Here we go again … the plot bunny just couldn't stay away. Persistent little fucker. Originally, this began as a dream. When I woke up, I wrote down as much as I could, but it's morphed into something different.

So, Heidi got her comeuppance. Will she be fired? Also, Edward seems to trust Bella. He is going to her when he needs her, vice versa. We will have some more citrusy goodness coming up, along with Bella's birthday … which will be celebrated the following weekend. And what will happen with Jake?

Chapter Fifteen

I hate jogging. I hate jogging. I hate jogging. I hate jogging. I HATE JOGGING! Bella sneered as she pounded the pavement. She was wearing a pair of leggings and a tight jacket, her phone tucked into the pocket. She was listening to her angry mix, trying to calm down after a brutal overnight shift. She got into her car and drove to a nearby park, taking off and repeating her mantra. I hate jogging. I hate jogging …

"Isabella?" she heard.

Bella stopped and saw Edward wearing a pair of shorts and tight long-sleeved shirt. He was also dressed to run. She looked around, seeing she was in his neighborhood. "Hey, Masen," she panted, tugging out her earbuds.

"It's six in the morning," he said. "What are you doing here?"

"Trying to forget last night's shift," she said. "Do you mind? I kind of have a flow going." Edward nodded and they continued to jog, at a relatively fast past, too.

"What happened?" he asked.

"Just a lot of little cases that required all of our attention," Bella said. "And needy fucking parents." Her pace picked up as she ran into a park, Edward on her heels. "Yes, your child is sick, but I can't wave my magic fucking wand and cure them of the common cold. AND I'm not giving you a god damned antibiotic for the sniffles."

"Don't hold back, Swan. Really," Edward deadpanned. She smacked his chest. "Hey, I'm on your side. Don't beat me up, woman."

"You're convenient, Edward. I can't exactly smack the parents," she snorted. She slowed down, stopping at a water fountain. "I love my job. I truly do, but I'm just on edge."

"Why?" Edward asked, taking his own sip.

She wanted to tell him that she was on edge because she was turning thirty. She wanted to shake him and force him to open up to her, but he'd probably push her away. So, she shrugged. "I don't know. I get this way sometimes." She blinked over to a bridge about a half mile away. "Wanna race?"

"You think you can beat me?" Edward quipped, his face relaxing and a crooked smile spreading over his lips.

"Maybe," she sang, bouncing on her toes. "Afraid you're going to get beat by a girl?"

"Never," he laughed. "On your mark, get set … HEY!" Bella took off, giggling and he was on her heals, but she'd gotten a pretty big head start. They ran along the path and it was close. Bella was taunting him every step of the way. Until her toe clipped a raised lip of the running path. She fell down, spinning off into a ditch. "Oh, shit!" He slowed down and crouched down next to her. "Isabella? Bella?"

"Owww," she moaned, rolling over. "Who the fuck put that nonsense in the middle of a running path?"

"Don't move, Bella," he said, tenderly brushing the debris from her face. "How many fingers?"

"My head is fine. It's my knee," she said, sitting up. "I fucked it up in college and I normally should be running with a brace, but it's at home." Edward made a face. Her leggings were shredded and he rolled them up. "Now, who looks like pizza?"

"Can you walk?" he asked, gently prodding her leg.

"Help me up," she said, holding out her hands. She braced her good leg and he easily pulled her to her feet. She put down her leg and hissed, tears welling in my eyes. "FUCK!"

"As tempting as that may be, Bella, I don't think that would be wise," he deadpanned. "Two choices, I can carry you back to my place, or call an ambulance.""

"How far is your place from here? Mine is about three miles away," she shrugged.

"Hmmmm, it may be closer for me to carry you to my place. We're not that far from there," he said. "Come on, gimpy."

"Bite me," she grumbled.

"Tempting," he snickered, picking her up and walking to the bridge. A few blocks over, he arrived at his house. "Since my hands are full, punch in the code, 1918, into the garage door."

"You're going to have to tell me what that means," she said as she did as he asked. The door opened and he ducked inside, gently carrying her inside and put her on the kitchen counter. He went upstairs. "I'm bleeding here!"

"I'm getting you some shorts. Relax, Swan," he bellowed back. He came back downstairs, carrying a pair of men's athletic shorts. "Do you need help?"

"Yeah," Bella blushed. She shimmied off her leggings and he removed her shoes. Carefully pulling them up her long legs, Edward tossed the leggings into the trash. "Those cost sixty bucks!"

"They were torn to shreds, Bella," he said.

"You're calling me Bella, too. Normally it's Swan or Isabella," she smirked. "What changed?"

"I saw you fall ass over heels and thought you cracked your head open. I can go back to calling you Isabella," he said, gently lifting her leg.

"No, I like it when you call me Bella," she whispered. "It's nice." She looked down at her leg. "Yeesh, I did a number on my leg."

"And your hands, too, Bella," he said, picking up her hand, showing her scraped palms. She groaned. "I'll deal with these in a bit. Let's focus on your knee. You can't put any weight on it. Do you mind?" She shook her head and he began maneuvering and manipulating her leg. She whimpered as he moved it. "What was the original 'fuck up'?"

"Partial tear of the meniscus," she answered. "It was repaired surgically, but it was always weaker than the other one. I'll be fine."

"Swan, you took care of me when I got my ass handed to me by Demetri. Let me return the favor?" he whispered, cupping her chin and caressing her cheek. His face was open and his eyes were so earnest. Bella nodded and he leaned down, kissing her lips before turning back to her knee. "Let's clean this up first." He swept her back into her arms, carrying her up to his bathroom. He put her on the ledge of the bathtub, carefully cleaning off the debris. He was focused on her knee and she looked at him. His hair was sweaty, but a gorgeous color, with red, auburn, blonde and brown all mixed together. His skin was pale, but not sickly. His eyes were the color of jades, soft and relaxing. "Bella? Bella? Are you sure you didn't hit your head?"

"Sorry," she mumbled. "Just spacing out. The exhaustion is kicking in, I guess."

"Well, after I clean up your knee and wrap it, I'll let you get some rest while I get your car," he said. Bella nodded and watched as he covered the scrapes with antibiotic salve and wrapped her leg with an ace bandage. When he was done, he carried her and placed her in his bed.

"Are you sure?" she asked. "The couch is fine."

Edward just lifted her leg and stuffed a couple of pillows under leg. "I'm going to get some ice. Can you give me your keys?" She pressed her keys into his hand and watched him leave his bedroom, returning a few moments later with two bags of ice. He placed them on her knee and covered her legs. "I'll be back, Bella."

"Thank you," she whispered, giving him a grateful smile.

He returned it, kissing her forehead and darting down the stairs. He ran back the way he came and his mind was reeling. Isabella Swan was in his bed. This was dangerous territory, crossing over from fuck buddies into something more. No, that's all they'll ever be. Maybe? He shook his head and sped up until he saw Bella's black Mercedes SUV. He unlocked it, adjusted the seat and mirrors, driving back to his house. All the while, he was inhaling her feminine, sweet scent. He yearned for it. It made him so hard and knowing that her soft female body was in his bed, made his dick weep. Though, she'd probably run away if she found out what 1918 stood for. It was the military time he looked up after Tanya had left and he thought he was going to end his life after she'd taken everything away from him. His parents' arrival prevented that from happening, but he always wondered …

He parked her car in his driveway, heading back inside. He got some water and pain killers, knowing that Bella would need them. He went upstairs, padding to his bedroom. Bella was in there, curled up and clutching his pillow. He knelt down on the floor, staring at her. Her skin was clear, translucent and beautiful. She had a slight blush on her cheeks and her eyelashes were long, brushing her skin. Her hair was a rich mahogany brown, with a subtle wave and was so soft. She was the pure embodiment of femininity, beauty and compassion. If he'd met her before Tanya, Edward could have imagined a long future with her because she was everything he'd ever wished for.

Fuck it. I'm going to live my life … I want her. I want to be with her … Does she feel the same?

He crawled into the bed and curled around her, his dead heart stammering against his ribs. With a sigh, he closed his eyes and tugged her against his body. Just this once. Just this one time. I want to feel this just once. He felt a tear on his cheek. Hastily, he wiped it away as he let his body relax around hers.

And it felt so right …

xx SG xx

"Bella, you've got to take it easy," Shelly chided.

"I'm fine," Bella said. "I'm just stiff." When she woke up after her tumble, she found herself tucked in Edward's arms. He looked so relaxed and so at peace. However, when she tried to wriggle away, he panicked. Bella calmed him down, explaining that she needed to pee. After going to the bathroom, Edward checked her knee again and said she was fine, but he was acting strangely. He carried her down the stairs. They shared a meal before Bella left to go home. She thanked him for his help, but there was something haunted in his eyes.

It worried her.

That was three days ago. Edward had been a bit of a ghost after that.

"Well, even so, you have to take it easy today because it's your birthday, Dr. Swan," Shelly smirked.

"Umm, what?" Bella squeaked.

"A little birdie told me … she's about this tall and you live with her," Shelly snickered.

"I'm going to kill my roommate," Bella grumbled, picking up a chart. "There better not be anything planned, Cope. I got my birthday present from my dad."

"What did he get you?" Shelly asked.

"Some girly primping at a spa and an open airline ticket to go visit him," Bella answered. "He's recently divorced and lonely." She read the chart in front of her. "I'm going to, you know, act like a doctor. Page me if you need me."

"Will do," Shelly sang.

Bella hobbled to the peds rooms and began her shift. She worked tirelessly for her patients, fixing broken bones, taking blood, and caring for the littlest kids who didn't have a voice. After she finished with a little girl who had a nasty allergic reaction to her brand new kitten, Bella walked directly into a wall of muscles. "Ooomph. Sorry," she mumbled.

"You okay, Swan?" Edward asked, his jade eyes looking dull.

"Not paying attention. My apologies," she whispered. She turned and hobbled away, but stopped. "Wait a minute, Masen. Come with me." She grabbed his coat sleeve and dragged him into another treatment room. "What the fuck happened to you? You are so jumpy."

"I am sorry," he sighed, running his hand through his hair, making it look more disheveled.

"Sorry about what?" she pressed. "Our arrangement? What happened a couple of days ago? What?"

"For acting weird," he said. "To be honest, I'm struggling. I don't want to get into too many details, but I was hurt by someone who I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. It was a dark, scary time in my life."

"That woman who Demetri is married to?" Bella asked. "The pregnant one?"

"Uh, yeah," he grumbled. He blew out a breath, shifting uncomfortably. "But, this wasn't her first pregnancy."

"Oh, OH!" Bella said, eyeing Edward and arching a brow. "You have a child with this woman?"

"She didn't keep it," he whispered. "And she never told me."

"Fuck," Bella spat. "Edward, I'm so …"

"Don't. Apologize," he snapped.

"I won't. My bad," Bella said. She reached and took his hand in hers. She stared at him until he looked at her. When he did, the emptiness was back. "No sad faces. Today is a good day."

"Why is that?" he asked.

"It's my thirtieth birthday. No one gets to die here on my birthday and I only want to see happy faces," she chirped, poking his cheek and making one side of his face curl up. "Besides, I think Shelly got me a cake. We're sharing a piece. Okay?"

"What kind of cake?" he chuckled, still empty, but a little more energized.

"Who knows? It's cake," she said, kissing his cheek and leaving him in the treatment room.

He took a breath, inhaling her sweet scent, allowing it to calm him. He looked up and watched as she chit-chatted with Jasper and Emmett, friendly and happy. Emmett put a fireman's hat on her head and Jasper held out a cupcake with two candles, marked 3-0, on it. They sang to her and she graciously accepted the cupcake, blowing out the candles. While he watched her, he took out his phone and checked the settings.

Confirm settings change … new passcode to unlock phone is 0913.

Pocketing his phone, he walked back out as Shelly was carrying a large sheet cake. Everyone was at the nurse's station. "Sing with us, Dr. Masen!" Shelly smiled. "One … two … three … Happy Birthday …"

Edward sang along with his coworkers, but his eyes were watching as Bella was grinning and fluttering her eyelashes. When the song was over, Jasper belting out an obnoxiously high note, Bella blew out her candles and began cutting the cake. Carrying over one huge piece with two forks, she stood next to Edward. "I said we're sharing, Masen," she chirped.

"Who am I to deny the birthday girl?" he asked, his face relaxing and a crooked grin spreading over his face.

"I get a smile for my birthday! I got to see the full effect of your dimples, Masen!" she snickered, digging into the cake.

"Okay, not the full effect," he said, the dimple in his right cheek deepening. He leaned forward, his lips pressed to her ear. "In case you forgot, I've dimples other places, too, gorgeous."

"Can I get a strip tease for my birthday?" she asked breathily.

"If you're a good girl," he said. He looked up and everyone was eating their cake and blissfully ignorant. He kissed her lips, tasting of buttercream and Bella. "Happy birthday, Isabella." He caressed her cheek and left her to finish the piece of cake.

It was a slippery slope he was sliding down, but boy was it worth it.

A/N: Originally, I wanted to add some bridge citrus, but I liked this option better. Edward is starting to feel something as is Bella. Will they admit their feelings or will they continue along the same road, as purely fuck buddies? We will have some citrus, Jake will come back and what about those damned earth quakes?

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