|Below The Belt
Author: GemmaH PM
When Bella agrees to fill in at work for her friend Rosalie, the last thing she expects is to catch boxer, Edward Cullen's eye. Maybe leaving her comfort zone will have been worth it after all. My Tsunami fundraiser contribution.Rated: Fiction M - English - Edward & Bella - Chapters: 2 - Words: 14,399 - Reviews: 111 - Favs: 181 - Follows: 223 - Updated: 12-04-11 - Published: 06-29-11 - id: 7129515
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I decided to add another chapter to this story for the Fandom Against Famine fundraiser. There is also an awesome banner that I will add to my profile. Enjoy!
Author name: GemmaH
Title: Below the Belt Part 2
Story Summary: Encountering boxer Edward Cullen once more, threatens to bring a lot more drama into Bella's life than she ever anticipated.
This is a second part to my Boxerward one shot BelowtheBelt that can be found here: .net/s/7129515/1/Below_The_Belt
It was only ever intended to be a stand-alone piece, but seeing as almost every one of the forty nine reviews to date asked for more, I decided to see what I could do, and here is the result of those efforts :o). Hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: All things Twilight belong to Stephenie Meyer.
For some reason, ffn hasn't left gaps between the words where I've used italics. There were definitely spaces on the doc I uploaded it from and I have no idea how to correct this, so I can only apologise. It's the sort of thing that irritates the hell out of me when I'm reading things.
Below the Belt ~ Part Two
"No? What the hell, Rose? What do you mean 'no'?"
"I mean, no. I won't do it."
"But you owe me. I walked around in public almost naked for you; you can at least do this for me." I thrust the folded t-shirt at her, but she folded her arms across her chest and put her nose in the air indignantly.
"I'm sorry, Bella, but I don't mix with the guys. It just lands you in trouble one way or another."
"I'm asking you to hand this back for me, not sleep with the guy."
"Look, I'd love to help you out, I really would, but this is my golden rule, OK?"
I huffed in annoyance.
"Well how about you hand it to his trainer and ask him to pass it on?" Rosalie rolled her eyes.
"Emmett's a guy, Bella." I smirked, suddenly remembering something that Edward Cullen had told me.
"He's also a guy that has a crush on you." I raised my eyebrows and nodded knowingly at Rose. Her eyes widened and her cheeks turned pink. I had never seen her blush before in all the years I had known her; Rosalie was renowned for her cool nature.
"Who told you that? Did somebody say something?" She was definitely flustered. My mouth dropped open and a giggle escaped.
"Oh my God, you like him too!" I exclaimed.
"What? No!" And just like that, her cool façade returned, as though a screen had dropped. I was still smiling; I couldn't help myself.
"In answer to your question though, Edward told me."
"He did? What did he say, exactly?" She began to get excited again, but then pulled herself up short. "Not that I care of course. Emmett is still a guy. I'm not going there, no matter how hard he tries."
"That's a shame," I told her. "I think you two would look great together."
"Bella," she said, her voice a warning. "Hold up, this conversation of ours is just starting to register in my head. You have a t-shirt belonging to Edward Cullen that you want me to hand back, and now you're recounting a conversation that you had with him? Just what the hell happened last night?"
"I could tell you, Rosalie," I said, pausing for effect. "But—"
"You'd have to kill me?" she teased.
"No, I was going to say, butIdon'tgossip. It's my golden rule, OK?"
Five weeks later…
The door to the private gym creaked loudly as I pushed it open. Huh. No need for a bell to announce your arrival here, then.
"Hi! Can I help you?" the girl sitting behind the reception desk asked with a wide smile.
"I just need to leave this for Edward Cullen," I told her, placing the bag with his t-shirt in down on the counter. "Could you pass it to him for me?"
"Sure!" she replied cheerily, reaching for the bag and lifting it down behind the desk. I squinted up at the clock on the wall behind her. It was eight fifteen a.m. How the hell she managed to be in such high spirits at such an early hour was beyond me. It was at least ten a.m. and two coffees before I felt even half way to being that human. "Should I tell him who left it?" she asked.
"Bella," I replied. "But he may not remember me, it was a few weeks ago. Could you apologise to him for the delay?" She smiled again as she agreed, but didn't bother to question me further.
I turned to leave, but then spun back around on impulse.
"Hey, would it be ok for me to leave a few business cards out here?" The girl raised an eyebrow at me and smirked.
"Well as long as your business is nothing illegal, I can't see why not."
I smiled back as I reached into my bag and pulled a small bundle of the thick cards out that I carried everywhere with me.
"If only my life were that interesting," I said, as I set the stack down on the desk. "I'm a sports therapist."
"You are? That's great. Emmett was just talking last week about trying to affiliate with local related businesses.
"Emmett? Edward Cullen's trainer?" I recognised the unusual name right away.
"Yeah, Emmett McCarty. He owns this place." Hmm, more information to try and tempt Rosalie with.
"Aah. I had no idea. Well that sounds great. Do you have any cards that you'd like me to put out at my office?" I offered. The girl looked at me apologetically.
"Actually we're all out; but I'll drop some round when the new ones come in. Is that ok?"
"Sure, no problem. Well, it was good meeting you…" I paused as I realized that I didn't actually have a clue what her name was.
"Alice," she said, sticking her hand out to me.
"Alice," I confirmed, grasping it and shaking it. I turned to leave for a second time.
"Oh! Bella?" she called out. I turned to see her holding out a folded piece of shiny poster paper. "You could put this up for us, if you have space?"
"Of course." I took the poster from her and smiled, thinking that an affiliation with Edward Cullen's gym could be beneficial in more ways than one.
I unlocked the front door of the office and pushed it open. Sitting down in Jessica's chair, I pressed the play button on the answer machine, reached for the poster that Alice had just given me, and unfolded it.
Oh. My. God. It was a picture of Edward, half naked. Holy fuck, the man was a God.
It was just as I realized I was licking my lips, that I noticed he wasn't the only person on the picture. It was advertising his next fight with a far less aesthetically pleasing individual. As my eyes drifted back to him, I resisted the urge to fold the poster back up and take it home to pin up on my bedroom wall, and instead scanned the reception area to find the best place for it.
I finally opted for a strategic position in the waiting area, where I'd also be able to see it if my office door was open. I was just sticking it to the wall when the front door opened.
"Good morning, Bella," Jessica, our receptionist greeted me.
"Hey, Jess," I replied, aware of her heels clicking on the tiled floor as she walked up behind me.
"What's that you're…" She fell silent, and as that didn't happen often with Jess, I turned to see what was wrong. She was staring at the poster – actually, no, she was staring at Edward Cullen – her eyes veiled dreamily. All she was missing was drool dripping from her mouth.
"You know, I'd never have thought it possible, but I think he really does get better with age." She tilted her head to one side and let out a sigh.
"Wait, you know him?" I asked her. She turned to me and smiled.
"Of course! I went to school with him. I had the biggest crush ever," she giggled. "And I was definitely not the only one. Nearly every girl in school had the hots for Cullen."
"And did you ever..?" I trailed off, leaving the question unspoken.
"Nooo!" she exclaimed, laughing openly now. "God, if only. None of the girls here were good enough for him. He always had these beautiful girlfriends from out of town."
I nodded along, trying to curb my curiosity and keep from yelling my next question in her face.
"And does he…" I swallowed, trying to push the images of our dressing room kiss out of my head. "Does he have a girlfriend now?"
Jessica was shrugging out of her coat and clicking across the floor to hang it up in the tiny store-room behind her desk. I was grateful that she couldn't see the anxious expression that I was trying, but knew I was failing, to hide.
"No, I don't think so. The last I heard, his trainer had ordered him to stay away from women to concentrate on his boxing career. Such a waste," she sighed.
Aah,Jess.Ifonlyyouknew, I thought to myself as I prepared my office for my first client, not managing to resist the temptation of sneaking peeks back through the open doorway at the poster as I did.
My first few appointments were booked up, and it was almost lunchtime when I wandered back out into reception and found Jake perched on the edge of Jess's desk, his back to me. She was laughing at something he'd said, and gazing adoringly up at him. Poor girl. He was somehow blind to the effect he had on her.
"Hey, Jake. I missed you first thing."
He turned his head and aimed that bright smile at me instead.
"Hey, Bells. Yeah, my dad had a doctor's appointment. Rachel's on vacay this week, so I had to take him. But of course, you'd have known that if you'd bothered to checkthediary." He raised his eyebrows at me teasingly. Jacob Black was my business partner, and his main gripe was the fact that I rarely checked the main diary on reception. I wasn't disorganised; far from it. I was actually afflicted by enough OCD tendencies that I insisted on writing everything in my own diary that I carried everywhere with me. Jessica updated it for me so that I didn't have to transcribe everything over myself. This worked fine for me, but it meant that I didn't have a handle on Jake's every move, which irked him.
"Is Billy OK?" I asked, concerned for my friend's father.
"Yeah, it was just a diabetes check. He's doing good."
"Well, tell him I said hi," I said.
"I will, he'll appreciate that," he replied and smiled gratefully at me.
"Hey, Jake," Jessica suddenly said, placing her hand on his leg. "Did you see the poster Bella put up? Do you want to go?"
"What? The Cullen fight? Sure," he told her. She grinned and did a girly hand clap. I rolled my eyes, knowing it was safe because there was no way she was looking away from Jacob long enough to see me do it. "How about you, Bells? Are you up for it?" he asked, turning to me. I glanced at Jess. She had a much smaller smile on her face now, and I knew that she was willing me to say no. I was about to, but then, fuck me, the image of a half-naked Edward Cullen popped into my head. I wanted to see him again, and these guys had just given me the perfect excuse.
"Absolutely," I replied, whilst silently apologising to Jessica and vowing that I would leave them alone as much as possible; maybe even leave early. Or stay late.
Youwish, a voice in my head said, as I pictured Edward closing in on my lips with his own again.
"Are you ever going to tell me what the deal is with Cullen?" Rosalie asked as she pulled into a space in the parking lot of the fight venue that Saturday evening. I did my best to look puzzled as I turned to face her.
"What the deal is?" I shrugged. "There is no deal." I picked up my purse from next to my feet and made to root about in it to avoid having to look at her again. I was a terrible liar; I knew it and she knew it.
"Oh, Bella," she said, as she put the car in park and switched off the engine. "You somehow find yourself in possession of an item of his clothing, have a conversation with him, and now you're coming to only the second fight you've ever been to; the only other one being his last one, when you first met him. I think there is a deal here."
I huffed softly, knowing that I was a long way from getting out of this one with my best friend.
"Ok," I told her in resignation. "I may have accidentally found my way into his dressing room after the fight. And accidentally soaked myself with water until my shirt was transparent. He lent me his t-shirt to wear."
Rosalie began to giggle softly. As I started to ask her what she was laughing at, she held up a hand to silence me.
"Don't tell me! You pulled your wet clothes off over your head, your back arching, pushing your breasts out towards him. He stepped towards you, placing his large, masculine hands either side of your bare waist, making you shiver with anticipation. 'Edward,' you murmured, your voice husky with lust as he bent his face closer and closer to yours, until finally—"
"Rosalie!" I barked. "Have you been reading those smutty fanfiction stories again?"
"Maybe," she said, smirking.
"You really have to lay off that stuff, you know?"
"Aww, come on, Bella, it's only a little fun," she grumbled at me as I pulled at the handle and climbed out of the car.
Nicelydiverted,Bella, I congratulated myself.
"I know what you did there, Isabella Marie Swan," Rosalie called after me as I walked away towards the main door. I extended my hand high into the air and waved, without looking back at her.
Travelling with Rosalie had been for Jessica's benefit. She had been a little off with me ever since I had agreed to join her and Jake. I really had no idea whether she stood a chance with him or not, and I wasn't getting involved. They were both single, so I was happy to stand back, let nature take its course and hope it didn't make anything awkward at work, whichever way things went.
The downside to getting a ride with Rosalie, aside from the interrogation, was that I was now far too early. I was pretty nervous about being in the same room as Edward Cullen again, so I decided I'd head for the bar.
The small bar area was almost empty as I walked in; just a couple of older guys at a table in the corner, and one standing at the bar. The barman had his back to me as he wiped down the area at the back. I cleared my throat to get his attention and he turned quickly, a smile already fixed onto his face. It faltered for only a moment as he recognised me.
"Mike!" I exclaimed, just as surprised as he was.
"Hey, Bella. Long time no see! How are you?"
Mike Newton was Jessica's ex-fiance. Hell, this could get awkward. I instinctively glanced behind me, even though I knew that Jess and Jake wouldn't be here for an hour yet. Mike totally caught the move.
"Who are you here with?" he asked.
"Oh! Uh…Rosalie, my friend. She's working. I said I'd come along to support her."
"Yeah, I know Rosalie. That's cool." He smiled approvingly. "So, what can I get you to drink?"
I ordered a beer, told Mike it was good to see him again, and decided to head into the hall where the fight would be held. Mike had always been friendly, if anything a little toofriendly. I decided I'd be more comfortable out of his line of vision.
Inside the hall there were still a few workers getting everything ready. I settled myself down on a seat in one of the back rows and drank my beer, as I watched the activity going on around me as people began to drift in.
The room was around three quarters full when I saw Jake and Jess walk in. I watched them for a moment before I made any move to make myself known to them, a small smile growing on my face as I watched Jake place a hand on Jessica's lower back to guide her through the people. Jess in turn, kept looking up at him and smiling appreciatively. It was pretty cute to watch.
I stood to wave to them, and Jake spotted me almost right away.
"What are you doing back here?" Jake asked me as they came to a stop in front of me.
"Duh! Waiting for you guys," I told him, rolling my eyes.
"No, I mean you're in the wrong section. I bought tickets for the front."
"You did?" A brief wave of panic settled over me. Just because I wanted to see Edward, it didn't mean I wanted him to see me. "I don't know, Jake. I kind of like it back here. Why don't you and Jess go on and I'll just stay here."
"No!" Jake protested.
"Jake, if she wants to stay here, then let her," Jess told him, tugging gently on his arm.
"Bells, the seats we have, cost double what that one did. Please just humor me on this." Sighing, I got to my feet, picked up my purse and followed them back to the centre of the hall, right next to the ring.
I was relieved to see that we weren't on the front row, but we were still only one row back. We sat down and I waved to Rosalie in the next block over. She was just waving back when the lights dimmed and the announcer introduced Edward Cullen. The crowd began to cheer and applaud as his entrance music boomed out and a spotlight followed his progress to the ring. I told myself it was the reverb from the bass thumping in my chest, and not my heart, as I watched the hooded figure advancing. His grace as he ducked between the ropes into the ring, was spellbinding. He made such a simple movement as compelling to watch as a full ballet. As his men bustled around him in his corner, I was distracted by the announcer introducing his opponent, Laurent Pascale. I watched, unable to see much of him, as he stalked down the aisle next to us. Once in the ring and in his corner, his team lifted his robe from his body to reveal a lean, sinewy figure with dark olive skin.
Jake leaned across Jess, who was sitting in the middle of us.
"Pascale's good," he told us, voice raised against the noise in the hall. "He's technically brilliant; not lost a fight yet this year."
A sudden hand on my shoulder made me jump. I turned and looked up to see who it was, and was unable to stop the huge grin that spread across my face.
"Seth! Oh my God! What are you doing here?" I jumped up and wrapped my arms around his neck, squeezing him tightly. He squeezed back, just as tight.
"Hey Bella," he said, sounding genuinely pleased to see me. "Surprised?" We both let go just enough to be able to see each others faces.
"Just a little," I laughed. "I thought you were staying in Europe all summer?"
"I missed you too much; what can I say?" He smiled devilishly and I shoved him gently. He sat on the empty seat next to mine and pulled me down onto his lap.
"Hey, man!" he greeted Jake, leaning over to shake hands with his best friend. "Jess." He raised his hand in a wave and she grinned as she greeted him.
"You knew!" I accused Jake, but he just laughed, confirming my suspicions.
A strange feeling of being watched came over me. I glanced up to see Rosalie looking over. As my eye caught hers, she nodded towards the ring. Looking up, I froze as I found Edward Cullen's eyes boring into me. A shiver ran up my back and the skin on my arms turned to goose flesh. He slowly looked away, a frown on his face. Suddenly self-conscious, I slid from Seth's lap, back into my own seat.
"Something wrong?" Seth asked, draping his arm along the back of my seat.
"No," I told him innocently. "But Jake already got annoyed with me for not using the seat he'd paid for; I don't want to upset him again." I smiled and leaned in to him a little.
Seth was one of my best friends. We spent most of our time flirting and we had once…ok, twice…crossed a line and ended up in bed, but where that would make things awkward in some friendships, it never had with us. Part of me thought that we should make an effort to try and be a little less tactile with one another, mainly because people were constantly getting the wrong idea about us, but another part of me enjoyed the contact. I wasn't getting any affection from anywhere else these days, so why the hell not?
The bell rang to signal the start of the first round. Pascale was straight out of his corner and onto Cullen in a flash. Cullen staggered back across the ring and into the ropes from the impact of the first hit, but quickly recovered himself. When Pascale came back on the offensive again, Cullen was ready for him, light on his feet as he avoided as many blows as he could, and blocking the ones that he couldn't, with his arms.
Three minutes was soon up, and both fighters retired to their corners. Cullen's nose was already a little bloody and his cut man was dabbing at it, trying to clean him up. Rosalie was doing the card for the second round. As she passed us, Seth waved and she winked at him.
"Man, she gets better looking every time I see her," he commented, his eyes watching her retreating ass.
"You're such a guy sometimes," I complained to him.
"Sorry. I just forget that you're notone of the guys." He smirked, knowing the comment would annoy me. As I opened my mouth to throw an insult back though, the next round began.
As far as I could see, the two men were pretty evenly matched. Neither one seemed to be getting the better of the other. About two minutes in, Pascale lost his footing slightly and stumbled off balance. As he struggled to remain upright, Cullen descended, raining blows on his opponent. It was only when I heard Seth's deep, rumbling laugh next to me, that I realized I was literally on the edge of my seat, yelling. I felt my cheeks burn as I sat back.
Glancing over to where Rosalie was sitting, I frowned as I saw her smiling and chatting to a man sitting in the row behind her. He was leaning forward, his face close to hers, and she was half-turned in her seat, her head turned to face him. He said something to her and she dipped her head, smiling shyly as her face grew pink. Holy hell, that was not like Rose.
A sudden shout from the crowd drew my attention back to the fight. Pascale had evidently recovered and was trying to land a punch on Cullen, who had managed to avoid all his efforts so far. Just as it looked as though his luck would run out, the bell sounded. I couldn't help the sigh of relief that escaped from my mouth.
As the fighters returned to their corners, I turned to my left to ask Jake how he thought the two men were doing. I changed my mind when I saw how cosy he and Jess were getting. Leaning in close together, both of them were looking towards the ring, and Jake was making gestures with his hand, so I guessed he was explaining something to her. Both of them looked happy enough, so I decided not to interrupt. I really hoped this went somewhere for them; they would both benefit from having somebody decent in their lives.
From the corner of my eye, I noticed Seth turning to look behind him, forward again, and then repeating it.
"What's up?" I asked, placing my hand on his leg. He looked puzzled.
"Aah, nothing really. It's just…he keeps looking over here." He nodded in the direction of the ring. I'd been telling myself that I was imagining it, but now that Seth had mentioned it too, I was sure that Cullen was looking our way whenever he got a chance. As I watched the activity in his corner, I realized that somebody else was distracted too; the big dark-haired guy who I guessed was Emmett, couldn't keep his eyes off Rose, who in turn was still all but nose to nose with the same man.
Jake called to Seth to get his attention. As I leaned back to allow them to talk across me, Edward caught my eye and smiled slightly, just one side of his mouth lifting. It was the sexiest smile I'd seen, and I couldn't help but return it. I'd barely committed it to memory, when in the next second he was hidden from view by his team again.
The bell sounded for the next round and both men came out of their corners. The first minute or so was more of the same, but then Pascale really went in for the kill, the blows coming constantly. Cullen was doing his best to defend himself, but suddenly he lost his footing and went crashing down sideways onto the canvas. He landed heavily on his left side and immediately his face contorted with pain. The referee began to count, but he managed to get on his feet by the count of seven. Leaning in close to speak with him, the referee signalled for a break and sent both men back to their corners. I watched closely as Cullen and his men had what appeared to be a heated exchange. I could tell from his body language that Cullen wanted to go on fighting. I could also tell that he had injured his shoulder in the fall and was obviously in a lot of pain from it.
After a further moment's deliberation, the fight was called to an end. Pascale was announced as the winner, based on Cullen suffering a Technical Knock Out.
With my professional head firmly on now, I turned to Jake.
"What do you think he did?" I asked.
"Judging by how he fell, I'd say possibly an AC separation," he said. Poor Jess glazed over slightly, stuck in the middle of us.
"I agree," I said, nodding. "Type? At least a II, I'd say."
"Hopefully not more, for the sake of his career," Jake said, wincing slightly. I looked up to see a medic putting Cullen's arm in a sling. As he left the ring, he looked at me again and then said something to his blond friend. It was the same guy that had spoken to me at the last fight after my mortifying fall. The blond turned to look at me and nodded, before addressing him again.
Cullen headed out of the hall, supported by Emmett, the big, dark-haired trainer, as the blond one began to make his way over in my direction. Whatever this was regarding, I wasn't about to have this conversation in front of my friends.
"Could you get me another beer?" I asked Seth. "I'm just going to see if I can catch Rosalie."
I moved away from them, and towards Rose. Before I could get there, Cullen's messenger boy reached me and pulled me to one side.
"Bella?" he asked, his eyes searching my face with a tangible intelligence. I had no idea what he was looking for there, or if he would find it.
"Yes," I replied.
"Edward asked me to speak with you. He says he'd very much like to see you again, and wonders if you could come to his dressing room in an hour?"
"Yes," I answered quickly, immediately kicking myself for appearing so eager. "I mean, it should be OK, I'll have to check with my friends of course."
"He also asked for you not to mention it to anyone." I was aware that the man was still very much sizing me up.
"Oh." I was a little taken aback and unsure what to make of the request. On the one hand it was fine by me; I was fully intending to make excuses to everyone else anyway. On the other, I resented being told what to do, especially when it hinted at embarrassment or something to hide on his part. "Well, I'm sure I can manage that. What room is it again?" I asked, having absolutely no idea which his dressing room was last time.
"Seventeen. It's his lucky number," he added, nodding a goodbye before turning and striding away.
"Bella!" I heard Rose before I saw her, waving me over. "Bella, this is Royce. Royce, this is my best friend, Bella."
"Pleased to meet you," I said, holding my hand out for him to shake. He was tall and handsome and looked a few years older than Rose and me, maybe in his mid-thirties. He was well-dressed, almost to the point of being vulgar, I noticed, as he gripped my hand and leaned forward to kiss my cheek as he greeted me too.
I stood and chatted with them for a few minutes. Rosalie was obviously already pretty familiar with Royce, although I guessed that she didn't know him particularly well. He seemed like a nice enough guy, but there was something about him that made me uneasy. It wasn't anything that I could define as such, but it was enough to make me worry for Rose.
"Would you mind if I went to grab a bite to eat with Royce, Bella?"
Actually,Rose,thatwouldbekindofperfect,becauseitwillmeanthatIdon'thavetotryandsneakpastyouintoEdwardCullen'sdressingroom,was what I wanted to say. My actual reply was a lot more obvious though.
"Of course I don't mind. You go and have fun," I told her. She gave me a quick hug and then they disappeared back towards the curtained off entrance to the dressing rooms.
Finally, the hour had almost passed. Persuading my friends to visit the bar with me while I supposedly waited for Rosalie, had been pretty easy. I was relieved to see that Mike had disappeared. One less awkward confrontation to witness was always welcome.
After I'd excused myself to Seth, Jess and Jake on the pretence of going to find Rosalie for my ride home, I ducked into the restroom to make myself look presentable, and then headed down the corridor to room seventeen.
I stood for a moment outside and composed myself before I knocked. After a moment the blond trainer opened the door, stood aside to let me past and then slipped out, closing it behind him. To my alarm, a key then turned and a lock clicked into place. I turned quickly to look at the door, and then back at Edward, who was half-naked, lying propped up on a treatment-type couch with the head raised, a couple of pillows supporting him and his injured shoulder.
"Hi," he greeted me.
"You don't need to look so worried," he chuckled, his voice husky, I guessed probably from the pain. "There's another key on the table right next to the door. It's not to keep you in; it's to keep everyone else out."
"Oh." I was a little lost for words.
"Oh come on, Bella. Do I look like a threat?" He smiled. It took me a moment to realize I was gawking at him. "What?" he asked, a little self-consciously. I shook my head to clear it.
"Nothing, I'm sorry. It's just…it always surprises me when a stranger remembers my name."
"Well, you shouldn't be surprised. I find you pretty memorable." He shifted and winced in pain.
"You really should be at the hospital getting that shoulder seen to, you know," I told him, walking over to where he lay. "You'll need an x-ray, maybe even surgery. Here, let me help." I helped to support him with one arm, while I adjusted his pillows with the other. He eased himself back down.
"Thanks. And I know…about the hospital. I guess I'm a little afraid of what they might tell me."
"Well, you know, the news isn't going to get any better the longer you wait; you're just delaying getting the treatment you need," I scolded him gently.
"I also couldn't leave without seeing you again." He was looking intently at me. I took a deep breath.
"That makes no sense, Edward. It's been more than a month since we met—"
"Six weeks," he interrupted.
"And there's a stack of business cards with my details on them at your gym. You could have contacted me anytime, and yet you choose to delay a trip to the hospital, to see me?"
"Is he your boyfriend?" Edward blurted out.
"What? Who?" It wasn't the question that confused me, as much as the sudden turn that the conversation had taken.
"The guy you were with tonight."
"Seth? No, he's just a really good friend." It wasn't the first time I'd been asked the question; people assumed we were a couple all the time. It was the first time I'd ever cared whether the person asking believed my answer or not, though. "Does it matter? To you, I mean."
He did that thing then, where he looked right into my eyes and somehow made my stomach flip.
"It shouldn't," he murmured. "I don't even know you. But for some reason, it does."
I sank down into the chair behind me, not trusting my legs to keep me upright while he was gazing at me like that. I was unable to stifle a burst of nervous laughter as I let my head drop, and shook it.
"I have no idea what's going on here. We met for like, a half hour or something, six weeks ago…"
"Why did you come here tonight?" he asked, watching his free, left hand picking at the fabric of the sling that held his right arm in place.
"Because my friends were coming," I answered, half-truthfully.
"That's the only reason? I never saw you in the audience at any of the fights here before. I'd have remembered." He licked his lips as he looked at me, and I suddenly had no idea what he'd just asked me.
"Would you like a drink?" I asked him, standing and scanning the room for something to offer him.
"It's OK," he said. "I got it." He shifted slightly to the right and grunted as it jolted his injury.
"Hey, I can get it. Where…?"
"On the shelf."
I glanced up at the small, narrow shelf on the wall to the right, above the couch. I walked up next to the couch and reached up and over, far too aware of the fact that my shirt rode up my side and revealed an expanse of skin as I did so. As my fingers wrapped around the bottle, I felt warm fingers brushing my bare flesh. My breath caught as I slowly turned my head. Edward was watching his hand touching me, a look of almost painful longing on his face, as his eyebrows drew into a frown.
"Oh my God," I whispered. He looked up at the sound of my voice.
"What's wrong?" he asked, his eyes full of concern as they met mine, his hand stilling, but still on the side of my body.
"Nothing," I whispered quickly. "Nothing's wrong. What you're doing, it's just..." I took a deep shuddering breath in, closing my eyes and tipping my head back slightly as his fingers continued to move on me. It was heaven and hell all at once: heaven for the blissfulness of it, and hell for the fact that it made me want a lot more than he could give me right now.
I dropped my head down again, fighting to open my eyes against the heavy effect the movements were having on them. I forced my eyelids open, only to find his crotch right in my eye-line. Judging by what I was now looking at, he was enjoying this just as much as I was.
"Bella, get up here with me," he demanded. I looked up at him, and the way he was looking back at me made my knees threaten to buckle again. I looked pointedly at his shoulder.
"Edward, I really don't think—"
"It's fine. I'mfine. Please?" Like I could say no to this man.
"I don't think I can get up there—"
"There's a stool underneath," he told me.
I pulled the small step-stool out from beneath the couch and stood on it, then pushed myself up, lifting my leg across so that I was straddling his thighs.
"Come here," he said, reaching forward slightly with his good arm, to cup the back of my head and encourage me forward. As I began to lean forward, I realized that I wouldn't be able to reach his lips where I was. I scooted forward slightly and then began to lower myself down. Suddenly, Edward cried out. I lifted my weight quickly off him.
"Oh God, I'm so sorry! Did I hurt you?" I asked, horrified. He began to laugh.
"That wasn't a cry of pain, Bella. Trust me." His eyes moved pointedly down and I saw that I was hovering above his crotch. I covered my eyes in embarrassment. "It's fine. It's morethan fine. See?" He rested his hand on my hip and gently pushed me back down again. This time he wasn't the only one to make a noise, as he kept pushing until I was pressing right down on him. I tilted my hips instinctively, the movement causing friction where it felt best. We groaned again, together.
"Can we try that kiss again?" he asked, his hand on the back of my neck now, pulling me towards him. I placed my hands on the couch on either side of his head, to avoid hurting him, and slowly moved forwards until our lips were almost touching. He inhaled deeply and I closed the tiny distance between us. His lips felt perfect against mine. We stayed still, joined that way, until I gently parted my lips. He accepted the invitation, slowly sliding his tongue out to meet mine, and pushing his hips up to grind into me. As he moved against me harder, he cried out again, and this time it was definitely not in pleasure.
"Enough," I panted, sitting up. "As much I'm enjoying this, it's really not the right time. You need to get that shoulder seen to." Obviously struggling to get the pain under control, he nodded.
"OK. You're right."
I climbed down and was reaching for the bottle on the shelf that had started this in the first place, when I heard the sound of a key turning, and the door flew open.
"Fucking Royce King! Can you believe that sh—" I froze and looked at the huge man standing in the doorway, and he looked back at me, his eyes narrowing. "And you are…?"
"For fuck's sake, Em. This is Bella; the sports therapist I told you about. Remember?" Edward said, his voice belying a certain weariness now as he watched his trainer enter and start pacing the room.
"This better only be about sports therapy, Cullen, or I'll have your ass. You know my rules. Women are a distraction." I backed away a little, feeling a little uncomfortable in the presence of the agitated stranger.
"So what's that about King?" Edward asked.
"Rosalie Hale left with him. He had his slimy, cheating hands all over her. Man, it sickens me that piece of shit even gets to breathe the same air as her, let alone touch her."
I was listening closely now to every word.
"Wait. What's up with the guy? Rose seemed happy enough when she introduced us." The man strode right up to me, towering high above my head.
"You know Rosie?" he demanded. I straightened my back and puffed my chest out.
"Yes, and you obviously don't, or you wouldn't be calling her that. She hates it." He ignored my comment, instead leaning down and grasping my arm gently.
"You have to stop her from seeing him again. He's into bad shit. Trust me; you don't want anybody you care about having anything to do with him." He backed off, rubbing the back of his neck, and I turned to look at Edward.
"He's right, Bella. Royce is bad news."
I let what I had just been told sink in for a moment. The room was silent, aside from Emmett's footsteps pacing back and forth.
"I'll speak to her," I said eventually. "I can't promise any more than that." Emmett nodded and his face finally softened a little. "Now I really think you should take Edward to the hospital."
"Well, thank you. Finally someone around here who speaks sense. I've been telling him that since the fight ended. Come on, Cullen, let's get you out of here." He helped him off the couch and started trying to help him cover the top half of his body up.
"Well, I guess I'll be going," I said. Edward turned to look at me as I moved closer to the door.
"Thanks for the shoulder advice," he said. "I'll be in touch soon."
"You will?" I asked, unsure whether this was part of the act, or if he genuinely meant it.
"Definitely. I heard you're good with your hands, and I have a feeling that this is probably going to be needing some professional attention," he said. I blushed a little.
"You have my card, call anytime," I replied as I said goodbye to both of them and slipped out into the corridor.
It was empty outside the room, although one of the double doors a few feet away was swinging, as though someone had just gone through it. I turned in the opposite direction and walked off towards the exit.
The front door hadn't even closed behind me when my phone began to ring.
"Hey, Rose. Where are you?" I asked. She laughed.
"That's what I was calling to ask you."
"I'm just leaving the venue now, I stayed a little late. The others already left a while ago though, so I'm just going to start walking."
"Stay right there, we're just leaving the restaurant, we'll pick you up."
"No, no! Honestly, I'm fine. Don't go out of your way—"
"We'll be two minutes, don't move."
I sighed as I ended the call, and leaned against the wall as I waited. Not long after, a shiny sports car was pulling into the parking lot, and Rosalie waved to me from the passenger seat. As I looked across and saw Royce watching me, I wished that he only had a two seater, but unluckily there was room for me in the back.
"Where do you live, Bella?" he asked me as he pulled away. I told him my address.
"That's closer to my place than yours, you don't mind if I drop you off first and take Bella on my way home, do you Rosie?" I nearly choked at the fact that she didn't rip him a new one for calling her Rosie, but then I realized what he'd just said.
"It's fine, Royce. I can walk from Rosalie's. I don't mind." A feeling of dread twisted in my stomach.
"Nonsense," he said, his eyes piercing into mine through the rear view mirror. "I insist. I'll be going virtually right past your front door." Rosalie turned to me and smiled.
"Isn't he fantastic?" she asked me, smiling and wrinkling her nose in a sickeningly sweet way.
"Yeah," I replied, trying to act normally. "Isn't he?"
When we got to Rose's, Royce got out and walked her to the door. I looked away when they began to kiss, pulling my phone out and checking through my messages. There was one from Seth that I'd missed, saying it had been good to see me and he hoped I could stay out to play longer next time. I was just going to reply when the door opened and Royce got back in.
"Did you want to come and sit in the front, Bella?" he asked me.
"I'm good here, thanks," I replied. "It's only a few minutes, I might as well stay put." I tried to keep my eyes on my phone in my hand, but I was uncomfortably aware of Royce's eyes on me in the mirror.
"Do you know what I hate, Bella?" he asked as he drove.
"No," I answered, unsure where this was going.
"People who interfere in other people's business. I mean, let's say you'd just started seeing somebody, and somebody else…I don't know, maybe somebody with no link to you whatsoever, were to decided that they didn't approve. Maybe they're jealous, whatever, I guess they'd have their own petty reasons for how they felt. Now imagine they tried to persuade one of your friends to get involved; your bestfriend maybe. That friend would obviously want to look out for you. They might be concerned by what they heard, and even though they can see how happy you are withthis person,they might feel the need to go ahead and mention something; stir things up with you and try to make you think that maybe you'd be better off without that person."
I sat listening to the whole rambling speech, my skin starting to crawl as I realized that he was describing my current situation to me. How the hell could he know? There was only me, Edward and Emmett in the room when we discussed it.
"Do you know what advice I would give to your friend in that situation, Bella?" he asked me, his eyes glaring at me in the mirror.
"No," I murmured nervously.
"Don't. Get. Involved," he stated slowly and menacingly. "Does that sound like good advice do you think?" he asked as he pulled up at the kerb in front of my house.
"Yes," I whispered.
"Good! Just finished our little conversation in time too. I know this area well, Bella, I'm always passing by your house. What a coincidence, hey?" I just nodded, unable to trust myself to speak.
As he let me out of the car, I murmured a quiet thank you, and hurried into the house, locking and deadlocking the door behind me and only breathing out as I heard him drive away.
Holy fuck. What a mess.
A/N I guess the plot bunnies got me again. Everything's open for future updates, but I have no definite schedule for this story I'm afraid. I do plan on there being more though. Please leave a review, it might just spur me on ;o)