The Beauty and the Geek
Edward Cullen is a painfully shy intellectual desperately in love with his quiet, beautiful classmate Bella Swan. Slight Twilight Parody. Originally written for The Sexy Edward Contest. Expanded from one-shot to novella. RATED M. AU/AH/OOC. EPOV/BPOV. Chapters 1-8 are available at www.fanfiction.net/~vixen1836
3. Her First Step
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At 4:45pm, I walked the short distance to my class feeling like an overdone Barbie doll. It wasn’t all terrible. Truly, the blue shirt and the nice jeans were a great touch. Rose had done an excellent job on my makeup. But it was my hair that was bothering me. It was big and messy, and tangled looking. It wasout of control.
I had immediately protested when she’d turned me around in the mirror, but Rose had explained that the style was called “sex hair”, which I snorted at - how did one have 'sex hair'? Jake never messed up my hair and I was beginning to think she’d made that up.
So with my stupid 'sex hair', which I resolved to brush out right after class, I did feel a little more confident. Dancing butterflies aside.
As I neared the entrance to our class, one part of me was impressed and even humbled by the stops they'd pulled to make me feel pretty… but, the other part of me was bracing for disappointment. After all of this preparation, as I’d feared before, if he told me ‘no’, or had a girlfriend, or was completely uninterested the hype would all be for nothing.
I sighed to stop moping. Remembering Alice’s encouragement, I approached the door and subjected myself to a little speech: You like him and there is a 20 percent chance that he likes you, too…which although that’s not great, it’s still better than nothing. The worst he can say is ‘no’…and if he says ‘yes’…you could get the chance to get to know him better, and maybe even kiss those soft lips, or touch that hair…or, see those eyes as…Oh, stop!
My pulse was quickening again. I took a deep breath.
“You can do this, Bella.” I muttered to myself.
I put my hand on the door, straightened my back and walked in with the most determined expression I could manufacture. Immediately, I knew he was there, sitting in his seat two rows above mine and twenty rows above the floor. Thus began our all too familiar routine. I began my ascent up the stadium-seating, headed straight for him. It like I could feel his deep eyes on me, watching me. My heart started to race even harder as I clutched my books tightly, desperately focusing on taking careful steps. I felt like I was on a stage.
I kept my head down as I began to argue with myself. It was like that one part of my brain, the new, more confident side of me…New Bella, cried for me to look at him, to take his gaze and hold it on mine. But, the other part of me, the Old Bella, familiar and careful, continued to force my head down, and my feet forward like my very life depended on ignoring him. I took a few more steps and almost called the whole thing off. My face was flushing and my hands were sweating…
You have nothing to lose…nothing to lose…
I made the split second decision to stop torturing myself and just follow the plan. Psyching myself out would not help. So, I just stopped thinking for a moment and headed to his row. I simply had to turn my brain off, otherwise I knew I would do exactly as I’d done the last twenty-three times I’d walked into this class; become befuddled by him and duck right into my row…or worse, fall on my face.
No, that would not happen today. I willed it so.
With concentration, I took the last final steps towards him. Relief slowed my racing heart as soon as my foot landed securely on the step, eliminating the potential for a tumble.
Slowly, I turned to face him and…my heart fell. He hadn’t been looking at me at all. Had it been my imagination? He was reading, completely oblivious. Maybe he had been looking, but then had found something more interesting? I had no idea what to think…I could have sworn…
Did it matter, really? No, I decided that it didn’t.
“Hi, Edward.” I blurted before I could bow out, hoping he would look at me again. But, he didn’t. Instead, he cast a sideways glance at me from the corner of his eye. He didn’t even look up from his book. Was he annoyed by my interruption? He looked so nice in a dark blue shirt and jeans...and his hair was a delightful chaotic mess.
“Hi Bella.” He replied casually. He’d never said my name before and…I liked it…too much. One pesky butterfly flew up into my rib cage, decidedly hell bent on tickling every part of my insides.
I opened my mouth to speak again, but before I could ask him if I could sit next to him, the next calamity struck.
He was still focused on his book, I was still standing stationary, and…Mike Newton was entering loudly with all of his football friends, laughing and joking, heading straight up the stairs.
Oh no. I looked back to Edward. He was staring at me with an odd look on his face.
I needed to think now.
But, I couldn’t.
My mind spun. Mike began to take the stairs two at a time.
Mike!... If he made it towards us, the whole plan would be destroyed. He would ask me to be his partner… I would be stuck with him…for hours…No...no, no, no... Edward was probably losing interest... I was just staring at him like a little stalker.
In that moment, it wasn’t about Edward anymore, or my crush, or his eyes…it was about survival.
I tried not to panic, steadied myself with a deep breath, and dove headfirst into the unknown. I looked back at Edward and forced a polite expression onto my face.
“Um, I was wondering if I could sit by you today,” I whispered, looking back towards Mike once more, praying he couldn’t hear me. “We have the writing team project and…I’ve been obsessing over this moment for weeks…I figured it would be nice to partner-up…uh, because I think I'm probably falling in love with you...you know, I always have trouble with the names and dates of all those battles…” I trailed off knowing that the last part was a lie.
He stared at me blankly. Unreadable. Indifferent. Bright, beautiful green eyes. I looked back at him, but seconds continued to pass and I panicked further.
Mike was so close now. A traitorous blush crept up to my face and I fought the urge to run. Edward wasn’t saying anything, but why? Realization struck me. He probably had a partner, already. Was he thinking of a way to let me down? Oh, crap! I resisted the urge to smack myself on the forehead, but decided instead on an apology. Anything to get me out of this aisle and into a seat, as soon as possible.
“Oh, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have assumed you didn’t have a partner…don’t -“ I stopped as his eyes grew wide. What the hell was he thinking?
“No, Bella, it’s okay,” he said. “I don’t have a partner. I’d love to work with you.” I blinked at him, momentarily dazed by those damn eyes again. His voice sounded so nice. My mind sputtered.
He’d said ‘yes’.
Edward Cullen had said ‘yes’.
Before my very eyes, that mask of indifference broke into a delightful, half-grin. There was no possible way my expression was composed, so I straightened and focused offering him my own small smile.
I should probably sit. Had I asked him that? I couldn’t remember…
“Since we're going to work together, can I sit by you today?” His eyes grew wide at something and mine widened involuntarily, too. Why was he looking at me like that?
“Of course!” He cried, enthusiastically. I'm so sorry, please sit down.” I watched him rise from his seat gracefully. How nice. What a gentleman…
He moved past me and I almost swooned as he shifted his step towards the main aisle. I moved to sit and he angled to my left as I’d made the same movement, we tried again and failed.
Ah! Finally, we moved in opposite directions and I couldn’t help laughing with him as we took our seats.
As soon as I was seated, I allowed myself the luxury of leaning toward him...just a little. He smelled like clean soap. Clean, fragrant soap.
He looked over and smiled at me and my heart skipped a beat. I regulated my breathing, but it wasn’t easy. He smelled so good. That really wasn’t so hard, after all…maybe Alice had been right all along.
“Hey, Cullen! Using your awesome nerd skills to tutor now?” Mike called.
Ugh. Mike. I’d nearly forgotten about him.
I snapped my eyes towards Mike. He had that arrogant look on his face. Did he just call Edward a nerd? Apparently having more than a room temperature IQ qualified one as such, I thought wryly. I shot him a dirty look and he reeled his head backwards, confused by my sudden vitriol. I’d always been nice to him, even if I didn’t like him very much.
He looked between Edward and I, “Bella, baby, you don’t have to sit by him. I was going to ask you to be my partner for our project. Wanna sit down here?”
Ha! Yeah, right. I smiled sweetly at him, “Thank you, Mike. But, Edward and I have planned on partnering-up for quite some time and we have most of our outline completed already.” It was also a lie and I hoped Edward didn’t mind. He would know that wasn’t true.
Mike muttered something about a “babe”, but I didn’t listen. I turned towards Edward with my casual grin and he smiled politely at me. Okay, so two smiles so far…
A comfortable silence set in for a few moments as he busied himself with grabbing his items from his bag.
So, I did the same.
I leaned down to gather my own items, but let my eyes linger discreetly on his arms; he had long, sinewy muscles that stretched from his elbow to the base of his wrist. And his hands…they looked both strong and soft. My heart skipped a little as I tried to focus on not staring openly. But, I could picture them working their way through my hair, caressing my face, tracing my lips, just like in my dream, feeling my skin beneath that shirt I was hoping to wear for him tonight…
Ah! Where had that come from? I flushed, swallowing hard and forcing my imagination to behave. As Professor Norris entered and began his lecture, I felt annoyed that Edward hadn’t looked at me again. I couldn’t stand it. It was like being so close to him, smelling his soap, feeling the heat of his arm against mine, but not being able to interact with him again was the worst possible torture. Especially since he was clearly unaffected.
I tried to pay attention, but I couldn’t. Ridiculous ideas kept bombarding me, all centered on ways to get Edward’s attention. I knew it was wrong, but he wasn’t helping, either. Every time I would come to my senses, he would shift in his seat, or cough, or clear his throat or do something to draw my attention back to the fact that one, he was so close, and two, he was still so completely unaffected by me.
He took notes and listened while I began to wonder if I had developed multiple personalities at some point because Old Bella and the New Bella were clearly engaging in direct battle for my will.
Old Bella, sensible, polite Bella demanded that I stop being dramatic and desperate. She conceded that I was lonely and starved for affection, but insisted that I stop pining for his attention. Her take on the whole affair was simple: do not draw attention to yourself, otherwise…something bad may happen and then you will be embarrassed…and shy…and...
Old Bella was such a nag.
New Bella, on the other hand, was brave, much like Dream Bella, actually. She insisted that I should just try one move. Test the waters. Her idea was simple, but effective: One dramatic sigh, a few quick taps of my pen on my desk, and an accidental drop would initiate contact again. Edward would have to get it, then I would get a clear shot of his body as he moved to retrieve it, and then he would surely have to look at me again, and then I could flash him a pretty smile and see those eyes again… then...maybe I could touch him when he handed it back to me…
New Bella was a complete flirt.
My brain buzzed with my own indecision for the entire class. I didn’t hear the lecture; I couldn’t even concentrate on my notes. In short, I was completely incapable of rational thought.
Just as the class began to close, New Bella almost won.
I took a deep breath and tapped my pencil against the desk a few times, willing myself to just drop it.
Drop it, Bella…do it…just drop it…
But, I didn’t. I couldn’t.
Old Bella nodded in approval. I was pathetic. I was so thankful for the end of the class, I nearly sighed in relief. As soon as the Professor dismissed the class, I felt better. Edward turned to me and smiled, and I grinned back wistfully. Back to the plan…seal the deal…
“So, it looks like our rough draft is due next week,” I said sweetly, desperately trying not to get lost in his eyes as he looked at me. “Would you like to get started tonight?”
“Uh, sure…but, it’s a Friday night, you don’t have other plans…?” He asked, pulling his head back in surprise. Was it lame that I didn’t have other plans? Was it lame that I didn’t date at all? Did that seem needy? Or desperate? All of the above?
“Well, no…should I have other plans?” I asked, smiling nervously. Did he have other plans? He didn’t say anything, though. I watched him closely. Had I already appeared overly anxious?
“Oh, I thought…” He started, but then stopped. He looked back towards me and I blinked as the intensity of his gaze consumed me once again. Why wasn’t he saying anything?! Was I pushing him?
“We can do it another time, it’s okay…” I began quietly. Disappointment clear in my voice.
Old Bella rolled her eyes.
“I don’t have plans.” He admitted. I watched in fascination as the corner of his mouth turned up a little again. He glanced from my face to his book again. My heart soared as the final part of my plan came into place. Could this be happening? He’d said ‘yes’ to everything. The project, letting me sit next to him, and studying tonight…
New Bella wanted to kiss him. Old Bella pinched her.
“Great, then it’s a date,” I replied, barely able to contain my exhilaration. “I’ll see you tonight…oh, is your place okay? My roommates are a little…well; let’s just say it would be weird.” I could only imagine Alice and Rose snickering and giggling from Alice’s room, taking a play-by-play of our entire evening, finding excuses to interrupt or observe. That would be mortifying. For both of us.
“Sure, sounds great…see you at seven, then?” He looked around the room, apparently realizing that we were nearly alone. He seemed like he wanted to leave. My heart hammered in my chest.
“Sounds good. So...can I have your address?” I asked, wishing he didn’t seem so ready to bolt for the door.
“Yeah – sorry about that. Um, I live in the apartment complex right off University. Park Place. It’s gated, so you'll need the pass code. It’s 2121.” He said.
I nodded and scribbled the rest of his address down, but I couldn’t fight the surprise I felt. He lived in Park Place apartments. That was the nicest living area anywhere near campus. Suddenly, I felt even more thankful that I hadn’t offered for him to come back to my dorm. We lived in a nice place, one with a living area and a kitchen, but it wasn’t like that. He had a gate for God’s sake…
I began to feel nervous again as I rose to leave. He smiled at me politely. I let out a shaky “goodbye”.
I exited the classroom completely absorbed in my own bliss.
I nearly skipped the short distance to our dorm. Exhilarated, I let out a ridiculously exaggerated sigh of relief as I hopped to the main door. Ripping it open, I ran straight for the living area Alice and I shared. I slammed it shut and threw my back against the cool surface. The door was actually holding me up as I carefully detailed all of the new information and observations I’d discovered.
First, Edward so very nice and not in the generic sense. There was just a very sweet feeling about him.
Second, Edward was not necessarily indifferent per say...he just seemed serious, very concentrated. Maybe a little somber. But, that was okay, too.
Lastly, Edward had definitely smiled genuinely…a few times. At me. Several, actually. They were genuine smiles, too. That had to mean something!
He’d said ‘yes’.
We had a date.
Those eyes, his tousled bronze hair, his smell, the heat between our arms as we’d sat so close…
I sighed too loudly again. He’d seemed so nice, so sweet… I’d stood up to Mike Newton… I giggled again, high from my success. Alice rounded the corner, with her iPod blaring and shirked back against the wall in shock, her eyes growing wide as she took me in.
She rushed over to me, ripping the headphones from her ear in anticipation, “Bella? Are you okay?”
“Yes…” I breathed, practically euphoric, staring into space.
“Yes what? What happened?” Her little head shook in confusion.
I smiled widely and met her wide eyes, “He said ‘yes’, Alice. He said ‘yes’ to me and we have a date tonight!”
“Oh my gosh!” She screamed and damnit, I screamed too.
In an instant, Alice was all business. “What time?” She asked seriously, her mind already racing.
“Seven.” I sighed.
“Seven? That’s less than two hours! What the hell are you doing standing here?” Alice pulled my arm and dragged me roughly to the bathroom, forcing me to sit in the little seat in front of the mirror. She began assembling her arsenal, but I was too giddy to resist. I didn’t even whine as she began pulling, pushing, and fixing my hair.
The butterflies were officially taking over as I sat and snickered to myself. I thought of that sweet look he’d given me, our stupid exchange as I’d tried to sit…
“Stay here, I'm calling Rose.” I heard her say. I didn’t even protest. I just beamed with my new found happiness. I’d accomplished every single one of my goals.
In a moment, Alice was back, grinning wickedly. “Rose is on her way, Bella. Now, we need to act fast!”
She started working around the bathroom. Again, so drained and completely joyful, I just sat back and let her work her magic. I’d only protested once when she attempted to argue about the ‘sex hair’. She’d conceded that it needed to be tamed, but otherwise refused to brush out the entire stock of French product they’d put in. Apparently, it was ridiculously expensive and the only way to achieve the look…which again, was apparently, “totally hot”.
I didn’t really care what my hair looked like, anymore. I was going to spend the entire evening with Edward.
In his apartment…
Working on our project…
I would have such an incredible opportunity to learn about him, to see where he lived, and do my very best to charm him. Most of all, I would have a chance to try to make him like me. Perhaps my 20 percent estimate had been a little bit low. There was a little bit of a smile in his eyes as we’d spoken. He definitely found me attractive, too. I could see that. But, could he like me the way I liked him?
I barely heard Rose as she entered. “Bella!” She sang, letting herself into the front door. I didn’t answer, so Alice took the liberty of speaking for me.
“We’re in here, Rose!” She called, with bobby pins in her mouth. The little pixie was working overtime with one hand holding a large curling iron, while the other held a smaller one, both containing strips of my hair.
Rose sauntered in, looking gorgeous as always with a decidedly calculating look on her face, “Bella, I'm so excited for you.” She came over and hugged my shoulders. Alice motioned with her eyes for Rose to pick up a third curling iron and she set to work, too. I wasn’t helping much, but they didn’t seem to mind.
I sighed happily, feeling both a little nervous and incredibly optimistic. It was something in his smile…
“Bella, I know you're very excited right now, in fact you kind of look drunk,” she laughed. “You're probably reeling from your success, and I don’t want to put a damper on your whole high or anything, but I think we need to talk.” Rose met my eyes in the mirror.
I rolled my eyes at her, “I don’t need a lecture.”
“I'm not lecturing you, I'm giving you tips.” Alice giggled and I shot her a dirty look, too.
“Now, you don’t have to take my advice, and I'm not telling you to do anything you don’t want to do…” Rose’s brows wiggled at me and I frowned. “So, I'm just going to give you some pearls of wisdom. Some extracts of knowledge from my own experiences.”
This should be interesting. Hesitantly, I nodded my head, asking her silently to continue. Alice pinched my ear, “Be still.” She hissed.
“Ow, Alice!” I rubbed my ear.
“Now…” Rose began. I braced myself. Part of me refused to listen, while the other acknowledged my need for her tips. “There are three guidelines you need to remember when dealing with men. And, I don’t mean that you should just consider them and file them away in the back of your mind like they were apart of some lecture. I mean, you need to chant them, solidify them in your mind because tonight, there will be times when you are nervous and you will want to panic. These guidelines will help you.”
She had my attention and Alice’s as she continued, “First, remember that essentially men are very simple to understand. When it comes to social situations, they fear one thing and one thing only: rejection. And even that’s an over-generalization. All of their exchanges, their comments, their interactions with both other men and women are all based, in varying degrees, upon this one principle. Now, women, such as myself, understand this and use it to our advantage. But, I'm not telling you to do that. I'm telling you instead to remember this first and foremost when you are interacting with Edward. Some men use bravado to shield themselves, while some use humor, and some even use attitude and alcohol, but he doesn’t sound like either of those types. He sounds like he is probably just a nice guy.” I smiled stupidly at her admission, but she continued, unaffected.
“Admittedly, those are the best to work with because, quite frankly, they are purely dependent upon your encouragement. They are gentleman, they are polite, and they are sweet. But, they have a critical flaw, too. And, this flaw is the reason why most nice guys end up with bitches, or girls that evenaccidentally take advantage of them. The problem is that if you can’t handle giving them the encouragement they need, they'll usually get the wrong impression. This complicates everything. So, you have a huge responsibility, Bella. You have to be the initiator until they understand.” She leaned in to the mirror and narrowed her eyes. Intimidated, I nodded in agreement.
“Which brings me to my next point, guideline number two. Men are very visual creatures. You can’t just assume that he will know what you want. And, telling them doesn’t always work, either. You have to show them what you want. And that can be scary, but it’s the only way. If you want this boy, Bella, and you want to get to know him, then you have to show him that. Ultimately, it’s your responsibility. It’s up to you.” She concluded with authority.
My responsibility? I thought about that. It was an odd concept to consider, but one that seemed to make sense. If I hadn’t talked to Edward today, would I even be getting ready to see him now? I tried to solidify her first two guidelines into my mind, just in case. Men fear rejection. Show him what you want.
I thought hard as Alice fluffed my hair and Rose began to redo my eye make up. She held my chin as she began to apply eyeliner.
“Close your eyes,” she whispered in concentration. I complied and she drew a cold line across my top lash. “Now, last and not least. This guideline is the most important...” she continued, concentrating on her handiwork. “If you find yourself in a situation that is uncomfortable, or uncertain, or even strange, you have to promise me one thing.” I nearly opened my eye to look at her, but she chided me. “You have to promise me that you'll save yourself heartache, regret, and even unnecessary tension by asking yourself… What Would Rose Do?”.
I immediately laughed and leaned forward, causing her to draw a line across my lash accidentally. “Damnit!” She cried, obviously amused.
“I'm sorry; it’s just that I wasn’t expecting that.” I laughed.
“It works,” Alice said. Rose stepped back to grab tissues and I shot Alice a furtive look. She shrugged and nodded her head.
“Alice?” I asked with a laugh.
“It works, Bella.” She promised.
I sighed, “Fine.” Alice giggled.
Rose returned with a cream to remove the errant eyeliner. She fixed my eyes and stepped back to appreciate her masterpiece. “Beautiful. Now, let’s get you dressed.”
With my hand in hers, she dragged me to my underwear drawer, Alice hot on my heels. “Do you have anything that matches?”
“Um,” I started, unsure as to whether I did. Did this really need to an issue now? Did I want Edward to see my underwear? The thought alone sent a creep of blush up my face. I did, but…I didn’t. At the same time.
Old Bella and New Bella stared each other down.
“Please tell me you have one matching pair.” She asked, clearly offended.
I’d always considered matching underwear a luxury for rich girls, such as Rose. But, then I remembered a pink lacy bra and underwear I’d bought once, but never worn. It had been on sale. “Actually, yes I do.” I rummaged through my drawer and found them at the bottom, crumpled up.
Rose snatched the ensemble and nodded in approval, “Pink. Nice…and lace no less. Blue would have worked better with your complexion, but its feminine, and yet not too much. Red would have been over the top, black too racy, and white too virginal. This is perfect, Bella.” She handed them back to me and I smiled at her. Finally, something I’d been able to contribute.
“It’s time, Bella. You need to leave soon.” Alice said, pushing me and my underwear to the bathroom. Quickly, she handed me my outfit reverently and shot me a look of confidence. I sighed at her.
“You look beautiful. Everything will be okay, tonight. Just remember what Rose said and you'll be fine.” She whispered. I arched my brows at her and she beamed back.
“You will elaborate later.” I demanded quietly.
She laughed and bounced away. “If you’re good tonight, Bella!”
I changed quickly and carefully made my way to the long mirror on the bedroom. I stepped back as I took myself in. Was it conceited to admit that I did look very nice? Rose and Alice had tamed my hair slightly and it hung in long curls down my back. Rose’s purple shirt was so pretty and it clung to me, highlighting my waist and the flare of my hips. The skirt was a nice touch, not too short, but not too long. The heels were just short enough to be flattering, but not deadly.
Confidence seemed to come from nowhere. If he found me attractive in the least, surely he would like the way I looked tonight. Could I be more prepared than I am now? No, not really.
I could do this. After all, despite my nerves, and my uncertainty, Alice was right.
I had nothing to lose.