A/N: I apologize for making you guys wait for this! I hope you aren't disappointed. We get a look at Bella's past and the relationship she had with James that I'm sure you guys were all curious about.

Thanks as always goes out to my beta, Jessica. She's awesome and makes me laugh with her comments. :)


Bella POV

I stood rooted to the spot in the living room where Edward had left me, my fingers resting on my still tingling lips. When he'd said he was answering a challenge, he hadn't been kidding. Although if the losing meant I got kissed like that more often I was more than willing to raise the white flag and throw myself at his feet.

No, wait. That's not me talking, that the hormones. I shook my head to clear it and glanced back over my shoulder to make sure Edward had disappeared up the stairs before following and heading to my own room. I didn't even realize how distracted I was until I tried to walk through the wall beside my door instead of the door itself. Normally I would chalk that up to my usual clumsiness but even I couldn't go that far into denial.

I showered and crawled into bed, trying desperately to get my thoughts - and my hormones - under control before I went to sleep. I knew better than to let myself get so distracted by a guy; after all, the last time had ended on such a wonderful note. I shuddered at even the briefest thought of James and settled back against my pillows with one arm curled under my head, the other resting across my stomach.

James had seemed so amazing when I'd first met him at the end of my sophomore year in high school. Of course, I'd been young and stupid then and just the thought that a college boy wanted anything to do with me made me giddy and blind to common sense. Especially since the only guy who'd ever shown any interest in me just happened to be my best friend.

Jake and I tried the dating thing but eventually left the whole idea for dead when it we discovered it was far too awkward. But it brought us closer in a way I don't think we would have gotten if we had never tried. Of course, if we hadn't, I might not have been so keen to hook up with James. I seem to remember feeling the need to prove to myself that someone I hadn't known most of my life could be interested.

The first weeks were probably some of the best of my life; James had been so attentive, so romantic and best of all, a complete gentleman. He didn't even initiate our first kiss until we'd been together for almost a month. I'd thought he was perfect and, as every sixteen year old girl does at some point, I imagined us married with kids living happily ever after.

Of course, that was all before I got to know the real James, the one behind the gentlemanly façade. And I finally figured out why his friends would have barely suppressed laughing fits when he would act all sweet and understanding. Two weeks after our first kiss, James managed to convince me - through vows of love and promises of forever - that we were ready to progress our relationship into the physical. While I wouldn't go so far as to say that I would have done anything he asked, I did want to make him happy and I let him make up my mind for me.

After he took my virginity, he changed. Very subtle differences but differences that, looking back now, were plain as day to anyone who wasn't me. I glued myself to his side, neglecting my friends at his gentle insistence that he couldn't bear to be away from me for a single moment. I still couldn't believe I fell for that line.

He started taking me to parties around various campuses. James had friends at Athens, Auburn, Savannah and of course his own campus, Georgia State. I didn't find out until later - much, much later - that these parties were more like business transactions. He was the go-between for the universities for drugs, stolen everything and even one or two illegal alcoholic beverages.

At first I enjoyed the parties. James was always careful to keep me away from his business deals and for a short while I never even suspected. It was the fifth party he took me to that I had my first drink and that same night I ended up on the beer pong table dancing shirtless between two guys who were a lot less drunk than I was. When James finished his deals and found me, I thought he was going to be pissed, but he just pulled me off the table, said something about how sexy I was, then took me home and showed me a few new positions we hadn't tried yet.

After that it was parties every weekend and sometimes during the week. If I came home at all, I was usually hammered. Esme would always be waiting for me to walk in the door with a look of saddened disapproval that tore at my heart every time I saw it. She never said anything, never tried to ground me for it, just told me to be careful and made sure I knew I could call her if I ever needed anything.

After everything was over and done with, some people criticized her for her lack of reprimand but I knew that if she had tried to punish me or lecture me, I would've rebelled and probably moved out. Looking back, I knew she was just trying to make sure I stayed under her roof where she could keep an eye on me. And I also knew that if I had moved out then, I probably would've ended up a lot worse off then I was. It was bad enough when I actually did move out.

At the four month mark for our relationship, James mentioned that he wanted to share something with me. I was thrilled, wanting him to know he could trust me with anything. The night of our four month anniversary, I tried Ecstasy for the first time. The sex that night was amazing but other than remembering how even the smallest touch felt like electricity shooting through me, I can't recall much of that night. I just remember I woke the next morning with the first of what would become a steady stream of bruises.

From ecstasy I moved on to cocaine, heroin, PCP, LSD; you name and I probably tried it. James started using me a guinea pig to make sure the stuff he was buying and selling wasn't laced with anything. It didn't take long, between the drugs and the alcohol, for me to become completely dependent on him.

When we'd been together for almost a year I moved out, having gotten into a fight with Esme when she begged me to stop seeing James. He'd always been a perfect gentleman around her but she was far from stupid and had connected the dots between when I started my downhill slide and when I started dating him. When I finally came to my senses, I told her she should've just called the cops and had me picked up as a runaway. But she was far too nice and cared too much for how that would affect my future. She told me later that she trusted I would find my way home. I didn't have the heart to tell her I didn't agree.

I moved in with James and cemented his control over me. He had long since turned abusive, starting with slaps during sex and escalating to shoving me or hitting me - always careful to leave the bruises where no one else could see - whenever I disagreed with him or didn't do what he wanted.

He started distancing himself from me, though in my current state I never even noticed. He started pawning me off on his friends for days on end and, while he encouraged them to make me do whatever they wanted, he made it clear that 'whatever they wanted' did not include sex. He may not have cared about me but I was his possession and no one fucked - literally - with his possessions but him. So, I was put to work cleaning, doing laundry, whatever his friends could think up. And my reward was a hit of whatever drug James was letting me use for the week.

Then one day - after James actually let me sleep in his apartment for the night - I woke up and he was gone. His clothes, necessities and even his secret drug stash was gone. I sat in the bed that still smelled like sex for what seemed like hours before I started craving a hit. I couldn't even remember what the drug of the week had been but I craved it bad. A few hours of searching the house turned up nothing and I was jumping between being about to cry and being furious.

The next thing I remember, I was walking down the sidewalk towards one of the many houses we'd gone to for a party, the freezing rain soaking through my thin shirt and jeans and into my bones. I was shivering from both the cold and the beginnings of withdrawal by the time I knocked on the door. I must've knocked for a while because I remember my knuckles being scraped all to hell from the wood of the door, but no one ever answered.

I wandered around for a while, trying to remember where else we'd gone, but I couldn't for the life me recall anything but the need to get something in my system to calm the shakes. I finally collapsed a few hours later from the cold and exhaustion, among other things. That was how Jake found me; I'd manage to end up three blocks away from his aunt's house and he was driving by on his way home when he spotted me. It had long since stopped raining but it was still under fifty degrees outside and I was still wearing wet clothes.

The next few days were a big blur in my memory, with a few brief moments of lucidity where I remember seeing Jake's face, holding his hand, feeling his lips against my fingers. I remember seeing Esme a few times but those memories were blurred in with the rest. When I finally woke up I was in the hospital and had been for about two weeks.

My time in the hospital was enough to clear out my drug dependency, though Esme and Jake both kept a close eye on me for a long time. Even now, I still felt an itching for something not quite legal, not quite safe. But I swore to myself, after I watched the pain I put my family through, that I would never touch the stuff again. I was reluctant to even take aspirin and forget prescriptions. I actually had a note in my medical file that said I couldn't take anything stronger than Motrin. Oxycontin, Vicodin and Percocet had been a few of the many drugs I'd abused.

I took a shuddering breath and drew myself out of the memories, reaching up to brush away the tears that had gathered at the corners of my eyes. It was still hard to remember, hard to accept that I had hurt my friends and Esme the way that I had. And it was even harder to admit that James had never loved me like I'd thought. I saw it as a betrayal that I let happen and it made me angry and sad all at the same time whenever I thought about it.

It was because of James that I was reluctant to trust Edward, although my body seemed to be throwing caution to the wind every time he was around. I hated comparing Edward to James, but I wasn't so blind anymore that I couldn't see the similarities. Of course, what had been a façade with James seemed sincere with Edward. Then again, I wasn't exactly the best judge of character anymore, though I used to be pretty good at it. It said worlds, though, that both Jake and Sam seemed to like him. They hated James from the first time they met him. I've learned to trust my friends' judgment.

I rolled over onto my side and curled my legs up as the tears started to flow freely down my face. This was the reason I hated thinking about James, the things he did to me, and the things I did for him. I refused to lay all the blame on his shoulders, though, and I think that was part of the reason why it hurt so much. I'd always been prideful and knowing that it was my own stupidity that caused most of my problems just hurt like hell.

I pulled the covers up around my shoulders and tried to think of something else. The last thing I wanted was to dream about James and that was exactly what would happen if I didn't get something else on my mind. My thoughts flashed to the man down the hall from me and that kiss that had left me breathless an hour earlier. Remembering what had brought on the kiss, and the entire evening in general, had me smiling through my fading tears.

I fell asleep to Country Man playing in my head and the image of Edward being pelted with peanuts for being a 'city boy'.

**

I gasped as lips caressed down my throat, hesitating over my pulse to taste the sensitive flesh there. A warm hand slid up my shirt, pulling the fabric up my body. I arched my body up into his, feeling him flush against me, drawing a moan from my throat. I heard a sultry chuckle as he forced me back down to lay flat, much to my disappointment.

"Shh, patience." The husky whisper clenched things low in my body and I whimpered. Patience was never my strong point.

He pulled back just enough to remove my shirt and toss it to the floor. His attention turned to the tops of my breasts visible above my bra, trailing open mouthed kisses across them. I moaned as he pulled the cups down and took one nipple in his mouth, sucking gently while his other hand pinched and massaged my other breast.

"Please, Edward." I breathed, lifting my hips against his, wanting more of him.

The hand that was massaging my breast moved up to my throat and applied pressure, constricting my airway and opening my eyes wide. I moved my hands to his, trying to remove his hand from my throat. He lifted his head but it wasn't Edward looking down at me.

"Do you really think anyone else is going to want you, Bella?" James asked, that cocky smirk on his face, the one that said he knew what was his and would use it as he saw fit.

His fingers tightened around my throat and I closed my eyes, trying to deny what they were seeing as tears started falling down into my hair. "Please, no," I choked out, scratching at his hand, trying desperately to make him let me go.

He laughed in my ear and loosened his hand enough so I could breathe. I took a gasping breath that turned into a whimper as his free hand undid my jeans and yanked them down my hips. I started thrashing around, trying to dislodge him but he had the advantage of strength and position. He starting tugging on my panties and I screamed.

**

I sat up in bed as the scream left my throat, my body covered in sweat and my breath coming so fast I was already starting to see black spots in my vision. My hands flew up to my throat as I checked for the tender spots that hadn't been there in almost two years. I screamed again as my door burst open and Edward came in, his eyes darting around the room before he came over to sit on the edge of the bed beside me.

"Bella?" He brought his hands up to my shoulders when I didn't respond, giving him a blank look as my brain tried not to put James' face on him. I flinched back from his touch but he persisted and, once he had a grip, he shook me gently enough to get my attention. "Bella, what's wrong?"

I responded to his strong voice, to the command there, before my brain had processed the fact that I was actually speaking. "I had a nightmare. James… he was… he…" My breath hitched and the floodgates opened up. I had enough sense of pride left to turn away from him when the tears started coming. I sobbed into my hands, my body shaking from a mix of the strength of my sobs and the illogical fear that James had actually been about to…

I felt gentle hands on my back and then on my arms, turning me around and pulling me against a hard chest. Edward wrapped his arms around me, fingers stroking my messy hair back. He murmured soothing words in my ear and his voice was so different from the one in my nightmare that I began to calm, my body crying itself out fairly quickly. I had given James enough tears that I just didn't have that many more for him.

When I finally quieted, Edward pulled back enough to look at me, running his thumbs over my cheeks to wipe away the remaining tears. He dipped his head down so he could catch my gaze, his hands on either side of my face keeping me from turning away. My heart beat faster at his restraining touch but his hands were gentle whereas James' had always been hurtful, forceful. The realization of the difference calmed my pulse, but only just.

Edward must have noticed my wide eyes or just decided I wasn't going to look away because he dropped his hands to my shoulders. "Do you want to talk about it?"

I took a deep breath, ignoring how bad it shook going down, and shook my head. "James is my ex." Wait, didn't I just indicate that I didn't want to talk about it? That's what the head shake meant, right? Apparently, my mouth had other ideas. I spilled everything, even telling him about before James, with me and Jake. It seemed like once I started talking, I couldn't stop.

By the time I got to my dream, he was sitting cross-legged across from me on the bed, our knees almost touching, though mine were still under the covers. I almost told him that I had thought it was him kissing on me in the dream but I stopped myself, not particularly wanting to embarrass myself quite that much. I was trembling again when I finished talking and Edward pulled me into another embrace. I buried my face against his neck, inhaling his scent and committing it to memory. His scent would forever be associated with sanctuary in my head, simply because he'd sat and listened and hadn't judged.

It was then, while I was enjoying the warmth from his body and the safety in his arms, that I realized he was shirtless and I was wearing an old white tank top with no bra. I pulled back, a blush coloring my cheeks, and crossed my arms over my chest, hopefully hiding the fact that I was bra-less. Edward started to say something then just chuckled, drawing my attention back to him.

"I didn't mean to embarrass you, Bella." He reached out and brushed my hair back behind my ear. "I didn't think to grab a shirt."

I frowned at him. "How did you know that's why I was blushing?"

He shrugged and ran his hand through his already sleep tousled hair. "First time you saw me shirtless you blushed. And seeing as how neither of us did anything particularly embarrassing when you pulled away, I guessed." I didn't bother to elaborate that the fact that I was wearing a practically see-through shirt attributed to my embarrassment. He was observant enough to have guessed as much already.

"I'm sorry." I sighed and slid out of the bed, padding barefoot into the bathroom and biting back a gasp at my appearance. My eyes were only slightly puffy from all the crying but my cheeks were still flushed and my hair was kind of wild. The sleep tousled look may have dripped sex appeal on Edward but on me it just screamed 'BRUSH ME!'

I ran a brush through my hair and brushed my teeth, picking up my discarded bra from the night before and putting it on before I went back into my room. Edward was still sitting on the bed but he'd moved until his back was against the headboard and his legs were stretched out in front of him. And he was now wearing a shirt. I must've taken longer in the bathroom than I'd thought.

Edward patted the spot beside him, the spot I'd been in earlier, and I crawled hesitantly back into the bed. He wrapped an arm around my shoulders and pulled me against him with a gentle pressure. I ended up with my head on his chest and my body turned to the side until I was comfortable, though I was still tense. His fingers in my hair did wonders to soothe me but the dream and the memories were still too raw to completely relax.

"You're not going to be able to go back to sleep tonight, are you?" he asked, his soft voice caressing my ears and making me sigh even as I shook my head.

"No. You should probably go back to bed, though. I don't want to keep you up when you've got to work tomorrow."

I felt him shrug, the movement restricted by my weight on his chest. "Anything I need to do tomorrow can be done another day. I'm too comfortable to move right now."

I smiled before I turned my head enough to look up at him. "Well, fine, but I can't promise to be entertaining company."

He gave me that crooked smile of his and let his head fall back against the headboard. "How about we let me be the judge of that, hmm?"

I laughed softly and conceded. It was awkward at first, talking to him about everyday things with my dream still fresh on my mind. Every time he would laugh at something I said, I would remember how my body felt when my dream Edward chuckled at me and when he would brush my hair back, or caress my cheek, I would remember the touch that lit my body on fire.

We talked until the sun came up when we finally got up and went downstairs. I made us biscuits and gravy and added eggs and hash browns when both of our stomachs grumbled at about the same time, causing us both to laugh. We ate in a comfortable silence, both of us too busy stuffing food into our mouths to worry about conversation.

Edward went upstairs after breakfast after I insisted I was perfectly capable, and more than willing, of cleaning the few dishes that had been used, by myself. Once the dishes were clean and drying beside the sink, I headed upstairs myself and took another shower, wanting to wash away the last of the dream.

I dressed in jeans that were so faded from the wash that they were almost white and had enough holes in them that Esme kept trying to convince me to make them into cut-off shorts. I had withstood her nagging so far, my love for the old pair of jeans far outweighing the desire to please Esme, especially since she was mostly joking about it.

A faded black Chevrolet t-shirt that hugged my upper body and my scuffed up hiking boots later, and I was finally completely comfortable. Whenever I felt insecure, I just dressed in my most comfortable clothes and let my deep South roots take hold. A quick brush through my hair left it falling in barely there waves down my back and I was finished.

I was halfway down the stairs when the sweet melody of Bach met my ears. I couldn't have placed the piece if my life depended on it but I recognized the composer. Ten years in chorus, with the music room right next door to the band room, made sure I could at least recognize that much.

I eased into the study, not wanting to distract Edward as he was playing, and stopped dead in my tracks. He was bent over the keys, a look of concentration on his face as his fingers glided over the ivory. I stood there and listened to him play until he looked up at me and smiled, a brief twitch of lips that broke the concentrated look and made it obvious how much he was enjoying himself.

The song came to a graceful end as I picked up my guitar from its stand beside the piano and went to sit in the chair closest to him. We spent the rest of the afternoon playing with each other, finding songs we both knew and liked and finding interesting ways to compliment our instruments with each others'.

Esme came home in time to start making dinner, despite my protests that I would gladly cook, and we all sat down to dinner at six-thirty. Edward received a phone call halfway through dinner and excused himself to take it. I didn't see him for the rest of the night and assumed his work had called him away for the evening.

**

The next two weeks practically flew by for me, the days meshing together like a movie on fast-forward. After I spilled my guts about James, my relationship - what there was of it - with Edward took off. We spent most of our waking hours together, whenever he wasn't working and I wasn't off doing whatever. Whatever happened between Edward and myself, I would not let it get in the way of my friends or my life, not like I did with James.

Edward stayed fairly busy during the week so while he was doing his thing in Atlanta, Jake and I would work on our music, or we'd meet up with the crew and go out to lunch. There were still a few of our friends in school, they'd be graduating this year, so occasionally we'd meet up with them at the school for lunch and just chill out for half an hour.

The end of the week, the work week anyway, found me fighting through Atlanta rush hour traffic in my old truck, my patience wearing thin and my temper trying to convince me that the little import in front of me would be nothing more than a speed bump and wouldn't even damage my bumper. Edward had called and said someone backed into his rental and he wouldn't be able to get another one until morning but until then, he needed a ride home.

I pulled into the parking lot of Alexi Laboratories nearly two and a half hours after Edward had called, the traffic having been especially bad with it being Friday and the start of the weekend. This was the whole reason why I tried to avoid venturing into Atlanta on Fridays, at least during rush hour. It was enough to give even a saint second thoughts about murder.

I didn't see Edward in the parking lot, it was hot after all, so I parked and got out of the truck, heading into the air conditioned lobby of the building. I glanced around as I walked toward the receptionist's desk, the young woman behind the desk giving me a full, disapproving once over. Looking down I could see why; I'd been out with the horses for most of the day and my dark jeans were covered in dirt and there was a fresh hole in the knee. I'd managed to change my shirt, so at least that was presentable, although a tight t-shirt with low-slung, baggy jeans and a 'G.R.I.T.S.' belt buckle probably wouldn't be presentable here even on a casual day.

I finally reached the desk and leaned my elbows on the polished wood surface. "I'm looking for Edward Cullen." I cursed the accent that bled through my words. Of course it would pick now to make an appearance. "Is he still here?"

The look she was giving me changed from outright disapproval to mild curiosity. "Can I get your name?" At least her words weren't as bitchy as her expression had been. Of course, being a classy receptionist she probably practiced polite. I should probably tell her she failed.

"Bella Swan."

She picked up the phone at her elbow and spoke to someone on the other end, passing my name over and waiting for a response. When she hung up she looked up at me with a polite smile on her face, mask back in place. "He'll be right out. You can have a seat over there while you wait." She indicated a section of seats at the far end of the lobby.

I moved back a few steps until I reached the wall and leaned back against it, crossing my arms over my stomach and propping one dirty boot on the pristine white wall. I couldn't help the spiteful action, most of my restraint already being used in keeping my mouth shut. But I couldn't stop the flutter of glee caused by the almost panicked look she gave my foot. Bitch should get with the program; she was in the south, not some high rise business in New York or something. Wiping dirt off a wall wasn't that far beneath her.

We shared a look that told her, plain as day, that I'd done it deliberately before Edward emerged from the elevator behind and to the side of the desk. He had his suit jacket folded over his arm and a briefcase in his other hand. When he saw me he smiled, transferring the briefcase to the hand under the jacket. I pushed away from the wall with a small smile of my own and met him halfway across the lobby. He slung his arm around my shoulders as I slid my hands in my pockets to prevent from doing something embarrassing in front of the receptionist.

Once we were outside I looked up at him with a smirk on my lips. "Isn't it bad form for such a high class businessman to be so closely associated with an uneducated country girl?"

Edward looked down at me as we reached the truck and used his arm around my shoulders to turn me around to face him. He backed me up against the passenger side of the truck, his hand braced beside my head. "I have enough money to throw around that I can associate with whomever I want." His words sounded serious but the smile tugging at his lips gave lie to his tone.

I played like I was offended. "Oh, I see. Nothing about how you don't care what they think. Just 'I have enough money'." I shook my head in mock annoyance. "City boys."

He grinned and leaned in, brushing his lips across mine before pulling away, his eyes closed as though he were savoring that brief kiss. "Mm, that's worth a few unsightly comments."

I arched a brow up at him and wrapped one hand around the back of his neck, pulling him down to me. With mere millimeters between our lips, I dropped my voice to a husky whisper and said, "What about this one?" Then I pressed my lips to his and kissed him as if the world were ending. He moaned and pressed his body flush against mine, pinning me to my truck, his hand moving from beside my head to tangle in my hair. I sighed when his tongue parted my lips and I felt the kiss all the way down to my curling toes, my body melting against his.

He was the one who pulled back, reluctantly breaking the kiss, his thumb caressing my cheek as he looked down into my eyes. "That's worth a lot more." I was pleased to hear that his voice was deeper and he was breathless. Glad to know I wasn't the only one affected by that kiss.

I smiled up at him and eased out from between him and the truck and went around to the driver's side while he stood there regaining his composure. Once inside the truck he tried to discreetly adjust himself, sighing softly in relief when he was comfortable. I hid an oddly satisfied grin as I turned the engine over, the roar echoing through the mostly empty parking lot.

The ride out of the city was quiet between us, Edward's arm stretched over the back of the bench seat, his fingers resting against the back of my neck, occasionally playing with my hair and sending tingles down my spine. When we left the city behind us, Edward slid across the seat, pulling his leg up and turning his body to face mine. I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye as his arm went around my shoulders completely.

"So what happened to your car?" I knew exactly what he was about to do and I needed to get him talking, change the subject, kick him out of the truck, something, anything. The look in his eyes when he got closer said better than words what was on his mind and it was far from innocent.

He leaned forward, brushing his lips just below my ear, making me inhale sharply. "Some jerk in a big truck didn't know how to park. Ended up parking one tire on my hood." His hand moved to my knee and started inching itself up my thigh, fingers curled around the inside.

I shifted and swallowed, trying to keep my voice steady as his lips moved down my neck. "I thought you said someone backed into you."

He bit down gently at the base of my neck where it met my shoulder and I gasped, my eyes fluttering closed briefly before I remembered that I was driving. "He did. He was trying to back into the parking space. Went too far." His hand was halfway up my thigh and his fingers started massaging my thigh, the added pressure combining with his lips on my throat to leave me fighting for a steady breath.

"Edward, please. I can't…" I had to stop and swallow, fighting to keep a moan behind my lips when he bit down on my neck again. "…concentrate." I felt him smile against my skin.

"Maybe I don't want you to concentrate." His voice rumbled against my throat and I groaned again.

"I have to." His hand was now resting on the crease where thigh met hip, his fingertips the only thing even near my center where I was suddenly dying for him to touch. I felt my hips lift involuntarily, as much as they could while I was driving, and he chuckled, moving his hand back down my thigh.

I was torn between disappointment and gratitude when he removed his lips from my throat, resting his chin on my shoulder, his fingers playing with my hair. "Are you sure about that?"

I swallowed hard and nodded, opening my mouth to tell him that if he didn't let me be until we got home, we'd end up in a ditch somewhere. What came out was simply, "No." Traitorous, betraying mouth.

Edward laughed softly and moved his hand until his fingers were doing that barely touching thing again, his palm resting up against my hip. I bit down on my bottom lip, trying to use the pain to help me think. Using just the tips of his fingers, he applied just enough pressure over me so that I could feel him there and I couldn't stop the whimper that escaped my lips.

I felt his lips brush across my ear before he spoke, his words pitched low in what I suspected was a deliberate attempt to make me melt. "Think I can make you come through your jeans?" He succeeded with flying colors.

Once I processed his words, though, my arousal deflated enough that I could concentrate on the road. He must have sensed it because his hand moved down my thigh where it rested and he lifted his head. "What's wrong?"

I bit the inside of my cheek as I blushed, not really wanting to go into this right now. Of course, now I could use the excuse of driving not to have to look at him. I sighed. Now or never. "I don't think you could make me come at all." I had to fight the urge to stutter over my words but couldn't stop the quick glance I shot his way. I had to see his face.

It looked like he couldn't decide on an expression for a few seconds but finally he settled on curious. "And why is that?"

I took a deep breath, tightening my grip on the steering wheel. "You remember how I said… about James… and the drugs?" I saw him nod out of the corner of my eye. "Well, ever since then, I haven't been able to…" I cleared my throat before continuing. "Not even with… mechanical help." And I figured if a vibrator couldn't get me off, nothing could.

Edward was frowning, but it was more of a thoughtful frown than anything. "Has anyone else tried?"

I blushed again. "Ah, no." I wanted to dip my head, hide behind my hair, but there was that whole driving thing. "You're the first guy I've so much as kissed since… him."

I turned into the entrance to my driveway and felt Edward's fingers brush my hair back, his lips press a kiss to the spot below my ear that sent immediate tingles down my spine. "Do you want to know what I think? About why you have that problem?" His words were soft, soothing. Again, I was comforted by the fact that he wasn't judging me.

I nodded as I slowed down over a particularly rough patch of drive. "I think it's a trust issue. It could have been the drugs; having sex while on some kind of a high will make enjoying sex sober a lot more difficult. But it's been over a year since James left, so I think it's a trust issue." He rubbed his hand over top of my thigh. Again, soothing.

"Climax is a release of control and I don't think you can bring yourself to do that. You lost control with James and you don't want to risk doing it again." By now his words had dropped to a whisper and my jaw was clenched against tears that were threatening to make an appearance. James had done a lot more to leave his mark than just give me some bad dreams.

I parked the truck in front of the house and killed the engine before turning to Edward. "That makes a lot more sense then anything I've been able to think of."

He reached out and brushed back the hair I tried to hide behind. "Can I ask you something with a promise that you'll at least consider it?" I frowned, confused, but nodded anyway. He searched my eyes for a moment before taking one of my hands in both of his, rubbing his thumb in circles on the back of it. "Will you let me try?"

Another frown. "Try…?" And then the light bulb clicked on. "Oh, to make me…" Edward nodded, completely serious. I blushed so hard I was almost dizzy from it, clearing my throat to make sure my voice was clear. "When?"

He offered a small, encouraging smile in the face of my embarrassment. "Whenever you're ready."

At that I just nodded and got out of the truck. I followed Edward up the steps, moving around him when we got to the door so I could unlock it. Esme greeted us both before I made my escape to my room. I had a lot to think about.


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