Business first … many thanks to Cintia and Krisztina for your awesomeness. Can't ever do it without you.

I'm giving this to you early today because I will be in Quebec, Canada, tomorrow and not sure if I will be able to get it to you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your wonderful and supportive comments to this story. I love you too!

Now … A weekend in the country


CHAPTER 15:

After a hot, sexy, and very public display of affection, Edward and Bella ready themselves for the second half of their bike ride. After drinking the two beers rather quickly, Bella is feeling warm and fuzzy and wraps her arms tightly around Edward's slim, firm waist. Laying her cheek on the upper part of his back, unbeknownst to each other, they both smile at the move. Edward places his hand over hers in response.

"Look at that house up there on the hill," Edward points upward at a huge house nestled in a grouping of trees, looking out over its kingdom.

"Ah, retirement," Bella says low into the microphone. "Someday, I want to recluse myself like that and just paint my days away."

"Is that how you see it? Your retirement? You want to draw and paint?" Edward asks.

"Yes. Either leaving my galleries to my children, or selling them to someone who values them as much as I do."

"I can retire now quite comfortably. Let's run away and hide from the rest of the crazies," Edward jokes, squeezing her hands.

"I can retire now and support both of us for the rest of our lives very comfortably without your money," Bella adds, gauging his reaction. She doesn't like to flaunt her wealth, but she is curious whether it would intimidate him or not.

"Oh, you can support me in the manner to which I've become accustomed?" he chides, gunning the engine of his new Harley Davidson.

"Does that bother you, Mr. Cullen?" she giggles, lightly pinching his stomach.

"Bella, if every day I feel like I do today, I will go anywhere you want," he answers truthfully.

That answer shocks and pleases Bella at the same time. Funny, she feels the same way.

~.~

After spending another hour on the bike, Edward finally pulls up in front of the old hotel in the small town of Catskill. Bella gets off first, using Edward's shoulders to balance herself as he holds his arm out for her to use. Once she is safely off the bike, he rounds his leg off over the seat, and Bella can't resist watching his sleek, panther-like movement. Edward's ass in soft leather is a sight to behold, she thinks to herself.

Removing their helmets, Edward takes their back packs out of the storage bags, and they enter the hotel to the registration desk.

"Hello, may I help you?" the gray-haired man asks, his eyes focused on Bella.

"Yes, sir. My name is Edward Cullen, and I have a reservation. I was wondering if you had another room open up yet? When I called there wasn't, and I thought I would double check."

"Lemmie see here," whistling the 's' through the gap in his teeth. "Nope. No cancellations," he chuckles. Edward throws him a death glare at his insidious laugh.

"Are you still okay with that, Bella?" Edward confirms. When she nods, Edward asks for the room keys.

After signing the necessary paper work, they climb the creaking stairs to the third floor, finding the room three twelve.

"Not quite the Penthouse," Bella chuckles, making Edward snap his head in her direction. "I thought you said it was two beds!"

"Me too," he says, surprised to see only one. "Let's go. I'm sure we can find something in this town that we need." Bending to pick up their bags, he heads for the door.

"But you said there was nothing else available," she reminds him. "I'm game if you are. I trust you."

"Are you sure? I didn't plan this, Bella. I'm so sorry," he apologizes, looking in her direction as she tosses her bag onto the bed.

"Okay, Cullen, what next? Want to go out for a walk around town?" Bella suggests as she takes her hair down from her pony tail to brush the tangled strands.

"Sounds good. Let me wash my face first, then we'll head out," Edward hollers from the small bathroom built for one.

As Edward walks out of the bathroom towel drying his hair, Bella grabs her bag and shoots for the bathroom to fresh up a bit as well. After brushing her teeth and putting her hair back in a high ponytail, she spritzes on a bit of body spray. Fixing her pullover top and adjusting the waistband of her jeans, she's ready to go.

As she walks past, Edward recognizes her scent and deeply inhales the sweet aroma she leaves in her wake. Wanting to grab her and bury his face in her hair, a move Anthony would be sure to make, he makes it a point to keep that in check.

Additionally, Anthony speaks in whispers and quiet tones. As Edward, he speaks in normal tones. He also makes it a point to keep his cologne scents separate, leaving the brand Anthony uses at home. So far it hasn't been too difficult, but when she walks past him, smelling like Isabella, it's a little more difficult to keep his ardor to himself.

"Are you ready?" he asks, waiting for her reply.

"Yep, let's go."

They both head out the door, and as they step onto the sidewalk, Edward takes her hand, walking to the side of her, closest to the street. When he sees her looking down at their clasped hand, he asks, "Is this all right?"

"Yes," she replies, gifting him with a brilliant smile.

"Okay, where to first? I'm starving though," he hints.

"Me too. Oh, what about pizza?" she squeals, pointing across the street. Edward pulls her hand and, looking in both directions, they run across the street toward the Pizza Café.

After a hearty deep-dish pizza and a pitcher of draft, Bella and Edward head out to the street again for a little window shopping.

Having fun taking in all the local handmade crafts being sold in the shops, Bella spies the town's art gallery. Looking up at Edward, she smiles as she pulls him inside the door. She has to grin because even though a town may be very small, she has always enjoyed the work of local artists.

"This weekend we are featuring our local and surrounding area artists in our "Landscape" show. These paintings are of our local area. Please, take a look," the gallery manager kindly offers.

"Thank you," Bella replies, already inspecting the artwork.

"Oh, look at this one, Edward. The use of colors here to bring out the dark stormy sky is brilliant," she says, her nose mere inches from the piece to inspect the brush strokes.

She looks to her right and sees him looking at a painting. He, too, inspects the piece with intense scrutiny.

"Do you see something you like?" he says to the painting feeling her eyes on him.

"Um … yes," she replies shyly.

She asks herself if he's talking about the art hanging on the wall or himself.

"What do you see?" he asks, slowly turning his head in her direction. He smirks, seeing her pretty pink blush overtake her cheeks. She decides to take the safe route.

"Well, this piece right here, for example. The way the artist draws you down the path that disappears into the thick density of the forest is …" she tries to explain, dropping her words when she looks up to find Edward slowly walking toward her.

"Yes … you were saying?" he asks in a gentle tone.

"Um … well … the way, this, um …" she stammers, feeling the heat radiate from his closeness.

Cupping her face in his palms, she turns her body toward him as he lifts her face to him. She covers his hands with her own as he slowly lowers his lips to hers, but never quite touching. She sees the heart rendering tenderness of his gaze, and the prolonged anticipation is unbearable.

The longing in his intense look sends the butterflies free in her stomach. It's when he silently mouths her name just before his lips whispers a touch to hers that does her in.

Closing her eyes, anticipating more than the barely there flutter of his soft lips, she recaptures his mouth in a more searing, heat-filled kiss. Edward can't resist as his arms embrace her tightly to him as he returns her kiss with equal intensity. Not thinking, and in a very Anthony-like manner, he wraps her long ponytail around his hand and tugs her head back, opening her mouth to him even further.

Bella, sensing the passion build between them, recognizes her reaction, and it's frighteningly familiar. Abruptly breaking the hungry kiss, she quickly steps away, covering her mouth. The powerful force between them is undeniable, and they both react.

"I'm … fuck … I'm sorry, Bella," Edward apologizes, looking around the small gallery. He's fearful he has frightened her and places his hand on her lower back, escorting her out of the gallery.

"Please, don't apologize. It's … it's just … I could use a drink," she stammers, visibly shaken. Touching her lips again, she admonishes herself for comparing her physical reaction to Edward's kiss to Anthony's.

Sensing a renewed awkwardness between them, Edward needs to set things right, and he lightly places his hand on her arm to stop her. She turns to face him before he speaks.

"Bella, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have kissed you. We were having fun, and I ruined it by allowing my emotions get the better of me."

"No, I'm sorry. My reaction came off as a negative one, and it wasn't … at all. My reaction was more of … surprise. I … I enjoyed it, Edward," Bella explains, blushing profusely. When she meets his eyes after her apology, she grins.

"Really? You liked it, huh?" he asks cockily, giving her a look that shouts 'I knew you did'

"Don't get all smug, Cullen. You did, too," Bella chides, nudging him with her shoulder.

"Oh, no. I more than liked it, Swan," he mocks, using her last name. "Still friends?"

"After a kiss like that? I believe we have progressed to the next level," she jokes.

"The next level? What would that be?" he asks as they walk toward their hotel.

"I think we've rounded first base."

Surprised, Edward's head jerks in her direction. Did she just suggest that they are close to sleeping together?

~.~

Stepping into the rustic bar of the hotel, Edward guides Bella to a quiet table in the corner of the pub, directly across from the small stage where a four-piece band is setting up for tonight's entertainment.

"Oh, yes! Live music!" Bella exclaims, bouncing in her seat. Edward walks to the bar to get their drinks, returning with a Chivas double for himself and a cold Sam Adams for Bella. Watching her drink the entire glass, he waves the bartender for another.

"Thirsty?"

"Very."

It doesn't take long before the room starts to fill as the band tunes their instruments.

"Do you like music, Bella?" Edward asks, taking a sip of his scotch.

"Oh, yes. All kinds," she beams at him. "I like the oldies the best though. Creedence Clearwater, REO Speed Wagon, White Snake, you know, the oldies. What about you?"

"I'm more of a classical kind of guy."

"You mean like Mozart?" Edward replies with a faint nod. "Do you play?"

Taking another sip of his Chivas, he nods again. He immediately sees a change in her eyes.

Lust.

Bella has always had an affinity for a man behind a piano.

Returning the feeling ten-fold, the electrical strumming of the lead guitar breaks the spell between them. Lo and behold, the first song they play is an oldie. Otis Redding's, Dock of the Bay. Edward couldn't help but chuckle as Bella sings every single word. Out loud.

Thinking that her small frame surely can't handle another Sam Adams, Bella orders another as she dances in her seat. When the lead singer, who sounds amazingly identical to Bryan Adams, begins to sing Everything I Do, Edward has to dance.

"Dance with me?" he asks over the rim of his glass.

When Bella nods, he lowers his glass to the table and gets up, taking Bella's hand in his own. Leading her out to the dance floor, they are the first and only couple swaying to the music. It doesn't take long, though, before the other couples follow suit.

Edward takes her left hand in his right, wrapping his other around the small of her back, holding her close to him.

Bella, on the other hand, wraps her arm around his back, grasping onto his shoulder. Laying her cheek against his chest, she closes her eyes to the loud beating inside it.

Edward can't resist the familiar lyrics, and when he lays his cheek upon the top of her head, he hums to the gentle sound.

Finding themselves in a state of peacefulness, they continue to dance, even though the music has stopped. Looking up and finding themselves alone on the floor, the band has made a show of Edward and Bella in their bliss.

"And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what you call love," the band leader says into the microphone as the remaining couple walks off the dance floor, hand in hand.

Lifting the mood, the band begins again with another one of Bella's favorites as she finishes the frosty beer that was waiting for her when she returns to the table.

Bella sees all the women jump onto the dance floor, and it's not long before she joins them. What Edward notices is that all the men are watching their women put on a show, and he's enjoying it right along with them.

When the server brings over another beer, he lets her know it's the last one. Bella must be getting tipsy if she's out there dancing like no one's watching. Under normal circumstances, he knows this is not typical behavior of hers, so it must be alcohol induced. He's thankful that they are staying in the hotel, and the only place they have to go is up the stairs.

After the band calls it a night, Edward sees the glaze cover Bella's eyes, and when she wobbles, he's quick and bends down to catch her as she falls forward over his shoulder.

"Ed … Edward? Whasgoin' on? Where's the music? I wan' ta dance."

"Baby, you've been dancing. Now it's time for you to—" He laughs out openly as he is interrupted by a very unladylike belch.

He can't help but grin at her sweet giggle. "Oops."

That's the last word she speaks. By time he gets to their room, he gently lays her down on the bed, removing her boots. Looking down at her peaceful face, her ponytail is covering her eyes, and he bends to move it from her face. Her parted lips and closed eyes tells him that she is out cold.

"Well, here goes nothin'," he says to himself as he unbuttons and unzips her jeans. Attempting to lower the tight material over her hips without taking her panties with them is a feat in itself when trying not to wake the sleeping dead.

After he gets the waistband down to her ankles, he quickly finishes the task before she rolls over onto her stomach. Blessing him with the prettiest bottom he's ever seen, it's partially covered in a pair of yellow lace cheekies. Licking his lips, knowing what's inside of those panties, he quickly covers her before stepping back and away from her.

Running a hand through his hair, he freezes when he hears her whimper out a name…

His name.

After making certain that Bella is out, he places a glass of water on the nightstand on her side of the bed. No doubt she will wake dehydrated and luckily, he keeps a small bottle of Advil in his shaving kit.

Turning out the lights, Edward removes his jeans and T-shirt, leaving his small boxer briefs. Where he would normally sleep totally nude, he didn't think Bella would like to wake to that. Quietly slipping into the bed, he turns out the light and covers himself before closing his eyes, desperately trying to ignore the near naked woman next to him. Refusing to give her reason to regret her trust in him, he clings to the very edge of the bed, knowing that one wrong move will have him flat on the floor.

Sometime between turning out the lights and the sun coming up, Bella has wrapped herself around Edward and is in the midst of a very active dream. Raising his arms over his head in an attempt not to touch her, his eyes adjust to the darkness, only to find her laying across his chest, her right leg hitched high over his thighs, just barely touching his very aroused cock.

Not sure what to do, other than wake her to move her on the other side of the bed, she begins to grind into his hip.

Edward clamps his eyes shut while her thigh rubs along his arousal, knowing she is in the throes of an orgasm. She's having a fucking wet dream, using him as her source.

Laying his raised arms over his eyes in an attempt to talk himself out of becoming a willing participant, he knows that if she keeps rubbing that fucking leg over his dick, he's going to lose it right along with her.

"Oh, God," she whimpers in her sleep which prompts her to grind even harder against him, which, of course, means her thigh is now going to town over his cock, and he is physically willing it not to do what he thinks it's going to.

"Oh, fuck," she cries out, clamping her thigh down harder across him, sliding it back and forth over him. It can't be helped … he comes … albeit more quietly than she does.

"What the fuck?" she shouts, jumping up and away from him. Edward doesn't budge but continues to lay there with his eyes covered.

Bella, on the other, hand is on her knees, her body feeling … aroused.

"What did you …" she begins, suddenly recalling the dream. Edward quickly removes his arms, his eyes daring her to accuse him.

Not saying a word, Edward quietly gets out of bed, bends to grab his pack and heads to the bathroom. Deciding to take a shower at four o'clock in the morning, he returns to find Bella sitting up, waiting for him, her arms crossed in defiance.

"What just happened, Edward?" she asks sharply.

"Don't you remember?" he asks, busying himself with drying his hair.

"Remember what? That you—" Bella begins to accuse him, and he cuts her off before she has the opportunity.

"Don't you blame me," he chuckles. "Now, think, Bella. Don't you recall having a dream?"

"A dream?" she repeats. Edward nods, standing before her in a clean pair of small, white boxer briefs. Bella can't help it as her eyes peruse down his body to the sexy white shorts he's wearing.

"Yes. A dream. You were draped over me, using my thigh as a grinding station, and then your thigh started … rubbing against me—"

"Oh, God. I had a sex dream?"

"Well, when I was growing up, we used to call them 'wet dreams', but you can call it what you want. But, Ms. Swan," Edward begins, bending over the bed, saying directly into her face, "that is a first for me."

"Wh … what is?" she stammers, embarrassment overtaking her.

"Having my leg dry humped and having an orgasm by a beautiful woman's thigh stimulating me."

"Oh, God!" she whines, covering her face with the comforter.

"So, Swan, you better behave, because I have juicy gossip slash blackmail material on you now," Edward threatens, putting his bag back in its place.

Bella pushes the blanket from her face, her huge, round eyes and open mouth meet his laughing glare.

"You wouldn't dare!" she threatens, her eyes slowly narrowing.

"Oh, yes. Yes, I most certainly would," he replies, climbing back into bed, turning out the light.

"Now, come here, you. Now that you've taken my thigh's virginity, I think it deserves a little cuddle, don't you think?"

"Fuck you, Cullen," Bella curses, snuggling into his arm, falling into a blissful, satiated sleep.

Allowing themselves to sleep in, Edward wakes at eight twenty, and after dampening his wild hair, he heads to the restaurant to order breakfast sent up to the room. When he returns with two cups and a carafe of steamy coffee, he finds Bella just out of the shower with a scant towel wrapped around her.

Not saying a word, he places the items on the small round table, pouring each of them a black coffee, and handing her one.

"Thanks," she says, shyly.

"You better go get dressed. Breakfast will be here in about twenty minutes."

With that, Bella scurries to the bathroom to finish dressing. Not taking the time to dry her hair, she returns it to a ponytail in preparation for another ride on the bike. Since it's still cool outside, she opts for a clean pair of jeans and a light sweater. Other than a light application of blush on her cheeks, she goes makeup, free knowing her lashes are dark enough not to need a coat of mascara.

Edward looks up at her and smiles at how fresh and natural she looks.

"I like that look on you, Bella," he compliments. "You're a natural beauty."

Jumping when there is a knock at the door, Bella turns to answer it, letting room service in to deliver their breakfast. It doesn't take them long to finish their blueberry pancakes and hash brown potatoes before Edward returns the dishes to the tray, placing it outside their door.

"So, I have a place I want to take you. It's only about a fifteen minute drive from here. I want to take some pictures, so you can hike or take a nap if you want," he suggests.

"Sure, I'm ready when you are."

The subject of Bella's dream is not mentioned again.

After a short ride, Edward parks the bike and Bella swings her leg from the bike, and Edward follows suit. After a short walk up an overgrown path, Bella steps out into one of the most beautiful meadows she's ever seen. With spring upon them, the wildflowers are in full bloom. She can see why Edward mentioned a nap; the tall grass would offer a perfect place to lie down. Looking around for Edward and not finding him, she does just that. Lowering herself, she nestles into a twilight sleep, listening to the birds chirping and the breeze moving the wild dry grass.

After the cool air wakes her, she opens her eyes to find Edward lying beside her. He's lying on his stomach, his face buried in the fold of his arm.

Bella moves to brush an errant lock of hair off his forehead, tucking it behind his ear. Not able to resist, she repeats the motion, even though it's not needed. Digging her nails deeper into the thickness of his hair, she's not surprised when he speaks.

"You have no idea how good that feels," he says into his arm. This prompts her to massage his scalp with more enthusiasm, eliciting sexy moans from him.

"Did you get your pictures?" Bella asks, still running her fingers through his hair. He can only nod and growl at the same time.

"What do you do with all the pictures you take, Edward?"

"I don't know. I show them to my mom, and if she likes them, I'll blow them up for her, but other than that, it's just for fun mostly," he answers, lying still, so she won't quit what she's doing.

After a few silent moments, Bella asks a random question. "Have you ever been in love, Edward?"

"Yes. Once," he finally answers.

"What happened?" she prompts, wanting to hear his story.

"My job," he sighs, rolling over onto his back. "My job takes me all over the world, and when I left her alone too long, once too many times, she married and had a child."

"Oh, I'm sorry," Bella sympathizes.

"I was too."

"Was?"

"Yes. I was sorry until I met you."


A/N: Love is in the air ...