A/N: Hi Everyone... I wrote this a long time ago and it was submitted to the Fandom for Autism Compilation, just never posted it. Please enjoy and review!
Beta'd by: Midnight Cougar & texasbella
Banner by: SoapyMayhem (in my FB group and profile)
Rating: M for Language and Lemons
Warnings/Disclaimer: I don't own the characters.
Summary: Edward stares across the quad at the mysterious new girl, and he wants to know more. He's never done the chasing, but there's a first time for everything.
"You never know. She could be living some sort of kinky double life or something." Edward sits on a picnic table outside of the school, his feet propped on the bench, the noontime sun beating down on his shoulders.
"Unlikely," Mike says, bending toward Edward as he sneaks a cigarette between classes. "I think I've only ever heard the girl talk once, and I have two classes with her. It's been more than a month since she showed up under that tree, and she's always by herself."
Edward stares across the quad at the mysterious new girl.
She's petite, all high cheekbones and perfect pouty lips, has a body like you wouldn't believe. Her long, dark hair curls around her ears, hanging in waves down her back and spills across her eyes as she turns the pages of a thin book. She's in the shade, her back leaning against the trunk of a tree. Edward follows the gentle curve of her breasts all the way down to her hips, and runs a thoughtful thumb along his bottom lip. "Look at her. You can't tell me that someone hasn't tried to jump her."
"Not that I've heard, and if it was happening, I would've heard about it." Mike would know; he collects gossip like some kids collect comic books. "Besides, she hardly makes eye contact with anybody."
That's a big part of the problem. Edward's used to attention, used to drawing appreciative looks from guys and girls alike at school. Hell, he's even caught teachers looking away a little too quickly sometimes. Not Bella, though. It isn't as if he doesn't work at it, trying to strike up conversations and getting only mumbles in response, changing his route to class so that their paths cross a little more often, or tossing the football around with Tyler or Mike in the grassy patch in front of the tree where Bella always hunkers down to read.
"Maybe she's a lesbian?" Mike offers, crushing his smoke under the heel of his shoe.
"Fuck, no. With a body like that… I'd cry," Edward says dubiously.
"She's resisted you, hasn't she? Shit, I can barely do that, and I don't even swing that way," Mike points out.
"Yeah, man, I've been trying to get her attention for weeks, but she keeps avoiding me, or maybe she's not noticing me? Naw, that can't be it, but it's starting to make me wonder what the fuck I have to do to get her to talk to me. Obviously, I just need to try harder."
Cockiness and swagger are Edward's default settings, but he has an idea that those things won't work in Bella's case. He needs to go with a different tactic.
Bella's in her usual spot for lunch, sitting cross-legged under the tree, chewing absently on an apple as she reads.
"Hey. Hi," Edward says, shoving his hands in his pockets.
Bella jumps, sputtering for a second as she looks up at Edward. The book slides off her knee, and she grabs it quickly, shoving it under her leg. Edward watches the movement in her throat when she swallows hard. "Um, hi," Bella answers softly, and her voice sounds rough, like a rusty door that doesn't get opened too often.
"You mind if I sit with you?" Edward asks nodding towards the empty space beside her.
Bella nods, sitting up a little straighter and resting her elbows on her knees. She can barely look at Edward and keeps shooting him these furtive little glances.
"Mike says you're good at math. He's in your calc class," he clarifies when Bella makes a doubtful expression, "and I'm a little close to flunking trig. Well, it's just about killing me, actually."
"I've heard that the unit circle has been outlawed in seven countries," Bella cuts in, "the death rate is astounding."
Sure, it's geek humor, but it catches Edward off guard. He snorts out a completely unsexy laugh, surprising himself. When Bella grins back at him, Edward's suddenly glad that he's sitting down, if the tremble in his knees is anything to go by. The girl's got a beautiful smile, shockingly wide and so bright. "Do you think you could help me? I've got a test in a few days. It's a huge part of my grade. Maybe you could help me cram?"
"Sure." Bella shrugs and Edward does this little internal victory dance.
"I've got practice at five; meet me outside the field house afterward?"
"Sure," Bella repeats, the smallest hint of a smile on her face.
Practice drags on for an eternity. Edward skips his shower and changes out of his practice uniform as fast as possible, dodging questions from his friends on the football team.
As promised, Bella is waiting for him on a bench outside the building, nervously chewing on a thumbnail and watching the doors to the field house like a hawk. She looks away when Edward emerges.
"I stink," Edward says in greeting, pulling his shirt away from his chest.
"I don't mind."
Bella is quiet on the drive back to Edward's place, fiddling with the hem of her t-shirt and looking out the window. He makes up for it with rambling, talks about football and math, and how hard it is to maintain a decent GPA with all the torture their coach puts them through.
They get to his house, and after getting some drinks, they spread out on the living room floor; books, papers and calculators cluttering the low coffee table in the center. Bella shows him where he went wrong in older trig tests, and teaches him little cheats that are built into his calculator. Edward tries not to flirt too openly, but gets distracted by the rub of her shoulder against his own, and all the times their fingers accidentally brush together. He can barely get past the constant low purr of her voice.
Bella's working through a problem, showing him a shortcut to double check his work. "It's the fast and dirty way of doing it," she says, "but it gets the job done."
Edward's mind veers swiftly away from the math problem in front of him to visions of doing other things 'fast and dirty', and he has to jerk away quickly to stop himself from latching onto Bella's neck right then and there.
Edward rushes up behind Bella in the hallway, slings an arm around her shoulders and waves his test in front of her. "You did it," he announces.
Bella turns it over, frowns appreciatively at the red 'B' emblazoned on the top of the paper. "No, you did it," she insists with a smile.
"Trust me, this one's on you."
Edward leans up against the painted cinderblock wall, propping an elbow on it and canting his hips. The hallway is crowded, clogged with students making Friday night plans. Two girls walk by, all shy smiles as they elbow each other in the ribs.
"That happens a lot around you." Bella stares at the girls rushing down the hall giggling. "People always look at you."
"Guess so, yeah. It doesn't matter." Edward tries to shrug it off. "I'm only looking at you."
A slow flush starts at Bella's neck, creeping up on its way to her face. She self-consciously pushes her hair off of her forehead and clears her throat.
"Listen," Edward says, trying to set Bella at ease, "you wanna hang out? Maybe get some pizza? It's the least I can do to repay you. I'll pick you up tonight?"
"Sounds good," Bella says slowly, fidgeting with the strap on her backpack.
"It's a date, then." Edward claps Bella on the shoulder.
"A date?" The question comes out of Bella's throat almost as a squawk.
Edward suppresses a laugh. "Or you can call it a down payment for the next time I have to take a test. I'm gonna need all the help I can get."
Bella's back to staring at her feet and scuffing her shoe along the dusty linoleum floor. On impulse, Edward leans down quickly, presses a soft kiss to Bella's cheek, and starts to dash down the hall. He glances over his shoulder, his heart jumping in his chest when he sees Bella pressing her fingers to the spot on her face.
Edward arrives at Bella's apartment, knocking on the door at a little past eight. She answers a few quick seconds later and a picture pops into his head of her waiting on the other side of the door for the last half an hour.
Bella's hair is still damp, brushed back from her face. She has a decent shirt on, tucked into what is probably her best pair of jeans. She smells like vanilla, and she's this odd combination of sexy as hell and completely fucking adorable.
Opening the door wider in invitation, she leads Edward to her room, where she starts looking for her wallet.
Barren is perhaps the best word to describe Bella's room. There's a narrow bed pushed against one wall, a half-full bookshelf on the other and a desk in the corner. The walls are blank, painted a generic off-white color. Completely absent are the usual trappings of a senior high school girl: a stereo, posters, photos of friends. "Are you still moving in?" Edward asks.
"I'm always moving in," Bella replies, finding her wallet in her desk drawer and shoving it into her purse. "Three towns in two years. You learn to get rid of what you don't need."
Edward takes them to his favorite pizza joint in town, flirting harmlessly with a waitress who's almost old enough to be his mother. Bella talks about all the places she's lived in the past few years, and how she has changed schools so many times; her father's sales job keeping them on the move, and Edward counters that with tales of how stifling it is to live in a town where everybody knows your name.
It's still fairly early when Edward pulls into the parking lot in front of Bella's building. Edward's not really sure where to go from here, most of his dates have ended with him tangled up in the back seat somewhere, sweaty and fogging up the windows with some random girl. This thing with Bella has put him in unmapped territory.
"We could go somewhere," Edward suggests. "If you don't want to go home yet."
Bella is picking at her fingernails. "I've got some reading to catch up on," she says, distracted.
"What is that book you're always reading, anyhow?" Edward asks impulsively. "The one with the torn off cover."
Bella evades an answer by getting out of the car and leaning against the hood. "Is this a date?" she asks when Edward joins her.
Edward slides in close, hips and thighs touching, and gets a thrill when Bella doesn't move away. "Do you want it to be?"
"I didn't know you were into…" Bella trails off, squinting up at a light post.
"Into what?" Edward finishes for her.
Bella scoffs. "I didn't know that you were into me."
"Well, now you do."
Bella starts talking in a rush. "I've never been on a date before, and I... I don't really know where to go from here. What to do, and now I feel like a complete moron, and the biggest kind of socially awkward loser, because you've got it all together and you're so confident and probably really experienced..."
Edward has some trouble keeping up. He latches onto one thought. "You've never kissed anyone."
Bella laughs, this anxious little tittering sound. She shakes her head. "Pretty pathetic for a senior, huh?"
Edward faces her slowly, wraps his fingers around Bella's hip and rubs a thumb over the bone there. In the light from the overhead lamps, he can see the flush on Bella's cheeks, the quick flicker of her tongue over her bottom lip.
He slides his palm along Bella's neck, heat radiating off of his skin. His hand finds the back of Bella's head and Edward gently pulls her up. He presses his lips to hers in a soft, dry kiss, and inches back to look at her.
"There. Done. It's not a thing anymore, okay?"
Bella sort of melts against him, her arms coming up to hook around his shoulders. She tips her head forward, her long bangs tickling his nose, and then she's kissing him back, her mouth warm and insistent.
Maybe a little clumsy, but that's A-Okay in Edward's book.
He licks along her bottom lip, and she opens right up, the tips of their tongues tentatively touching. Bella tastes amazing, a little like the peppermint she'd eaten after supper, and he can't help the soft moan that comes from the back of his throat, vibrating where their mouths meet.
He draws her in tight, strong arms pinning them close, chests flush together. She just holds on, legs feeling a little woozy, one hand fisted in the back of his shirt. She lets him control the kiss, goes dizzy over the way he angles his head just right and licks into her mouth.
They stand there, still wrapped up tight when Bella breaks free, noses sliding together, and breathing into each other's mouths. He's rock hard; she can feel the impression of his dick on her hip. "I should go," Bella says, breathless.
Edward wants nothing more than to pull Bella right back in. Instead, he laughs, palms his hard-on self-consciously. "Yeah," he says, his voice cracking some. "Probably best."
Bella lays a smile on him, does this sideways little shuffle toward the door to her building, like she's afraid Edward will simply disappear if she looks away.
"I'll see you tomorrow?" Edward calls after her.
"God, yes. Please."
"Spill," Mike hollers across the quad as Edward comes closer.
"Definitely a virgin," Edward says when he joins Mike at their post on the picnic table, and swears that he can almost see Mike's ears perk up.
"Elaborate," Mike commands.
"She hadn't even been kissed."
"But she has now." Mike makes it clear that it's not a question.
"Looks like it." Edward feels a ridiculous, dopey grin spreading on his face and tries to fight it.
"Where have you been, anyway?" Mike asks.
"Busy," Edward answers vaguely.
"You missed my party. Everybody was there. Everybody." Mike puts a heavy emphasis on the last word.
"I had a date. With Bella."
"That lasted the whole weekend? How many?"
"One, technically, but we spent a lot of time together this weekend."
"And she's still a virgin?" Mike says, his voice raising. "You're slipping, brother."
"I'm taking my time. There's a difference."
"I do believe that Casanova here may have fallen for his latest conquest," Mike says in a stage whisper, leaning conspiratorially toward Edward.
"She's not a conquest," Edward states adamantly.
"The root of my original argument still stands."
"And I'm not falling for her," Edward insists, but the words do not taste right coming out of his mouth. In fact, they taste just plain wrong.
Mike scuffs up Edward's hair with his knuckles, and pushes himself off of the bench. "You keep telling yourself that, buddy," he says, heading toward class.
Edward isn't really sure why he denied it. It had been more of a knee jerk reaction to disagree with anything Mike had to say.
The lunchroom door pushes open and Bella stands there, blinking against the sunlight. She spots Edward, her face splitting into a big grin. There's this pause to her step, a heartbreaking kind of hesitation before Edward waves her over.
"I'm such a fucking goner," Edward mutters to himself before meeting Bella halfway. He grabs her around the waist and pulls her flush against his body, "Hi," he whispers before kissing her until she's breathless.
Edward shouldn't be doing this. It's sneaky and he's not usually a snoop, but he can't help himself.
He's flat on his stomach on his bed. A last minute study session with Bella has disintegrated into limited debauchery, and now Bella's downstairs, rifling through the household's movie collection. Her backpack is sitting open beside the bed, and from this angle Edward can see the ratty corner of the book that Bella's always reading. The pages are all dog-eared, most of them have been folded and re-folded a dozen times.
He reaches out, runs a fingernail along the pages, and with a pang of guilt he pulls it out. The cover is long gone, so is the title page. He flips through the pages. It's nothing he recognizes. Bella's handwriting is all throughout the thing, though, marking passages and in notes are scribbled in the margins. He sees a dirty fingerprint on one of the pages, and matches his thumb up to it. A folded piece of notebook paper falls out, and Edward shoves it back in, hoping that he put it in the right place. Near the end of the book there are a few lines that she'd written that tickle his interest, and he wonders who she was thinking about when she made the notes.
The sound of Bella's footsteps starting on the bottom of the stairs cause Edward to jump, and he's quick to slot the book back into her backpack.
Bella slips through the door, puts on the movie and lies down beside him. Her fingers find the hem of Edward's shirt and slide underneath, teasing the skin at the small of his back; reminding Edward that he hasn't gotten laid in weeks, not since this thing with Bella started.
She leans in close, slots her leg between his and rubs their feet together. She's a delicious weight, lying partly on Edward's back like this. He suppresses a shiver and sinks his hips into the mattress when she buries her nose in his hair and breathes in deep.
"I know you want to," Bella says quietly to him. "It's okay."
Edward remembers his first time, in the back of his old man's pickup truck. It had been a clumsy, awkward thing, two stupid kids just trying to get off. He hadn't even called the girl afterward.
Edward doesn't want that for Bella.
He can't stand the thought of just screwing her for the first time on some dumb Thursday in the middle of the afternoon, a random movie on in the background. Bella deserves better than that.
Edward picks Bella up on Saturday night, and Jesus Christ, even his hands are shaking.
Edward's folks are out of town on a weekend vacation and the house is dark when they get there.
Bella's back to all of her nervous habits: chewing on her thumb nails, picking at a stray thread on her shirt, brushing her hair out of her eyes repeatedly. Edward sits in the car, listening to the tick of the engine winding down. He waits, watching Bella.
Bella rubs her palms down her thighs and finally turns to Edward. "I know that this isn't a big deal for you." She sounds so self-effacing, and Edward feels his heart turn over in his chest. He stays silent and lets her go on. "I know you've screwed around a lot. People talk."
"People talk?" Edward says. He's surprised, but knew this was bound to come up sooner or later. "You hardly talk to anyone."
"Yeah, but I listen." Bella reaches out and scrapes a thumb into the seam of the dashboard. "I guess what I'm saying is that it's okay. It doesn't need to be a big deal for you. It's okay if it isn't. It doesn't need to be a thing, you know?"
Edward swallows hard, feels the dry click in his throat. He's never been good at this kind of thing. "You're in a car with a beautiful boy, and he won't tell you that he loves you, but he loves you," Edward quotes.
The words are no sooner out of his mouth, and Bella is staring at him, a slack-jawed, surprised expression on her face. "How did you know?"
"It's from that book you're always reading," Edward says, and continues the passage, mentally skipping past a few lines. "You're in a car with a beautiful boy, and you're trying not to tell him that you love him, and you're trying to choke down the feeling—"
Bella cuts him short, continuing the line. "And you're trembling, but he reaches over and he touches you."
Edward loses track, he wants to take over where Bella has left off, it seems important somehow, but then Bella's leaning in close, breath warm on his lips. She crashes their mouths together, sucks on his bottom lip and then bites down. The small flash of pain shoots straight to his cock, and he arches up, knots a fist into her hair and licks into her mouth.
Bella reaches down, palms his growing hard-on hesitantly, and Edward cuts the kiss short with a low growl. He licks his lips, closes his eyes tightly and tries to get himself in check. This isn't about him. It hasn't been about him for a long time, if it ever really was in the first place.
He gets out of the car on legs that are unsteady. By the time he gets to the passenger side, Bella's already out, yanking him toward the front door, sucking a mark on the soft skin under Edward's jaw. They trip together onto the landing, and he can feel it when she smiles against his neck.
Bella hesitates at Edward's bedroom door. She's got her shirt hanging from one wrist, and he's behind her, an arm snug around her waist. It's just a little stutter of a misstep, but Edward sees it plain as day. He brushes Bella's long hair away from the back of her neck, pulls her backward a little so he can kiss the spot where her neck meets her shoulder. The taste of her makes him groan far back in his throat.
Bella turns in the circle of Edward's arms and peeks up at him from behind her bangs. "What do you want me to do?" she asks.
"You tell me," Edward says, rubbing the small of Bella's back, dipping his fingers beneath the loose waistband of her jeans. "This is all about you."
Edward lifts his arms above his head when Bella peels off his shirt. A shiver runs through his body when she touches his chest, thumbs scraping across his nipples. Edward's so hard it almost hurts, his dick straining uncomfortably against his jeans. He's so close, feels like she just needs to look at him the right way and he'll blow.
He pulls them along, falling backward when his knees hit his bed. Bella's eyes get drawn to the cut of his hips, the dip of his flat stomach, the fine trail of hair that disappears into the waistband of his pants. He's long everywhere, long legs spread wide, long arms stretched above his head, one hand loosely grasping the wrist of the other. His dick is a clear line in his pants, the head peeking out above his belt.
He's absolutely gorgeous. The most stunning thing that Bella has ever seen.
Edward's fingers feel clumsy against the buttons on his jeans. He kicks them off, leaving them in a puddle on the floor. It's tough to remember how to breathe when Bella unfastens her own, canting her hips up in a way that's nothing short of pornographic as she slides them off, and he finds himself transfixed, unable to think or even look away.
"Edward," Bella says, her voice thick, "do something."
"What do you want me to do?" Edward asks, turning Bella's question back on her. A grin spreads on her face, and she hopes that it looks only half as wicked as it feels.
"Just get over here."
Edward crawls over her, fitting himself between her legs. The heat from her skin seeps into his own. Bella's reaction is immediate. She wraps him tightly in her arms and arches upward, hips coming up to rock against his, their bodies sliding together.
Bella locks her legs around Edward's, reaches for him with her mouth, and then they're kissing again, he's fucking into her mouth with his tongue, the stutter of his hips growing more and more frantic. "Bella," he whispers, breathy and quiet, "you have no idea." His fingers are digging into her back in a way that's sure to leave a mark, his body in a constant strain to get closer, to pull her further in.
"Fuck," Bella gasps, teeth sinking into her bottom lip, her eyes squeezed shut.
He knows she's almost there, right on the edge. Bella pulls back, the air feeling cold on her damp chest. The need to taste Edward slams into her. It's urgent, dizzying. "Can I suck you?"
The air leaves Edward's chest in a whoosh, an almost comical look of surprise painting his face.
She reads it as permission and pushes herself downward.
Edward's cock is hard as hell, wet with pre-come. His balls are drawn up close to his body, and she takes the weight of them into her hand, gently rolls them between her fingers. She kisses a trail along the soft skin of his inner thigh, nuzzles into him, the smell of him so intense that it sticks to the back of her throat.
His cock is hot on her tongue when she licks from the base to the tip. She suckles the head, little teasing licks into the slit, gathering the taste of him on her tongue and pressing it to the roof of her mouth. She tries to take her time, cheeks hollowing against a slow slide down the length of him, but he bucks up, gasping, pushing against the arm that she has slung low on his hips. Edward's cock pulses between her lips, come flooding unexpectedly into her mouth. She sputters, pulls off, jacking him through it, drops of come spattering her lips, dripping down her chin.
Edward draws his legs up, his feet tucked beneath her ribs. In some small corner of Bella's head that's not completely sex-drugged, she notices that his feet are cold. She moves up the length of his body, placing a soft kiss to the corner of his mouth. Her fist is still loose around his half-hard dick, jacking him in a lazy kind of way.
"That was awful," Edward says, covering his eyes with one huge hand. His face is flushed; sweat plastering the hair at his temples to his head.
"Huh. Well, I said I've never done that before. I could always keep practicing." Bella bites down on the inside of her mouth to hide her smile.
"God. No. I didn't mean—"
"I know what you meant. It's good, actually. You've just taken the edge off. You've done us both a favor." She starts moving against his hip, rubbing off on the soft, teasing friction between their bodies.
He latches onto Bella's collarbone with his mouth and worries his teeth along it, sucking a bruise onto her skin.
Bella lets out a small whine, digging her hips down into the soft mattress. Edward can feel his cock filling up, slowly getting hard again. Bella shoots him a dark look when she speaks. "I've thought about you," she begins, grabbing Edward's wrist and moving his hand further down. "I've wondered what you'd feel like."
Edward's mouth goes instantly dry. His blood starts to pump through him in this heady rush. Bella's rocking her hips up, their fingers a tangled together mess. "Can you just—" Bella cuts off with a hitched breath when Edward circles his middle finger around her clit.
With his heart beating its way into his throat, Edward chokes out, "Are you sure? You've gotta be sure."
She kisses him, sucking his tongue into her mouth like she's starving for it. It's all the answer that he needs.
"Just a second," Edward tells her, diving across the bed to the nightstand, blindly grappling for a condom stashed in the drawer.
The bed is a wreck, and Edward digs through the blankets to find the condom he dropped in his haste. It slips through his fingers too many times before Edward finally rips it open with his teeth. "You can tell me to stop," Edward says in a hoarse rush. "If it hurts, or if it's too much." Every nerve in his body is jumping to life, his skin tingling, too hot.
It feels like a punch to the chest when he sinks into her. Slow. Painfully slow and inch by inch. Edward makes quiet shushing noises that work as a counterpoint to Bella's moans, and he feels it the instant he's all the way in and Bella relaxes into the feeling.
"God, you feel so damn good," Edward tells her, his hips flush against her, one hand planted on the small of her back. He pulls back, watches her stretch around the head of his cock and thrusts back in again, a little quicker this time, a satisfying sting when their skin slaps together.
She sets the rhythm, rocking up to meet his thrusts, a tight, perfect heat surrounding him. Sweat pools in the dip of her hips, catches in the low light. Edward can't keep his hands off Bella, he traces along her clit, the place where their bodies meet, the skin stretched snug around him.
"More please, Edward."
"I don't want it to hurt," Edward warns her. "It might hurt."
"It's gonna hurt a little no matter what. Just. Please?" She pulls Edward forward, sealing their mouths together desperately. Her legs come up to wrap like a vice around his waist, tipping Edward's balance, toppling him forward. Edward slams into her, balls deep and quick. He rocks back out almost all the way, and right back in again, his whole body shivering. She tosses her head into the pillow, digs her fingernails into the skin of his back. She comes with a jolt, pulsing and hot around him.
He can feel it, the way she locks down tight on his cock when she comes. It makes his toes curl, a shock wave spiraling down low. Bella writhes underneath him, her eyes dark and heavy-lidded. She buries a hand in Edward's hair, forcing eye contact. She smiles, and that's it. Edward thrusts hard, his hips snapping forward to bury himself deep inside of her. His vision brightens around the edges and he's coming hard.
He collapses, arms giving out and every muscle in his body is slightly trembling. He brushes her hair away from her forehead, shivers when she scrapes her nails gently down his back.
Edward knows he should move, get them cleaned up. But Bella's still wrapped all around him, and she smells so good, messy and sweaty. It can wait.
Bella blinks and Edward can almost see the fog in her expression burning off, leaving a sort of startling clarity in its wake. "Hold on," Bella starts, "you went through my stuff? You read my book?"
Edward buries his face in Bella's neck. "You were always reading it. I wanted you to look at me instead." His face feels hot.
"You wanted me to look at you? Jesus, don't you see, Edward? I could barely look away."
"Funny, it didn't seem that way to me," he scoffs. "It felt like I could never catch up with you; that you were either not seeing me at all or avoiding me altogether."
She smiles up at him, "Well, you caught me now, I think I am definitely secured in your web."
"It's about damn time," Edward smiles brilliantly then rolls her over, embracing her tightly, "and, I am not letting you go."