A little NSFW

Chapter 21

The scent and feel of Edward surrounded me—our hands in each other's hair, chests pressed tightly together and mouths unwilling to let the other go. We tasted and touched, tongues mingling, fingers exploring, as if we could make up for the last two months in that one kiss.

I still couldn't believe any of this was real, that he was here and he wanted me—loved me like I loved him. There was one more discussion I wanted to have though.

Reluctantly, I pulled my lips away from him and let my weight rest on his thighs again. We had been about a second away from dry humping, and my body protested the loss of contact with a light groan. With my hands on his cheeks, I looked at him, really looked at him for the first time.

Bright emerald still shone from the depth of the irises staring back at me. My fingers traced through the scruff on his jaw that had to be a few days old. It was where my thumbs rubbed soothing lines under his eyes that surprised me the most. Deep shadows adorned the area, and for all of Edward's lovely words and apologies, I knew there was something he wasn't saying.

"How are you?" I whispered.

He closed his eyes and leaned into my touch, letting out a breath. "As good as can be expected?" he said as more of a question than a statement. "Some days are still hard and others are slightly less difficult."

"I'm sorry I wasn't there for you." I wished I had something else to offer him, something that truly spoke of the regret I harbored for the way I had acted two months ago, but the apology would have to do until I could prove I would be there for him in the future.

He pulled my right hand from his face and placed a gentle kiss on my palm before moving my hand to his chest, above his heart. "No, baby," he said solemnly, and my heart nearly melted at the ease of his term of endearment. "That's something else I have to apologize for."

"What? No," I protested, but he hushed me and pulled my body from his lap and into his side.

"You called and tried, but"—he shook his head—"I was in a bad place and I wasn't ready yet. There was so much to do, and I couldn't process it all. By the time I was ready to talk to you, I felt like it had to be in person. I couldn't do this over the phone with an entire country separating us." He squeezed me into his side to prove his point and then kissed the tip of my nose. "And don't think I didn't know it was you behind that donation from the company."

"It was from the entire team," I said with a shrug. Edward had many friends within the company.

"Yes, but who arranged it?" He raised a knowing eyebrow.

"How did you know?" The hospital's name had been listed in the obituary as a place to send donations, so anyone from the office could have handled it.

He pulled me in tighter. "Because there was only one person Mr. Webber could have been referring to when he mentioned that a coworker of mine asked for the information. You're the only person who knew about my mom's illness or knows who the Webbers are. So thank you. At that time, it helped to know you cared, even just that little bit."

"Of course I cared. I was just scared of how much," I admitted, shrugging off his praise. It was the least I could do—really, the only thing I had been able to do. "Will you go back?"

Edward sighed and leaned back into the corner of the couch, pulling me with him until I settled into the space between him and the cushions with my head on his shoulder. My fingers toyed with the light hair on his arm while his soothed up and down my back. I melted into his body with a deep sigh.

"Probably not," he finally offered. "There's nothing to go back to, you know? My parents loved the town, but I never did. I settled the estate and sold the house. There's some stuff still in storage that I have to have shipped eventually, but otherwise my life is here now. That's what took me so long to get back, just tying up all the loose ends."

I hummed my acknowledgement just as Sandy came back up on the couch. She walked up the length of my body before stepping off of me and onto Edward's chest, her loud, obnoxious purr right in my face. Edward laughed but didn't seem to mind the intrusion.

"Hey," he said much more cheerily than our previous discussion. "I have something for you. Come down to my place?"


"Oh, and I'm bringing Sandy." He held on to her as we both started to get up. I had no idea why he would want to take her to his apartment, but she was certainly happy to stay in his arms.

Edward ran his fingers through her tan fur and spoke to her as we made the short walk down the hall. It was almost an eerie feeling, being back outside of his apartment after avoiding this end of the building for so long. The last time I stood here, he was shutting me out of his life for good, or so I thought. I still had trouble accepting all of this was real. Hopefully time would prove that as well.

Juggling the cat in his arms a bit, Edward pulled his keys from his front pocket.

"Here, let me," I offered when he struggled to find the right one with only one hand. I knew taking the keys was a better option than trying to pry a content Sandy from him.

I peered at the set of keys in my palm, looking for one that was similar to my apartment key when my eyes caught on the ring that held them all together.

"You kept it," I whispered, reverently caressing the leopard that dangled between all the metal.

"I told you"—he turned me toward him and kissed my forehead—"I always planned to come back."

With a smile fighting its way onto my face, I opened the door. When I stepped inside, I immediately noticed the changes. The apartment was now Edward's, as opposed to the temporary space it had been before. Gone were the standard issue couch and chair, replaced with a comfortable looking rust-colored sectional sofa. A few pictures hung on the walls, and a full stereo system was in a cherry wood entertainment center. There were still a few boxes in the living room, but everything was as tidy as it usually was.

What had me stopping in my tracks was the lump of black fur curled up on the corner sofa cushion.

"Sandy," Edward said, drawing my attention back to him. He was holding her up at eye level and grinning widely. "I'd like to introduce you to Danny."

He walked over to the couch and placed her down next to the kitten, who immediately raised his head and opened his sleepy eyes. The two cats appraised each other for a moment before Sandy decided the new addition was acceptable and started licking his head. The kitten laid his head back down and rolled partially onto his back, welcoming his new friend with a paw on her face as she continued to bathe him.

"You got a cat?" I blurted, beaming at him. He always did want a pet but never could have one since he traveled so much. This was just one more show of his stability in my life from now on.

Edward rubbed the back of his neck. "Um … I got us a cat, but he can stay here if you want. I just thought Sandy might like a friend."

My lips curled up higher. "Danny?"

He gave a short laugh and shrugged. "It seemed to fit since he's all black, like a T-Bird's jacket."

"So, he's ours?" I asked, stepping closer to him.

He exhaled as he pulled me closer by the belt loops of my jeans. "Yeah," he said quietly. "I told you I want it all with you." He kissed my lips lightly. "You have to tell me now if this isn't what you want."

I didn't even take a second to think. "This is what I want," I answered confidently.

"I know you're probably gonna need to take things slow, and I promise to be patient, but I can't promise not to push."

This time I stood on my toes to reach his lips for an all too brief kiss. "I can't promise I won't get scared, but I'm not running anymore. I might need you to push sometimes," I admitted.

He nodded and pressed his forehead to mine. "There will be sleepovers," he said, pushing some hair back from my face. "And dates." He pulled back to look at me. "In fact … Bella, will you be my date to Jasper and Alice's wedding?" He was so serious, yet a smirk crept onto his lips.

All the anxiety I had felt this morning at the mention of Edward coming to the wedding was now gone. In its place was a warm feeling, a feeling of hopefulness and contentment with a little bit of excitement mixed in. "Yes."

He smiled brightly. I glanced over to the couch again, laughing quietly at Sandy and Danny. They had curled up together in opposite directions, looking much like a yin yang made out of black and tan fur.

"I think they have the right idea." He took hold of my hand and led me down the hallway to his bedroom, and I willingly followed.

The changes in there were similar to the living room—more of Edward's belongings and a feeling of permanence. He really was here to stay. He gave me a minute to look around before stepping behind me and sweeping my hair over one shoulder.

Placing feather-light kisses on my neck, he murmured, "I've been away from you for too long."

I sighed and relaxed into his embrace, more than happy to stay there for a while. I suspected Edward felt the same need for connection I did, so I eventually turned around and met his lips with mine.

Although everything about Edward was familiar, our kiss was different. I could feel every ounce of love he poured into it, and I matched it with my own. I was still scared of giving up my heart—I suspected I always would be—but I didn't let the fear rule my actions. For once in my life, I was going to be happy. I was going to allow myself to love and be loved, consequences be damned.

We moved slowly, removing clothes and exploring each other's bodies. I touched and tasted, relearning every place on Edward that made him sigh, moan or groan. When his hands moved across my torso, I thought I would explode from the fire burning within. He kissed every inch of me until I was begging him for more.

"Please, Edward." I groaned as his mouth covered a nipple while his fingers toyed with the other. "I need you."

He kissed his way back up until he was covering my mouth with his and our tongues mingled together once again. "Anything you want," he said on a breath against my lips.

When he reached over to the nightstand drawer, I stopped him. "I want to feel you … all of you. I'm safe," I explained.

He groaned and dropped his forehead to my sternum, but repositioned his body, aligning it with mine. Leaning on his forearms, he held my face in his hands and looked into my eyes. "I love you," he said, pushing his way home.

I gasped but kept my eyes on his. "I love you too." I had never felt as good, as complete, as I did in that moment.

Edward's gaze never left mine, and he began a slow, steady pace. My legs wrapped around his waist and my fingers dug into the muscles of his back, gripping him to ensure this wasn't a dream. Our gasps and moans were the only sounds in the room as our movements sped up. My body matched his thrust for thrust while the coil tightened and threatened to explode.

Knowing my body the way he did, Edward reached between us and rubbed tight circles, throwing me into oblivion. He came right after me, filling me and stilling deep inside before dropping his weight onto me. It felt like the perfect blanket—warm and heavy and completely comforting.

We were both still catching our breath when my stomach made its presence known, reminding me I hadn't eaten much at breakfast and skipped lunch in favor of cleaning the apartment.

"This seems to be a common occurrence with you." He laughed but quickly resumed a serious expression. "Can I take you to dinner? A date?"

I smiled shyly but admitted the truth. "I'd like that."

"Care to join me in a quick shower?"

"Oh, I should probably go back to my apartment. I'm covered in cleaning products, and I need clean clothes."

He pushed my sweaty hair back from my forehead and spoke softly. "Go get some clothes and bring them back here, or I can bring something down to your place. I'm not ready to let you go yet."

I agreed and suggested he grab his clothes while I got cleaned up in the bathroom and then redressed. Sandy made her displeasure known with a hiss when I tried to separate her from Danny to take her home, so we decided to leave them together for the evening. Edward had a litter box in the bathroom and food and water in the kitchen. They could enjoy their own date tonight. I was certainly going to enjoy mine.

Our mutual shower was filled with loving touches and more reacquainting of our bodies. Now that I had Edward back and knew what it was like to be without him, I never wanted to let him go.

He took me to one of my favorite Mexican restaurants in the city. It was a little upscale so I didn't come here often, but considering it was our first official date, I was going to enjoy every minute of it. Besides, the food was moan-worthy, something Edward took great delight in.

"I know this is only our first date," Edward commented as we walked hand in hand back into The Regency, "but I was really hoping you'd stay over tonight."

I had a smartass comment on the tip of my tongue, but it died there when I looked at his vulnerable face. He knew what he was asking of me, and it was an important step for me—for us. I smiled at him as we stepped into the elevator. "I'd really like that," I admitted, knowing I wasn't ready to be separated from him any more than he wanted to be from me.

He let out a relieved breath and kissed me. "Good. The kids probably miss us anyway."

He was right about that. Both cats were rubbing up against us as soon as we walked in the door, and they followed us into the bedroom. I took off my clothes and pulled Edward's T-shirt over my head while he stripped down to his underwear. We climbed under the covers, and our bodies gravitated to each other like magnets in the center of the bed. Sandy and Danny jumped up and made themselves comfortable while Edward wrapped me in his arms.

I was home.

A/N: Coincidentally, I just got a new kitten this week—I had no idea when I wrote this that we would even consider another cat. Strange timing. My older cat isn't so sure about the little guy yet, but they're getting there. I realize most cats take a while to warm up to a new one in the house, but this is Sandy and Danny. Of course they love each other from the start!

I was so happy to see many of you recognizing Edward's part in the inevitable separation. No, it doesn't let Bella off the hook for her behavior, but at least they each owned up to their mistakes. He did know what he was getting into with Bella. His mother's accident could be called poor timing, or you could say it was the kick in the pants Bella needed. I'm sure you all understand why an EPOV was impossible before now.

As I'm sure you can guess, we're in the home stretch right now. Two more chapters and an epilogue before until I put this story to bed.

I posted a link on Facebook to the article I published on PTB's Smut University website. It's called The Right Amount of Spice.

Those of you attending the TFMU this weekend, I hope you have a great time!

See you on Monday.