A/N: I have an admission to make. When I first wrote AWNP, it was meant as an O/S and so Bella and Edward going to Brown was an offhanded decision to make. Now that they are in this multi-chaptered story, I want to say that I will be taking a lot of artistic license with Brown and the surrounding areas because quite frankly, I've never been there.
I've always tried to write only what I know, so this will chafe, and you will probably not be provided with very in-depth or accurate representations of the school or the town. It is my hope that it won't affect the quality of the story, but if you've been to Brown, please forgive me:)
WARNING! There's some major dirt ahead. Just be on guard if you're worried about that;)
That being said, here we go...things will start moving along from here on.
Moving day. It was finally here, and I was looking forward to it, albeit with a little bit of uncertainty where the future was concerned.
Edward and I had already agreed to rent an apartment near campus, in an area mainly populated by the professors. Based on the descriptions and the pictures we'd viewed online, I knew what to expect. It was a large, open loft layout. The only separate area was the bathroom, but for the most part, the kitchen, living room, and bedroom would basically be one huge common space. Apparently there were a lot of professors who lived in the same apartment building, so it was my hope that Edward would be able to meet some of his fellow faculty and perhaps even form some friendships.
I hadn't admitted this to him, but I was beginning to wonder where his friends were. As far as I knew, I'd only heard him take a personal call a handful of times, and several of those calls had been from his mother.
This reminded me of Elizabeth's behavior at the brunch. I shuddered as I fervently hoped that she wouldn't show up to help us pack up the moving truck today. Though, truth be told, she didn't seem like the type of woman who would be willing to haul boxes, so I knew I was probably safe from another awkward encounter.
I taped the last box of books shut and sat back on my heels as I looked around my bare bedroom. I couldn't really describe how I felt in this moment. I felt excited, apprehensive, and depressed. I was leaving my childhood behind, and the only house I'd ever known. My new apartment would just house Edward and me. I wouldn't be able to walk to my father's old easy chair and sit in it when I wanted to feel close to him. I couldn't stand at the window over the kitchen sink and stare out into the backyard like my mother used to do when I was a child playing outside under her watchful gaze. I wouldn't know the quirks and qualities of the new place the way I knew this house. It was like an old friend in more ways than one.
When I walked up the squeaky stairs, the sound wrapped around me like a security blanket. When the birds ate at the bird feeder my father and I had made in his tool shed the summer when I was 10, I knew his spirit was with me.
All of that would stay here, but I would be gone. I felt like a deserter in a way. After my parents died and I imagined going off to college, I hadn't imagined that I would still feel like I was leaving them behind, but I did. I felt like I was saying goodbye to them, even though they'd been dead for years.
I stared down at the faded floral carpet beneath me and felt the tears slip down my cheeks. I wanted so much to be happy right now, to look forward to starting my new life at a new school with my new husband, but all I could think about was how small and scared I felt to leave behind everything I'd ever known.
I heard someone come into my room and looked up to see Edward looking down at me with concern. "Are you okay?" he asked.
I quickly wiped the tears away and squared my shoulders. "Yeah," I lied, "I'm just gonna miss this place, y'know?"
He nodded and reached down to pick up the last box. "I know what you mean. When I left for school, I was totally unprepared for how much I missed home. I thought I'd just be so happy to be out on my own that I wouldn't think twice about my parents or my old room, but I did. I got pretty homesick every once in a while."
His words helped me relax a little bit, but I wasn't sure that I could explain how I was feeling to him without sounding like an emotional freak. I stood up and brushed off my knees. "Are we almost done?" I asked.
He nodded and turned to take the box downstairs. "My parents just showed up. I'm going to apologize in advance, because I think my mom is already three sheets to the wind. I don't know what's gotten into her, but she's never been like this before."
I shook my head and followed him down the stairs. "It's okay, Edward. She's probably just going through a really hard time. Cut her some slack. Hopefully she'll work things out."
"I hope so," he snorted. "I'm worried about my dad though. He's always been the type to lock things inside, so it's hard to gauge how he's doing."
Not unlike someone else I know, I replied silently. Aloud, I said, "Well, just be there for them. You never know, maybe they'll reconcile."
He shook his head. "I'll be glad if they don't, honestly. It's bizarre to even say that, I know, but still...I can see now that they haven't been happy together for quite a while now. I think it'll be good for them to split up and try to find happiness apart."
We reached the front door and I followed him out onto the porch. Carlisle was talking to Esme by the back of the rental truck, and Elizabeth was loitering near the trunk of a black Mercedes. She looked grumpy and aloof at the same time, but her physical appearance was just as elegant and tidy as the last time I'd seen her.
When Carlisle turned and spotted us, he walked over to take the box from Edward. "Hey, son," he said with a smile I'd seen on Edward's face many times. He took the box and pushed it into the back of the moving truck. Edward thanked him and went over to pull his mom into a hug. She was stiff and awkward for a moment before she relaxed enough to hug him back.
Watching Edward trying to comfort his parents made my heart ache. I didn't know how to help him, though.
Esme walked over to stand next to me. She wasn't on crutches anymore, so I didn't feel quite so bad about leaving. We regarded the Cullens in silence until she whispered, "I've never seen a married couple more mismatched than those two."
"What do you mean?" I asked, surprised.
"Just look at them. She's gorgeous, but she's also frigid. I'd be willing to bet she hasn't had sex with him since Edward was born," she whispered.
"Aunt Esme!" I protested.
She rolled her eyes. "C'mon, Bella, it's not that shocking. But that man, Carlisle, is all repressed sexuality and it's killing him. I wouldn't be surprised if he started screwing around on her. Not that I condone adultery, mind you, but she probably made him feel like a pig for wanting to do the nasty. Poor guy will probably explode one day and bone the first woman in sight," she said conversationally.
My jaw dropped and my eyes went wide. She laughed and shook her head. "I'm not dead, Bella. I know a sexy man when I see one, and that one is like a volcano just waiting to go off."
I felt a little queasy at that. The last thing I wanted to think about was my new father-in-law "going off" on some random woman. Gross.
Eventually, the last items were loaded into the truck and we hitched Edward's Volvo to the back. He said goodbye to his parents as I said goodbye to Esme. Esme and I both cried, but she told me she'd come visit once we were settled in and I felt a little better.
Carlisle gave me a warm hug and told me to look after Edward, but Elizabeth merely waved from her spot by the car. She looked like she couldn't wait to get out of here, and I didn't really blame her.
With nothing left to do, we climbed into the cab of the truck and drove off.
There was a moment of awkwardness and I knew we both felt it. Here we were, two people who were married, driving off toward a new life together. In that moment, I was blindsided by the feeling that I could never possibly know someone well enough to promise to stay with them for my entire life.
"So," he said.
"So," I echoed.
"I figure we'll stop in Montana tonight," he informed me.
"Cool," I said.
We lapsed back into silence as I stared out the window. This was weird.
"You okay over there?" he asked finally.
I looked over at him and forced an awkward smile. "Yeah, I'm just a little overwhelmed. Moving is a big deal."
He nodded. "I know, but we'll have each other. Don't worry, once we get settled in and you start classes, you'll make friends in no time."
Thinking about making new friends made me long for my best friends. Alice and Rosalie were already down in San Francisco, settled and happy with their boyfriends and their schools. We talked every week, but it was nothing like it had been before.
"What about you?" I asked impulsively.
"What do you mean?" he asked, looking perplexed.
"What about your friends?" I asked.
The perplexed look was replaced with one of careful calm. "I suppose I'll make some new friends, too."
I huffed and looked out the window again. "Why haven't I met any of your friends?"
I hadn't meant to sound so bitchy, but I couldn't take it back now.
His mouth opened but nothing came out. Finally, he cleared his throat and I waited to hear what he'd say. "I don't really have that many friends, actually. The ones I do have live in other states or countries."
I was surprised. "You mean you don't have any friends here?"
He shook his head. "No. I keep in touch with the guys I met in college, but that's about it. I just don't really have the time to go out and make new friends," he said dismissively.
This bothered me. I couldn't imagine not having any friends to go out and do things with. In the weeks since Rosalie and Alice had been gone, I'd gone crazy wishing I could go do something with them.
Edward was so quiet and reserved, but I wouldn't have considered him shy. He kept to himself most of the time, but he was also confident and assertive when he needed to be, so I just couldn't see why he wouldn't have more friends. It made me kind of sad for him, actually.
We drove for a few hours with the radio keeping us company before we stopped to eat. I offered to drive, but Edward said I could drive the next day. I shrugged and ate, not really all that eager to drive anyway.
The road stretched out in front of us, and the hours felt like an eternity. We ran out of things to talk about after about six hours. I fell asleep for a time, and when I woke, the sky was getting darker. "How far are we?" I asked.
He looked tired but alert. "We just passed through Idaho. We'll stop in about an hour and get a room for the night."
I sat back against the seat and turned to stare at him. "Edward?"
I thought about what I wanted to say. "Do you think we're crazy?"
He looked at me quickly before returning his eyes to the road. "Why?"
I shrugged. "Because...because I'm only 18 and you're...not...and because we're married and we're moving to the other side of the country and..."
He smiled, but it was a bit sad around the edges as if he knew that he'd have to answer this kind of question often. "So what if we are? Who says we have to be sane? Why can't we just be who we are, do what makes us happy, and let everyone just worry about their own problems?"
That shut me up. "I guess you're right," I conceded eventually, though I didn't feel quite as philosophical about all of this as he seemed to.
I watched the dark peaks pass in the night. The sky was clear enough to see the stars. I was reminded of car trips I used to take with my parents; the car was always so safe and warm, and I couldn't resist falling asleep inside that feeling of security and love.
I came awake suddenly when the truck engine turned off. Edward smiled at me and leaned over to kiss my forehead. "Let me just go check in, and I'll come back with the key, okay?"
I nodded and smiled at him sleepily. He grinned back and hopped out of the truck to walk into the main office. He looked a bit rumpled and tired, but he still looked damn fine after driving ten hours on the road.
He was back within a couple of minutes and we drove around the back of the tidy little motel to park in front of our room for the night. He grabbed our overnight bags and we walked hand in hand to the door. I looked around the area and appreciated the pretty little flowerbeds that were well tended outside each room. The room itself was also very clean, if a bit shabby. The bedspread had a chintz pattern and the television had that faux wood grain on the sides. A painting of a deer grazing in a meadow hung over the bed and a Bible was on the nightstand.
Edward dropped our bags by the end of the bed and I bent down to dig out my toiletries. His hands landed on my hips and he stepped up behind me, pressing a very impressive erection into my backside. "Are you going to take a shower?" he asked huskily.
I stood up and turned around to face him. "I was thinking about it. Why?"
His smile was dark and devastating. "Good. Now you can't get mad at me for getting you all dirty," he said before he toppled us both down onto the bed.
Sometime later, we were a tangle of sweaty limbs rapidly cooling now that we weren't moving anymore. I rolled over and groaned as my hips protested.
"You okay?" he panted.
"Yeah," I replied. We were quiet for a minute as we came down from the high. Eventually, I got up and grabbed my things to take a shower. I felt so much better than I had this morning. I smiled and looked back at Edward from the bathroom doorway. "Hey, Edward?"
His eyes were closed and he looked completely relaxed, but he peeked at me from one eye. "Yeah?"
"Thanks for getting me all dirty," I said somewhat sarcastically, but the effect was ruined by my sappy smile.
He chuckled and scratched his flat belly. "It was my pleasure."
The next morning, we awoke bright and early to start another day of driving. Edward seemed tense, but when I asked him about it, he mumbled something about mountain passes or whatever so I turned my attention back to my window. The radio station was on NPR and it was starting to get fuzzy. I endured the grating sound of static as long as I could before I reached over and pushed a tape into the tape player.
"Honestly, who even has tape players anymore?" I grumbled.
Edward laughed and raised an eyebrow at me. "Hey, I'll have you know that my neon yellow Walkman was totally rad, okay?"
I looked over at him, aghast. "Neon yellow Walkman? Rad? Who are you and what did you do with my tall, dark, and mysterious husband?" I asked with a raised eyebrow.
Edward froze for a minute and looked over at me with surprise.
"What?" I asked.
He shook his head. "Nothing. It's just, I think that's the first time..." he trailed off before he paused for a beat and went on, "that someone's made fun of my youth." He had an uncomfortable smile on his face and he forced a laugh.
I waited for him to explain his awkward joke, but he kept his eyes on the road. I shifted uncomfortably and he saw the movement from the corner of his eye. "Do we need to stop for a bit?" he asked.
"Yeah, that might be good," I said. I could pretend nothing was wrong if that's how he wanted to play it. "My butt's going numb on this seat." It was a lie, but a decent enough excuse for Edward to take the next exit and stop the truck at a rest stop.
We climbed out and I ran off toward the bathroom in a silly attempt to escape his sudden stiffness. I didn't know what was wrong, or if I was the one to cause it, but I just needed a minute to gather myself back together before we got back in the truck.
When I returned from the bathroom, I found Edward milling around a patch of grass not far from the bathrooms. He had his hands in his pockets and his head was down as he pushed at a pine cone with his foot. I walked up to him and waited for him to see me.
"Ready to go?" he asked, looking completely nonchalant.
I nodded and we headed back to the truck. Once we were back on the highway, I half-turned so that I could lean back against my door facing him. "Wanna play twenty questions?" I asked.
He smirked. "Sure. You want to start?"
"Okay. What was your favorite movie when you were a kid?" I asked. Hopefully the playful question would ease some of the tension vibrating beneath the surface between us.
Sure enough, he grinned and got a far off look in his eye. "Pretty Woman."
I gaped at him. "Seriously? Pretty Woman. That's your final answer?"
He laughed. "Hey, I was a boy. Julia Roberts was hot and she was a hooker, Bella. Surely you can see the appeal. I think I wore out the VHS within a few months."
His smile was relaxed and open now, and I felt myself relax in response. "Okay then. Your turn."
He thought for a moment before he asked, "Well, what was your favorite movie when you were a kid?"
I scoffed. "Cop out! But okay, my favorite movie...probably either the Star Wars trilogyor Dirty Dancing."
Edward's eyebrows shot up. "Seriously?" he mimicked.
"Yup. Star Wars was kind of a thing with my dad and I had together. He took me to see them in the theater when the re-released them. We were both sorely disappointed in the newer ones."
"And what about Dirty Dancing?" he prodded.
I smiled. "My mom and I used to watch it on TV whenever it was on. She knew the dialogue by heart. I think she had a thing for Patrick Swayze. I didn't really see the draw, but the dancing was cool."
Edward smiled and I found myself smiling too. Thinking about my parents in this context made the fond memories less painful. I shook myself from my reverie and said, "Okay, it's my turn. What was your nickname growing up?"
His brow furrowed and I thought he was trying to remember it, but he said, "I didn't have one."
I scoffed. "Everyone's got a nickname when they're a kid. It's the law of puberty or something."
He shrugged. "I guess I escaped that one," he replied.
I sighed and looked out the window. "Your turn," I reminded him after a moment.
"Okay. What's the craziest thing you've ever done with your friends?" he asked.
I considered this for a moment before I decided to be bold and just go for it. "The craziest thing? Probably chasing after you," I replied bravely.
His neck snapped around and I saw his mouth gape open a little. "What?"
I fidgeted for a moment. I was embarrassed now that I'd admitted it. "Um, well, they found out I had a thing for you and they helped me." I rolled my eyes in memory of Alice messing with my school uniform. "It was a total bust."
"Was it?" he asked with a hint of irony in his voice.
I turned to make eye contact with him. "Well, I mean, obviously I ended up with you, but the stupid stuff Alice and Rose convinced me to do didn't help at all. That's all I meant."
He appeared to consider this. "Are you talking about how your uniforms 'magically' shrank?"
I blushed. "Among other things," I mumbled awkwardly.
He smirked and I could see the bolt of lust across his face. "What about the underwear?" he asked. His voice was getting dark now, and I shivered in response.
"Umm...yeah. But I didn't mean to flash you that time. It just happened. I was totally embarrassed," I insisted.
His mouth kicked up in a sexy smirk. He steered the truck to the shoulder of the road and put it in park. We were on an isolated stretch of highway that wound through hills of dry golden grass. Nobody else was around. The only sound was the wind blowing through and over the hills. He turned to look at me with those dark eyes. The last time he'd had this particular look, I was bent over his desk with a paddle against my backside. I squirmed in the seat, trying to ignore the wetness gathering between my thighs.
"Come over here." It wasn't a request so much as it was a command, and my body instantly responded. I unbuckled my seatbelt and slid over the bench seat until I was right next to him. He slung his arm across the back of the seat and looked down at me. "I want you to take off your jeans and lie face down across my lap."
His voice was dark with promise now. I shivered again and nodded as I reached down to unbutton my pants. My hands trembled slightly as I reached up to push the denim down over my legs. My skin felt highly sensitized and I could feel the energy crackling across my skin as he watched me shift to lie across his lap exactly as he requested. The steering wheel wasn't on my back, but it was close enough to limit the room I had to maneuver. I felt Edward's erection pressed against my side as I waited to see what he would do now.
He was silent until I stopped moving completely. "Good girl," he murmured. I gasped at the feel of his hot hand running up under my shirt, across my spine, and down toward the swell of my backside. He kneaded my ass with his strong hand and I bit back a moan. "Good girl," he said again as he pushed my underwear down just enough to expose my ass. "But you weren't always a good girl, now were you?"
I decided to assume his question was rhetorical and waited in silence. He sighed and it was dark and sexual as his hand brushed against my naked skin. I wanted to squirm, or moan, or anything, but this was too good to break the spell.
"No, you weren't. You were a bad girl. You set out to seduce someone with your body. You played games too grown up for a little girl like you. You played with fire, and now you're going to get burned," he said as his hand came down to slap against my ass.
I flinched in surprise. It stung, but it didn't hurt. His hand came down again and again. Between every other smack, his hand would clench and his fingertips would dig in between my legs. I moaned quietly every time. His fingers were so close and yet not close enough. He was teasing me and doing a damn good job of it.
"You wanted to be a dirty little girl for me, didn't you? And now you're my dirty little girl every single night. Was it everything you wanted, the feel of my cock fucking you until you come?"
I couldn't hold back the sounds I was making now. His hand was still punishing me and I could feel my pussy clench with every word. I was so wet that I knew I'd need to change my underwear after this.
"I don't think naughty little girls should get rewarded for bad behavior, do you?" he asked. His voice was deep and gravelly now, and it made me shudder in want and desire.
He spanked me again and his hand came down harder than before. I could feel the skin on my ass prickling and turning hot from the red marks that were undoubtedly forming under his hand.
He stopped abruptly and I felt three of his fingers push into the crease between my thighs so that he could brush up against my pussy. I jerked and moaned, begging him without words to relieve the turbulent lust bubbling under my skin.
Surprisingly, he pulled his fingers back and pulled my underwear back up over my red behind. "Maybe if you're a good girl for the rest of the day, I'll let you come on my cock tonight. Dirty little girls who play games shouldn't always get what they want," he said as he lightly pushed against my shoulders until I sat back on my heels and stared at him.
I looked up at him and it was on the tip of my tongue to beg him for the release I needed so badly, but he stared back at me with those dark golden eyes and waited to see if I would speak.
Eventually, he said, "Go put your seatbelt on. We've still got six hours of driving to do before we can stop for the night."
When I reached down to pick up my jeans, he tsked. "You don't get to put those back on just yet," he said with a smile that was dangerously sensual.
I nodded mutely and clambered gracelessly back to my side of the truck. Once I was belted in, he put the truck back in drive and pulled back onto the highway.