"Stripped"

by Jeannette Hetfield

 

A/N:  Okay, here's the thing.  Casca, this ficlet is your fault.  I couldn't stop thinking about the whole "strip club" quote of the day because a plot bunny with your name kept bouncing around in my head.

 

There's not a lot to this story and I wrote it in a rush, trying to finish it before August 2.  The story is mine, but the quote from which is spawned, belongs to the amazing Stephenie Meyer.  I apologize now for any typos.  It is 1:37am after all.  I'm pooped.

 

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author.  All rights reserved.

 

 

~

 

 

It was just a few days before the wedding.  My stomach twisted into so many convoluted knots that I was constantly on the verge of throwing up.  Not that I could've thrown up anything.  I'd barely eaten for the past week and managed to sometimes thwart Edward's attempts to feed me.  I guess I was a little paler than usual so he constantly tried to pump me full of carbs.

 

I only shoved the food into my mouth while he was watching.  The rest of the time I was always looking for an open window.  As luck would have it, I'd actually lobbed an apple into the back of Emmett's head while he was bent over the hood of one of the numerous Cullen cars.  He came inside holding the untouched apple with a confused look on his face and then Edward immediately scowled at me.  He'd taken to keeping a store of food in the never-used kitchen just for my visits to their house.  Whenever food he gave me mysteriously disappeared, he'd just grab something else, even threatening my nightmare: spinach, and would glare at me in stony silence until I ate every bite.  His concern was sweet, but now it was starting to get on my nerves, especially when he, unfairly, didn't have to put up with nausea or puking.

 

I'd just arrived at the Cullen's.  Edward was taking me to the meadow today.  We hadn't had many chances to be alone.  Alice was monopolizing all of my free time with last-minute wedding preparations.  All of my threats to fire her fell on deaf ears.  She flitted around in her own little world, oblivious to any of my input.  In truth, she taken over all of the planning and decorating and probably didn't even need me until the aisle-walking moment, but she insisted I be present for every last idea she had to throw at me. 

 

With the wedding so close, and Alice following me around everywhere—except for the bathroom, which I declared to be a sacred and private thing for humans—I demanded a break with Edward.  Alone. She'd had the audacity to growl at me, which would have scared the average human into insanity, but I wasn't the average human anymore.  She who runs with vampires.  In the end, Alice had left me alone and was now sitting next to Jasper on the couch sulking.

 

Today was warm and I was relishing it.  There were so few days of sunshine and so few days that I could witness the sparkling beauty of Edward's skin.  We could only have today together because tomorrow night was his bachelor party.  The thought of it was eating away at me like a gangrenous leg.  No wonder I wasn't hungry these days. I'd been wondering what exactly vampires did for bachelor parties, but I was too embarrassed to ask Edward.  Humans went to strip clubs.  Did they?

 

The twisted part about all of this wasn't what would be considered the normal reason.  I wasn't worried about Edward losing control and sucking a stripper's blood.  I was worried, just like every other girl, about her soon-to-be husband being accosted by overzealous exotic dancers. 

 

My impatient feet couldn't be still and were tapping away while I waited downstairs for Edward.  They'd just gotten back from hunting this morning and he was changing his clothes.  He'd be down here any second now.  I only had one chance to ask this question.  Jasper sat in communal silence with Alice, but he couldn't stop from rolling his eyes at Emmett's fascination with himself.  The biggest Cullen sat next to him on the couch and was enjoying watching his biceps flex up and down. 

 

I blurted: "Jasper? What do vampires do for bachelor parties? You're not taking him to a strip club, are you?"


Jasper started to answer, but was quickly interrupted by Emmett, "Bella, there are no strip clubs in Forks.  Believe me, I've looked."  He grinned suddenly.  "There was that time in Seattle though.  Hey Edward! Remember wh—"

 

Before I could finish blinking, Emmett had vanished, outdoors, by the looks of it. There was tiniest sound of scuffles coming from outside, but it was so faint.  I could have imagined it. Edward's bronze head reappeared inside, dusting off his hands.  He was only gone a few seconds.  I hadn't even seen him come downstairs, which meant he probably heard my question.


Edward looked gorgeous as always in the simplest of clothes.  Jeans, tennis shoes and a simple blue tee shirt.  Unfair.  But not for long.

 

It wasn't enough to stop me from asking anyway, no matter how beautiful his golden eyes shined.  I frowned suspiciously.  "What happened to Emmett?"

 

Edward's innocent expression was too innocent. "Rosalie needed his assistance with the Hummer."


I nodded, but wasn't about to let this one go. "So...back to that time in Seattle..."

Edward threw a deadly glare over his shoulder to Emmett, who'd just about made it back inside the house, when he flew back out, chuckling quietly to himself.

 

"Edward," I said meaningfully, though the threat in my voice was about as scary as a fluffy bunny, especially in comparison to the murderous glint he wore.

 

"Bella, it's nothing," he insisted, though his pale face was still tense with irritation.

 

I tried a different tactic, though I was pretty sure I bumbled this up, considering my skills at seduction were laughable.

 

I tried to pout my lips.  Images of my mother's brochures on collagen injections flew through my mind and I immediately pushed my lips into a more normal position.  So I tried the next best thing.  One on one physical contact might help.  I touched his arm gently and slowly, stroking up and down.  He could have been a statue.  Only his eyes moved, following the path my hand was making.  I braced my other hand on his shoulder, raised myself onto my toes with the intent of kissing him.

 

Like clockwork, my shoe slipped on my untied laces and I almost cracked my face on his rock hard chest, but fortunately for my nose his reflexes were to the Nth degree and saved me from forever having a bump on the bridge of my nose. 

 

Edward looked torn between amusement and frustration at my omnipresent clumsiness.  He held me until he was sure I wouldn't spontaneously fall over, which would probably happen at some point.  Then he reluctantly let go, bent down on knee and began retying my shoelace.  He gently squeezed my foot before standing to his full height.

 

"You give the phrase 'slippery when wet' a whole new meaning," he commented lightly, eyes still dancing gold with amusement.

 

I scowled darkly at him and folded my arms tightly together.  Just wait until I was like him.  Then we'd see who'd be laughing.

 

"So…what happened in Seattle?" I badgered.

 

He rolled his eyes.  "You've been around Alice too much lately.  Her annoying persistence is starting to rub off."

 

Alice proudly grinned from her spot on the couch.

"Edward, did you…?" I cringed as I thought of him in a strip club, surrounded by women far more womanly than I was.

 

"It was Emmett's birthday," he said suddenly, sitting on the arm of the couch, pulling me with him until I sat between his legs and against his chest.  He laced his fingers together around my waist.  He didn't play fair.  "One of many.  He said the whole point of blending in with the humans would be lost if we didn't do the things humans did."

 

"And what?  Rosalie just let him?" I asked, surprised.  Not that any of the buxom strippers could compare to Rosalie.

 

"She didn't know at the time."

 

"Wouldn't Alice have seen Emmett's sudden decision to raid a strip club?"

 

Alice answered for herself.  "Oh, I saw it."

 

I raised my eyebrows, waiting in spite of the subject, to hear the rest of the story.

 

"Were you there too?" I asked in Jasper's general direction, knowing he could hear me.

 

His face tensed.  "Yes, but I abandoned the party.  Too many people."

 

By people, he meant temptation.  His face relaxed though and he smiled blandly.  "Alice saw various scantily clad females crawling all over Emmett and she felt it her sisterly duty to tell Rosalie."

 

"But not until a few hours later," Edward added.  "She thought we deserved a little break from the norm."

 

"How generous of her, " I murmured with a glare. 

 

"I was just being a good sister," came Alice's tinkling voice.

 

I was still wondering about Edward's place in all this.  Did he want to go to a strip club?  Was that something he enjoyed?  And was I ruining his last few days of bachelorhood by being a clingy, uptight girlfriend?  Probably.  It wasn’t like I could be as glamorous as those kinds of girls.

 

I had a sudden image of myself attempting a strip tease for Edward and doing a dance around a pole.  The image disappeared when I accidentally impaled myself on it.  I blushed very quickly.  Edward's quick inhalation of breath at the rush of blood to my cheeks made me a million times more grateful that he could not read my mind.  There was no need for anyone to ever see that picture.

 

"So…um," I tried to control my sudden embarrassment by continuing with the story.  Edward still watched me curiously and I knew there'd be some questions for me once we were alone.  "You…um, lied to Rosalie, didn't you?  About where you were going?"

 

"No, we just led her to believe we'd gone hunting.  No girls allowed.  Quality time for male bonding."

 

I couldn’t help my snort of scorn.  "Yeah, right.  She fell for that?"

 

"Vampires are masters of persuasion, Bella," Jasper replied.  "Even amongst our own kind."

 

I didn't want to think too much about that part so I asked another question.  "Didn't it bother you, Alice, that Jasper went too?"

 

"Course not, Bella," she said, rolling her eyes at me as though my question was silly.  "Like I have to worry about Jasper."

 

They shared a look for a moment that made me smile.  It was a secret look, with a meaning only the two of them shared.  Even though I knew it was impossible for Edward to see into my mind, he did sometimes have the ability to know anyway.  Maybe he knew my face and body language so well by now that it was like reading my mind.  He'd taken my hand, stroking my palm with his thumb where the cool scar was.  His smile was the crooked one that always turned my insides to goo.

 

"Anyway," Alice went on, "Rosalie decided to go hunt with them anyway.  She doesn't like being told no.  But they were already gone.  Imagine her surprise when she arrived to find all of the animals still living."

 

Edward smiled ruefully.  "Imagine our surprise when the door to the club burst open and there she stood in the doorway, angelic face black with carnage."

 

I could imagine it.  Gold eyes turned to inky black.  Her red lips twisted into a ferocious snarl.  Beautiful and horrifying.  The angel of death.

 

He laughed.  "That was the first time I'd seen real fear on Emmett's face.  He laughs about it now, like he wasn't frightened of her wrath, but he momentarily forgot I read every thought in his head."

 

"What was he thinking?"

 

Edward suppressed a laugh.  "It would be ungentlemanly of me to repeat it."

 

"Oh," I nodded slowly.  "What did she do?"

 

"She turned a few tables over and gave Emmett a punch to the head that sent him flying, which raised many eyebrows.  It took both Emmett and myself to pull her out of there before they called the police and caused a whole new set of problems."

 

"He didn't do that again?" I guessed.

 

"No, but there have been plenty of times he's dwelled on that day in Seattle so long ago now."

 

I considered Rosalie for a minute.  She definitely didn't have to worry about Emmett, but now that I knew Edward had been there too…my thoughts drifted to a horrible picture of naked strippers dancing all around him.  They would have paid the most attention to him.  I couldn't blame them there.  What with his unearthly beauty and dazzling skills, no woman could help herself.

 

By the time Edward and I had reached the meadow, I wasn't feeling any better.  We walked hand in hand.  He kept a patient human pace next to me.  The hand that held mine sparkled with facets no diamond could compare to.  Why was he settling for me when he could have anyone he wanted?  Someone who would be just as beautiful and not constantly tripping over her own feet.  All those beautiful women and then there was…me. 

 

I sighed and Edward's sharp gaze rested questioningly on my face.  He stopped walking so quickly I stumbled, but of course, he caught me.  There was the strangest look in his eyes.  If I wasn’t mistaken, he looked angry. 

 

"What?" I whispered fearfully.

 

He leaned his face close to mine, his sweet breath tickling my cheek and gently tapped my temple with his cool finger.

 

"I can't see what's in here, but I know exactly what's on your mind," he whispered, softer than I expected.  "And you know what?"

 

"What?" I barely whispered, unable to look anywhere but his eyes, which were a shade darker now that his anger had flared.

 

"Shut."  Kiss.  "Up."  Longer kiss.

 

He put his arms around my waist and his fingers found the gap between the hem of my tee shirt and jeans.  I shivered at his frigid touch.  No matter how many times he did that to me, I still couldn't get used to it.  Not that I was complaining.

 

I wanted to ask more questions about his bachelor party, but all thought halted when his eyes burned amber again and when his sweet breath tickled my lips with whispers of his love.  Well…why ruin a perfect moment?  We'd have forever to talk about this.

 

Soon.

 

~