finally calmed down. Edward Scone Boy Cullen was sending me CDs. This morning's had a definite romantic overtone to it (although it was also flat out mocking me), and I couldn't have been happier at the prospect. I was even more excited for Friday.
I already had that particular Fergie song on my iPod, so I didn't need to load it. I created a new playlist, ESBC, and added the songs I'd received thus far to it, in the order I'd received them. I wasn't sure if I was going to ask Edward outright about the CD deliveries. They'd become a very fun and interesting part of my day, and I didn't want them to stop.
Replaying Emmett's words in my brain several times, I sprinkled in Edward's advice about not pushing my pain away. It was hard to bite off small pieces of grief and handle them. I was still trying to figure out how to not collapse my day with grief when a stray thought passed through my brain about my mom, Charlie, or Jacob. I knew that I was happiest lately when I was around Edward. Even if it never bloomed beyond friendship, I was already grateful to have him in my life.
I had to get through this day to get to my date with Edward. Thursdays were my split class days, so I had an early class with Tanya and an afternoon class with Emmett. I found myself actually looking forward to both of them. The more excited I got about my date with Edward, the more the pain eased with the Tanya situation, and of course Emmett was guaranteed to make me laugh at least ten times.
My first class was American Poetry with Tanya. Things went fine. We sat next to each other again, exchanging the typical pleasantries friends do. When class was over we discussed an upcoming paper that was due and then it was off to a lunch break pit stop at the cafe. Edward must not have been working, but I saw Tyler. Of course he winked as he handed me my coffee and sandwich. I got a text from Edward a few minutes later.
Tyler's teasing me with descriptions of how hot you look today... busy later?
I smiled. I wanted to look nicer, admittedly on the off chance I ran into Edward, so I had on a blue knit dress with white polka dots, silver ballet flats and some silver pieces of jewelry. Flirting back and forth with Edward had become the highlight of my days.
Study together? Meet 4:30, library or cafe? -b
I did still have tons of work and wanted to take off Friday after classes without guilt.
You're very studious, Ms Swan. Will meet you 430 for coffee and studying, desp need caffeine and my CG fix.
And he thought I was an addict....
Just like on Tuesday, I got to the cafe first. This time, I pulled out my textbooks and began to work before he got there instead of reading for pleasure like last time. I had my earbuds in, listening to my ESBC playlist when I noticed Edward pulling out the chair next to me. He took his jacket off before sitting down and set it in the chair opposite me, on top of my own jacket. As he moved next to me, I could smell his scent and it was slightly intoxicating.
"Hey," I said. He laughed. Why is he laughing at me?
I furrowed my eyebrows and he pointed to my earbuds, still laughing. I looked around and, yep, people were staring.
"That loud?" I barely whispered. He just nodded and tried to control his laughter.
Setting his bag down and taking a seat, he looked at me so intensely that I was suddenly nervous.
"What?" I asked.
He smiled, the full and glorious crooked smile of his. "Nothing," he said, shaking his head, never drifting his eyes away from mine.
"Hey, you have glasses on," I said. Real observant, Bella.
"Yeah," he looked down at the floor. "I had a late night and my eyes just rebelled against my contacts this morning. Do I look like a total dork?" He ran his hand through his hair as he spoke, making it go even crazier than usual.
"Oh, God, no... it's nice, I like them. Sexy. Smart."
He looked slightly flustered at the compliment. "I'm going to get a drink and a snack. Can I get you something?"
I pulled together my most serious face and leaned in to whisper conspiratorially. "I don't know. There's this crazy employee here and I think if he sees someone bringing me food or beverages, he might lose his monkey shit on me... again."
Edward lifted one of his eyebrows and pursed his lips, holding his laughter in. A nice pink shade spread across his cheeks and somehow made him look even more appealing to me.
"That reminds me, crazy Coffee Girl, are you ready to take back calling me an asshole yet?"
He'd leaned in ever so slightly closer to me and as he spoke, and I paid careful attention to his lips. The way each line and crease moved as he spoke suddenly fascinated me. Would they move like that against mine? Against my skin?
Shaking my head no, I gave him a wide smile.
"You sure I can't get you anything?" he asked a second time. "I promise not to lose my monkey shit."
My turn to quirk an eyebrow. "You sure you can hold it in?"
"Yes. What can I get you?"
"Double tall mocha and a cinnamon chip scone?" I said with a grin.
"I'll be right back."
"Bless you!" I smiled at him before he walked away. Yeah, his ass is rocking in the jeans again.
Fuck, I wanted to kiss her so badly in that moment at the table, but I didn't want to kiss someone who thought I was an asshole. I'd need to wait. I had to wait. I wanted to wait. Okay, maybe certain parts of me didn't want to wait, but I'd think about that later.
Even while just sitting there studying, she was sexy. She had her legs crossed and I could see the foot that was on the ground tapping now and then, her calf flexing and relaxing. I wanted that calf to be flexing against my shoulder. Both of her legs, actually. More fresh data for the bank.
As I walked to the counter to grab our snacks and coffee, I could feel her eyes on my body. I wanted her to want me as much as I wanted her, so I was glad she was showing an interest.
Alice and I had talked the night before, after I'd dropped off the next CD while pretending to fish around for medical supplies in my bag. She was supposed to put the CD by the front door to save me a trip so early in the morning after my late night of studying, but when I got home and began to think about it, I knew I had to swap songs. Bella was worth the early mornings, so I had Alice hang on to the burned CD and brought the Fergie song to tuck under the door.
Alice's help had been something I wasn't sure I could ever repay her for. She said she wanted to help Bella find happiness, like she had. At first, Alice didn't know I was the one leaving the CDs, but she put two and two together after the second day and emailed me. We talked for several hours on the phone that night, mostly about Bella and some reminiscing about our fun moments together. Alice told me about Bella's nightmares and it tugged at my heart to hear how sad she was at times. I wondered if Bella would bring up the CDs. There was no way she wouldn't be able to figure out who was sending them now, right?
After ordering her scone and my sandwich, I walked them back to the table before getting our coffees. She was engrossed in her book again, so I set the plate next to her and walked back to the counter.
"You gonna hit that, dude?"
"Tyler, don't be a douche. No, I'm not going to hit that. I am going to try and date her, though, so stay the fuck away," I growled.
Grabbing our coffees, I didn't bother to wait for his response before turning to walk back to the gorgeous woman waiting for me. I smiled, thinking about our date the next day. I had most of the plans in place, I just needed to pick up the flowers on the way to get her, pack up the food, and get the blankets in the car.
When I got back to the table, I placed Bella's cup next to her left hand and took my seat. She smiled at me and I thought about the way her lips stretched across her face, covering her shiny white teeth. I imagined them stretched over other places on my body and felt myself straining against my pants.
"Do you have a lot of work to do?" I asked, desperate to distract my brain.
"Not too much. Just enough to irritate me," she laughed.
I smiled again at the realization that I wanted to hear that laugh every day. Was I getting ahead of myself? Probably, but I couldn't help it. Maybe this is what my father meant when he told me that he hoped I'd someday meet someone that would turn my world upside down. I'd blown him off at the time, but looking at Bella in that moment, I could see leaving behind my selfish and immature behavior for something better with her.
When my sandwich was gone, I took my plate to the counter, then got my books out and began to study next to her. I'd read a few sentences, then glance up to study her. Sometimes I'd look at her face, tracing the lines of her eyes with mine, or the shape of her nose. I memorized the furrow of her brow as she focused and concentrated, the cupid's bow of her lip as my brain wandered and thought about softly licking it.
Stealing a glance to her pale arm, I trailed my eyes from her wrist that I longed to suck and nibble on, to her elbow where I could imagine placing more kisses and then up to her shoulder... which of course led me to her collarbone. Her dress cascaded down the front of her body in a V that covered her beautiful breasts and I was pulled out of my thoughts, unabashedly staring at her, by the clearing of her throat.
"Excuse me, Mr. Cullen, do you see something you might like?" she whispered, a smirk across her face.
My lips brushed across the lobe of her ear when I leaned into her, before speaking. "I'm not sure yet, Ms. Swan. I'll give you a thorough and complete analysis once I've had a closer look."
She shivered as I pulled back and I noticed her eyes were closed.
"Mmm, maybe a little," she said, opening her eyes.
She brought her hands up to rub her arms and that only made her breasts push out farther. Was she teasing me as much as I was teasing her? I pulled my sweater off over my head and handed it to her. She slipped it on and we both laughed at how big it was on her. Then she did something I never in a million years would have expected. Her eyes closed again and she turned her head toward me, lowered her nose to her shoulder and took in a deep breath. The fuck?
"Coffee Girl, are you sniffing my sweater?"
She turned beet red and her eyes scrunched closed even tighter than they'd been, emphasizing the cute creases at the edges. I wanted to kiss each side, to reassure her. Of course, she surprised me again by opening her eyes and looking right at me, somehow finding her confidence.
"I like the way you smell, crazy Scone Boy. Got a problem with that?"
She arched an eyebrow, as if tempting me to cross her. I shifted in my seat, a lame attempt to adjust myself and regain some comfort in my pants. We were back to Feisty Bella, the one that made me see her in a new light that first time I'd met her, before I even knew her name. This led me to thinking about my shower time and I had two sudden realizations.
First, she probably had actually done something very similar to what I fantasized about her doing with Tanya. I wondered if it had been Tanya who was with Bella that morning. Holy shit that would be hot. Second, I realized I'd formed a habit of making withdrawals from the bank while thinking about her in the shower. Note to self: withdraw from the bank on dry land next time. A guy has to have goals, right? I wondered if I could spread her across the table in front of us and show her just how much I wanted and needed her right in this moment.
Play it cool, Cullen. "No problem at all," I said, smiling.
We both turned back to our books and a few minutes later, I noticed her hand resting between our texts.
"Need this hand for anything?" I asked, tilting my head down towards her hand.
"Not right at the moment, but I'm sure I'll need it at some point," she laughed.
I moved my right hand up and over her left. Spreading my fingers, I laced through hers and curled them into her hand. As I went back to reading my book, I rubbed the side of her palm with my thumb.
Did he really just ask if I needed my hand?
"Not right at the moment, but I'm sure I'll need it at some point," I said.
I watched as he put his hand over the top of mine, not underneath as I would have expected. He wrapped his fingers together with mine. His hand was hot and his skin was softer than I imagined it would be. His thumb traced lazy paths on the side of my hand, and I should have known that studying was all but useless at that moment. Instead, I pretended to read my book again and he seemed to be doing the same.
We spent the next hour in relative silence, just enjoying the company of each other while we worked independently, but together. The quiet was nice and reassured me that we could be around each other and actually focus and get work done, which was important to me. Well, I could focus before he put his hand on mine, at least.
I needed to do well in school, but more than that, I wanted to do well. I realized that I wanted to be with someone that wanted me to better myself. Jake wanted success for himself, but never thought about the implications of what that might mean for me, often sacrificing my own wants or needs to fulfill his.
"Coffee Girl?" Edward whispered, interrupting my thoughts.
"Yeah, Scone Boy?" I replied, not bothering to look up from my book.
"You've been on that page for like twenty minutes now."
"You done studying? I have some things I need to attend to for this date I have tomorrow. Can I walk you back to your room?"
"Date, huh? Tyler finally work up the nerve to ask you out?" I teased.
I bit my lip to keep from giggling and his head whipped up so he could look at me.
"Coffee Girl, this is your first and final warning. Do not ever put the mental image of Tyler asking me out in my brain again."
We laughed and I pulled my hand away from his to pack up my bag. Once we were both ready to go, jackets back on, bags over our shoulders, he took my hand again and I smiled at him. I wanted him to know that I liked that he was holding my hand. He nodded at the person working the register, Tyler's shift long over, as we walked out of the cafe and into the dark evening.
"Hey, what time are you picking me up tomorrow?" I asked.
"I was thinking I'd pick you up around four. Does that work?" He looked at me and his eyes seemed to be full of hope and happiness. He looked so youthful and full of life in that moment; glasses perched perfectly on his nose, cheeks pink from the cold air, eyes bright.
"Yeah, four would be great."
Four would give me plenty of time to get back from classes, change, and freshen up. We walked into my building and stopped in front of the door to the room.
"Hey, can I get a hint about where we're going? You know, so I know how to dress," I explained.
He smiled. "A hint? Hmm."
He let go of my hand and leaned in. My back was pressed against the door. Grabbing the lapels of my jacket in his hands, he pulled me slightly closer to him and leaned down. Is he going to kiss me? Oh, God, please, KISS ME!
"Wear something warm and comfortable," he whispered in my ear.
Edward placed one soft kiss on my cheek before backing up and out of my personal space.
"I do have a favor to ask of you, however," he said, looking down at the ground.
"Do you think I could possibly email your song of the day tomorrow? While it brings me great joy to stop by on my morning run and deliver it, I suspect you might appreciate a date that won't need to crash by nine." He chuckled and looked up at me.
"Ah, you're confessing already? I'm a little disappointed. That doesn't mean the music will stop, does it?" I smiled at him, hopeful.
"Well, I did just ask for your email address so I could send it, didn't I? I'm glad you like them and would be disappointed if they were gone," he said. The tone of his voice was soft and warm. "I don't intend to stop anytime soon. I just thought perhaps I could stop using an entire CD every day for only one song, and waking up so early."
Taking his hand back in mine, I used my other hand to dig my keys out of my bag. I unlocked the door and tugged him in. Huh, no one is home?
"C'mon. I'll get a piece of paper to write down my email address."
We exchanged a smile and walked to my bedroom with me leading the way. Once we were inside, I let go of his hand and Edward sat on the edge of my bed as if it was the most natural thing in the world. As if he belonged there.
Oh, Edward, you have no idea how many times I have imagined you in that bed.
There was a notepad on my desk, so I sat in the chair and wrote my email address down. I passed him the paper, then stood up to walk him out. His hands flew out from his sides and hooked behind my knees. He didn't pull me forward, he just played with the backs of my knees and I nearly fucking swooned right there. It took all of my strength not to rest my knees on either side of him and push him back, having my way with him.
Must send Jasper a thank you card for awakening the beast.
I looked down into his eyes, suddenly so serious and heavy with emotion. The movement of his fingers against my skin would have tickled under normal circumstances, but he wasn't exactly using a light, tickling touch.
"Tyler was right, you know," he half whispered.
"He said what you were wearing would drive me crazy. That day you came into the cafe with your friend, you were wearing a similar shade of blue and I might have mentioned it to him. You should never wear any other colors."
I laughed and he stood up, his hands dragging up my legs slightly. His fingertips rested against the back of my thighs, material pooled in his hands, as he stood in front of me. His fingers were less than an inch from the bottom of my ass and I was again struggling with myself; did I want him to keep going or not?
"I should go," he said quietly.
Edward turned and picked up his bag, letting go of my legs. I was instantly disappointed, but I had hope that we'd be in a similar position again soon. He led the way out of my room, then opened the door to leave. Once Edward was outside the room, he turned back to me. Tucking a piece of hair behind my ear, he stopped to rub his thumb along my cheekbone.
"See you tomorrow, Coffee Girl."
He bent and kissed my cheek softly again, lingering just a moment longer than a peck, before giving me one last smile. As he walked away, I sighed. Yep, you have it bad, Swan. The sooner you admit it, the sooner you can just let go and be happy again.
I closed the door and walked back to my room, changing into my pajamas. Sprawled out on my bed, I stared at the ceiling. My mind began to replay memories of Jake, almost against my will. I didn't want to think about him, I wanted to maintain my state of blissed out Edwardness. Once I began down that path, though, the memories and emotions flooded back.
Our first kiss played like a movie in my brain, as fresh as if it had happened the day before. My left hand went unconsciously to my right, feeling for the promise ring I'd given back. My mind wandered to the dreams I'd the other night and the pain I felt. I realized it wasn't so much the pain over losing Jacob's love; even I knew on some level we'd grown apart and were no longer a good team. The pain of the lies and cheating were really what ate away at me. When I needed him the most, he wasn't there – he was fulfilling his own needs before mine, again.
Sighing, I rolled over, facing away from the door. I tucked my knees into my body and closed my eyes. I caught the faintest smell of roses and thought of her. Renee's favorite flowers were roses and toward the end, Phil made sure that we had an endless supply of fresh red roses.
The tears welled up, the image of her in the hospital bed at the house, kerchief around her fuzzy head, as she smiled at me one of the last times. She would look at her vases of flowers and sigh, quoting Thoreau to me for the millionth time.
Truths and roses have thorns about them.
Now and then she'd switch it up with Ovid.
The sharp thorn often produces the delicate rose, she would recite as she stroked my cheek.
She hadn't been Mother of the Year, that was true, but she was good to me. I always knew she loved me. I always knew she was proud of me. I'd been so angry at the end of her life. She was being taken away from me before she'd really have the chance to see me grow into being a woman. Laying there, I realized that she should've been angry as well. Never once during the six weeks I was there did she seem upset. Maybe she was too tired, maybe she'd made her peace with dying by then; I'd never know.
The tears were coming in an endless stream, so opposite from the days after her death when I couldn't cry at all. The days that bled into weeks of numbness and nothingness, especially after I left Jacob and Washington behind.
Washington. Charlie. The two would always be linked in my mind and heart.
My body shook with the weight of the sob that escaped my throat. Charlie. I had so much time to prepare for Renee to be gone. Even with Jacob, I saw him slip away gradually, but Charlie was taken in a moment. Though we were never very outwardly affectionate with each other, I knew Charlie loved me just as much as Renee did.
Grabbed my quilt, I pulled it up and over me. I was grateful my homework was done as I finally gave in and did what both Emmett and Edward had been encouraging me to do. I let another sliver of the grief I'd been holding inside of me out with each tear that fell. I let my heart open a little more to Edward with each breath I took in.
The conflicting emotions were almost amusing. Grief juxtaposed to my burgeoning crush. The two danced in my head as I slipped into a deep sleep. Renee's face smiling. Edward's hand in mine. Charlie's funeral. Jacob and Mike at Charlie's funeral. Edward's muscles as they flexed when we ran together. The sound of Charlie's laugh, rare as it was. The many sounds of Renee's laugh, ever changing to the situation. The sounds of Jacob's laugh. Was it always false and hollow, or only in my memory? The laughter of Alice and Rose brought a smile to my face, both of them so full of love. It was Edward's laugh that was last to go through my conscious thoughts, full and rich, light and inviting.
When I woke up in the morning, my eyes were crusted thickly and I couldn't even open them at first. It had been a long time since I had cried so hard or for so long. Maybe that had been the only time?
Suddenly, my brain shifted into gear and I remembered it was Friday. Hopping out of bed, I flipped my laptop open and willed the stupid machine to power up faster. As soon as I was able, I loaded up my email and sure enough, there was something from Edward, timestamped just a few minutes before. I clicked to open it and held my breath as I read.
I hope this gets to you before you leave for the day; I was remiss in asking what time you normally leave for classes. Not every lyric here applies, but the overall tone and sentiment do.
I can't wait to see you today.
I downloaded the attachment and loaded the song into my iTunes. It was You Owe Me Nothing in Return by Alanis Morissette. I had a few minutes of extra time, so I Googled the lyrics and read them as they were sung. While I took my shower and got ready for the day, I plugged my iPod in to sync.
It was Friday. Date day. I couldn't have been more excited.