WARNING: I know not many people will like the fact that Edward is 13 years older than Bella, so if you're one of them, this story isn't for you and I suggest you kindly move on.
Chapter 1: Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon
The first time I met him, I was fourteen years old.
It was Christmas. I was sitting on the love-seat next to Mom in the living room. My cousin Vickie was sitting on the floor by my feet, her toes mushed into the carpet and her arm resting just next to my knee on the couch. Her fiery red hair was splayed across my legs and I was rubbing my fingers through her scalp. She was almost purring as she dipped and twisted her head with the movement of my hands. She always loved it when I played with her hair.
Jake and Emily were sitting on the floor playing video games together, huddled in front of the TV. They were playing some new game they'd just gotten that day. The twins hadn't been off it since they'd unwrapped it this morning, but Mom let them off because it was Christmas.
Aunt Angie and Uncle Phil were sitting on some chairs we'd pulled in from the kitchen, chatting away to Mom. Rose and her boyfriend, Emmett, were in the kitchen refilling drinks —or so they said. Dad was on the couch across from us. Next to him sat Edward Cullen.
Vickie and Edward had been together all of two weeks before she brought him over to meet us for Christmas dinner. And there he was, a cigarette tucked behind one ear and a strand of longish bronze hair curled around the other. He was tall and his long legs were stretched out in front of him, unlaced Dr. Martens crossed over the rug. Mom would have a fit if I wore shoes on the rug, but not him. He'd moseyed right on in like he owned the place. Hands stuffed in his pockets, a curt nod, and a lilted smile that set my heart pitter-pattering. His eyes had brushed over me, but that didn't matter.
He was quiet, but his presence was irrefutable, large.
Bright green eyes, straight teeth, those smirking red lips, the hair. Almost strategic, but not. Nobody else would've been able to pull it off. But it was the lazy smirk that pulled at the corner of his mouth that did it for me, unfazed, cool. He was twenty-seven, way out of my league and completely forbidden, but a girl could dream. Vickie was the luckiest girl alive. And, boy, did she know it. She'd clung to his side from the moment they'd walked through the door, all smiles and hair flicks and whispers in his ear. The one with the smoke tucked behind.
Mom and Aunt Angie weren't swept away by him, but I was floating down the Calawah River right about then.
He was too old for her they said, too rugged I heard Aunt Angie whisper in the kitchen when I'd gone for a bathroom break. When Mom had first found out about Vickie's new boyfriend, I'd been sitting at the kitchen table whilst she prepared dinner and she was admonishing Vickie —without her even being there— for her new choice in boyfriend, shaking her knife about as she spoke. Like it was my fault or something. And I wondered what she'd do if it was me that had brought Edward Cullen home and not her favourite niece.
Mom thought of Vickie as her own daughter, although she had enough kids between the four of us. She had me and Jake and Emily and her stomach was round with the promise of a new little one to annoy me in a few years' time. I'd thought she was done with kids after the surprise with the twins seven years ago, but guess not.
Mom and Dad hadn't been together since Jake and Emily were a few months old. Rose was from his previous relationship, but she'd always lived with us. Nineteen and a complete rebel. I loved her as much as I loved Vickie. Despite the age gaps, we were like the three amigos. Vickie was twenty-one. I was the sweet summer-baby baby of the group and it was kind of a bummer, but sometimes it was alright. The fawning, the mollycoddling, dressing me up and simmering me down with first beers, first boy-talks, and first how-to-break-the-rules intervention.
Vickie was an only child and she just adored the fact that she had the four of us —soon to be five— just around the corner from the home she'd shared with her parents her entire life. Rose and I were the little sisters she'd always wanted.
She'd introduced each of us to Edward and I expected him to be a little perturbed by so many new faces, but he was perfectly at ease, all half-grins and reclining back with his longs legs crossed at the ankles as if he'd known us for years.
"—little Jake and Emily," She pointed to the twins and I looked over to where they were playing and chuckled as they didn't even turn to the mention of their names, as engrossed in their new game as they were. "And this is our little sis, Bella."
My gaze flickered to Edward and he was grinning at me as if he had a secret. Doe eyes blinked and fluttered back at him, and that was it. I was caught in his web.
Rose threw her arms around my shoulders from over the back of the couch, planting kisses all over my head, "My little sis."
I batted my hands at her face and she laughed at my scrunched up nose and scoffs, "Gross."
"You love it."
And I did. I loved my big family, close and tight-knit, and perfectly imperfect. We might not have had much, but love was in abundance. Mom even considered Rose one of her own, and since Rose's mom wasn't in the picture she'd always called Renee her mom.
Rose kissed the top of my head again and squeezed my cheek before plopping down on the other side of me.
I scooted over to give her room and she fingered the strap of my dress. It was new. A present off of Dad. A deep crimson red with frills over the chest and hem. Mom had obviously helped him pick it out. There was no way my dad had gone girly shopping all by himself, even if it was Christmas.
"This is pretty."
I smiled, "Thanks."
"Did you like the shoes I got you?"
I wiggled my toes in the pretty wedges Rose and Emmett had got for me, but more Rose. They were the first pair I'd ever had and I felt so grown-up and sophisticated in them, flouncy and bouncy and high, high, high.
I grinned toothily up at her, "I love them."
Vickie tapped my leg, "Come outside?"
I followed her out, with Rose, Emmett, and Edward in tow.
I teetered in my wedges and watched my feet the entire walk down to the back of our messy backyard. Overgrown grass swayed and tickled my knees and my feet disappeared in its blades. Rose and Vickie linked their arms through mine to steady me and I clutched on tightly, my feet wobbly on the uneven ground.
"Where are we going?" I asked, but I already knew the answer.
Not that they'd ever let me join them before.
I felt giddy with anticipation and fear at the thought of being caught as we came to the treeline at the rear of the yard. From here, I was sure nobody indoors could see us. The garden was pretty long and wild. But, even so, they walked around to the other side of the shed; the side that wasn't facing the house. It was dark and dank, the musty smell of trees and the rotten wood of the shed pungent.
Emmett kicked his foot up behind him as he leaned back against the damp, rickety shed and wrapped his thick arms around Rose's waist, pulling her towards his front. Biting her lip, she leaned back against him, holding onto the arms that still encircled her.
Edward leaned beside me on the old garden table we hadn't used in years and Vickie was beside him, leaning into his side.
I stood off to the side of them, alone and couple-less. A complete anomaly in every way in the strange group we had formed. From the outside, we were opposites, but we were all really close; family. And now Edward was joining it.
Emmett rested his chin on Rose's shoulder and swayed her a little from side-to-side, but he was eyeing me with a glint of amusement in his blue, blue eyes, "Mine and Edward's gift to you this year, your highness."
Emmett whipped a pre-rolled blunt from his pocket and Rose snickered from the crook of his arm. "This, little sis, is a joint."
"I know what it is," I scoffed. My eyes flickered to Edward's and he was smirking at me. I quickly looked away again.
Rose giggled and Emmett grinned all big at me.
"And this here is a lighter," Vickie protruded a fluorescent green Bic from her pocket and waved it about a little. I rolled my eyes at their patronising.
The group laughed a little, but Edward didn't. His head was cocked to one side, eyeing my offended stance and pouty lips. When my eyes flitted to his, his lips tugged up at one side in a coy grin.
A small smile tugged at my own and his half-grin broke into a full one, teeth and all. My breath stuttered and caught in my throat, but he turned his head towards Emmett before he could notice.
I followed his gaze, watching Emmett light the end of the spliff. Rose's hands curved over the top, protecting it from the chilly gusts of wind washing over us.
I watched avidly as Emmett took a long, lingering puff and then held it to Rose's lips as he blew out a cloud of swirling white smoke over the top of her head. It circled above him for a few seconds before dissipating into the dark sky as he hummed.
Rose did the same, followed by Vickie and Edward. My heart was pounding by the time it got to me.
It smelled strange. Earthy and dank. Nothing like the smokes Alice stole from her Mom's purse that time. Strong and wrong all wrapped up in a neat little sheet of rolling paper. Instinctively, I knew Edward had rolled it. Nimble fingers and all.
I took a quick puff. Too quick. I choked and coughed and spluttered, watching through blurry eyes as little tufts of smoke flew out of my mouth. Fluffy clouds. And I wasn't even high yet. But they weren't what I'd imagined them to be when I was a little girl. All sunshine and rainbows and where you went when you died. It itched and stung and clawed its way back up my wheezy throat.
Edward took it from between my fingers, smirking whilst the others chortled at my coughing fit.
Rose was patting my back. I hadn't even realised she'd moved towards me in the haze of smoke and the burning of lungs, but I managed to get myself under control and batted her away again.
"I'm fine," I croaked, but I didn't feel fine. My lungs ached and burned. The burn made me realise how cold I was and I shivered a little.
"Want my jacket, Milkshake Girl?" Edward chuckled, but it died on his lips all of a sudden. I looked up, wondering if something was wrong with Vickie, but he was staring at me, a frown marring his forehead.
"Me?" I poked my finger in my chest.
He scratched the back of his neck, looking around to the others, but they were too caught up in conversation to notice.
"You look cold."
I looked down at my little dress and my wedges.
When I looked up, he was looking at them, too.
I didn't have time to question him though, 'cause he slipped his leather jacket off and draped it over my shoulders, smothering me in his musky scent. It encompassed the scent of weed somewhat and I sniffed it inconspicuously, enjoying it much more than I should've.
"That's sweet of you to do that for little sis," Vickie said, leaning up to kiss Edward on his cheek. He simpered down at her, throwing his arm over her shoulders and drawing her into his side again. She grinned like it was her favourite place on Earth and I could imagine it was.
His jacket was second best.
Emmett held the joint out to me again and Rose smacked his wrist, almost making him drop it. He frowned at her, but she frowned right back, "Emmett, are you trying to kill my little sister?"
He rolled his eyes, "She's a tough kid. It was her first time, give her some credit."
"Yeah," I said, even though I wasn't so sure I wanted to do that again. I held my hand out nonetheless, feeling brave under Vickie's and Edward's scrutiny. Like I had to prove a point or something. To show that I belonged here with them. If I didn't, I was afraid they'd shun me from their little expeditions to the treeline out of the way of suspicious eyes and tit-for-tat gossip, afraid of what I'd miss out on. On who I'd miss out on, "Give it here."
Emmett shot Rose a smarmy look and Rose rolled her eyes, huffing a little.
I licked my lips and pressed the tip thick to them, inhaling a bit —not as much as last time. I held it in my lungs for a second, like the others seemed to do. It burnt a little, but just a little. Not the painful fire that erupted in my chest before.
My fingertips were frozen, but my lips burned. A burn that started at the end of a joint, swept through my body, and ended in the boy —man— next to me. He burned brighter and deeper. The heat from his jacket saturated my skin and sent my heart pounding out the rhythm of his soft chuckles and whispered words behind the cigarette he lit. He preferred them over weed he said.
What did he mean when he said that? Sure, sometimes I'd go to the diner and get milkshakes with Alice and Leah, or Rose and Vickie, but Edward hadn't been in our lives for that long. And I was sure that if he'd been at the diner, I would've seen him. You couldn't miss him.
Soon, everyone was shivering and shaking, chattering jaws the only sound around us in the silent night. I took my wedges off to walk back, holding them from two fingers as I tip-toed through the solidified mud. A sheen of frost gleamed over its surface. I squelched my pink-painted toes in the wet dew of the grass and Edward watched them for a second, smiling, before we all traipsed back towards the light and warmth of the house.
"What's that smell?" Auntie Angie said as soon as we made our way back into the living room, wiggling her nose as she sniffed the air. I held back my giggle and Emmett nudged my shoulder with his from beside me.
I pursed my lips and took my seat, hoping the perfume Rose spritzed on me before we came in hid the foul smell of weed and corruption.
My eyes kept cutting to Edward without ever really meaning to throughout the remainder of the evening. Handsome and devilish. Devilishly handsome. Rugged and rough around the edges. He wasn't like any of the boys in my school. Not like anyone I'd ever really seen. Vickie seemed to agree as she'd moved from my feet to sit next to him on the couch. She wouldn't stop touching him. Fiddling with his hair, squeezing his thigh, stroking his arm. You could see she was enamoured with him and a pang of longing pinched my chest.
Maybe I'd find someone like him one day, but maybe someone wasn't enough.
I'd never had a boyfriend before, at least not in that sense. I'd once kissed Jamie Sullivan in a game of spin-the-bottle in seventh grade and I'd let Brad DuMonde, the French exchange student, touch my boob last spring, but that was as far as it had gone. Rose had Emmett, Alice had Jasper and now Vickie had Edward, and she'd had James before him. I was as single as the day I was born. It was kind of depressing.
But things changed halfway through my fifteenth year on this Earth. It came in the form of my new classmate: Riley Biers.
He was kind of cute. Boyish and chubby-cheeked. Perfect first boyfriend. Within a few weeks we were dating, and then he was my boyfriend. I let him take my virginity in Kate Miller's guest house after the winter formal. It wasn't as I'd always imagined it to be. It was kind of gross and over way too quickly, but I liked having someone to do all the lovey-dovey romance stuff with.
It made me feel better about having a crush on my cousin's boyfriend.
A/N- This started out as a one-shot, so of course I managed to write too much, get too attached and want to take it further. So, here we are. Chapter's will be short and sweet (I think).
For those of you who may be concerned with Bella's age at this point, don't worry, I fully DON'T intend to have her and Edward just get it on! Just because Bella has a crush on him doesn't mean he has one on her. He has Victoria. It will be a slow burn and a few years before we get to that part, so please don't come for me! LOL
Chapter title inspired by song of the same name by Urge Overkill.