Hey, everyone! So sorry I've been MIA for a while. I've been dealing with some family things, and I also went on a family vacation! But now, I'm back, and I'm going to finish the story. I promise!
I said this would be the last chapter told from B's POV, but I couldn't fit everything into this chapter. So there will be one more B POV chapter, and incidentally, it will be an even numbered chapter, which is very important to me ;)
I have a bunch of reviews to respond to and a bunch of PM's to get to, as well. And I have to sort through and thank everyone that's recommended my story (y'all are all so amazing), but I have an appointment in a few minutes. So I'll get to all those wonderful things tonight. (; Thank y'all again for putting up with me. oxoxoxo
"Baby, what you want me to do?" -the Everly Brothers
"I don't want to grow up," Edward tells me one night while we're lying in bed. He plays with the ends of my hair instead of looking at me. "To get older. Getting married and having a family and all that just scares the shit out of me, and I don't know why."
"You shouldn't let it," I say, tracing the lines of his stomach with my fingertips. "You'll be wonderful at anything. And you've already got a high stress, high maintenance job. You do great at it. That's very adult of you."
"I don't know," he says, exhaling his words heavily. He drops his head back against the pillows and stares up at the ceiling. "I shouldn't even be telling you these things."
"It's not really what a girl wants to hear, is it? How much settling down scares me." Edward tugs playfully on my hair.
I smile and look up at him, my chin resting on his chest. "Edward, things aren't really normal for us. I don't expect you to get down on one knee anytime soon. I don't want that, anyway."
"What do you want, Bella Swan?" Edward asks, the left side of his mouth pulling up into a beautiful, crooked grin.
"You," I reply, shrugging. "That's all I want."
"You have me."
I inhale and lean up, kissing him briefly. My smile is tired and a little hopeless. "No, I don't. Not really."
"There. All done." Edward motions to the tiny Christmas tree with pride.
I laugh, drawing my knees up to my chest as I sit on the couch.
I'm wearing nothing but a T-shirt of Edward's. I'm a messy bun tied up on the top of my head. I'm a scrubbed clean face. I'm chipped nail polish. And I'm absolute exuberance as I stare at our little tree with its twinkle lights and minimal decorations.
"What do you think?" he asks, dropping down beside me.
"It's perfect," I whisper.
"It kind of looks like Charlie Brown's Christmas tree."
"It does not."
"It does. Look. It's leaning to one side. Pitiful."
"Shut up, Edward. It's beautiful. Don't say ugly things about it." I glance over at him. "We should sleep on the couches tonight and leave nothing but the tree lights on. Since it's Christmas Eve."
"Sure," he replies, kissing my forehead. Then he looks back at the tree and cocks his head. "Okay. The star's crooked. I have to fix it." He hops up and starts messing with it again, obsessively, because he's kind of a perfectionist.
I watch him fiddle with it, muttering under his breath like a complete freak when it won't cooperate for him. I smile.
And suddenly, I'm overwhelmed and heavy feeling.
I'm bursting with something, but being crushed, too.
I'm nothing but too-fast heartbeats and overflowing warmth.
I'm restlessness and an achy chest.
I start to cry, just a little, hot tears dripping down my cheeks.
Edward glances over and frowns. He immediately abandons his efforts with the tree and crouches in front of me. "Hey. What's wrong?"
"Nothing," I say. But the answer appears out of the blue. So I tell him. "I'm just happy."
"You don't cry when you're happy," he accuses, his eyes narrowing.
I swipe at my eyes quickly and nod. "I'm just overwhelmingly happy. That's all."
Edward debates on believing it for a few seconds. And then he smiles. He sits down beside me, pulls me close to his chest, hugging me to him with his arms. I hug him back tightly. And I cry some more because it feels good to be embraced.
"So," Edward says, grinning over at me. He swings our interlocked hands wildly as we walk down the beach. Today, he's a backwards baseball cap, pink khaki shorts and a white T-shirt. He's college boy cute and movie-star handsome. "How was your Christmas?"
"Wonderful," I say earnestly, not bothering with a witty response. "Let's never leave. Let's stay here forever."
"Okay." Edward leans into me, kissing my temple as we stumble-walk down the shoreline.
I smile and stare out at the fiery sunset and liquid gold ocean. "I wish it were that easy."
"Me too." Edward sighs and tosses his arm around me carelessly. "Don't think about it now. Think about it tomorrow. Isn't that what you told me once?"
I laugh. "Yes, I believe so. It was my advice on the issue of your smoking."
"Very good advice. What would I do without you?"
"I don't know. I wouldn't try it," I reply, shrugging.
Edward grins and kisses me again. "I don't plan to."
The steam is thick, and I almost drop my bottle of conditioner when I feel Edward kiss the back of my neck. He runs his hands purposefully slow and teasingly down my arms, raising goose bumps in the overheated shower stall.
"No," I say with a laugh, pulling away from him. "I have to put my conditioner in my hair first."
"Why?" he mumbles against my shoulder.
"Why do you think?" I mutter, squeezing out a dollop of conditioner.
"So your hair can get conditioned while I fuck you?"
"Very astute observation," I reply, smiling while heat shivers up my spine. I work my conditioner in slowly. "You know, for a boy who passed the bar exam and became New York's youngest ADA, your knowledge of common beauty practices is incredibly lacking."
"I don't use conditioner," Edward says. "My hair just happens to be naturally luscious." He smacks my ass lightly.
I elbow his stomach.
I am freshly scrubbed skin and an eternal smile as I watch Edward step out of the shower behind me, wrapping a towel around his waist.
"What?" he asks, smiling back.
I smirk and hop up on the edge of the sink, watching him as he scrubs his hair with another towel.
"What are you smiling about?" he demands, swatting the towel at me.
"What you did to me in the shower."
I am hotly blushing cheeks and warmth all over.
Edward walks over and rests his hands on the sink, on either side of my hips. He leans into me playfully. He's mischievously dancing eyes and a crooked grin and a towel that's hanging dangerously low on his hips. "Yeah?"
"Yeah," I reply, leaning into him, brushing our lips teasingly.
Edward dips his head down to my neck, and then it's his lips that are teasing my frantic-pounding pulse. "You like it?"
I am a flip-flopping stomach and a silly smile. I'm always these things when Edward's around.
"Obviously," I say.
His hands are suddenly on my knees. He pulls them apart a little, playfully. "Want me to do it again?"
I maneuver my leg between us and use my foot to push at his stomach. "No," I reply. "I don't want to seem too easy."
I kick him. "I think you're getting a little too sassy for my taste." I hop off the sink and push him out of my way so I can see into the mirror.
"Now you know how I feel when I'm with you," he murmurs, wrapping his arms around me from behind. The kiss he plants against my neck soon turns into a little bite and then the softest of suction.
I lean back against him, closing my eyes to my makeup free reflection. I feel his hands on my hips, tugging gently at the fabric of my towel.
"I want you again," he says quietly against my neck after I just know he's left a mark on my skin. "I fucking want you all the time."
I smile gently in the darkness behind my eyelids. "I want you, too." His arms have wrapped around my waist now, and I smooth my fingers over his muscles, over the veins in his hands, over every inch of skin I know now. "I don't want to leave, Edward. I don't want everything to be over. I just want us to run away."
He grows quiet as his lips press a soft kiss to my temple and then to my jaw, but it's all instinctual and mindless, as if he's somewhere else. "Maybe we can."
My eyes flicker open and find him in the mirror's reflection. But his own gaze is fixed purposefully and unwaveringly into the distance.
"We could go," he says, and it's whispered, like the most dangerous secret. "We could move somewhere else. Maybe California. You could pick any school you wanted. And I could maybe set up a law practice or something. All private. I mean, I don't have any money of my own, but I know my mom and dad could—"
I jerk away from him sharply. "Shut up, Edward," I say quietly, shaking my head. I pull the towel off my head and start drying my hair with it. "Don't say shit like that."
"Like what?" he demands. "I thought you wanted this to last forever. Do you really think it will if we don't move?"
"Are you hearing yourself?" I ask, spinning to face him. He's all bewildered hurt, and I almost drop my infuriated tone. But I can't quite manage to. "You're going to give up everything you've worked for in New York? You're going to move away from your family, from your friends? Just for me? That's crazy."
Edward's mouth opens once, twice. But he never can get anything out, so he finally looks at the floor, his mind working. "Well. I certainly thought you'd have a different reaction to the plan than this."
I blow out a sigh and drift over to him, putting my hands on his cheeks, forcing him to look at me. "It isn't as if the idea doesn't seem perfect to me, Edward. But I don't want you giving everything up for me. You'd hate me after a few years. Maybe even a few months. You'd resent me."
"I wouldn't have offered to move away unless I wanted to," he says, frowning.
"You're making a snap decision."
"No, I'm not. Give me a little credit, Bella. I've thought it through—"
"For how many weeks, Edward?" I demand, pulling away from him again. "Two? Two weeks, which is, incidentally, how many weeks we've been here together."
He stalks forward, pinning me against the bathroom wall, his face twisted with barely controlled anger. "What? You think that because I've been fucking you at least once every day that I can't think logically anymore? That it's clouded my judgment?"
"I think I cloud your judgment in general," I reply dully.
This takes the steam out of him almost immediately. I see the guilt, the pain, the indecision flashing on his face, burning up his eyes. He slumps, leaning heavily against the wall, and I see the fight go out of him. "Well, what do you want to do, Bella? Since you're the one always calling the fucking shots."
I shove roughly at his chest, pushing him away from me. Heat flares up my spine, coloring my face, my neck. "Don't act like a baby. One of us had to act like the adult here."
Then my ears are ringing with the sound of shattering glass.
It takes me a moment to realize Edward's hit the mirror.
"What do you fucking want from me?" he demands. "You want me to fuck you, you want me to be with you, you want me to break all the rules like a lovesick fucking teenager, and then once you have everything I can give you, you accuse me of being immature? You're the one who ran around in your goddamn bathing suits and you're the one who winked and you're the one who flirted and begged like the teenager you are! And now that I've given in—so fucking completely given in—you berate me for not wanting to lose you!"
His words ring even louder and sharper in my ears than the mirror breaking, and I'm all blurry vision and barely held back tears. "I'm sorry," I whisper shakily.
I'm not shaky words and unsteady heartbeats, not when it comes to this.
I'm not supposed to be a lot of things.
But Edward clouds my judgment, too.
"I'm sorry. I should have never…" I suck in a sharp breath and reach up to wipe at my eyes. I blink furiously and look away from him, because seeing his hurt-sad eyes makes the tightness in my throat all the more painful. "I shouldn't have ever put you in this position, Edward."
"What's done is fucking done, Bella." Then I hear him sigh, loud and heavy. Out of my peripheral, I see him run his hands through his half-wet hair. "Look, it isn't just your fault. I'm more to blame than you are for how things are. You're right. I am immature. If I had any goddamn sense, I would have run as fast as I could the moment I met you. But I didn't. And now things are the way they are. But Jesus Christ, Bella, what are we going to do?"
I'm crying more now: hot, quick little tears that fall without effort and sound. "I don't know," I mumble.
"I mean, what is there to do? Go back to New York? Pray your mom lets you go to a school in the city instead of Harvard? Then what? We fuck on lunch breaks and in storage closets and I take you out of the country on vacation so we don't get recognized? Are we really supposed to do that for four years or six or however long you want to stay in school?" Edward groans in aggravation. "Secrets always get found out, Bella. It's one thing I've learned in my profession. They always come back to bite you on the ass. But even if by some miracle we don't get caught, what then? We spend years with our relationship in the dark? What if you meet guys in college? You know, guys who can actually take you out on a date, guys you can bring home to your mother?"
I shake my head. "That's not going to happen."
"What if it does?" he asks, oh-so soft, which makes more tears fall. "Then I think about how it's not even fair to ask you to fucking wait around for me. You should be able to date who you want in college. Being chained to me isn't how you should live those years."
"Edward, I don't want anyone but you," I say sharply, finally looking up at him, meeting his eyes. "That's been the whole fucking problem since the very beginning! Don't you get that?"
He heaves out another sigh and runs his hands down his face. He's shaking his head, and this is all too familiar. "Bella, you've hardly lived. Maybe you just like me because you couldn't have me or something."
"I have you now, and my feelings haven't changed."
"Then move away with me."
"God, Edward!" I cry, throwing my hands up. "Don't fucking ask me that. Don't ask me to make you miserable. Don't put that on my shoulders. And it's impossible, anyway."
"Why? Why is it impossible?" he demands.
"For so many reasons. Just think about it!" I shoot back, looking at him through incredulous, tear-filled eyes.
"You don't want to leave your mom."
"You're missing the big picture. You're missing it all," I cry, and suddenly, I'm on the verge of telling him everything.
He says, "Then fucking explain it to me!"
And I'm on the verge of telling him everything.
The terrifying words are on the tip of my tongue, waiting to be unleashed, waiting to start the flow of years and years worth of secrets.
But then the doorbell rings.
It echoes through the entire house, freezing us both.
For a moment, there's only the sound of our hammering heartbeats.
I glance up at Edward. "Are you expecting—?"
"No," he says, all concerned eyes and grim expression. "Stay here." And then he's gone.
Next chapter soon! I promise this time! oxoxoxo