Ch. 10: Between the Lines

Bella pov

I should have known trying to get information out of Jacob Black would be about as productive as attempting to draw blood from a rock.

Charlie and I arrived at the Black's house a little after six. Dinner was the usual suspects; Billy and Jacob along with Harry Clearwater, his wife Sue and their youngest son Seth. I bided my time all through the meal and tried to find the best way to bring up the topic of Edward Cullen. This was not a subject I was going undertake with Charlie present. The less he knew about my dealings with Edward the better.

After dinner Charlie and Billy settled down to watch some football while Seth, Jacob and I wandered out to the garage so that Jake could show off his latest fixer-upper project, a black motorcycle he'd found roadside and in pretty sad condition. Seth was excited and I listened to their technical conversation, about the parts needed and the amount of work that Jake would have to do, with feigned interest. It was all Greek to me.

It wasn't until the Clearwater's left that I actually had a moment alone with Jacob. Interestingly enough, I didn't have to say anything. Jacob beat me to the punch.

"So Bells… you friends with that Cullen guy?" He asked casually.

I had to stifle my anticipation.

"Yeah. Edward is a very interesting person. A little on the OCD side but he's pretty cool."

"You two hang out a lot?"

I debated on how to answer that. I'm sure saying "Define hanging out," would only make matters worse. So instead I shrugged noncommittally.

Jake nodded sagely, as if he expected my answer. I watched his expression carefully but his boyish face gave nothing away.

"Is there something you want to tell me Jake?"

And there it was, his deep brow furrowed and his full lips pursed causing him to look much older than sixteen. He seemed ambivalent as he weighed my question and I knew by that alone there was definitely something important he was keeping from me.

Okay then, if he wasn't going to offer then I was going to outright ask.

"Why did you warn me to stay away from Edward? What is it that you're not saying?" I demanded with a touch of desperation.

"There's something not right about him, okay." Jake admitted grudgingly. "Come on Bells, you must have noticed it too."

Even as I stubbornly tried to reject it, Jake was right. I had noticed things about Edward that were not quite right. Plenty of little things that made me uneasy and afraid…

I wasn't ready to accept that so I pushed it away and focused on my original intent.

"How well do you know Edward?" I asked softly

But I didn't get an answer. Jacob's eyes shifted from mine, unfocused as if listening to something that I couldn't hear. Then there was a knock on the metal garage door that abruptly ended our stilted conversation. It was a perfectly inconvenient interruption. Almost too perfect.

I swallowed back my irritation when Sam entered the garage. A look passed between the two boys and I felt like I was intruding on some kind of silent conversation. Obviously my window of opportunity had closed and any information I hoped to gain about Edward would have to wait.

Sam finally looked at me, smiling slightly. "Hey Bella, I need to borrow Jake for a minute."

I nodded, figuring as much. "Charlie's probably looking for me anyway. It's getting late."

I headed across the yard to the Black's house as the two boys went around the other side of the garage and disappeared into the dense woods. It seemed like they were always going off into the trees, like it was some secret boy thing or something. Maybe they were smoking joints or getting into the homemade moonshine stuff that was popular on the rez. I didn't understand what was so damn great about getting high or drunk when you had to go into a forest full of creepy-crawlies in the dark to do it. No thank you, I'd pass.

I sat with Charlie and Billy on the sofa until the game ended, bored out of my mind and eager to get home. I told myself that it had nothing to do with Edward's nightly visits and everything to do with the fact that I was tired and needed a hot shower to relax me.

The drive back to Forks was quiet. Charlie sulked over the outcome of the game while I pondered Jake's odd behavior. It was probably jealousy but I had to wonder how he knew I was spending time with Edward. I was certain he'd never seen us together…

But in a town this small word travels fast and I was pretty sure that by tomorrow he would have the full rundown on Edward and I after the spectacle at school this morning.

Everyone staring and whispering was horrible. And then to top it off I'd gone and made the most foolish goof of all, I'd claimed Edward as my boyfriend.

Part of my agitation was that I was worried Edward might not show up tonight. I hadn't intended to tell Mike that we were a couple but it was the only way to get it through the boy's thick head that I am perfectly capable of deciding who I want to spend time with despite what everyone else thinks. And why the hell is everyone saying that I should stay away from Edward? I should be the one to make that decision, no one else.

But Edward's abrupt departure after school today had me on edge. What if I put him in a position that he didn't want to be in? Becoming boyfriend and girlfriend is definitely more involved than fooling around in private. I wasn't trying to pressure him into anything permanent. Honestly, I'm not sure if I'm any good at relationships and commitment and the all that stuff. Look at my mother, goodness knows she was never content to be tied down. What if I'm destined to be just like her?

By the time we arrived home I was in a funk. I didn't even have unfinished homework to save me from my overactive mind. Even though it was only nine o'clock, I decided to take my shower and go to bed. Sleep was preferable to the unanswered question bombarding my poor brain and I wasn't getting my hopes up for company tonight. Instead I was preparing myself for an epic fail tomorrow where Edward would probably avoid me and then everyone would be whispering again about how much of an idiot I am.

As I trudged up the stairs to my room I weighed my chances of playing hooky tomorrow. If I acted sick and pitiful I might get Charlie to let me stay home. The only problem was that I sucked at acting and I couldn't lie to save my life.

There would be no reprieve from this ridiculous mistake I had made. What was done was done. I let that realization twist my stomach into an aching knot of apprehension and sough refuge in my bedroom, the only place I could really call mine.

I slipped into the room quickly, too preoccupied to initially notice the lamp beside my bed was on. It was the eyelet lace curtains fluttering at my window that caught my eye. I'd left the window closed. I only use the small lamp when I read in bed. I was already half way across the room but in the second it took me process that, I froze.

"I've been waiting for you Bella." Edward spoke quietly.

My breath caught and my body tingled at his voice, a soft wicked whisper in my ear.

Liquid velvet.

Cashmere on bare skin.

Silk and sex.

I shivered, turning slowly to face him.

He stopped me, capturing my upper arms in a firm but gentle grip. He huffed a small sound of amusement and I could literally feel his crooked smile almost as clearly as I felt his cool breath brush the side of my neck.

My apprehension melted into nervous anticipation and I drew in a shaky breath before admitting, "I wasn't sure if you would come…"

"I'm finding it exceedingly difficult to stay away." Edward murmured appeasingly. His grip tightened slightly as he asked, "Where have you been?"

"At a friend's house." I managed to reply. I wanted to step back and feel his solid chest against my back but he held me in place.

"Anyone I know?" He inquired with just the right amount of polite disinterest to sound casual. I wasn't fooled. I could feel the tension radiating from his body to mine in the mere inches that separated us.

I tried to find the jealous edge to Edward's voice I remembered from our rendezvous in the woods but I couldn't catch it. He didn't seem angry, but he wasn't exactly calm either. Neither was I.

I had the feeling he was toying with me again. Edward was smooth like that. I decided now was as good a time as any to try and turn the tables. Since questioning Jake had been so futile I was beginning to hope maybe I would get a straight answer from Edward for once.

"His name is Jacob Black. Have you met him?" I asked, striving to match Edward's unaffected tone.

"I may have," he paused, sounding thoughtful. "Then again I've met so many people since moving here I can hardly keep track of them all."

Well so much for a straight answer.

"Oh," was all I could think of to say.

"Did you have a nice time?" Again, polite curiosity.

"Yeah, it was okay I guess. Honestly…" I swallowed hard, forcing myself to be bold, "I… I couldn't stop… thinking about you."

Edward's fingers relaxed slightly and he squeezed my arms gently, almost affectionately. I was finally able to shift closer and the tension between us released in a dizzying rush as I stepped back into him. It was a funny thing, how every worry and concern seemed to drain away and all I could really feel was relief that he was here, that after everything that had happened today he was with me.

My breath stuttered to a halt as his right hand slid down my arm, over the light fabric of my long sleeve sweater, teasing the sensitive skin in the bend of my elbow before gliding across my waist to pull me against him tightly. My eyes slid closed as my heart exploded into a frenzied pounding that I swear he could feel too.

As if to prove me right Edward rested his chin on my shoulder and pressed a quick, cool kiss to side of my throat.

"I often wonder what is going on in that pretty head of yours." He whispered, sounding positively delighted. "It is good to know I'm not the only one so utterly distracted."

Distracted… uh… right. More like fucking obsessed. But I refused to admit that for last week and half- since the first time my eyes had met his across the crowded cafeteria- he'd been center stage in my thoughts almost every waking moment.

That would sound pathetic at best and downright insane if he actually believed me.

Instead I found myself confessing a different secret. "I was afraid you wouldn't come over tonight."

Edward made a soft tisking sound, "Now why on earth would I do that?"

Why indeed.

"I don't get why you want me." I explained, putting my worries together in the simplest way possible. "I'm nothing special Edward."

Surely he must have realized that by now. He had to know that a plain, average girl like me would never hold his dangerously beautiful and unpredictable interest for long.

At first Edward did not respond and I felt my hackles begin to rise. The nervous tension started in my stomach and spread outward, stiffening my spine and then my limbs until I was nothing but a single mass of agitated embarrassment. Then he nudged me forward, one shuffling step and then another until we stood facing my dresser and it's tall mirror.

I looked at our entwined reflection drinking Edward in greedily. And he was a vision with his messy hair, a shock of shinny copper in the soft lamp light and his sculpted features set in a pensively bemused expression as he studied me with unwavering intensity.

But then I took in the whole picture that we made and my heart fell. I'd never seen us together like this, in a position to compare our attributes. But it was plain as day before us. He was ethereal perfection while I was garishly flawed. He was shimmering gold to my muddy brown. I felt my eyes begin to sting as I forced myself to not look away from the paradox in the mirror.

Edward's eyes widened slightly in a moment of unabashed surprise, a charming little crease marring his brow as he continued to dissect my reflection. When he finally spoke, his tone was dripping with disbelief. "You truly think you're ordinary?"

It wasn't a question.

"I am what I am."

His honey eyes narrowed. "You don't see yourself very clearly."

The subtle frustration in his words paired with their insinuation set my cheeks aflame. Edward's jaw clenched and his adam's apple bobbed as he swallowed hard, but his eyes never left mine as he tilted his head just enough to touch his lips to my heated cheek.

"So fucking innocent. So sweet… delicious really." He breathed softly.

Just that easily I was burning nice and slow, the pulse starting in my belly and leaving a resounding throb right between my legs. Edward grinned, a little lopsided and a whole lot sinful. He knew what he was doing to me and I had no intention of stopping him.

His hands moved to my waist and I took a shuddering breath as his chilled fingers slipped beneath the hem of my sweater and began sliding up my sides. I shivered, unable to look away from his smoldering eyes as I lifted my arms and allowed him to remove my top. Goose flesh broke out all over my exposed skin as he drew his hands back down, palms splayed as he glided them slowly over the sides of my bra-clad breasts and lower over the slight dip of my waist to settle once more on my hips.

"Edward…" I moaned, my head lolling slightly.

He chuckled, placing his cool lips to the bare skin of my shoulder. His tongue flicked out and I shivered, my nipples tightening and pebbling under the thin cotton of my bra.

"Fucking perfect." He growled against my flesh.

Then Edward's hands were moving again, gliding teasingly across my flat stomach to undo the button on my jeans. I pressed closer against his chest nearly squirming with anticipation he lowered the zipper in a unhurried pace. His eyes refused to released mine as the fabric loosened and as his right hand drew one lazy circle around my bellybutton before slipping into my panties. I gasped, my breath catching in my chest as his fingers played for a moment stroking through the short curls before sliding into the part of me that was hot and madly aching. And when he sucked gently at that nice little spot just above my collarbone, right over my pulse, my eyes fluttered closed in pure pleasure.

"Open your eyes Bella." Edward ordered softly.

I did as told, unable to disobey his breathless command. Taking in the erotic picture we presented was almost too much. I watched his hand moving while half hidden beneath blue cotton and denim. With every movement my insides tightened from the simultaneous sensations as he circled my sensitive nub with a gentle yet demanding touch. I moaned quietly and leaned further back into him, my hips grinding restlessly against his eager fingers.

Pressing so closely against Edward I felt his tell-tale erection with every rotation of my hips. I didn't understand his restraint. My need was burning me to ash inside and out. I was overwhelmed. I had to make him feel this too.

I lifted my arms, fisting my hands into Edward's unruly hair. Using the new leverage I arched my back pressing my ass right into his crotch. His rhythm faltered for a fraction of a second and my heart leapt in fear that he would pull away. But then he was holding me tighter, his hand between my legs forcing my hips hard against his own while his other hand roughly jerked up my bra exposing me to his ravenous eyes. As he kneaded and tweaked my aching nipples the thrill of it all started my entire body shivering.

My eyes started to slide closed once more but his voice kept me from reaching that final edge.

"I said open your eyes." He admonished gruffly. "Watch yourself. See what I see when you fall apart just for me."

His words made my wanton craving unbearable. I struggled to keep quiet as he stroked my slick flesh, and here in this moment watching Edward's indifference crumble to pieces as he touched me- Me Bella Swan the poster child for everything mediocre and mundane- I felt special.

I felt beautiful.

Yet even filled to overflowing with my passionate need, a part of me was still waiting to awaken from this dream. Surely someone as strikingly perfect as the boy beside me could not be meant for me.

And still..

It was me he wanted.

"Edward please…" I begged.

His lick-able lips curled in a crooked smirk, full of dark promise, as he stilled his ministrations.

"Not yet Sweetheart," he cooed.

A frustrated groan ripped from my throat in protest as he slid his hand out of my jeans, his timing leaving me cruelly hanging on the cusp of release. He started roughly tugging at the offending garment and forcing it down my hips.

"These need to come off," He snickered, as denim and blue cotton pooled around my feet.

I kicked them away with more force than was really necessary.

"This too," he said, tugging at my bra.

Reluctantly I lowered my arms allowing my last article of clothing to fall to the floor. In the mirror I watched Edward remove his shirt, ripping it over his head hastily. I soaked in what I could of his sculpted muscles, lithe and deceptively strong, before he drew me back against his chest. As I expected Edward was cold, and I shivered as chill bumps rose all along my bare skin.

"I fucking love that," he admitted softly as his molten gold gaze followed my body's reaction eagerly.

The unsatisfied ache that filled me seemed to pulse at his words and I shifted my legs together restlessly, a futile attempt to relive my discomfort. Another shiver wracked me as his cold hands slid down my arms once more, this time guiding me to lean forward slightly and brace my hands on the edge of my dresser.

His eyes locked with mine, unrelenting.

"Watch Bella, and hold on tight."

Helplessly I obeyed as Edward lowered himself to his knees to kneel before me. For a moment I was confused but then abruptly I realized his intent and my gut lurched with pure need.

My breathing turned to staccato gasps as he buried his head between my legs. My knees wobbled and I gripped the dresser for dear life as his tongue, cool and firm, resumed the torturous motions his fingers had abandoned only a shot time before.

The sensation was exquisite and with every sweep of his cold tongue I seemed to get hotter and hotter. The burning was all consuming. I was losing myself to the heat, to every gentle yet demanding caress that sparked a new wave of pleasure that rippled through my body. It was too much. Nothing had a right to feel this good.

Edward sucked gently on my clit and I trembled. Then he flicked his tongue faster and I choked out a pleading moan barely able to breathe. And when he sucked again my world exploded in bliss. It was all I could do keep my eyes trained on my flushed and sweaty reflection.

Caught in the throes of pleasure I could almost convince myself that Edward was right, that I didn't see my own potential. But that would be a lie. It was really all Edward. It was his hungry eyes that emboldened me, his graceful fingers and clever tongue that shot my coherency straight to hell and his salacious compliments that kept me enraptured.

In the end I was still Bella, the little girl in over her head.

As the last ripple of my orgasm tore though me, my legs could no longer support my weight and I collapsed boneless into Edward's waiting arms. I buried my face against his shoulder and breathed in his comforting scent as my bearings slowly began to return.

I knew it was pointless but I asked anyway, "Can I touch you?"

His cool lips pressed softly just below my ear and he sighed, his breath tickling my neck. "Soon," he promised, "Just not tonight."

It was pathetic the way my chest tightened in disappointment. But he hadn't said no, and nor had be bolted for my window, so I took comfort in that.

Still, I pressed against him even tighter- hoping to prolong the intimacy of the moment a little longer- trying to fight off the chill that had nothing to do with his skin. But I could feel him withdrawing, and a quick glance at his composed face said I was right. My encouraging lover was gone for tonight.

I didn't protest as Edward carried me to my bed. I simply curled up under my comforter as he pulled on his shirt and a moment later he was at my window.

"See you in the morning," he said softly.

I nodded but he was already gone.

A.N. - Wow it's good to be back. It's been a long time.