TwiFic Doctorward Contest

Title: Playing Doctor

Prompt #: 48

Pairing: Bella/Edward

Genre: Romance, Humor

Summary: When a slightly-drunk Bella arrives at the hospital with a suspicious-looking wound, ER-doctor Edward is concerned. For many reasons. When the line between professional and personal interest becomes blurred, will a workplace indiscretion land them both in hot water? Entry for the TwiFic Doctorward Contest.

Word count: 14,765

Disclaimer: The author does not own any publicly recognizable entities herein. No copyright infringement is intended.





~Playing Doctor~

I'm gonna die.

Not because I'm practically bleeding out. No, I'm pretty sure that's just the Universe's way of punishing me for diving into my parents' precious rare wine collection, or for spending Spring Break here in Seattle instead of Cabo or San Padre. Only I could almost kill myself while trying to hide the evidence of my indiscretions.

I can just hear Mother screaming, "That's what you get for trying to wash my Waterford crystal wine goblets with Dawn!" Who knew it made those suckers so slippery?

Apparently, crystal goblet meets soapstone sink meets wrist equals a trip to the ER for Bella. Only me. Now the hospital staff thinks I'm suicidal, and they're trying to convince me I need a psychiatric consult.

Right. Like I want to answer a couple hours' worth of stupid questions about my feelings. Don't they realize I'm on a deadline, here? If I don't get back soon, my parents will beat me home. That means they'll find the evidence I had to leave behind when I wrapped my arm in a towel and drove myself to the emergency room in my dad's Maserati. The sad thing is, they'll be more upset that I relieved them of a bottle of five-thousand dollar wine — which I didn't even get the chance to finish — than the fact their only daughter could have died right there on the kitchen floor.

I'm not very upset, even in the face of my impending doom, because none of that is more life-altering than the person standing at the foot of the hospital bed. Hence, the reason I'm about to go into cardiac arrest.

Yes, he's that good-looking.

He's got thick, messy reddish-brown hair, gorgeous eyes, and a killer body hugged by a slim-fitting button-down and the luckiest pair of jeans to ever grace a man's thighs.

I haven't even seen his ass yet. I'm not sure my eyes can handle such beauty. As handsome as this guy is, staring directly at his ass is probably like looking right into the Ark of the Covenant from Raiders of the Lost Ark — it will melt your face off.

I'm starting to think that broken wineglass is the best thing to ever happen to me.

This guy is every girl's doctor wet dream. A stethoscope hangs around his neck, providing the perfect accessory to emphasize his broad, strong shoulders. Every M.D. I've ever met before was ancient and bald, unless they "weren't really a doctor; they just played one on TV." This guy falls into neither of those categories. Oh, he's definitely good-looking enough to play a doctor on TV, but the fact he's got the diploma and credentials makes him infinitely more attractive to me. It takes a lot of brains and even more determination to make it through med school.

Something I'm very familiar with, considering I'll be there next year, no matter what my parents say. I've already been accepted into the medical program at U-Dub, to the eternal disappointment of my parents.

According to those two (otherwise known as the Senator and Mrs. Swan) college is for meeting an Ivy-League husband — preferably a rich one with a spotless pedigree and a plethora of connections — not getting an actual education. Definitely not at a dreaded state school like U-Dub.

Most parents would be happy to have such an ambitious child, but not mine. They subscribe to the ancient mentality that children should be seen and not heard.

I'm tired of fading into the background. I want to be seen and heard. By anyone. And this guy will do just fine. More than fine.

As I finish up my mental assessment of his yumminess, he looks down at the chart in his hand, and then back up at me. "Miss Swan?"

Jesus. His voice alone has me ready to roll over and beg him to "examine" me. Swallowing back the drool this guy inspires, I clear my throat and reply, "Yes?"

"I'm Dr. Cullen; I'll be treating you this evening. What seems to be the problem?" He starts forward, a frown creasing his heavy brows.

"Didn't you read my chart?" I blurt. I never could control my smart mouth. My parents don't appreciate my brand of sarcasm, so I make sure to cultivate it whenever I can.

His lips part in surprise, drawing my eyes right to them. I'm hypnotized.

Is that more drool? Shit, I think it is. I quickly wipe my mouth.

He looks down at the chart again and mumbles, "Um, yes. Of course. Right."

"Wonderful powers of observation you've got there. How can you miss the bloody towel wrapped around my wrist?"

Pink stains his cheekbones and he looks a little shocked, like no one ever mouths off to him. Then his face takes on a challenging cockiness and he gives me a hint of a smile.

"I was only trying to make conversation. Of course, I already know what's wrong with you, and how to fix it. I was just giving you a chance to explain it to me so you'd feel better."

Damn, he's so pretty. And that hint of snark? It turns me on even more than the face. Not only are there brains beneath all that beauty, there just might be a personality. A scene from one of my favorite old movies flashes through my head — he will be mine. Oh yes, he will be mine.

That's right, I'm channeling my inner Garth Algar. Dr. Hotness makes me wanna do the Foxy Lady dance. Fox ears and all.

A grin slowly takes over my lips as I eye him up and down. I take my time, making sure he notices the blatant perusal. Finally, I raise a brow and drawl, "Oh, I can tell you what to do, if that's what you like." When he doesn't respond, I go in for the kill and unwrap the bloodstained towel from my wrist. "What we have here is a pretty serious laceration. I believe you take some of those sutures from the tray over there," I point to the supplies laid out neatly, "and stitch me up. Looks like it'll need four, maybe five stitches."

As I watch, his expression goes from shocked to skeptical to — dare I say — impressed.

I shrug. "But what do I know?"

"Sounds like you think you know it all." He smirks and tosses the chart onto the bed next to my leg before turning to the sink, where he spends at least sixty seconds cleaning his hands. I thoroughly enjoy every single second of the show. And yes, his ass is everything I dreamed it would be. It's really second to none, and looks billboard-worthy in those jeans.

He dons the standard-issue blue gloves and takes a seat on the wheeled stool all medical establishments seem to have, and I can't help but stare at the way the denim of his jeans hugs his thighs like it wants to be friends. Really good friends.

"I try." My eyes start to wander again. It's impossible to keep from admiring his body — the tight fit of his shirt, the fitted but not too-tight jeans. He's lean, but not skinny. Built like a swimmer, he's all broad shoulders, defined chest, slim waist and hips — my personal favorite in a male physique.

Not that I've seen much in person, but hey, I know how to use the internet. And watching Michael Phelps swim in the last couple Olympics was practically pornographic. As long as I didn't look at his face or listen to his voice, anyway.

"Please, don't." There's a hard edge to his voice now, and as I meet his gaze, I start thinking I've gone too far. "Let's leave the treatment to the professional, shall we?" He cuts his eyes away from mine and scoots closer, focusing intently on the large cut that starts right below my wrist and extends almost three inches up my arm. His gloved fingers are gentle as he probes the edges.

I hiss as he hits a particularly sore spot. I mean, it all hurts, but really, does he have to go poking around that much?

He looks up at me, eyes gone sympathetic and a little worried. "It looks like you haven't done any real damage to your tendons. You won't need any surgery to repair the internal structures. You're quite lucky. But I'm afraid four was much too optimistic. This needs at least eight sutures to heal properly."

"Hope you're good at sewing," I quip, then sigh under my breath.

He busies himself with the lidocaine and gauze pads, trying not to smile. When he turns back to me, armed with a syringe, he says, "This will sting a bit."

That shit hurts worse than getting the actual cut, but I knew it would. It's not like this is the first time I've gotten stitches. I'm surprised there isn't a wing with my name on it in this place.

"I can reattach a mean button," Edward says off-handedly. He wipes a fresh, cool alcohol pad over the skin surrounding the cut, helping to soothe the fading sting of the local anesthetic. "I can also knit a little," he cuts his eyes up at me "Don't ask."

I don't. I just accept the weird fact for what it is — one piece of the puzzle that makes up the guy I want to know even more about. Maybe he'll keep talking if I stay quiet.

"While we wait for you to get all numbed up..." he sighs and looks up at me nervously, but determined at the same time. "Want to tell me what made you want to do this?"

Wait. Did I say I wanted him to keep talking? I meant, I wish he'd keep that sexy mouth shut. Hot doctors should be seen and not heard. Isn't that the saying?

"Do what?"

Playing dumb usually doesn't work, but I have to try it anyway. But is it really playing dumb when it's the complete truth?

"Hurt yourself." He looks pointedly down at my wrist, and then up at me. His eyes are sad.

I snort a little laugh. "Why does everyone think I tried to kill myself? I have the worst luck in the world when it comes to accidents. This kind of stuff just happens to me. My parents didn't name me Grace for a reason," I joke.

"Miss Swan..." he starts, but falters. He clears his throat and tries again. "You don't need to do things like this."

"Like what? And please, call me Bella. Nothing's more personal than questions about suicide," I say, frowning at the sour taste in my mouth. I realize I sound like a complete bitch, but I'm getting really tired of no one believing me.

He pinches the bridge of his nose with one hand, and then pins me with an intense stare. "You don't have to pretend with me. I'm a doctor. Nothing you say will go beyond this room."

"That's really unsanitary," I say. "You shouldn't touch your face; now the gloves aren't sterile."

Fixing me with a flat glare, he growls, "Miss Swan..."

Oh, good. I'm starting to piss him off. I'm like a toddler that way — any reaction is a good one.

I growl right back. "It's Bella."

Huffing out a breath, he closes his eyes in an apparent effort to visibly calm himself. "Bella, how do I know you won't do something like this again?"

"God, why don't you believe me? I swear, I didn't do it on purpose!"

He puts a reassuring hand on my uninjured arm. "No one ever does," he says softly.

"For Christ's sake, I didn't try to kill myself! I just got a little buzzed and broke a wine glass!"

"Are you sure it wasn't a cry for help? What's a girl your age doing getting drunk, anyway?"

"I'm twenty-two, thank you very much, and my parents are assholes, but that doesn't mean I want to die! It. Was. An. Accident," I state slowly, trying to make him understand. "I'm young and reasonably pretty. I'm smart enough. Sure, I'd love to be the recipient of a little parental attention — let alone love and affection — but I'm not desperate enough to try to kill myself to get it!" I blurt out, waving my hands. "Besides, if I wanted to commit suicide, I wouldn't just cut one wrist. That takes too long. I'd just take a bunch of pills. Jesus."

"So you have thought about it," he says, eyes pained.

"No! Well, yes... but not seriously! I mean, who doesn't? You hear about people committing suicide all the time, and then you think about how they did it, and then you wonder why they chose that way, and..." I run out of words, and the very fact of it shocks me, because it's rare when I can't explain something away.

"Okay, okay," he agrees, but I can't tell if it's just to get me to shut up, or if he really does believe me. Dr. Cullen gently grips my injured arm and steadies it; the cut has started to bleed again during my rant.

He rests my arm on the tray atop a few sheets of sterile paper, and replaces his gloves. "I don't want you to be upset," he adds. "I need to get this wound closed. If I wait much longer, your scar might be worse. The wrist scars easily to begin with; the skin is very thin."

"I don't care about that." I'm still a little disgruntled; I can't help it. "Scars make you look badass, anyway," I add with a smirk.

"Or suicidal," he mutters, picking up the sutures.

I take the high road and don't respond. But I do sneer a little. I can't help it.

Working quickly, he's neat and methodical. To my consternation, his prediction is right — it takes seven stitches to close the gash. And they're perfect. Seven evenly-spaced, navy blue lines of equal length, all knotted in the exact same place.

This guy is seriously talented with his hands. Oh, the possibilities.

Setting aside the needle and leftover suture thread, he neatly bandages the wound. "Don't get this wet for a few days. You can cover it with plastic wrap when you shower. In the meantime, you can keep the wound clean with hydrogen peroxide. Antibiotic ointment is good, as well. Keep it covered with a bandage so the sutures don't get caught on your clothing or anything else. Keep an eye out for signs of infection — redness, purulent discharge, swelling... stuff like that. A more complete list of symptoms will be in your discharge instructions, so don't toss them as soon as you get home, okay?" He raises one of those brows at me, and I swear he almost smiles. "You might need a reminder, even if you do know it all." There's no mistaking his grin this time, and it's glorious.

It's real. Unguarded. He should smile like this all the time. I'd love to be the one to make him do it.

"Thanks, Doc," I reply, saluting him with my good hand.

He backs away and peels the gloves off his hands, and they cling to his fingers like something a lot more lifelike than simple latex. It makes me think of other things that are made of latex. Things you don't want the neighborhood to gossip about after the old biddy down the street sees you buying them at the drugstore. Yeah. Those things, which makes me think about the appendage they're meant for.

I continue to fantasize about the aforementioned appendage as he washes his hands again. By the time he finishes and dries his hands with one of those cheap paper towels, my face is flaming red and I'm starting to sweat.

"Are you feeling okay? You look a little feverish. I didn't see any signs of infection in your wound, but such an abrupt change is a little strange..." A worried frown creases his brow, and he lays a hand over my forehead. "You're a little clammy, but there's no fever."

Oh, doctor... I think the fever is a little lower...

"I'm fine," I finally force out past dry-as-a-desert lips. "Can I go home now?"

And can you please leave your personal cell number on the back of my discharge papers? Oh, that's unethical? Who needs ethics anyway?

He watches me for a moment and then sighs, gracefully sinking onto that damned rolling stool. The wheels squeak a little as he uses his heels to rock back and forth. "Bella, I really think it would be good for you to speak to someone. We have some really excellent psychiatrists on staff-"

"Are you kidding me? I told you, I didn't try to hurt myself! What do I have to say to convince you people?" A quick glance at the clock on the wall tells me I've only got about an hour to get home and get cleaned up before my parents get back from the GOP fundraiser. With any luck, Mother will be too drunk to walk, but I know there's no chance of that happening with Dad. If I'm not in my pj's and looking fresh-faced and innocent very soon, I'm gonna get caught. "Listen, Dr. Cullen, I know you mean well, but I've got to get home. I left a pretty big mess, and if I don't get rid of it before my parents get there, I'm gonna be in deep shit."

He frowns, and I can practically see the wheels turning in his pretty head. "Are you in some kind of trouble at home, Bella? Is that why you tried...?" He gestures toward my bandaged wrist.

Gritting my teeth, I close my eyes and take a deep breath.

You know how they say deep breathing can alleviate stress and anger? It's complete bullshit.

I let out a frustrated growl that ended up sounding like a mountain lion on helium. "How many times do I need to say the words?"

"It's okay, Bella. You don't have to be embarrassed. Mental illness doesn't carry the stigma it once did," Dr. Cullen says gently, like he's afraid I'm going to go apeshit and do something completely insane, like painting the walls with my own poop.

I give him my most innocent, honest, good-girl look. "I promise you, I'm not suicidal. I'll still be alive tomorrow. The next day. Next week. Next year. Hell, in fifty years. Barring some natural disaster or accident, of course. Which is entirely possible, considering my history." Why can't I just shut up?

He just watches me with those eyes, the ones I want to see all post-coital and sleepy, even if he thinks I'm sort of crazy. I can't tell if he believes me or not, but I can't sit around and wait all night.

"Come on, Dr. Cullen," I whine, ready to throw a fit worthy of a toddler denied her favorite candy. "I've really got to get home. What do you need? A contract written in blood? No, wait, that was probably the wrong thing to say, considering."

A rich, warm laugh rumbles in his chest, and he grins up at me from his perch. "Definitely the wrong thing to say."

"Then really, what can I do to convince you? Pinky swear? Cross my heart and hope to die? Shit, scratch that one. Fuck, I'm all out of childhood promises." I huff out a breath and give him my best puppy-dog begging look. "You can call me every half-hour to make sure I'm alive. Every ten minutes. Hell, you can fit me with a tracking device, as long as you let me out of here in time to cover my ass!"

He taps a finger over his lips, looking like a super-gorgeous Thinking Man statue come to life. "I suppose you wouldn't be so worried what your parents think if you were really planning on offing yourself."

"Finally. Now, can I get the hell out of here? If Daddy gets home before me and finds his car missing-"

"You drove here?" His brows come down in a pretty intense frown. "You drove yourself to the ER, while drunk and injured?" He's practically growling as he finishes the question.

I should be ashamed of my actions, but all I can think is: he's even hotter when he's angry.

"Yes?" I don't know why it comes out as a question. "And I wasn't drunk. I only had a glass and a half of wine before I got cut. Which kind of killed my buzz."

He just stares at me, like he's accusing me of murdering his puppy, and I realize how stupid I sound. Like the dumb sorority girl my parents wish I was.

"Shit," I sigh. "I guess I wasn't thinking clearly."

"You think?" he retorts acerbically, unfolding his long frame from the stool and stalking toward the curtain. "You." He looks back and points at me, like I'm not the only person here. "Stay put. I'll be back with your discharge instructions."

He's gone before I can think of an intelligent response. And I feel like utter shit. Like I've let him down. Which is crazy, because I've never met the guy before tonight. Why should I care what he thinks of me? Because he's hot? I've never been that girl before, and I've got no plans to be that girl — ever. But fuck if I can get this guy out of my head.

Blinking back tears I've got no interest in crying, I gather my things and wait, forcing the embarrassment into a back corner of my mind, where it can fester until I get home to obsess about it.

I wait some more, staring at the clock on the wall. All the while, I think about Dr. Cullen and his perceptive green eyes. That warm, yet sort of snarky smile. His strong-looking forearms. Those long fingers...

The curtain whips back, startling me. "Get your stuff. I've got your discharge papers. Let's go."

Maybe I am still a little impaired from the wine, because I'm really confused. Don't the doctors stay at the hospital after they treat you?

Dr. Cullen taps his foot impatiently, and I notice he's wearing a beaten-up brown leather jacket, with a messenger bag slung over one shoulder.

"Are you just going to sit there and stare at me, or do you want to get home before Daddy finds out what you did?" His voice is derisive and challenging all at once. Like he's daring me to argue.

I don't. Not just because he's right about my dad, but because I want to spend more time with him, even if he seems to think I'm a stupid twit. When did I become such a masochist?

Mutely, I shake my head and grab my purse with my good hand. He sees me struggling with my jacket, and he huffs a sigh before coming closer to help me slip it on. God, he smells good. Shouldn't he smell like hospital? But he doesn't. He smells like soap and citrus and... rosemary? Don't ask me how I can pick out that subtle note, like I've got the nose of a French parfumier. All I know is that he smells like heaven. I want to bury my face in his neck and breathe him in forever.

"Give me your keys."

I hold my hand out and his fingers brush mine as he takes them; I feel it all the way to my toes. I know he spent about ten minutes touching me while he stitched up my arm, but this is different. The gloves are gone, and I notice his fingertips are slightly rough, like he works with his hands in his spare time. It makes me wonder what they'd feel like on other parts of my body.

"C'mon. I'd like to get home before dawn," he says gruffly, and heads for the exit.

My brain decides to start working then. "Wait, why do you need my keys?"

He looks at me like I've just asked him to do a cartwheel. "So I can drive you home. My shift ended about an hour ago, so I'm going to make sure you don't kill yourself or anyone else on your way home."

He just had to get in one last suicide jab, didn't he?

"You're driving me home?"


We make our way through the meandering hallways and security doors until I recognize the entry for the ER. As we pass the triage desk, the nurse stationed there waves.

"Bye, Dr. Cullen! See you on Tuesday," she titters.

Someone has a crush, I think, feeling unreasonably grumpy. I want to smack her. I don't know why; it's not like this guy is mine to feel possessive about. But I want him to be, even if he thinks I'm some stupid, entitled socialite.

Dr. McUnderwear-Model doesn't seem to notice my ire, thank God. He waves and calls back, "See ya, Trish. Count the minutes until I'm back again," he says with a smirk.

"You know I will," she laughs, saluting as we walk out the sliding glass doors.

As soon as he turns to me, his face goes flat, losing any glimmer of good-natured humor. It's like his smile is battery-powered and the Energizer Bunny just ran out of juice. "Where's your car?" he asks flatly.

"Really, I'm fine. It's been about three hours since I had anything to drink."

He stares at me, one eyebrow raised, daring me to object again. It makes me want to push his buttons, like I need to see how far I can go with him.

"Sorry, but I watch Criminal Minds. You're just waiting to lock me in your dungeon, so you can rub me in peanut butter and take pictures of me posing with your Barbies, aren't you?"

A laugh barks out of his chest. "What? Now I know you're still drunk."

"You're supposed to say that. You're a serial killer."

"No, I'm a doctor, one who—"

"So was Hannibal Lecter," I interrupt, biting my lip to keep from smiling.

He doesn't bother to conceal his own grin. "He was a psychiatrist," he shoots back, as if that explains everything.

And it sort of does. "Are you saying all psychiatrists are psychotic?"

"Your mind is a strange, strange place."

"Try living with it for two decades."

"I bet it's entertaining," he says, followed by something I can't quite hear.

I decide not to ask, because it's probably not flattering, considering his opinion of me.

"Now that we've determined I'm not going to kidnap you and make you pose for pictures with my Barbies, where's your car?"

Still not ready to let him have his way, I stall. "You're admitting to owning Barbies?"

I swear he growls. It's kind of sexy. Oh, who am I kidding? It's a lot sexy, coming from this guy. I want him to do it while he kisses me.

"No, I do not own Barbies. I do have a few G.I. Joes — but they're not dolls; they're new, in the box and untouched collectibles."

"Collectibles?" I laugh. "Like in The 40 Year-Old Virgin?"

"Are you insinuating I'm forty?" he asks with a grin.

I shoot back, "No, I'm insinuating you're a virgin." Yeah, right.

His jaw drops, but he recovers and closes it quickly. "I'm not even going to respond to that."

I'm honestly disappointed. Hearing all about his sexual exploits should fuel my fantasies for at least a week. Then I picture it in my head. Suddenly, thinking about him having sex isn't sexy at all — if he's having it with anyone other than me.

Uneasy, I change the subject. "If you drive me, how are you going to get home from my place?"

He shrugs. "I'll call a cab."

"That's awfully inconvenient for you."

"I want to make sure you get home safely."

"Why do you care?"

"I've seen what happens when people drink and drive," he says quietly. "And I don't want that to happen to you."

"Oh." And the shame washes over me again. God, I'm so stupid. I point toward the black Maserati. "Over there."

When he spots the sports car, all seriousness disappears from his eyes. "That's what you drove?"

"It's my dad's," I offer, realizing how lame it sounds.

"Holy shit," he whispers, eyes locked on the car.

I want him to look at me that way.

"I think I'm in love."

I want him to be in love. With me. Not the damn Maserati.

Wait, what? This guy is making me dumb.

"C'mon, Romeo. Time's a wasting," I drawl, pushing him toward the car. When my hand hits the wall of his chest, I try not to groan at the hardness of his muscles. Oh, Jesus. It's not enough that he's smart and driven, he's got to have the chest of a Greek god, too.

He hits the button on the keyless entry and the lights flash. His palm flattens against the small of my back and he guides me to the passenger side, opening my door and making sure I'm safely ensconced inside. He even leans in and fastens my seatbelt for me.

Now it's my turn to moon, because I think I'm definitely in love. With Dr. Hotlips.

He settles himself in the driver's seat, adjusting it to accommodate his tall frame, and grips the steering wheel almost reverently. I just watch his long fingers curl around the leather-wrapped wheel, and wish they were on my body.

Who knew a trip to the ER would ruin my panties?

The drive back home is pretty uneventful. He asks for directions, and I give them. I then spend the majority of the time trying to think up some scenario that ends up with him spending the night. In my bed. In me.

I'm pitifully inexperienced in the sexual arena, but surely it doesn't matter when you're not planning on seeing the guy again. Who better to let my slut flag fly with than this perfect male specimen next to me? This guy's not in my circle of friends, and he doesn't know who my parents are. There's no reason for him to try and romance me, just so he can get in my pants first and get a fat paycheck later, like my last boyfriend.

But even though he presents the perfect opportunity for a temporary fling, for some reason, I get the feeling this guy would be pretty damn hard to forget.

His eyes go wide when we reach the gate to my parents' ostentatious home.

"Nice place." He casts me a sidelong glance.

"Sure, it's lovely. All courtesy of the Senator and Mrs. Swan." My voice is so dry it could rival a desert.

I can see the recognition all over his face as soon as the words come out of my mouth. Oh, well. It was nice being somewhat normal while it lasted.

"Well. That explains a lot," he mumbles. I ignore it.

"The code is 91391," I tell him, leaning my head back against the headrest. I'm tired, and my arm is starting to tingle; I know that means the lidocaine will start wearing off soon. I prop it up next to the window, hoping that will help ward off the pain I know is coming.

Dr. Cullen says nothing, just enters in the code and waits as the gate slowly swings open.

"The garage is to the left," I offer when we come to the fork in the paved driveway.

When I glance his way, his eyes are still wide, like he can't believe that people live like this. I can commiserate. Sometimes, I can't believe it either. It's obnoxious.

"Garage door opener is on the visor." I point above his head. I can't wait for his reaction when he sees what else is in the garage. Will he get a boner for my dad's Bentley? Because I'd love to help him relieve it.

Ultimately, I'm disappointed again. He doesn't even react to the garage that could rival Jay Leno's. He just pulls into an open spot, gets out, and comes around to open my door. Like a complete gentleman, he helps me out of the low-riding car and guides me outside, up to my front door. When his hand drops from my back and he steps away, a feeling of loss hits me like a wrecking ball straight out of Miley Cyrus' Molly-induced nightmares.

"You take care of yourself, Bella," he says, his voice cutting through the early spring chill.

I wrap my arms around myself to ward off the cold, cradling my injured wrist against my body. "Will do, Doctor." Like you'll even remember my name after tonight.

"I mean it." He starts to reach toward me, but abruptly shoves his hands in his pockets.

I wish he knew how much I'd welcome his gentle touch again. It's not something I'm used to — my parents have never been the most affectionate people, and I guess I inherited that tendency. I've never been the touchy-feely type. But with him, it's different.

"I'll be fine," I reply, giving him a tight smile.

He sighs, giving me an intense look that I can't decipher. His jaw clenches, then releases, and he finally says, "The stitches can come out in ten to fourteen days. You can have your primary physician remove them, or you can come back to the ER, if you want. It's all in your discharge instructions."

"Anxious to see me again?" I ask, trying to cover my true wishes with a thick layer of sarcasm. If only.

A crooked grin twists up one side of his mouth, but it doesn't reach his eyes. "Look, I believe you about the accident, but... It would just really suck to be wrong."

"You mean you're a doctor and you're not God? You're never wrong, right?" I might want to be a doctor someday, but even I'm not unaware of the ego that sometimes goes along with an M.D.

"It's been known to happen once or twice." He gives me a really dirty look, which makes me laugh out loud.

"I'm kidding." Loosening my arms, I take my finger and make a cross motion above my heart. "You're not wrong," I promise, voice going soft. "I'll be okay."

"Good," he whispers, looking toward the street a couple hundred feet down the driveway. He pulls a hand from his pocket and reaches into his messenger bag, retrieving a card and a pen. He scrawls something across the back and then hands it to me. "Here's my card. You can call when you need the stitches out. Or if you need to talk. Or something."

Is this his version of flirting, or am I delusional?

It's probably the latter. Oh well — a girl can dream, right?

"Thanks, Dr. Cullen," I say, the politeness ingrained in me from birth taking over.

My fingers graze his as I take the proffered card, and once again I feel that spark, that pull. How can a single touch hold such promise? It's like a snowball perched at the top of a mountain. It has the potential to cause an avalanche that will swallow everything in its path, but if it's not set in motion, it just disappears beneath the new-fallen snow that follows.

I'm not sure which one I'm wishing for; I get the feeling that being with this guy would never be easy, but it would always feel like home. I glance down at the card, and for the first time, I realize I didn't know his first name until this point.

Edward A. Cullen, M.D.

Somehow, it doesn't matter. I feel more at home with Edward — someone I've just met — than I ever have with my parents.

When I get inside, I turn the card over and gaze at the back. Seems the good doctor doesn't mind bending the ethics rules, because I got what I wished for earlier. In a big, bold scrawl is his personal cell number, and one sentence:

Call me.





The Senator and his wife didn't even come home.

In the end, I'm not surprised. All that worry for nothing. If life was a trashy romance novel, I could have spent the night in Dr. KissMe's bed.

Instead, I spend the rest of the night cozied up next to the gas fireplace, streaming season one of Hannibal on my laptop. I eat an entire Hawaiian-style pizza, and open another one of my mother's prized bottles of French wine. This time, I don't even bother with a glass. Red doesn't taste that great with Canadian bacon and pineapple, but what's a poor, lonely little rich girl to do? Pizza is so salty...

After that I head to bed, hoping for a good sex dream — or two — involving the good doctor, but I'm ultimately disappointed. I blame the wine.

My throbbing wrist wakes me. I'm sprawled out on top of the covers, wearing yesterday's clothes. Disgusted, I hurriedly strip everything off and rush into the shower, where I attempt to thoroughly wash off yesterday's mistakes. I manage to keep my sutures dry, but I make a note to pilfer some plastic wrap from the kitchen later, so I don't have to do the one-handed thing next time. In five minutes, I'm dressed in comfy yoga capris and a long-sleeved t-shirt, and I'm ready to get to my very busy day of studying and farting around on the internet.

My mild hangover isn't bad enough to upset my stomach, and I'm craving bacon. The kitchen is empty when I get there, so I set everything up and just enjoy the act of cooking for myself. Mrs. Cope, our chef, must have the morning off since my parents are probably sleeping off a bender in some swanky hotel. Before long, I'm seated at the breakfast nook with a plate of steaming cheesy eggs and crisp bacon. I even top it off with a slice of toast soaked in butter and strawberry jam.

I clean up my own mess, something my parents would never do, and head back to my room for my books, laptop and phone. Peeking out the window, I see blue skies and sunshine reflecting off the Sound, and decide to do my studying out on the back deck. Once I get settled on my favorite chaise, I pull out my phone to check my email.

And I promptly want to die.

There it is, laid out before me like a buffet of buffoonery: I drunk texted the Doctor. Multiple times, after three-thirty in the morning. But the shocking thing is, he actually responded — and it sounds like he was amused. For the most part.

Scrolling through the seemingly endless list of messages, I cringe with each word I read.

I like bacon. It's a party in my mouth. The American kind. Not Canadian. That stuff is only good on pizza. With pineapple.

Not that there's anything wrong with Canada. They just make inferior bacon.

But I bet you never eat bacon. At least, not with a body like that.

Then again, maybe you're blessed with genetics that Natural Selection would kill for — get it? Ha!

E: Who the hell is this? I'm trying to sleep.

Oh! It's Bella. I let you drive me home in Daddy's Maserati.

Like that explains everything. Come to think of it, it probably does — you don't drive a girl home from the ER in a Maserati very often. Unless you're James Bond. And if you're James Bond, you'd probably stitch her up yourself at home, no anesthetic. None would be needed, since James Bond would make it all better with steamy spy-sex.

It does, however, explain my craving for bacon this morning. The wondrous workings of the subconscious mind. I continue reading, part of me hoping I'm still asleep.

Of course. It's all coming back to me now. Have you been drinking again? You should probably put away the booze and go to bed.

You got me! But don't worry — I didn't use a glass this time, so it's not as dangerous. I'll tell you a secret: I poured the stuff I didn't drink down the drain.

Does wine have an expiration date? Surely it's gone bad if it's from 1983...

And I AM in bed, for your information. Wait, are you trying to sext me?


You can memorize every bone and muscle and organ system in the human body, and you don't know what "sext" means?

I'm impressed with your drunken spelling ability. Now go to bed.

I told you, I'm in bed already. And if you're interested...I like to sleep in t-shirts and lacy underwear.

Shit. I really said that? It almost makes me nauseous, but I keep reading.

Go to SLEEP.

Don't wanna. I'm not tired. Also... can't stop thinking about you.

Oh, fuck. I'm amazed at my spectacular talent for embarrassing myself so thoroughly using only a smartphone and a bottle of wine. I'll be lucky if I haven't sent him a picture of my boobs. Biting my lip, I keep going.

Thanks, I guess?

You're welcome. But I'm still not going to sleep.

Your loss. Sleep is glorious. Especially to someone like me, who gets precious little of it.

Oh, God! I'm so sorry. You must be exhausted! Long hours, right?

That's an understatement.

Okay... I'd tuck you in if I was there.

I might let you. Especially if you'd leave the t-shirt out of the equation.Now, will you please go to sleep?

Okay. Nighty-night.

"Nighty-night?" That's all I had to say after he asked me to take my virtual shirt off? You're a winner, Bella.

Good night, Bella. Sweet dreams.

I blink about ten thousand times, squinting at the screen just to make sure it all says what I think it says. He must've been really sleepy. That's the only explanation, unless... No.

I can't entertain the idea that he really might've enjoyed our (meaning my) drunken texting. That he might just

Because if I feed that little spark of hope, if I fan that tiny ember into flames, I'll never escape the crash and burn when he ends up ignoring me, just like everyone else.





By the time school starts back up, I haven't texted him back. I'm too embarrassed.

He hasn't texted me either.

I take it as proof I was right — that letting myself hope would only lead to a broken heart and a bitter Bella.

Except, deep down, I might have let myself hope a little, in spite of the fact that I knew better. I say this because I'm definitely a little broken hearted. And maybe just a touch bitter.

It's all because I keep dreaming about him. Every time I go to bed, I remember how green his eyes were. I remember that sincere note in his sexy voice when he asked me if I was okay. The half-smile that tied my stomach in knots. And the weight of his hand on the small of my back. Sometimes, when I close my eyes, I can still feel it.

There's always a heavy workload right after spring break. I'm pretty sure the professors want to torture us; at least, those of us who killed too many brain cells during our week off. I'm assigned three papers, two huge lab reports, and I've got four exams in the next two weeks.

In spite of all the work, I'm grateful. At least I won't have much time to think about Dr. Cullen. Edward.



Oh yeah. I'm definitely bitter.





The stitches itch, and it's driving me insane. They need to come out, but I haven't had the time because of my class workload. Who schedules a test for a Friday, anyway? Oh, yeah. Just about every evil professor known to man. It's another way to crush our spirits.

I'm right in the thick of my analytical chemistry exam, using up the single allotted piece of scratch paper, when my phone vibrates. It burns a hole in my pocket the whole time I'm trying to calculate the correct number of moles of hydrocarbon in a liter of aqueous solution. It's probably the Senator or my mother, the Wine Nazi. She still hasn't noticed I relieved her cellar of a few bottles of wine during spring break. I'm just waiting for the proverbial axe to fall. Or the corkscrew to stab me in the ass. Whatever.

When I complete the last problem, I feel pretty good. I should, because I studied my ass off. Just like I always do. Since I've been trying to forget Dr. Hotlips, I've been studying even harder.

It didn't really work, and other than the obvious benefit of practically memorizing my notes and texts, I still can't get the guy out of my head. But that's my issue — one I'm determined to work through. I need to expunge my mind of one Dr. Edward Cullen. It shouldn't be that hard, right? I mean, he's just a guy.

A smart, caring, compassionate, funny guy. One who happens to be extremely hot. Who was nice to me even when he didn't know who my parents were.

But I'm not thinking about that — or him, at all.

Have I mentioned I'm really good at deluding myself?

I don't want to go home, so I head to the student union for a cup of coffee. While I'm waiting for the barista to call my name, I check my texts. When I see who the most recent one is from, I'm torn between doing a very unflattering victory dance and throwing my phone across the room. I'm also surprised; it's a good thing I don't have coffee yet, or I might've spit it right out onto my phone.

It's from the good doctor himself.

I should be asking myself, why now? But I can hardly hear my rational brain over my pounding, racing, stupidly romantic heart. All because he's asking me about my damn stitches, no less.

How's your wrist? You get those stitches out, yet?

It's not like he's sent a declaration of love. But my reaction's the same.

Nope, I answer.

They'll get infected. Or ingrown. That hurts like a bitch.

Gee, thanks?

You're welcome. Seriously, get those stitches out. Are you busy now? The ER is dead. Come by. I can do it for you.

I've been considering doing it myself. The laceration appears to be healing nicely, and there's no overgrowth of skin near the sutures. No signs of infection, and it's not even sore anymore.

I think I'll just do it myself. Who knows how attached I'll get if I see him again. Like he knows what I'm thinking, he texts again.

Get your ass in here, Bella.

Why? You that desperate to see me?

I'm that desperate to make sure you see a professional.

Well. How flattering. The sad thing is, I really do want to see him again, even if it's just one more time.

That's how I end up in the ER forty-five minutes later, waiting nervously in one of those curtained rooms, waiting for Edward to show his face.

When he finally brushes the curtain aside, he looks haggard. He's wearing dark blue scrubs this time, and they're wrinkled. He's also sporting what looks to be a few days' worth of scruff, which accentuates the dark circles beneath his eyes. Even as exhausted as he appears, he still looks like walking sex.

It makes me want to cuddle him and sing a lullaby. You know, if I could carry a tune.

"Hey," he murmurs with a little smirk as he strides over to the sink.

I watch raptly as he washes his hands, and it's really sort of sick that it turns me on.

"Hi." Really smart, Bella. So verbose. Way to show him your exceptional linguistic skills.

Edward finishes up with his hands and pulls on a pair of gloves, coming over to examine my wrist. "Looks good."

I don't say anything. Really, what does one say in this situation? Maybe something like: Oh, well thanks. I'm really obsessive about wound hygiene.

He gathers up his supplies and gently grasps my wrist on top of the rolling metal tray, turning it this way and that before he picks up a pair of scissors and starts snipping.

And that's when my mouth severs its fraying connection to my brain, like a distressed rope unraveling from all the pressure.

"Why didn't you text me again, Edward?" Yep. I said it. Go, me.

He blinks once, then swallows nervously. "I don't know... I just... I didn't know what to say."

"Say whatever you want to say. Unless-"

"Unless what?"

"Unless you didn't want to say anything to me."

He watches me with those eyes, black as night pupils surrounded by irises so green they make me think of a jungle I'd love to get lost in. He's silent for so long that I start to think I've hit the nail on the head — he really didn't want to talk to me. Which means he still doesn't.

"Hey," he says softly, laying his gloved hand over mine. "I've got lots to say to you, Bella. I just don't know how to say it."

"You do?"

"I do... but I'm not sure I should."

My face falls before I can rein in my expression, and he scrambles to reassure me.

"It's not like you texted me, either. Not after the first night, anyway. You were a patient. I just... I couldn't..." Sighing, he snaps his mouth shut and focuses on my arm, snipping the last stitch, pulling it free. "I can't get involved with a patient. I'm not supposed to... care about a patient."

A tiny tendril of courage twists and turns in my gut. I bite my lip, watching him as he cleans and inspects my healed cut. "What about now? Am I still your patient?"

He breathes in, brow creasing as he smears on some ointment and gently places a bandage over my wrist. Finally, he looks up, eyes locking with mine, and says in a soft, earnest voice, "No. Technically, you haven't been since I handed you those discharge papers. But what I felt for you — what I feel — for you, even while I stitched you up... it's not exactly professional. And I didn't know how to deal with it."

I just blink. Then I check to make sure my mouth isn't hanging open. It's not at all attractive. And right now, I really want to be attractive. Because whatever is happening here, I know how I want it to end — preferably with us both naked.

"At first, I thought it was just concern. I was worried about you. We couldn't legally keep you at the hospital or force you to agree to a psych consult-"

"Are you kidding me? This is about me cutting myself?" I bark, feeling all the blood drain from my previously lust-flushed face. "For the last time. I'm just a clumsy drunk. I don't want to die!"

"You could have died anyway! Don't you get that? You're too reckless — you drove drunk instead of calling an ambulance. Why? All for appearances' sake?"

That's exactly why, but I won't admit it. Because he's completely right — the press would have been all over it the instant they heard a hint of the Senator's daughter and her inappropriate behavior. Not only would I be raked over the proverbial hot coals by the press, I'd get double the shit later, all in the comfort of my own home.

My parents conditioned me well, didn't they?

Consumed with embarrassment and frustration, I stand up so fast I knock my purse to the floor, tripping over it in my hurry to get away.

Edward catches me by the arm, hauling me up against his chest. We're face to face, so close I can feel his warm, minty breath on my lips as he peers down at me. My heart thuds like a timpani drum — all drama and no substance; it's heavy and hard, overdramatic and hollow.

"Why?" he demands, staring at me like he wants to smash through every wall I throw in his path.

Deep down, I want the same thing.

"You already have all the answers, don't you, Edward? You certainly don't need me to explain them!" I snap, fighting the instinct to just melt into his arms.

I don't know how long we stand there, staring each other down. Eventually my knees go weak, and I start to drown in the stormy-green sea of his eyes. I'm going under, and I don't even care. In fact, I'll probably enjoy it. Biting back a whimper, I let my own eyes roam his face, up and down.

His irises go dark, greedy green and he licks his lips. I swear I can feel the soft swipe of his tongue on my own mouth. My eyelids drift shut, and there in the darkness, I can imagine what it would feel like to kiss him. His lips would be soft, yet firm. Warm and commanding.

Mind-altering. Earth shattering.

Yeah. I'm going there. Because I'm positive kissing this man would be nothing short of a romance novel experience.

When I open my eyes, he's still close, perhaps even closer. His hand loosens on my arm, but instead of letting me go, his fingers cup my elbow and inch up my bicep. They ghost over my shoulder and curve around my neck.

"Goddammit," he growls, and then crushes his mouth to mine.

The world tilts. The earth shatters. All that sappy, metaphorical shit I've always scoffed at? It's completely true. And it scares the shit out of me. With one touch of his lips, I know — without a doubt — that I will never be the same.

He wraps his other arm around my waist and yanks my body flush against his. Something flips and turns low in my stomach, heavy and hot. I drop my head back and he follows, tracing my lower lip with his tongue. My hands shoot up to clutch at his back, his shoulders, and finally end up twisting in his hair. I let him in, welcoming the taste of him as he sighs in what I hope is complete and utter bliss.

Against my will, I've been picturing this for fifteen days, twelve hours, and some-odd minutes. It's haunted every night I've spent in my lonely, extra-long twin bed. It puts those dreams to shame. Three times over.

The kiss goes on and on, and before I know it, he's got us turned around and I'm pressed up against the only wall in the curtained-off cubicle. I wrap one leg around his waist, and when he wedges his hips right into the cradle of my thighs, there's no doubt that he's as into this as I am. I can feel every single inch of it.

Eventually the kiss slows, and he pulls back to rest his forehead against mine. Our lips part with an audible sound that makes me want to kiss him again until we're both naked. But that's not much different than anything else concerning Edward.

"I've wanted to do that ever since you offered to help with suturing your own wrist." His voice is hushed and warm, blowing in puffs across my sensitized lips.

A breathy laugh escapes before I open my eyes to find him gazing down at me through hooded eyes. His hand comes up to cup my jaw, and he traces the pad of his thumb over my lower lip.

"There's a reason I got so worked up about your cut," he admits.

I wait for him to elaborate, but it takes forever. I really do want to know, but I can't even muster the desire to get annoyed when he's looking at me like this. He kisses me again, this time just a few chaste pecks, his lips super-soft and warm.

"The thought of you... dying... I just can't even..." He shakes his head. "All I could think is, 'this girl can't die. It would be a tragedy, because...'"

When he doesn't finish his thought, I ask, "Why? Because what?"

"Because I need her," he answers, voice barely breaching a whisper. "You're the first person to make me laugh in months. I love my job, but sometimes it takes a lot out of you. I've learned to expect the worst from most people, to steel myself against the emotional cost of human life. But you... thinking the worst of you just ripped something open inside of me. I knew it would kill me if I was right.

"I've been doing this long enough to know that hoping does nothing. I could stitch you up, but I knew I couldn't make you get help. I couldn't make you stay alive if you didn't want to. I had to try."

"But I didn't want to kill myself," I say urgently, flattening my palm over his heart. It's racing. Just like mine.

"I figured that out. But instead of being satisfied, my curiosity only grew." His grin is wry, knowing. "I couldn't stop thinking about you," he admits, pulling back and cupping my face in his hands. "I wanted to know why you got drunk on wine and drove yourself to the ER. I wanted to know everything — what you do for fun, your favorite movie, favorite book. What makes you feel better when you're sad. How to make you laugh. But you know what I wanted to know most?"

I shake my head, searching his face. He trails his warm hands down my neck and over my shoulders, then gently rubs them up and down my back.

"I kept wondering if you were thinking about me as much as I thought about you."

With every word that falls from those perfectly kissable lips, elation bubbles up my spine, like a wave of fresh-poured champagne. I want to pinch myself just to make sure this is really happening.

I smile, shivering under his touch. "You know I was. I can't seem to stop, no matter how hard I try."

"Not surprising. I'm quite a catch, you know," he teases, dropping a chaste kiss on my mouth.

I laugh a little against his lips. "So humble, too."

"Well, I am a doctor."

Then we stop talking, because our lips are otherwise occupied.





He takes me to dinner after we leave the hospital. We close the restaurant down while we laugh at each other's childhood blunders and talk about where we hope to be when we finally consider ourselves adults. I find it funny that Edward is out of college and graduate school, deeply entrenched in residency, and he still doesn't really believe himself an adult.

When I tell him I want to be a doctor, just like him, he lights up. Not once does he question if I can do it, or make me feel like less of a person for wanting to actually do something with my life. The confidence he has in me is overwhelming. Something I've never experienced before. It's a heady feeling — one I can definitely get used to.

He's nothing like my parents, and even though I think my feelings can't get any bigger, they grow three sizes that day, just like the Grinch's heart.

When the night is over and dawn hovers on the horizon, we probably know more about one another than is healthy. Edward drops me off at the dorm, walks me right up to the door, and kisses me till my knees are weak.

My cheeks ache when I wake up the next morning. I know it's because I smiled all night — even in my sleep.

The rest of the semester is the perfect juxtaposition of heaven and hell. Even with the heavy workload of my final semester, my classes are easy — I've never really had a problem in that arena — it's just the separation that's getting to me. Edward is constantly on my mind. We email, text, and call each other in every spare moment. Unfortunately, that's not very often, since he's a resident and I'm finishing up my last semester of undergrad and trying to study for the MCAT.

It's pure hell being in the same city with no real time to spend together. But somehow, we deal. We take every opportunity life gives us — every free moment, we spend together.

That's how I end up in the on-call room of the hospital at eleven-thirty on a Tuesday night, about to do something really naughty.

"I've been thinking about you all fucking day." Edward's lips graze my ear as the deep, quiet words sink in. He follows his admission with a slow kiss just under my jaw. Prickly stubble tickles the sensitive skin of my neck.

I've never felt so alive. So electric. Like I'm covered in a layer of static that sparks and dances over my skin, powered by his touch.

I tip my head back and lean against his chest, locking my knees so they won't buckle. God, the things he does to me. I don't stand a chance. "Oh... really?"

Shit. Why can't I think of some quick, witty response? Having him this close is really messing with my head. That bit of brilliance is all I can get out past the huge knot of butterflies that threatens to punch out of my chest, just like one of those things from Alien.

He chuckles low, and the sound wraps me up in a warm, soft blanket of sensation. His breath on my neck sends a wave of chills down my spine. It sparks a tendril of warmth that curls deep down, making me aware of every inch of me in contact with every inch of him.

"Really." Searching fingertips draw little patterns on my thigh, right below the hem of my skirt. He wraps one arm around my waist, pulling me even closer. "I fucking think about you all the time." Placing a line of tiny kisses down to my shoulder, he continues, "I was getting junk food from the vending machine earlier, and I zoned out just thinking about you... and these sexy legs." His fingers wander higher and squeeze, and it's almost like a brand on my naked skin.

A cross between a gasp and a giggle bubbles out, even as I almost melt in anticipation of where those hands might go next. "I remind you of the vending machine? Or is it the junk food?"

He lightly pinches my thigh in retaliation, and his hand moves even higher. If he curves those fingers around just a little more, I'll be eternally grateful.

"You definitely remind me of sugary things," he rumbles, pushing his hips against my ass. "And you're very addictive."

My mouth waters a bit at the shape of him, which is poking into me up close and personal, and the urge to touch almost makes me try to twist out of his grip. Almost. Because what he does next has me biting my lip to stifle a porn-worthy moan, and all I want is to be as close to him as possible. In one swift move, he has my skirt rucked up to my waist and one leg shoved between mine. His fingers trace lightly over the lace covering my pussy, exploring me through the barely-there fabric. My whole body curves in an arch, pressing myself closer, my head tipped back against his shoulder.

Are we really doing this? Here?

"We... we shouldn't be doing this," I pant, covering his wandering hand with my own.

Not to pull him away. Oh, no. I'm only giving the token protestation. The truth is, we're definitely doing this — even if the freaking Pope walks through that door right this minute. He can watch.

I'll repent later.

"Oh yes, we should," he hums, reaching up to cup my jaw with his free hand. He turns my head just so and brands me with a hot, wet kiss. I'm lost to the soft, confident slide of his lips on mine, the wet, tactile heat of his tongue.

My lungs constrict and I can't freaking breathe, but I'm not stopping. Kissing has never felt the way it does when I'm with him. Heart racing, blood pumping, mind whirling. I'm swept up in a crashing wave of sensation that threatens to tear me apart, in the best way.

I want this for the rest of my life, and I want him to give it to me. Repeatedly.

From the way he's kissing me, I don't think he has a problem with that.

Lower, he nudges my hand out of the way and tugs my panties to the side. He lightly traces my pussy, his fingers growing slick with the proof of how much I want this. Need this.

"God, I fucking want you," he breathes, dragging his lips across my cheek, down to the corner of my mouth, where he gently nips my bottom lip. Then we both look down to watch one long finger slide deep, giving me only a glimpse of what's to come.

Speaking of come...

"What are you doing to me?" I reach up behind me and grab his hair, pulling his mouth back to mine. He tastes so damn good. Like mint and sweet-salty perfection on my tongue.

"I'm gonna make you come, that's what I'm doing," he says when I release his delicious mouth. His other hand slips inside my shirt and tugs the cups of my bra down so he can play with my nipples. "I can't wait until I can see you. Strip you naked and make you scream." He slips another finger inside me and swirls, curving both until they hit a spot that makes me moan his name. "That's right," he murmurs, kissing me again, hard and deep — just like his fingers.

His thumb presses and swirls over my clit, making my muscles clench around his fingers. Heavy, heady pleasure coils and builds low in my belly, and I close my eyes against the force of what promises to be an orgasm that might kill me. My head thrashes back and forth on his shoulder, and my fingers knot in his hair.

"Edward... I..."

"Let go, Bella. Let me make you come." His voice is so quiet, yet so fierce, as he crowds ever closer, pressing his hard cock against my ass. He's humming in my ear, and there's no mistaking how much he's enjoying this, even though it's all about me.

And that's all it takes for me. I'm just... done. Gone.

I don't moan. I don't scream. I don't even breathe — because I can't. I can't do anything but feel every sensation he's pulled from my body.

"Fuck, yes," he hisses.

My whole body bows back and I squeeze his fingers, completely swept under.

It goes on and on until I go limp, glad he's there to make sure I don't fall. When I'm finally able to open my eyes, he's moved us to the beaten-up leather sectional that serves as a bed for weary, sleep-deprived doctors on-shift. I'm curled up in his lap, limbs liquid, body lax and draped over his like a blanket. And then I realize I just let him finger fuck me in the on-call room.

"Oh, my God. I'm such a slut," I groan, pressing a palm to my eyes.

Edward immediately yanks my hand away, pinning me with an intense, lush-green stare.

He's pissed. Royally.

And God help me, it's so fucking hot.

"How can you say that about yourself?" Shaking his head a little, he goes on. "Unless there's something you're not telling me. Does this happen often?"

My mouth opens and closes like a fish out of water. And that's exactly how I feel — I've gone from orgasmic bliss, to utter shame, to complete confusion all in the span of a minute.

"I didn't think so," he answers for me. He clenches his eyes shut and takes a deep breath. "Bella, I don't do this. At all. It's been more than a year since I had a date. This isn't a casual thing for me."

I still can't speak. Even though my feelings for him are stronger than any I've ever felt, I never considered that he might feel the same for me. I want him so badly that I'll take whatever he deigns to give me, be it scraps or the whole, decadent three-course meal.

He places a hand on my jaw and leans in, eyes worriedly searching mine. "Unless... is it casual for you? Am I wrong about this whole thing?"

"No!" I shake my head, well as much as I can when he's holding my face. "What I feel when I'm with you... it can't get much farther from casual."

He smiles, a beautiful curve of his lips that makes me melt inside, but then he frowns. "Then why does what we just did make you feel embarrassed?"

"Well, we're in the on-call room, for one."


"Well, what if your dad walked in?" I mumble, closing my eyes. He's just so intense, and I feel like a stupid little girl under his gaze.

He sighs. "My father hasn't worked an overnight shift in at least five years," he laughs. "The Chief of Staff position doesn't exactly require those kinds of hours."

"Good point," I admit grudgingly.

"So what's wrong?"

"I don't know!" I huff out. "Maybe the fact that we're here, in the hospital?" Then I do it — I commit sexual suicide. "I'm practically a born-again virgin, Edward! And I would have let you fuck me, right here in the on-call room. What does that say about me?"

He smiles, and it's not condescending, or conceited, or any of the things that terrify me. It's sweet, and sympathetic, and almost... loving?

"It says that you can't fight this any more than I can, Bella." He pauses, his breath coming out on a little hum. "And believe me... when I get inside you, it won't ever be just fucking."

My mouth falls open at the intensity of his words.

"When I get there, I'm going to take my time." He leans closer, tucking a lock of hair behind my ear and brushing his lips over my cheek. When he reaches my ear, he murmurs, "I'm going to learn you... when I'm done, I'll know every single place that makes you moan. All the little spots that make you shiver." He opens his mouth and drops a hot, gentle kiss just below my earlobe. "I'm going to make your body sing for me. I'm going to make you mine."

Am I still alive? Have I died and gone to heaven?

And most importantly: is it possible to have an orgasm from words alone?

Who am I kidding? Of course it is. But Edward's seductive speech has me wet and ready all over again, like he didn't just make me come less than ten minutes ago. So when he cups my jaw in both hands and sets his lips to mine, I'm more than ready. I'm on fire. I've got a fever.

And the only prescription is more cowbell — if Edward's penis is the cowbell.

He's officially kissed me stupid.

I maneuver around until I'm straddling his lap. As we kiss, I link my arms around his neck and settle against his body, leaning in until we can't get much closer. He hums into my mouth and nips at my lower lip as his hands wander down, lightly brushing my breasts and lower, until he can grab two handfuls of my ass. Pushing his hips up, he pulls me down, making me cry out when he rubs me against the blatant shape of his hard dick.

I'm pretty sure he's not wearing anything beneath his scrubs.

"What the hell is going on in here?" someone bellows, and I accidentally bite down on Edward's lip, making him yelp.

Our lips part with an audible smack, and I can tell Edward knows exactly who has interrupted us, judging by the way he turns absolutely white. He jumps up, knocking me off his lap, and pushes me behind him. I shove down my skirt and timidly peek around his shoulder, sucking in a breath at the person standing in the doorway. He's tall, grey-blond, and staring down at us with a frown that makes me want to start digging a hole all the way to China.

"Dad? What are you doing here?" Edward barks, clearly put out now that the shock has started to wear off.

Oh, Jesus. What a way to meet your boyfriend's dad... Only me.

"I think I asked you first, Son," the Silver Fox shoots back in an equally brusque voice.

Damn. There's no question where Edward gets his looks. Daddy Cullen is one fine Piece of Ace, if we're quoting nineties Adam Sandler movies.

Edward sighs in annoyance, obviously giving up on trying to look innocent. It's pretty obvious what we were doing when his father walked in. "Private things," he says through clenched teeth.

"The on-call room is not the place for your... private matters, Edward."

"What are you doing here, Dad? I know you're not on shift. You haven't shown up for work before nine A.M. in about five years. What gives?

Casting an embarrassed, yet equally curious, look my way, he mumbles, "Your mom kicked me out."


Judging from the way Edward turns into a virtual statue in front of me, I can tell he's shocked.

"You guys are the most sickeningly happy couple to ever torture their children with public displays of affection," he rushes out, looking a little ill. Then he turns red, starting at the base of his neck and rising up to his thoroughly mussed hair. "Wait a minute — did you cheat on Mom?" he demands, stepping forward like he's going to throw a punch at his father.

I really shouldn't be witness to this conversation, but damn if I don't want to know if Edward's dad really is stepping out on his wife. It's like a soap-opera: I know it's rotting my mind, but I can't help but watch mindlessly.

Battling my innate nosiness and curiosity, I start backing away, looking for another exit, since Edward and his father are in my direct path to the door.

"Of course not!" Edward's father starts waving his hands around like he's hopped up on too much hospital coffee. "I'd never cheat on your mother!"

"Then what the fuck did you do, man?"

"I forgot our anniversary," Dr. Cullen mumbles, looking down at the floor.

Edward barks out a relieved laugh. "That's it?"

"What the hell do you mean, 'that's it?' She threatened to divorce me! Said I wasn't-" here, he uses air quotes, "'connected' to the marriage anymore. You know how she's been into all that New Age bullshit lately. She fucking told me I need to ask 'The Universe' if our marriage is what I truly want." Air quotes again. With every word, he turns a deeper shade of red.

Edward's shoulders start shaking, and I can tell he's trying to smother his laughter. I can't believe he's laughing at his dad — who is also his boss. Talk about kicking a guy when he's down. It's also kind of stupid, considering what we were doing only a few minutes ago.

As soon as I think things are about to go to hell, that Edward is gonna get fired and I'm going to get escorted out of the hospital with a scarlet "A" branded on my chest, Dr. Cullen the Elder starts laughing too.

"You've got to help me out here, Edward. Your mom might be a little crazy, but I love her. Please, you've got to help me get her back. It's your duty as a son!"

As I watch the dynamic between the two, I realize it's what I've been looking for all my life. I want a father who cares about and respects my opinion. One who might come to me for advice or, at the very least, care enough to give me some when I ask for it. I want parents that care about one another, not political robots who only care about the next bid for political office.

Edward and his father finish their conversation with a man-hug and a pat on the back, and I can see the affection in both pairs of matching green eyes. "Now, who's this beautiful young lady?" Edward's father asks, smiling in my direction.

Edward's smile is so warm, so affectionate when he looks my way. He grabs my hand and draws me closer, until he can wrap an arm around my shoulders. "Dad, this is my Bella."

That's the night I know for sure Edward is my forever — and so was his family. After all, what is a family if they can't build you up while tearing you down (gently), make you laugh, and leave you bursting with pride when they ask you for help?

It's more than I've ever wished for.

I'm just glad I'm smart enough to recognize it — and grab it all with both hands.





Five years later...

"And that's how I met your mother, kid," Carlisle is saying as Edward and I walk through the door.

It's past ten. What the hell is EJ doing up? And why is his grandpa telling PG-13 tales?

I shoot a look at my husband, who appears equally perturbed. There goes our sexy post-Date Night plan. With our schedules, we don't get many of those. With a doctor and a med student in the house, our free time is worth its weight in platinum. Since most of that is spent with our son, time alone together — sans spawn — is rare and precious indeed.

When I got pregnant the summer between graduation and med school, I knew our life together wouldn't be easy. My parents practically disowned me in private, but at least the Senator had enough good sense to realize abandoning his daughter would be political suicide, even more so than insisting on a shotgun wedding for his knocked-up twenty-two-year-old daughter. In the end, the press didn't even care, since the other senator from Washington decided it would be a good idea to proposition other dudes through a glory hole in a restroom at Sea-Tac. Someone got video and it went viral. Sometimes I wonder if I should send him a thank-you note. Jimmy Fallon style.

Senator Swan even walked me down the aisle in my belly-concealing wedding dress. As soon as EJ was born, they were toast. Having a grandchild really mellowed them out. We almost have a good relationship now. I'll take it. After all, I got the world's best husband and son out of the deal. I can deal with a pair of self-absorbed, dysfunctional parents.

Which brings me to my normally warm feelings for Edward's mom and dad, who (despite the on-call room incident) are the Leave It To Beaver type I've only seen on TV. They're pretty much the best in-laws ever.

But right now, my first instinct is to murder my father-in-law with a blunt instrument. Fortunately for Carlisle, our son jumps up and rushes over to hug us before I can start to search for one.

"Mom, Dad, you're home!" he exclaims, pressing his sticky face into my belly, leaving a smear of what appears to be jelly and chocolate syrup all over my dry-clean only dress. I can't even find it in me to give a damn, because he's a mini carbon copy of his father. Has been ever since he was born, just over four years ago.

He's got my eyes, though. I was disappointed about that at first, but I've come to adore seeing that little piece of me in Edward's face. Whenever he looks at me with those soulful eyes, I melt inside. Maybe even more so than when his father looks at me.

When he's done dirtying my clothes, EJ bounces over to his father. Edward catches him with a huff and a pained grunt, and I fervently hope our son hasn't damaged anything important. I have grand plans for those parts later.

"What are you doing up?" I ask, peering down the hallway in search of Carlisle, who's nowhere to be seen. If he's smart, he's sneaking out the back door before I get the chance to put my foot in his ass.

EJ grins at me, perched in his father's arms. "I beat Granpa Carl at checkers, so I got to stay up. And then I beat him again, so he had to give me ice-cream." His voice gets louder with each word, and his eyes grow wider. He's practically vibrating. "And then I beat him again, and I won a jelly sandwich!"

The grandpa in question finally shows his face, looking sheepish. He's covered in so much Hershey's syrup, he looks like a zebra.

"What can I say? I'm better at chess than checkers." He shrugs and rakes a hand through his hair — or tries to. It gets stuck.

"I think it's time to start teaching him chess, Dad," Edward says, not bothering to tamp down his grin. "Apparently, we have a checkers prodigy on our hands."

"What's a dod-igy?" EJ frowns, testing out the word.

"Prodigy, kid. It means you're really good at something," I tell him, tugging playfully on the sleeve of his Spider-Man pajamas.

"I'm really good at eating ice-cream! And building Legos! And coloring..." he wiggles out of Edward's arms and takes off for the playroom, eager to find more things he's good at. But I already know. He's our kid. Of course he's good at everything.

I start after our son and shoot Carlisle a dirty look. "I'll take care of the bath." Cocking a brow at Edward, I say, "You take care of Bad Grandpa."

He smirks. "Got it."

"And don't let him off easy — about the storytelling or the sugar rush!"

"Are you kidding me? I value my balls, thank you very much," Edward laughs.

"How was I supposed to know he'd beat me?" I hear Carlisle mutter as I head down the hallway.

Edward barks out a laugh. "Well, maybe you should have known after the second time, Dad."

"Statistics were on my side! Do you know how hard it is to win three games in a row?"

My husband doesn't disappoint with his smart-assery. "Oh, I don't know... apparently it's as hard as winning a game of checkers with a four-year-old."

I head into EJ's room, where he's busy digging through a toy bin in search of God knows what. Even as I prepare to deal with one of the world's most difficult tasks — bathing a hyper, filthy four-year-old — I can't hide the huge smile on my face. There's nowhere else I'd rather be.





When we both fall into bed two excruciatingly hyper hours later, having survived the Great Sugar Crash (that shall forever live in infamy), Edward wraps his arms around me and pulls me up against his chest. I stay limp, unable to muster the energy to return his hug.

"Are you still alive?" he laughs, laying a trail of sweet kisses up my neck.

I whimper. "I don't think so. Carlisle is never babysitting without Esme again."

"You're right. He can't be trusted at all. He needs supervision. No more date nights for us until Mom gets back from her trip."

"I should have never bought her that Eat, Pray, Love book," I sigh.

Edward snorts in agreement and snuggles closer, but I still can't get over my father-in-law's cluelessness.

"Why would he think feeding E.J. a hot fudge sundae at 9 p.m. is okay? He had young kids once; surely he knew what would happen. And then he gave him a jelly sandwich after that!"

"I have no idea." Squeezing me tighter, he murmurs, "Lesson definitely learned. No matter how desperate we are for alone time, Grandpa can't be trusted."

"Definitely." Even as I say the word, I know it will probably happen again. After five years, there's still a spark that we can't fight. We need our alone time like we need to breathe. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

We lay there in silence for a bit, breathing each other in and letting our bodies relax. It's the best when we're together like this: silent and spent. It's like plugging in. We recharge, together. Always together.

"Wanna have another one?" he murmurs against the shell of my ear. "I want a little girl to spoil." His hands start to wander and I can't help but arch into his touch.

The past couple of hours flash through my mind, giving me pause, but then I remember everything else — the birthdays, the smiles, the hugs... and I know, without a doubt. There's only one answer. Suddenly, I'm not so tired anymore.

I nuzzle his neck and wrap my arms around him, placing a kiss in the spot where neck meets jaw, and breathe, "Yes. Of course, yes."

A low growl rumbles in his chest and he crushes his mouth to mine, kissing me silly. When we part, we're both out of breath and desperate for more. He strips away my t-shirt and panties, shucks off his boxers, and flips me onto my back, leaving me giggling. I bite my lip and almost whimper as he settles himself between my thighs.

He braces himself above me, hands planted on either side of my head, and leans down to rub his nose along mine. Then he grins and wiggles his eyebrows. "Let's play doctor. I can use my special probe."

I start laughing again at his stupid, predictable jokes, slapping at his chest. "You're a complete dork."

"I'll show you a dork," he quips, thrusting his hips.

"I don't think that's quite the right word, Doctor." I wrap one leg around his waist and pull him closer, still giggling.

Then he pushes himself inside me, and suddenly "playing doctor" sounds like the best idea he's ever had.

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