Chapter 1 – Skylark

Disclaimer: Stephanie Meyer & Little Brown Publishing own all rights


My fingers couldn’t stop moving.

They traced the hard lines of the soft mohair seats.

They skimmed the full skirt of my dress and flitted to the neckline, playing with the collar.

My fingers missed what they could not touch. Edward.

I missed what they could not touch.

Looking to do something, anything to keep busy, my fingers continued along their journey. They ran to my necklace, touching each pearl that sat along the delicate strand. I chose the necklace because I knew it was a favorite of Edward’s. I found it odd that he liked it so much since it was so simple and I was anything but simple. I only hoped he would be back and able to see it today.

My fingers found the pin that held my hair in place and secured it in the tightly wrapped chignon sitting at the nape of my neck. I had spent much time and effort on my appearance this morning. More so than usual, as of late. In the past I had been all about my morning routine, sticking to the regimen that had served me well over the years.

Recently though, I had made allowances. When Edward was by my side in the morning, it was easy to let my habits fall by the wayside. The past few mornings he hadn’t been there to lure me back to bed or to playfully shoo away when he stood behind me, caressing my arms and trying to distract me with kisses. Once more I had fallen back into my morning routine. I’ll willingly admit, I’d rather have him than the old routine any day of the week.

I sat alone in the limousine, resting after a tedious day. Emmett had a few more errands to run before the day drew to a close; rather than have him drive me back to the estate or Edward’s apartment just to go out again, I opted to just wait for him in the car. He periodically walked by the car, dropping off parcels or just waving as he walked past with small items. It would probably have been easier for him to simply go from store to store, but Emmett seemed to have adjusted his routine to include passing me in the Fleetwood.

Emmett would never actually admit that dropping off the packages was an excuse to check in on me. I knew better than to bring it up. He’d have brushed it off and said that I was being silly. I saw through his cellophane act however but I still I appreciated the thoughtful sentiment behind his action. The past months hadn’t been easy ones for me and it seemed that I was being treated by many people with kid-gloves, despite my requests to the contrary. Anyone who didn’t know me would consider their actions to be normal. However, I knew differently. I could tell the subtle differences, the shared glances and the diligent watching while they thought I didn’t notice. I noticed everything. How could I not? These days I tended to over-analyze everything, but I guess that’s only natural, given my circumstances.

Even Jasper had been handling me with care. We had been meeting weekly with his lawyer and had spoken earlier today at the Cook County Jail. One advantage of Jasper’s incarceration was that he was a captive audience, which gave us time to talk about the events that had taken place in January in more detail. I was finally able to understand more about his motives, his thoughts and fears, his feelings for our father and his life, and how lost and alone he had felt. I knew that I had him to blame for our father’s death but my harsh feelings toward him were dissipating. The lawyer I had hired had offered us some good options and we were working through the trying times. Despite all of the heartache I had been dealt recently, my heart knew enough to soar with the thought of Edward.

He treated me just as he always had, although in truth he didn’t know me prior to my life being in flux. However, knowing Edward the way I had come to over the months, I knew that it wasn’t his style to tiptoe around my feelings. He challenged me and infuriated me more times than could be mentioned and I’m fairly certain he felt I did the same to him. I never knew what to expect with him and he had told me on more than one occasion that I wasn’t like any of the other dames he’d ever come across. I chose to take that as the compliment it was meant to be. He made me feel like myself, he was the one that anchored me and didn’t let me drift aimlessly.

With Edward there was no routine; there were no rules, no expectations as to when and where we should be. We just were. Each of us finding comfort, solace, and companionship in the other. When those feelings morphed into a relationship, I wasn’t sure how we would handle the formality that normally came with such things. Somehow, we made it work; the majority of the time, in fact, it worked quite well.

The cold of the winter had finally passed and spring was quickly turning into the long days of summer. The past five days that Edward had been away certainly felt the longest of all, but, somehow, the nights seemed even longer than the days. He had to leave town to trace someone who had skipped bail. It was a pretty cut and dry case, and, in the private detective business, he dealt with these more often than not. When we had first met, I thought he’d be dodging bullets and dealing with fellows of questionable reputation much more than he actually did. Not that I minded; I liked him safe, although I’d probably never tell him that. I’d probably never need to tell him, he was far too perceptive. It was one of the challenges of falling for a private detective.

My favorite cases were those where I got to help him. I got a kick out of watching him while he worked, so I looked forward to the times he’d call on me for assistance. He was pretty amazing while he worked, serious and determined. The ones I liked the least were the ones that took him away from me.

Cases like the one he was currently wrapping up.

Not that I had much time to dwell; work had kept me busy and entertained during the week. We were working on expanding the La Bella corporate offices and I had a board meeting earlier in the week regarding opening another location in California. While many businesses were suffering during wartime, the cosmetics industry was still flourishing. Our Patriotic line continued to be a success and the “A Matter of Face” campaign had only pushed sales up further. Yes, during the week the hours flew and I had enough to keep me occupied.

Furthermore, the evenings were comfortable at home, although the loneliness seeped in a bit more there. As much as the staff protested, I often had them sit with me during dinner so we could talk about the day. In any other home it would probably be frowned upon, but they were my only remaining family and we felt a mutual comfort sharing our days with one another. To keep my mind occupied, I often wandered around the house and learned different skills. Sam was currently teaching me about cooking, Riley had shown me how to prune the rose bushes that decorated the garden, and sometimes I’d join Emmett in the garage and he’d teach me car mechanics, for which I seemed to have a natural talent.

I leaned back, tilting my head to rest on the backseat of the Cadillac Fleetwood, and watched as the sun set through the buildings of Chicago. The sky was dimly lit by the sinking sun, the swirling clouds glowing in pastel lavenders and fiery oranges, the edges outlined in brilliant bronze, like his hair. The sunset was brilliant in its beauty, yet I was grateful for the estate being on Lake Michigan. While I had many of the benefits of city living, I was always able to enjoy the feel of open space and see the stars of the Chicago night sky unobstructed. Edward and I had spent a night recently on a blanket in the garden, stargazing. He pointed out different constellations in the early summer sky and told me their stories. Some warmed my heart while others were melancholic. Wrapped in his arms, I listened to the stories and thanked my lucky stars once more for bringing him to me.

Subconsciously, my mind had once again shifted back to thoughts of Edward. I expected him to return either tonight or tomorrow but hadn’t heard from him since he phoned last night.

I sighed. The heaving breath did not make me feel better the way it usually did, so I tried again. Sigh.

It didn’t work.

I rolled my eyes at my foolishness. When did I turn into such a pathetic sap?

Looking out the window once more, I tried to think of something other than Edward. I watched as a family walked down the street, the four all walking hand in hand. It looked like they were celebrating a birthday and heading either to or from dinner. I was envious of the nuclear family, I would be remiss if I tried to deny the fact. Instead of focusing on the family dynamic, I craned my neck to see where they were going and watched as they entered a local Chinese restaurant. It made me smile and my stomach grumbled slightly at the thought of food, even though Emmett and I had stopped for a late lunch. I couldn’t wait to return to Hwang’s with Edward and try the next thing on the menu. The first time we went I didn’t know what to get so Edward whispered in my ear, suggesting that we just start at the top and work our way down. Then he smirked. I stuck my tongue out at his lewd suggestion but that just resulted in him smirking even more. Quickly, my tongue retreated back into my mouth as I blushed. And once again, I’m thinking about Edward.

Sighing once more, I forced my mind to shift gears and instead thought back to the surprising phone call I had received earlier in the day from Carlisle Cullen. Dr. Cullen was Edward’s father, although I never knew him in that context. I had a sneaking suspicion that Edward would not be pleased when he learned of the nature of the call and wasn’t sure when I planned to bring it up with him. As it were, I wasn’t sure when he was scheduled to return but I had other plans for him once he arrived.

I saw a man walking down the street, nearing the car. It looked like Edward. Fantastic, now my mind is playing tricks on me. I watched as he drew closer still and realized that no other man could walk down the street with the presence and finesse in which he carried himself. He slowed as he approached the car, smiling at me through the double panes of glass that separated us. The fingers that itched to touch him beckoned him to me, curling in a ‘come hither’ motion. The smile shifted into a smirk as his long fingers reached to open the door.

He slid into the car, deftly closing the door behind him and looked over at me while the smirk remained in place on his lips. Although I had seen him earlier in the week, my eyes couldn’t help but devour him, absorbing his entire being. He looked a little rumpled, his suit no longer pressed from when I had it cleaned earlier in the week. He sat across from me, his back to the front of the car. Swiftly, he removed his hat and placed it on the seat next to him. Our eyes connected and in his I saw the same sentiments echoed back that I’d felt for the past five days.

I didn’t say anything. He didn’t either. Silently I moved across the short distance to him, not stopping until I was on his lap, my legs straddling him, the full skirt of my dress flaring around his legs, and my arms wrapped around him.

My fingers moved of their own accord.

They danced through his hair and tugged on it slightly.

They traced the hard lines of his angular face to his rough lips.

They skimmed down to the lapels of his jacket and gripped, pulling him impossibly closer. Our clothed chests pressed together, our ragged breaths mingled as I bent my head slightly toward him to catch his lips with mine.

His fingers couldn’t stop moving.

They clutched at the hard lines of the soft mohair seats.

They skimmed the full skirt of my dress and flitted to the neckline, playing with the collar.

They ran to the pearls that sat on my neck, touching each pearl that sat along the strand, as mine had done, before continuing to the tightly wrapped chignon that sat at the nape of my neck, pulling my hair loose and causing it to tumble down my back.

“Hi,” he breathed out, pushing up my chin with the knuckle on his forefinger before running it over stroke my cheek. I picked up his fedora from the seat and plunked it on my head.

“Hello there,” I returned, preening slightly as I took his hand from my face and wrapped it around my back. He chuckled at my attempts of to get even closer to him.

“I’m a lucky son-of-a-bitch, coming back to you.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “You most certainly are. I missed you.”

“Ahhh, you know what they say about absence making the heart grow fonder?” We sat nose to nose, his hands splayed across my back, the hat tilted back on my head.

“My heart is already fond. We didn’t need to test the theory anymore.” My lips ghosted his as I spoke. “Daddy always told me that we should display our feelings with actions, not with words.” My lips were on his then and his fingers danced underneath my skirt, tracing patterns onto my stockinged legs. We hadn’t spoken the words that conveyed the meaning behind my statement. But the thought behind it always lingered there.

He’s home.


I walked out of the police station and quickly lit up a Lucky, trying to rid my mouth of the bitter taste that always lingered after paying up on a big debt. This time it tasted like police precinct coffee and stale doughnuts. A little over a week ago, I’d lost seventy five bucks to Sgt. Swan, someone I had sworn to myself I’d never play poker with again. He always beat me, and I couldn’t figure out how; I could never get a read on him. Sneaky bastard, I thought with a fond smirk as I set a brisk pace down the street.

I’d only stopped at my place long enough to drop off my suitcase, then I headed to the police station eager to pay my debt out of the payment for the case I’d just wrapped up in Indianapolis. I’d been chasing down a bail jumper, a con artist who proved to be much more elusive than I had anticipated. I found him late last night in a sleazy motel just outside Indy city, sniveling like a coward when I busted in on him with my gun drawn. I handcuffed him and took him to the bail bondsman, happy that my job was done and I could go back to Chicago, back to her.

It had been five days since I saw Rosie, and my feet felt light as they carried me down the sidewalk in my black wing-tip shoes. Five days was far, far too fucking long. We didn’t spend every day together, but five consecutive days away from her silky curls and the scent of her roses had taken their toll. My craving for her was like that of a raging alcoholic again, desperate for a swig of the proverbial scotch. My feet were eager to get me to my apartment where a hot shower and fresh clothes were waiting. Then I’d call a cab and go home to Rosie. The five days were finally over.

Over the last few months I’d let her into my life more than anyone else before. While it was terrifying to be so honest and vulnerable with someone, she kept me grounded and never let me take myself too seriously. Being a moody, temperamental bastard, I needed her to give me a swift kick in the ass from time to time, and boy did she ever.

She took care of me, though, too, in the most endearing, silent way. I never saw her pick up all my shirts and arrange to have them dry cleaned and delivered. The first time the delivery boy showed up with my clean, freshly-starched shirts I was at a loss, but paid the guy once he explained that Ms. Hale had made the “arrangement.” She’d also arranged to have groceries delivered, just a few basic staples, nothing fancy. Coffee, eggs, bacon, which were the only things I was able to cook without fucking up beyond recognition, and fruit that I never fucking ate. I admit it was nice to have joe in the place, and frying up the occasional egg on the rare nights I wasn’t at Rosie’s house made me feel like she was right there, taking care of me.

As I turned the corner around Bentley’s Auto Parts Store, I started whistling “Skylark” like the love-sick sap I was and halfheartedly cringed at what a Sally I was turning into. With my eyes on the ground and my thoughts wrapped up in white satin sheets with Rosalie, I didn’t see the brick wall of a man I was about to bump into. My Fedora shifted on my head with the impact and I looked up. “Emmett?” I said, smiling, and stuck out my hand, surprised to see him in this part of town.

“Edward!” He said pleasantly and shook my hand. “Back today? Thank God! Rose has been bored to tears. She’s even taken to harassing me in the garage,” he said with mock annoyance, rolling his eyes. I chuckled. “No, she’s great with tools, really good actually,” he added appreciatively. I chuckled again, thinking: of course she is.

“What are you doing on this side of town?” I asked, wondering immediately if she was with him.

“The Fleetwood needed new wiper blades,” he said and threw a thumb over his shoulder in the direction of the shop he’s just exited, “and Bentley, being an old friend of my family’s, is the only place I come to for parts,” he explained with a smirk. He knew what I really wanted to know, and he was going to make me squirm and come out and say it.

“Where is she, Emmett?” I asked, a little too eagerly.

“In the car, parked down the street,” he pointed.

“Thanks, are you coming?” I asked, hoping he would say no.

“I’ve got a few more errands, I’ll be back to drive you home in a minute,” he said. I smiled and turned to make way to her and my pulse started to pick up as I drew closer to the limo.

And there she is…my Rosie.

I could see her through the glass of the Fleetwood and I stopped to watch her…just…be her…for a moment. I’d missed watching her in the mornings as she floated around her bedroom, getting dressed and putting on the mask of cosmetics that hid her true beauty from the world. Sometimes I was able to keep it off her sweet face a little longer by coaxing her back to bed with kisses and other…inducements, but only for a little while. The days that began with wrestling Rosie under her satin sheets always turned out to be damn good days.

As I watched her from where I stood leaning up against a lamp post, I noted that she seemed restless. Her fingers fidgeted over her skirt, flitted over the bodice of her dress up to the collar before moving to the nape of her neck. Today, her hair was all gathered up off her face, very business-like and yet still so becoming. It showcased her long alabaster neck that I could never resist nibbling. Her fingers fondled each pearl of the necklace she wore, a wistful, faraway expression on her face. A soft smile played at her mouth for a moment before her shoulders slumped with a sigh so big I could almost hear it. She looked up and noticed a family walking by; a fleeting flash of envy washed over her face as they entered the Chinese joint down the street. Her brow puckered into a frown and I couldn’t be witness to her unhappiness any longer.

I pushed off the lamppost, determined to close the tiny distance that remained between us. I watched her expression change from sad indifference to disbelief then to joy as I approached. I couldn’t hide my smile at her surprised reaction as I reached out and opened the car door.

I slid into the limo, sitting opposite her and removed my hat, laying it on the seat beside me. Her eyes told me how much she’d missed me as she sinuously moved off her seat and straddled me. My eyes widened in the same instant that my mouth twisted into a wicked grin.

Exactly the reunion I was hoping for, Rosie.

Her hands danced up to my hair and pulled, before her fingertips left a trail of fire tracing my jaw and running over my lips. Her hands moved to the lapels of my jacket, gripping firmly and pulling me to her. The feel of her lips against mine was pure heaven after the hell of five days apart from her.

My hands moved from the soft mohair seats, along the hem of her full skirt that spread around us. They slid slowly up the bodice of her dress, to her pearls that I loved to see encircling her neck when she wore nothing else. I lightly caressed her cheek with one hand, the other found the pin holding her heavy tresses in place at the base of her neck and pulled it gently out. Her hair fell down her back in a tumble of golden silk and the scent of roses erupted in a cloud around me. I took a deep luxurious breath, reveling in the scent I’d missed more than I had realized.

“Hi,” I finally whispered, pulling her chin up. She reached over and plucked my hat up off the seat, gracefully dropping it on her head at the perfect angle.

“Hello there,” she murmured, taking my arm and wrapping it around her waist. I laughed. It felt like I couldn’t get close enough to her either.

“I’m a lucky son-of-a-bitch, coming back to you.” I admitted sincerely. I’d always been a son-of-a-bitch, but she made me lucky.

“Yes,” she agreed knowingly. “You most certainly are. I missed you.”

“Ahhh, you know what they say about absence making the heart grow fonder?” I queried as my nose brushed against hers. Absence had definitely had an effect; it had amplified the electricity that always flowed between us like a million strands of glowing, incandescent filament.

“My heart is already fond. We didn’t need to test the theory anymore,” she whispered against my lips as my hands slipped under her skirt and meandered up her thighs. “Daddy always told me that we should display our feelings with actions, not with words.” She leaned forward and kissed me slowly, savoring me the same way I’d seen her savor chocolates, with leisurely, sinful indulgence. Her hands floated up to my temples and her fingers twisted little patterns in my hair. I tilted my head back and moaned, my hands gripping her thighs under her skirt. Her mouth moved eagerly down to my chin and nibbled all along my stubbled jaw to my ear.

“I really missed you,” she whispered breathlessly into my ear as she shifted herself into me restlessly.

I missed you more.

“I can tell,” I growled near her ear before taking her lobe between my teeth. Her thighs clenched against mine, and my eyes darted around the street to see if anyone would see what I was about to do next, when I realized Emmett was standing next to the car, gazing at me with one eyebrow raised and looking like the cat that ate the canary.

I groaned with annoyance. “As much as I’d like to show you exactly how much I missed you, we have company,” I said near her ear.

“Company? More like an audience,” he retorted, then whistled suggestively as he opened the driver’s door and got in. “You two are lucky no coppers were walking by,” he finished, chuckling under his breath and started the car.

I chanced a glance at Rose and not only was she more than a little pissed at Emmett’s teasing, she was also blushing just a tiny bit, enough to betray a hint of embarrassment.

“To the house, Miss Rose?” Emmett asked as he shifted the stick into first gear.

“No, Emmett, to Edward’s apartment, please,” she replied and looked at me conspiratorially, giving my knee a firm squeeze with her fuck-me-red fingernailed hand.

Exactly what I had in mind, Rosie.