It was 8:37 pm when Edward knocked on the door.
Her dad got there first.
“I don’t want any trouble tonight, you kids hear me?”
“No, sir.” Edward shook his head. He had his hands in his pockets but that was because his knuckle was surely broken from punching that fancy boy right in the face the other night. “It’s an important day.”
“That so?” her father asked, and Bella watched Edward stand up a little straighter.
“My brothers died two years ago,” he said. Plain and simple, but Bella could tell it hurt.
“Yeah, I remember,” her father mumbled. “The Cullen boys.” He looked off over Edward’s shoulder. “Damn shame ‘bout that, son. Damn shame.”
Edward nodded solemnly. “Don’t gotta tell me, Chief.”
“You doing something special?”
“We’re gonna drive up the mountain to pay our respects, sir.”
“Not gonna go crash your car up there, right kid?”
“I like her too much to die.” Edward tilted his head toward Bella, a slight smile on his face. “We won’t do anything drastic, but if you see some smoke, well . . .”
“Don’t come with your sirens,” Bella finished, glaring at her dad.
Her father stared hard at the boy on his porch for a minute before he nodded, his eyes pinching. “Fine. You got three hours. Make it quick.”
Edward grinned big and goofy and grabbed Bella by the hand, dragging her all the way to the car with a manic laugh in his throat. He squashed her into the seat and kissed her silly for a minute before she pushed him away.
“My dad!” she reminded him, shoving him aside.
“Old man likes me,” Edward smiled and gave the house a wave before he rounded the car for his seat. He wrenched the key, slammed the car into gear, and chain smoked up the mountain, singing and laughing and trying to get his hand between her legs all the way. His broken knuckles between her thighs. He’d told her what that boy said about her, why he’d hit the kid so hard and so many times and, even though there was a mean streak in this boy, he was honorable and sweet underneath it all.
She’d tell him tonight, she decided. Even if it scared him off, she had to tell him.
They stopped on a curve, a big dead pine on the edge with a yellow ribbon tied around it. Bella peered at the tree through the windshield before looking carefully at Edward.
“We’re not really gonna-”
He was nodding.
It was August 17th.
Didn’t feel any different. He still woke up in his bed wanting to kiss the fuck out of the sweet little mouth and then the sweet little crease between the legs of one girl, and one girl alone. Still woke up hard and wanting and thinking of her. He didn’t even remember the day until he was in the shower, beating off to thoughts of Bella. By the time the water ran cold, the only thing he knew was that he wanted Bella, wanted her bad, and he wanted to destroy something.
“What are we going to do to it?” Bella asked him.
“Blow it up.”
He’d only shrugged like he wasn’t sure yet, but he knew exactly what he was doing. Last year it had been Jasper’s wall, a half pint of gin, and a sledgehammer. This year, he had a ten gallon jug of gasoline, a book of matches, and Emmett’s tree was fucking doomed.
Bella sat on the hood and smoked a cigarette while he doused the tree, walked an endless circle around it until the can was drained, talking to Emmett the whole entire time. He didn’t even say anything important. Just stupid stuff about this girl he’d found and how he was starting to see the sun again, instead of all the black and gore and muck. About how their mom still made cake on their birthdays and they always ended up tossing half of it because no one had a taste for cake quite like Emmett and with him gone . . .
Edward threw the can at the base of the tree and said his goodbyes in his head, silent and staring, before he turned away.
“I think I love you, Edward Cullen,” Bella said as he approached, tossing her cigarette aside and splaying her legs for him to step between them. “I really think I do.” Her eyes were deep, like she’d been thinking heavy thoughts, and that adorable wrinkle was there between her eyebrows.
“You’re still thinking, doll? I’ve been done thinking for a while now.”
“You’ve known? All this time?”
“I knew from the moment you stole my Bird, baby. I’m pretty well gone for you. Real gone,” he admitted, throat tight.
She looked up from the flame, eyes wide. “How gone?”
“You make my brain slow down and my heart speed up.”
She put a hand to his chest. “Is that all?”
“Lord, no,” he groaned. “Not by a long shot.
You make my mouth dry. My cock hard.”
“I can tell,” she grinned and wiggled against him.
“You first.” He handed her a match and pulled her off the hood.
“What do I do?” she asked.
Edward pulled her close and thanked his lucky fucking bastard stars for this girl who was asking him how, not why. He kissed her good and thorough before he walked her toward the tree, leaning in close to speak low in her ear, with his arm around her shoulders and his heart beating hard enough to make him dizzy.
“Light that little fucker and run, doll. Light it and run.”