And Then We Were Running
The last time I had been swimming, I had almost drowned in the Pacific Ocean. I wasn't looking forward to doing it again.
He called me on my brand-new, tiny silver cell phone while I was driving to the gas station-- Edward knew I didn't take the miniature telephone out of my ostentatious Mercedes Guardian's glove compartment.
"Good thing I caught you," he murmured. "Would you happen to have plans tomorrow?"
I would clear all of my plans if it meant being with you, I thought to myself. "N-No," I stuttered as I awkwardly pulled up to a self-serve station. I felt millions of pairs of eyes all on me.
"Good. I'm taking you out tomorrow night."
"Out? Isn't it going to rain?"
"I asked Alice... she said it's going to pour all day!" He sounded happy about this. I didn't understand him sometimes; any type of weather that involved water falling from the sky spelled danger for me.
"Oh, Edward, I really don--" I dropped the gas pump... again. I sighed and continued. "I really don't feel like being soaked to the bone. It's going to ruin my mood. I mean, the wedding is only a few days awa--"
"Too bad. I love you."
He hung up. I could feel my cheeks warming at the true, little, carefree sentiment stuck on the end of his dismissal. Him. Love. Me. Me?
I eyed the majestic ring resting on my left hand as I swiped my new credit card. Yes. Edward was mine now.
Alice's golden eyes sparkled as she skipped and plopped herself on my bed next to the pink box she'd placed there. Smiling, she fingered the silk magenta ribbon that held its mysterious contents together.
"I've had it in mind for ages," she boasted, now twirling a strand of her extremely short hair. "but I never actually had it made... so Hubert made it for me!"
"Hubert?" I questioned as I pulled my hair into a ponytail, trying to imitate her perfect French accent. I popped open a Coca-Cola, and offered Alice one, which she daintily waved away. "Hubert who?" I continued.
She scoffed, as if I was supposed to know. "Who else? Hubert de Givenchy, of course!"
I almost choked on the soda I was sipping.
"What?" she responded, one hand on her hip. Her nonchalance was real.
"THE Hubert de Givenchy?" Even I knew who he was.
"Of course, Bella! Hubert and I are like this." She crossed her fingers and shook them for emphasis. "Now, open your present!"
I whimpered. "I don't need a 10,000 dollar dress, Alice."
She smiled sympathetically. "Don't worry, Bella," her high, silver voice caressed my ears. "I stayed under 500 this time." She sighed and murmured softly, "Just under."
I winced again and began slowly untying the beautiful ribbon. It was almost too pretty to undo.
Alice groaned impatiently and tore the box out of my hands. "Oh, just open it!" Kneeling on my mattress now, she ripped the bow off and tossed it into the corner of the room, along with the top of the box. A grin stretched across her white face as she held up the contents proudly.
"Well?" she bounced on her heels.
Oh, God. It was worse than I imagined.
Alice held in her hands the true opposite of anything I would ever wear.
It was a bikini.
The top was just about the scantiest thing I'd ever seen in my life; two triangles of cotton eyelet lace were barely held together by a string that also "secured" the-- I winced again-- bikini to my neck and back. The bottom was just as bad, if not worse. A tiny skirt embraced the top edges of the bottom piece of the bathing suit, made of the same eyelet lace. The sides that laid against my hips were just the same tied strings as the top.
"I made it blue-- Edward's favorite!"
"Oh!" I cried and dropped to my knees, producing a painful thud. "You want EDWARD to see me in this?! Oh my God, Alice! Oh my God!"
Suddenly, I heard a voice emanate from downstairs. "Everything alright up there?"
I was still in hysterics, so Alice answered in her dainty, soprano voice. "Don't worry, Charlie, we're fine!"
"Just checkin'." I could hear him change the channel.
Tiny Alice picked me up and sat me on the edge of the bed. She sniffled and wiped an invisible tear from her cheek. "Y-You don't l-like it?" Alice was a good actress.
I sighed, defeated. "It's just so skimpy, Alice."
She brightened again and clapped her hands together. "I know! I figured I should add something in-vogue to your wardrobe. I don't want you wearing that old Speedo tankini to the pond toni-- oh, no."
I could feel my eyes widening. Why would Edward want to take me to a pond?
She gulped. "N-No, I never told you anything, Bella. I-I didn't say an-- oh, Edward's gonna kill me. I was supposed to keep this a secret!" Alice buried her porcelain face in her hands.
I wrapped my arms around her. "It's ok, Alice. Don't worry, I'll act totally surprised. If..." I trailed off.
She stared at me apprehensively. "If?"
"If I don't have to wear the bikini."
Alice scoffed again and stood up, hand on her hip. "Uh, no! You have no choice. You are wearing the suit. I'd rather you know about Edward's plans than go with him in some repulsive four-year-old tankini."
I frowned. I had no choice.
"Hmph," Alice exhaled, triumphant. "It's 7:50 already... Edward's going to be here in ten minutes, so go change. I wanna see how it looks!"
Feeling defeated, I retrieved the bathing suit in one hand and trudged into the bathroom. I peeled off today's outfit and replaced it with the small pieces of expensive fabric. I hated how I felt-- exposed. I felt like I had nothing on!
I winced again and stuffed my sweats in the hamper on my way back to my room. I walked in slowly, warily, not so eager to show Alice my new designer bikini that really showcased my resemblance to a twig.
Hand still on the doorknob, I wondered why Alice wasn't squealing with approval already. I finally entered my bedroom and noticed that Alice wasn't posed beautifully on my quilt.
My eyes grew massively in fear as my breathing increased impossibly in speed. I let out a bone-rattling scream and retreated to the safety of the bathroom.
"Bella!" Charlie shouted. I could hear his footsteps stomping angrily on the stairs.
I took a second to remove the quaver from my voice. "I'm fine, Dad. Just a spider." I hoped Alice heard that.
He grunted skeptically and returned to his basketball game.
I could hear Edward's soft chuckle outside the door. "Isabella," he breathed. "I'm sure it's not that bad."
I searched around my shelter for any leftover pajamas that I could cover myself in. Nothing. I was even too lazy to get the towels out of the dryer this morning.
"Alice is in for it. It is that bad."
"I doubt that."
"Can you please grab me a shirt and some jeans? They're in the middle drawer."
I groaned softly. Could I fit through that window?
"Bella, it's time to go."
"I'm not leaving in this little piece of crap Alice designed with 'Hubert.'" I mocked her. She deserved it.
"I can just come in, you know, but I don't want to break your lock."
I pressed my cheek up to the door. "Good. Don't."
I could hear and feel a distinct cracking as Edward snapped the doorknob and entered the bathroom. I was desperate. I wrapped myself in the shower curtain.
He shut the door quietly behind him and leaned on it. Chuckling, he added, "You're not being very mature."
"Neither are you," I rebutted. "You just broke my doorknob."
He rolled his eyes and strode over to me, taking my wrists in his huge, graceful hands. He placed a kiss on my stubborn lips. "Good evening."
I didn't kiss him back. "Get out."
He released the full force of his topaz eyes on me. "I'm not leaving until you have a death grip on my neck. We're running today. No car."
I tried to imitate him, with little success. "I'm not leaving until I get to change out of this thing and I have a death grip on Alice's neck." I clutched my curtain protectively.
He ignored my threat. "What color is it?"
"You think I'm going to tell you?"
He kissed me again. "Yes."
I sighed. "Alice made it blue."
He smiled. "How nice of her. Blue is my favorite on you."
I stared up angrily at him, making each word a sentence. "I. Know." I struggled against his stone grip, releasing my curtain in the process. My cheeks were rapidly turning crimson.
Edward laughed, keeping his gaze locked to mine. "Please let me see it. The curiosity is ravenous."
Furrowing my eyebrows and obsinately sticking my fists at my sides, I hissed, "Fine. Look. I look like a hooker."
"Ha!" he laughed loudly that time, surprised that that came out of my mouth. I hoped that Charlie didn't hear him. "You don't look like a hooker, Bella." He backed up and placed his hand on his chin, as if appraising me. He was making fun of me.
"Givenchy's color palette is a very good choice this time, but the model seems a little reluctant to be displaying his creation."
I relaxed. "Nice try, Edward."
He smirked and took my hand, leading me back to my room. He put his hands on my hips and looked in my brown eyes.
"You look amazing, Bella. You really do."
I gulped and looked at his bare feet. "T-Thanks."
He balanced my chin in his hand and turned my face to his. "I'm getting married to the most beautiful woman in the world. I will be with her for the rest of my life, and I will be eternally grateful for every day that I am lucky enough to share with her."
I sighed, wrapped my arms around his neck, and rested my head on his shoulder, which I noticed was thinly covered in a black t-shirt that accented the perfect curvature of his chest. He also donned black swim trunks... nothing on them-- no print, no logo, just black swim trunks that displayed extremely pale and muscular calves.
I chuckled, and Edward looked down at me confusedly.
I laughed again and met his golden gaze. "I don't think I've ever seen you in shorts before."
He smirked, embarrassed. "You don't really ever have weather above 70 degrees in Forks."
Gently moving my arms, he strode over to the window, pushing it up with one hand while doing his best not to break it. "Except for tonight."
Before skitting over excitedly to the window, I grabbed a white blouse from my drawer and buttoned it up. At least I was fairly covered now.
Edward rolled his eyes and reached out for my hand. I took it and stepped over to the window. As I stuck my head outside, I was greeted by a warm, wet breeze and a heavy rain. A WARM, wet breeze... I could care less about the extreme amount of rain pelting me from the sky. I gasped happily, caught by surprise.
Edward squeezed my fingers. "It's 85 degrees outside right now."
I grinned and closed the window. "It was cold all day! You're serious?"
"Completely." He eyed my protective white shirt and then scoffed.
"Is something wrong with my shirt?" I checked all of the buttons instinctively.
Flinging me onto his back and opening the window yet again, he replied, "No. Nothing."
And then we were running.
His bare feet were invisible as we sprinted together through the storm. I kept my eyes open this time, watching the green, mossy world race past me. Edward's bronze hair whipped around wildly in the wind and rain. I wrapped my arms around his chest and rested my chin on his shoulder, enjoying the ride. My legs were around his waist, holding me on as we picked up speed. Edward's breathing never changed-- I loved the way it sounded; calm, even, and relaxed, but strong. He gripped my ankles as we entered a dense, rocky forest. He leaped lithely over every log, narrowly avoided every low branch. We brushed past a fern; I was so ticklish, I laughed. Edward laughed with me as we sprinted-- a low, rough, rare sound. Edward's laugh was the most beautiful sound in the world to me.
Suddenly, we jolted to a stop, causing me to lose my grip on his granite body and be dropped into a pile of moss. He laughed at me again and turned to my sprawled position on the ground. Edward knelt down next to me, his short hair windblown and tousled and his golden eyes absolutely breathtaking.
"Close your eyes," he instructed me.
I did what he told me.
One second later, I was sitting up with a blindfold tied around my eyes. I took a deep breath and a familiar, irresistible scent welcomed me.
He gripped my shaky hand and began leading me away. "Ok, now, I'm going to show you a place that is very important to me. I'm sure you've already found out what it is."
I chuckled. "Alice can't keep secrets very well."
"That's for sure."
He pulled me away, every so often warning me of a rock or deep puddle, or a leaf waiting to slip me, and I still stumbled over them. Edward always checked my hands for any scrapes or cuts, but never discovered any.
Minutes later, I could feel him standing right in front of me, his presence dazzling my senses. He carefully lifted the blindfold off of my eyes and moved to the side, still holding my hand.
"Open your eyes."
Taking a deep breath, I slowly let my eyes adjust to the light. Right in front of me was just about the most beautiful place I'd ever seen in my life.
A small waterfall was nestled between vegetated rocks, only to fall to a large, clear blue pool. Lily pads with glorious pink blooms rested with tranquility on top of the water, which undulated peacefully. Beautiful, delicate trees shrouded the entire area, boasting their multicolored flowers. The silver clouds above no longer produced rain, and began to retreat from the sky. Many large stones were asleep in the pool, moss beginning to grow on their surfaces. Moonlight filtered through the overhead leaves, making the water sparkle proudly.
"Do you like it?" Edward's musical voice interrupted my reverie.
I noticed he was standing very far behind me. I had walked up to the water's edge unconsciously. A little blue-colored fish swam by nervously.
I turned back to Edward with awe on my face. Fighting back tears, I ran to his bare, awaiting arms. I successfully reached the lethal angel without tripping, so he scooped me up, allowing me to position my arms around his neck.
"It's beautiful," I whispered. It was all I could come up with at the moment-- this place was heavenly.
He smiled and traced absent patterns on my lips. "My father brought my mother here many years ago. She told me about this place all of the time; I'm sure this is it."
I smiled, but looked up at him, confused. "Weren't they in Chicago?"
"Well, my mother had family up here. She and my father came to the Olympic Peninsula to announce our engagement to her mother and father."
I sighed quietly and began speaking again in a solemn tone. "I wish I could have met them."
"They were amazing people."
I looked up at his topaz eyes, which were now filled with pain. His lips met mine for a few seconds.
He sighed again and smiled. "You really don't need to wear the shirt, Bella. It's just me."
I stared at him angrily. "That's my entire point, Edward. This bikini... ugh. It's just disgusting."
His eyes become soft, his voice innocent and quiet. "I don't think it's disgusting. You're too beautiful to make anything you wear look disgusting." He clutched me tighter to his chest.
I sighed again, skeptical.
"You think I'm kidding?" He was truly hurt.
I started to unbutton my blouse. "I guess not."
I smiled softly, still self-conscious, and tossed the blouse next to a tree. Edward let me down and clutched my hand strongly. He began to run, so I had no choice but to follow him. The feeling of dewy grass beneath my feet and Edward's fingers laced with mine was truly exhilarating. He began to laugh, and I joined him. We finally reached the edge of the pond, and leapt into the moonlit water as one.
The pool was deeper than I imagined-- at least seven feet or so. Even as I descended into the cool, June water, I never lost Edward's hand. I could feel bubbles dance around my skin and my feet lightly touch the sandy bottom of the pond. Seaweed grazed my leg as Edward began swimming to the top, gracefully and effortlessly. I opened my wide brown eyes and noticed the faint glow of his skin and the shine of his bronze hair even through the dark water. I looked up and saw the glittering surface getting closer and closer.
As soon as I reached air once again, Edward wrapped his arms around me. I placed my hands on his bare chest and reached up and pressed my lips to his. He kissed me back this time, not stopping for a few minutes. I moved my mouth with his.
Breathless, he finally pulled away. I sighed sadly and rested my cheek on his shoulder. He began to run his graceful fingers through my wet hair.
I looked around at this beautiful retreat, in awe yet again. I sighed shakily, trying not to cry; I was very emotional today. "I love you."
"And I you," he whispered.
I kissed his shoulder. "I know it may not seem like it Edward, but I really am honored to be your fiancee."
He grinned at me incredulously. "It's an honor to be married to a bloodsucker?"
"Yes. I'm all yours in just a few days," I kissed him again. "All yours."
He just smiled, and I knew that he was just as happy as I was, here in this fantastic place, where his parents lingered in the very same forest years before. His parents, who gave me the most amazing, courteous, chivalrous, beautiful man in the world.
Yes. An honor, indeed.