While Edward's homecoming was a bit dramatic at first, by the end of the night, all is right in our little world. I know I should've told him about the run-in with James, but his jumping to conclusions hurt. Part of me loves how protective he is of me, but another part almost feels like he's staking his claim. I know how much he despises James after their tussle, and I know he hates that he wasn't here this time, but I have to make him understand that I can take care of myself. I've been doing it for almost twenty-three years.
It's a conversation we'll have to have in the near future, but now I'm completely distracted by his lips making their way across the top of my shoulder, all the way to my neck and back. The early morning sun peeks around the edge of the curtains. I'm awake earlier than normal, which is the slightest disappointing since it's Labor Day and we both have the day off. Sleeping in was at the top of my list for the day. But it wasn't even eleven o'clock when we fell asleep last night, spent and gratified. I can't sleep anymore.
"Bella." Edward's lips tickle my earlobe. "When I said I didn't want to leave this bed today, I wasn't joking."
Bliss, I think as goosebumps rise across my heated skin.
"Cold?" He chuckles darkly, and I feel his morning wood against my leg. His mouth explores my neck, my collarbones, my shoulders, my chest. And when he reaches the side of my left breast, he sucks hard before releasing it and admiring his handiwork.
I look down to see a small, round mark that will surely stick around for a couple of days. Before I can protest, he presses his lips to mine and kisses me deeply as he moves his body over mine. He's so close to where I want him, and I push my hips up against his thigh.
"Please," I whisper.
"Need you. Please."
"What do you need, love? Tell me."
I reach down and grasp him, showing him the way. "Need you inside me."
His fingers leave a tingly trail down my body until they're inside me. "Is this what you need?" He pumps two fingers slowly in and out.
"I need your—" I blush, because I know what he wants to hear. And after all the things we've done together, it's silly to be embarrassed by one little word. "I need your dick inside me."
"Yeah?" He pushes my legs wider and slides in, burying himself to the hilt. His arms cage me, one around my shoulders and the other cradling my head we moved together. I hold on tight, wrapping my legs around him, digging my fingers into his shoulders. Before long, indulgent waves crash over me, making me cry out without caring who might be able to hear from the other bedroom.
Edward gets up to his knees and gently palms my calves, raising them up over his shoulders. His hands go under my hips, supporting me as he pounds me from a new angle.
"So. Fucking. Sexy," he says, his thrusts punctuating his words. "Gonna come." He says my name as he releases into me. I love when my name is on his lips as he comes. He lets go of my legs and collapses on top of me, holding me close, one hand cradling my head again.
"Have I mentioned how much I love you lately?" he asks, panting as he moves to my side and gathers me close.
"Hmm. I'm not sure you have."
"Well, I do. Immensely."
We lie in silence for a few minutes, Edward's fingertips trailing lightly up and down my back while I trace patterns on his chest. His breathing evens out after a while, and I know he's fallen asleep. If I go back to sleep, I'll be grumpy when I wake again. Instead, I pull Edward's t-shirt over my head and creep silently out of bed, grabbing my sketchbook and my iPod from a shelf.
I lean back against the chair next to the window for a while, listening to music through my earbuds. I do a quick armature sketch, and my eyes dart back and forth as I draw his sleeping form. It feels good. I haven't had much time for drawing over the past weeks. I still haven't decided about the gallery internship, and I'm supposed to give them an answer by the end of the week.
I close my eyes and take in the music, thinking things over, when Edward's sleep-filled voice rises over the soft music playing in my ears.
"What are you doing all the way over there?"
I look up and smile, pulling the earbuds out and hopping back into bed with him. "Just sketching."
"Oh?" He rubs his eyes. "What did you draw?"
"Oh, just this gorgeous guy I know," I say with a smirk.
"Brad Pitt? Channing Tatum?"
"Ew. I don't even like Channing Tatum. See for yourself." I show him the drawing, and his face turns from teasing to impressed as he scans the page.
"Bella, this is amazing. You're so talented."
I shrug, blushing at the compliment, toss the sketchbook to the floor, and lie down next to him on my stomach, propped up on my elbows.
He traces the bruise on my cheek lightly, barely touching me. I know there's a lot he wants to say, but he takes a different tack than I thought he would. "So, your dad's a cop."
I tense at the mention of Charlie. Edward knows he answered the emergency call the other night, but I haven't offered up any other details. I knew I wasn't going to get away with that for long.
"Should I be afraid? Does he have a lot of guns? Has he done a background check on me yet?"
"Definitely not," I say with a snort.
He tilts my chin up so I have to look at him. "Why are you so tense right now?"
"You know I hate talking about this."
"I just…still don't know very much about your parents. I know you don't talk to them, but I don't fully understand the situation."
I sigh. "It was so awkward Friday night. He asked if I moved, and when I said this was my boyfriend's place, he thought I was still with Mike."
His brow creases. "He doesn't even know you broke up?"
I look away and pick at the quilt that covers us. "He knows nothing about my life from the past year."
"So he doesn't know about me either."
It's not a question, so I don't answer. Instead, I bite the inside of my cheek and avoid his gaze. "Him cheating on my mom was one reason for my hesitation when Mike wanted to get married. My parents were very young when they married, and they had me soon after. I thought their marriage was fine. I guess Mom did, too. She found out about a year and a half ago. Charlie claimed to be working on Valentine's Day, but someone my mom knew said she saw him with a woman at some restaurant."
I pause to chance a look at Edward. His expression isn't one of anger or disappointment at hearing that my dad doesn't know about him. It's empathetic.
"After that, she started to pay closer attention to where Charlie went, what the credit card bills said, and by April, she'd put together all the facts and confronted him. She said he cried and begged for forgiveness, but she'd already reconciled herself with the idea of being a single woman again. She said she needed to go off and find herself and left for California that same month." I sniff and bite back silly tears. "I know I'm supposed to be an adult and everything, but I couldn't help but feel abandoned. I blamed it all on Charlie and quit speaking to him. He tried for a while, but he gave up after a few months."
Edward presses a kiss to my temple but lets me talk. Now that it's out, it feels good to open up.
"I just feel like there isn't any room for me in her life now."
"I'm sure that isn't true."
I shrug and wipe a tear away from the corner of my eye.
"What happened when your dad showed up Friday night?" he asks hesitantly.
"I wasn't very pleasant," I tell him, and I feel like a brat now that I'm saying it out loud. "Aside from giving him my statement and telling him I wasn't with Mike, I didn't say much. He didn't even try to ask for a way to contact me."
"I'm sorry all of this happened, and I wasn't here for you," he says.
Instead of making me feel good, protected, it leaves me somewhat incensed. "It's fine. I needed time to think and de-stress. I was angry, I was hurt, and I was exhausted."
"Still, if I was here, that punk wouldn't have followed you, and you wouldn't have been put in the position—"
"Edward!" I snap. "None of this has anything to do with you being in Chicago. It doesn't have much to do with you, period!" He looks hurt, but I power through. "Look, James is one of those people who tries anything to get what he wants. I went out with him a couple of times, and nothing really happened between us. He obviously thinks he's owed something. But I can handle myself. I've taken care of myself for this long, haven't I?"
He winces and nods, and I feel guilty. Myriad emotions swim around inside me, some of which I haven't faced for some time, and I'm not sure I know how to manage them. I shake my head to clear it of all thought and then take Edward's hand in mine.
"Look. I'm sorry I snapped. It's just a lot to deal with right now."
He squeezes my hand back. "It's okay. I understand."
"Can we talk about something more pleasant?"
He nods and squints, and then his eyes light up. "I thought of something."
"Well… I missed you an awful lot while I was gone. And you know I didn't sleep all that well."
I narrow my eyes. "This doesn't sound pleasant, Edward."
"Give me a minute. Anyway, I started thinking about you and your job and the internship, and I wondered if you'd been doing any painting lately."
"A little. Not much. I've been working a lot."
"So why don't you just quit your job?"
I briefly wonder if he's lost his mind. "Quit my job. Just…quit my job. Just like that. Edward, some of us have rent to pay. Most of us don't have trust funds or music shops that practically run themselves."
"You have savings."
"Yes, but savings are for saving, not for spending."
He chuckles and pulls me closer, kissing the top of my head. "But the internship is paid, right?"
"Yes, but it's not much. There's no way I can quit work. I still have rent to pay, among other things—
"—and there's the electric bill, and the water bill, and the phone bill…and groceries, and—"
I stop counting on my fingers and gaze up at him.
"I was serious when I asked you to move in with me."
I search his eyes, having almost forgotten after all the commotion. "You—you want me to move in with you?"
"It shouldn't be that much of a surprise. I brought it up on the phone just a few days go."
"No, I remember. It's just that with everything going on, I guess I kind of put it on the back burner."
"I understand completely." He brushes a strand of hair from my face. "Are you ready to talk about it now?"
"Was that an answer or a question?"
I shove him playfully.
"So what do you think?" he asks.
"What about Jasper and Alice?"
"I'm pretty sure Jasper is asking Alice if she's ready for that step, too."
"Really? What, you mean all four of us would live here?"
"No. Jasper would get another place."
"I'm not kicking Jasper out so I can move in. It's not fair to him or Alice."
"He was already planning to move out." It seems he's got convenient arguments ready for anything I can throw at him.
"Oh. Well, what about rent? I mean, I'd still want to chip in, and I really couldn't do that without a job."
He gives me an odd look. "I own the condo. I thought you knew."
"Well, you have a mortgage to pay, right?"
"I got a great deal on it since I paid cash."
It seems a little too good to be true. I don't want him to think I'm looking for an excuse out of it, so I voice my thoughts. "Can I really just quit my job? I don't think I know what it feels like not to have one. What on earth would I do? What about money for trivial things?"
"You'd concentrate on the internship. You'd work on your art. And as far as money goes, I think you know that I'm more than capable of—"
I cut him off immediately. "Don't even say it. I can't mooch off you."
His hand cups my chin. "You wouldn't be mooching, Bella. Look, I know our whole relationship has moved really quickly, so if you seriously aren't ready, I get it. But if it really is a question of money, I want to help you out. This internship could lead to really great things."
Well, when he puts it that way…
"I suppose," I say, still unsure.
He shifts to face me directly and takes both of my hands in his. "Bella, if you don't already know this, then I've done a horrible job of showing my true feelings," he begins, letting go of one of my hands and running it through that glorious sex hair of his.
"I love you so much. You're the first thing I think about in the morning, the last thing I think about at night. Hell, you occupy my brain ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the day. There isn't anything I wouldn't do for you. And please, please don't panic when I say this, but I've made up my mind. In a way, I sort of knew it from the first moment I saw you. I want to be with you forever. I'd like nothing more in the world than to make it official someday."
"You would?" My voice is small, meek.
"Yes, love. More than anything. I know you've been through this before, and you probably aren't ready to talk about it after the past year, but one day, I want to make you mine."
"I already am yours."
His lopsided, beatific grin takes my breath away. "Well, I'd like it certified."
I'm pleasantly surprised to find no trace of panic anywhere within me. In fact, his words spark a warm tide of emotion rocketing through me. As everything ever has with Edward, it just feels right. I slide my hands from his and placed them on either side of his face. "I think I'd like that. Someday, I mean."
"Really?" He seems taken aback. "That was much too easy. I fully expected a long diatribe on why marriage is not for you."
"I'm kind of shocked, myself."
"So what do you say, then? Move in with me?"
I lean forward and press a soft, lingering kiss to his lips. "Yes. I will move in with you."
I can't believe how easy it is to convince Bella to move in with me. I seriously expected to have to get on my knees and beg. After spending just one week without her, I know how much I need her around. She means more to me now than my own life.
"Morning, Edward," someone says in the middle of a yawn when I enter the kitchen.
A disheveled Alice is at the coffee pot, just where I was headed.
"It's noon," I tell her with a laugh. "But I get the point."
"When you're up all night, noon is morning." She grabs two mugs from the cabinet and sets them on the counter next to the other two she's already lined up.
"Bella said yes," I blurt. Alice knows my intentions. She and Jasper have already had the same conversation Bella and I just had.
She turns to me, eyes wide. "You're kidding." She does a funny little hop in the middle of the kitchen.
I can't help the goofy smile that seems to be permanently plastered to my face these days. "Absolutely not kidding."
"Excellent! Jasper and I are going out to look at an apartment later today," she says, filling the coffee mugs.
"That was quick."
"I know. I just can't wait."
"I know the feeling."
"So how much begging did you have to do? I can't believe she didn't freak out."
"It was much easier than I anticipated."
"You know…" She sighs and turns to face me, leaning on the counter. "Bella is a very independent person. She always has been. But don't let her fool you when she insists that something isn't a big deal. She's got a head made of steel. She won't ask for help, even if she needs it."
"Thanks, Alice," I say, squeezing her shoulder. "Speaking of Bella, she's probably wondering where her coffee is, so…"
She stands on her tiptoes and gives me a smacking kiss on the cheek. "Give that to Bella for me," she says, then disappeared into Jasper's room.
I find Bella just as I left her: naked and beautiful in my bed. I hand her a mug and carefully crawl in beside her, kissing her cheek. "That's from Alice."
"Thanks. Alice was in the kitchen?"
"Yep. They're going to look at an apartment today."
"So soon?" she asks, blowing on the hot coffee.
"Uh. They may have already known I was going to ask you to move in."
She cocks an eyebrow and gives me a half-smile. "Talking behind my back again?"
I shrug, only slightly contrite. "Jasper had already approached me about moving out. We talked about it, and I thought I'd ask Alice if she thought it would be a good idea to ask you."
"Why did you go to Alice first?"
"If she thought it would make you uncomfortable, I wasn't going to ask you."
"She doesn't always know what's best for me, you know."
"I'm sorry. I should've just had some balls and asked you first," I admit.
"Shoulda, woulda, coulda," she says, setting her coffee on the nightstand. "What's done is done. All that really matters is that I love you." She lays a cool hand on my stubbly cheek and kisses me.
She tastes of coffee and beauty. "Now, where did I leave off before?" I gather her legs in one arm and pull her down to lie on her back, leaving a trail of kisses down her body, starting at her neck and moving gradually down to her belly button.
"Have I told you how beautiful you are?" I ask, skimming my nose over her skin and nibbling at her hipbone.
"Not in the last five minutes."
"You are. Indescribably."
She brings her hands back to my face and pulls up so I'll look her in the eyes. "So are you."
Edward's busy sending me into oblivion with his tongue while the two sides of my brain battle with one another.
Can I really do it? Can I really just quit my job? It feels so…I don't know. Extravagant?
You want extravagant, Bella? Shut the hell up and pay attention to what the beautiful man is doing between your thighs.
But I'd never have to leave this bed. Except for the internship and—Oh, God, what is he doing to me?!
Finally, I'm able to stop the internal dialogue and just feel. Edward's mouth on me. His tongue inside me. His expert tactics make my back arch off the bed as a sudden orgasm takes me.
A loud noise yanks me out of a comfortable afternoon nap. I raise my head and search the room with bleary eyes, unable to find the source. Then I hear a voice on the other side of the door, only slightly muffled.
"Are you two going to stay holed up in there all day?"
I rub my eyes and gently extract myself from a veritable nest of Edward's arms, legs, and blankets. I pull a t-shirt over my head and crack the door to see Alice standing there, one hand on her hip, the other hand holding a sandwich.
"Were you sleeping? Your hair's chaos."
"Yeah, I guess we fell asleep after…never mind."
She smirks and raises an eyebrow at me. "Aren't you hungry? I made some chicken salad."
My stomach rumbles as though it heard Alice's question and wants to make sure I don't decline her offer. "Yeah. Just let me get dressed. I'll be out in a few."
"Don't rush. Jasper and I are on our way out to look at an apartment." She shoots me a knowing smile before turning to traipse back down the hall.
I shut the door and turn to survey the mess that is Edward's bed. The comforter is in a heap on the floor. The top sheet is tangled around his legs, and the thinner blanket is sideways across the bed. My eyes follow the long, lean line of his body all the way up, lingering on a slightly tented section of sheet. How the hell the man can have anything left in him was beyond me. It feels like we've been at it for hours. I force my eyes to move along, admiring his flat abdomen, his slightly muscled chest, rising and falling with his breaths. Then I'm busted by amused green eyes.
"See something you like?" he asks, lying back with his hands behind his head.
I decide to take the bait. "I'm not sure. Some of the goods are covered."
"Get over here, you minx."
I smirk and shake my head, leaning back against the door. Edward cocks an eyebrow. "If you're not over here by the count of three—"
"What? Will I be punished?"
"Uh. Yes." His voice is a surprised croak, so he clears his throat and tries again. "YES."
"And that punishment would be…"
"Oh, I think I can come up with something. It's a moot point anyway. I'm going to close my eyes, and you will be over here in three seconds." He begins the countdown, and I slide sideways along the wall.
By the time he gets to three, I'm two feet from the bathroom door. He opens his eyes, pierces me with a delicious grin, and launches himself from the bed, but I'm in the bathroom with the door shut tight before he can reach me. I hear him collide with the door. "Isabella Swan, you'd better open this door right now."
I giggle at the thrill of being pursued, and he pounds on the door. "Belllllaaaaaa." He draws my name out in a sweet voice. "Open the door, babe."
"Nope." I turn the shower on and brush my teeth while I wait for the water to warm up. His words are muffled by water in my ears when I step under the spray.
"What's that, Edward? I can't hear you over the shower!" I taunt him.
I lather the shampoo into my hair and rinse it out before I realize the knocking has stopped. Suddenly, I'm grabbed from behind.
I spin around. Edward presses me against him, a ravenous flash blazes through his gaze just before he lowers his mouth to the side of my neck and bites me, making me squeal and laugh.
"I told you there'd be consequences," he whispers in my ear. All I can do was squeak. My knees felt weak, and he holds me closer so I won't fall, his hard-on pressing against my belly.
"Yes, you did," I squeak.
I love Edward's consequences.