She wakes up in a daze. It takes the standard three to five seconds before she realizes she's in a bed other than her own—again. She closes her eyes and swallows the sticky evidence of last night's drunken festivities from her teeth and tongue.
In her mind she recalls his sweet, solemn eyes and wholesome, hesitant smile. His gentle hands left indelible imprints on her skin. Then she remembers how this usually works for her, so she carefully pushes herself up and out from under the warmth of his covers. He doesn't stir as she noiselessly moves about his room, looking for all the little pieces of herself on his floor, so she can put them back together once she's home alone.
With her underwear and socks crammed in one pocket, and her phone and wallet in the other, she slings her jean jacket over her shoulders, pushes her feet into her unlaced boots, and slips quietly out his front door.
"Morning," Angela says, as Bella tries sneaking into the house. Angela is an early riser and the one roommate Bella doesn't mind seeing on the heels of another indiscretion; Angela doesn't judge her.
"Hey." Bella slumps into a chair opposite her friend at the kitchen table in the too bright kitchen.
Luckily, she has sunglasses she purchased when she stopped at a convenience store for coffee. This way she can hide behind the lenses, from the uncommonly sunny morning and from Angela's pity.
Bella quietly sits at the table with her roommate, flimsy frames settled on the bridge of her nose, trying not to let her confused emotions confuse her more. She wants to pretend last night never happened. She really doesn't know how to deal with wanting something, or someone, as much as she did last night—and still does this morning.
"How was last night?" Angela asks, casually leafing through the pages of the magazine that lay open in front of her.
Bella shifts in her seat and squints out into the backyard. She could tell Angela about Paul's party and how he blew her off for some chick with huge tits and an annoyingly indistinguishable accent. She could tell Angela that she didn't care about Paul blowing her off, so she turned the other cheek and smoked a bowl with Victoria and James. She could tell Angela about Edward—about meeting him on her way out of the party, about his attentiveness and engaging smile, the way his mouth felt against her skin and his kind words and gentle manner. But her reply is the same as it always is.
"Same old, same old," Bella says. "Yours?"
"Went to Ben's and watched that Reese Witherspoon movie with Captain Kirk and the English guy from Inception. Then we went to bed early," she says with a shrug and a chuckle. "Same old, same old, I guess."
Bella nods and sips her coffee. She sits silently for a few more minutes before forcing a hungover smile and gingerly standing from the table. She tosses her empty cup into the trash as she excuses herself from the kitchen then heads to take a shower.
Her phone chirps with alerts while she searches her room for her favorite pair of cotton pants. She ignores the chirping, but pockets her phone after dressing in something comfortable, slides her feet into a pair of flip-flops, and wanders out of her room in search of food.
"Hey, Bells," Jacob says as she enters the kitchen, the sun having finally sunk behind a cloud where it belongs. "Where'd you disappear to last night?"
Bella considers ignoring his question because, even though Jacob is one in the long line of guys who've been there, done that, she's never really proud to tell the story of her newest imprudent failure. Yet she knows it's impossible to ignore Jacob; he is relentless when it comes to her personal affairs. So she tries to deflect as long as she can, hoping to keep him at bay at least until she's had breakfast.
"Nowhere," she answers, then changes the subject. "Don't you have a race today?"
"Cancelled because of weather." He rolls his eyes, momentarily placated. "Like rain in the Pacific Northwest is a reason to cancel a bike race... Please."
Bella scoffs and shuffles her feet, trying to remember what she came into the kitchen for...
"Seriously," she says, moving toward the refrigerator, hoping it holds some answer to why she suddenly gives a shit about this new guy when she's never really cared about anyone else. "Even I could ride in the rain."
"I taught you to ride in the rain. Remember?" Jacob asks, looking to her with that familiar/sweet smile and twinkle in his eye.
She does remember. She remembers everything—his driving lessons, his lips and hands, him climbing through her bedroom window at night back in Forks when they were still kids. She also remembers the day he met Ness and never looked at her the same way again.
"How could I forget?" she says, tempering the bitterness in her tone, as usual, and trying not to sound pathetic or pissed off, because she and Jacob "have an agreement."
But the truth is: she is pissed off. She's lonely and bitter, and she holds that inside because it isn't anyone else's fault but hers—not even her childhood sweetheart who dumped her for the adorable, innocent foreign exchange student. Nor is her bitterness the fault of her other roommates, every one who has someone. Jacob has Nessie, Angela has Ben, Jess and Mike have each other, and Leah has Siobhan. Bella chooses to have a series of one-night-stands and flings with people who never promise her anything and are never in danger of over delivering.
Bella has expressed regret a time or two, and Angela has suggested that she should start asking for something. But Bella doesn't know what to ask for. She thinks it's probably too much or too late to ask for a phone call once they've both come, since they usually haven't even exchanged numbers at that point. She's stopped asking for numbers all together.
Her phone buzzes in her pocket again. She sighs heavily then turns her back on her roommate, retrieves her phone, and scrolls through the alerts. She has a couple of missed calls and a text message that reads where did you go? from an unfamiliar number.
Bella blinks, taps the screen, and considers the new and somewhat intimidating situation before her. She can only assume the text is from Edward, but she can't recall giving him her number, and she has no fucking idea how to respond. She's still dizzy from drinking too much and not sleeping enough the night before, but she types out the first thing that comes to mind.
I'm at home. Where are you?
She shrugs at the screen like that'll make the exchange automatically less terrifying, then slips her phone into her pocket before yanking open the refrigerator door. She's gazing dumbly at the meager contents, trying not to dwell too much on the fact that Edward is texting her, when her phone immediately buzzes again from inside her cotton pants.
Bella pulls the phone from her pocket once again and peeks at the message. Her hands are shaking from the adrenaline pumping through her body.
I'm right where you left me. Alone in my bed. If I was the kind of guy who used emoticons, you'd see that I'm crying.
Bella bites her lip to keep from smiling too big. Edward's doing that thing again, like he did the night before, where he acts like the male lead in a romcom, like he isn't some typical guy from Forks, like he's interested in spending time with her and wants more from her than a one night fuck.
She tries to be flirty and frivolous, like the female lead, when she replies: maybe you should call someone so you aren't so lonely.
Her stomach flips when she hits send. She doesn't really know how to flirt at all. She has no idea if she's gone too far or not far enough. Maybe he'll think she's stupid. This is all new territory for her.
Isn't that what I'm doing? Texting, anyway…
"Morning," Leah says to no one in particular, as she wanders into the kitchen, looking about as morning-after-sorry as Bella felts five minutres before.
"Is that Paul?" Jacob asks Bella, assuming, as usual, that she's texting his best buddy. "Tell him to come over. We'll make pancakes."
"We don't have any syrup," Leah says, frowning into a cup as she pours coffee. "Or butter. You can't have pancakes without butter and syrup."
Bella rolls her eyes and turns her attention back to her phone, fully ignoring Jacob's request to invite Paul over. If she were to respond at all to Jacob, she would have to say that she's never inviting Paul over again. She takes a deep breath and gets a little bold with her texting.
You should come over here.
She wonders what in the fuck she's thinking one split second after she sends the message. Then she remembers the biggest reason she doesn't want Jacob to know about where she "disappeared to" last night, and it's not because she's not going to live happily ever after with his buddy Paul.
Her phone buzzes four seconds after she's sent her last message.
Give me your address.
Bella is back in the shower, running a razor over her chins and calves, erasing any sign of stubble that may have shown up overnight. She dries off for a second time and slathers lotion over her body, flosses and gargles two more times with mouthwash, then furiously brushes her teeth. She's wrapped in a damp towel and is combing through her wet hair when there's a knock at the back door.
She gave Edward directions to the back of the house in lieu of her address. Luckily, her bedroom is a converted mud porch, far away from the other bedrooms, so she thinks she just might be able to fly her guest in under the radar. She tosses the hair pick into her bathroom sink and darts toward the door in an effort to prevent a second knock and someone else deciding to get hospitable and answer.
His back is facing her when she opens the interior door, but then he turns and greets her with that sweet half-grin.
"Hey," he says, then his eyes drop from her face down to her towel and travel unhurriedly across her chest, over her bare arms and legs, and back up again. By the time he meets her eyes the second time, he looks a little bit like he might've skipped breakfast—hungry and longing. His eyes flicker over her face, and his tongue and teeth rake over his bottom lip in rapid succession.
"Hey," she replies, pushing open the screen door and gripping the knot on her towel lest it spontaneously unravel to fall at his feet. She steps aside and lets him in the house, taking in a light, clean scent as he brushes past her.
Once he's inside, he towers over her. She's barefoot and he's wearing boots. His hair is dark and damp, like hers, but he hasn't shaved like she did. Yet the fact that he seems to be recently showered gives her an artificial sense that they are on common ground, at least with regard to hygiene.
Bella thinks his eyes look sleepy and she wishes he were sitting down because everything about him makes her want to climb into his lap and purr. Instead, she turns and shows him to the entrance of her room. He awkwardly accepts the suggestion of entering before her (Bella remembers what a gentleman he's presented himself to be and almost feels guilty for forcing him against the grain of a civil society), as he shuffles through the doorway to her bedroom.
Following after him, Bella juts a thumb over her shoulder toward the ¾-bathroom. "I'm just gonna…" she tries to indicate her intentions with a wave of her hand over her towel. Once again, his eyes travel her body, making her skin feel at once tight and rippled. She shivers.
"I need to put some clothes on," she says, then does a disappearing act behind the bathroom door, realizing too late that all of her clothes are in a trunk at the foot of her bed.
Bella rolls her eyes at her lack of planning and steels herself with a deep breath before opening the door again to go find something to cover herself with. When she emerges from the bathroom just seconds after abandoning her guest, she sees him perusing the books along the wall opposite the bathroom door.
"I forgot my clothes," she explains, avoiding his gaze that she is sure's scrutinizing her every move. She wonders why she should even care that she's partially nude in front of him after everything he did to her completely nude body not 12 hours before.
She gathers underwear, jeans, and a long-sleeved t-shirt, then takes refuge in the bathroom again. She hurriedly dresses, not even bothering to turn the shirt right side out. It's a solid color blue and she tore the tag out when she bought it because it was itchy, so she doesn't think it matters much. Before she leaves the bathroom, she looks at her face in the mirror and sees that she's visibly flushed and flustered.
"Calm the fuck down, Bella," she whispers to her reflection and attempts to steady her breathing before rejoining Edward. It's difficult for her to calm down, though. She has no idea why he's there—why he texted her, why she invited him over—or what they're going to do now that he is there. But she bucks up and leaves the bathroom.
Edward is sitting at the center edge of the wooden trunk that holds most of her clothes. He immediately acknowledges her presence by looking up, discarding the book at the foot of her bed, and shifting closer to one side of the trunk, making room for her to join him. She hesitates and Edward pats the spot next to him in invitation. She bolsters herself, pushes forward and takes the seat beside him, because… since when is she so shy? Last night he was on top of her and behind her and inside of her; she should be able to sit next to him today.
Why am I so fucking nervous? she thinks, but the answer is clear if she's being honest with herself. Because I've never wanted anybody like this before.
"Well," Edward starts. "What do you wanna do today?"
Bella isn't sure how to answer that question. Not that there are millions of things to choose from, but it's generally prudent to choose what to do based on who you're doing it with, what your relationship is, and what you'd like to achieve with said person and activity. But she doesn't really know Edward; she has no idea what their relationship is, or if they even have one.
"Um… I don't know," she says with a shrug that's born from confusion as opposed to her usual apathy. "Any ideas?"
Edward's facial expression is on the polite side of roguish. Bella would describe it as mischievous at best. "I have a few, yeah," he replies, shifting his body to sit a little closer and face her, leaning in ever so slightly.
And there's that shiver again.
"Yeah?" Bella says, feeling like her breath is trapped in her chest. "Like what?"
Edward tilts his head and closes the slight distance between them. His lips touch hers and her body starts to sizzle. His tongue swipes at her bottom lip, and her mouth opens, slowly allowing the trapped air to flow out between them and their kiss to deepen. He brings his hands up to cradle her face and the next thing she knows she's straddling his lap.
"Bella, do you still have my…" a voice interrupts their exploration. "Whoa—sorry!"
It was Jessica's voice she heard, but once Bella climbs off of Edward, she doesn't see anyone else in the room except him. She stands up and combs her fingers through her slowly drying hair, then tells Edward she'll be right back. He looks slightly bewildered, mirroring her hand movements in his own hair, but nods in assent as she leaves the room to find Jessica.
"I'm not kidding, Angela," Jessica whispers—a loud whisper, because Jessica can't do anything without it being a huge production. "It was him, and she was climbing him like a tree."
When Bella enters the kitchen she encounters three sets of inquisitive eyes. She starts to feel a little bit defensive and thinks about deflecting like she did with Jacob earlier that morning. Then she remembers Edward is sitting just a few feet away and, for some reason, she feels emboldened. Regardless of how much she doesn't want to deal with what her new relationship might do to her happy home.
"What's up, B?" Mike asks casually, oddly calm in light of the news Jessica has clearly just delivered.
Bella tries to play along with his casualness, as if she isn't harboring the enemy in her bedroom. "Just wondering what Jess was looking for."
Jessica looks back and forth between her boyfriend and Bella twice before answering. "My head lamp," she says. "I think you borrowed it when you and Paul went for a night hike last week? Mike and I were thinking about camping tonight, so…"
Bella crosses the room to the junk drawer in the kitchen where the Petzls live whenever they aren't being used. She remembers tossing Jess's in there when she and Paul got back from the hike that night.
"Here ya go," Bella says, setting the little light on the kitchen island in front of Jessica. "Anything else?"
Bella wonders who will prompt her to mount and parade around on the elephant in the room. Her friends look at her and then each other, and just when she thinks no one is going to broach the topic of her indiscretion, Angela speaks.
"Bella, is everything okay?"
Bella never enjoys scrutiny, but mild discomfort and awkwardness is generally the worst she feels. Today, though, she's irritated by it. And that defensive feeling is back—this time, she's ready to defend Edward, even against Angela.
"I'm fine," she answers and fidgets. "Why?"
Angela looks pained to answer her, and Jessica and Mike are avoiding eye contact with Bella all together as they stare at their own feet.
"Jess said Edward Cullen's in your room," Angela quietly answers, and everyone looks at Bella, which agitates her even more.
"So?" Bella answers like a petulant child. She's daring one of them to say it out loud because if one of them does, they'll surely realize how petty and ridiculous this all is.
Angela raises both eyebrows in surprise; Bella doesn't ever talk like this to her friends, least of all Angela. She rarely surprises anyone. Today, she's even surprising herself.
"So…" Jessica cuts in. "His family and Jake's have been at odds for years, Bella. You know that. We all know it. It's just-"
Mike reaches out and touches Jessica's arm, probably hoping to stop her from saying something she'll regret. Bella knows exactly where Jessica's going, though, and part of her is relieved that the elephant has been unleashed.
Dr. Carlisle Cullen is an expert witness who testified against Forks's own Dr. Gerandy in a malpractice case more than 10 years before. His testimony changed the town forever. Sarah Black was a beloved member of the community, and when she died under Dr. Gerandy's care, a nurse anonymously reported him for malpractice. But no one would believe that anyone as trusted and respected as Dr. Gerandy could ever be so negligent to let Sarah die. And the townspeople certainly did not want to believe such a terrible thing from an outsider, even once it was apparent that he was guilty.
Bella and her dad have been like family with the Blacks for as long as she can remember. She would never betray them or the trust they have in her. No one in that kitchen would ever think that Bella would invite a Cullen into the home she shares with Jacob—not even Bella. Before last night, that is.
Bella drops her eyes away from her friends and out the window into the backyard. She recalls the instant attraction she felt toward Edward, the way that attraction confused and scared her, the way he completely defied everything she'd ever learned about him, and the moment Edward began to confide in her and she let her guard down.
"My dad travels a lot," Edward said after swallowing a mouthful of cheese and pepperoni. He and Bella had left the loud party after admitting to each other that they'd had way too much to drink, and Edward suggested they walk to the nearby late night pizza place. "The thing that wears most on his mind with his job is having to testify for those cases. He says it's like this whole other level of responsibility for a person's life, but not as familiar and comforting as caring for his own patients."
"Yeah," Bella responded, feeling ill at ease with the subject. "I, uh... I remember. Dr. Gerandy's a family friend."
Most people in town had gotten over it and moved on; many had even accepted Dr. Cullen as their own doctor. But the Blacks and the Clearwaters remained hostile toward the Cullens. Bella never really got why, considering Dr. Gerandy's guilt. But, after all that time, the families couldn't make amends. Even Jacob told her he thought it was stupid. Yet the animosity between the families remained like an oath.
Edward looked taken aback by Bella's sudden admission. After all, they'd been talking amiably for over an hour and she didn't seem unfriendly toward him. But then understanding covered his face.
"That's right," he said, nodding, his face blank. "Your dad's Chief Swan. He's friends with Billy Black, isn't he?"
"Best friends," Bella replied, thinking of her own best friend and how she wouldn't want him to know who she was with right then. She tossed her pizza in the trash, having lost her appetite. "And his son's my roommate."
Edward looked like he'd been smacked in the face, and Bella quickly backtracked. "No, no—not like that! He's just a friend and we live in a big house with a bunch of other people."
Edward calmed and watched her in silence for a moment before a sad smile finally settled on his face. He tossed his pizza crust in the trashcan next to Bella and pursed his lips. "Well, I guess it's been nice knowin' ya."
Edward seemed like he was trying to lighten the mood, but there was regret apparent in his voice. Bella hated the way he looked—dejected and lost. He looked the way she'd been feeling for the past two hours as she gradually went from her typical feelings of hostility toward a Cullen to thoughts of a potential friendship then, ultimately, raw, undeniable attraction.
Bella shook her head slowly and took his hand in hers. They both stared at their joined hands, fingers twisting and teasing each other. Then Edward pulled her closer to him on the bench. He wrapped his arms around her in a hug and she rested her head against his chest.
"He's…" Bella pauses, then returns her gaze to meet her friends'. She knows this is delicate and she doesn't want to hurt or offend anyone, but she is absolutely going to stand up for what she wants now that she knows what that is. "I don't know about his dad, but Edward's a really good guy. You'd all like him."
Angela's face softens and, surprisingly, so does Jessica's. Both of Bella's girlfriends trust her and she's grateful for that trust. Mike keeps his eyes trained on Jessica, but Bella knows he bears no unbreakable allegiance toward Jacob. As Jessica goes, so goes Mike's nation.
"Well... maybe we can hang out sometime?" Angela concedes with a kind smile. Bella waits just a beat longer for Jessica's final nod of assent before quickly grabbing two cans of Coke from the fridge and heading back to her bedroom.
Edward and Bella manage to keep their clothes on in order to make it out of the house and away from the prying eyes of her roommates. Once they get in the car, the clothes stay on, but that doesn't stop Bella from imagining otherwise or Edward looking at her like she's in her underwear.
He drives somewhat aimlessly until they agree that they're both starving and that greasy pub food is in order, so they head down to the waterfront for a late lunch, where they continue getting to know each other.
"I'm going to UDub for med school this fall," Edward says, then takes a humongous bite of his burger.
Bella watches the juice from the burger start to wind around and drip down his hand. He notices it before it reaches the rolled up cuff of his shirt, just below his elbow. He sets his burger down and starts to deftly clean his hands with his napkin. He looks a little embarrassed when his eyes meet Bella's.
"Sorry," he says, chewing his lip, concentrating on his task. "Their burgers are really messy."
Bella finds something sexy about him making the mess and cleaning it up. He's inspecting each finger and the sides of his hands and wrists meticulously when she finally decides it's probably just that she really likes watching him. Without thinking, she reaches out with her own napkin and wipes a smudge of sauce from the corner of his mouth.
He graces her instinctual act with a small, slow smile. He doesn't seem bothered at all by her public display of affection and caring. He actually seems more relaxed and at ease.
"What about you?" Edward asks, wadding up his used napkin and setting it aside. He pulls a fresh napkin from the container on the table.
After all the things they talked about the night before, they never discussed the obvious and easy things, like what they want to do with the rest of their lives.
"Me?" Bella doesn't really know what she wants to do, but, now that she's been asked, she feels like she should know.
"Yeah. What are you planning to do with your English degree?"
He resumes eating his burger, albeit much more carefully than before, and watches her intently.
Bella realizes that, much like her roommates, just 24 hours ago she would have taken his commentary on her measly B.A. in English, compared to his pre-med degree, as a dig; but now that she knows him, she doesn't see him the way she and everyone she knows used to see him.
"Well, I told you I've been working off and on for Mike's parents since high school," she says, and he nods showing that he remembers what she told him last night. "Now they need someone to do website updates and marketing, social media and stuff." She shrugs in explanation.
"That's cool," he says. "That's the kind of thing that takes patience and careful attention. You'll be really good at that."
They're silent for a bit, while Bella picks at the small remainder of the fries she hasn't housed and Edward finishes his burger. She loves the way he sees her, loves the way he talks to her. She wonders what they'll do next, then just accepts that she doesn't care what they do; she just likes being with him.
"So…" he starts. "Do you have an EDR?"
Bella cocks her head to the side in confusion at his seemingly abrupt question about the status of her driver's license. Edward grins that ear-to-ear grin that she's recently come to love. Almost all of his teeth are showing and Bella is reminded of the warm, deep, shuddering feeling they ignited as they grazed across her skin.
She closes her eyes, savoring the memory, and blindly nods in answer to his question about whether or not she has the kind of ID that will allow her to easily cross the Canadian border.
"Good." His voice is barely above a whisper, making her wonder if he's responding to her answer or if he's reminiscing about last night, too. When she opens her eyes, he's watching her lips and breathing heavily.
"Why do you ask?" Now she's the one who's whispering.
He draws a few more labored breaths and says that he was thinking they could go to the zoo in Victoria. Bella considers suggesting they go to the zoo by way of her bed. She's fully aware that she's hungover and horny and sure that he is, too, and thinks that maybe they should slow down and backup a bit if they want any of this to work. But she's never wanted anyone the way she wants Edward, and she's never felt so wanted in return. Especially not after.
"Okay," she agrees reluctantly, because she really wants to take the scenic route to the zoo.
There's some kind of hidden maintenance door in the Cat House and any one of the zoo staff could come barreling through at any second, but Edward's got her pressed against the wall that's perpendicular to the doorway. The corner is dark, so the other zoo patrons can't see them, but Bella wouldn't give a shit if they could.
His hands are moving slow, but they're strong and everywhere, and she wants to wrap her legs around his hips and pull him all the way inside. He kisses her neck and uses his teeth on that spot that makes her vibrate, rests his palm over her collarbone, curls his fingers over her shoulder and around the back of her neck. His thumb teases the hollow just below her windpipe and his teeth tease the lobe of her ear.
"We should head back." He speaks so softly, she barely hears him, but she couldn't agree more. "What I'm about to do is surely illegal in public, even in Canada."
Bella's beyond shivering at this point; she's beyond reason. She musters enough sense to calm herself, though. She nods and takes a deep breath.
"I want you," she says in her own quiet voice, lays her head against his chest, and feels his arms around her shoulders. She doesn't want him to let her go—ever—and her declaration was about so much more than wanting him the way she had him last night.
"Let me take you home," he says, and she hopes his declaration is about more than the ferry and his car.
The ferry ride back to Port Angeles is filled with handholding—nothing more because of the family of four who is sitting across from them. Bella is momentarily content with Edward's lips on her knuckles from time to time, and is kept warm by memories of his hands in her hair and on her back, fingers gripping her hips.
The sun is setting as they pull into the parking area behind the house that Bella shares with her roommates. She's thankful that Jacob's bike is gone and it doesn't appear that anyone is in the kitchen since the lights are out. At this point, she doesn't really care if she pisses anyone off; she just wants to get Edward into her room as soon as possible.
"Do you want to come in for a beer or something?"
"Or something," he says, switching off the engine, without missing a beat. He quickly glances her way before climbing out of the car and around to the other side. By the time Bella's out of the passenger side, he's there holding the door, ready to close it behind her.
He follows her up to the back entrance toward the house. She's hyperaware of his presence and his palpable desire, but she doesn't feel self-conscious about it. It's like their craving for each other is forging a bond she never believed existed.
They move quietly inside the house and Bella closes the door then leads Edward to her bedroom. The faint light of the setting sun doesn't do much to brighten her room, so she bends to switch on the lamp that sits on her low bedside table. She turns her head to find Edward standing in the center of her room, hands in his jeans pockets, watching her closely.
Bella stands up straight and faces him. She thinks about how much her life has changed in a day. Edward Cullen is willing and welcome to be a guest in her bedroom. She isn't afraid of him or what anyone will think when they find out—and she knows that people will find out—which is probably one of the most unusual things about her situation with Edward.
"Want a beer?" she asks again, now that they're inside the house and she has him right where she wants him.
He looks thoughtful when he hesitates before answering. His brow is furrowed and he nods, looking around at his surroundings.
"'Kay," she says, crossing the room toward the door to the hallway and kitchen. "Have a seat. I'll be right back."
Bella's glad to find a few "community" beers left in the fridge next to the Cokes she found that morning. She knows how much worse Jacob's reaction to this new development would be if she were to serve his precious Dead Guy Ale, boldly marked with "JB", to a Cullen.
She goes back to her bedroom and finds Edward sitting on the edge of her bed, where she joins him and hands him an opened bottle of beer.
"Thanks," he says with a smile, then tilts the mouth of the beer toward her for a small, silent toast. In her head Bella says "to us," but she doesn't say it out loud because she thinks it might be a super cheesy thing to say and because she doesn't want to jinx anything.
"This is good," Edward says after taking a sip. He examines the label of the bottle and Bella wonders if he really likes the beer or if he's just stalling. She wants him to kiss her again like he did at the zoo. Her body is still buzzing from the memory of the way he touched her the night before and she can feel the faint tightening between her legs every time he licks his lips.
He takes another sip then absently sets the beer on the small table beside her bed. He looks her in the eye and she's suddenly aware that she's been staring at him, waiting. When he takes the bottle from her hand, her fingers ache from gripping the cold bottle so tightly in anticipation. He turns his back to her for just a second to set her bottle next to his, but Bella can't wait any longer; she reaches out and runs her hand down his back over the soft fabric of his sea blue button down shirt.
Edward's smile is brilliant when he faces her again. He pulls his bottom lip into his smile and pulls her close to kiss her mouth. His fingers thread through her dark, unruly hair, and he cradles her head in his palm. He grips her knee with his other hand and she takes that as a sign that she should climb astride him.
Lips and teeth kiss and nip, hands explore, clothes hit the ground, hips press and rub. The tightness between her legs is getting unbearable. Mercifully, Edward dips a hand between her legs and uses his fingers to relieve a little bit of that tension. When he shifts next to her, she feels that he's hard, and just right fucking there, and then he starts to talk.
"What do you want, Bella?"
She wants him to roll her over and to be on top of her and inside her. She wants him to spread her legs open wide and fuck her hard like he did the second time the night before. She wants to come. But she doesn't know if he's trying to be accommodating or to talk dirty, so she doesn't say anything.
Instead, she rolls him to his back and kisses his neck and chest and ribs. She twirls her fingers through the soft, smattering of hair covering his chest and the trail that leads to his cock. Finally, she settles between his legs and deftly takes him in her hands.
"That's what you want?" he says, low and quiet, and then he sighs happily and relaxes back into the pillows.
She kisses and caresses him in all the spots she knows that guys like. She listens to him groan, as she works him, confirming that she's skilled and he likes her mouth on him. Then he says as much.
"Feels so good." He palms the base of her skull then tightens his fingers around a handful of mahogany, tugging at the root, and she opens her throat to take him further inside. "Goddamn."
Edward uses his leverage to deliberately thrust up into her mouth. He holds her head in one hand and reaches for her free hand with the other. Bella doesn't remember the last time she gave a blowjob to someone who seemed so aware of her and thrilled at the same time. He's enjoying every fucking second of this to its fullest extent, but he's with her, too. He's wrapped his fingers around her shoulder and is holding her free hand in his as he comes down her throat.
After a few brief minutes of shifting bodies and catching breath, Bella lets him pull her up until they're face-to-face. He takes her head in his hands and kisses her long and deep. Bella wonders if he likes the taste of himself on her lips and tongue. The thought of him noticing it and enjoying it turns her on that much more.
"You never did tell me what you want, Bella," he says. "I could guess, and I'm pretty sure I'd guess right, but I wanna hear you say it."
She doesn't whimper exactly, but she makes a not-so-dignified sound that definitely indicates how badly she wants him to fuck her. She also realizes that she's basically humping his leg like a dog in heat, but she doesn't care anymore. She knows she has to be getting him wet where she's rubbing against his leg, but she doesn't care about that either. Still, she can't say it.
"Okay, fine, I'll guess," he says.
It's his turn to roll her to her back. He holds her hands above her head, twisting their fingers together while he scatters wet, lazy kisses down her neck and over her chest. He pays special attention to her tight, pink nipples with his tongue and teeth. He follows a similar path that she followed before, but he's a little more aggressive, a little more insistent with his hands, especially when he pushes her knees wide open and drops his head between her legs to lick her.
Bella moans and whispers dirty words, her voice hoarse from the late night and little sleep and the sounds she's made, and is still making, as a result of what he does to her. Her hands clutch the cotton sheets tightly while her mind gets lost in the sensation of his tongue against her and inside her—over and over—while his fingers bruise the skin around the backs of her knees and thighs.
If she could lie still, his grip wouldn't feel so demanding and probably wouldn't leave marks. But she decides she likes the marks after all, even when he releases one of her knees to slip a finger inside her and twist.
No, she can't lie still, and she sure as hell isn't going to pretend she isn't about to come out of her skin.
She rasps out something appropriately profane and her whole body feels like shattered glass, tiny, shimmering shards spread out across the sheets. His warm hands and fingers play across her skin. He kisses her and pulls her close. The last thing Bella acknowledges is Edward pulling her covers up and around them both as he settles into her side.
When she wakes up, she's alone in her own bed. She's disoriented and disappointed. She doesn't normally invite overnight guests, so she doesn't really know what she's supposed to expect, but the past two nights with Edward were uncommon to say the least. She briefly wonders if she dreamt it all, but the ache between her legs tells her otherwise.
Bella climbs out of bed and shuffles to the bathroom. She rationalizes that she would actually be more surprised if he were still there. He probably has a million things to do; he's med school bound, after all. He'll be leaving for good soon, headed to Seattle, while she stays here and works for the Newtons.
She turns the shower on hot and strips out of her t-shirt and underwear, then climbs under the spray of water. She thinks about waking up in the middle of the night to Edward's lips at her throat. She smoothes body wash over her skin, as she recalls him rolling her to her stomach and straddling her thighs. He was so hard when he slipped inside her that she can almost still feel him—one hand on her hip and the other clasped with hers beside her head.
When she's done with her shower and the water is off, she hears the faint hum of voices from the kitchen. It hits her then that she's going to have to admit to her roommates, who she tried to convince yesterday that Edward is such a great guy, that he's now gone—not that it's any of their business, really. She considers lying if they ask if he spent the night then bailed this morning, but she decides this new leaf she's turned over comes with being open and honest with her roommates, not just herself.
Bella's combing her fingers through her wet hair as she rounds the corner to the kitchen. She identifies several familiar voices: Mike's, Jess's, Angela's, Ben's, and Edward's. She stops short in the hallway and listens for a second longer, because she wants to confirm that she's hearing the same sweet voice that has said so many kind and gentle and dirty things to her.
When she enters the room, her face is hot and she feels light-headed. She sees Edward at the stove, cooking and laughing at something Jessica is telling everyone. Then all eyes are on her.
"Oh, hey, Bella," Jessica says. "I was just telling Edward, if he wants to get on Leah's good side—which anyone in their right mind would want to do—pancakes are a good start; she's such a carb whore."
Edward is looking at Bella, an amused but timid smile lighting his face. Bella smiles back, but hers is less timid. He looks relieved and straightens his shoulders. When Bella tears her eyes away from him long enough to observe her roommates, they're all watching this interaction in utter fascination.
"Pancakes sound great," Bella says. "I'm starving."
"I bet," Jessica says with a smirk, and Angela throws her an admonishing glare.
Bella isn't nearly as ashamed as she probably should be that her roommates—likely all of them—must have heard her and Edward having sex. Evidently her voice isn't as hoarse as she thought it was.
"So, what's this special recipe, Cullen?" Mike gallantly changes the subject as he pulls Jessica down to sit in a chair next to him.
"Oatmeal," Edward replies. "It's from my grandma on my mom's side."
Edward turns his attention to Bella, who has gravitated toward him and is alternately eyeing the coffee maker and the sliver of skin exposed between the bottom of his T-shirt and the waist of his low-slung jeans. She doesn't want to be obvious about it, but even in a room full of people, she wants to be close to him—even more now that she knows he didn't fuck and run.
"Did you go to the store?" she asks quietly.
He side-eyes her and nods in answer, as he tends to the pancakes on the griddle. He flips them then looks back at her, and she can see herself in his eyes; she's desperate to be kissed.
"I made some coffee, too." He gestures toward the half-full carafe. "Grab a cup. I can make more."
"Wow, Edward, you need to come over more often," Angela says to him, but her bright smile is focused on Bella. "I usually have a smoothie for breakfast."
"If that," Ben adds teasingly, squeezing Angela's hand. "You're always so busy, babe."
Jessica sips her coffee and rolls her eyes toward the back of her head in pleasure. "Mmm, seriously, Edward—best coffee ever. Is there anything you can't do well?"
Mike shoots Jessica a look that says are you kidding me? and Bella tries not to laugh out loud at Jessica's flirtation.
"What?" Jessica asks Mike, oblivious, but Mike doesn't stay mad for long.
The next 15 minutes flow by easily, everyone enjoying their breakfast and coffee, chatting amiably, until Leah drags herself and Siobhan into the kitchen. Bella tenses and Angela lays a calming hand on her knee under the table.
"Hey," Jessica takes the lead, greeting Leah and her girlfriend with a neutral expression on her face. "Have some pancakes, Lee. They're oatmeal and there's real maple syrup. Can't complain about that!"
Leah scowls at Jessica's chipper attitude and makes her way toward the coffee. Bella instinctively scoots her chair closer to Edward. When Leah turns to face the group at the table, everyone in the room can feel the chill.
"What…?" Leah stands at the edge of the table with her jaw hanging open, staring at Edward.
Bella remembers the time she talked to Leah about the Cullens and Leah's similar feeling as her own—that they should just make peace, already. But Leah also felt that "family is family," and that the Cullens were not family. Bella sits at the table unsure whether or not Leah will sit and drink her coffee or throw it at Edward's head.
Edward evenly meets Leah's gaze, as she seems to burn a hole through him with her eyes. Then Siobhan joins Leah with her own cup of coffee, lays a gentle hand on Leah's shoulder, and encourages her to sit at the large kitchen table.
"This looks amazing," Siobhan says, grabbing an unused plate from the center of the table and piling it with pancakes, butter, and syrup. She sets the plate between herself and Leah and digs in, moaning at the first bite.
"Damn, who made breakfast?" Siobhan asks around a mouthful of food.
"Edward," Mike answers, nodding toward the one person in the room that Siobhan doesn't know, then he pushes away from the table to refill his coffee. "He made the coffee, too. I mean, come on, Shiv, who the hell else in this room do you think would take the time to make pancakes?"
"Good point," Siobhan laughs. "Well, thank you, Edward. And nice to not-quite meet you."
Edward grins and returns the nicety. Bella notices that Leah has stopped glaring at Edward; instead, she's focused on her pancakes.
The confrontation with Jacob didn't go as smoothly as that first morning in the kitchen. Voices were raised and names were called, and Jacob almost hit Edward before Embry stepped in and stopped him.
Then Bella and Edward took a road trip to Forks after they'd been dating for about a month. The Cullens made an elaborate Italian meal, thinking Bella was Italian, but, misunderstanding of her heritage aside, they were great company and the food was delicious. Bella and Edward went to the diner the next night with Bella's dad, who Edward found to be "taciturn and intimidating, but a really great guy." Bella rolled her eyes a lot during the trip.
When Bella told Edward that she wouldn't blame him if he didn't want to put up with Jacob and her dad just for her, he smiled and said, "I'm not going anywhere."
Several weeks later, Edward and Bella are still learning each other in every way possible. They argue about her defeatist attitude and him always wanting to do everything for her. They have their differences and they learn something new everyday.
When Edward starts making final plans to head to Seattle for med school, Bella contemplates telling him about the agreement she had with the Newtons to work from home whenever she wants. She loves the way things are progressing, but still doesn't know how far is too far? Will he get sick of me? Does he want something new? Maybe I should give him some space.
"Bella, I want you to come with me," he says.
They're lying face up, watching the clouds, in the hammock on the deck she shares with her friends. It's a Sunday afternoon and they were just discussing dinner with Mike and Jessica. Then her roommates headed inside to take stock of the kitchen. Bella considers making a joke about him wanting her to go to the store with him, but she realizes that he's serious and this is serious and oh, my god…
"Come with you to Seattle?" she asks, her heart rate speeding up and her skin tingling.
Edward shifts to his side to face her. "Yeah," he says. "You can work remotely, can't you? I mean… Mike said you had a deal worked out with his parents?"
Bella nods in elated agreement. "I do," she says.
Edward's face lights up with that smile that never ceases to amaze Bella with the effect it has on every cell in her body. And then he kisses her and moves until she's on her back and he's settled between her legs and there isn't anywhere else to go.