*I do not own Twilight. All characters Property of Stephanie Meyer. Don't sue me.*
The Weakest Link
The Grand Entrance
Pink and White.
Everything the streaming sunlight touched in the Penthouse Atrium of the Ritz-Carlton, blended the two colors together like a sickly-sweet-and-swirled, old fashioned lolly-pop. Each small, round table was draped in vestal color with the chairs used as the pastel-peptic accent. Centerpieces of entwined pink roses encircled little flickering white candles in a protective glass shell.
I looked around the large, banquet room in unadulterated awe. This was the first upper-echelon styled luncheon I had ever been to. My attendance here was not because of who I was, but rather because of whom I was involved with.
I was a twenty-two year old nobody. When I woke up in the morning, in my shabby-shared apartment with my male best friend, I was barely aware of anything more than what assignment was due for University that day.
Edward Cullen, on the other hand, was a twenty-eight year old Chief-Financial-Officer of the most influential Investment Brokerage to span five continents. When he woke up in the morning, a cool-million-dollars had probably been banked. Maybe more. It was incomprehensible to me.
Yet, here I was, making my entrance into the Cultural Arts and Alliances Benefit Luncheon honoring Mrs. Esme Cullen. The Society entry of the Chicago Tribune gave a full page journal of the Gala event, citing twenty-five years of Mrs. Cullens benefaction to the Arts. Considerable charitable donations and scholarships were only among some of the more stellar resources gifted the Alliance by Chicago's most beloved Patron.
"Bella, over here!" Came the shrill pixie voice amidst a sea of pink and white designer-dressed bodies.
I plotted my course, carefully wading through an ocean of silks and satins covered in names like LaCroix and Dior. The tags these socialites and their equally well-dressed men wore might have been far pricier than my own, but I was proud to be wearing an Alice Cullen Original.
Deep pink, excessively high heels found as even a footing as I could manage, I watched heads turn as I moved followed by the cupping gestures of hand to mouth to shield the whispers. I could only imagine what was being said with condescending awe. "Oh, she is the one dating Edward Cullen."
I wanted to laugh in their faces. Edward Cullen and I weren't dating. We weren't lovers, at least not in the conventional sense. No, we had something far different and much more incomprehensible to these mulish, self-proclaimed Aristocrats. It was a relationship no one in this room would have understood, except for the person I was making my way to.
"Alice!" I cried out with enthusiasm, swinging my arms open and nearly tossing the clutch purse I carried in my right fist, across the room.
Alice embraced me tightly and reached up to smooth the pins in my hair. Another original creation, this up-do she had arranged, just a few hours ago. Alice always did way too much to help me fit into this world I had no business in. This universe belonged to Edward.
"Bella, you look breathtaking!" Alice wiggled to accentuate her words.
The dress was a Couture-driven triumph. A deep pink, above the knee bubble skirt of organza arranged to resemble the opening of a flowers gentle bud, gathered in fairytale perfection. The bodice was skin tight strapless with a white accent running from the line of the chest to the empire waist. The entire ensemble, complete with white cultured pearls and matching, death-defying high heels, was Alices gift she had made just for me. She may not have yet been a LaCroix or a Prada, but she was already recognized as a burgeoning Haute Couture Diva.
"You did all the work, I'm just the walking mannequin." I laughed and she took my hand, bringing me to the table that would seat the guest of honor herself.
"I really wish you would have let me give you a ride. It was so awesome of you to come with Edward making some lame excuses to miss out on this little affair." She rolled her beautiful dark eyes and sat down, patting the seat next to her.
"The cross town bus did the job just fine. But I might accept a lift home later, once these shoes officially kill me. You know this is hell to pull-off." I rolled my eyes, adjusting my multi strand pearl necklace, nervously.
"Your doing great Bella and those shoes really complete the outfit. Besides, those dance classes your taking with me finally has you able to balance yourself, almost perfectly." Her giggle was like music.
"So, did…Edward…" I always felt so bizarre using his given name. But it was necessary in front of his family and during these events. "Say why he was unable to attend?"
What bothered me more than Edward not being present was the fact he hadn't even called to break our plans. Alice knew I didn't like being in a place like this without him. Though, she was a great substitute.
"He said he was going to be unavoidably detained." Alice shrugged and reached for her flute of champagne over the very dangerous, plentiful delicate glasses strewn about the table.
I took the cue to reach for my own flute, pleased to have something to distract me. My fingers connected around the stem but it was the gentle ting of the large bauble that dangled from my Tiffany's bracelet that caught my instant attention. Just the knowledge of what looked like a very expensive gift around my wrist made me shiver. It represented so very much more than a mere trinket could.
"Oh, here comes the guest of honor now!" Alice chimed, bounding up from her seat with agile grace. Her shoes were even higher and more deadly than my own. Of course, her balance was cat-like and elegant. I had seen that first hand with Alice as my partner in our dance classes.
I turned my eyes to the room's entrance. Esme Cullen, in a classic light pink Chanel two piece dress-suit, was instantly swarmed over with attention. Her husband, Dr. Carlisle Cullen smiled supportively, holding her hand as though they were high school lovers entering the Prom.
Behind the entering couple, was their son Emmett, the world renowned survivalist and television star. His hand was gently encircling the perfect pink Bob Mackey clad waist of his wife. Rosalie Cullen, the Supermodel extraordinaire, in the flesh was far more daunting than her photographs. She was the very standard in which all women judged themselves. Freshly released magazine spreads of Rosalie were known to set the average girl on an Atkins-Zone-South Beach Diet-frenzy.
I admit, I downed that glass of champagne faster than I should have. The one that followed it almost instantly, met the same fate. By the time the Cullen family made way to the only large banquet table in the Atrium, I was already feeling just a touch more relaxed.
"Bella, darling!" Esme encircled me the moment she was near, smoothing her warm hand along my bare shoulder. "I am so glad you could come. And look at you, how simply gorgeous!"
I could not help but blush. "Alice did it. The dress, the hair, even the shoes. All compliments of your talented daughter." I shuffled my shoe under Rosalies excruciating stare. She didn't like it when attention was taken from her. Not that she liked me all that much anyway. "Congratulations, on today."
Esme smiled. Carlisle greeted me next, looking dapper as ever. He embraced me warmly, giving a nod of approval at how well the Couture complimented me.
"Wow, you look like a girl." Emmett teased as he drew me into his hug with enough force to make the air whoosh out of my lungs.
"No thanks to you. Parts of me still smart from that football match last weekend. Touch doesn't mean tackle." I pretended to scowl at him as he released me. Edward and I had been unfortunately interrupted of our Saturday morning proclivities when the Cullen family decided to shanghais us for a day of bonding. Muddy football and brunch. I wasn't much of an athlete.
"Isabella." Rosalie inclined her head and quickly looked away before I could respond in kind. In a mere second she was dragging Emmett off into the Socialite universe I felt desperate outcast to.
Taking a sip of her champagne, Esme made her apologies for a hasty departure and followed Rosalie in performing her expected duties as the Honoree.
Alice and I were alone, again. I wondered how the wedding plans with her fiancé, Jasper Hale, were going. I had no doubt she was missing him. The two spent so much time apart. Alice had to flit between countries to gather her inspirations for the latest Couture she would create. But now, it was his turn, off in New York on his book signing tour.
Truly, Jasper was an amazing author of edge-of-your-seat supernatural fiction. With the release of the last book in a saga-series about Vampires he had undoubtedly patterned after his own family, the big news had turned to Hollywood. Fans of the four-book-series were already dream-casting the lead roles. I had to admit, I was guilty of the same.
I sat back down at the table. With all of the bustle and excitement in the air, I had not realized a band had assembled and started playing.
I wanted to ask Alice, my usual dance partner three-nights-per week, if she wanted to do some classy moves, but considering the type of atmosphere, it would probably create undo rumors. How dare two women dance together! Gasp! So, instead, I focused on adjusting the hem of my dress repeatedly. And, of course, my champagne.
"Bella, I will be right back. Dad's giving me the signal. He wants me to give a pep talk to a burgeoning fashionista that is up for a scholarship from moms foundation. I promise not to be gone too long." Alice kissed my cheek lightly. In a single second she was swallowed up by the crowd that surrounded the perimeter of a slowly growing dance floor.
A half an hour or more probably passed. I was starting to lose track.
"You must be Miss Swan. I've had the pleasure of hearing so much about you." When I looked up, beautiful baby-blue eyes met me. Dirty blonde hair licked down past his brows like honey-tinted fingers. He was probably Edwards age. And, he was really very handsome.
"Forgive me, have we met?" I used my most tranquil indoor-society voice. He was wearing a lovely linen beige suit with a collarless white shirt. Very classy.
"Mike Newton. I work closely with Esme on her Home Restoration business. I am one of her architects." He smiled politely. "I saw you sitting here all alone and thought I might introduce myself. Are you waiting for someone?"
Did I look that lonely? "I was waiting for Alice to return from the great beyond."
"I see you are enjoying the music." He commented. Had I been swaying my shoulders again? "Would it be to forward of me to ask you to dance?"
Edward wasn't here. Alice abandoned me. I was all dressed up and sitting by myself. What could it hurt. "Thank you, Mike. I would enjoy that."
His warm, sun-kissed hand reached for mine and I set my clutch purse down on the table. I had nothing of value in it, just a few dollars and some make-up. Though, I doubted this was the kind of place where security was really needed. Thieves don't usually run around wearing real Rolex watches or Cartier diamonds.
Mike led me to the dance floor, drawing me into his embrace, formally. "So, Esme tells me you're a student of Social-Psychology. You must be having a field day with this group?"
His laughter was musical and it felt good to no longer be alone.
The Honorary Speaker
I was running late. The whole mid-afternoon had been wasted on fiscal reports that had to be overseas by Monday. With my family aware of my obligations it created the perfect excuse for the real matters of import today.
I had been asked to be the Honorary Speaker at a Luncheon honoring my mother, Esme, on her twenty-five years of Patronage to the Cultural Arts. It was a very prestigious offer but the acclaim meant nothing. Anything that involved my family always took precedent. By my failure to arrive with the entourage, this was going to be my surprise to them all.
Adjusting my tie, I bounded up the stairs into the Penthouse Atrium of the Ritz-Carlton. A tasteful but nauseating sea of pink and white met me for the effort. Though, as I scanned the room, I could see most of the accompanying men, much as myself, had chosen to forgo the theme.
Esme and Carlisle were easy to spot, in the center of the attentions. Rosalie and Emmett as well. I looked around, shaking hands and making distracted greetings as I joined the room. I was hunting.
My prey was elusive. But I found her fast enough. She was gorgeous, in that deep pink dress, hemmed to show off her sensual long legs. Isabella laughed as she danced, even in impossibly high heels she didn't miss a step of her partners lead.
I made my way to her like someone sounded a hunting horn, my hands falling over her hips as she swayed closely with one of my mothers little protégés. Mike Newton, the blond-haired-blue-eyed surfer-boy look gave him away instantly.
Isabella startled but she didn't have the chance to turn around. My breath was warm on the back of her exposed neck and she knew, instantly. The kiss I placed there was our tradition. Her Master had come to claim her.
Mike was about to protest when he met my eyes. The narrow of my lids and the snarl at my lips told him very quickly nearly everything he needed to know. When Isabella dropped her hands from his and turned, her face was flushed that delicious shade that always made my blood boil.
"Edward. Your..here." She gasped. I could see her breath quicken. I secretly enjoyed how she said my name. The rareness of it was not lost on me.
Mike was forgotten by her instantly. Though the image still burned itself into my thoughts. I didn't like anyone touching what was mine. Even if our arrangement was only temporary. Once Isabella's training was complete, her true Master was prepared to claim her.
Don't think about that, now.
It was too late, I already was. My eyes were hard when they met her chocolate gaze. "I am here to give a speech. A surprise, if you will. Though it seems, we need to delay that a bit, don't we Isabella?"
The way my lips curled around her name gave no question as to my meaning.
"Yes, Mast…Edward." She caught herself, turning her eyes instinctively to the floor when I leaned in against her.
"What's mine is mine." My breath fell hot against her flawless face. "Reach into my left breast pocket and take the key." I waited. Her trembling hand retrieved it cautiously, palming the pass-card protectively.
I stepped back and she looked up, her eyes searching mine. Without saying another word, I strode past the throngs of people still desperate to greet me, managing to remain unseen by my eagle-eyed family. The room key was meant to be a little treat for after the luncheon. Jealousy had another plan for the afternoon.
I was standing at the large floor-to-ceiling window that encompassed the most breathtaking view of Downtown Chicago, when I heard her enter. The hesitant way she closed the door told me the walk to the room had been excruciating for her. It hadn't been a pleasure for me either.
"We have been over this, Isabella. Your obvious desirability attracts many sniffing wolves." My jacket had been hung neatly over the arm of a high back chair. I loosened my tie as I spoke, but did not turn to face her.
"When you are in public you are expected to maintain yourself accordingly." I began rolling the sleeves of my crisp white shirt, the expensive material bunching at my elbows. "Who owns you, Isabella?"
"You do, Master." Her voice was small. I could hear the tremble of her lips as she spoke.
"Who has the right to touch you?" My words were hard, sliding past the snarl of my lip. Her bare skin had been too near to Mike Newton's body as they danced. He may have appeared to be a gentleman, but I knew what lurked behind his eyes. Like every man who watched her.
"Only you, Master." Her breath hitched.
"Undress. Leave the heels." I remained perfectly motionless, though I could feel my pulse quickening. Whether punishment or pleasure, her body always filled me with lust. She moved quickly and I could hear her unzipping her short-shorn pink Couture dress. She looked exquisite in it, too beautiful. I would not ruin it.
When I heard the room still, I turned to face her. I felt my body respond at the sight of her porcelain flesh bathed by streams of Chicago sun. When I moved closer, she stiffened but kept her eyes down.
My hand slid along the line of her neck, past the pearl necklace to shoulders join. Her breasts heaved with a sharp breath. Fuck, she was so perfectly responsive. Her dusky buds pebbled with desire, pleading taut peaks begging for my attentions. I had wanted to spend hours bringing her pleasure.
"Remove my belt." My breath hissed the command and my fingers lingered against the swell of her breast, gently teasing the flesh. Isabella was shaking, her fingers dancing against the catch to release the fine crafted leather. I had not anticipated the need for my proper implements. The belt was harsh but it would be forced to do the necessary work.
Her shoulders shook gently as she tugged the leather free of the loops in my slacks. Wordlessly, she took the belt in both hands, offering it up to me like a tithing. Even in such high heels, Isabella's back was beautifully straight, her neck and chin tensed but supple.
"You may go to the bedroom of the suite. Face the wall." the swagger of her hips made me achingly hard as I watched her walk away. I wanted the punishment over, so those long sensual legs could wind themselves around my body. Fuck, I loved having her like that. Deep and needy against me, so gloriously greedy for my cock.
The way this woman could beg for my fuck, drove me out of my god-damned mind. I gasped my breath, my fingers teasing the outline of my swelling bound in too-tight slacks. Self-control, Edward.
Rolling my neck from side to side in a fast motion, I prepared myself. I never enjoyed punishing her. And the act had been more often than I liked. She was willful. It had been a hard line to break her of it, without destroying her spirit.
I was not only a Master, I was a Trainer. I had seen, first-hand the mistakes other Dominants made with their subs. I was the one those Masters asked for, when their own self-control failed.
Stepping into the bedroom, I closed the door. Isabella was standing before the pale ivory and blue wall. Her gorgeous body, naked and inviting, mocking me at every turn. Isabella jolted at the sound of my entrance.
I drew up behind her, fighting the urge to run my fingers down her perfect spine. Instead, I gave her one gorgeous moment of my nearness as I inhaled the scent of her skin. "Isabella, you will receive three lashes of my belt, which you will count for me."
She was silent as my lips gently brushed the back of her neck. Our tradition showed I had transitioned into my Dominance and we would, wordlessly begin. As I stepped back, her palms sought the comfort of the cold wall, bracing herself as she leaned.
I could see every beautiful curve of her body, the delicious parting at the core of her body, the perfect angle of her spine as she waited. Inhaling sharply, the leather flew, landing with a stinging heft on the firm flush of her ass.
"One, Master." She shuddered, her nails braced like claws into the paint. Yes, it was meant to sting. It was punishment.
The redness appeared instantly. The expensive leather was weighty and my stroke of it, perfect. "Look at your bracelet, Isabella."
She turned her head and I drew my hand back, feeling the weight of the buckle against my knuckles. I released the jealousy I felt.
"Two, Master." she mewled, suckling her breath back. She trembled, fighting to keep her eyes open.
"That bracelet represents my collaring of you, Isabella. It is worn to remind you, whom it is you belong to." The belt hit just below the swell of her perfect ass, the bite of the leather uneven with her shivering.
I shifted my position slightly, catching her scent. As much as the belt stung her, her heat was rising. I helped her to find that place now, in the third stroke, that turned pain into pleasure.
"Three, Master." Her body arched reflexively, trying to evade and yet capture the strike. She released a heavy cry. She transitioned.
"You are mine, Isabella. That bracelet never leaves your wrist just like my ownership never leaves your body." I ran my hand through my wild bronze mane, panting with the effort of so much control. On myself and on the strikes of the belt. "Say it, out loud."
"I…I am yours, Master." She cried out, the sound of tears wet in her voice. Pain and pleasure mingled. Fuck, I knew my Bellas body.
Two weeks left till the end. Till James came to take what was his. I could see his face. I knew I picture him in the place of Mike Newton tonight.
That was the ghost I was fighting. That was the jealousy that brought me such anguish. I wanted to punish Isabella because she couldn't ever be mine. I wanted her. I needed her to stay with me. She had become..everything.
She belonged to another Master.
Stop this, now. Edward.
I set the belt on the bed and pressed against her. The welts were superficial and placed on the meat of her skin. My fingers rubbed against them and despite herself, Isabella moaned at the contact, the stimulation, my nearness.
"You have done well, Isabella." My breath was warm as it fanned against her ear. I continued to rub the hot skin raised by the belt and she arched back against me, brushing the hard swell of my cock with the movement.
"Thank you, Master." She gasped when my touch slithered between her legs. I lifted my free hand, entwining my fingers in hers at the wall, feeling the bite of the bracelet nearest my thumb. Mine.
I toyed with her sex slowly, feeling her body ricochet with pleasure. Fuck, she was wet. I could smell her desire and my tongue lapped at the hollow join of her shoulder. Her heavy moan strangled against her lips as I flicked her aching clit.
Isabella arched wildly, releasing a sobbing breath.
Yes, Isabella. I know how badly you need me. I need you, too. I want to tell you how I feel, how I fear. I want to tell you everything. I just can't…
"Look at me, Isabella." My words were soaked with anguish and desire. Turn to me, while you are still mine.
"Look at me, Isabella."
I turned to face Edward, slowly. I was desperate for him, the ache of my body after the three lashes nearly gone. All they left behind now, was the throbbing reminder of how I needed him.
His eyes were dark as my hands reached for his slacks. He didn't chastise me, he didn't command me to stop. I parted the material and the curve of his lips descended. Velvet taking silk, Edwards mouth inflamed me. I craved him.
Without another word, his hands were on my hips, lifting me till my back was against the cold wall, my legs wrapping around his waist, ankles crossed over his back. I shivered when I felt him rub against my entrance, the sweet sound of my own heat lapping at his cock like waves.
The hitch in his breath made me quake. The tip of his cock circled my portal. I nudged my hips forward and Edward stilled me instantly.
"Please Master, I need you. Please, fuck me." I used his words. I knew how it inflamed him to hear me that way. I had no shame in me, not when it came to Edward. I served him, I was his. I wanted to remain that way, forever.
"Please." My breath was sobbed, choking, as I reached behind my head and released my long, dark hair from the constricting pins.
Edward inhaled sharply, holding tight enough to my hips to bruise them. I didn't care. I would wear every mark with pride.
"I want to hear you, Isabella." There was no time to be gentle, I could see the lust, the need so heavy in his eyes. I was mesmerized.
My moan was swallowed and gasping when I felt him thrust. My body tightened around him and he pushed to the hilt into the soft depths, stretching me. His cock was agonizingly thick, filling me, filling the void inside of me that throbbed when we were not joined.
"Fucking louder..or I will stop!" This was the Edward Cullen that lurked behind the professional persona. Primal, Dominant, feral. This was the man, this was my Master.
His cock fed me in a vicious thrust and I screamed, my head rolling back against the wall. My eyes clenching with the force. Oh, god. He felt so good. He hurt so good.
"Look at me, Isabella!" I growled my words and her eyes locked to mine. She was so fucking tight. I could have her at every hour of the god-damned day and she was always so fucking tight.
I felt her pussy clench around me, milking me at every thrust. Like a bitch-in-heat, she needed me and I fed her well.
Driving Isabella back against the wall, I swore the plaster would crack. Her hips moved into me, countering my own. Hot, wet ridges gripped me, rasping me into her from tip to base.
I couldn't fucking take it anymore.
My hands entwined with hers, pressing them to the wall. I drove into her pussy like a quest for salvation. Her clit rode my hard pubic bone as I angled, the tip of my cock dragging against the flat space inside of her, the sweetest fucking bull's-eye.
Isabella cried out as I rubbed her spot with every drag of my cock. Her thighs started shaking, the tips of her high heels pressuring into my flesh. I fucking craved it. I was so close.
"Your Mine, Isabella. Fucking Mine. Say it. Fucking scream it!" She convulsed all around me, my tight aching balls were dripping with her sweet heat. That's it, baby. Almost there.
"Yours. Master. Yours. Please." Tears of merciless pleasure rimmed over her cheeks. My thrusts grew faster, dragging that fucking hot spot inside of her over and over again. She trembled, her lips parted for wild screams and breathless exhalations.
"Cum with me, Isabella." She dragged me over the fucking edge. Her body seized, gripping my cock painfully tight, stilling my thrust impossibly deep inside of her. The white hot flash shivered down my spine, nestling between my thighs. Isabella's cries were in Tongues.
I seared my very soul into her, etching my claim into her body with every spurt of white-hot seed I filled her with. My lips found hers and I thrust again, desperate to get more of my release into her. Her aftershocks ricocheted through me. That's it, Bella…again…
She didn't have to ask permission when she came again. That one was my gift. And I stood shuddering, our hands bound and entwined, her body writhing between me and the wall. Her release was so fucking beautiful. She was so beautiful.
Primal. That's how she made me feel. Primal. Worshipped.
Don't think that last word, Edward. It will ruin you…
We had two weeks left, until James came to claim me from the Master-Trainer.
I shivered as I watched Edward give the honorary speech for his mother, Esme. Praising her twenty-five years of service to the Arts. His family was as enraptured as the audience.
Only Alice seemed to realize I had left earlier. I knew that she knew. Alice was grateful the dress wasn't ruined. My hair, on the other hand, was beyond repair. But, she forgave me.
On stage, Edwards professional persona was back in place, like a mask. He was gorgeous, in-control of himself; his charisma and charming good looks making the gathered women breath a sigh of collective lust. His bronze tendrils were wilder than normal, but it was the usual look for him. No one ever suspected.
I smiled, secretly.
The world would never know Edward Cullen the way I did.
He was mine, as much as I was his.