Hi, everyone. Thank you for all the messages I've received; my sister finally feels better. Better meds, therapy, and plenty of activity is beating her depression, so yay for that. :)

Getting back into the groove is proving to be more difficult than I expected, so when inspiration struck, I jumped. Right now, this reads as a standalone one-shot, but it's a prologue for a future story of mine. No evil cliffy, just no real resolution. The story in question won't be very angsty, so it's safe to read.

This is also my little contribution to another Christmas in the fandom. Happy holidays and whatever you celebrate!

PS: I wrote this in approximately two hours. It's not beta'd (sorry, Lisa!) because I just wanted to get it out there and become more active again. Now on to wrapping up Bastard.

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Version listened to: by Glee Cast.

I shimmied into the body-hugging cocktail dress and released a nervous breath as I looked at myself in the mirror. It was another woman staring back at me. The dark waves shone, as if they didn't belong to a hard-working grad student who lived on Ramen's.

I'd flown across the country on excuses, but I couldn't lie to myself anymore. Every year he went to this Christmas party, and I wanted to see him. Watch him for just one evening. And see if he was happy.

After applying lipstick, I grabbed my little clutch and the mask, and then I walked out of my motel room. The carpet had old cigarette burns, and the wallpapers peeling off the walls showed the truth of what I could afford.

I hailed a cab and gave the address to a much swankier place. Snow covered Seattle, and the promise of a blizzard was on every news station on the radio.


I walked passed the table with name tags of those who hadn't shown up, and I didn't see his tag. He was in there somewhere. So wrong, so wrong, so wrong. But I kept telling myself it was only to see if he was happy. Nothing else.

It was easy to enter the hall where the party was held. My simple eye mask in place, I surveyed the grand room and saw a few of my old teachers from high school who hadn't bothered with the theme of wearing masks. I knew Mr. Cullen would be one of those who didn't play along.

It's Edward, you idiot. He's not your teacher anymore.

English teachers and their spouses from the entire state were filling the place up nicely, and the crowds forming, the conversations flowing, didn't look as boring as one might expect from literature snobs.

I quirked a smile, reaching the bar. I was sure free alcohol helped the women unclench and the men leave the sweater vests at home.

It was an evening to dress up, dine, and dance.

I ordered a glass of wine and people watched a while. The dinner and award ceremony were over, and now everyone was itching to mingle. To catch up, to debate, to…go get some?

The band played mellow versions of Christmas songs, but I knew I wouldn't find him dancing. My eyes flicked to the corners of the room, the round tables along the sides, where I would find men and women more like him. Those who enjoyed interesting discussion instead of getting plastered and becoming a mortifying reason not to show up next year.

"What're you drinking—"

"Not interested, thanks." I craned my neck to look around a throng of people, and I finally found him. Predictably, at a table with two other teachers, immersed in a conversation that made him look irritated.

He was passionate about memoirs, authored by people who weren't originally writers. Which tended to cause heated debates with those who thought writing was for only "real" authors.


But I supposed I was my own brand of nerd.

My phone vibrated, and I brought it out to see a message.

When will you be home?

Ugh, I felt bad. This was so selfish.

While I answered, I managed to lose sight of Edward.


My breath got caught in my throat a moment later when he appeared out of nowhere a few feet away from me. For a second, I was terrified he'd recognize me, but I reminded myself I had changed a lot since I was fifteen. I wasn't the little loser with a hopeless crush on her teacher anymore. Don't forget you're his niece through marriage.

I cringed to myself. So much drama in my fucked up family.

No, I was the twenty-three year old loser instead.

"Bourbon, please—neat," his warm voice told the bartender.

Just like that, I was fifteen again. Hopeless. Though this time I wasn't about the flee from the town with my parents after graduating early.

I sipped my wine and crossed my legs. The slit of my dress exposed my thigh, and I had to admit I felt sexy for once.

Edward was sexy, too. Jesus, the years had been nice to him. He wasn't wearing a mask, allowing me to see the crinkles at the corners of his eyes. Maybe he'd gotten contacts. I remembered him best in glasses.

He glanced down as he swirled his bourbon in his glass, and I followed his gaze. Long fingers. A tan line where a wedding band was supposed to be, but I was almost certain he was still married to Aunt Kate. As scattered and full of crap as our family was, I definitely would've heard if they'd gotten divorced.

"Crashing the party?" I heard him murmur next to me.

My gaze shot up, and I saw him nod at my chest where a name tag should be. The twinkle of mirth in his eyes told me he didn't really give a shit about the answer.

I could be truthful, somewhat. I smirked a little. "Maybe."

Part of me couldn't believe I was talking to him again. And he wasn't looking at me the way he looked at his students. Not that he appeared to be interested either, but I was used to being a kid in his eyes. This was better.

"Mysterious and nameless." He tapped his glass, his mouth twisting up slightly.

I adjusted my mask and smiled. "I could be one of those crazy fangirls who are after English teachers."

He chuckled and sat down on the stool next to mine. That's right, stay.

"I've never heard of them."

"We're a special bunch," I said.

There was no indication he recognized me, even by my voice. That was good. I think. Or had he forgotten me completely? That stung a bit. He used to call me his favorite student.

Wanting to keep the conversation going, I changed the subject. "Are you here with someone?"

That gave him pause, for some reason. Then he smiled faintly and shook his head no.


He could go with technicalities, though. Kate didn't like these functions and never tagged along, but then again, Edward had never been a fan of Seattle. Why he came here every year was kind of a mystery, too. But either way, he was with someone—at home in Forks.

"What about you?" he asked.

I looked out over the room then back at him. "My fellow fangirls are working the crowd."

He laughed and took a swig of his drink. "Well, I'm ruling out English teacher for you, dear."


He set down the glass and leaned a little closer. "Because you made me laugh."

His breath smelled of bourbon and mint, and I was pretty sure he'd had a few drinks already. The Edward I was once knew was introverted and quiet. He was polite as hell, almost formal, and didn't shy away from being the peacemaker in the family, but new people? No, he stuck to friends and family.

"You're not from around here, are you?" He tilted his head.

"What makes you say that?"

"Your accent."

That surprised me. I was born and raised in Forks, for chrissakes.

Maybe a few years in Boston had left its marks, though it was hard to imagine.

"I'm originally from here." It was best I went with vague. "Only in town for the night."

"Asking if it's for business or pleasure is a cliché line, isn't it?"

I chuckled. "I can answer anyway. Just here seeing an old friend."

Sort of.


I wasn't the only one interested in keeping the conversation going, which made me a little happier than it should. But it was getting difficult. Each song brought more people to the dance floor, and every drink made them louder.

Edward shifted closer a couple times.

I wasn't complaining.

Over the course of an hour or so, we had covered topics of fiction, some traveling, we had established that I didn't have a room in this hotel, and I'd dug subtly, but enough to learn he wasn't the most willing to share details about his home life.

My favorite teacher from back in the day was a bit of a prick, as it turned out. But what kept me from feeling any kind of solidarity toward my aunt was the memory of him on my graduation day. In a nice suit, he'd looked more depressed than ever before. When he'd smiled, it had been forced.

"I'm sorry?" I cocked my ear and inched in, having not heard what he said.

He leaned in, too. "I asked if you were here for the dinner, too."

"Oh. No, I got here right after," I replied. It occurred to me he had plenty of friends here tonight, and as disappointing as it was, maybe I should give him an out. "Where's your table?"

He squinted and nodded toward an empty table near the stage.

"Am I keeping you from your friends?" I wondered as a new song came on.


I laughed and repeated myself, to which he grinned and said no. Then it was my turn to answer the same question, and I shook my head.

It was frustrating that the music was so loud, and I didn't think it was a wise choice to suggest we go someplace quieter. I had to draw the line at…maybe flirt a little. Staying in this room would help me stay good.


I bit my lip and then drained my glass.

"Are you planning on asking me to dance anytime soon?" I sent him a mischievous smile.

Surprise lit his eyes, and a crease formed in his forehead. He gazed at the couples dancing, maybe thinking about what he should and shouldn't do.

Dancing was safe, wasn't it?

Without answering verbally, he stood up and held out his hand. A faint smirk tugged at his lips, and I was sold.

I slipped my hand into his, a shiver running down my exposed spine. God, I wanted to feel those hands on my skin.

Empty glasses were left behind, and he guided me out to the dance floor.

The band started playing Baby, It's Cold Outside as he drew me into his embrace. A loose hold, but warm. His chest was solid underneath his suit. I'd forgotten how tall he was. Even wearing heels, I was a head shorter.

His hand ghosted along above my ass, his fingertips touching the silky edge of where my dress plunged in the back. My cleavage wasn't anything spectacular, but the design in the back prevented me from wearing a bra. Some more touching from him and I'd need to calm my tits.

I should go.

I really should go.

Quit while I'm ahead. This, was okay. This, was innocent enough.

I sincerely doubted he was capable of taking things much further, but I didn't wanna cave and make a fool of myself.

I should go.

Just a few dances.

I relaxed and let him lead, and it was lulling. It was seductive, slow, and so warm. His aftershave made me wanna lick my lips. His neck was so close.

I really can't stay

But, baby, it's cold outside

I've got to go away

But, baby, it's cold outside

This evening has been…

Been hoping that you'd drop in

…so very nice

I'll hold your hands, they're just like ice

Edward dipped his head, and I could feel him take a breath.

"Are you not going to tell me your name?" he murmured in my ear.

There was no way I could. "Then I wouldn't be nameless anymore."

Baby, it's bad out there

Say, what's in this drink?

No cabs to be had out there

I wish I knew how…

Your eyes are like starlight

…to break the spell

He shifted our connected hands to his chest, and his hand on my back stroked the skin along my spine. The paper tag with his name was at eye level, reminding me of a former Swan who was now a Cullen.

"I've enjoyed talking to you tonight, Miss No Name."

I ought to say no, no, no, sir

Mind if I move in closer?

At least I'm gonna say that I tried

What's the sense in hurting my pride?

I really can't stay

Baby, don't hold out

Oh, but it's cold outside

I looked up, trapped in his gaze. I couldn't decipher his; it was guarded and careful, and it was so him. It wasn't the alcohol talking now. It was careful, sweet, reserved Edward Cullen.

I was glad I had my mask. I'd checked beforehand and knew my eyes would be darker behind it. I didn't want him to see any signs of vulnerability or…God, the want.

The night couldn't be over just yet, but we couldn't stay here. I needed a wakeup call in a less Christmassy and intimate setting. I needed stark lights, distance between us, and nothing close to romantic.

This was gonna sound lame, but it was all I had. "I know you've already had your expensive steak or salmon, but do you wanna share some fries at the diner across the street?"

He blinked, and then he laughed. He twirled me once, only to draw me closer than before.

"Now I have to ask," he told me. "I already knew you were young, but I haven't shared fries with anyone since I was in school. Who was president when you were born?"

I grinned and rolled my eyes. "I'm twenty-three, dork."

"That's nowhere near the years of Nixon," he muttered. "But fair enough, we can share some fries if you wish." He kissed the top of my hand and then smiled and gestured toward the exit.


Edward gave me the distance I said I needed, and now I didn't want it. I guessed my age was still an issue. At fifteen, there was no way I'd let him know I was crushing on him. He saw me as the girl in pigtails Kate had babysat every now and then. I had been a kid, of course. But now…I at least wanted him to see me as a woman. Like he had over by the bar.

I retrieved my coat near the lobby, and Edward was mid-sentence about getting his coat from his room, but he stopped speaking. His eyebrows rose, and he turned me around to look outside.

The blizzard of the century had evidently arrived with a bang.

The snow was coming down hard, and the winds were brutal.

Getting back to my motel later was gonna suck.

What if my flight tomorrow morning was cancelled?

I had to get home.

We spoke at the same time, our thoughts going in different directions.

"The hotel restaurant looks full…" he said.

"Maybe I should go," I said hesitantly. It was only gonna get worse.

"There's always room service."

Our eyes met.

What happened to the distance, Mr. Cullen?

I wanted to stay, but I really shouldn't. Being out here in the lobby was wakeup call enough. I felt exposed under the bright lights, and Edward looked sinfully sexy. His tie was slightly crooked, his hair a bit disheveled.

I wanted to fucking jump him.

And he was talking about room service.

Could I get out of his room without going too far? Fuck that, simply going up there would be taking it too far, and I was shocked he'd invite me in the first place.

What had happened to him?

"I want fries," he told me, walking closer. "And another dance. That's all."

I'm screwed.

"That's all?" I echoed.

He inclined his head and waited for me.

I looked outside again.


"You won't get a cab now."

"Yeah, but I really should go."

"You'll freeze out there." He stepped even closer, and I couldn't breathe. I told him again I should go. He drew one of my locks between his fingers. "It's up to your knees out there."

I swallowed hard.

"One dance," he said quietly.



Once we got to his room, I excused myself to go to the bathroom.

The spotlights came on, and I saw my reflection in the mirror. Eyes hidden, the sleek mask resting on my cheekbones, flushed skin, red lips.

I had worked hard for my curves, and I wanted to use them. I wanted to be rocked. But he wasn't available.

As if I needed to see it, I saw his wedding band next to his toiletry bag by the sink.

My eyes closed.

One dance, then I'm gone.

I didn't know if he was happy, but it didn't matter anymore.

Exiting the bathroom, I saw Edward had dimmed the lighting and found the stereo. Like an ironic, repetitive reminder, Baby, It's Cold Outside came on, and the lyrics taunted me.

I really can't stay

But, baby, it's cold outside

I've got to go away

But, baby, it's cold outside

Edward removed his jacket while I carefully walked over to him.

I couldn't believe I was here. God, honestly. How many times had I not fantasized about… Well, when I was fifteen, my fantasies about him revolved around him taking me to the movies and then kissing me. In dreams, he touched my breasts. Which was strange when thinking about it, because I hadn't been very innocent at fifteen, hence leaving Forks. I'd been the epitome of Teacher's Pet and a parent's dream of a daughter until James.

I've got to go home

But, baby, you'll freeze out there

Say, lend me your coat

It's up to your knees out there

You've really been grand

I'm thrilled when you touch my hand

But don't you see

How can you do this thing to me?

There's bound to be talk tomorrow

Think of my life long sorrow

"Is this really okay?" I had to ask.

Say no, say yes.

He pulled me in close to his body, swaying us slowly to the music.

"It feels amazing," he said, his five o'clock shadow tickling my temple, "so it can't be."

I exhaled and slid my hands up his chest, then linked them behind his neck. In return, he hummed and stroked my back. It was sensual, the air charged heavily.

"One dance," I repeated softly.

He smiled into my hair. "Beautiful, what's the hurry?"

He was quoting the lyrics, and I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. He couldn't know how hard this fight was for me.

"Take off your mask," he whispered.

I shook my head and managed to smirk up at him.

He smirked back.

He could just take it off me, we both knew it, yet he didn't. He didn't push me further, either. Maybe he didn't really want to know who I was. Maybe he was way out of his comfort zone too, like I was.

"You remind me of someone," he murmured.

Oh, shit.

"Oh?" I didn't mean for it to come out breathy.

My heart pounded.

"Someone I used to know." He appeared…wistful. And conflicted.

"I hope it's a good thing," I said.

He spun me and caught me, his hold tightening. "Depends how you see it."

The song went on fucking repeat, and he admitted he liked it—said it was fitting.

"You mean by me saying I should go?"

"Me saying you shouldn't." His hands shifted lower, brushing the top of my ass. They slid over the silk, hugging my hips and teasing me.

I was swimming in desire, and he was right about the song. The words were fucking with me. Seducing me.

I simply must go

But, baby, it's cold outside

The answer is no

But, baby, it's cold outside.

This welcome has been…

How lucky that you dropped in

…so nice and warm

Look out the window at that storm.

"I lied." He dipped down and grazed his nose behind my ear. "I want more than one dance."

I know. So do I.

I shivered, my fingers playing with the hairs at the back of his neck. And I felt him. I pressed myself tightly against his frame and felt him thick and hard against my lower stomach.

Gosh, your lips look delicious

He groaned under his breath and cupped my ass firmly. Then his lips—fuck, my knees nearly gave in. He kissed my neck, I sucked in a breath, and then his mouth was on mine. Hard, passionately, possessively.

Oh, your lips are delicious

It was fast. All the shoulds flew out the window, and I kissed him back as hard as I could. His hand moved inside my dress, where he fingered the thin string of my lacy thong. I moaned as I tasted him, to which he grunted and picked me up.

Seconds later, my back hit the mattress, and he followed. I palmed his cock as he grazed his teeth along my neck. His quiet groans turned me into a puddle. I needed him right fucking there.

Buttons flew when I ripped his shirt open, and he responded by hiking up my dress and forcing my legs to part wider. His undershirt was next, and I kicked off my heels.

Oh, fuck, fuck. He was so unbelievably attractive. He rose and kneeled between my legs to remove the rest of his clothes. I did the same while gawking him without shame.

"The mask is staying, huh?"

I nodded, though I was regretful about it. I wanted to fuck me. I wanted him to know who I was, but revealing myself now would ruin the evening.

"Goddamn." He eye-fucked me until I physically yanked him down on me.

My brain had checked out.

Being smart didn't exist.

He pushed his cock deep inside me in one thrust, stealing my breath and nearly splitting me in half. He didn't stay still. He pulled out and slammed in again. Maybe I misheard it, but it sounded like he grunted an apology. For what, I had no clue.

I whimpered as he started fingering my clit. He rubbed me firmly, then slowly and teasingly while he kissed me into oblivion.

"Oh God, Edward," I moaned.

My head fell back, and he cursed, grabbed me by my hips, and fucked me hard.

"Tell me you should go," he grunted.

"I," I panted, "I should go."

He smacked my thigh and withdrew. "Turn around." Quick to obey, I got on all fours and glanced back at him. He squeezed my ass roughly and then finger-fucked me. "But you won't, will you?"


"Tell me why."

"Because I want you."

"Fuck," he whispered. He locked eyes with me and kept me trapped as he slowly pushed his thick cock into my pussy, stretching me. "What do you want from me?"

I averted my gaze and hung my head. "I want you to fuck me like there's no tomorrow."

That's what he did.


I pleaded and begged until he finally let me come, but he wouldn't let me recover. Kneeling in the middle of the bed, he hauled me closer and pushed my head toward his cock. I sucked him greedily, and when I looked up at him…the pleasure written on his face was everything.

"What're you doing to me?" he whispered. He swallowed, breathing heavily. "I'm acting like an animal—oh damn…" He thrust deeper into my mouth and closed his eyes. "Oh fuck, Is—oh, fuck." He let out a growl, eyes feral and dark when he opened them.

In that moment, I could read his mind. This wasn't him, and he was going to feel bad about treating me this way if I didn't do something.

"Please." I licked the tip of his cock, sucking on the slit, and started rubbing my clit. "I want more."

Thing was, I did. I didn't know what had gotten into me, either. Talk was easy. My fantasies were raw and kinky. But in real life? God, sex was boring.

His expression grew even darker. "Fucking hell." He scrubbed his hands over his face, then pointed to the mattress. "Lie down again." I did, and he lied down behind me. He hooked an arm under my knee and slid in from behind. "You, my dear girl," he nipped at my jaw, "are letting me fuck your tight cunt as if you're a dirty little whore."

The rest of me checked out at that point, and I was his. I let out a breathless wail as an orgasm crashed down on me. I clawed at him like I was possessed. Hell, I was. I kissed him, touched him, met every thrust, and begged.

I became delirious with the pleasure I'd never once known before, and I barely registered it when he spanked my pussy with my own hand and then brought my fingers to his mouth. He moaned and grinded to reach deeper inside me.

"I want you for breakfast tomorrow," he said, panting.

I nodded, wanting, knowing it wouldn't happen.

"Tell me you should go."

I cried out as he pinched my clit. "I should go."

"I won't let you," he murmured darkly. "You'll let me show you I'm a gentleman, too."

But I already know you are.

The night continued.

He fucked me into a coma and didn't stop until he'd come twice, once covering my pussy with him, and once painting my tits.


I woke up hot and in a sticky mess.

I lifted Edward's heavy arm off me and carefully got out of the bed.

A treasure hunt gave me my clothes that had been discarded all around the bed.

Edward slept peacefully, the muscles in his back flexing a little with each rise and fall as he breathed. Back dimples. Twisted sheets hiding his ass and muscular legs.

The mirror in the bathroom showed perfect, delicious destruction. Edward's cock probably had more of my lipstick than my lips did. I had scruff burns along my inner thighs, the memory of his tongue gliding inside me making me clench my legs together. Marks from his hands along my arms and hips. My pussy was so sore.

The mask was crooked, and I tore it off.

Smeared makeup. Great.

I couldn't afford to wake him, so I washed off quickly instead of stepping into the shower that tempted me.

His ring was still there on the sink. I didn't dare to look at it.

I'd torture myself plenty later, but could I ever forgive myself if I didn't regret it?

Once I was dressed and ready to go, I wrote Edward a note.

You breathed life into me, and you helped me make an important decision about my future. I know where my happiness is now. It's not on the East Coast. But, I really should go.

I left my mask next to the note, and then I left.


"Finally," I sighed.

After a two-hour delay due to the blizzard, they were finally announcing we could board. I got in line and called my mother and told her I'd be home in time to put Mase to bed.

"That's good, sweetie," she replied. "Did you have a nice time in Seattle?"

I knew this was gonna make her day, and I couldn't help but grin. "Nice enough to know we should move back. We belong in Forks, Mom. This is home."

"Are… Are—sweet baby Jesus, if you're making a joke, it's not funny, Bella."

I laughed. "I'm not joking. I say we move when I've graduated."

"Oh baby, you won't regret this. I can't wait to tell Masen. He will absolutely love Forks, and you and I can open our clinic together!"

I boarded the plane with a big smile on my face and butterflies in my belly.