A few days later, I'm back to school. Bummer. When I get home after my shift at Crap Yogurt, Edward texts me. Permission to call?
Permission granted, I type back.
"So I love that we're texting again," he says in greeting, "but I feel like I have to say—to get the pink elephant out of the way—you did not take advantage of me."
"That's exactly what a kid who was taken advantage of would say."
"Okay, but in this case, it's not true. You weren't seducing me or stalking me or luring me into your dorm. No matter how much I wanted you to," he adds.
I giggle. It feels good to laugh and mean it and feel free about all of this instead of guilty. "I still feel awful."
"You shouldn't; you didn't do anything wrong."
I worry my lip and take my shoes off, setting them in my closet. I peer up at the clothing bar and remember Edward hanging from it looking hot as hell.
"Did you know in a lot of places the age of consent is much younger? Like sixteen."
"Did you look this up?" I ask.
"You googled some shit, and I googled some shit."
"Don't say shit."
"Why?" I hear the smile in his voice.
"Because it makes me want to do—"
I laugh and groan. "Why do you have to make me laugh?"
"Because I love that sound."
"Seriously, you know how annoying it is to hear girls my age laugh? They don't even laugh. They giggle, but it's not even a real giggle it's a fake giggle. It's the most annoying thing on the planet."
"Tell me how you really feel."
"I really feel like I want to see you."
"Because it's late, and I have homework, and I don't know. Just no."
"When then? When?" So eager.
I'm quiet, contemplative. Can I really do this? Just be okay with this? In person? With touching?
"When, Bella?" he pleads.
Yes, I can. Well, I can try at least. "This weekend?"
"Perfect. I'll pick you up."
"You have a car now?"
"No, I'll take my dad's just to freak you out and remind you how weird this is."
"Great. Sounds great." My sarcasm seeps through.
"So, you know those religious people who are all 'I'm waiting until I get married to have sex,' and it's this big deal and they wait and wait and wait and then get married and bam just like that lose their virginity?"
"Um, sure. I guess."
"Well, this is just like that."
"Yeah, I don't get it."
"It's like we've been waiting for this silly thing, this event to happen before we could be together, and now it's happened. Event over. I'm eighteen. It's cool now. Everything's cool."
"Well, cool then."
"You mean it?"
"I'm trying to."
"That's all I can ask."
. . . . .
Friday night when Edward picks me up, it's awkward. I'm awkward.
"Hi" is all I manage when he's at my door.
He's got his killer grin out tonight. "You look beautiful, Bella."
I look him over. Soft, worn jeans and a dark gray coat. His cheeks are pink from the cold, matching his lips. I want to kiss him. Can I? I panic and say, "Um, thanks. Should we get going?"
Now in the car he looks scared of me. Scared like I'm going to bolt or throw up. And I just might. Turning off my previous mindset is going to be hard. This still feels so wrong.
Our dinner conversation is stilted. We talk about work and school and books we've had to read. We're not us. We're muted. Bland and boring. Did we ruin it? Did I? For waiting so long?
We take a walk downtown; we're quiet with tight smiles. And when he goes to hold my hand, I fiddle with my hair to escape his fingers. It's lame. I'm lame.
We stop at a waist-high fence and look over the beach. The sun's set already, but the sky's filled with deep purples and blues. I pull my scarf tighter around my neck and huddle into my coat, instinctively pressing myself closer to Edward, seeking heat. "Thank goodness," he blurts. "I was starting to think I'd ruined everything."
"It's me. I'm being weird."
"You're totally being weird," he says, catching my eyes.
"I'm sorry. This is really hard for me. I can't just flip a switch and forget that for the past however many months—"
I laugh. He was counting? Of course he was. "I'm trying to flip that switch. I'm trying."
"What if—now hear me out—we tried to flip another switch?" He gives me a close-lipped smile and sends his eyes Heavenward.
I lower my head to his shoulder and laugh heartily into his coat.
"It was just a suggestion," he says. "You don't have to wound my ego so badly."
I peer up at him. And laugh even harder.
He looks sufficiently humbled and boyish and oh, so cute.
"Okay, enough laughing. Seriously. Like the thought of kissing me is so hysteri—"
I cut him off. With my lips.
He opens his mouth, and suddenly we're frantic, his hand in my hair, another tight around my waist, pulling me in.
"You can—mm—really kiss," I say breathless when his lips go to my neck.
"Good," he says and sucks hard.
My mouth gapes, and I need to be wearing fewer clothes, but we're in public, and I need a distraction, so I keep talking. "I couldn't stop thinking about it."
"Your mouth. The way you—"
"What?" His head pops up, eyes level with mine.
"That. That look. That earnestness. That . . . whatever that is."
"It's want." He pulls my face to his and kisses me, deep and fast then slows his pace, warming us both, heating us from the inside out.
"I want, too."
He searches my eyes and grabs my hand, roughly pulling me along to his father's car. Once inside, his coat is off, and I follow his lead but don't stop there as I climb on top of him and lick his neck.
"God," he groans.
I roll my hips, and he holds me still.
"I really want this, but here in this car. I just . . . can't."
I climb off him and sit on the passenger's side. I lean my head back against the seat and sigh happily. I don't even care. I'm just happy I'm here with him.
"There's more to relationships than sex, you know," I say, repeating him.
"So I hear. Sucks, huh?"
He rolls his fingers over the rips in his jeans, the noise grating yet somehow soothing.
"I love when you do that."
"Do what?" he asks, surprise in his voice.
"Rub your hands over your legs like that. It always makes me want to join you."
His eyebrow and smile quirk up.
I take it as an invitation and run my fingers over his knee to his inner thigh then back on top raking my nails over the threadbare area. His muscle tightens below my hand, and I squeeze.
He grips my neck and draws me in for a kiss, his tongue telling me yes; he likes that.
"I never cared about my age before. Never felt like I was dying to grow up or get out of my parents' house or any of that. Until I met you, and then it was like time stopped, and all I wanted to do was smash the clock with a sledgehammer because it was going so damn slow."
"It was so slow," I say, kissing him again.
"But now we're here."
He kisses me again, awkwardly leaning over the console. He pushes his hand up the back of my shirt, grazing my bra's clasp with his cold hand. This feels familiar.
"I remember this," I say against his lips. "Yeah. You tried this in Lauren's room."
"Oh, shit. Don't think about that and get all weird again."
"I'm not getting weird. But I am thinking about it." I settle back into my seat, Edward's hand sliding out of my shirt and resting on my knee. "And I'm thinking I liked it but didn't want to like it, but now I can."
He grins, leans forward to kiss me, sweet and lingering.
"So I have one question for you, Edward?"
"Why are we sitting in your car like stupid teenagers making out when I'm a freaking college student with a single dorm room just waiting for us?"
"Shit," he says, getting it.
"Shit indeed." I buckle up. "How fast can you drive, Edward?"
"Let's find out." He starts the car. Taylor Swift is on the radio. He clasps my hand over the console, gives me a megawatt smile, and follows up her words with, "And I'll write your name."
. . . . .
Edward stands behind me, kissing my neck as I search for my keys. He fiddles with my scarf, pulling it across my skin this way and that. He's driving me crazy.
I press open the door, and we nearly fall in, but once there, Edward freezes, taking in my space. I flip a small switch; he chuckles.
Pointing to my walls, he says, "Very grown up. Twinkle lights are all rage with adults, I hear. As well as," he toes my throw rug, "hot pink fur?"
"Oh, shut up. Just be happy," I say, depositing my coat on my desk.
"I am," he says, laying his coat on top of mine. He toes his shoes off, and I do the same.
"Are you?" I ask with a coy grin.
"Yeah. I've got this awesome girlfriend, and she has her own place where we can touch or not touch, depending on what she's in the mood for."
"You don't even know, Edward, do you?"
"Is this the part where One D comes out of the closet and starts singing about my beauty?"
"You are so adorable, it's ridiculous."
"And by adorable, you mean kissable and maybe, someday, fu—"
I cut him off again with a slow, warm kiss. We move to my bed, where he lies down. I join him, moving my lips to his jaw then neck.
His hands roam my back and lower, getting a handful of ass. He pulls me against him, his mouth on mine, then flips us. He's on the move, kissing down my clothed chest. He scrunches my shirt some, then reaches one hand up, snagging my scarf. He drags it over my bare skin. "Still not touching you," he whispers to my belly button. There's one last circuit of the scarf followed by his fingers, which makes me get the chills, and then he kisses my stomach. Once. Twice. A third time.
My breathing's deep and slow; my fingertips tingle. I want his lips on mine, but I also don't want him to stop. His lips. Those red, red lips. I have to kiss them.
I grip his hair and pull him up, giving him the kiss I've been wanting to give him for some time now. If I'm being honest, probably that day in the pool. Months ago.
His hands splay my back, under my shirt. His fingers twitch, and then they're moving upward. He gets the clasp undone and sighs with relief when I don't stop him. He pulls my shirt off, and I slide my bra from my arms. He stares, getting a long look, then gazes back into my eyes, a smile on his face.
I kiss him. Soft. We keep our hands to ourselves, but when I reach for the hem of his shirt, he's in a rush and rips it off his head, knocking me lightly with his elbow. "Sorry. Oh, shit. Sorry."
His eyes move across my partially bare body. I stay steady for him so he can enjoy the view. It feels nice to be perused this way. "You can touch me, you know," I say, smiling, content.
"I'd rather kiss you." His voice is gruff, and he doesn't kiss my lips.
I play with his hair as he moves his lips over my chest. "But you can touch me, too. There."
His hand replaces his mouth. But then his mouth just gets busy again a few inches away. His other hand slides down my torso in slow motion. He peeks up—lips strawberry red, hair a mess, asking permission.
"There, too," I murmur and bite my lip to stifle my sighs.
Before losing all coherency, I get brave. "Want to touch you, too." It's quiet.
He leans up. Warm mouth on mine. Soft jeans against my palms, I unbutton his pants, and we spend our night kissing and not touching and touching.
And I've never been happier.
Author's Note: I have started an epi, but it's just not coming, so I have no idea if it will come to fruition. So as it is, this is finished, but it may have an epi someday, so you may want to put it on alert. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed these dorks! Happy summer!