|The Silver Lining
Author: kimpy PM
Divorced Bella meets widowed Edward one afternoon in a Laundromat, and an instant attraction results. When you meet your soulmate after your spouse dies, do you allow yourself fall in love again? Written for Litljazzbird.Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Friendship - Edward & Bella - Chapters: 13 - Words: 77,671 - Reviews: 854 - Favs: 500 - Follows: 706 - Updated: 03-10-13 - Published: 08-07-10 - id: 6215810
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
THE SILVER LINING
A/N: This is a FGB one-shot written for Litljazzbird. Much thanks for her generous donation to the cause.
This story is a departure from most you will see on FF. Bella and Edward meet when they are much older. I ask that you give the story a respectful try, because it's different, but still very special. I thank Litljazzbird for the chance to write something so unique and challenging.
The Water for Elephants reference is for Lolashoes and Bsmog, who insisted I read it. I owe them my eternal gratitude for introducing it to me.
Big, enormous, fluffy heart thanks to ladyeire72 for pre-reading this story and letting me know I was on track. Without her guidance, I was ready to scrap this entire piece at one point, but she encouraged me to persevere.
Thank you to my beta, TFX, for always helping me to see the silver lining.
My New Year's resolution is to learn how to do some things for myself. I've decided to simplify my life, trying not to rely on others. As I sit here in the Laundromat, trying to figure out how much soap to use, I question my judgment on this.
It's been a few years since cancer claimed my wife's life. While I loved her, and she was the mother of my children, it still surprises me that I don't really miss her presence in my daily routine. It isn't as though I wanted her gone, of course, but my response to her absence makes it clear how separate our lives had become by the time she was gone. We had our different worlds: mine, the OR, hers, at home. We were comfortable with each other, but if I'm completely honest with myself, Jessica was never the passionate love of my life. I'd always hoped to find that, but by the time I met Jess, I was ready to settle down. I didn't know that in choosing to settle down, I was settling for less than I really wanted.
A giggle interrupts my thoughts. I turn around to see a slender woman with long silver hair braided in the back. She's wearing a pair of jean shorts and a tie-dye shirt, and if it weren't for the gray in her hair, I would've assumed she was in her early 50s. She looks so carefree and comfortable. I find the corner of my mouth turning up in a grin, because I realize that she's giggling at me.
"It isn't complex math, you know," she says between giggles.
"I beg your pardon?"
"The amount of soap to use. Just measure it using the lid from the laundry detergent."
I look at the bottle in my hands, and see that she's right.
"Oh, thank you for that. I was a little concerned about how to figure it all out."
"You don't know how to do laundry, at your age?"
"I wanted to prove to myself you're never too old to learn new things."
"Amen to that; the day I stop learning is the day I die."
"What a refreshing philosophy."
I take this woman in; she's the most vibrant person I've ever seen. It's been a long time since I've allowed my mind to wander in the realm of attraction, but I can't help myself. I've never met anyone like her.
It takes a moment to register that I haven't actually met her yet. I reach out my hand to her. "Edward Cullen. Pleased to make your acquaintance."
She looks at my outstretched hand, and a devilish grin blooms on her face. She grabs it, but doesn't shake it. She forms my hand into a fist, then bumps our hands together.
There are some wisps of errant hair that fall out of her braid, framing her face. I have a strong inclination to tuck them behind her ear.
"You do know that you have to separate your clothes, right?"
"Uh, yes?" I answer, sounding as uncertain as I am.
Her delightful giggles return. "Darks and like colors go together. Whites on their own."
Huh. I had been planning on throwing it all in together. I've been too busy watching her face to focus on what I've been doing with my laundry, lost in her happy, easy attitude.
Suddenly, I notice that this entire time, she's been folding her clothes. I glance down at her clothing, and that's when I see them.
She's sorting a stack of thongs. THONGS.
Even when she was younger, Jessica never wore lingerie. By the time we had children, she had switched over to old lady briefs. Every time I gave her a gift of beautiful lingerie, she laughed at me. She told me that mothers had no business being sexy.
Just the thought of a thong on Bella's beautiful body is enough to make me hard. I'm amazed at my ability to be turned on so quickly and easily by this utterly unique, beautiful woman. I haven't been so turned on in decades, and it feels damn good and reassuring. The plumbing definitely still works.
"Yoohoo! Earth to Edward!" Bella is waving her hand in front of my face. "You having a moment, there?"
"No, just a pleasant daydream. I'm sorry."
"Would you like some help? We could put our laundry together, so we can make a full load."
"You'd do that for me?"
She shrugs her shoulders. "Well sure, why wouldn't I?"
She walks over to me carrying her laundry basket. It's filled with wet laundry, but the towels are still covered in dirt.
"Are you going to wash those again?"
"Hmm? No, this is clean."
"But it still looks dirty."
She glances at her laundry, studying it. Then she giggles. "Ohhh, I get it. No, these are my rags. I use it for clean up when I paint."
I'm still confused; how often would she need to paint her house? Plus, isn't she a little old to be doing that all by herself? "Paint?"
"Yes, I'm an artist. I teach classes at the Port Angeles Senior Center."
As she reaches over to put my whites into a washing machine, I notice her hands. She wears a ring on her right pointer finger, but nothing on her ring finger. Either hand.
"Okay, so you see this? I'm putting your whites together. You can wash them at a higher water temperature. The washer is only about half full, so you need to adjust the water level, like this," she demonstrates for me. "Warm water, medium load. Then add your cup of laundry detergent," she looks over at me, expectantly.
"Oh, you mean right now?"
"Yes, that's right, before the washer starts agitating the load."
I pour the detergent into the cup, then pour it into a hole in the middle of the blade.
"NO!" She says aloud. She lifts the cup with the detergent out then puts it into the stream of water pouring into the washing machine. "I didn't mean for that to be so brusque. The cup you just used is for softener. For the detergent, you just pour it in the water, directly over the clothing."
"Sorry. It seemed like that's where it should go."
"You don't need to apologize about it," she says, smiling and shaking her head in amusement. "It's not like you've done this before."
"I don't like to make mistakes," I reply. I'm not sure why I admit this to her, since I am usually a very private person.
"Mistakes are the way we improve ourselves, Edward," she says, her manner so gentle and reassuring. "No one can get everything right the first time they try. I'd be disappointed if you didn't need my help."
I catch myself smiling at this remarkable creature. She has such a zest for life, and it's incredibly attractive. For the first time in years, I find myself wanting to know more about a woman. In fact, I want to know everything I possibly can.
"Uh, this might sound a little forward, but would you like to go have a cup of coffee with me?"
"Hmm. I'd love to, but we really can't leave until the stuff in the dryer is complete. There are sneaky little fuckers who will come in and take your clothes out while they're still wet, and replace it with their own, so they don't have to pay. How about once the dryers are done, we put the laundry in our cars and head to have coffee then?"
"Sneaky little fuckers, huh?" I rarely curse, but for some reason, it feels exciting and naughty to do it with Bella.
"Well, for lack of a better word, yes."
"All right then, sneaky little fuckers be damned. They've met their match."
Bella closes the lid to the washing machine, and picks up a book of crossword puzzles. She puts on a pair of headphones and selects some songs from her iPod. I've never gotten used to using those things; I just use my CD player at home. I pull out the most recent New England Journal of Medicine and start to read.
As we sit here in silence, side-by-side, there isn't a trace of awkwardness. Bella is absorbed in her puzzle, but I can tell she is still aware of my presence next to her. If it had been Jessica next to me, she would have been talking my ear off, not letting me have a moment of quiet in which to read. She always complained about my lack of conversational skills, but I'm a firm believer in waiting to speak until you have something of worth to communicate. What I have with Bella is companionable silence, and it feels… just right.
I feel her nudge me, and I look up at her. She has taken off her headphones.
"What is a four letter word for needle case? It starts with an 'E.' I know what it is, I just can't get it from my brain to my tongue."
I look at her for a moment, trying to think of an answer. This happens to me all the time—I know vaguely what the word is, but I am unable to reproduce it. The answer chooses that moment to pop into my head.
"Yes! Etui! Ugh, that was driving me nuts! Thank you for that."
She replaces her headphones and goes back to her puzzle. She starts to hum along to the music, unaware that she's doing it out loud. She's utterly endearing.
When the alarm for the washer sounds, she removes the headphones and walks over to the machine. I follow right behind her. That's when I take a moment to look at her bottom. Her shorts fit her perfectly, showing off a rather shapely derriere. I can't remember the last time I ogled a female, but I'm not making any apologies for my behavior. I want so badly to cup it, feel its weight under my hands. Bella turns around quickly, unexpectedly, catching me in the act. She merely smirks, saying nothing.
Once again, I feel compelled to make a comparison between Jessica and Bella. Jess would have rolled her eyes and called me a pervert. We were never sexual with each other outside of the bedroom, and even then, it was always a scheduled, once-a-week affair, if I was lucky. Jessica wasn't a bad person—she was a good partner in life, raised two wonderful children, and stood dutifully by my side at work events and parties. It dawns on me, however, that I was genuinely out of synch with her, and our marriage wasn't so much about love and passion, but rather commitment and friendship.
The sound of Bella clearing her throat brings me back into the moment.
"Did you want me to show you how to put this in the dryer, or were you just going to spend some more time daydreaming?" She has a sparkling smile on her face.
"Dryer. Please. I need to know how to defend myself against the sneaky little fuckers."
She lets out a loud, long snort of laughter, and I can't help but join her. She holds out her fist to me, like she did earlier, and this time, I bump mine against hers without any assistance.
"All right then. The dryer. Much easier than the washer. Take out all the clothes you are going to dry, and toss them in." She reaches out to toss her own wet clothing in the dryer, and I do the same.
"Do you have dryer sheets with you?"
"Uh, what exactly is a dryer sheet?"
"You know, like Bounce?"
I have no idea what she is trying to say. She shakes her head at me, smiling once again. I love the fact that she spends so much of her time smiling.
She pulls out a small box, removing some kind of white fabric sheet, and shows it to me.
"This is a dryer sheet," she explains, waving it in the air like a handkerchief. "You use it to remove static cling from your laundry, and to make it softer. I encourage you to always use them."
She tosses the sheet into the dryer while I finish adding my wet clothes. I shut the door, and turn to her.
"All you have to do is turn the dial for the amount of time you want the clothes to dry. This one has an automatic sensor, so it will buzz once everything is dry. Then, simply hit the 'start' button, and you're good to go."
"Bella, thank you so much for doing all this. Taking the time to show an old man a new trick."
"Old man? What are you talking about? Where?"
I laugh at her attempt to make a joke. "Old enough to be retired."
"Naw, we're not old; our parents are old. 60s is the new middle age, isn't it?"
"Well, you certainly don't look old enough to be in your 60s."
"Oh, Edward, flattery will get you everywhere."
"I'm not a flatterer, I just call it like I see it."
"Yeah, right. You're a silverfox and you know it. I bet this is part of your routine, dazzling women in the Laundromat so they'll do your laundry for you."
"Yeah, you know, a sexy older guy who has a sprinkling of gray hair. You know how to work it."
I laugh out loud at the absurdity of her statement. "That's just ridiculous. I've never been known as a sexy guy, believe me."
"Uh-huh, right. Well, even if you weren't aware of it, the women you dazzle sure are."
"I don't care about other women—do I dazzle you?"
Her confident smile falters a little bit, but I'm unsure as to why. She answers me in a quiet voice. "Yes, in fact, you do."
"Well then, that's all that matters."
I see a beautiful flush cross her cheeks, and I realize that she is blushing. The last thing I want to do is make her embarrassed, but she is stunningly beautiful in that moment. Without thinking, I reach out and touch her cheek. She gives me a sad smile, and puts her hand over mine, allowing me to continue holding her.
"I should probably get back to my crossword puzzle," she sounds uncomfortable.
"And I my NEJM."
"What's an NEJM?"
"It's the abbreviation doctors use for New England Journal of Medicine. It's like the gold standard of medical journals."
"I thought you were retired?"
"I am, but I still like to keep up. I was a trauma surgeon for more than 35 years—it isn't like you stop being a surgeon, even if you don't spend your days in the OR."
"I can totally see you as a doctor, now that you mention it."
"It's the hands, isn't it?" I tease, wiggling my fingers in front of her. I watch as her eyes get big, and she focuses on my hands.
"It's nothing, you just have such beautiful hands," she says then looks away quickly. She clears her throat. "Artists notice that kind of stuff."
We pick up our reading, and return to our companionable silence until the dryer alarm sounds. We separate mine from hers, fold it, and place it in our cars.
She looks at me, unsure. "Are we still going to get coffee?"
"I'd be offended and hurt if you didn't! It's the least I can do after all your help in there. You even saved me from the clutches of the sneaky little fuckers," I say, laughing.
"Well, that's true, I did. Lead the way, kind sir."
"Where would you like to go?"
"There's a local coffee house a few blocks up the street. Do you mind walking over there?"
With that, we walk casually, comfortably over to the coffee house.
We sit down with our cups of coffee and look across the table at one another. The easy chemistry of the Laundromat is gone, and I suddenly feel awkward, like I'm on a first date.
"So, did you grow up here, Edward?"
"No, I grew up in Chicago. I went to Northwestern for my undergrad and med school then moved to Seattle for my surgical residency. You?"
"My father was the chief of police in a small town called Forks, Washington. I went to U Dub and majored in art, got married, then moved to Port Angeles. I've been here for years."
"You were married?"
"Yes, I married my high school boyfriend. How about you?"
"I was married, too. My wife was from Washington."
"Did you get divorced?"
"Ah, no, she died from inoperable brain cancer a little more than three years ago."
"Oh, Edward, I'm so sorry. That must have been an awful ordeal, for both of you."
"I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy."
She gently reaches out and takes my hand into hers, soothing me with her touch. It's such a kind and intimate gesture, and it instantly makes me feel better.
"You aren't wearing a wedding ring…" I mention.
"You noticed that, did you? What a sneaky dog you are!"
"Well, when you don't wear one yourself, you notice it when other people don't."
"True enough. I've been divorced for about 15 years."
"I'm sorry. Was it an unpleasant break up, if I may ask?"
"Sure you can ask; I don't have many secrets, even if I'm not one to broadcast. We're still friends."
"Yeah. Our kids were still in high school when we separated."
"Ours were grown and married by the time Jessica passed away. They had a really hard time with it."
"It's never easy to let go of a parent, no matter how conflicted a relationship might be."
"It's strange, but it was almost harder for them than it was for me."
"Really? You two weren't close?"
"No, we were… it's just hard to explain. It's like we began to lead separate lives by the time our kids were older. We still loved each other, but I was so busy with my work life, and she was busy with the kids' lives. There wasn't much passion, if you know what I mean."
"Oh yes, I get it. It's so easy to fall into a pattern, then into a rut, and then… you end up being two people who happen to live in the same house."
"Exactly! That's what we were. No animosity, but almost some indifference."
"I understand. When you're 21, things look so different. You have your entire life ahead of you, and you assume people are who they are. The problem is, people change."
"Is that how it was for you?"
"It was a little more complicated than that. You know, sometimes people promise to love you forever, but that's a long time. I think Jake meant well, but he didn't know he'd fall out of love with me. When he met his co-worker Vanessa, she instantly became the center of his world. It was like suddenly his life became tethered to hers in a way the two of us never connected. When I saw it happen—saw the two of them together—I realized that she was the one meant for him. To the best of my knowledge, Jake never once cheated on me, which made it all easier. I released him because I loved him, and I wanted him to be happy. They've been together for 15 years now."
"How could you possibly do that? I would have been livid. I don't think I could have been so rational about it."
"Look, I'm a pragmatist. I could see what the writing on the wall. He was never disrespectful to me. I could either accept it and move forward with my own life, or I could wallow in misery. Given the choice, I would always choose to be happy on my own terms. You never know what life is going to drop in your lap."
Bella is completely and totally a creature from another planet. I've never known anyone—female or male—who could be so unselfish. How could her husband have been so stupid as to not see what a beautiful gem he had right in front of him? I choose not to answer that question, and to simply be grateful that this is the way her life played out, or I would never have had the chance to meet her.
Bella glances down at her watch, and a look of panic washes over her face.
"Oh, shit! I'm supposed to be babysitting tonight! I totally lost track of time."
"You have to go?"
"Yes, I'm afraid I do. It was such serendipity to have bumped into you today, Edward. You really brightened my day."
"The feeling is absolutely mutual."
"Do you…" she pauses.
"Aw hell, I'm just going to say it. Do you want to exchange phone numbers? I feel like I want to talk to you again. Is that bad?"
"I didn't even know how to go about asking you. Thank you for taking the initiative. I haven't had to do this sort of thing for decades, so I'm a little out of practice."
"Here, just type your phone number into my cell, and I'll do the same with yours. That will be easiest," she says, handing me her cell phone.
"Um, my cell phone is at home."
"Oh, you just forgot it today, huh?"
"No, I barely use it at all. I'm not a big phone person. Never have been."
"Hmm. Well, I don't have a landline anymore, which complicates things. Should I just write the number down for you?"
"If you don't mind, that would be perfect."
She scribbles her number onto a post-it note then hands it to me.
"Thank you, for this. I've never met anyone quite like you before."
"Well, there have clearly been no silverfoxes in my life, that's for certain!"
We both stand up, and Bella looks at me for a moment as if she is sizing me up. She takes a step forward and embraces me. I'm completely unprepared for the contact.
"Relax, Edward, it's just a friendly hug. I'm not going to accost you."
I didn't realize that I must have been standing there stiffly. I'd hate for her to think I have no interest in touching her. Prompted, I quickly return the hug.
"That's more like it," she says softly.
Before I realize what has happened, she is gone, and my arms feel her loss acutely.
When I get home, the first thing I do is place the post-it note with Bella's phone number on it next to the phone. I can't wait to call her, but part of me is sick with anxiety over doing so.
I sit down and review exactly what took place today. In a way, I feel like I'm a kid again, worrying over a high school crush. Bella has evoked feelings in me I didn't know existed. It isn't just that she's beautiful, although she is. There is somehow more than lust at play here. It's as though we have this invisible connection that became evident the moment we saw one another. I wouldn't begin to presume that she feels the same way, but I feel like the center of my universe shifted. In fact, I think I'm going through the same thing her ex-husband did. How did she describe it again?
Yes, that's it—tethered. I'm completely scared to death. I'm not entirely sure I can do this. I've become used to living alone, to the routine of my life. Do I really want to open it up to someone else? To worry over the fear of rejection? Do I even want to think about becoming physically intimate again? It has literally been years since I've had sex, and I cannot imagine how awkward it could be to try that again. It isn't as though I have a lot of experience. God, would I even know what to do? I still beat off on the regular, but adding another person to that equation makes me a little uncomfortable.
As usual, I put the cart before the horse, worrying about all the possibilities. I haven't even been on a date with her, and I'm anxious about having sex. I don't even know if she'd go on a date with me! She did give me her phone number, but perhaps she felt sorry for me and was simply being nice. That's definitely a possibility.
I plant seeds of doubt. For seven days, the post-it note glares at me every time I walk by. It taunts me, reminding me that I have no idea of what to do. I'm very unused to the feeling of being out of control, and it scares the crap out of me. With each passing day, I become more anxious and less certain that I will ever dial her number.
I start to have erotic dreams, which hasn't happened in years. Bella is always the featured star. I awaken most mornings with a hard on, which I take care of in the shower. Although my dick doesn't get as hard as it did when I was younger, and it takes me a little longer to achieve a release, I still feel like an adolescent. I can't believe what is happening to me, but I'm actually a little thrilled to learn that my ability to be sexually attracted to someone is alive and well.
I pick up the phone several times, fully intending to call her, but I can't do it. My fingers even start to dial her number, but they always stop before the end. I end up putting the phone back into its receiver, determined to rehearse what I want to say. Inevitably, the rehearsal doesn't go well then I heave a deep sigh of resignation and decide to try again tomorrow.
Who am I trying to fool? I'm way too old for this dating thing.
Two weeks after we first met, it is time to do laundry again. I put it off until the last possible moment, scared stiff I'd see Bella again. Literally. It isn't that I don't want to see her—I positively crave seeing her again—it's just that I have no excuse for not calling her, except for the fact that I'm a total pussy. It kills me to know that I might have hurt her feelings because of my inaction, or that she might be questioning herself because of me.
The last time I did laundry, I went home and wrote up directions so I would know what to do the next time. I even went out and bought dryer sheets, since Bella highly recommended using them. I gather all my laundry supplies, load them into the basket, and set off for the Laundromat, ardently hoping Bella would be nowhere in sight. I simply can't put off the inevitable anymore, as the huge pile of laundry clearly illustrates.
When I walk into the Laundromat, I'm the only person there. No Bella. No sneaky little fuckers (I laugh to myself when I remember the tone of Bella's voice as she said that). I'm incredibly relieved, yet somewhat disappointed. I want to see Bella, but then again, I don't.
I load my clothes into separate washing machines then settle back to read a book I brought with me. Every little movement I see from the large windows at the front of the Laundromat distracts me. I'm completely on edge, my stomach a bundle of nerves. I keep glancing at my watch nervously. I tap my foot on the ground. I roll my eyes at myself.
I heave a huge sigh and look up, noticing something in my peripheral vision.
Bella in those black stretchy pants women wear for yoga and a skimpy, close fitting, sleeveless shirt.
I watch her approach, and I feel like a kid who needs to be scolded by his parents for looking directly at the sun during an eclipse. You know you shouldn't do it, but you simply cannot look away. I feel my dick stir in my pants in response to her, and I quickly adjust myself.
She looks as fresh and beautiful as I remember. Her whole body beams out happy contentment, and you can just see her body confidence oozing from every pore. It isn't as though she has a perfect figure—we're both past our prime, after all—but she has absolutely no qualms about how she looks, and it is completely refreshing.
Now that I think about it, I don't know if I've ever met a woman who was satisfied with the way she looks before. It seems as though they all want to hide, or condemn, their bodies, when all men want is for them to play up their assets. I spent years with Jessica, who was unhappy with her figure even before she had children, constantly devising ways to hide herself. She wore bland, shapeless clothes from Land's End, which only made her look even older and dowdier than she was. I cannot imagine Bella in Jessica's clothing. It's akin to blasphemy.
Suddenly, our eyes lock on to each other, and my inner musings are stopped short.
Then, the unexpected happens. She smiles at me, as though she's greeting a long lost friend.
"Edward!" she beams as she opens the door. She looks genuinely pleased to see me.
"Hello, Bella," I manage to reply, confused by her warm response.
"I was just thinking of you!"
"Yes, I was hoping you would be here. You were such an interesting person to talk to."
I blurt it all out before I have a chance to stop myself. It's plainly obvious how anxious I am.
"I'm so sorry I never called you, Bella. I didn't know what to say, and the longer I waited, the worse it was."
She smiles at me again. Smiles. I am the asshole who didn't call her when I said I would, and yet, she smiles.
"You're so funny! Don't you remember? You told me you weren't much of a phone person. I simply assumed you didn't have anything you wanted to say to me. It wasn't as though you were obligated to call me, you know."
Who is this lovely creature, and what type of alien is she? A woman who isn't upset because you don't call her on the phone? I didn't think that was possible. Not only that, she's happy all the time, and appears to be supremely comfortable in her skin, refusing to hide under baggy clothes.
Yes, alien. Definitely alien.
"Believe me, I wanted to. I didn't know what to say. I'm not very good at this sort of thing, and I'm extremely out of practice."
"You don't owe me any explanation."
"But that's just the thing—I do owe you an explanation."
"No, you don't."
"Yes, I do."
We stand there, looking at each other, grinning like the Cheshire Cat himself.
"I believe we are at an impasse, Mr. Edward."
"It's Cullen, actually."
"Oh, I like the sound of that. Edward Cullen."
She slaps my shoulder in response for my cheeky reply.
"What's your last name?"
"It was Black, but I changed it back to my maiden name—Swan."
"I prefer Swan," grateful she didn't have a reminder of her ex every time she wrote her name.
"Call me whatever you like, but we're still at an impasse."
"How about you let me spring for coffee again, once we've dealt with the sneaky little fuckers."
Her melodious laugh fills the room, and fills me with pure and utter joy. She should really think about bottling it, because it spreads instant happiness over anyone it touches.
"Yes, the sneaky little fuckers continue to be lurking, so we'd best wait until all our laundry is finished."
She walks over to the washing machines and starts her laundry. Once the loads have started, she brings her laundry basket over and sits down next to me. I notice some kind of rolled mat sticking out of her basket.
"What is that?" I ask, pointing at it.
"What, this?" she gestures. "It's a yoga mat. I just got done doing yoga at the Senior Center."
I did not need the image of Bella twisted and contorted in my head, because my dick notices things like that, and always wants to respond accordingly. I try to maintain a casual, conversational tone, even though I'm dying inside.
"Oh, you do yoga? That's very good for you."
"Yes, I like to keep active, and it's a great way to maintain flexibility."
Again, I do not need to think about Bella's flexibility, because I'm trying very hard to fight the erection that seems determined to tent my jeans.
"What's wrong, Edward? You look uncomfortable."
Why does she have to be so freaking perceptive?
"No, I'm fine. Please continue."
Except don't mention flexibility. Please, don't mention flexibility.
"You know, I always feel like I'm 25 in my head, but then I get out of bed in the morning and it hits me that I'm not. All those aches and pains. Yoga helps me with all that."
Okay, she didn't say flexibility, but she did mention a bed. Not helping.
"Yeah, I know what you mean. That's one of the reasons I quit being a trauma surgeon—my legs and back would complain vociferously the older I got."
"Your legs look just fine, but maybe you should start coming to yoga with me?"
I let out a loud chuckle. "I'm not very good at that kind of thing."
"Have you ever tried it?"
"Well then, maybe you should. Tell you what, I promise to have coffee with you if you promise to do yoga with me."
Hell, no! The last thing I need is to be next to Bella while she's… stretching.
"There's no way you'd have coffee with me otherwise?"
"What, you scared of yoga?"
"Well, the choice is yours. Coffee for yoga."
I sigh, realizing that while I may embarrass the hell out of myself, I really do want to see her again. Thus, I cave and accept this deal with the devil.
"All right. Coffee for yoga it is."
The alarm on her washer sounds, and she quickly gets up to tend to it. When she does, I watch her ass shamelessly. Such tight black pants. And no visible panty line. Oh, dear god, she's wearing a thong.
Not helping the arousal situation here... Okay, she might be wearing nothing at all. It's a possibility.
Wrong direction, buddy. Think old lady briefs.
I wonder to myself if perhaps she does that thong thing on purpose, to lure men into her lair. She's like a Black Widow, coaxing my dick to respond when really, it should be behaving itself. I'm old enough to know better.
Bella returns to her chair, pulling out a crossword puzzle. I return to my book, recognizing that the entire time I had been "reading" earlier, I had no recollection of what I'd read. I was so busy waiting for Bella, hoping that she would arrive and that I would see her again, I distracted myself from reading. I grin, shaking my head.
"What are you reading?" She asks, lifting the cover to see the title. "Water for Elephants? I've heard of that one. Is it good?"
"It's excellent, yes. I'm really enjoying it, because the main character is an old man in his 90s recollecting the story of when he was younger. I can relate to both the old and the young versions of him."
Especially the parts involving his penis.
"Hmm, I'll have to put that one on my reading list."
Once again, we sit in companionable silence, she with her crossword, I with my book, enjoying each other's physical presence. I hear the buzz from the dryer go off.
"Looks like we are victorious over the sneaky little fuckers once again."
She giggles. "Yep, we did good, captain."
We get our laundry folded and into our cars, and walk to the coffee house.
Somehow, our impromptu coffee date lasts for hours. Neither one of us have any other plans, so we just keep talking. It makes me realize that I can't sit and drink coffee all day like I used to, because the bladder gets a little overactive. Between the two of us, we make frequent restroom stops, and we start to laugh at each other every time one of us scoots out of our seat.
As our rendezvous winds down, Bella asks me to have dinner with her tonight. I very nearly decline, because I'm scared out of my wits that I might want to do something sexual with her, and I don't know if I'm ready for that. It's been so long since I've had sex, and I certainly don't want to disappoint her. I haven't had a new sexual partner since I was 28, for crying out loud. What if I can't please her? For that matter, how the hell do you even please a post-menopausal woman? It's not like I could use Jessica as an example, after all.
Being a doctor, I decide to do what doctors do: Research the possibilities. I fire up my computer, and do a Google search. What I find is of limited use.
How can there be such a dearth of information about pleasing an older woman? I mean, it isn't like we cash in our sexual beings card the minute we turn 50! I already know how much my own sexual responses have changed since I was in my 20s, but there has to be literature about women somewhere.
After a great deal of research (and, I admit, fantasies about the things I want to do to Bella), I don't have much, but it's at least a start.
Women take longer to build up to an orgasm after menopause.
Well, guys do, too, so I can deal with that.
Take things slow, and really focus on foreplay.
My mind strays again, imagining all the things I could do as foreplay, and my dick obeys my thoughts.
Use plenty of lubricant.
As if I'm going to try to have sex with Bella and not use lubricant. I could have told you that.
Use erotic toys and vibrators.
I feel my pulse increase when I read that sentence. Jessica was never anything but missionary position, once-a-week sex, until the once-a-week sex became once-a-month sex, then once-a-year sex, and then none-ever-nohow-noway sex. I've always wanted to play around with toys, but she wouldn't hear of it.
I bet Bella would love to play with toys.
My dick is suddenly very erect, and, unbelievably, I have to go relieve myself. I make a mental note to bring up the topic of toys with her.
It dawns on me that here I am, researching how to please Bella, and I have no idea if she even wants to be sexual with me. Am I being a typical guy, assuming that a woman's interest in me could only mean she wants to have sex with me? What if she just wants to be friends?
Then she just wants to be friends, and you deal with it. Either way, you are prepared for what happens.
Ugh, that means I need to bring condoms and lubricant with me, just in case? Then it seems like all I want is to get her into bed with me! Which is worse, assuming that we will have sex, or assuming that we won't?
The Boys Scouts actually know what they're talking about regarding preparation, so I decide to err on the side of being prepared. I stop by the pharmacy on my way to Bella's house, and feel slightly less anxious now that I'm prepared for anything.