Okay, so I'm going back to school tomorrow, so I don't know when I'll be able to write again, but I hope it'll be sooner than last time. I'll try. It just might be a little longer until my next update, but bear with me. It'll get there, eventually. This chapter is a little treat, as a peace offering for my pending absence.

p.s. the reviews are great, guys, keep it up!

Standard Disclaimer Applies

Ch. 25: My Cherie Amour


My jaw dropped over dinner, when Edward was telling me everything. And it stayed that way for as long as he kept talking.

Edward had even been lying about his age. He wasn't almost twenty-seven, from being in med school and college, for four years each. He had to keep up that lie, because it's virtually impossible for a doctor to be able to get his degree before twenty-five, twenty-six years of age. But he wasn't twenty-six. He was twenty-four. Only two years older than me, as opposed to the four I had previously thought.

While in his junior year of college, before he got his Bachelor's degree in Business and Accounting, Carlisle Cullen's father, who had been running Cullen Enterprises, passed away. Since the figurehead was gone, stocks plummeted, business clients pulled out, and it was absolute chaos.

Old Man Cullen knew he was going to kick it. Living the legacy of his father, and his father's father before him, he'd been born into money, and lived a reckless life. So his cholesterol was up, he wasn't exactly the fittest of gents…it was bound to happen. So a few years before he died, around when Edward was entering his second year in college, he began making arrangements for his adoptive grandson to take over the family business.

Edward was the only one of his family to go to school for business. Emmett was a football player, and Jasper was a social worker and had a degree in Psychology. Neither of these professions would do, so the old man had to turn to his unbiological grandson…something he was hesitant on doing.

The Cullens stood for something, he'd always say. They'd been running the business for generations. Only Cullen blood would make the family business run smoothly.

Pretty much, the old man was full of himself. A completely daft notion. Regardless, Edward needed to take over the family business, because Carlisle was a doctor, and refused to leave his position in the hospital.

So he began interning there during his first year of college, and worked there during his second and third, until his grandfather kicked it with a fatal heart attack.

Upon Old Man Cullen's death, the business went into chaos. It was on the brink of filing for bankruptcy when Edward took his post, not even done with college yet. They made up some story about the old man's brother-in-law stepping in and running things, which eased the public's minds enough to keep Cullen Enterprises afloat.

Barely.

If Edward had publically taken over, they most certainly would have gone bankrupt. Not only was he not technically born a Cullen, he was too young, too inexperienced to possibly run such a corporation. The press would have a field-day.

As they had, this past week. They hadn't figured out how it leaked, but someone found out and posted it all over the tabloids, the New York Times, and even my paper, the Downtown Daily. And Edward didn't want me to find out about any of this, or the sticky financial position, so he paid off my boss and convinced my friends at the office to keep it from me.

I didn't blame my friends. He was Edward Cullen. He was the most powerful man in the city, once his company dug itself out of the dirt. That, and he was charming, and dazzling…

Alas, I digress.

The Cullens were in big trouble. The company was manufacturing a new product that had several buyers that had pulled out of business with them, and didn't have the money to support the deficit. They were ink droplets away from closing the deal, and spent a lot of money, because they were supposed to get the money back.

Cue chaos.

Word leaked out that Cullen Enterprises didn't have a lot of money, and stockholders panicked. This past week, they'd had to close down a manufacturing plant in Pennsylvania, because they no longer could afford to keep it open. Thousands of people were losing their jobs…

Yeah. This is why my jaw hung open like a codfish.

I couldn't believe it.

"What are you going to do?" I asked meekly, my eyes wide.

"What I can. At the end of the month, we're merging with HamCorp." He sighed heavily. "I don't know how we can get out of this. There's no way we can get that money."

"But…HamCorp…they're terrible! Do you know what they do there? Their plants in Indonesia have children working eighteen hour shifts for pennies a day! Their accounting firms rip off every single one of their clients, driving small business owners and working class people into bankruptcy and mortgage forclosure! Calvin Hamilton is the most atrocious person on the face of the earth!"

"We met with Hamilton today. I'll agree with you there, he's terrible, but he's also loaded. He can get Cullen Enterprises out of the mud."

"How much do you need? Why is it so…so…hopeless?" I countered, unable to accept this. The Cullens had a clean reputation, and so did their company. To be affiliated with HamCorp…

"It's hopeless because there's no way I can find that many willing firms by the end of the month! These contracts take time, and our last one took six months to get to where it was. I'd have to have the papers signed by the twenty third, so the checks would clear in time!" he exclaimed, not angry, but exasperated. "We're talking half a billion dollars, here."

"I'm sorry, Edward." I said quietly, reaching out to take his hand. He wouldn't say it, but I knew he felt responsible. He thought his grandfather was right, a man who wasn't born a Cullen couldn't run the company.

"It's okay." He sighed, taking my hand in his and kissing it. "It's not your fault."

"It's not yours either." I told him seriously, "You can't control the actions of the public, and other firms."

"But it was a direct result of finding out about me. It wasn't because of something I did, but it was because of me, regardless."

"Just…don't sign the HamCorp papers just yet. There's still time." I said, leaning in to kiss his forehead as I cleared the table.

"Three weeks? Bella, it's impossible."

"Nothing is impossible, Edward."

"I'm pretty sure this is impossible. But your blind optimism is charming." He said sarcastically, and I smirked a little. It was kind of cute.

"Go get the papers. We're finding a way to fix this." I said, ignoring his hopelessness.

"We?"

"Yes, we. I majored in Journalism but had a minor in Business…you know, running my father's paper, and everything. I'm not as clueless as you might think."

"But you're certainly as naïve." He smiled softly, shaking his head at me. "Cullen Enterprises is dead, Bella. We have nothing left. HamCorp is our only choice."

"That's what you think now." I said, clearing the coffee table and making room for the documents Edward was bringing in.

"Well maybe we can get your buyers back." I suggested for the fifteenth time. It was really late, and that was the only idea I had come up with. Edward was right, this was pretty damn hopeless.

"We can't get the buyers back. We have nothing to offer them, they want a financially secure company, and we're not that." He said, exasperatedly, as he cradled his head in his hands. He was tired.

I had just realized that he only slept for a few hours last night, and the night before that, and the night before that, etc. I had just remembered what I'd been so upset about this morning, the fact that he was killing himself over this situation.

"Well, at least we have one option. C'mon, let's go to bed. You look exhausted." I said, standing, and helping him up. He half protested, then surprised me with a kiss when he sprang up on my third tug.

I remember this kind of kiss.

I hadn't received a kiss quite like this in some time.

He crushed me to him in a sort of renewed strength, for someone otherwise so tired. I let out a small gasp against his lips, and felt him grin.

"We'll see about that."

"You know, kissing me won't make me forget everything…" I tried to point out, flushed and unable to keep from smiling as he came in for another kiss.

"Not forever." He replied, in between kisses. "But hopefully…this will…keep you occupied…for some time."

I couldn't bring myself to respond. I was enjoying this too much. It had been so long since he let the unbridled passion loose…and Goddammit, I was going to enjoy it! Screw whatever I was talking about, there was only this. If I could just do this forever…

He propelled me backwards to a sturdy surface—once more, the door to our bedroom, pinning me there with his rock solid body.

…How he found time to go to the gym while in the midst of all this was beyond me, but I'm glad he did. Holy shit. My fingers could hardly undo the buttons fast enough.

I would have liked to say that I was fairly certain we were beyond morals, or standards, or whatever had been keeping us from having sex, at this point, and I didn't care. He was the prude, out of the two of us. If he were willing to, I'd have no problem giving in to my desire.

But this is Edward. He's a freakin' monk. I threw myself at him all the time, and he always managed to resist. So I didn't have any real hope at this point that it would go any further, just the inkling that it would be fabulous if it did.

He lightly shuddered when my perpetually cold hands touched his hot skin, running under his open shirt, feeling how his heart pounded in his chest, for me.

Then he did something I hadn't been expecting: lifting my sweater.

Oh, Hallelujah!

This was finally going somewhere!

The sweater came off, and he hoisted me up against the door so my legs went around his waist, and began kissing down my neck and shoulder.

Each kiss was like a mini eruption on my skin, sending goosebumps and shivers down my spine, while I tried to take stock of what was happening.

This was Edward.

He was probably just being a horrible tease, so I shouldn't get my hopes up for anything, but something told me that this was different.

Was I ready? I think so…

Stop thinking, Bella! He wants to marry you! You know this! He's not just going to leave, after he gets what he wants!

His shirt came all the way off, and I started fumbling with his belt as he unclasped my bra.

Oh…my…god Ihadneverwantedsomeonesobadlyinmylife! This was really happening!

The door opened.

His suit pants came off, he kicking them the rest of the way off as he placed me on the bed. I don't know where my bra ended up, and I didn't care. There was only him. There was ever only him, and I couldn't get enough.

"Mm…Edward…" I murmured against him, stopping him for a moment as he was going for my panties. "Are you ready?"

He'd been trembling for some time now, no doubt the adrenaline and hormones coursing through his body, and was still shaking a little as he hovered over me, sexy as hell.

"I don't care about that anymore. I love you." He whispered into my ear as he kissed down my neck, down my exposed body.

I got a good look at his eyes, and believed him. There wasn't that odd bit of torment that was always there when he was doing something he deemed 'inappropriate'. It was the same level of passion as before, but it wasn't wild, it wasn't unable to be contained. He knew exactly what he was doing, and I felt the same way.

Hoooooly shit.

If I thought he was a great kisser, that was nothing compared to how he was in bed.

Presently we were just laying there, under the covers, and he had taken up kissing every bit of my skin he could see.

His arms rested lightly around my waist, holding me as close to him as possible, our legs intertwined, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I never wanted to be away from him, away from this.

"I love you too." I smiled, finishing the thought from earlier. I ran my fingers lightly through his very tousled hair, as he kissed my shoulder, again. This was perfect.

This was how it should be, all the time.

No worries. No lawsuits. No business. No bankruptcy, no scandal…nothing. Just me and him, in complete bliss.

"Mmm I hope you're okay with having that for a very long time." He smiled, kissing my palm, that I let linger on his cheek.

"Fine by me." I grinned, and nestled my head into the crook of his neck.

Words couldn't explain what I felt. It was just this overwhelming feeling of peace, contentedness…I literally felt it in my veins. I couldn't keep from smiling.

Everything felt okay now.

"I heard what happened earlier with Rosalie." He said softly, the way he was lightly stroking my back half putting me to sleep. "Don't listen to her. You're as much a part of this family as I am."

"Will she get better?" I sighed, looking into his gorgeous, welcoming green eyes. He felt that I belonged. That's all I really needed, but it would just make things easier if everybody else felt the same.

"Rosalie? It'll take years. She'll only really start once you have the ring."

"Mm okay." I agreed, cuddling closer into him. "So long as we can do this every time she's mean to me, take your time."

Edward chuckled, and kissed my lips lightly.

"You would say that." He smiled, and kissed the base of my ear. "Whatever you like. I'm yours."


YAY THEY FINALLY DID IT! For all of you wait-until-marriage-people out there, too bad, it's about time they did it. And for all of you older readers, I wasn't about to make it graphic, so this is safe for younger readers. Reviews would be greatly appreciated, as they always are! p.s. sorry for the shortness of this one too.