"I'm what? A Junior in High School? A seventeen year old student? Again? "I said in surprise as Marcus, my Boss handed me a familiar prop; a Britney-esque schoolgirl uniform. This time in shades of burgundy and moss green. My closet was starting to look like a second hand shop for school uniforms.
I had been there and done this role so many times already. I thought we had moved on. It was my job to become other people but how much longer could I pull off being seventeen now I was twenty five years old. During my last two assignments I'd gotten to be an adult, and I thought we were finally moving on. I could remember myself at seventeen but things had changed quite a bit in the last eight years. Girls had changed. The rules had changed, mainly because sometimes it seemed like nowadays there weren't any rules at all.
And to me, my face and body no longer managed to fool the eye, and appear seventeen.
"Nobody will believe it. any more. Seventeen has come and gone too long ago."
"Of course they will. Here's your usual research material; the latest copy of Rolling Stone magazine, and a playlist of all the current Top Twenty hits. Listen to them until you know the lyrics by heart. Choose a boy band member to idolise and research him.
And here's your other homework book, Movie News. There are a few Young Adult sagas you need to catch up with."
"What's my name this time?" I asked almost fearfully. Marcus had such a twisted sense of humour. I'd spent seven months undercover once with the name Tawny Tinsel. Guess where he got that from? He has never admitted it but I'm pretty sure it came straight from a porn movie.
"Well, this time you are taking over the life of an actual person. Isabella Marie Swan. She lives overseas with her Mom and hasn't been back to her father's house since she was four years old. Her father lost touch with her completely about ten years ago. You are the right height she would be now, estimated on her height as a two year old, and no matter what you think, you can still pass for the seventeen she really is by now."
I gave up. Seventeen it is. Again.
Time to bite the bullet and immerse myself into the role.
I tried the name out loud.
It was a little fancy for my taste but whatever. I guess if I got used to being called Tawny I can pretty much cope with anything.
"Now remember. It's your job to observe and report.
We are not getting this case tossed out because of some accusation of entrapment.
If these teachers are dealing dope to the students, eventually they will offer it to you or to your group of friends, then all you need to do is report in.
We will take it from there.
When Riley turns up as a substitute teacher, treat him like all the actual teachers, and remember you have never met him before.
Maybe have a schoolgirl crush on him, that way if you let anything slip your friends will think you have some fantasy life in your silly little schoolgirl head and dismiss what you say.
And by the way...do not do anything reckless."
"Do I get to keep my gun?" I asked hopelessly. I feel naked without it. And every time I was seventeen he took my gun away.
"Sure. We really need you being arrested for going to school armed. Of course you don't get a gun.
So, here's your ticket. The plane will land in Seattle and you will be collected at SeaTac by your new Father, Charlie Swan. There will be a couple of hours on the road getting home so he will fill you in on any special childhood memories you may need then.
Be nice to him. He loved his daughter and is regretful that he lost track of her so he may be expecting you to act just like his little Isabella would now. Of course we have no clue how the real Isabella would act so let's assume he thinks she is an angel and would never do anything at all to embarrass him or bring shame on the Swan family name. No underage drinking, or smoking. It will be a good chance for you to let your liver have a rest. Understand?"
I rolled my eyes.
While I'd been seventeen more times than I cared to remember, usually I got to be the bad girl. The rebel. I got to choose my own personality for each role. I got to be the girl I never was game to be when I was really a seventeen year old schoolgirl. But this time it was apparently different.
I had to act like a seventeen year old virgin Princess?
I could actually do the whole virgin part, that came naturally, but seventeen? Again? Was I ever going to grow up or was I to be Peter Pan forever?
Bree was my workmate and only confidente so sitting on the bar stool beside hers that night, I wailed about my life, as it had to be lived, for the next year.
"Seventeen yet again. God, I hated that age. Not a child, yet not an adult, and this time I have a Daddy to lay down the law and keep me in line. At least I won't have any trouble rebelling against him. I swear, if the man dares to ground me, I will shoot him."
"Calm down. Who knows? Charlie Swan might be hot. You have to live in his house so who is to know if you are sleeping in his bed? Maybe you will get to call him 'Daddy'," she giggled.
"Oh gross. Just imagine the gossip if someone caught us at it. Incest in Forks. It would be headline news for generations," I sighed.
"Got a photo?" Bree pushed and I pulled out the folder from my briefcase and extracted a couple of happy snaps of my dear 'Papa'.
"Whoa. Porn star moustache. Maybe not. He has kind of cute eyes though."
"You think?" I questioned, looking again. Of course, by now I had three vodka cranberries under my belt so even he was starting to look good. "I just hope to God my fictional brother isn't hot, because if he is..."
Bree laughed. "Yeah. Now I think about it, maybe it would be best if you kept the v card cashing outside the family. It would be a lot harder to act cool around your big bro if the two of you were fuckbuddies, especially in a town that small. What the heck are you going to do for fun?"
"Well, number one fun thing is get rid of this whole twenty five year old virgin status with the first Adonis I set eyes on, before I find myself being inappropriately lusting after my fellow students."
"You know if they are all seventeen, chances are you will be the only virgin among them," she retorted. "As usual."
"And that's why it can't be so. The hardest part of playing seventeen is that I have to talk like a modern day teen each time and the other girls almost always have had more bedroom experience than me. This time I am not faking it. I am so bad at faking it. I'm always shocked the other girls don't see straight through me and know I'm lying about my sexual exploits that I borrow straight from tv shows.
I have to have at least one lover under my belt before I register at Forks High. Anyway, this is as good a reason as any to take the bull by the horns and just do it," I reasoned. "I'm flying in a day early, so Charlie Swan will be picking me up at the airport but I won't actually be fresh off a plane like he thinks. I'm getting there Friday night,and scouting out a bar in Seattle to try my luck. I'll find myself a man and use his body all night long, then be sitting back at the airport like a good little High School student Saturday when he arrives. Marcus warned me Charlie will probably turn up in his police cruiser. How embarrassing. No wonder the real Isabella stays well away."
How come I am a virgin at twenty five?
Let's just say life has not been kind to me.
My parents are devoutly religious and drummed into me at a very young age that a girl's virginity was her most precious possession and once she 'gave it away' to someone, unless he proved to be her 'life partner', then she had squandered it foolishly and would regret it forever.
So for some reason I fought off the various wandering hands of the various boys I dated in my actual teens and by the time I hit my twenties, I found I had become somewhat picky.
Of course that meant I missed my main chance.
All of my girlfriends had lost their virginities in the throws of first love, with their High School sweethearts.
Mine had moved on quickly, frustrated because I refused to 'put out'.
Then when I was ready, it seemed like most decent twenty somethings were already in relationships. Snapped up young.
Most of the men I met were divorced, on their second round.
Men with baggage and ex wives and children to consider.
The single guys were players.
I'd had a few offers but as I had not found any of them even attractive, I'd passed.
I wanted my first time to be with someone I'd be happy to look back at and remember with a touch of fondness.
I wasn't desperate, not yet.
But I wasn't ready for anything heavy either.
My work precluded any chance of maintaining a real relationship, so I'd come to the conclusion that maybe I needed to just grab the first decent guy to help me out.
Not one guy had come along that seemed worthy of the honour.
For a few years I was proud of myself for not throwing myself at all comers but let's face it, it's just getting beyond ridiculous and just reading the title of that movie, The Forty Year Old Virgin, was enough to make me want to weep.
I have to do this.
I pretend to be all modern and cool and all the time I have kids I used to babysit who have cashed in their cards ahead of me.
I swear, first hottie in Seattle hits the jackpot.
I sat at an entirely different bar stool Friday evening, eyeing off every unaccompanied male who walked in the door of the Seattle bar.
So far all the slightly hot ones had girls draped on their arms, and that sucked.
All but one, that is.
And that one happened to be the best looking man I had seen in quite a while.
He was tall and slender, and beautiful.
He was sitting all alone at the other side of the bar, and he had given me the once over a couple of times.
He had the most amazing thatch of unruly overlong golden blonde curls that he kept tossing back over his shoulder.
I just love messy hair.
Neat and tidy hair leaves me cold.
It says "I spend half my life in front of the mirror and half my income on product."
Messy hair says "I just got out of bed after a session of hot sex and don't care who knows it."
I smiled in what I hoped was an encouraging manner but he had stayed where he was, on the far side of the bar.
Maybe I should go to him?
I glanced at the time.
Really, I had high hopes for tonight and I wanted it to be a nice long night with lots of shenanigans, and time was slipping by.
I drained the last of my drink and gave myself a mental talking too.
Get up and walk over to Mr Blonde and offer to buy him a drink. He is cute enough to not have to chase after girls himself; they probably all come to him. Now, Girl. Stop wasting time.
I placed the empty glass on the bar, stood up and assumed the position Bree had drummed into my head. Shoulders back, tits forward.
Blonde Guy raised his eyebrows and smirked, raising his glass to me.
Oh yeah Baby. This is your lucky night.
"Jasper!" a voice exploded beside my ear and a tiny girl with spiky brown hair almost knocked me down in her haste to rush past and claim Cute Blonde Guy.
He smiled and his whole face lit up, and I realised he had never been a prospect at all.
He caught the whirlwind in his arms and smashed his lips down on hers as if there was nobody else in the room.
To my surprise, after their lips finally parted, and he pulled the girl onto his lap, he whispered in her ear and she looked up, straight across at me. He was clearly talking about me, and his little girlfriend was scrutinizing me like I was a prize heifer they were considering purchasing.
I felt myself blush from head to foot and made my way to the Ladies Room hastily, in case they were thinking I might like to join them in a threesome.
My reflection in the mirror gazed back at me. My newly dyed brown hair was streaked with reddish highlights that glinted in the sunlight. It was taking some getting used to. Tomorrow would be even harder. Apparently the Swan family all had distinctive brown eyes and my ice blue's would soon be hidden behind contact lenses.
I was a little fearful of how they would feel.
I splashed some cold water on my face and congratulated the makeup manufacturer for actually succeeding in making a product that truly was waterproof, and carefully dabbed myself dry again with a paper towel.
Brushing my new longer length, thanks to hair extensions, I heard the door swing open and glanced in the mirror to check who my companion was, and felt quite flustered as the little girlfriend from the bar sat down on the chair beside mine.
"Hi. I'm Alice. My boyfriend and I were wondering..."
My stomach dropped.
"..if you were here looking for someone to have a bit of no strings fun with, because Jasper has this friend, and he's gorgeous and funny and he just got out of this shitty relationship and he doesn't date and truly, all he ever does is complain about his ex and it's holding him back from finding someone new and he doesn't trust women, so he's not looking for anything real but if he doesn't get laid soon we will shoot him or something, so we were wondering..."
My head spun. I had never heard anyone speak quite this quickly before. The words sunk in about then, and I realised she was pimping out her boyfriend's friend.
Which could be just what I need.
"He's gorgeous? Like, truly gorgeous, or gorgeous after half a dozen drinks?" I asked, patting my hair into place and putting my brush back into my bag. I took out my lipstick and carefully applied it, watching the girl out of the corner of my eye.
"Oh really gorgeous. So everyone tells me. I guess I can see it but my Jasper is just so darned adorable I find it hard to judge how handsome other men are. But if you asked Lauren I am sure she'd back me up. She's been chasing him for years but Edward avoids her like the plague and refuses to date anyone in our hometown, so we talked him into coming out with us tonight seeing we had to come to Seattle anyway.."
"Okay!" I held my hands up. "As it happens, for reasons I don't wish to go into, I am looking to hookup with someone tonight. I don't do this normally, believe me, and I am not looking for anything permanent, so maybe this is indeed fortuitous that we met. How about this. We go out there together, you buy me a drink, and introduce me to Mr Gorgeous. If you are indeed telling the truth, then maybe he and I can help one another out. But if he's creepy or weird or anything, then I shall just leave. How's that sound?"
"Wonderful," she replied, throwing me. I was waiting for her to break into another long seemingly endless sentence but she left it at the one word and held out her hand for me to shake.
"So you said. I'm Isabella." No need for real names. If I had to live her shitty life, then she could lend me her name tonight.
I shook her tiny hand and returned her smile.
"Lead the way."
Alice started talking again, filling me in on all things Edward, as we walked out and it was taking all my concentration to understand her babble, so when we reached the bar I hadn't even looked up to check out her friend and when he spoke, I felt the breath leave my body.
He was standing beside Jasper, who suddenly looked plainer.
Gorgeous was an understatement.
He was stunning.
I've never met anyone with green eyes before and his seemed to reach inside my soul.
I do not ever speak like that, even to myself.
"Edward, this is Isabella," my new temporary friend said, grabbing my hand and placing it in his. "She has a free night and wants to have some fun and has no expectations so..."
Green Eyes raised his eyebrows in surprise, and smirked.
I bristled for a millisecond but then he smiled and the world tipped off it's axis and stopped turning.
I shook my head. My inner dialogue was turning into a Mills and Boon novel.
"Isabella. Nice to meet you. Could I buy you a drink?"
His voice sounded like velvet and I know that makes no sense because velvet doesn't make a sound, but if it did, it would sound like him.
"Thank you," I managed to reply.
"She will have a vodka and cranberry," Alice's Jasper interjected, winking at me. So, now I understood why he had been checking me out. Not for himself, but for Edward.
Well lucky me, because Edward made Jasper look kind of ordinary and I never thought I'd say that.
Even Jasper's hair lost it's sheen. While it was much nicer than average, Edward's messy auburn locks should have been illegal.
They were a dangerous weapon.
As if he read my mind, he casually ran his long slim fingers through his hair and grinned at me.
"Is that right? A vodka and cranberry, please," he asked the bartender.
I sat down on the bar stool beside him at Alice's urging, but actually my knees were so weak it was comply or embarrass myself by falling to the floor.
"So, Edward, we will leave you in Isabella's capable hands and head back to the hotel. See you in the morning. Have fun. Oh, and Alice promises not to ask you a single question tomorrow on the trip home. Don't you, Honey?"
Alice looked like she might cry.
"I promise," she conceded after a long moment. I could tell it was the last thing she wanted. It touched me that Edward had such clearly devoted friends. All my senses were on full alert as I tried to ignore the fact that he was gorgeous and let my gut guide me. Somewhere lower than my gut clearly approved and I felt myself blushing at the turmoil in my loins. I'd always wondered what that felt like but I knew now, without any doubt.
Lust, pure and simple.
I wanted him.
There was no doubt in my mind how this night would end, I just hoped he wouldn't do as Alice had warned me, and back out. Apparently he had before.
She and Jasper had been setting him up with suitable girls for months but unfortunately for womankind, he wasn't a manwhore, and had resisted thus far.
She was very sure he needed to do this, needed to hook up, to get his ex out of his head, and thus to move on.
For a moment I regretted the fact that my role was merely as the hookup.
Fate, I have found, is like that.
Just when I'm tied down in an assignment that necessitates me acting like a schoolgirl, I find a man who I find intriguing from his first word. Where has he been all my life?
This encounter has a shelf life of one night, no more. No matter what.
Tomorrow I'm a High School student, and for an entire year I have to live my life that way, being seemingly attracted by seventeen and eighteen year old guys, as stomach churning as that will be.
But if I'm lucky, at night in the privacy of my borrowed bed, I will have tonight to think about, and remember.
And no matter how horny I ever feel, I will just have to endure it.
Pretence can only go so far. The real Isabella may have had the option of sleeping around with her schoolmates, but I won't, not that I'd want to
Life had taught me males were pretty much not worth knowing until they neared thirty.
"So, Isabella," Edward said, pushing my drink towards me, "Tell me something about yourself. What's a beautiful woman like you doing hooking up with strangers?"
"Ah, one stranger," I corrected him. "I don't do this. Honestly. It's a first for me, but circumstances dictate that this is my only option. It's complicated."
You have no idea how complicated.
"I understand. I've never hooked up either. Casual sex is not on the top of my list of things to do. My friends are convinced however, that it's what I need to do to get a certain woman out of my head.
I don't know...
I feel kind of bad, though.
I mean, I'm intending to use you for my own purpose then walk away. Can you handle that?"
"Normally, I would not consider doing anything like this, but needs must. Let's not overthink things. It is what it is. One night of fun and games and that's it. We both know the rules, right? No full names, no details, just enjoy the time we have and say Goodbye in the morning. How hard could it be? We don't know anything about one another and that's they way it has to stay.
That way we can pretend whatever we want. With your looks, I'm pretending you are some much adored movie star. Okay?"
"I wish my life was that exciting. Okay, then you are a supermodel."
I had to laugh because most supermodels tend to be slightly taller than five foot four.
"Really? Like a supermodel in another universe where short chicks rule?"
"I wouldn't call you short. Petite," Edward suggested. "Anyway, you are too healthy and pretty to be a model. You could never pull off the whole heroin addict look. Maybe you should be an actress. Maybe we met at work. Starred together in a blockbuster."
"Action hero movie?" I asked. "If so, then let me be the hero, not the damsel in distress. I'm so sick of women sitting around waiting to be saved. I want to do the saving."
"Funny you should say that," Edward said quietly, suddenly serious. He took my hand and holding my gaze, raised my hand to his lips, and kissed my fingers. "I need saving."
I stared back into his eyes and saw the pain and misery there and as we looked at one another, I thought I saw them change colour. He looked hot, and sexy and, yes, even hopeful that this would be the key that freed him and let him move forward.
I could do this.
I could be his key.
"Let's get out of here," he said suddenly. He kept my hand in his and we walked outside, where he waved a cab over and gave the driver the address of Seattle's best hotel.
"Isabella, as I said, I've never done this before so all I can suggest is we look at this as a role, seeing we are actors," he said gravely, but with a soft smile. "Pretend we have feelings for one another. I want to kiss you and I promise to treat you carefully. I won't do anything you don't want to do, and if you change your mind just ask me to stop and I will. I promise."
He sat down on the edge of the bed and reached out his hands toward me.
I didn't hesitate.
All his words sounded like goodbye, like he wasn't committed to this, and that if I made one sign of hesitation, he would be gone. I was sure by now that this was my chance. This felt oddly like it was always meant to happen. Like it was Edward I had waited for.
I took his hands and straddled his lap, feeling far bolder than I'd imagined.
His eyes were locked on mine, searching for fear or ambivalence on my part and there truly was none.
I may regret many things in my life but tonight would not be one of them.
Okay, I already regretted this was all we could ever be, but that just made me all the more determined to cherish every moment.
Edward released my hands and I placed them lightly on his shoulders as he embraced my waist and leaned in to kiss me.
The moment his lips touched mine I seemed to forget how to breathe and the whole world became just the few inches of his mouth against mine.
His breathing hitched and I felt myself pulling in closer, grabbing his hair in my fingers, urging him against me. I was burning, on fire, and desperate for him to do this. Now.
His hands became urgent as he traced down my sides and I felt pieces of my clothing be wrenched off but not fast enough. I cooperated, urging him to strip me faster, then tearing at his clothes as well, his lips still ravaging mine.
Edward wrenched his belt off, ripped his jeans away and kicked them aside as he lowered my body beneath his onto the bed. I felt him reach behind and take my ankles, pulling them forward and up, onto his shoulders, and I gasped as his fingers entered inside me.
"You feel ready, are you ready for me?" he whispered urgently.
I nodded, biting my lip between my teeth.
In theory this was about to hurt like Hell, according to Bree.
"Isabella, do you want me to stop?" he asked worriedly as I tensed.
"No, please, don't stop," I begged, breathing in deeply, then remembering it was probably better to pant through the pain so I didn't over react.
He was watching my eyes and I held his gaze steadily and reminded myself I wanted this, so badly, and I knew if he stopped now I would regret it far more than he.
"Please," I begged.
He kissed me again and I felt him push inside me, and I felt myself tear. It wasn't that bad. I could handle it.
Edward stopped still.
"Isabella! Oh God no. Why didn't you tell me?"
His eyes looked downright tortured. He dropped my legs down, so I clasped them around his waist before he could withdraw.
"Please, just keep going," I urged, forcing myself to arch so he went in deeper.
He was silent then, and I knew there was no way he would have done this if he had known beforehand.
"It's okay, it's what I want," I assured him quietly.
"Are you sure you want your first time to be with a stranger?" he questioned.
I could see he was torn a lot more than I was.
"It's okay, please don't stop."
I grabbed at his back and urged him to keep going, and finally he complied, but I knew he had come very close to refusing to do this.
"This should be with someone you love," he whispered, his hands gentle on my backside as he inched inside me.
"Then pretend you love me," I suggested.
His lips began kissing my throat, my shoulder,my breasts, my face and then as he sealed our lips together again he bucked inside and paused again, pulling his face back to watch my eyes again.
"Am I hurting you?"
"No. No, it's fine."
"But it's not good," he replied, pulling out.
I felt bereft instantly and feared I would cry.
"it's okay. We can do this, if it is really what you want. I just want it to be good for you too. Lay back and relax."
He hovered above me for a moment then moved away, lowering his head until it was between my legs and I felt his lips kiss me, and his tongue lick me where the fire burned.
The pain eased as a new type of fire began to ignite, and I threw my arms above my head and grabbed onto the bars of the ornate cast iron bedhead.
I could hear the sound of my own moans as Edward's tongue slid against my tender skin and my body arched towards his mouth, wanting him closer.
It felt so good I didn't want him to stop and I could feel the tension building as he eased his finger inside me and stroked in time with his tongue.
Why had I waited again?
Clearly because I had never imagined it could be like this.
I felt myself suddenly explode against his lips and he immediately left and was hovering above me again, pushing inside my still pulsating core.
This time his thrusting didn't hurt at all and I tentatively ground against him each time he entered.
"Oh Baby, Isabella, you feel so good, so amazing," he chanted, and I wished I'd told him my real name in that moment. This was mine, my time, my turn, she had no part of this.
"Edward, go harder," I whispered. He seemed to be holding back, afraid to hurt me I guessed.
He thrust in harder and grabbed onto my thighs, his breathing louder with each stroke.
I was surprised to feel good, needy, wanting more, even though a minute earlier I had felt done.
We rocked together faster and he let himself thrust deeper and deeper until the friction of his body against mine sent sparks off between us where we were joined, and just as my body succumbed to pure pleasure again, the room went dark and stars appeared beneath my eyelids.
"Edward," I yelled in surprise, feeling him thrusting urgently now, slightly out of control, and then he yelled my name; her name, and I didn't care at all.
It was my body he was thrilling, my lips he was kissing, my back his hands was pulling in closer to his chest. He shook and stilled inside me then commenced thrusting again, slower, more gently, moaning in ecstasy.
Once again I felt bereft as he pulled out and flopped down beside me.
"Are you okay?" he asked, wrapping his body around mine. "You bled a little. Are you sore?"
My mind suddenly kicked in.
"You drank my blood?"
There was no other explanation. His mouth, his tongue had been right there.
"It tasted delicious," he admitted, kissing my cheek.
Okay, this had been so very different to what I had pictured. In my mind, I'd thought I would lay here passively and he would...do his thing, and I would endure the pain and be glad when it was over.
Instead I wished I could turn back time and have him do that, do everything, over again.
My mother was right about one thing.
First times were special.
I would never forget mine.
"How was it for you? Honestly?" Edward asked as I relaxed against his body as he spooned his around mine.
"So much better than I ever hoped or expected," I admitted happily. He snuggled against me, reaching to tuck my hair behind my ear and kissing my throat.
"It was amazing for me. I had no idea."
"I know. I guess I should say sorry for not warning you but you would never have agreed if I had told you, would you?" I said.
"Never," he agreed.
He leaned up and rested his head on one hand, his elbow bent on the mattress, as I turned to face him.
I put my hands around his face and kissed his lips softly, and he lay flat down, pulling my body close to his again.
"Thank you. I felt totally safe with you and thank you for making it feel so..awesome for me. I didn't expect that at all."
"What did you expect?" he asked, taking my hands and kissing them.
"Lots of pain, agony, fear. Having to handle it in silence while you had your thrill," I replied.
"Then I'm glad it wasn't like that. I feel kind of in awe that you wanted me to do that. I can't pretend to understand why you chose me."
"Maybe I knew on some level how gentle you would be," I murmured.
"Isabella, this is going to make it harder to walk away," he stated, kissing my neck. "Are you sure we can only have tonight because I really want to see you again."
"I'm sorry too, but we have to remember this is just what it is. We don't really have feelings for one another. I guess it's like being the survivors of a plane crash or something. You share an intense experience and it superficially bonds you together. But real life isn't like that. Not for me.
I have my life mapped out for the next few years and it can't be changed. I never imagined I would wish it could be otherwise, and I'm sure in the light of day we will both realise we are being a tad dramatic here now.
We are still strangers and our paths will never cross again."
"Unless it's meant to," Edward suggested. "Maybe it's written in the stars for us to find one another again some day."
I shrugged. "Sometimes kismet happens. I'm not banking on it this time."
"Would you like to take a bath? With me?" he asked.
"Sure. If that's okay. Won't there be blood?" I asked.
"Isabella, you cannot honestly think I'm afraid of a little blood," he said with a laugh.
It was nice, laying against his chest as he washed my breasts with such dedication. I could see he was a man who liked to do everything properly. Thoroughly.
"You are one beautiful and amazing woman, Isabella. I shall miss you."
"Not possible," I laughed. "You don't know me, Edward. I'm very forgettable. Very ordinary. You make me feel beautiful and that's quite an achievement, I can tell you. Nobody has ever made me feel that way before."
"Are you going to tell me why you chose to lose your virginity to a stranger?" he asked. "I really want to know."
"Because it was time. I've had boyfriends. I've dated so many toads I could start a reptile park. It just never felt right and I decided I had to do this, preferably with somebody pretty, and nice, and kind, and then walk away before you could let me down. Nothing personal, but in my experience all men let you down. I wanted this to happen with someone I had nothing invested in. That way I can always wonder 'what if' and I think that will be amazing.
You were amazing, and I shall remember you with gratitude and fondness forever. How many women have said that to you, Edward?"
"You have a point. If you knew me you would never have let me touch you. It was better this way. I'll always be your movie star and you will always be my virgin. I'll never forget you."
"Good," I said, kissing his lips. "Now, how about we go back to bed, and get some sleep. And maybe in the morning we can do it all again and I can walk out the door with a smile on my face, and keep this memory locked in my heart forever. Deal?"
"Deal. If that's what you really want."
"Oh Edward, believe me, it's not what I want. Not really. I bet you and I would be good together. But I have commitments and I'm sure you do too. It's called Real Life. I'm not a player in your movie and you aren't in mine either.
Can we get room service? I'm starving."
It was an amazing night.
It was the first time I slept with a man, in both senses.
Falling asleep with him spooned against me was wonderful. Although it was all make believe, I still felt cherished and protected. I guess it was because we had no future, there was no reason to hold back. No hearts were risked, no feelings in danger of being hurt. Waking up in the early hours when he started stroking my flesh again. I had my legs wide apart in an instant.
"No, Baby. You will hurt. I don't want to cause you pain. We can just hug."
"Oh no we can't," I growled. "I want you to make love to me again. I don't care if I'm left a little sore and grazed. I have a long time to recover. I want some more memories, Edward. We have tonight, and nothing more. Please, just do it again."
"Maybe if I enter from behind it might be more comfortable," he suggested.
I stiffened and he chuckled.
"Isabella, I'm not suggesting anal. Just a different position so no one area gets too raw."
"Okay," I said warily.
Edward took charge and his hand lowered to my apex and in seconds I was ready.
"I want you so badly," Edward said but I was thinking the same thing exactly. His voice was turning me on something chronic. How was I going to live the rest of my life without him and his magic fingers?
He pulled me close as if I was sitting on his knee, although we were both laying down on our sides and I felt him push inside.
I remember this feeling.
He started off slowly and gently and I urged him to go faster and harder and deeper, because I liked it that way.
His fingers stroked against my eager nerves and I felt myself let go, and he thrust again and let go too.
Damn that was awesome.
I imagine that is as good as it gets for any human.
As he left my body, he turned me to face him, and the kissing started yet again.
I love his kisses.
I could truly let myself believe they meant something if I wasn't careful.
I had not really thought about anything more the the mechanics of sex. Maybe all guys kissed you like this in gratitude when you let them inside your body?
"Isabella, I am loving this time spent with you. You are a beautiful woman and your body is just amazing. Thank you."
His hands a lips seemed to stroke or kiss every inch of me, and I felt like laughing out loud with pure joy.
So this is bliss.
I'd wondered what that word really meant.
Clearly this was why it was invented.
We lay there wrapped together so tightly I was surprised we could continue breathing, but neither wanted to pull back.
My skin needed his against it. It was hungry, greedy, for his touch.
He was an amazing lover and I pitied whoever came next because I knew it would be impossible to not compare them to Edward.
And compared to him they would suck.
So I pitied me as well.
And I felt something I had never felt before.
Pure jealousy for whoever she would be. The woman who got to keep him.
It couldn't be me, but that's my life.
We ate breakfast together, in bed, and showered together again, for the third time, and we even managed shower sex which was all I hoped it would be.
And then checkout time was looming.
"Hey. Do you have plans for today? I could tell Jaz and Alice to go home without me and follow later," Edward suggested.
"Is that a good idea, really?" I asked. "I have somewhere to be at six p.m. tonight but my day is clear."
"Of course it's not a good idea but who cares? I want as much time with you as I can have," he declared, pulling on the new pair of socks he had bought in the gift shop.
I shivered in anticipation that maybe we would find a place to touch one another again, if not have full sex. I thirsted for his body against mine but if all I could have were his clever hands then they would have to suffice. And his lips.
Damn it, how was I going to walk away from his lips?
The new underclothing he had bought for me felt so soft and silky against my skin. I would think of him every time I wore them.
Who was I kidding?
I would think of him every day of my life and dream about him every night.
I was screwed.
Edward insisted on taking me to his favourite shops,and I reluctantly allowed him to clasp a pretty bracelet with a small shiny diamond around my wrist; not the expensive one he preferred.
I pointed out if he bought me that diamond ladened monstrosity, it would feel like payment in kind. I didn't want last night to feel like a transaction.
This bracelet was sixty bucks.
He didn't look like a man on a budget, and clearly sixty dollars was nothing to him. He gave in, in good grace. I hadn't wanted him to buy me anything at all.
We compromised. I let him buy one small diamond pendant to hang off the silver circle.
We went to his favourite restaurant for lunch, then we spent the afternoon lying on a picnic blanket in a park, kissing and cuddling like a pair of high school lovers.
I was glad I would get to talk about this in the days and weeks and months to come, even if I had to lower his age to a daring twenty one maybe, but at least I could let my teenage self imagine that he had been the love of my life that Fate had ripped from me.
I didn't think about that too much.
It would be useful to use this experience to relate to my new school friends, but they would never know how long I had waited for him.
And how brief our time together really was. I would be able to pretend it had been a whole Summer we had spent in one another's arms, not a mere twenty four hours.
Damn, I would miss him.
"Why can't we meet again? Explain to me," Edward asked, leaning up on his elbow, playing with a strand of my hair as I lay on my back looking at the clouds above. Soft, fluffy, like cotton.
"Because this has been perfect. And because my life is complicated."
"You know, I'd guess you were married if it wasn't for the fact you were a virgin. What other complication could be so radical it means we can't even date? You can't have kids at home waiting for you. If you had a serious boyfriend you wouldn't have needed me. What is it?"
"My life is not my own most of the time. I can't explain. It's not something I can discuss. Look, in an ideal world, sure, we could date. Get to know one another, and see if this could be a beginning but believe me, it isn't possible. For a year, maybe two, my life has no room for a boyfriend. It's just impossible. If I'd met you earlier things might be different but it's just the way things are."
As tempted as I was to resign there and then and find myself a job in a library or something, this was my career, and I was good at it.
Looking back at my woeful dating history, it was pretty obvious I wasn't wife and mother material. Things always started out strong, and good, and then sometimes only days later I'd find myself looking for an excuse to cancel our next date.
Beg Marcus to send me back undercover long enough for the guy to cool off, give up and move on.
Maybe it could be different with Edward, and then again, maybe not.
I knew nothing about him.
For all I knew he was a serial killer.
Even if he was something a lot less dramatic, how would I feel if I tossed in my career and we didn't last the distance?
How many couples stay married these days?
I'm waiting for the term 'life partner' to be abandoned, seeing nobody hangs on for an entire lifetime any more.
You can't have multiple 'life partners' so we need to revert back to the old 'significant other', seeing it doesn't imply permanency at all.
No false promises; no raising anyone's hopes.
Edward was recently out of a failed relationship so he was no more perfect than the rest of us, except for the obvious.
But pretty is not a basis for a relationship, and neither is excellent, red hot sex.
I had to be real here. I wasn't seventeen any more, though I would be tomorrow.
Seventeen but with eight years extra experience and knowledge.
I wish I'd had that when I really was seventeen.
Edward looked sad.
"So, did you achieve what you wanted to achieve?" I asked him as he ran his hand over my cheek. I had to leave soon, in two short hours, to be sitting in the airport, 'newly arrived' when Charlie Swan appeared.
"Hmm? Oh yes. I'm completely sure I'll never think of her again. Not now. Now my head will be full of you. Your face, your scent, your body. Your lips.
It seems I have swapped one obsession for another.
I truly no longer care that she treated me like shit and cheated on me. It doesn't matter any more. This night and day though so much briefer are so much more meaningful. I'll never forget you, Isabella."
See, that's how I know life sucks.
This beautiful man will remember me, for a while, at least, and he will always think my name is Isabella.
The receptionist seemed unsurprised that we were back and she handed over the keycard and gave me a wink.
Okay, she got it.
She knew a guy like Edward was hard to resist and even harder to walk away from.
Luckily nobody else entered the elevator or appeared in the lobby on our floor because we were both pretty much naked by the time Edward opened the door to our room.
The bedcovers were tossed to the floor as Edward all but threw me onto the bed, and he was above me as soon as he kicked off his shoes, and pulled my black leather boots from my legs.
My new knickers were thrown somewhere, and then Edward paused, running his hands over my naked body.
"Is there anything you want to try? So far you have let me lead."
"There's a reason for that, remember," I replied.
"Oh, I will never ever forget that I was your first," Edward replied. "Nobody else has ever bestowed that honour on me. I will treasure the memory."
"So, maybe you could lie down and I could...sort of..."
"be on top? That would be nice."
He helped me as I somewhat inelegantly straddled his body and lowered myself onto him. It was good, being in control of how slowly he fitted inside, and how deep I wanted him to go.
Once he was all the way in, he grinned. "Well done. You seem to be a natural at this."
"Maybe I just have the best teacher," I replied.
Edward held my hips and smiled as I tried to work out what to do now.
He took my feet and placed them flat on the mattress again and guided me up away from him, then back down.
Thrills shot through me, and I soon figured out where to aim for and I had to agree, this was coming naturally to me. To us.
We seemed to be a very good fit.
I had no clue if he was large or average, having no comparisons to draw on, but he was the perfect size for me.
He leaned up and started sucking on a nipple, and I exploded without warning, yelling out his name.
He wrapped his arms around my body and sat up properly, keeping me still flush against him as I pulsed and tried to remember to breathe.
How were we going to stop?
He hadn't come yet and that made me bold.
I wasn't a fan of this layer of plasticky latex between us.
"Edward, have you ever made love bareback?" I asked, rubbing my hands through his hair.
"No, never. I've only had sex within relationships and neither got to the point where I was willing to risk impregnating either girl," he replied.
I was only his third.
I had kind of figured he would have been with a lot of girls by now.
"I really want us to try that. Please."
He shook his head.
"Isabella, that's too dangerous. I mean, I'm clean. I've been tested since we split up and I have never done anything risky anyway, but you don't need the worry and complications of an unwanted pregnancy. Isn't this enough?"
I could feel him bucking slightly, impatient to get going again so he could finish. I would never get this chance again. Not with him.
"Please. I just finished my period. There's no chance I'm ovulating any time soon. Even your sperm could not hang around for ten more days. I really want to feel you come inside me."
I had him.
He moaned at the idea.
Quickly taking advantage, I stood and peeled the condom from him, and tossed it away, before sitting back down, and feeling nothing but him; his bare naked skin; inside me.
"So much better," I cooed, and he sighed and kissed my lips.
"Isabella, only you could convince me to allow this. I have to withdraw beforehand, so don't stop me."
As it turned out, I didn't have to.
He was in a perfect rhythm, rocking me to the edge again, and as I felt myself let go, he suddenly pumped harder and came inside me.
I knew he would freak so I grabbed his shoulders and sat there, holding him, kissing his head, murmuring that it was okay, everything was going to be fine.
"I'm so regular you could use me as a calendar. There's no harm done. It's way too early in my cycle," I reassured him.
He finally stilled and looked up at me almost bashfully.
"Isabella, that was the best feeling I have ever felt in my life."
"For me too," I agreed.
"We can't do it again," he warned, but guess what? He was wrong.
Because we did.
We showered together in a rush, and I threw on my clothing, and he caught me as I headed for the door. I just hoped Charlie Swan was as late as I was.
"Goodbye, Isabella. Thank you for the very best twenty four hours of my life. No matter what you say, I am allowed to love you a little bit. Please remember me. I'll never forget you. One day I will find you again and your life will not be complicated by then," he promised.
"Goodbye, Edward. It's been unbelievable," I replied. "It's been the best time ever, and I love you a little as well. I hope you do find me again. I won't be hiding."
Well, I guess I would be, but one day this case would be over, and I would definitely reevaluate my priorities, because suddenly, for the first time, there was another life I wanted more than the one I had worked for, and achieved by my own merit, and was living now.
Our last kiss was so tender it brought tears to my eyes, so I pulled away and fled, as if the hounds of Hell were at my heels.
I didn't dare look back.