A/N… I'm back. ;) I figured that Valentine's Day was a perfect day to start this little romance. So here's my gift to you guys.
I need to explain a thing or two with this fic. First, it's going to be short, approximately 7-8 chapters. Second, it was inspired by a video I saw online – plot bunnies are a beast, honestly – I'd posted it in my FB group, but it's since disappeared from the original website. Third – and the most important – this fic is about sex. It will discuss casual sex, body parts, and sexual reactions to stimulation. If this isn't something you're comfortable with, then maybe this isn't for you. However, all my rules still apply. ;)
SUMMARY: When Bella's subject drops out of her experiment with less than two months left before her thesis is due, she panics. In walks Edward Cullen, best friend and fellow med student. Staying clinical may prove difficult when things get personal. Rated M ExB
This is also the result of attempting to write for a contest, which seems to be an impossible feat for me, because I'm way too damn wordy. LOL
I'll let you get to it.
Chapter 1 – Labels
Checklist upon checklist, I thought to myself as I shifted notebooks and pages around. There were outlines for my thesis, plans for the room I needed to use for the experiment, and the schedule for the lab. Med school was a never-ending pile of books and paper and labs. It was endless studying and assignments.
Rubbing my eyes, I sat back in my chair and took a deep breath. A glance around the USF library showed various examples of humanity. My focus was Human Sexuality, so it was very interesting to watch the give and take of conversations, the shy smiles, the stolen glances, and the nonchalant touches.
Fellow students I saw just about every day could be easily summed up with general labels if someone didn't observe them as much as I did. There was the introvert who sat in the corner; she had a crush on the football player who wasn't studying because he was too busy laughing it up with his buddies. The extrovert who sat in the middle of the room in order to be the center of attention. The feminist, always wearing a scowl and Doc Martens. The bad boy who reeked of weed and beer. The genius who graduated high school at fifteen. The whole library was the picture of societal hierarchy…or The Breakfast Club of the new millennium.
I snorted to myself, shaking my head, but I glanced up when a shadow fell over me. Narrowing my eyes at Emmett McCarty, I took in his fidgeting. He rubbed the back of his neck, shifted on his feet, and I'd swear he was sweating. And if he was that nervous…
"Oh, hell no! You are not backing out on me, Emmett!" I hissed, starting to stand. And I didn't give a fuck that he was a linebacker for the football team; I was pretty sure I was going to punch him.
"Bella, wait! I can explain," he whispered, taking the chair next to me, but he shot a glance across the library to the girl I'd labeled a feminist. "Listen, I know the timing is bad, but I just… I mean…" He groaned, his usually childlike grin evaporating from his face and turning into a genuine pout. "I've wanted to ask Rose out for so long, and she finally agreed! You can't hate me for that!"
"Fuck, Em," I sighed, rubbing my temple. "You can't do this to me. I've got to have this finished and edited in two months!" I glanced up at him and then across to the girl in the Docs, who was watching us warily. "I haven't found a girl. Would she—"
"No!" he answered before I could finish the question. "No, Bella, she's um… She's been through some stuff, you know? And doing that, well… It's not something she'd do." When I opened my mouth to argue that point, Emmett held up his giant hand. "I know, you promised anonymity, but she just…wouldn't do it."
"Shit," I grumbled, shaking my head as I glared around the library again. "Damn it, Em… This is my thesis, my life you're messing with! You said…" I trailed off because arguing wouldn't change his mind, and my eyes locked on to a person that I'd been unable to label. Not with just one label, anyway, because so damn many came to mind when he entered a room.
To watch Edward Cullen walk through the library, smiling, waving, shaking hands with people he knew, it was easy to label him an extrovert. He was in Med school with me, so he was smart and studious, too. He was long, lean, and muscular, and he'd played on the soccer team for his freshman and sophomore years, so jock came to mind. But really he wasn't any of those things, and he was all of those things. Girls wanted him, guys wanted to be him, and he was respected by our professors. I honestly wanted to label him as perfect, but no one was perfect. The most I could call him was neighbor and best friend, because we lived in the same apartment building, occasionally sharing rides and classes. And he was a reliable study partner, I added mentally as he dropped his bag down on the table across from me at his usual time.
Edward greeted Emmett with that guy chin-jerk thing, glancing between us, and his eyebrows shot up when I glared back at Emmett.
"Cullen," Emmett mumbled but turned back to me, still bracing for my temper.
"What the hell am I supposed to do now, Emmett?" I asked him. "You promised me you do this and that you'd bring the girl. Now I'm out both?"
"I have friends that post sex videos online, so…it's not like you can't find people to have sex with…"
"I'm not having… It's not a fucking porn," I groaned, waving him away. "Get away from me. Leave it to a jock man-whore to finally go monogamous."
"Bella, I'm…" He trailed off when I shot him a glare. "You're gonna junk-punch me, aren't you?"
"Go away," I mumbled behind my hands, setting my elbows on the table as I rubbed my face. I heard the chair push back and knew Emmett had left the table.
"Cullen," I answered back, my face still in my hands.
"If you're hard up for a date…" When I dropped my hands loudly to the table, he chuckled. "I'm just sayin'…" His grin stayed wide, carefree as he shrugged a shoulder. "What's sex between friends?"
"A booty call."
He barked a laugh, his eyebrows flicking up once. "True."
I huffed a small chuckle, shaking my head. This is what we did – a give and take of verbal vomit. We'd been this way since we'd met our freshman year in the dorms at USF. We'd figured out both of us were working toward a medical career – albeit different ones – and we ended up in most of the same classes. Studying together came naturally, which pissed off the girls crushing on him all the time, but he never gave it much attention. Neither of us was from Florida, like some of our fellow students. Edward had grown up in Chicago; however, his parents moved down here our sophomore year. I'd grown up in Phoenix, but I'd spent my last two years of high school in a small town in Washington. We'd had that in common – all alone in a new state, at a big school, and doctor wannabes.
Edward's face alone could be a label anomaly. His dark brownish/reddish hair stuck up in every direction, not because it was styled that way but because he had a habit of shoving his hands in it all the time. It looked like he'd just rolled out of bed…or had a quickie in an empty classroom with some girl. The wide, happy grin that took over his features, the sharp jawline, the heavy but expressive eyebrows, and green eyes that had flecks of gold – all those things mixed together to make him just…pretty. But pretty in a handsome, masculine guy way.
Edward Cullen was gorgeous.
And I tore my gaze away from his extremely amused gaze to the lists of things I needed before my project was due. Emmett just fucked me over, and not in the way I'd needed. My fist came down on the list.
"Damn it," I hissed, grimacing at the pain that shot through my hand. "Ow."
Edward shifted from his seat to the one at the end, reaching for my hand. "Stop, Swan," he whispered, rubbing the heel of my hand gently with long, talented fingers. "Talk to me. Tell me why you need sex with a jock. He could be all doped up on steroids, so…" He held his thumb and forefinger an inch apart. "He's probably…" When I narrowed my eyes at him, he trailed off but laughed lightly.
"Get used to 'roided out jocks, Edward. That's your future clientele."
"Get used to small dicks, Swan. That's your future clientele."
I laughed at his comeback, but he sobered quickly, still massaging my hand. We teased each other relentlessly on what we'd chosen as specialties, but it was true. Edward was interested in sports medicine and rehabilitation, and I'd chosen sex therapy and human sexuality.
"Did he really mess you up?" he asked, true sincerity in his tone, and I nodded, pushing papers around with my free hand. "So…what's the deal?"
"You know this stuff, Cullen."
"Yes, but explain it in detail. Explain it like you would to someone who hasn't watched your research." He chuckled when I rolled my eyes at him, but he waved a hand to get me to start talking.
"My thesis is in two parts – my paper and the video experiment to go with it," I started, looking his way, but he was pulling my pages closer. "This counts as my final grade and the last of my lab work hours, not to mention help me with placement for internship. It's a study on which sexual positions provide the best stimulation, which one is best for conception, and the human physical reactions to those stimuli. The video portion was going to be completely anonymous. I'm editing out faces and such, because I only need certain parts."
He grinned but nodded. "And you picked Emmett McCarty?"
"I needed someone in decent shape, and I needed someone who wouldn't be embarrassed to be filmed, Edward, not because I have some sort of thing for him."
I pulled my hand away in a huff, but Edward simply reached down for my leg. Lifting up my foot, he tugged off my sneaker and started to work on my instep.
"What?! I need the practice, Bella," he argued, rolling his eyes at me when I raised an eyebrow his way.
I waved his words away, because really, that shit felt amazing. I certainly wasn't going to argue a free massage, and damn, I was tense enough to need one.
"Believe it or not, Emmett's blood work came back clean," I said, glancing up when Edward snorted. "I don't have time now for another male applicant. I have two girls' blood work ready, but Emmett had a girl in mind, so I was letting him pick. I mean, he's the one who was having sex with them."
Edward's fingers slipped up my foot and over my ankle to start kneading my calf. "You had backup chicks?"
Grinning at the way he said it, I nodded. "Yeah, what's college casual sex with a stranger in the great big picture?"
"A one-night stand," he replied with a chuckle.
"Right. Though, that ranks up there with human behavior studies, too." I met his gaze – sharp dark green in the library's lighting – and despite our always present banter, I asked, "What the hell am I supposed to do now? I'll have to rework the whole thing, forget the video, even though it was approved. Do you have any idea what hoops I had to jump through in order to get this cleared?! It's 2016, and sex is still so damned taboo. It's utterly ridiculous."
"Bella," he said softly, his fingers rubbing my calf before reaching for my other foot and removing the sneaker. He grinned when I shook my head at him as he started all over with my other leg. "Emmett's sorta right, you know. People record themselves having sex all the time, so a replacement shouldn't be an issue."
"I know, but still… It's the principle of the damn thing. I know there are douchebags out there who could film a couple having sex and call it science, but I really was focusing on the physiology of it all. If I wanted to shoot porn, I'd be making a helluva lot more money and my student loans wouldn't be through the damn roof."
Edward laughed. "Snapchat alone would be the easiest place to start."
Chuckling, I nodded but held up my hand. "I don't want to know what you've received on that phone of yours, Cullen."
"Swan, it would give you enough human behaviors to study for the rest of your life."
I scowled. "That's foul. Do guys actually like that shit?"
"Like it? Sure," he said with a shrug. "Respect it? Not a chance. The first thing a dude does with a girl's picture like that is show it off to the other dudes around him. It's one thing if there's a relationship there and it's done with some sort of shared emotions or feelings behind it, but if she's doing it to get attention, then it just seems…" He trailed off, his handsome face scrunching up into a grimace.
"Cheap?" I offered.
"Sad," he countered, shaking his head. "Anyway, back to your project. Is there any way you can rework it?"
Chuckling at his abrupt change of subject, I shrugged. "I honestly don't know. I suppose I could write a truly detailed paper, listing out all the physical reactions I was going to prove in the experiment, but I was hoping to provide some sort of basis to help couples trying to conceive, not to mention couples dealing with sexual issues. This was my start, Edward."
Edward's gaze was on my leg as he massaged my calf muscle. When he spoke, he didn't look up. "What would you need in order to replace Emmett? What tests? And how long do you have?"
Pulling my paperwork closer, I sighed. "I need a full blood workup – checking for STDs, white blood cell count, protein. I need someone sexually active and in decent shape, because this will be a study of three specific sexual positions. They need to be willing to have sex without contraception, because the male's reactions are just as important as the female's. I'd like a physical, too, but at this point, I don't think I have the time. I have to get this filmed, edited, and my paper written. I've got two months to get all that done. And blood tests alone can take time. Most test results are back in twenty-four hours, but some results can take a bit longer. Why?"
"And the girls?"
"I can't tell you who they are, Edward." I laughed at his silly grin. "The two volunteers I have are clean and on birth control. Is that what you wanted to know?"
His nose wrinkled, which was an unusual reaction from him. I expected more snarky remarks, but he gently put my sneakers back on each foot and tied the laces, setting my legs across his lap. He opened his backpack and removed his notes and textbooks, still not looking me in the eye.
"And wh-who sets up the cameras and stuff?"
That brought his gaze to mine quickly, and his eyes were a touch wider with shock. "Seriously?"
"Yeah." I nodded, shuffling papers around in order to find the one I wanted, which was the diagram of the room, bed, and camera placement. "There are three on-person cameras. Small ones – on the female's areola and inside the vaginal wall, and one on the shaft of the penis, just below the pubic bone. I'll be the one to attach them or shift them around depending on which position the couple will be testing at the moment. Then there are a few more standing cameras and one mounted on the bed." I tapped the page. "All that footage will have to be edited down to block out the faces, not to mention show the physical examples I need. It's difficult enough to ask a couple to have sex in front of and with a camera; it's another level altogether to have a bunch of people in the room. So I thought for privacy's sake, it should just be me."
He was quiet for a moment, opening notes and books for class. He bit down hard on his bottom lip but finally met my gaze.
"Okay, I'll do it."
"What?" I barked, laughing a little too loudly in the quiet of the library, so I leaned closer. "You can't be serious, Edward. You can't possibly be that hard up. Look around you."
"No!" he argued back, shaking his head and rolling his eyes, ignoring the glances we were getting – the glances he always got whenever he was in a damn room. "I'm not hard up, Swan; I'm trying to help you."
My mouth fell open, and I eyed him up and down. Suddenly, the mere idea was ludicrous but so damned intriguing too, because he'd probably be stunning on camera. But then the reality of it all set in, and I realized I'd not only be attaching cameras to parts of him I'd never seen, but I'd be watching him have sex with some random girl. Something about that was unsettling. We were friends, for fuck's sake.
"No," I said, shaking my head. "I don't have time for you to get your ass checked out." It was a lame excuse, but it was as good as I could give him. "I'll figure it out, Cullen."
"Why not me, Swan?" he asked, laughing a bit, but his eyes were tight. "It's just sex, right? And it's for science, right?" He sighed, tilting his head my way. "I'm no virgin, Bella. And it wouldn't be unlike a touch of exhibitionism. Everyone's done it somewhere public or where they shouldn't have. And don't lie to me, because I know you."
I snorted. "Right, but this isn't the backseat of a car or underneath the bleachers at a high school football game…"
"Ah, I knew you were a freak, Swan!"
Laughing, I shoved him with my foot that was still on his lap. "Really, Mr. Exhibitionist?" He grabbed my foot, but I shook my head. "I can't ask you to do this. It's supposed to be anonymous."
"Emmett isn't anonymous, Bella," he argued. "Half the female freshman population is gonna recognize his body!" When I laughed, Edward grinned adorably. "Well, that is if this shit is public."
I shook my head. "No, just my professor." I gazed down at my notes and then back at Edward. "You… Do you have a girl in mind? Or did you…"
"I haven't had a girlfriend in over two years," he answered before I could finish.
"You've dated, Edward, so don't sit there and tell me…"
"I'm not telling you anything. A date doesn't always equal sex, Swan. A man can get a drink or dinner or see a movie without expectations of sleeping with someone." When I raised an eyebrow at him, he grinned. "I'm no monk, Bella, but you don't exactly need a virgin for this endeavor now, do you? And don't judge me either. How's Newton?"
"Currently dating someone other than me, thankfully," I sang with a false smile as he laughed at me. "And Jake hasn't called in years, so…"
"Good," Edward growled. "Newton was one thing, all lost puppy over you and shit, but Jake was an asshole."
"How's Lauren?" I countered just to get back at him for this line of questioning, smiling innocently and batting my eyelashes at him.
We'd reached touchy territory in our friendship. Edward couldn't stand Jacob Black, a guy from back home I'd been dating when I first started at USF. He'd visited once, broke up with me, and never called again. And I thought Lauren was a shallow whore, because Edward had caught her cheating on him. Or maybe I simply hated her for hurting him. I wasn't sure which.
"Ah, the good old days of our undergrad years." Edward sighed deeply, rolling his eyes at my laugh. But he held his hands up in surrender. "I'm just trying to help you, Bella."
I groaned, shaking my head. "I don't know." I glanced his way, and he seemed sincere and willing. "I need you to get tested, and I…"
"Let me worry about that. Give me a day or two."
"Are you sure?" I asked him, grimacing. "This isn't for fun, and I'm supposed to be all clinical about this, but we're friends, Edward."
He grinned, shaking his head. "First of all, I trust you. Second, you of all people know that sex is just sex, right? This is what you plan on doing the rest of your life. Might as well start with someone you know."
My eyes narrowed on his expression, because it looked to me like he was trying to convince himself, not me. "Yeah, but…"
He held up the diagram of the camera setup. "Just make sure my camera is…big enough, Swan." He shot me a cheesy wink as I snatched my paper back from him with an exasperated sigh.
"Shut up, Cullen. Get me my blood work first, and then we'll talk. I need it ASAP."
"You'll have it, Bella. I promise."
My brow furrowed a bit as another label for Edward came to mind. He was loyal, and he was seriously considering doing this. I wasn't sure how I felt about that.
A/N… This will update twice a week – Sundays and Wednesdays. This will probably be the longest A/Ns I'll put on here, too, unless there's a question that needs answering.
On a side note… Jenny and I (aka Sarge's Girls) have a book available on Amazon. You can find it by searching the site for Deb Rotuno or Jenny Rarden. Either name will bring the book High Heels & Hard Drives up. It's a short novella, so check it out if you're interested. I want to thank those of you that have already bought it. Thank you so much! :D
I will see you guys again on Wednesday for the update for The Student Body. Until then… Mooches, Deb ;)