Something's Gotta Give

Chapter Two-On the Counter


The text came just before midnight and Bella was out of bed before she finished reading it. She grabbed her keys from her nightstand, ran toward her closet, and threw the door open.

Breathless, a sense of foreboding made her body shiver. She knew it would happen soon and she'd prepared for it since the move to the area. On the tips of her toes, she grabbed something from the top shelf. The box was heavier than she remembered. Twice, the keys in her trembling hand missed the intended target, but on the third try, the lid popped open.

The matte black metal looked brand new; a deception, considering she'd fired it more than once. She grabbed the gun and the two extra magazines before she changed her mind. Her quick hands pulled a few things from hangers and drawers. Almost all of it went inside a grey duffle bag except the weapon. She stuffed it against the small of her back, after pulling on a pair of slim jeans.

Bag in hand and shoes on, she made her way toward the loose board in the hallway. On her hands and knees, she pried it up and pulled out a wallet, and all five stacks of cash. She checked to make sure everything was there, as six different versions of her face stared up from various ID's and passports. She'd have to pick one later.

Satisfied, she put it into the duffel back and made her way downstairs. She paused in the kitchen, wondering if she should leave a note for Esme. She might not know many of the people in the small town, but she knew Esme would worry herself sick. After finding a notepad and pen, she hastily wrote a note indicating she'd be gone for a few days.

She tapped the pen on her granite countertop, a recent addition installed by Edward, before he disappeared. He'd been gone for weeks, and she went from upset, to worried, to fucking angry, in all that time. She had considered going up to his remote cabin and giving him a piece of her mind.

You do not kiss a woman—not a kiss, but a claiming—and then leave.

It would have to wait until she returned. She left the note, removed the battery from her phone as previously instructed by her handler. She smashed it with a rolling pin and dropped it in the trash. She looked back at the house that was steadily becoming a home.

"I hope I get to come back."

~oOo~

She'd been gone a week, during which time, Edward lost himself working on her house. The front porch had a fresh coat of paint. The tile he was working on in the half-bath on the bottom floor was almost finished. A layer of a grey grout covered the tile, and while he knelt on kneepads, he wiped the surface clean with a damp sponge.

It was all he could do to keep himself sane. There'd been no word from her but a hastily written note addressed to his mother they had found, fallen on the floor only a day earlier. He blamed himself for sending her running. Hadn't he done the same? Looking around, he saw the changes she'd done herself in his absence. Her office walls ,stripped of their aging wallpaper, now had a fresh coat of paint. The woodwork and custom bookcases resurfaced and stained—beautiful, too. He wondered if someone helped her.

He thought he'd done all the thinking he could do while he was gone. How wrong he was. For days after the encounter on her porch, where he almost lost all threads of control, he pushed her from his mind. At least, he thought he had.

He worked on long forgotten projects and searched the forest that surrounded his home for wood that would make some of his nicer work. Art pieces made from them brought in thousands of dollars, but took countless hours to make them art. He camped outdoors, slept under a blanket of stars. Ignoring the need to see his parents, all while trying to forget an unforgettable woman.

Even as he tried to push her from his thoughts, she was there, everywhere he looked. Her eyes were in the varying colors of wood he found for a bowl he hoped to make for her. Even as he actively tried not to think of her, she was on his mind in some way. He remembered how she continued to talk, even though he offered nothing in return before he ran. The wind that blew around him carried the scent of her light perfume, calling to him.

Why hadn't he come sooner? It was the fear of the unknown. For years, he'd realized he couldn't socialize or even expect any form of a relationship like the one his parents had. He'd come to terms with that and learned to live with the loneliness he felt had blanketed his very existence. He wore it like armor, used it to push everyone that tried to offer him friendship.

Suddenly, there was Bella. In all the years since his safe return home from a war ravaged country, he'd never met anyone with the ability to stir his blood with potent lust and anger. She knew how to push every one of his buttons. Her inability to think before she talked should've annoyed him to no end; instead, he found refreshing. She was honest, the bold and in-your-face kind that garnered an argument just to rile her up.

How many times had he wished he'd find a way to shut her up? Not only did he want to do just that with his sharp tongue, but with his mouth and teeth.

Edward groaned as he remembered the last time he'd seen her, touched her, tasted her. She was so petite and felt perfect in his arms, hair so fucking soft he regretted not getting to memorize the scent of it. His body responded as his mind tried to take those lush memories further, into her bedroom where he'd strip off her dress, as she often left him feeling naked with just a look. Before he could revel in his imagination, it switched, and instead of leading her to the bedroom, he placed her on the porch swing and tasted every inch of ivory skin until she screamed his name.

"Fuck," he hissed, taking a moment to fall back on his haunches. An erection in unforgiving denim and kneeling did not go together. His hand moved over himself and he took a moment to imagine it as hers. Another hiss tumbled from between clenched teeth. He adjusted and tried to expel his demons and desire with work.

Edward had to find her, and though Emmett stated he'd done everything he could, he wouldn't give up as easily.

~oOo~

Bella was exhausted from the flight and drive. The familiar streets felt more like home than the five-star hotel she'd left behind. She spared her new burner phone, one she'd toss after a few calls, a glance and realized it was too late to stop by to see Esme and Carlisle.

Her mind didn't want to wander toward their son, but yeah, her heart told her head to go fuck itself. She rolled her eyes at the way her mind worked. "No wonder he calls you crazy."

She took a moment to look in the rearview mirror and saw the new her staring back at her. It was a look she had for weeks and had gotten used to it. She liked this version of herself and now that everything was officially over, she was free to live that new life. It had to start somewhere, and as she pulled into her driveway and took in the changes, she knew she found her new home.

~oOo~

Bella woke up feeling better and ready to start her day. She showered and dressed in a robe, and realized she needed to do laundry badly. She turned on her stereo on the way to the kitchen, determined to make some breakfast. A quick tour of her house indicated that construction had continued since she left. Did that mean Jacob or Edward? Whom did she prefer?

It mattered little, since she wanted to kick both their asses. She popped a hip and swirled around as the music lent a beat for her to move. "We can't stop, we won't stop." Ignoring the tickle of guilt she felt for leaving as she did, she started to raid her fridge. She hummed along to the almost hypnotic beat of a pop song and pulled out a few pans.

Lost in the task and the music, she didn't hear someone call out for her, nor had she realized someone was watching her until she felt the hair rise along the back of her neck. She ignored that, too, hoping it didn't show that she knew he was there.

During the few weeks he worked for her, she often felt he was watching. Sometimes she'd catch a glimpse of him out of the corner of her eye, and the second she'd start to turn, he'd disappear. The asshole had done enough running and it needed to stop. She felt some anger directed at her, and knew she'd have to explain herself.

Didn't mean she'd make it easy for him.

She pulled the pan of fluffy scrambled eggs off the heat and plated them, licking her finger when she accidently caught the edge of the pan. Just as she turned off the flame, a pair of rough hands grabbed her around the waist, and as she spun around, she found herself suddenly on the countertop.

Her hair tumbled over her eyes and she tried to blow it away, since her hands were on his biceps. His angry hunter eyes were positively on fire. She knew right then how much trouble she was in, and instantly, her anger rose. After one last squeeze at the muscles that twitched under her fingers, she moved them slowly over his shoulder and down his chest. Meeting his glare head on, she pushed him hard.

He stumbled back a step, but instantly returned in front of her. His breath was ragged as he tried to hold back his anger. "Where have you been?"

She folded her arms across her chest, trying her best not to squirm. It was hard to do when his entire frame held her captive. Strong, able hands rested on each side of her hips on the counter. Her knees pressed on his warm stomach, against the very hard ridges of muscles.

"Why do you care?"

He glowered and shook his head. His beard was longer; a sign he hadn't trimmed it since he disappeared. Even his hair was a mess, but the bruised skin under his eyes concerned her the most—the kind that meant he had plenty of sleepless nights under his belt.

"I'm not having that argument with you right now." His hands moved closer and she gasped as he spread them over her bare thighs. Without thought of the consequences, he spread her knees apart and stepped within the inviting shape of them. She shivered as his breath fanned over her face. "Where were you?"

Her eyes rolled when she felt his hips flex slightly, the hard ridge of his cock teasing. "Step back," she whispered, trying to move back enough to breathe. She cried out when she hit her head on the cabinet knob behind her. Concern banked the fire in his eyes and a warm hand lifted from her shaking thigh, massaging the tender area and his nose sliding along hers.

"Why?" he asked, closing in even further. His voice was rough from disuse; she knew what that felt like. She shook her head, confused about the question, only remembering she was angry with him and said as much. He was too much and too heady for her to think coherently when he was so close. "I-I'm sorry." The words were softer and lower than before. A startling combination of rough and soft hair from his beard left a wake of fire along her jawline as he gently nibbled on her earlobe. "I was scared." Every word punctuated with a thrust of his hips.

As far as apologies went, it was the best—the ass.

"I'm still mad at you." A moan escaped, though she desperately tried to contain it. God, he felt so good.

"I know." The words tortured the too hot and sensitive skin on her neck. "I deserve it."

She nodded in agreement, refusing to lay a hand on him until they talked. It was futile as he continued to whisper words not meant for her to hear against her shoulder.

"But so do you," he hissed as he pulled her to the very edge of the counter. She felt more of him. "You left without a word, scaring my parents and…" He shook his head, exhaling sharply against the crook of her neck. Her nipples tightened under his breath, goose bumps spreading down her arm.

"And what, Edward?"

He said nothing, only masked his answer with a gentle scrape of his teeth on her shoulder and another thrust.

"You need to stop, I think," she moaned, though she forgot why he needed to such a thing. Her head fell back, unknowingly allowing him further access. Something he took advantage of with a swipe of his tongue over her thundering pulse.

Edward breathed in deeply, gathering control. The vision of her dancing around in a miniscule robe when he arrived to work on the bathroom was too much. Weeks without seeing her hadn't diminished his desire for her in the slightest. Seeing her swaying hips, hearing her angelic voice singing along while she cooked, he never wanted anything more. His first thought when he saw her was to touch her, followed immediately by his anger.

In an attempt to give her space as she requested, he pressed one last kiss on her shoulder and made to step back. She had the softest skin, lightly fragranced with scented lotion. She gave off heat that called to his cold-to-the-marrow body.

His hand reluctantly left the silk of her wild curls, but his fingertips lingered over the goose bumps on her arms.

"We need to talk."

Her reply was a heavy sigh. "Yes."

"I'm sorry for," he started and shrugged. "For scaring you."

She laughed and swept her hair up in one hand, releasing it after a few seconds. "I knew you were there, Edward."

Confused, he tried to step away further, only to find that she had him caged by her long legs. Her ankles locked at the small of his back. "Then why are you pushing me away now?"

"Like you said, we need to talk." She looked down, grabbed onto a belt loop of his jeans to pull him closer. "And I was close to coming, since I'm not wearing anything under this."

The words rattled his fucking brain and he snapped once again. He captured her face in his hands and slanted his mouth over hers. It was almost brutal, but from her answering moan and the way her hands curved his ass, he knew she loved it. Her mouth tasted of vanilla, mint, and coffee, an intriguing combination. With lips as soft as satin, she proved she was anything but soft as she bit his bottom lip before sucking it into her mouth. His groan reverberated between them, making her cry out when he did the same. He eased the sting with a tender swipe of his tongue and he lost his head further as her fingers rose gently to scratch at his bearded jaw.

To breathe and give himself a moment, he pulled away from the temptation of her mouth. "I have to make you come." His hands dropped from her face and slowly swept up her thighs, fabric bunching around his wrists.

His hands settled on the tantalizing lines where her hips met her thighs, his thumbs brushing between them. "Oh, God," she moaned and fell back on her hands, her head resting on the cabinet behind her. The angle allowed her to watch. "You don't fight fair."

Bella nearly expired at the way his eyes darkened and his lips twisted into a crooked smile. "Never said I did."

"You don't say much."

He cocked an eyebrow and returned his gaze to the space between them. Why was she talking anyway? "Otherwise occupied now," he murmured and teased her further with another brush of his thumbs over her most sensitive skin. "Hold on to something."

She did, but thought her sanity was long gone.