Chapter Seven: Rising Humidity
"Do you like the mushroom ravioli?" Edward inquires gently.
I hurriedly finish chewing my latest piece of pasta, swallow, and answer. "Yeah. It's really nice. You picked a great place, Edward."
Edward smiles happily. "I'm glad."
My fork scrapes along the bottom of the plate, filling the silence. So far, our dinner has been quite an awkward affair. The restaurant is lit in a dimmed, romantic way. The waitress had obviously wondered what the flying fuck was I doing with a guy as hot as Edward, while she took our orders. My head was surrounded by a halo of frizzy hair because of the sudden onset of rain and I had a zit on the edge of my chin. Edward's hair was immaculately messy and his skin acted like it wasn't made up of a million pores. It didn't take long for our meals to come, but while we waited, Edward started to point out what he thought other people in the restaurant were thinking.
For the waitress, my money was on sex. With Edward. The prodigal son himself had guessed going home for the leggy blonde.
I had smirked. "Yeah, going home with you." Edward had replied with a cheeky, I thought that was what you were planning?
He had taken my silence as an admission. Stupid, cocky green-eyed bastard.
The arrival of our meals had pretty much silenced us both for a while. I decide I should probably attempt to make conversation since Edward just asked me a question, but he beats me to it. "How was your day?"
"It was all right," I respond quietly before elaborating. Come on, Bella. Try to aim for a sentence with more than five syllables. "I think I got a detention. Oh, I had to sit next to Ugly Braces Girl in history, and she spent the whole lesson wondering aloud what a hussy like me was doing with an emerald-orbed spunk like you. I'm not even paraphrasing. The chick is so backwards she said 'emerald-orbed spunk.'"
Edward looks vaguely amused. "I take it that you don't like her?"
I sigh. "She's just really judgemental. She always whispers things like 'slut' under her breath in class."
"You call her Ugly Braces Girl," Edward points out.
I don't like where he's going with this. "I don't say that to her face, though."
"Still. You're judging her like she judges you."
"Oh my god, would you stop being the voice of reason for, like, a second?" I laugh exasperatedly before relenting. "I suppose you're right. I just wish Victoria didn't have such a bad opinion of me. It hurts. But, I mean…I guess I've never really done anything to prove her wrong."
Edward narrows his eyes, confused. "You always said you'd only ever slept with me?" he says, although it comes out more like a question.
"And that's still true. But I experimented with other guys, and Jess always liked to play things up to get attention."
Edward is silent for a moment. "Why don't you tell Victoria how you feel? She might apologize once she realizes how she makes you feel," he finally suggests.
I hate to admit it, but it sounds like a good idea. Maybe I'll tell her that she should stop talking about Edward's eyes poetically. That's stalker material. That's Lauren, Jess and Angela material – last week they'd been doing the same thing.
I eat a few more pieces of my ravioli, swishing them around in the sauce before popping them into my mouth. My mind is locked on my ex-friends.
"Why didn't you say something the other day at lunch?" I inquire weakly. "Make Lauren believe you hadn't screwed me?"
Edward sighs and looks at me apologetically. "I thought you should handle it on your own. You're strong enough."
"Well, Alice handled it, really. I was going to just run out of there," I reply.
"Alice gave you the option to stay and fight, but you made the decision," Edward says as if he's a wise preacher. I shouldn't be so sarcastic. He's kinda right.
Edward seems to possess the unnatural ability to render me silent. "It's a miracle!" Jacob would cry. I push my remaining ravioli around the dish, thinking hard. Finally, I exhale and plaster a smile on my face.
"Okay, Cullen, enough blowing sunshine up my ass," I say, which makes him almost choke on his mouthful of steak. I think he's pleased to hear a bit of the old Bella back in my voice. "This whole time we've been talking about me when we should be talking about you. How are you liking Forks? How's your family settling in?"
Edward swallows his food and begins to gabble, eager to talk about his experiences in the rainiest state in the Continental US. "Forks isn't too bad. It's not as small-town as you made it out to be. I think Dad misses working in a crazy-busy hospital, but Mom loves her new job. I think it sounds boring, but she seems to like it. Emmett has been grumbling about the lack of single women, although he acts like he enjoys working under his new contractors."
"And what about you? Are you settling in okay? Do you miss home?"
"Ehh, I suppose. School's pretty much the same whatever state you live in. I have been missing home, lately, though."
I take a sip of my water with a small smile. "Did you bring your piano?" I ask shyly.
We share a secret look. "Yes," Edward answers, trying to sound cryptic with one word and failing. "I'll tell you more about that some other time."
Oh, god, now he's got my interest. I've admitted to myself long ago that anything to do with Edward's talented fingers is something that I should be very concerned about.
Edward changes the subject. He punctuates his next statement with a lopsided smile. "How's all this motherfucking rain? My friend Tanya keeps sending me pictures of the beach just to piss me off."
I process this information. Edward has a friend named Tanya. Unless Tanya's parents are new age, Tanya is a girl. Edward has a close friend who is a girl.
I feel like I'm at an ATM and it's asking me questions. How would you like to proceed?
I try to act casual. "Tanya? You've never mentioned her before."
"Really? Oh, well, we've only really been friends these past two years. "
I am not prying. I am not prying at all.
"Do you miss her?"
"Yeah, sure." Edward then proceeds to find a photo of her in his phone. He tosses it over to me. Edward's friend would make a supermodel want to put a paper bag over her head. Tanya's got long legs, great boobs and strawberry blonde hair – the type that screams kinky. Shit.
"She really knows how to throw a party," he comments as I gingerly hand his phone back to him.
"I know how to throw a party, too," I blurt out before I can stop myself. I try to back pedal as fast as I can. "Well, at least I used to. New, quiet, loner Bella probably couldn't."
I feel as embarrassed as if that stupid waitress had pushed my face into my bowl of ravioli. I've managed to be indignant, jealous and self-deprecating - all in one rambling sentence.
Edward shakes his head. He doesn't even pick up the jealousy about Tanya – maybe he can be as obtuse as most of guys I know every once in a while. "You aren't a completely different person, Bella. You've just…evolved."
"I'm not a Pokémon, Edward."
"Seriously. So you're not as flirty or as reckless as you once were – what's wrong with that? I think you've grown up, personally."
I feel like he's punch me in the chest. I feel so angry that I might cry. "So it took some thirty-five year old guy feeling me up to make me take life seriously?" I snap.
My words echo, carving their ugly mark into the tea lights and decadent artworks that adorn the restaurant's walls. Edward swears and immediately says sorry, but I cut off his apology.
"I'm sorry, I'm being a bitch," I say quickly. I take a deep breath and closing my eyes. "I get what you're saying. Thank you; it's nice to know I'm not the fifteen year old who painted your hair with glow stick juice in your eyes anymore." I try to crack a smile. I wait a beat before continuing slowly, "Thank you for suggesting the support group. I think I'll go next week. It was…nice."
Edward looks really apologetic. "Let me drive you until your truck gets fixed. To make up for being an asshole."
I think I can let his one comment slide. Alice and I had agreed that he was being way more understanding than any normal guy would be. I nod in agreement. "And how can I make it up to you for me being an asshole?"
Edward grins. "Oh, I can think of a few ways…"
We skip out on dessert and pay half of the bill each. We spend the car trip home in content silence. The fast blur of white road lines whipping past puts me in a hypnotic daze. Edward's twinkling classical music lulls me. There's no angry, anxious electricity between us; a warm, safe hum has filled its place.
Edward pulls up outside my house. The lights are on, which means Charlie is home. I lazily look over to Edward as I unbuckle my seatbelt.
"I should go. Thanks for the ride…and dinner."
Edward unbuckles his seat belt, too, and grins. He turns in his seat so that he's facing me. "I don't think you should go."
I recognize the look in his eyes. I know what's coming and I don't know whether I want to stop it or not. "Did Newton give you that line?" I reply dryly.
Edward leans closer. His eyes dart from my eyes to my lips quickly. My head is against the window. He crouches over me, and gives me a kiss. I can feel my heart thumping in my head. His lips are warm as they push against mine, and all too soon, my neck is hurting because it's titled at an odd angle, as Edward's body is somehow flush with mine as we make out. I sound out the words "neck – hurting —" around Edward's hot tongue. He grunts in reply and directs me to move so that my back is against the seat. We only break contact as Edward moves his head to hungrily kiss me from a different angle. My fingers interlace in his messy hair. I know this. I know Edward and I. I can do this without flipping out.
His hands find my shirt as his grinds up against me. I can feel his cock stirring in his pants; he's that close to me. I start to kiss Edward more deeply, and he groans into my mouth as I bit down on his lower lip. His groan sends a thrill of excitement and pleasure through me – but for some reason I feel fear. I'm scared. I'm so scared. My mind is working overtime trying not to think about what happened, but Edward doesn't seem to notice my distraction.
I move so that my tongue is encircling his again, licking the spot where I bit his lip in the process. I can instantly tell that this totally turns Edward on even more, the horny freak, because he fumbles with the buttons on my shirt. Normally, I would be excited about the fact that Edward would suck on my nipples – his mouth is fucking fantastic and it's something we both know really gets me going. Thinking about his warm, wet lips used to get me through some boring classes last year.
But something is different this time. I move backwards, and he takes this as his cue to move the seat towards the back so that it's like we're almost lying down. The seat is down in a second, and Edward is on top of me. It's only taken five minutes of heavy petting for Edward to be fully erect and ready to go. The hazy moonlight highlights the hungry look in his eyes.
He had pulled down the seat lever just a little too quickly; I'm unnerved on top of feeling scared. I push against his body and move my head away from his, breaking our contact. Edward's breath is hot on my neck. I scramble upwards so that my feet are tucked up, my heels hitting the back of my thighs. I can feel my heart beating. I think he's trying to catch my gaze.
"You've done this type of thing in your car before, haven't you?" I try to joke. My voice cracks and leaves silence in its wake like the delivery of a bad cliché.
"Uh, yeah," Edward admits as he exhales. His arms are supporting him as he leans over me.
"I'm not worried about that, or anything," I say in a rush, hoping he won't get the wrong idea. "You know me. You just….I, uhm…." My brain can't formulate the word. Fuckity fuck fuck. "I don't know if this…feels…right…"
Edward moves off me and sits awkwardly on his dashboard. He babbles apologetically, running a hand through his messy red-brown hair. "I'm so sorry, I wasn't even thinking straight. I didn't realize it would hurt you. Shit! I shouldn't have come over you like that, of course it would remind you of-"
"No," I interrupt him firmly. "Edward, no, that's not it at all. I just think that once I'm ready I'd like to be the one to, well, instigate it. I'm…I'm not ready yet."
I feel so embarrassed. I've never been the girl who stopped a guy because she wasn't ready. I've always been ready.
I don't feel like a woman, proud and standing her ground. I feel like a small mousy girl who's been backed into a corner.
Is this how saying no is meant to feel?
Edward looks at me sadly. "I understand," he says quietly. His cock, judging by its erection, probably isn't as forgiving to me, but I'm grateful for his acknowledgement anyway.
"I'm sorry," I say, nodding towards it. Edward looks down and tries to readjust his pants so that I can't see it. It doesn't work. Edward looks sheepish, but he gives me a smile that says no problem.
I redo the buttons on my flannelette shirt, reach for the door handle and push the passenger door open. "You didn't hurt me, Edward," I mumble. "I don't think it's humanely possible for you to hurt me."
I grab my bag and stumble out the door. Edward catches and grabs the doorframe before I slam it shut. His face is glowing in the moonlight. His strange green eyes look almost clear.
"Good thing I'm not human," he leers in jest before clawing at the air and barring his teeth.
I purse my lips together as I try to keep my smile from stretching out across my face. Edward has been more than kind to me, and the fact that I can't give myself to him kills me. It's embarrassing. It makes me feel as unworthy as Jess used to insinuate I was. I'm so mixed up about everything in my life; I'm surprised I've managed to even hold up a conversation lately. Strangely, I feel a little better about the fact that they are other people just like me who know who this type of confusion feels.
I give Edward an awkward kiss on the cheek.
"See you tomorrow, Dracula," I say before jogging up to my front steps. Edward waits until I'm safely inside my house, the place where Phil came up to me/where Renee found me huddled in the bottom of the shower, crying, before driving away.
I'm sixteen. Emmett is having the time of his life by showing me a video of Edward at his latest piano recital as we are waiting for Dr. Carlisle to bring back lunch. By the way Emmett's mouth curls up and his dimples show, I think I'm meant to find the idea of Edward playing Chopin with such fervour absolutely hilarious.
But I don't. I know how much Edward loves to play. I know how much he hates to hide his secret talents from his guy friends at school. Oh, they know he plays, but not much else. It's the passion of Edward's life that is forever shelved away on the pretence of not being a sport, a career, or something worthwhile.
I watch his talented fingers dance, weave and twirl along the ivory keys with awe.
I know exactly what those extraordinary fingers can do.
A/N: The last line isn't as cool because doesn't allow strokes through fonts. Anywho...Any thoughts on Bella and Edward's relationship so far? What do you think will happen now that they'll be spending more time together? ;)