“So, what do you suppose we should do? There’s no one home and we have the whole house to ourselves…” I led with.
Edward narrowed his eyes at me, “What are you trying to infer?”
I grew red in the face. I hadn’t meant it that way. “…Nothing. I’m just stating the facts. This situation is a rare one… And if you’re thinking… well, like that - that’s not exactly what I meant… at all. As much as I tried not to be earlier, I am still an innocent teenage girl…”
He smiled crookedly, “…Right.” The suspicion was clear in his tone.
I looked around his room, trying to get something to catch my eye to suggest as an option for activity. His shelves and shelves full of CD’s drew my attention. Music! “Hey, why don’t you play something for me?”
He cocked his head to the side, but proceeded to pick me up and run me down the stairs to the living room. I took a seat on the piano bench beside him.
He chuckled, “I’m actually glad you asked, come to think of it. I had been writing something for you.”
I smiled, pleasantly surprised, “Oh!”
His long fingers hit the keys and created an upbeat melody. He played the introduction repeatedly as he explained to me, “I hadn’t only written music for this piece, but words also. I thought it’d be easier, maybe, for you to understand why I’m so against some of your wishes this way…”
My mouth fell open as I tried to retort to him, but was stopped short as he began to sing. His voice, a medium baritone, created such a soft ecstasy of volume I closed my eyes as I listened.
“I called Jesus but he didn't check his phone today,
Oh oh, there's my summer girl
I've been wanting her
I hear she’s got a boyfriend”
As the words collided with my conscious, I turned my gaze to Edward’s profile, trying unsuccessfully to feel out the meaning of his lyrics.
“Thought I could leave her for a
season but it just got cold
Yeah, it's a lonely hour in my cell phone tower,
Broken down transmission.”
The simple words struck a complicated chord, not only in the music, but inside of me. The meaning of his earlier words became clearer to me. Hadn’t he said he was going to explain something?
“But I'm gonna take you to my boxcar on the beach
And I'm gonna hang the sun above your bed
And soak your hair in bleach”
It became clearer as the song went on that every word, every line, every stanza was another metaphor. I was captivated by the music, but I wanted so much to understand.
Edward turned to me as he started the chorus, his eyes penetrating my dumbstruck gaze, his fingers pounding the keys all the while.
“You’ll be missed, Miss California.
You’ll be kissed by only me.
When they can’t find you, you’ll turn into a mystery”
He turned and looked down at the keys again as his fingers wove in and out of the chords. His gaze caught mine again.
“But you’re no mystery to me, Miss California”.
A question formed on the tip of my tongue: Who is Miss California?
The sounds vibrating through my body reverberated back to the original melody. And his voice sounded again.
“I called Jesus but he heard I hurt his little girl, yeah
With my reckless stare, I’d been so unfair
Misplacing my affections.”
He shook his head, disbelievingly as he said his sang his next carefully chosen verse:
“She had a reason not to take me back into her care.”
His eyes shot to the ceiling, seeing nothing, but reliving everything.
“Oh, I’m just a stray dog now. I can’t beg or bow.
Just give me some direction!”
The last line was a plea, almost a prayer. How lost we both were just those several months ago.
The notes staccato-ed as he continued.
“So I’m gonna take you to the mansion where I hide”
His hand closest to me lifted off the keys to motion around the room we resided in. He picked up my hand then, so his mother’s ring shone in the light.
“And I’m gonna paint a diamond on your hand.
You will be my bride.”
I gasped at the last verse. Those words weighed heavily inside my chest, where an anchor sank down with me. He dropped my hand to start the chorus again.
“You’ll be missed, Miss California…”
He started the chorus again, and, once more, the words pounded into me, hitting nerves as they collided with my hard skin.
“I’ll be around…When they can’t find you, you’ll turn into a mystery - but not to me”
He bumped his shoulder into mine, lightly. I’m sure this took much effort to not accidentally shove me across the room in this simple gesture. As soft as it had been, his nudge forced me to smile at the small joke that, I’m sure, he enjoyed more than I did.
“You’ll be missed, Miss California. We’ll be married in the rain.”
The music changed and finally I understood. Every word of this song was exactly about us. I was… I am Miss California. Edward has told me himself that I am his own personal light through the darkness.
I felt the song coming to a close.
“When they can’t find you, I’m sure I’ll be the one they blame…”
My thoughts drifted back to Charlie and Renee. What would they say when I don’t call them for years and don’t show up for holidays, for fear I might be tempted by their blood as a newborn? I knew they’d be hurt. And surely I wouldn’t be able to see them even after I’d overcome my bloodlust. I’d still look eighteen, not having aged a day. It hurt me to know that after I dedicate myself to Edward, I’d have to detach myself from my family, my whole world.
Thinking of Charlie brought thoughts of Jake. I wouldn’t be able to see him either. He might even want to kill me if he saw me again.
Edward’s voice brought me back to the present.
“…but they can’t prove anything, Miss California.
I’ll be around.”
The final chord struck and I clung to Edward’s cold, hard frame, fearing that if I were to look into his loving eyes I’d cry. How could I think of Jake while he played for me? How could I be upset over Jake after I’d already promised myself to Edward forever?
These thoughts stung me even more and I crushed myself into his chest.
“Love,” he said. “Why are you crying?”
I looked up at him, and immediately the tears flowed heavily. “I… I just… hadn’t thought about it that way. I won’t be able to see anyone ever again…” I trailed off at the end.
“Bella, you can still say no. Just say the words and you’re free. You don’t have to make that kind of sacrifice for me.”
I sobbed even harder. How could he think that I could just give him up, just like that? “What? I-never. I love you, Edward. I could never leave you. I want to be with you forever. After all the times I’ve promised you, you still doubt-”
He put a finger to my lips. “You needn’t say more.” He sighed, “I’m sorry for ever doubting you. It won’t happen again.”
He vowed to me, but I knew it would happen again. Edward was too self-sacrificing, despite what he thinks. He is stronger than he knows, and I truly believe that if I were ever to speak against him once, he’d leave for good.
I dug my fingers into his shirt, fisting into it like I had talons for hands. “Don’t ever think that again.”
“I promise it to you, my love.”