Contest entry for the May to December Romance Contest

Title: Maybe December

Beta(s): Midnight Cougar

Pre-Reader: Maplestyle

Summary: A meet-cute. A little bit of talking. He's older. She's just right. Something for the May-December contest.

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

So this wasn't what it was supposed to be. A long time ago, probably before I could walk, or maybe just before my mom left, she told me I'd meet the man of my dreams someday and, if I were lucky, I'd marry him and live happily ever after.

Boy was she right. Sometimes, things happened in a way that made you doubt everything you thought you knew.

It all started about a month ago.

I was in the produce section, minding my own business, as one does in the produce section, when all of a sudden, I was hit from behind and landed face-first, sprawled out on the ground.

Usually, I wasn't one to be too picky if I found myself ass-up, face-down, but in this case, I was fuming. This was not funny. I wanted to castrate whoever had hit me. I mean, come on!

"Watch where you're going, asshole!" I said as I stood and ran a hand over all my appendages to make sure I didn't have any bones protruding from anywhere.

I didn't look at anyone in particular. Too pissed and in a blind rage, I had to rein it in before I cut someone. See, I just wouldn't look good in prison orange. Plus, as much as I liked women, I was pretty sure prison sex wasn't as sexy as it looked like in Orange Is the New Black.

Anyway, once I'd gathered all my fruit and boxes of tea that had scattered from my basket, I finally looked around, only to see my sworn enemy, Alice Brandon, looking back at me.

With a smirk, she turned and walked off down an aisle about thirty feet from me.

I knew it was her. It had to be. Nobody else was around and it happened so quickly that, had it been anyone else, I was sure they would have been gracious enough to offer a hand. No, it was her.

And we couldn't stand each other.

We hadn't been friends in school. I was a scholar and she was...not.

We'd both gone off to college, but had come back to live here. I loved this place. This was my home. Sadly, it was hers, too.

Chicago was huge, so running into her was thankfully not something I did every day. Heck, I'd heard she was back in the neighborhood, but I hadn't seen her in the six months since I'd been back.

At twenty-four, I was lucky enough to get a job working at the same firm as my father. Under his wing, I was going to be a great...accountant.

No laughing. Please. Yes, I knew it was boring, but in my spare time, I wrote stuff that would make even the most uptight matriarch's toes curl.

So here I was, pissed and achy, at the supermarket. Nope, Mom didn't say anything about this.

I went down the aisles looking for my favorite treat, Chef Boyardee, and spotted this attractive gentleman also perusing the canned SpaghettiOs.

Lucky for me, Alice was nowhere to be seen. Quickly, I got two cans and added them to my basket, rendering it pretty heavy. Being unlucky, because I was me, one of the cans toppled over the side of the basket and fell on the floor.

"Crap," I mumbled as I struggled with the basket and bent down to pick up the can that was now rolling away from me.

"Let me help you with that," the attractive stranger said, quickly picking up my can and handing it to me.

Relieved, and maybe a little tired, I smiled, grateful there were still good people around. "Thank you."

I didn't even have it in me to add a little snark.

He grinned, and for the first time in a long time, I stared at a man wondering if I could ask him out myself instead of waiting for him to make a move.

He winked. "You're welcome."

Dumbstruck, I said nothing as he turned and kept on perusing the shelves, looking for...baked beans? Oh dude, no.

Well, I dodged a bullet there.

Shaking myself out of it, I kept my eyes on the cans in front of me as I tried not to judge him too much.

It was really hard to find an alternative to canned tomato and pasta. Man, why couldn't they make canned pasta and pesto?

I was so lost in the various amounts of canned sodium-filled goods that I almost missed the nice stranger coming back my way.

Almost.

He was attractive and smelled so good, he was hard to ignore.

"So, I was wondering—" he smiled, which made my stomach quiver "—if you'd like to maybe have dinner with me?"

I looked in his cart and noticed he hadn't gotten any baked beans. "Sure...I mean, what's your name?"

He looked away, his ears turning pink. It was cute. "Let me start over." He ran a hand through his hair. "Miss, hi, I'm Edward and I was wondering if you'd have dinner with me."

I extended my hand. "I'm Bella and I'd love to."

He nodded and took my hand in his, giving it a light squeeze. "Bella. Very nice to meet you."

I looked at his cart, which was full of healthy stuff, no canned goods in sight. "Should we set a time or something?"

I wasn't sure how these random hook-ups were supposed to work. The last guy I'd dated was in my class and he'd basically dropped by my place for some sexy-times. We'd dated very casually until we graduated and he moved to California while I came back home. No love lost.

Edward scratched his neck and fiddled with his keys. He looked about as comfortable as a nun in a whorehouse. "Yeah. Yes...that's important." He laughed and shook his head. "I'm sorry, Bella. I'm new at this. I, erm...it's been a while."

I shrugged. "Same here. No worries."

"Do you want me to pick you up? Tonight? Eight-ish?" Each word sounded like a question within a question, and I found his nervousness endearing.

I got a piece of paper from my purse and jotted down my address. I wasn't crazy about letting him pick me up at my house, since I didn't know a thing about the guy, but it wasn't as if I had much of a choice.

"So eight?" I handed him the paper.

He nodded. "I'll see you at eight, Bella." He backed away from me, a smile on his face a mile wide as he pushed his cart behind him.

A little dazed, I watched until he disappeared at the end of the aisle and thought how weird it was going to be if I ran into him in every other aisle.

"You're going through with this?" Rosalie asked over the speakerphone.

I was trying, unsuccessfully, to put together a decent outfit that didn't scream "let's skip coffee and go directly to your room."

"Dude, if you would have seen him, you would be going, too." To be fair, I was nervous and a little scared. I had no idea what to expect, and seeing as I didn't know him from Adam, well, there was always the possibility I'd end up made into a skin suit.

"Bella, just be careful out there, okay?"

I rolled my eyes. "Yeah, yeah." Then took a look at my watch. "I gotta go."

"Call me!" was the last thing I heard from Rose before hanging up and scrutinizing the outfit I'd finally laid out on my bed. I was now ready to get on with it. Maybe.

After another half hour of playing dress up, I stood in front of the mirror. Okay, I thought, I didn't look half-bad. I could do this shit. I gave myself a mental pat on the back before making my way to the living room. It was almost eight and I hated that I was actually waiting for him.

"Come on, man. Get here before I change my damn mind," I huffed and peeked out the little window by the kitchen door. I wasn't going to change my mind, but still.

Parked in my driveway was a sight I'd never in my wildest dreams expected. Sitting behind the steering wheel of a nice looking pick-up truck, Edward looked as though he was going to pass out. I'd never witnessed this in a man before.

Did he think I was that scary?

He'd asked me out, after all.

Maybe he thought I would make him into a skin suit.

Nah, I had to see this through. He hadn't looked up, and not knowing if he was ever going to get out of that truck was driving me nuts. I wasn't ever particularly patient and it was now nine minutes past eight. He was officially late.

Well, Edward, let's see what you're made of, I thought. Any guy who couldn't make it to my front door deserved what I unleashed upon him.

I took a deep breath and opened the door. My heart was racing and I couldn't keep my eyes off him. As I closed the door behind me, he finally looked up.

I stopped dead in my tracks. The look on his face was a cross between shit-scared and mortification. I didn't know what to make of it.

I stood there, motionless, with my purse in my hands, wearing a dress that didn't make me look too dowdy and flats so that I could run if he tried to kill me. I'd left my hair down because I liked it that way, and worn a little bit of makeup because I was a girl and that was what some of us did when we wanted to get laid...I meant, go on dates.

I was nervous, too, but hoped I was hiding it better than he was.

"I'm sorry," he said as soon as he stepped out of his truck.

When he was sitting there, all I could see was his shoulders and head, but now I got to see all of him, and hot damn, he looked good.

I shrugged. "I don't bite."

I bit my bottom lip as soon as the words swept past them. I could definitely bite if he wanted me to. That brain to mouth filter needed realignment if I was going to be around him. Either that, or he needed to not look as if he was about to run away screaming.

"I...I know." He smirked and walked up the few steps to stand in front of me. "I'm late."

While my brain desperately wanted to call him Captain Obvious, I managed to smile politely and say, "It's no big deal, really. I saw you...at eight...out here."

He ran a hand through his hair. "Can I be honest here?"

Well, crap. That wasn't going to end well, I just knew it. "Sure." I leaned against the closed door and crossed my arms over my chest.

This ought to be good.

"I haven't gone out on a date in over twenty years." His words came out carefully measured as he stood there, his eyes boring into mine.

I tilted my head to the side, my eyes narrowed. "That's almost as old as I am. I mean, I'm... How old are you, Edward?"

He took a deep breath and cracked his knuckles. "Old enough to know better."

"Dude, you're speaking in rhymes here. What...why are you so nervous?" I couldn't wrap my mind around anything he was saying. So he was older, and I cared? Please, that was probably what attracted me to him in the first place.

"You don't care?" He sucked in his bottom lip, something so sexy it made me forget what we were discussing.

"No?" I ran a hand through my hair and looked around the yard. Should I have cared? Was I on Candid Camera? Was he seriously asking me that?

More importantly, had he had sex in that twenty years or would I have to break him in?

He exhaled a shaky breath and smiled. "Thanks for doing this."

"You're making it sound as though I'm doing you a favor. Don't do that." I shook my head. "Twenty years?"

He stepped from one foot to the other. "I was married."

"That happens." I shrugged. I wasn't really fazed by anything he could have said in regards to having a divorce under his belt. My parents weren't together anymore and both had dated quite a bit. I knew life didn't always go as planned, though in my case, both parents seemed happy. They weren't together and still dealt with each other because they shared me, but neither held any hostility toward the other.

He nodded, a little smile pulling at his lips. "I guess it does."

"Do you still love her?" It was a fair question. I didn't mind going on a date with some random, attractive guy, but if he still held a candle for someone else, I wasn't going to fully invest in this.

His eyes snapped to mine and all evidence of that smile vanished. "Hell no."

I giggled nervously and looked away. "Sorry. I just...that was funny."

He looked away and then turned around and started walking toward his truck. Wordlessly, I watched him open the door. Just as I was about to pick a rock off the ground to throw at this confusing ass, he turned back around and smiled, pulling out a single bright pink carnation from the truck.

"I brought you something." He took a step forward. "Let's start over, shall we?"

I pushed myself away from the door and descended the few steps down the front porch. "Okay."

"I'm sorry I'm late. I was nervous," he admitted, extending his hand; the one with the pretty flower.

I wasn't much of a flower chick, but in that moment, I discovered they really did make a girl feel special. "Ehm, that's okay." I smirked and took the carnation. "Thank you. I'm just going to put this in water." I turned, went back to the house and unlocked the door.

"Do you want me to wait out here?" He shifted from foot to foot again, his shy demeanor making another appearance.

Instead of answering, I walked into the house and left the door open. I was only going to be a few minutes anyway, so it wasn't as though we were going to get busy right there. I had my standards, after all. It was up to him to follow me or not.

As quickly as I could, while desperately trying to ignore my quickening heartbeat, I got a tall glass, filled it with water and placed the delicate stem inside.

"There." I smiled and put the glass by the sink.

"I didn't know if you even liked flowers. Do men still do that?" He leaned on the doorjamb, his shoulders turned in and his hands deep in his pockets.

"To be honest, I'm not sure. I don't have too large a pool of comparison, either," I told him honestly, trying not to look directly at him. Standing there, he looked almost too good; like a sun, shining bright. I was attracted to him, that was for sure, and my heart beating quicker than before confirmed it.

He nodded and stood a little straighter. His body language was a conundrum.

"We have reservations at eight-thirty. We should probably go." He extended his hand. Hesitant at first, I placed my hand in his, hoping he wasn't going to do anything crazy.

"Oh God, that's too funny." I laughed as I listened to Edward tell me about his work. We hadn't broached too many personal details, but we did share comfortable little pieces of conversations and funny anecdotes.

"So, what are you doing for Christmas this year?" he asked, taking a drink from his glass of wine.

It was the end of November and I hadn't even started my shopping yet. "Not quite sure. Probably dinner with my dad and his girlfriend. Then maybe I'll call my mom."

He kept his attention on me, something I found to be quite nice. Most men my age were quick to change the subject and talk about themselves, but not Edward. All evening, I'd noticed how he would sit there and listen when I spoke. He engaged me as a peer and not once had he cut me off. This whole "dating an older man thing" was turning out to be pretty cool.

"What about you, Edward? What are you doing for Christmas this year?" I took a bite of chicken and made sure to keep eye contact. That part was easy. His eyes were breathtakingly green.

He looked away, narrowing his eyes. That face he made got me worried, though. A bunch of "what ifs" ran through my mind in that split second before he finally answered.

"My parents invited me to Aspen, but I'm not sure yet." He wiped his mouth with his napkin and tented his fingers under his chin. "It'll be my first Christmas since the divorce."

I nodded. "I'm sorry. I didn't want to talk about that."

He resumed eating and we kept talking about some more inane stuff. I didn't ask about his family or his ex-wife and, in turn, he didn't ask about my divorced parents. When the check came, he paid and I didn't argue. He was a true gentleman. My generation could have learned a thing or two from this mature man. Not even once had he been anywhere near as inappropriate as my inner perv would have wished.

"Where to, my lady?" he asked as we exited the restaurant.

"Depends, what have you planned, dear sir?" I smiled and waited patiently for him to tell me. I could feel the excitement bubbling up in my stomach. Whatever he had planned, if we were doing it together, I was convinced I would thoroughly enjoy.

He joined me on the sidewalk, his hand resting on my lower back as he spoke. "Honestly, Bella, I hadn't planned past dinner. I didn't know if we would even make it to dessert without being bored to tears."

I laughed. "Mr. Cullen, how dare you call me boring."

He tickled my side and pulled me closer. "I wasn't worried about you being boring. I was worried you'd think my old ass was going to bore you to tears."

I reached up and pressed myself to his chest, making my intentions pretty clear. "I don't think you could ever say anything boring. Hell, I was thinking of letting you read me the phonebook later." His voice was the sexiest I'd ever heard.

He licked his lips, his other hand going to the back of my neck. "I'm going to kiss you now, Bella."

My breath caught in my throat. I wasn't expecting him to be so forward.

I ran my hand up his back and fisted his jacket. We were standing in the middle of the sidewalk on a busy street, but I found no fucks to give. "I think I would like that very much." My voice was low, hoarse. I was turned on, so much so, that in the back of my mind I was trying to figure out if there was an alley nearby where we could duck off to.

His lips were demanding as they first touched mine, and a little noise came from the back of his throat before he pulled back and looked at me with wide eyes. "I...I'm sorry."

His words were rushed, and before I could reply his lips were on mine again.

I wanted to tell him he didn't have to be sorry, but I didn't have to. I pulled him closer and felt the warmth of his mouth, the softness of his lips, and deepened the kiss until we were one. Our tongues danced, soft and wet. A perfect kiss leaving me breathless and unlike anything I'd ever felt. I was horny, yes, but this was turned-on to the point of stupidity.

With one kiss, I was rendered a whore. Kind of.

He had experience; that much was obvious. The way he touched me ever so softly, while he kissed me, was maddening. I wanted more.

I leaned back, panting, with nothing in mind but the thought of getting him naked and in my bed.

"Come home with me." I kissed him again, leaving no doubt in my intentions.

"Bella..." My name fell off his lips like a prayer and his eyes were so dark with lust, there was no denying he felt it, too.

"I don't do this... I mean, I'm not that type of girl," I clarified, but it was too late. He took my hand in his and we ran to his truck.

He opened the passenger door and kissed me before I got inside. I watched over the dashboard as he jogged around to the driver's seat.

Once inside, he leaned over and took my face between his palms. "We don't have to do anything." He kissed me again. "I just... I can't explain it, but I need to be alone with you."

He drove with a quiet determination. The streets whizzed by and before I knew it, we were standing at my front door. I had my key in one hand and Edward's hand in the other.

He kept touching me softly. His fingers would skim my shoulder or he'd kiss my hair. I'd never been so torn about unlocking my front door in all my life.

"I meant it when I said I don't do this, usually," I told him once I got the door opened.

We both stood on the threshold looking at each other, but not touching. I wasn't so sure anymore. It was all getting too real, maybe.

His lips were still tinged pink from a combination of our kisses and my lipstick. He looked calm, but I could feel something radiating off him. I couldn't quite put my finger on it, or maybe it was all the pent-up sexual tension from earlier.

I would never, to this day, be a hundred percent sure what happened, but at the time I couldn't control myself. It was like an out of body experience. I wanted to have him. Be with him. I didn't care that he was barely divorced. He probably had more skeletons in his closet than I had in my underwear drawer, but it didn't matter. Nothing did.

He was probably old enough to be my father, though I didn't confirm his age. I didn't want to know. He was nice, polite and very easy on the eyes. He worked as a carpenter and had steady employment; another plus on my checklist. There were all these signs telling me I shouldn't do this and that we should wait and go on more dates.

I was overwhelmed, but in the end I made a choice.

I stepped forward and took his hand in mine. His Adam's apple bobbed as he swallowed and took a step inside. I closed and locked the door behind him.

Looking up at him, but not saying a word, I unbuttoned the top button on his shirt. His hands shook and his fingers twitched while he watched, but didn't touch me. He was waiting, observing my next move.

I licked my lips and then pressed a kiss to his exposed collarbone. "I want this...with you." My eyes met his and my hands fisted the bottom of his shirt. I pulled it out of his pants and continued to undo the buttons. My intentions were clear.

He ran his hand up my arm, barely touching it, and wrapped his fingers around the side of my neck, his thumb running a path between my earlobe and jaw. The soft, steady movement drove me crazy and made my entire body break out in goose bumps. I closed my eyes and inhaled a shaky breath.

Edward's long lashes were resting over his cheeks and I could hear him breathe. No hint of a smile formed on his lips and he seemed as relaxed and contemplative as one could possibly get.

He spoke softly, his eyes still closed. "I'm not sure what to do here."

He wasn't kidding. He was open and honest and so incredibly sexy in that moment of pure uncertainty.

"Go with your instinct." I took his hand from my neck and kissed his palm. "Has it been that long?" I needed to know. Not because I wanted to poke fun at him. No, at this point, if I had to be his first tryst after the ending of what I'd gathered to be a tumultuous marriage, I wanted to make sure he knew it was okay to be bold. To be himself. To let go of whatever he thought would be wrong or right. Granted, if he was into anything too kinky, I had a few safe words picked out I'd always wanted to use.

He didn't answer. Instead he leaned in and kissed me. It was deep and full of longing. His breath mixed with mine as our tongues met languidly.

Before I knew it, he'd pulled my dress over my head and I was standing there in my bra and panties. He looked at me then. I wanted to hide the little imperfections, but couldn't. He'd seen them anyway.

"You're so beautiful." He palmed my breasts and kissed the bow in the center, his thumbs circling my nipples.

I squirmed and exhaled a soft moan. "Same could be said about you." He was still wearing his pants, but his shirt had met my living room carpet.

He kneeled before me, his hands moving to my hips, his mouth hovering over my belly button, which was adorned with a small rhinestone infinity belly button ring. The feel of his breath on my skin made it tingle in the best way. "I like this," was all he said as he used his tongue to toy with my ring.

I giggled and fisted his hair, pushing the strands away from his forehead. "I like this position," I joked, biting my bottom lip in anticipation. I was a grown-up. I knew where things like this usually led. He was going to explore my downstairs and I was ready to let him take the plunge.

He smirked and leaned in to kiss the area above my pubic bone. "Let's make sure I haven't lost my touch."

I inhaled sharply. "That would be tragic."

He hadn't touched me yet. Not intimately, at least. He'd kissed me tenderly, yes, and I'd felt his hands over my skin, but nothing had prepared me for this. I was still wearing a bra and there he was hooking his fingers on either side of my panties and pulling them down my legs. His eyes were on mine the entire time and all I wanted to do was yell at him to look down. I'd shaved, dammit. Someone had to admire the time it took to sculpt that perfect little patch of curls into a masterpiece.

I waited with bated breath to see what his next move was going to be. He'd surprised me with how bold he was all of a sudden, as if he'd finally found his way.

His eyes left mine and I watched him skim his palms up the front of my legs. His thumbs were unyielding once they reached the apex of my thighs. I gasped at the feeling of them against my sex. My heart was beating out of my chest and my skin felt as though it was on fire; every square inch on high alert, waiting for Edward's next move.

He was looking at me, like, right at me. I guessed that masterpiece was going to be exposed after all.

"Spread your legs." He looked up at me, his eyes dark with desire and his voice deeper than I'd ever heard.

I did as asked and moved my legs farther apart. His thumbs then pressed inside me, both at once. I was wet and throbbing. His movements were meant to tease; one thumb circled my clit while the other teased my opening.

"Oh God," I whispered and closed my eyes. He was going to be the death of me. For someone so uncertain a few moments ago, he sure as hell had found his footing.

I felt it then, his breath on me. His lips sucked and then his tongue replaced his thumb. He held my hips, which was a good thing, because I could barely stand up. It was awkward and incredible at the same time.

It didn't take very long for his mouth to get me soaring, and when I had his fingers inside and he pressed deep against that spot, I swear to God I saw stars. Legit, bright white stars.

I remembered chanting and being thankful. And Edward's smirk as he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, which was the sexiest thing I'd ever witnessed.

"Well, that just happened." I grinned, trying to regain my composure. We were still standing in the space between my living room and kitchen. If anyone dropped by, they would have had quite the surprise.

I leaned in and kissed Edward's lips. "C'mon, lover. I'm taking you to bed." I extended my hand and waited for him to stand up.

"So I take it we're not done?" He was teasing, his arms wrapping around me from behind as he followed me down the hall to my bedroom.

"Not even close." I turned in his arms once we were in my room. "Let's see if we can do that again." I grinned and reached behind me to unclasp my bra. There was no use for it anymore. Once a man had tasted your girl juices, there was no going back.

"I think I can follow." He unzipped his pants, the bulge behind protruding quite a bit.

I ran my hands up his chest and kissed over his heart. I looked at the ink he had running over his arm that continued on his side, then onto his back and asked, "Someday, I want you to tell me about these." Not now, though. I was patiently waiting for him to show me his. It was torture.

He pushed his pants and underwear down at once, his cock bobbing against his stomach. Christ. I was pretty sure I'd just died and gone heaven.

"And she divorced you?" My brain to mouth filter had stopped working completely at the sight of him. He was glorious.

"I divorced her." Ah, that made sense, I thought, as he stepped out of his pants. My eyes were still glued to his lower body. "My eyes are up here, young lady."

My eyes snapped to his and I cinched my mouth shut. I felt really naughty being reprimanded like that. "Yes, sir."

His hands found my waist and his lips pressed to mine. We kissed while he finally made a play for my tits. I was almost afraid he was one of those men who didn't like boobs. Almost. It wasn't a deal breaker, but I did like some sort of boob action included in my foreplay.

I moaned and sucked on his tongue. His cock touching my belly was torturous, and I broke our kiss. "I have condoms." Aw yes, I was a romantic one, always ready with the protection. To be fair, I'd bought a large box of Magnums a while back and had only managed to use one.

"That's good. I plan to put them to good use." He sat on the edge of my bed and pulled me to stand between his thighs. I reached in my nightstand and fished out a little packet.

He tweaked my nipples, and I almost fell on him. He caught me in time, his hands on my waist and mine on his shoulders. "You're sure?" His eyes were kind and not as dark as before. He was still hard as steel, but in that moment I knew that even if I'd changed my mind, he would have been a total class act about it.

I nodded. "Yeah. If you are."

He took the condom, and I watched him roll it on. It was incredibly sexy the way he handled himself. I wanted to ask him to put on a show for me, but changed my mind. We could do that later. Another time, maybe.

I leaned in and kissed him. He held me as he scooted back on the bed. I put my knees on either side of his thighs and swallowed a moan as I felt him against me.

Hovering over him, I slid his erection through my wetness. He felt amazing beneath me.

"Are you ready, sweetheart?" He reached down and placed himself at my entrance.

I answered by lowering myself onto him, and taking him inside me deep as I could. I stopped moving to adjust myself and cradled his face in my hands. His eyes were penetrating as I moved over him and breathed his air.

Wordless, he guided my movements; pressed me hard against him with every stroke. I could feel an orgasm building deep in my belly. As if it was on the cusp, right there, near something great.

His pelvic bone made quick little passes over my clit and before I knew it, I was lost. I was riding him hard, as if I was having an out of body experience. I felt possessed. I was cursing and moaning and he was doing this to me. He was pushing me off the cliff and helping me fall. It was one of the most intense experiences of my life.

Breathless, my body limp, he moved us so he was hovering over me. He thrust a few times and his face, his glorious face, contorted and a deep groan rumbled past his lips.

His exhale was my inhale as we lay there spent.

"Wow." I was wordless, my brain turned to mush. My heart felt as though it was going to beat right out of my chest.

"Indeed." He rolled off me and kissed my breast. I watched his butt retreat out of my room and into the bathroom.

I got under the covers, and had I been a smoker, I would have lit up the whole pack.

He came back and crawled into bed next to me. His arms were around me and his face in the crook of my neck. "I don't regret it."

I twined my fingers with his and pressed my back to his chest. "I'd hope not."

We stayed that way, wordless and breathless, for a few minutes. I was trying to process my evening. I'd never had a one night stand and I didn't want this to be one. He was a good catch; that much I knew. Time would tell, though, if things were meant to be. I was aware that most first dates that end up in bed weren't meant for the long road, but in the moment, I couldn't think of any reason why this one wouldn't work. We'd just proven to be incredibly sexually compatible, something a lot of couples couldn't boast about.

I turned to face him. He looked cute lying in my bed with his head on my spare pillow. I could get used to this.

"Hi." I grinned and scratched at his five o'clock shadow.

He kissed my hand and played with the ends of my hair. "Hi." He bit his bottom lip and looked away, a crease forming between his eyebrows.

"You okay?" I pressed my thumb in the crease, trying to make his face all smooth again. I hoped he wasn't second-guessing what we'd just experienced.

"I...I have to tell you something." He looked at me seriously and kissed my nose.

If I wasn't worried by the words coming out of his mouth, now I was really worried. Nobody had ever done that. A nose kiss was something your grandma gave you before telling you your cat was dead.

"If it's that you're a virgin, I don't believe you." My attempt at joking was met with a wry smile.

At least I was ahead once again. Nobody laughed at my stupid comments if they were about to tell me something potentially devastating, right?

"Do you remember that day at the store? Alice, she sort of, knocked you over?" He inhaled through his teeth and scrunched his face. He pushed the hair away from my face and took my hand in his.

"Yeah, that little bitch... Wait, how do you know Alice?" It was my turn to narrow my eyes. "Edward?" I shook his hand away. A chill ran down my spine. Pieces started coming together and I didn't like what they looked like. This had better not have been a cruel joke by her. I was going to kill that conniving little skank.

"I know Alice, Bella, because she's my stepdaughter. And I never knew you because you weren't friends." I closed my eyes, but kept my mouth shut as he continued, his hand skimming the skin on my thigh. "I divorced her mother last year. You're actually the first woman I've asked out since."

Okay, so it wasn't as bad as I'd thought. She hadn't sent him to literally fuck with me.

"And why...wait, you knew about Alice knocking me over. Edward, what the hell?" I pushed his hand off me and sat up, covering my tits so he couldn't see the girls as he spoke.

"I saw her do it. I tried to stop her." He scratched his neck and ran a hand over his face. "She dared me, Bella. She didn't think I'd do it. I don't know. I'm not sure what her motive was, but I'm glad I listened. She...her mother is a tyrant. Alice was actually a blessing in disguise." He sat next to me and kissed my shoulder. "I hope she didn't hurt you."

"A blessing? She made my teenage life a living hell and I was, what, a bet to her? To you?" I moved away from him and pulled the bedsheet with me to cover up. "Get out of my house, Edward." I pointed toward the door, totally expecting him to get dressed and leave.

My throat tightened and tears were already pooling in the corners of my eyes. That bastard. He was going to make me cry. I didn't want to give him or Alice the satisfaction, but it seemed I couldn't help it.

He kneeled on my bed, fully exposed. I had a hard time pulling my eyes off his naked body. He was a hot forty-something-year-old who could have given all my past, much younger boyfriends a run for their money.

"Bella, this isn't about her. It stopped being about her the moment I spoke to you in that store," he implored. He ran a hand through his hair and reached for the sheet I was holding against my body. "I swear, this is all me. I know what a little bitch she was. I lived with her for many years." I didn't speak. I couldn't find the right words. He continued, "Bella, she changed once she left town."

I ran a hand through my hair and sniffed. "She didn't change that much. I bet she enjoyed watching me fall."

He shook his head. "I don't know about that." He looked away and frowned. "I hadn't seen her in a few years and was just catching up with her. She saw you before doing that and teased that I should ask you out. She said you were always a nice girl even when she treated you like crap. She thought we would have things in common."

I scoffed. "Wow. I can't...she did this?" I wiped the tear from my cheek. I'd been so wrong. This whole evening. Everything.

"I don't want to hurt you. I really like you, Bella." I let him pull me closer. "Please believe me."

He seemed so sincere. I wanted to believe him.

"I liked you, too." I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I didn't want to be a snot-sobbing mess. Not for this. Not for him and certainly not for Alice. I was better than this. "Why didn't you tell me before? Especially since you knew we had a history."

I kept the sheet against me; my hand on my heart as if I was trying to hold it together. It was close to shattering, which was strange since I'd just met this man. Could heartbreak happen that quickly? I didn't want to know.

"I didn't want to scare you away." He smoothed away another wayward tear. "I'm sorry."

"You're not lying to me, right? This isn't some sort of elaborate scheme for her to keep torturing me, right? I mean, she really was a mean girl." I jutted out my bottom lip and loosened my grip on the sheet just a tad.

He pulled it away and let it fall to the floor. "Definitely not. I promise."

"Good. Mean girls like her should get hit by busses." I sniffed and giggled at my own joke. I was tired and emotionally spent.

"What?" He sort of smiled and scrunched up his face. He didn't get it and that was fine.

I kissed him and crawled over his lap. "Nevermind. Bad movie reference."

He stroked my back and kissed my forehead. "What's the etiquette, here? Can I stay?"

I nodded. "Anything else you need to confess?"

He didn't reply as we got lost in a kiss and ended up rolling around on my bed.

I settled in his arms and we pulled the covers over us.

He drew shapes on my back as he spoke. "I was worried about the holidays, but maybe December won't be so bad."

I rested my head on his chest and listened to his heartbeat. He was comfortable and felt good. I couldn't help but think that maybe this was how it happened. This was how people fell in love. You didn't go out looking for it; it just found you in a grocery store aisle. Sometimes, it was pushed by some unnamed force, namely one Alice Brandon.

At the time, I didn't know if he was going to be the love of my life—he was.

I wasn't sure if we were going to make it past that one night—we did.

But Mom's words came back to haunt me once in a while, and I couldn't help thinking that sometimes she really did know what she was talking about.

—THE END—

Because perspective is everything, I give you some EPOV…

(Mid hasn't seen this, so all errors are mine)

...

The first time I lay my eyes on her, she was in the meat aisles looking at some cuts of steak. Her long brown hair shifted over her shoulder when she bent over to have a closer look, giving me a peek at her delicate features. Her face was sweet, a small nose, offset by those big brown eyes.

I stood motionless, pretending to read the label on the box in my hand. In my periphery, I couldn't help looking at her, all of her.

It had been a while since I had dated. At least twenty years. My ex-wife had been the love of my life at first, before she started screwing her boss and forgetting she was already married. I had been young once, but she'd replaced me with an even younger version. She was a cougar. I couldn't change that. I feared she'd one day marry someone straight out of high school.

After a tedious battle, our divorce was finalized. It had been a long year of soul searching and quite a bit of alone time. I was finally ready to get out there.

"Fancy meeting you here," a familiar voice called from behind me.

I tore my eyes away from the brown haired goddess' ass long enough to come face to face with the one person I didn't think I'd ever see again.

"Alice?" My voice rose an octave, surprised to be seeing her here and I could feel myself relax, her familiarity calming me somehow. I pulled her into a hug and asked, "How have you been?"

I hadn't seen her in so long, and missed the annoying little step-child I'd had the honour of partly trying to raise. Trying being the operative word here since she spent more time with her father than she did with us. My ex-wife wasn't much of a mother and I couldn't say anything about it because, as I was so often reminded, Alice wasn't mine.

"I've been good," she chirped, happier than I'd seen in a long time.

"And your husband?" She'd gotten married the year before Cynthia and I had divorced and I'd barely seen her since the wedding.

"We're good. All three of us," she looked at me pointedly and rubbed her flat stomach.

My face broke out in a huge smile. "Really?"

She nodded. "That's why I'm in town. Mom's expecting me for dinner. We're announcing the big news."

My eyes drifted to the girl with the long brown hair and I frowned, seeing her trip over what looked like a can of green beans that had fell on the ground.

"Man, that girl will never change," Alice muttered from beside me. I'd almost forgotten she was there.

I turned to her. "You know her?" What were the odds? My luck wasn't that great, ever, why today of all days?

"Isabella Swan. I made her life a living hell." Alice sighed. "Man, I was a bitch. In hindsight, I should have been a lot nicer." She shook her head. "Poor kid. It made it too easy. She had two left feet."

"Oh Alice." A pit of disappointment settled in my gut. I knew Alice had gotten into trouble at school for bullying, but now that I saw who she bullied, I felt fifty times worse than when I'd heard about it all those years ago. I was disappointed in her mother and myself. We could have done a lot of things differently if only I'd had the balls to stick up for myself. Then again, had I done that I don't think my marriage would have lasted. In hindsight, it didn't matter. The past was the past. I could no longer do anything about it except try not repeating the same mistakes twice. This time, I'd be in charge. Mostly.

Alice observed the girl for a moment, then looked at me. "You know, you two probably have a lot in common."

I scrunched my eyes shut for a moment. "If she went to school with you, she's obviously about fifteen years too young." Stating the obvious twisted that knife that had now found permanent residence against my stomach. Being a freshly divorced forty-two year old sucked. I didn't fit in anywhere. I had no interest in hooking up with anyone I'd met online. I didn't do the bar scene so that was also out. And all my friends were also my ex-wife's friends so that was a no-go.

"Pish, pash, daddio. Age is but a number," Alice enunciated with far too much pizazz. "Besides, I owe that girl some little piece of happy." She regarded me for a minute then continued, "I owe some of that to you, as well."

"You owe me nothing, Alice." I watched Bella look at some produce, picking up an apple and bringing it to her nose. "I think she's way out of my league, anyway."

"Do it or I make sure she knows you have a crush on her." Alice challenged, jutting out her chin and putting a hand on her hip. Oh yeah, this was the Alice I remembered. Wonderful.

"We're both adults here." I sighed and ran a hand over my face and into my hair pulling at the roots. "Don't do anything to her," I warned, my face and tone way more serious than anything she'd ever heard coming from me.

She shrugged and started walking in Bella's direction. "See you at the checkout, father dearest." She gave me a devious smirk and I watched helpless as Alice hip-bumped right into Bella's side. The poor girl didn't even know what had happened as she sort of toppled over, the contents of her basket landing by her side.

I couldn't move or say anything. I watched, like an idiot, as she looked around and picked herself up. I heard her mutter something at Alice and smiled to myself. At least she wouldn't have taken it laying down, so to speak.

I was taking a few steps in her direction when Alice's warning glare directed at me made me stop dead in my tracks. Before I could do anything about Bella's situation, the klutzy girl had made her way down an aisles and I'd lost my shot at helping her up and introducing myself.

Well, apparently trying to get a date at the store was a long shot. Sighing, I picked up a few items and continued on, hoping to somehow run into her. I didn't know what else Alice had planned, but after that little display, I wasn't going to tempt fate. Lord only knew what else Alice would do and judging on how easy it had been for the barely there hip check to knock Bella to the ground, I imagined a scenario where Alice would purposefully trip her while walking out of the store. My imagination ran wild as I saw in my mind's eye, groceries exploding out of the bags and landing everywhere. I was scared and more than a little melodramatic. I'd seen Alice in action. When she wanted her way, shit got real. It was scary. I was glad she'd never turned on me. Until now.

I found my favorite aisles, the one with all the canned goods, and found the SpaghettiOs. Those had been a no-no the entire time I had been married, so now that I was living on my own, they'd become a staple in my diet. Once a week, I indulged in the creamy tomato sauce and tiny noodles. It made me feel free. How I went so long without them was a mystery.

"Crap," I heard from behind me.

Looking up, I recognised her right away. "Let me help you with that." I picked up a can that had rolled to my feet and handed it to her.

She smiled, her eyes lighting up. "Thank you."

At that moment, I felt like I was a hundred feet tall. I was invincible. I could do this.

I winked, regretting it immediately. I wasn't the type to wink at women. Lord help me. "You're welcome."

Embarrassed, I turned and walked off. Nope. I could, in fact, not do this. Ever. I was bound to live alone for the rest of my life. Aimlessly and still lost in my head, I started perusing the shelves for anything...then realized I was looking through cans of baked beans...and she was standing right over there. Looking. At me. I could feel her eyes on me, but when I turned, she wasn't looking anymore.

"Fuck it," I muttered and walked toward her. I was going to do this. It had been a while, but I was summoning up the Edward Cullen from my college days when I was more of a ladies' man and less of a...divorced forty-something year old.

"So, I was wondering if you'd like to maybe have dinner with me?" I sucked in my bottom lip and then tried to give her a non-threatening and not too creepy smile.

Surely I was way too old for her and she'd laugh and then I'd be on my way.

She looked around and answered, "Sure...I mean, what's your name?"

I exhaled and could feel my face turning red. "Let me start over." I ran a hand through my hair. "Miss, hi, I'm Edward and I was wondering if you'd have dinner with me."

After a few awkward pauses, and a proper introduction where I let her give me her name, we set a time for me to pick her up and she even gave me her address.

Once we were both on our way, I was too nervous to keep shopping so I just decided to go home. I had a date to prep for after all.

"So, did you do it?" Alice asked as soon as the front door to the store closed behind me.

Startled, I held a hand over my rapidly beating heart. "For God's sake, Alice, are you trying to give me a heart attack?"

She smiled. "No, but if you tell me you didn't ask her out, I just might."

I shook my head. "You aren't making any sense. None of this is. God, how am I supposed to tell her about this?"

"Oh!" She squealed gleefully. "So you did it." She clapped her hands while I looked around us to make sure I wasn't on candid camera.

"Yes, I asked her out. I have a date," I confirmed.

"This is perfect." She beamed. "My work here is done."

I sighed. "She's not going to like me when I tell her who I am."

"Pshh." Alice waved her manicured hand around. "You don't have to tell her. It's not like we're really related. Not anymore, at least." She gave me a sincere and oddly sympathetic look. "Well, Edward it was...interesting seeing you. Have a nice...life?" She shrugged and pulled me into an awkward sideways hug.

My hands were holding bags full of groceries, so I couldn't hug her back. "Thanks, Alice. Good luck." I eyed her stomach once released me.

She thanked me and waved as she skipped down the parking lot toward what I can only assume was her car.

I had no idea what I'd just walked into, but my belly was full of butterflies, the prospect of going on a date fresh in my mind.

...

I realised I was way more nervous than I should have ever been. I was a man of experience. Older and wiser, dragging a past behind me that could have potentially pushed away any prospect. The fear of pushing away Bella was what made me desperately, annoyingly, uncharacteristically nervous.

I parked in her driveway five minutes before eight. I was early.

I ran a hand through my hair and pulled at the ends, the slight sting somehow grounding me into the situation. A pink carnation sat alone on the passenger seat and I felt like an eighteen year old all over again.

Did men buy flowers anymore? Surely they did. I had no idea what I was doing. I had been so out of the loop, always busy at work-or purposefully keeping myself busy with work-that my life had just flown by and I had nothing to show for it.

I didn't have a family; no kids of my own. Childhood meningitis had taken care of that for me. I wondered what it would be like to have to tell someone as young as Bella that she couldn't have children if she decided to see me again. Surely that was a deal breaker.

I leaned my head forward to rest it on the steering wheel. I shouldn't have spoken to her. I could have lied to Alice. Had I realized the reality in all of this, I would have stood up for Bella. Could have; should have; would have. Nothing could change the fact that I was here.

A noise brought me out of my bubble. I looked at the clock on my phone and then looked ahead. She was outside.

"Shit," I mumbled. I was now late.

I couldn't take my eyes off of her as I got out of the truck. She looked so pretty with her hair down and wearing that dress that hugged her curves in just the right way.

I apologized for being late and she didn't even blink. I didn't what to say, so I randomly told her I hadn't dated in a while. Twenty years to be exact. If that didn't scare her off, I was sure nothing would.

After some word vomit and a proper introduction where I pretended to start from scratch, giving her the flower I'd intended to give her in the first place had I walked up to her door, we were off to the restaurant.

"This is a nice truck," she commented when I opened the passenger side door for her.

"I'm a carpenter," I answered simply, and pointed to the truck bed. "I'm always carrying something back there."

She smiled kindly, looking at me from her seat. She was now higher than me and I had to look up to meet her eyes. "That's really cool. So you build furniture and stuff?"

I ran a hand through my hair and squared my shoulders a little. My work was top notch and I had quite the reputation behind me. "And stuff." I winked. This time, I was more assertive with my wink. This part of my life was an open book; something I was proud of.

I closed the door and hurriedly got to the driver's side. I could tell she was nervous and probably failed miserably at hiding how nervous I felt. It was obvious. It had to be.

The drive to the restaurant was quiet. Music was playing in the background and as hard as I tried, I couldn't think of anything to say. I had about a million questions to ask her, yet at that moment nothing came to mind.

I rested a hand on her lower back, guiding her to our table. Everything about her felt right. She smelled nice, too. I wanted nothing more than to run my nose up her neck and...I had to stop myself from thinking like that. I was already feeling like an old dirty pervert just sitting there with her, let alone having all those dirty thoughts running through my head.

I concentrated on her; on listening to the things she was sharing with me. Really listening. My mind wandered once in a while, of course. Part of me wondered what her breasts would feel like in my palm, while other parts of me wondered what she would taste like. I was a man, after all. A dirty old man.

Thank goodness the questions she asked kept my mind out of the gutter. She was sweet and flirtatious, which meant she was probably interested in me, too. It had been twenty years, but I was still able to read women, and this one was definitely attracted to me, which was good because I wanted her all to myself.

When dinner was done and the bill was paid, I led her outside as we walked toward my truck. The sidewalk was empty and I had this nagging feeling at the pit of my stomach that I needed to say something. We were talking and laughing and having a good time. I tickled her and pulled her to me. I just wanted her to stop walking so we could talk, but the way she looked up at me with those big brown eyes did me in.

I wanted to kiss her. I told her as much and without hesitation, she met me halfway. Her mouth was warm against mine and I nearly lost it when she groaned into my mouth.

I felt her twist the back of my shirt in her hand. She moulded herself against my body, her heat enveloping me completely. I was surrounded by her; her taste, her smell, everything around me was her. She invaded my senses like nothing in my forty years ever had.

She pulled her lips away from mine and looked up at me, her eyes full of lust. "Come home with me."

I inhaled sharply before her lips were on mine again. I had no time to think. I couldn't concentrate. Everything around me was her.

Then it finally sunk in. She was inviting me over to her house.

I pulled away from her. "Bella." Her name fell off my lips and then we were kissing again. I pulled her against me and threaded my fingers in her hair. It felt soft against my hand and her body felt right against mine. There was no way I would refuse her.

What followed was the two of us running for my truck. I was fuelled with the knowledge that we would be alone. She'd told me we didn't have to do anything. I was glad she was open to taking things slower, although part of me, mainly my dick, felt otherwise.

I let her lead us out of the truck and to her front door, but I couldn't keep my hands off of her. I felt this strange, inexplicable pull to her. I couldn't stop kissing her. Her hair, her neck, that little freckle under her ear. She shivered in my arms and I couldn't help pulling her closer. I couldn't remember the last time my kisses had this much effect on someone. Not going to lie, it made me feel desired, something I hadn't felt in years.

Once inside her house, I froze. This was real; I was here with her. She said she wanted me and it was obvious by the way my body reacted to her that I wanted her, too. But I was leaving the ball in her court. I was older and wiser, and while I absolutely wanted to give into my lust, no way did I want to carry the guilt of knowing she had any regrets about tonight.

I stood there motionless while she unbuttoned my shirt. My hands shook, the need to touch her overwhelmed my senses.

Even though she wanted me to touch her, it took me a few moments to let it sink in. I was going to sleep with a woman that was not my wife. Ex-wife, I corrected in my head.

I trailed a hand up her arm and cupped her face. "I'm not sure what to do here," I said honestly. She was so sexy, it was nearly impossible for me not to have her naked and bent over the kitchen table that was only a few feet from us.

She pulled my palm to her lips, kissing it softly. "Just go with your instinct."

Every part of my body perked up, her words igniting something deep within me. I kissed her, pulling her against me, my hands grabbing at the thin cotton dress and trying to pull it over her head.

Soon, I was on my knees and had her in only her underwear. She was beautiful; curvy and flawless, and all woman. I kissed the pendant hanging from her belly button, while I willed my dick to slow down. I almost came in my pants as soon as I laid my eyes on her. I didn't want to disappoint her and I was desperate to hear her come undone.

I looked up at her while I slipped my thumbs in the elastic waist of her delicate panties. As sweet as she looked in them, I wanted to see all of her without the flimsy material in the way.

….and I think we all know where it goes after this, yeah? THE END