CH27: Love and Luck
-x-o-x-Accidentally in Love-x-o-x-
Garrett pulled his shirt over his head and flexed in the full length mirror in the locker room. He turned to the left, then the right and sighed.
“What does Bee’s Knees think about strippers?”
“What?” I grabbed my jeans from my locker and pulled them on, irritated, wondering what the fuck my fiancée and strippers had to do with him checking himself out in the mirror.
“Strippers.” He grabbed his jeans and shook them out before slipping into them. “Does she have a thing about them?”
“She does.” I chuckled, although he probably had no idea how funny her ‘thing’ was.
We’d had the stripper talk before she went to New York for her dress fitting and bachelorette. I’d teased her about Alice hiring an exotic dancer, and by the time she finished explaining what she didn’t like about them, my stomach muscles hurt from laughing.
“Be sure to text me some pictures of Magic Mike or whoever Alice has dance for you, so I know whose ass to kick when I come to New York.”
“What are you talking about?” Bella stopped putting clothes into her suitcase and turned to face me.
“My sister, you know she’s hiring some hot dude to get naked for you.”
“Um, she better not be.”
“What?” I knew that strippers were more of a guy thing, but Bella was no prude. She and Angela admittedly watched porn for pointers on blow jobs and positions.
“I don’t want a stripper. They’re gross.” She had a look of pure disgust on her face that surprised me. “Do you know how many dirty hands have touched them?”
I burst out laughing, thinking about the economy sized bottle of hand sanitizer in her classroom. “That’s your issue with strippers, not that they objectify themselves or are stereotyped as whores?”
“Seriously, every woman knows someone who’s been a stripper. It’s not as glamorous as movies and TV make it look, and sure, some of them are slutty, but a lot of them are students and mothers. They put in their eight or ten hours and go home.
“They don’t objectify themselves any more than models or actresses these days, but they do let people touch them.” She shuddered. “A lot of people touch them.”
“People touch each other all the time. I bet the checkout clerk at the grocery store has filthy hands.”
“Duh, I know that, but strippers are like, almost naked. There’s way more exposed skin to touch.”
“Swan, do you have some kind of germ phobia I don’t know about?” I tried hard not to laugh at her, but she was so freaked out it was adorable.
“Stop it. It’s not like you don’t have your own issues. I just don’t want a stripper.” She smacked my arm, laughing, then stopped suddenly, her eyes wide. “Oh my God, what if you have a stripper? I can’t even think about it. Oh shit. Don’t let her touch you. Fuck, I sound like a crazy person.”
“You kind of do, babe. I work in a hospital, I’m pretty good about washing my hands.”
“I know! But I don’t want the stripper-germs on you in the first place!” She snorted, then laughed, and suddenly we were both bent over, shaking with laughter.
Garrett ran his hands through his hair and slammed his locker before turning to me.
“So, what, strippers are a big no for the bachelorette or what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her?”
“No, you can get a stripper. I just…” I shook my head and slipped my shoes on, wondering how to explain Bella’s issues with strippers. “There should be no touching.”
“Are you kidding me?” He huffed. “I thought Bella was cooler than that!”
“No! It’s not that, well, I don’t know what you’re thinking, but you’re probably wrong. It’s not about them being strippers per say…” I sighed. “She thinks they’re gross, but only because they have a lot of germs.”
“Seriously?” He raised an eyebrow, and I knew he still wasn’t on the same page.
We headed out of the locker room, and I tried to explain stripper-germs.
“Here’s the thing, she works all day with hyper, horny pre-teens, you know? There’s not much you can do to shock her, but those kids she works with are fuckin’ slobs. They cough on each other all day, and Bella’s convinced none of them wash their hands. So she’s got this germ thing, and she has sort of convinced herself that strippers are covered in germs because of how many people are always touching them.”
“Dude, that’s… I don’t even know what to say to that. It’s so elementary it’s stupid, but it’s not.”
“Right?” I laughed.
“Alright then, one stripper in a biohazard suit, I’ll see what I can do.”
-x-o-x-Accidentally in Love-x-o-x-
With a lot of begging, and promises of several thirty-some hour shifts, Garrett and I managed to get two days off in a row for the bachelor party. I’d considered waiting until we got to New York, but I couldn’t imagine unleashing Garrett on the city and not having one of us end up in jail. In the end, Emmett, Jasper, Riley, Randall, and my father flew to Seattle.
“Drink up, Cuz!”
Riley put a shot on the bar in front of me, right next to my half empty pilsner of beer. The drink was clear, maybe a little hazy, and all I knew was that it wasn’t whiskey. We had just finished dinner at some downtown restaurant Garrett had chosen based on it’s location near DreamGirls, and we were grabbing a round of drinks at the bar.
“What’s that?” I tapped my finger on the side of the glass.
“You heard me.”
He laughed and turned to my brother and Jasper, pointing at the television that showed coverage of the upcoming Mariners series against the Yankees.
Garrett sat on the other side of me and raised an eyebrow as he waited for me to drink. I rolled my eyes and tossed it back. It was vodka, and I didn’t know what else, but it was familiar. I thanked God it wasn’t some fruity schnapps that would turn my stomach, although I didn’t hold out much hope that I wouldn’t end the night hanging over a toilet throwing up.
“You about ready to head to the club?”
I had worked a full day before meeting everyone at dinner and was exhausted. It had been a busy shift, including everything from car crash victims to an elderly gentleman who mangled his hand on a lawn mower blade.
I shrugged at Garrett, not caring if we stayed a little longer or headed around the corner. I couldn’t lie and say I didn’t want to go to DreamGirls. I’m a guy, I wouldn’t mind looking at hot, mostly naked women dancing, but I would have preferred to go home to my fianceé.
“I’m at your mercy. Get me a drink or let’s move on.”
“This is supposed to be fun, Edward.” My father chuckled from behind me and I turned to face him.
“I know, and I’m having fun-”
“But he’s ready for tits and ass!” Emmett loudly interrupted.
“That is so not what I was going to say.”
“Yeah, because you’re a lame ass douche.” Emmett patted my shoulder and Jasper shook his head at Em’s ridiculousness.
“Do you hear him?” I looked at my father, who was trying not to laugh.
He shrugged one shoulder and looked a little apologetic. “You are being kind of lame.”
Randall nodded. “Strippers, Ed. Mostly naked stripers. Come on.”
Garrett nudged me and spoke so only I could hear, “Mostly naked with a shit ton of stripper cooties.”
“Shut it.” I elbowed him in the ribs. I didn’t want to talk about Bella’s weird fear of stripper germs in front of everyone, although just the thought of it made me smile a little.
We found a table near the stage and another round of drinks appeared in front of me. I knew it was going to be a long night. I hadn’t even finished my first beer when Riley handed me another shot. I raised an eyebrow, and he knew what I was asking.
I had never heard of them before tonight, but the first one had been fine, so I tossed it back.
The girls on the stage did their thing, and Emmett and Garrett made fools of themselves catcalling and whistling. Jasper, Riley, Randall and my dad were much calmer, slowly sipping their drinks and occasionally sliding bills into the strings on the dancer’s outfits. I used a wad of cash from Garrett to tip the dancers myself, and my beer glass somehow never got empty.
When Riley slid the third clear shot in front of me, I knew something was up.
He shrugged and lifted his drink to hide his smirk.
“What am I missing?”
He knew I rarely drank vodka. I was a whiskey or beer guy. I enjoyed sipping expensive scotch, but I tolerated vodka because it was my mother’s, and Bella’s, drink of choice. I narrowed my eyes and gave him a questioning look. That was exactly it.
“Frequent flyers? Are you sure these aren’t kamikazes?”
He barked out a laugh before taking a drink of his beer. I swallowed the shot and wondered exactly how pissed Bella had been when she figured out I’d actually paid for her plane tickets.
“A kamikaze? Is Bella here? That’s a chick shot.” Garrett interrupted my thoughts, his words beginning to slur. “Waitress! Bring my friend here the four horsemen.”
Fuck. I’d been drinking a steady stream of beer and had just done my third frequent flyer, kamikaze, or whatever you wanted to call it, and now he was bringing out the big guns. Johnnie Walker, Jim Beam, Jack Daniels and Jameson’s.
“Add a shot of José,” Emmett called to our waitress as she walked away. He grinned and patted my shoulder. “Goodnight, Ed. I promise I won’t do anything too mean to you when you pass out.”
“Fuck off, Emmett.”
“Boys,” Carlisle chuckled, always the father figure, even in the midst of a strip club.
The waitress quickly came back to our table with her tray full of shots for me and a round of drinks for everyone else. Riley must have been tipping her quite well. I took my time doing the shots, but I couldn’t avoid the effects. When I put the fourth shot glass on the table, I was undeniably drunk. Emmett, Jasper and my father were giving me marital advice, and I wanted to cut off my ears.
After a long night of watching my brother and friends do things I’d rather forget, I felt like I wanted to die.
I had somehow made it to my bed, but I had the worst headache I’d ever experienced and my mouth tasted like someone had shoved dirty socks in it.
“Fuck,” I muttered, flipping the pillow over so I could feel the cool side on my cheek.
“It’s alive!” Bella’s voice was quiet and teasing. I groaned something in response and felt her hand on face. “What can I get you?”
She snorted. “I’ve got Gatorade or V-8, what sounds good?”
My stomach rolled at the thought of either, and I heard myself gag.
“Maybe not yet,” Bella chuckled. She slid her fingers through my hair, and I sighed in contentment. She climbed on the bed and stretched out next to me. “How were the strippers?”
“Dancers, and I think they had cooties.”
She giggled, and I opened one eye to see her covering her mouth, trying to keep quiet. “I’m sure they were pretty.”
I snorted a laugh and was punished with a shooting pain in my skull, but I wasn’t dumb enough not to realize I needed to say something more.
“It didn’t matter what they looked like, they weren’t you.”
“You’re so corny.”
“I mean it.” I opened both eyes despite the pain and reached out to stroke her cheek. “I can’t tell you some of them weren’t hot, because they were, but all I could think was that I wanted to come home to you. That your little blue bikini was so much sexier than the body glitter and scraps of fabric they had on.”
“Edward,” she sighed and blinked a couple of times as if she might cry.
I ran a hand through my hair, tugging a little at the top of my head in an attempt to relieve some of the pressure inside my head.
“I can’t believe how much I drank last night.”
“I can’t believe you haven’t gotten sick.”
“Hey,” I laughed, “speaking of what I drank last night, how pissed are you?”
“Oh! You figured it out!”
“I did. I was going to text you, but that’s about the time I lost feeling in my fingers.”
“Meh, I was never really mad, but I had to figure out a creative way to get you back for tricking me.”
“You totally did. I couldn’t figure out why Ry kept giving me vodka shots when he knows that’s not my liquor. I mean, I realize the goal last night was to get me shit faced, but it seemed like an odd choice.”
“I told Riley what you did, how you tricked me into thinking you would buy our tickets with miles, and after he got done laughing at me, he had no problem helping me get you back.”
“I’m sure he didn’t.”
“Were he and Emmett obnoxious last night?”
“No,” I laughed, feeling well enough to sit up and drink some of the Gatorade Bella had put on the night stand. “It was Emmett and Garrett. Those two together are bad news.”
We talked for a while longer, laughing and joking, savoring a morning when neither of us needed to rush out the door.
“Can we just get married already?” She sighed and flopped back onto the bed. “I’m over all of the planning and the pre-wedding events.”
I had to laugh, women really did get shafted with all of the work that went into weddings. It was supposed to be fun, but I saw how it stressed her out.
“We’re almost done, baby. Five weeks.”
“Five weeks,” she repeated, rolling onto her side and tucking her hands under her head. “Wake me when it’s time to fly to New York.”
-x-o-x-Accidentally in Love-x-o-x-
Our school years finished in a rush. The final weeks of my residency were a blur as I prepared for the wedding and visited human resources at Harborview, where I would start after our honeymoon. Bella got her exams ready and started packing long before we were heading for New York, but there we were the evening before our flight, Bella repacking, and me just starting.
“How much walking will we do on this mystery-moon?”
She had been fishing for hints for about our honeymoon location since I told her I was planning it on my own. All I would tell her was that it was tropical.
“Depends on how often I let you out of bed.”
She put her arms around my neck, then slid her fingers into the hair at the back of my neck where she tugged gently, just the way I liked. “What if I don’t want to get out of bed?”
I groaned before I whispered in her ear, “Then we won’t be walking anywhere.”
I ran my nose along her neck to tease her, and she whimpered.
“That totally backfired on me, didn’t it?”
“I’m not thinking about the trip anymore, are you?”
“No,” she laughed, slipping her hands to my waist and then under my shirt. “Now I’m thinking about getting you naked.”
I pulled my shirt over my head and reached for the button on her shorts. “You don’t have to ask me twice.”
Before I got her zipper down, the door bell rang, and there was a loud knocking at the front door. Bella and I both groaned, knowing it was Garrett and Angela arriving with take-out for dinner.
“Hold on!” I yelled, pulling on my shirt as Bella went to let them in.
“Hands off the bride!” Garrett yelled through the door.
“Shut up!” Angela shrieked at him and her laughter rang out as Bella let them in.
I came down the hall as Garrett put bags of food on the dining table. “What’s the word, Big Ed?”
“The bird is the word, G, and how many times do I have to tell you not to call me Big Ed?”
We shook hands, and he pulled me into a half hug to slap my back.
“I’ve seen you in the shower man. You’re Big Ed, I’m Giant G, it’s all good. Unless you want me to call you Tiny or something, you know, how they call the really fat dude Tiny as a joke?”
“Why are we friends?”
“Cuz we bonded over our enormous penises and brains the day we met.”
“Gare, stop talking about your penis. I’m hungry!” Angela called from the kitchen doorway.
There was a beat of silence while Garrett waggled his eyebrows at me before we all burst out laughing.
“That’s not what I meant!” Her entire face was red with blush.
Bella nudged her with her hip. “Really, Ang, I don’t need to hear about your plans for dessert, we haven’t even had dinner.”
“Oh my God!” She tried to sound angry but ended up laughing as she spun around and headed down the hallway. “I’m going to the bathroom, and when I return we’ll pretend like this never happened.”
We spent the next few hours eating and talking about our plans for New York. Bella and I were flying out the following day, and they were meeting us in a few days later. Alice had spreadsheets and Google calendars set up for everyone, so they knew exactly where they had to be.
As we sat there discussing wedding plans, it suddenly struck me. I’d known Bella for just over a year, and everything in my life had changed – for the better. She was the most important thing that had ever happened to me. It was a little overwhelming but in an entirely good way. Without her, I had no idea what my future would have held, and I honestly didn’t want to think about it.
“Hey,” Garrett interrupted me as the girls took our plates and the leftovers to the kitchen. “You okay?”
“Yeah.” I nodded and felt a smile take over my face. “I’m great, man. This…It’s exactly where I’m supposed to be. I don’t know how to thank you. It’s all pretty fucked up how we ended up here, but we did. So, yeah, thanks, Gare. For everything.”
“You still worried about what people will think if they find out how you really met?”
“I don’t know.” I shrugged. “If I could just say we met through Craigslist and leave it at that it would be funny, but that’s not how it would work. People would ask who placed the ad and what did it say? And then I’d be lying again or telling the whole crazy story.
“I think Bella would rather wait until after we’re married for it to come out. It’s like, she thinks someone is going to stand up when they say, “Speak now,” and say we shouldn’t get married because we lied about how we met.”
“That’s kind of dumb, but then again she thinks strippers are germ infested cesspools.”
“That she does,” I laughed. “But you know what? I kind of love it about her. She’s just as crazy as the rest of my family.”
“Stop, you whore! Save the whipped cream for later!” Angela’s laughing voice came from the other room, teasing Bella, purposely loud enough for us to hear.
“That’s my girl.” Garrett grinned, shaking his head. “She’s thanks enough, man.”
“She’s perfect for you, isn’t she?”
He sipped his beer and nodded. “We did good, Big Ed. We did good.”
Despite wanting to smack him on the head for calling me Ed again, I had to agree. No matter how you looked at it, we were two lucky bastards.
-x-o-x-Accidentally in Love-x-o-x-
Oh my God! We’re so close to the wedding I can taste it! We’re getting close – another chapter or two and maybe an epilogue. It makes me kind of sad to even think about it.
Thanks so much for reading and sharing the ride. Every one of you, whether you’ve reviewed or not, has made this an amazing experience. So, thanks. I really can’t say it enough.
What I’ve Been Reading:
Two unrelated, totally different fics, cuz that’s how I roll. LOL
Yosemite Decimal by MagTwi78. I kept seeing this rec’d on FB and somehow I waited ’til – the pivotal chapter – to read and I was like – holy Hell why did I wait?! This B is totally the rock that DamagedWard needs. *swoon* OOOH and she just posted the final chapter! WOOT
Summary: Bella has nailed her dream job as Seattle Times’ newest Outdoors writer. She’s found new friends and is settling into life in her new city. Things are coming together for her, but an arrogant stranger sends her reeling at every turn. Will her new life be as comfortable as she’d hoped, or is she set for a rocky ride? AH B&E M
In the Shadow of Your Heart by BellaFlan – Okay, this fic is a trip to crazytown – and I mean that in such a good way. It is trippy and made me say WTF? and HOLY SHIT! over and over as I read…but then it made me cry for this E and B. (Notice it is classified romance/horror – that is accurate). It’s not a regular updater, but it’s complete except for the epi, and I am going to drop everything when it posts.
Summary: Edward didn’t mean to kidnap Bella and hold her hostage, but she holds a secret that could destroy his family. Lucifer was an angel too, and love isn’t always wholly benevolent. Vamp AU, B/E, Romance/Horror